5 Things to Know Before You Go to Montréal



Montréal, a vibrant city blending French and English cultures, offers a unique and exciting destination for travelers. Whether you’re visiting for the first time or returning for another adventure, here are five essential things to know before you go.

1. Language

Bilingual City

Montréal is a bilingual city with both French and English widely spoken. While most locals speak both languages, French is the primary language. It’s helpful to learn a few basic French phrases to enhance your experience and show respect to the locals. Phrases like “Bonjour” (Hello), “Merci” (Thank you), and “S’il vous plaît” (Please) go a long way.

Signage and Menus

Most signs, menus, and public notices are in French, although many places also provide English translations. Familiarizing yourself with basic French terms can be beneficial, especially when navigating the city or ordering food.

2. Weather

Seasonal Variations

Montréal experiences distinct seasons, each offering a unique charm. Winters (December to February) are cold and snowy, with temperatures often dropping below freezing. Pack warm clothing, including thermal layers, a heavy coat, gloves, and a hat if you plan to visit during this time.

Summer Festivals

Summers (June to August) are warm and filled with festivals. From the Montreal International Jazz Festival to Just for Laughs, the city comes alive with outdoor events and activities. Light clothing, sunscreen, and comfortable walking shoes are recommended for summer visits.

Spring and Fall

Spring (April to June) and fall (September to November) are milder and less crowded, making them ideal for budget travelers. Pack layers to accommodate the changing weather during these transitional seasons.

3. Transportation

Efficient Public Transport

Montréal has an efficient public transportation system that includes buses and the metro (subway). The Société de transport de Montréal (STM) operates the system, offering convenient and affordable options for getting around the city.

Pass Options

Consider purchasing a daily or multi-day pass for unlimited travel on buses and the metro. These passes provide excellent value and make it easy to explore different neighborhoods without worrying about individual ticket purchases.

Bike-Friendly City

Montréal is also a bike-friendly city with extensive bike paths. The BIXI bike-sharing program is a convenient way to rent bicycles for short trips around the city. It’s an eco-friendly and enjoyable way to see the sights.

4. Currency and Payments

Canadian Dollar 

The currency in Montréal is the Canadian Dollar (CAD). It’s advisable to exchange some currency before arriving or use ATMs in the city to withdraw Canadian dollars. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted, but it’s always good to have some cash on hand for smaller purchases or tips.

Tipping Etiquette

Tipping is customary in Montréal. In restaurants, a tip of 15-20% of the total bill is standard. For other services like taxis, hairdressers, and hotel staff, a small tip is appreciated.

5. Cultural Etiquette

Respect for Local Customs

Montréalers are known for their politeness and hospitality. A warm greeting and a smile go a long way. Addressing people in French initially, even if it’s just a simple “Bonjour,” is seen as a sign of respect.

Dining Etiquette

When dining out, it’s common practice to wait to be seated and to keep conversations at a moderate volume to respect other patrons. Meals in Montréal are often a leisurely affair, so take your time and enjoy the experience.

 Smoking Regulations

Smoking is prohibited in all indoor public places, including restaurants and bars. Many outdoor public areas also have restrictions, so be sure to look for designated smoking areas.

READ ALSO:  Top 5 Montréal Neighborhoods That Capture the Best of the City

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

1. Do I need to speak French to get by in Montréal?

While French is the primary language in Montréal, most locals are bilingual and can speak English. Knowing some basic French phrases can be helpful and appreciated.

2. What is the best time to visit Montréal?

The best time to visit depends on your preferences. Summer (June to August) is great for festivals and warm weather, while spring (April to June) and fall (September to November) offer mild weather and fewer crowds. Winter (December to February) is ideal if you enjoy cold weather and winter sports.

3. How can I get around the city?

Montréal has an efficient public transportation system, including buses and the metro. Daily or multi-day passes are available for unlimited travel. The city is also bike-friendly, with the BIXI bike-sharing program available.

4.Is Montréal expensive to visit?

Montréal offers a range of options to suit different budgets. Accommodation, dining, and entertainment can be found at various price points, making it possible to visit without breaking the bank.

5. What currency is used in Montréal?

The currency used in Montréal is the Canadian Dollar (CAD). Credit and debit cards are widely accepted, but it’s a good idea to have some cash for smaller purchases or tips.

6. What should I pack for a trip to Montréal?

Pack according to the season. Winter requires warm clothing, while summer calls for light, comfortable attire. Spring and fall weather can be variable, so layering is recommended. Don’t forget comfortable walking shoes, as Montréal is a great city to explore on foot.

 7. Is tipping expected in Montréal?

Yes, tipping is customary in Montréal. In restaurants, a tip of 15-20% is standard. For services such as taxis and hotel staff, a small tip is appreciated.


Montréal is a captivating city with a unique blend of French and English cultures, vibrant festivals, and a rich history. Whether you’re navigating its bilingual charm, enjoying seasonal activities, or exploring its diverse neighborhoods, understanding the essentials will enhance your visit. By preparing for the weather, utilizing public transportation, managing your currency, and respecting local customs, you’ll ensure a memorable and enjoyable trip. From the historic streets of Old Montréal to the bustling arts scene and culinary delights, Montréal promises an enriching experience for every traveler.

In another related article,  Montréal on a Budget: 10 Ways to Save Money on Your Trip

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