When is the best time to fly to Montreal?
Summer, late June to August, is the busiest time to visit the city and the most expensive season to book a flight to Montreal. During this time, the weather is warm and a number of festivals also take place, including the ten-day Festival International de Jazz in late June and Just for Laughs Comedy Festival in July.
The Festival International de Jazz has transformed Montreal into the perfect location for jazz lovers from all over the world. With over 800 concerts in various venues across the city, some indoor and some outdoor, you are sure to hear something you like. This event is for all the family and includes both free and chargeable events.
If you’re looking for a couple of laughs on your holiday, book your flights to Montreal to coincide with the Laughs Comedy Festival in July. Join over 2 million people who visit the city for the largest comedy festival in the world, to see over 1600 performances, galas, street art, theatre productions and stand up performances.
Many frequent visitors actually prefer to visit during autumn, in particular, September and October, as the crowds have disappeared and the weather’s still pleasant.
In terms of value, spring (April and May) is the best time to visit as you’re more likely to find a cheap flight to Montreal, as well as lower prices for hotels and car rental. Travellers should consider, however, that this is mud season, the time when all the snow melts and getting around town can become a little uncomfortable.
Fewer tourists plan a holiday to Montreal during winter, due to the cold weather, snow and ice. There is, however, still plenty to do. Why not head to the Underground City, a series of restaurants, cinemas and shops, or try some winter activities, such as ice skating?
To call Montreal merely the Paris of North America is to sell it short. True, the island in the Saint Lawrence River has the architecture, the food and joie de vivre of the French capital, but it is a mix of more than 40 ethnic groups, a complicated history and a vibrant and edgy bohemian scene that confounds that description.
The city freezes during wintertime and temperatures plummet to -30, but there is no bad time to search for flights to Montreal. Montrealers make the most of winter with a carnival; shopping in Ville Souteraine, the underground city, with more than 18 miles of shopping, and its hearty fare (including poutine, a rib-sticking mix of chips, cheese curd and gravy).
The starting point for the tourist is Vieux Montreal. Here, you’ll find City Hall, Bonsecours Market, and the awe-inspiring Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel. In “new” Montreal, Le Plateau is the city’s creative heart, home to designers, writers and artists.
Montreal is human scale with Mont Royal, 1,000 parks, 217 miles of bicycle paths and 900 outdoor skating rinks. Prince Arthur Street, Saint-Laurent and Les Eclusiers are the places to party. Bars are open until 3am and some never close.
With predominantly wet, warm summers and cold, snowy winters, the climate of Montreal is varied and seasonal. In winter snowfall is abundant, and snow is common both in spring and autumn. Temperatures well below freezing are experienced in winter, and the bitter weather is exacerbated by wind chill. Summer brings sunshine and pleasant days, with high humidity on occasion, although highs seldom exceed 25C. Rain can be expected any time of year in Montreal, but summer tends to be the wettest season. A feature of the climate of Montreal is the possibility of late autumn heat waves, enjoyed as "Indian summers", which frequently occur.
Getting around Montreal
Between the city’s smart layout and extremely efficient public transport system, you’ll never worry about getting where you need to go. There are also plenty of bike paths all over the city if you want to get a little exercise. Public transport consists of metro, bus and commuter rail and is run by STCUM. The bus routes are connected with the metro and both run between early morning and late night. There are also a few night buses running after regular service ends. You can also get into the suburbs by connecting to the commuter rail. Check out the bus and metro tourist passes to save some money. Taxis are available by phone or by hailing one off of the street. If you really want to rent a car, there are plenty of companies in the city, but with congested traffic and all the easy transport options, it’s not recommended.
Getting from the Airport to the City
Pierre Elliot Trudeau International Airport (YUL) is located 15 miles west of Montreal. There are shuttle buses, an express bus as well as a train operating between the airport and the city. Car rental and taxis are also available.
Montreal insider information
- Eat some poutine, the national dish, a warming dish of fries topped with fresh cheese curds and gravy. The smoked meat sandwich (served with potato chips, coleslaw and a pickle) is a Montreal tradition too. Go to Schwartz's to buy it, it has been a "Montreal Tradition Since 1928".
- Mark Twain once said that Montreal was the only city he was ever in where you couldn't throw a brick for breaking a church window. There are four Roman Catholicbasilicas: Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral, Notre-Dame Basilica, St. Patrick's Basilica, and Saint Joseph's Oratory, Canada's largest church. Its dome is the largest after Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome.
- The Underground city is an ingenious way of escaping the cold Montreal winters. There are more than 20 miles (32 km) of tunnels with shopping malls, hotels, offices, museums and public transport systems.
- You can walk from the top of Peel Street to Mount Royal for a panoramic view of the city, the river and the Monteregian Hills in the distance. There is a park and two cemeteries at the top of Mount Royal - Notre-Dame-des-Neiges, which is Catholic, founded in 1854, and Mount Royal cemetery, a nondenominational resting place founded in 1853.
- The Old Town (Vieux Montréal) is charming and very, very old by North American standards. The oldest buildings date back to the 1600s. Architectural gems include Montreal City Hall, Bonsecours Market and the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel.
- The Latin Quarter is where the restaurants and bars are. The Museum Quarter is where you will find the Museum of Fine Arts and the McCord Museum of Canadian History.
- Montreal likes to laugh. Montreal Just for Laughs festival takes place in July. It also likes to listen to jazz music. The world-famous festival is on in late-June/July.
- The Montreal Biodome is a fascinating place, a zoo with four ecosystems: Tropical Forest, a replica of the South American rainforest; Laurentian Forest, a replica of North American wilderness; Saint Lawrence Marine Eco-system, modelled on the Gulf of Saint Lawrence; and a polar area divided into Arctic and Antarctic.