Dangers & Annoyances
- Violent crime is rare (especially involving foreigners). Even so, as in all big cities, it's best to stay alert for petty theft and use hotel safes where available.
- Cars with foreign registration are occasionally targeted for smash-and-grab theft. As in any big city, don’t leave valuables in the car.
- Take special care at pedestrian crosswalks in Montréal: unless there’s an arrêt (stop) sign, drivers largely ignore these crosswalks.
- Discount Cards The Montréal Museum Pass allows free access to 39 museums for three days of your choice within a 21-day period ($75). For an extra $5, the pass comes with three consecutive days of free access to bus and metro. It’s available from the city’s tourist offices, or you can buy it online (www.museesmontreal.org).
Emergency & Important Numbers
|Canada's country code||1|
|International access code||1|
Entry & Exit Formalities
For the latest customs information, contact the Canadian embassy or consulate at home, or go to the 'Visit as a Tourist' section of the Canadian government website (www.cic.gc.ca).
- All fruit, vegetables and plants must be declared when crossing into Canada. For current restrictions, visit www.inspection.gc.ca.
- Visitors to Québec aged 18 and older can bring up to 8.5L of beer or ale, 1.5L of wine or 1.14L (40oz) of other liquor without paying duty or taxes. In addition, the following quantities of tobacco products may be brought into the country duty-free: 50 cigars, 200 cigarettes, 200g of tobacco and 200 tobacco sticks. Individual gifts valued at $60 or less are also duty-free.
- US residents may bring back $800 worth of goods duty-free, plus 1L of alcohol (but you must be aged 21 or over), as well as 200 cigarettes and 100 non-Cuban cigars.
Not required for citizens of Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom and the United States, among others. See www.cic.gc.ca.
Citizens of dozens of countries – including the USA, most Western European countries, Australia, Japan and New Zealand – don’t need visas to enter Canada for stays of up to 180 days. US permanent residents are also exempt. Note that you still need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to fly into Canada. The eTA costs $7 and you can apply for one online at www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/eta-start.asp; the approval proccess usually only takes a few minutes. US citizens and permanent residents do not require eTAs.
Nationals of around 150 other countries must apply to the Canadian visa office in their home country for a temporary resident visa (TRV). See www.cic.gc.ca for full details. Note that if you have a visa, you are not required to purchase an eTA.
Single-entry visitor visas are valid for six months, while multiple-entry visas can be used for up to 10 years, provided that no single stay exceeds six months. Either type of visa costs $100. Extensions cost the same price as the original and must be applied for at a Canadian Immigration Center one month before the current visa expires. A separate visa is required if you intend to work in Canada.
Wi-fi is widely available throughout Montréal and Québec City, at tourist offices, hotels, cafes and many restaurants. Except in a few high-end hotels, it's generally free of charge.
For a map of hundreds of places where you can get online for free in Montréal, see Île Sans Fil (www.ilesansfil.org). For info on free wi-fi hot spots elsewhere in the province of Québec, including Québec City, visit Zap Québec (www.zapquebec.org).
If you’re not traveling with a computer, many hotels have one available for guests.
If you’re charged with an offense, you have the right to public counsel if you can’t afford a lawyer.
Generally speaking, it’s an offense to consume alcohol anywhere other than at a residence or licensed premises, which technically puts parks, beaches and the rest of the great outdoors off-limits. Montréal has sidestepped this restriction with a city ordinance that allows for alcohol to be 'consumed in a park with a meal'; even so, it's best to be discreet, and bear in mind that disturbance of the peace or loitering in any park between 11pm and sunrise remains a criminal offense.
ATMs widespread. Major credit cards widely accepted.
The main shopping streets in Montréal, including Rue Ste-Catherine, Blvd St-Laurent and Rue St-Denis, have plenty of banks. There are also foreign-exchange desks at the main tourist office, the airport and the casino.
Note that many credit-card machines only take chip-enabled cards.
Montréal and Québec City have droves of ATMs linked to the international Cirrus, Plus and Maestro networks, not only in banks but also in pubs, convenience stores and hotels. Many charge a small fee per use, and your own bank may levy an extra fee – it’s best to check before leaving home.
Canadian coins come in 1¢ (penny), 5¢ (nickel), 10¢ (dime), 25¢ (quarter), $1 (loonie) and $2 (toonie) pieces.
Paper currency comes in $5 (blue), $10 (purple), $20 (green) and $50 (red) denominations. The $100 (brown) bill and larger bills are less common. Many stores refuse to take larger bills for fear of counterfeiting.
If you’re going to explore Montréal in detail – and prefer to use something other than smartphone or guidebook maps – you can get detailed maps online from Mapart (www.mapartmaps.com) and at Aux Quatre Points Cardinaux.
- Newspapers The Montréal Gazette is the main English-language daily newspaper with solid coverage of national affairs, politics and arts. The Saturday edition has useful what's-on listings.
- Magazines The online alternative magazines Cult (www.cultmontreal.com) and Hour Community (www.hour.ca) are even better sources of what's-on listings.
- Blogs MTL Blog (www.mtlblog.com) is great for up-to-date listings and lots of listicles.
Banks Most 10am to 3pm Monday to Friday (later on Thursday).
Bars & Pubs Many open from 11:30am until midnight or later; those not serving food may not open until 5pm or later.
Government Offices Generally open 9am to 5pm weekdays.
Museums Most open 10am or 11am and close 6pm. Most close Monday but stay open late one day a week (typically Wednesday or Thursday).
Post Offices Open 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday.
Restaurants Generally open 11:30am to 2:30pm and 5:30pm to 11pm; cafes serving breakfast open between 7am and 9am.
Standard 1st-class airmail letters or postcards up to 30g cost 85¢ within Canada, $1.20 to the US and $2.50 to all other destinations. For general information, contact Canada Post.
Montréal’s main post office is the largest but there are many convenient locations around town. Stamps are also available at newspaper shops, convenience stores and some hotels.
Banks, schools and government offices close on Canadian public holidays, while museums and other services go on a restricted schedule. This is also a busy time to travel.
Residential leases in Montréal traditionally end on June 30, so the roads are always clogged on July 1 (semiofficially known as Moving Day) as tenants move to their new homes.
School students break for summer holidays in late June and return to school in early September. University students get even more time off, breaking from May to early or mid-September. Most people take their big annual vacation during this summer period. Schools also break in late February or early March for the semaine de relâche (winter break); ski areas near Montréal and Québec City may get more crowded during this period.
The main public holidays:
New Year’s Day January 1
Good Friday & Easter Monday Late March to mid-April
Victoria Day May 24 or nearest Monday
National Aboriginal Day June 21 (unofficial)
St-Jean-Baptiste Day June 24
Canada Day July 1
Labour Day First Monday in September
Canadian Thanksgiving Second Monday in October
Remembrance Day November 11
Christmas Day December 25
Boxing Day December 26
- Smoking Prohibited in all enclosed spaces such as restaurants, bars and clubs, and, as of 2016, restaurant and bar patios.
The area code for the entire island of Montréal is 514; Québec City is 418. When you dial, even local numbers, you will need to punch in the area code as well.
Toll-free numbers begin with 800, 866, 877 or 888 and must be preceded with 1. Some numbers are good throughout North America, others only within Canada or one particular province.
Dialing the operator (0) or the emergency number (911) is free of charge from both public and private phones. For directory assistance, dial 411. Fees apply.
With the advent of cell phones, public phones have become a rarity. When you do find them they will either be coin-operated (local calls cost 50¢) or accept phonecards and credit cards.
Buy local prepaid SIM cards for use with international phones.
The only foreign cell phones that will work in North America are triband models operating on GSM 1900. If you don’t have one of these, your best bet is to buy an inexpensive phone with prepaid minutes and a rechargeable SIM card at a consumer electronics store such as Best Buy (www.bestbuy.ca).
US residents traveling with their phone may have service (though they’ll pay roaming fees). Get in touch with your cell-phone provider for details.
Bell Canada’s prepaid cards, in denominations of $5, $10 and $20, work from public and private phones. There are also plenty of local phonecards offering better rates than Bell’s, sold at convenience stores, newsstands and websites such as www.thephonecardstore.ca.
Montréal is on Eastern Time (EST/EDT), as is New York City and Toronto – five hours behind Greenwich Mean Time.
Canada switches to daylight-saving time (one hour later than Standard Time) from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November.
Train schedules, film screenings and schedules in French use the 24-hour clock (eg 6:30pm becomes 18:30), while English schedules use the 12-hour clock.
Centre Infotouriste Montréal provides maps, info about attractions and booking services (hotels, car hire, tours).
Québec's province-wide tourist bureau, Tourisme Québec, operates tourist offices (known as Centres Infotouristes) in both Montréal and Québec City. Offices in both cities share a central phone number and website.
Both cities' airports also have information kiosks that open year-round.
Travel with Children
Montréal has many sights for young visitors. Depending on the season, you can go boating, cycling and skating, or get some amusement park or skydiving thrills. On warm days, Parc Mont-Royal and neighborhood parks are great places for picnics and free-spirited outdoor activity.
- Old Port
At the Old Port you can hop into a paddleboat, go jet boating on the St Lawrence, or tootle along in a minitrain for a grand tour.
- Centre des Sciences de Montréal
Enjoy technological wonders, unusual games and an IMAX cinema at Centre des Sciences de Montréal.
Make a dam and walk on water at hands-on multimedia museum Biosphère in Parc Jean-Drapeau.
Children aged four and above can experience the thrill of flying at Skyventure, a unique skydiving simulator.
Kids will love Biodôme, a giant indoor zoo with forest, river and marine habitats.
- Jardin Botanique
Check out Jardin Botanique's Insectarium, with 250,000 specimens creeping, crawling or otherwise on display.
Enjoy the Planétarium, with domed theaters and interactive exhibits on outerspace.
Take your tots on a virtual mission to Mars at Cosmodôme, an engaging space center.
- Musée Ferroviaire Canadien
At Musée Ferroviaire Canadien there are trains of every kind – stationary, moving, new and old – that will thrill adults as much as children.
- Musée Stewart
See oversized cannons, military parades and guides in period costumes inside an old British garrison at Musée Stewart.
- La Ronde
At Québec’s largest amusement park, La Ronde, kids will experience chills and thrills galore – plus fireworks on some nights.
- Parks & Gardens
Enormous Parc du Mont-Royal in the heart of the city is especially fun for kids in winter, with tobogganing, skiing, snowshoeing and ice skating. Parc La Fontaine is perfect for a casual, outdoor stroll, and sits at the edge of the bustling Plateau. Or try Parc Nature du Cap-St-Jacques, a verdant park with trails, a beach, a sugar shack and a working farm.
Need to Know
Travellers with Disabilities
Nonprofit organization Kéroul is dedicated to making travel more accessible to people with limited mobility. Its excellent guide The Accessible Road (www.larouteaccessible.com) covers Montréal, Québec City and 15 other tourism areas in Québec, highlighting access facilities in each.
Watch for the Tourist & Leisure Companion Sticker, which indicates free access to facilities for those traveling with people with a disability or mental illness. The website www.vatl.org has a full list of participating sites throughout Québec.
In Montréal, most public buildings – including tourist offices, major museums and attractions – are wheelchair accessible, and many restaurants and hotels also have facilities for the mobility-impaired. Almost all major bus routes are serviced by NOVA LFS buses adapted for wheelchairs, and eight metro stations on the Orange Line have elevators, making them accessible to manual and motorized wheelchairs with a maximum length of 46" and a maximum width of 26". Visit www.stm.info/en/access for information about boarding procedures on both the metro and the adapted buses.
In Québec City, bus lines 21, 800, 801, 802 and 803 are wheelchair accessible. The 'Accessibility' section of the www.rtcquebec.ca website has more details.
Access to Travel (www.accesstotravel.gc.ca) provides details of accessible transportation across Canada.
Transport Adapté du Québec Métro Inc Has 20 wheelchair-adapted minibuses that carry passengers to sections of Québec City not served by the public RTC buses. You must make reservations at least eight hours in advance of your trip.
Weights & Measures
Canada officially uses the metric system, and use of metric units is especially widespread in Québec compared to other Canadian provinces. All distances are stated in kilometers, and measurements such as height and weight are more likely to be expressed in kilograms, meters and centimeters here than elsewhere in Canada. Even so, you'll still see plenty of French-language references to imperial units, such as the pieds carrés (square feet) used in many real-estate listings, or the quart de livre (quarter pounder) on the McDonald's menu.
It is illegal in Canada to carry pepper spray or mace. Instead, some women recommend carrying a whistle to deal with attackers or potential dangers. If you are sexually assaulted, call 911 or the local Sexual Assault Center for referrals to hospitals that have sexual-assault care centers.