Montréal’s bicycle paths are extensive, running more than 500km around the city. Useful bike maps are available from the tourist offices and bicycle rental shops.
Top bike paths follow the Canal de Lachine and then up along Lac St-Louis; another popular route goes southwest along the edge of the St Lawrence River, passing the Lachine Rapids, then meeting up with the Canal de Lachine path.
One of the best ways to see the city is by the public bike-rental service Bixi. Short-term subscription fees allowing you to use the system for 24 or 72 hours are very reasonably priced, and the 400-plus rental stations are almost ubiquitous, spaced only a few blocks apart throughout the downtown area (note that you will be charged a $100 deposit that is refunded after you return the bike). As of this writing, STM (Société de Transport de Montréal; www.stm.info) is experimenting with a plan to allow riders to use Opus cards at Bixi sites.
In Montréal, bicycles can be taken on the metro from 10am to 3pm and after 7pm Monday to Friday, as well as throughout the weekend. Officially cyclists are supposed to board only the first carriage of the train. In addition, eight of Montréal's city bus lines are equipped with bike racks, which may be used any time of day. See the STM website (www.stm.info) for details.
There are also bike paths around the islands of Parc Jean-Drapeau, the Île de Soeurs and Parc du Mont-Royal.
Cruise vessels ply the St Lawrence River for day trips and longer cruises.
The horse-drawn calèches (carriages) seen meandering around Old Montréal and Mont-Royal charge about $53/85 for a 30-/60-minute tour. They line up at the Old Port and at Pl d’Armes. Drivers usually provide running commentary, which can serve as a pretty good historical tour.
Horse-drawn calèches are the source of no small amount of controversy in Montréal. There is an entire Anti-Calèche Defense Coalition that documents tales of horse abuse; opinions are greatly split over whether these accounts are exceptions to the rule, or the rule itself. In 2015, a city moratorium banned calèches for a year, but that moratorium was not renewed.
Car & Motorcycle
AMT (www.amt.qc.ca) commuter trains serve the suburbs of Montréal. Services from Gare Centrale are fast but infrequent, with two-hour waits between some trains.
Driving In and Around Montréal and Québec
- Fines for traffic violations, from speeding to not wearing a seat belt, are stiff in Québec. You may see few police cars on the roads, but radar traps are common. Motorcyclists are required to wear helmets and to ride with their lights on.
- Traffic in both directions must stop when school buses stop to let children get off and on. At the white-striped pedestrian crosswalks, cars must stop to allow pedestrians to cross the road.
- Turning right on red lights is illegal in Montréal. However, it is legal everywhere else in Québec, including Québec City, as long as there is no sign posted specifically prohibiting such turns.
- In both Montréal and Québec City, a flashing green light means that you are allowed to turn left (similar to a green left turn arrow in the United States).
- Québec's blood-alcohol limit while driving is 0.08%, as opposed to the 0.05% limit in most other Canadian provinces. Driving motorized vehicles (including boats and snowmobiles) under the influence is a serious offense in Canada. You could land in jail with a court date, heavy fine and suspended license. The minimum drinking age is 18 – the same age as for obtaining a driver’s license.
- In winter, parking on city streets is periodically prohibited to facilitate snow removal in both Montréal and Québec City. In Montréal, yellow and black signs marked 'Déneigement' (snow removal) or 'Opération Neige' indicate the hours when parking is prohibited (usually 7am to 7pm, or 7pm to 7am). In Québec City, snow removal is typically scheduled between 11pm and 6:30am on any street with a ‘déneigement’ sign accompanied by a flashing red light. Heed the signs, or you’ll wake up to a towed vehicle and a hefty fine.
- Québec mandates that cars have snow tires on during winter.
Continental US highways link with their Canadian counterparts along the border at numerous points. The main US highways leading directly into Québec include the I-87 in New York, I-89 and I-91 in Vermont, and US-201 in Maine. During summer and on holiday weekends, waits of several hours are not uncommon at major USA–Canada border crossings such as Detroit, Michigan; Windsor, Ontario; Fort Erie, Ontario; Buffalo, New York; Niagara Falls; and Rouse’s Point, New York. Smaller crossings are generally much quieter.
If you have difficulty with the French-only signs in Québec, pick up a decent provincial highway map, sold at service stations and usually free at tourist offices.
Visitors with US or British passports are allowed to bring their vehicles into Canada for up to six months.
Trudeau Airport has many international car-rental firms, and there’s a host of smaller operators in Montréal. Whether you’re here or in Québec City, rates will swing with demand so it’s worth phoning around to see what’s on offer. Advance bookings via online sites often offer the best rates, and airport rates are normally better than those in town.
To rent a car in the province of Québec you must be at least 21 years old and have had a driver’s license for at least a year.
Major companies usually have locations in both Montréal and Québec City.