Author: Charlotte Haas
Date of Trip: December 2012
To begin with, travel during the shoulder seasons. Early spring and late fall are quieter times for Montreal, meaning that hotels drop their rates, and lots of things become cheaper. Instead of leaving it to a professional, scouring the internet for the best bargain flight tickets is often well worth the effort in savings. And since parking is always a problem, you can book a hotel and parking package- I like Stay123.com – and, even though we save almost half of what we used to pay just for the airport lot, we stay the night before our flight in a hotel with breakfast and a ride to the terminal, leaving the car in the hotel parking – all included. And while abroad you can use apps like Vyber and Skype to make phone calls via free wifi- available in cafes and libraries, and Starbucks, of course.
This is a very walkable city, especially if you explore it by neighborhood. If you’re growing weary, the public transportation is both convenient and cheap. Go sightseeing- many of the most beloved attractions — including Vieux-Montréal, St. Joseph’s Oratory and Parc du Mont-Royal — do not charge admission.
This versatile city’s top attractions include world-class museums and bustling marketplaces. Start your tour along the ancient cobblestone streets of Vieux-Montréal. Here, you can explore historic cathedrals or grab a cappuccino at one of the traditional French cafés along boulevard Saint-Laurent. If history doesn’t excite you, head to the bustling downtown area for an afternoon of shopping or to Parc du Mont-Royal for a hike. Just make sure to save some energy for when the sun sets; Montreal — especially rue St-Denis — is known for a nightlife scene that continues until the small hours of the morning.
When going out for dinner, choose restaurants with the “Aportez-Votre Vin” (bring your your own wine) signs. Restaurants that serve their own alcohol charge a high mark-up per bottle to cover the cost of the license required. You can also bring beer. Before dinner, join the locals for the nightly “cinq a sept” (the 5 pm to 7 pm cocktail) when popular bars along St. Laurent, St. Denis and around the Plateau and Latin Quarter neighborhoods offer 2 or 3 for 1 drink specials.
Take in a free outdoor summer concert at Place des Arts, Ile Ste. Helene and /or the Old Port area. Shop at Simon’s Department Store on Ste. Catherine St. W. for the latest Quebecois designer wear at low prices.
Pick up a Montreal Museums Pass for $45.00 including public transit rides. Available at museums and tourists offices. Get same day half price tickets to the opera, symphony, theater etc. through La Vitrine, a last minute ticket venue at Place des Arts in downtown. Stock up on bulk wine from the S.A.C. (provincial liquor stores) Depot and go on a picnic to Mount Royal or Ile Ste. Helene. I hope these ideas will help you enjoy your trip; whatever money you can save, you can splurge on something truly special!