Story by Vacay.ca Staff
MONTREAL — Although reaching Montreal can be a traffic headache, once you arrive you’ll enjoy the best public transit system of any city in Canada. Montreal’s Metro system is the busiest in the country, with 68 stations that cover 69.2 kilometres. More than 1 million people ride the subway each day. Given the freezing temperatures in winter, it’s easy to understand why a bustling underground transportation network is needed. Above ground, there’s a dependable bus system for visitors.
Here are some tips on getting around during your stay in Montreal:
Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (code YUL): Located in suburban Dorval, this airport is the third busiest in Canada. Named after one of Canada’s most popular prime ministers, the airport is safe and efficient. For international visitors, a Customs Declaration Card needs to be filled out before you’re allowed access to the country. These cards should be available on your flight. If not, you can find them at stations near the immigration inspection line. Canadian immigration and customs officials are generally fair and professional. Once your passport has been stamped or you have been cleared for entry, your Customs Declaration Card will be handed back to you with remarks from the officer. You will need to show your card to a customs officer prior to retrieving your checked baggage. If there are no issues regarding goods you are bringing into the country, the customs officer will wave you through to the baggage claim area.
Once you exit the airport, you will need to make your way to downtown Montreal. You will have a choice of options:
Public bus: The cheapest way to reach downtown is by taking the 747 Express bus (514-786-4636), which runs 24 hours a day and costs $8 for a one-way ticket. However, the bus is prone to the same road woes as those faced by automobile drivers. Montreal is notorious for long delays at rush hour, so be prepared for a ride that can last more than one hour. At normal times, the ride takes 35 minutes.
Train service: The recommended way to reach Trudeau Airport is with a combination of Via Rail and shuttle van service. The van from the airport takes about 10 minutes to reach the Dorval train station and from there it’s a 20-minute ride to downtown Montreal. You will be dropped off at the city’s main train station, a short walk to the famed Old City. A one-way ticket will cost $13.95.
Shuttle buses: Several companies operate tour buses from Trudeau Airport. You can book online before you arrive or pay for a ride once you reach the airport. L’Aerobus is the recommended shuttle to take. A one-way ticket is $16. (Note: 19 hotels currently offer free shuttle bus service from Trudeau Airport. Check with your hotel before you arrive if this service is available.)
Taxi/limo: You will pay around $45 to take a taxi to downtown Montreal, depending on your destination, and you could pay substantially more if you are forced to wait in traffic. Taxis are readily available outside the airport. Montreal taxi drivers once had a bad reputation for cheating customers by taking them on a more circuitous route than necessary, but you will likely find that they are more honest than not these days. Tipping 10 to 15 percent is recommended.
The Montreal Metro runs from 5:30 a.m. each day to past midnight, with some lines operating as late as 1:30 a.m. A single fare is $3, but visitors should consider a multiple-ride pass. A 24-hour pass is just $8 and a three-day pass is $16, allowing you unlimited rides on the bus and subway system during your stay. Trains come frequently, with wait times during peak hours of about two minutes.
The subway system is one of Montreal’s finest features. It will get you close to all of the city’s major sites, including Old Montreal, the Botanical Gardens, Mont Royal, the Jean Talon Market and the Bell Centre, home to the Canadiens hockey team.
Check the Montreal Metro schedule when planning your trip.
Sights: Old Montreal features some of Canada’s most historic attractions, include Notre Dame Basilica and Bonsecours Market. Rue St-Paul, with its art galleries and cafés, is a fantastic place to stroll. Outside of the Old City, Rue St-Catherine is a lively spot for shopping and entertainment, the Mile End is the epicentre of Montreal’s rich music scene, the Plateau is a working-class neighbourhood being transformed by artists and Mont Royal offers outstanding views of the city.
Note: Prices listed may change without notice.