One weekend in Montreal was not enough. When I travel to anywhere for the first time, I always hit up on the attractions first. The ones that are the must sees; those will pack a tight schedule already. If you were spending a week or more at one place, you get to explore aimlessly on your own without the pressure of researching online for the touristy places; instead it becomes a new unexpected journey that is unplanned and full of surprises.
Four people, airbnb apartment for $160, two nights. That only around $20 per person per night.
After a 6 hour drive, we’re finally here on Friday midnight.
- breakfast at Eggspectation: one of the few places that were open during the brunch time. A plate of food varies from $9-15. Great way to start the day! They have at least 3 locations that are available and I saw it throughout Montreal.
- parked our car at a parking area: we decided to park in a parking area for the whole day rather than driving everywhere. It was $20 for the whole day, which we thought was cheap at first but we saw cheaper ones throughout the day. I couldn’t believe the parking meters were a quarter for 5 minutes!
- Montreal Museum of Fine Arts: museums are one of the best ways to explore the city, get a feel for its culture, art, history, and talent. The best part is that you can go hop into any of the 7 museums which are located next to each other free of charge. I could have spent the whole day exploring these museums.
- Chinatown: think about Chinatown when it’s lunch or dinner time. It’s much more affordable than other restaurants downtown, and you can get a decent amount of food. If you’re just passing by it, be sure to try some bubble tea or some bakery breads for on the go snacks. Souvenirs are bound to be cheaper as well and unlike other areas, bargain shamelessly!
- Underground City: This place was tricky to find! My phone app showed the location to be at an office building. It was through what looked like a train/airport station by Mcdonalds, then through a mall, which then lead into this gem. It was essentially a big mall which all the stores we know, such as Adidas, Aldo, and more. The food selection was huge, with all kinds of cuisines to choose from.
- Notre Dame Basilica: what I thought was free of charge was actually $5 admissions. Check out the times beforehand because they may be closed for certain hours throughout the day. We had to come back after an hour. We returned at 3 pm when it opened and there was already a long line! If you have time, be sure to listen in on a tour session which is given in the front of the seats.
- Montreal Arab Festival: we stumbled on this while walking to the waterfront from Notre Dame Basilica. There were 3-5 people bicycle cars for rent by the hour, which looked quite fun. Food trucks were available for eats and drinks along the streets. The festival had vendors for Henna tattoo, hookah rentals, dance performances, and stations for different businesses and organizations to display their culture.
- dinner at Les 3 Brasseurs: choosing a place to eat was one of the most stressful things on the trip. It was hard to decide on a place all of us reached a consensus on. The poutines are a must try for eateries in montreal, at least that’s what I heard from others. It’s french fries, toppled with gravy, meat of your choice, and other toppings that vary from place to place.
- FOOD: big spending is food. You want to try the food there, but you also want to at a budget so the money don’t go to waste. There was a confusion with the tip. In Quebec, there are two taxes for most goods and services: T.P.S and T.V.Q. TOS is Goods and Services taxes (5%) and TVQ is provincial sales tax (9.975%). You can see why we were confused that we thought one of them were tips that were taken out, but it turned out to be two different taxes on top of the bill. Tip for the waiter is left on the table, usually 15% of pre-tax of the bill.
- ATTRACTIONS: choose the tourist places you’d like to see. We wanted to hit all the free admission ones that were on the top of the list for must sees and throw a few attractions in the schedule that we really wanted to go. Sometimes package passes can be quite a deal! For example, you can get Biodome, Botanical Garden and other attractions admissions at a discounted price if you buy it as a package. In toronto, the city pass gives you admission to many top attractions.
- TRANSPORTATION: depending on where you are staying, I’d suggest driving to the approximate location you’re planning on the spending the day, and park near there. Most of attractions in downtown are walking distance, so you don’t need to worry about driving in traffic and finding a valid parking space every time. If car isn’t an option, try out Bixi, which is a rental bicycle that were located throughout downtown. It’s much faster than walking and save you a lot of time! Like most cities, the STM metro subway system offers stops at the major destinations as well. Be sure to plan out the day so you don’t waste any time or energy.
- LANGUAGE: It feels like I’m in France! All the street signs are in French. All the locals spoke French and most of them spoke English when we asked them questions as well. People are definitely friendly and willing to help, unlike what I thought a city would be like. We had no trouble navigating around, we even picked up words here and there. French was similar to English and Spanish at times, and we tried to figure out the jist of the signs when we didn’t know exactly what it meant. It was a fun challenge.
*more pictures in gallery