Montreal is happening. I mean, it really is. It’s one of the most beautiful cities in Canada, and maybe even the world. It’s the only place in Canada where you’ll feel you’re not in North America anymore. The place just feels different from every other mega-city in our part of the hemisphere. The old buildings, the diverse and multi-cultural people, and the many ancient cobblestoned streets all combine to give Montreal a more European feel. Plus, everybody speaks French and almost all road signs are in French!
1. A very Livable City
Montreal was named “City of Design” by UNESCO and is Canada’s “Cultural Capital” according to Monocle Magazine. Montreal was also included in the New York Times’ top 10 world’s hippest cities, making Montreal truly one of the world’s most livable cities. There are a lot of hotels and condos located in downtown Montreal if you got the dough to spend and you want to be near the center of everything. You can also find great deals outside the city, as we found extremely sweet deals on AirBnb when we visited.
Montreal is 2nd place in The Lonely Planet’s “10 Happiest Places in the World” list and “World’s third best Summer City.” According to the world famous travel guide, Montreal is “Clean, welcoming and refreshingly multicultural, Montreal is happy enough year-round.” If you love comedy, Montreal has just the thing for your funny bone. The hilarious comedy troupe “Just for Laughs” invades the city in July, taking over the summer and packing comedy bars and clubs with face splitting shows.
2. It’s a breeze to get around even without a car
Getting around without a car is easy. Montreal’s robust mass transport system includes 185 bus lines, 4 subway lines known as “the Metro” that has 68 stations scattered across greater Montreal to make it easier for the public to get around. Speaking of getting around, if you’re an avid cyclist like me, you’ll love it in Montreal. Voted as the Top City in North America for bikers and according to Copenhagenize, “the 11th most bicycle friendly city in the World.”
Montreal’s mass transport system was named the “Best mass transit authority in North America” according to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), 2010. After experiencing it first hand, I’d have to say that it’s true. The Metro system is an adventure in itself. Each subway station was designed by a different architect, making travelling more fun because of all the different types of styles and themes applied to the walls, floor, etc. Never a dull moment while taking the underground!
3. The fun Festivals and activities
Montreal has a unique multi-cultural society and you can see it in their festivals. The city has or hosts about 120 annual festivals that celebrate literature, art, music, film, theatre, and comedy.
If you’re a fan of all things car racing, there’s the Formula 1 Montreal Grand Prix. The city is also home to professional sports teams for hockey (the Canadiens), soccer and football. Montreal also has a lot of museums and a very vibrant night life and party scene, with superclubs and afterhour clubs dotting the city if you’re still up for a party.
4. Trees everywhere!
While in Montreal, don’t forget to get outside and just walk around! There are a lot of shops, boutiques and street cafes you can go to. You can visit Old Montreal, Chinatown, Little Italy or Little Maghreb if you want to get a feel of what old Montreal looked and felt like or if you want to try different types of food. Montreal also has a vast network of parks and greenery –the city has 17 mega parks with a combined area of 2,000 hectares.
Montreal also boasts of 1,160 neighborhood parks, with 100 of them located within the city core, making Montreal one of the greenest cities in the world. Walk, jog, run, bike or just stroll along these tree lined parks to get some much needed vacation exercise.
So, the next time you’re in Canada, don’t forget to drop by beautiful and diverse Montreal. It has truly become a world city and a cultural melting pot, full of life, generosity and positivity. The people are warm, friendly and very helpful. With all the fun things to do plus the culture, you’ll want to pack all your stuff and move there! Be sure to learn a little bit of French though, as it is their official language.