Last Updated on February 27, 2023 by MacNaughtan
Once you know the different ways of getting around Montreal, exploring the city is fairly easy and straightforward.
Montreal is often known as the art and culture capital of Canada, blending both historic and trendy emerging neighbourhoods with tons of festivals, shows, exhibitions and cultural events, a really creative food scene, and plenty of fun areas to take advantage of the outdoors.
In summer, outdoor festivals and sidewalk patios fill the streets with life, and in the winter Montrealers don’t hide away, they come out in full force for music, art, and al fresco activities, no matter how drastic the sub-zero temperatures get (and they can get pretty drastic).
Whether you’re exploring spontaneously on foot, hopping between neighbourhoods via subway, or taking to the water, here are some of the best ways to get around Montréal.
walking around montreal
In my opinion, walking is the best way to explore any city, and this is particularly true of Montreal. Because the city has such distinct neighbourhoods, it’s easy to discover them on foot, wandering pretty streets, stopping at cute cafes, and admiring architecture both old and new.
Keep in mind that there is a mountain in the middle of it all, so walking along streets that approach it you’re likely to be going uphill, and it can get steep in parts. That being said, hiking up Mont-Royal is one of the best walks you can do, and well worth the views from the top.
Other great neighbourhoods for a stroll are Mile End for its hipster coffee shops and street art, Old Montreal for its historic architecture and old port, and Griffintown for its industrial conversions and budding restaurant scene.
bus & metro
The bus and metro network is collectively known as the STM. It’s the easiest and fastest way to get around Montreal, and perfect for when you want to hit up more than one neighbourhood.
You can get a tourist pass for one ($10) or three ($19) days which offers unlimited access. A single trip is $3.25 (this is the only fare sold on buses and is required in cash) and two trips is $6.
The metro system is clean, safe, and fast. It’s particularly good at temperature control so you don’t overheat, which is much more than can be said for many subway systems. The metro has 4 different lines: green, orange, yellow, and blue. It’s the green and orange lines that cover most of the areas you’ll likely visit in Montreal. Head to Square-Victoria, Place-d’Armes, or Champs-de-Mars on the orange line to get to either Montreal’s downtown or its old town and the old port.
driving, taxi & uber
Just like many big cities, Montreal can be a little frustrating if you’re behind the wheel. You can rent a car (from any of the usual suspects: Budget, Enterprise, Avis, Discount, etc. from the airport or train station) and might want to consider this option if you plan on any day trips outside the city.
Otherwise, the driving is best left to those who know the city well, and then you can have that second glass of wine! If you’re flagging a taxi, stick to Taxi Diamond, Teo Taxi (all-electric), or Taxi Coop for reliable service. Rideshare app Uber also operates here and is growing in popularity as a slightly cheaper alternative to taxis.
saint-lawrence river water shuttles
Undoubtedly one of the most fun forms of transportation in Montreal is taking to the water and seeing the views of the city from the Saint-Lawrence River aboard one of its water shuttles.
Maritime Shuttles operates a water shuttle service from the old port to Parc Jean-Drapeau (where La Ronde amusement park and the Biosphere are) and Longueuil from mid-May to mid-October. The regular one-way fare is $7.75.
Navark also offers shuttle services as well as themed cruises like dinner cruises and fireworks cruises for those looking to turn their journey into a destination.
Cycling is an absolute pleasure in Montreal, and a great way to see the city like a local. There are several good cycling routes to explore both neighbourhoods and adventures beyond.
The city has 780km of bike paths to discover. It’s a system that’s been named one of the most bike-friendly in North America. The city’s rental program, BIXI, is accessible 24/7 from April to November. They have 540 stations around Montreal so it’s easy to pick up and drop off your bike wherever you want to go. A one-way trip of 30 minutes or less is $2.95, and a day pass is $5. One of the most fun cycle routes takes you along the Lachine Canal to or from the Old Port. It’s best in summer when everyone’s out picnicking on the banks.
A cycling tour is another great way to get to know the city. Montreal on Wheels does a variety of different tours whether you’re into architecture, food, and one that’s good for families with young kids.