While there always seems to be plenty of talk and attention given to summer getaways and beach destinations, sometimes the winter destinations don’t get as much love as they deserve. The fact is that a holiday mid-way through winter can be the perfect way to relax, enjoy the natural beauty of the season, and just get away from the daily grind. As for where to visit, there are literally tons of fabulous destinations, but few can rival the entertainment, beauty, dining, shopping, and atmosphere that Montreal, Canada has to offer to tourists.
Montreal is a city that is steeped in history, culture, incredible architecture, and plenty of modern touches thrown in. The French city has a European charm about it that tourists absolutely love. With that said, there are a few tips, considerations, and bits of information that can help you to plan the ultimate getaway to Montreal that also stays within your budget. So, let’s jump right in.
Make the Flight Comfortable and Affordable
Unless you are within driving distance of Montreal, you will need to book a flight to the city. Porter Airlines offers flights to Montreal, right into Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL) from cities such as Toronto and Halifax. The airline has really been making a name for itself over the past couple of years thanks to its exceptional service which feels a lot more like luxury travel, all at affordable rates.
Porter Airlines boasts quicker check-in times thanks to the smaller line-ups, free snacks/wine/and beer on-board, plenty of legroom, and no middle seats. It can help to take the stress out of travelling and just make it relaxing from the moment your vacation starts rather than the moment you arrive at your destination.
You can learn more about Porter Airlines and book a flight through flyporter.com.
Look at Budget Hotel Prices and Watch for Deals
Now, before you go scooping up the first hotel deal that you come across, you’re going to want to pump the brakes a bit. Spend a little time checking out the various hotel prices and deals that are available. It can be helpful to use an online booking tool like Booking.com which will show you the cheapest rates. Keep in mind that the rates fluctuate all the time so if there isn’t anything good at the moment, that can easily change.
Montreal also features a variety of Airbnb options, which can prove to be huge money-savers. It depends what kind of accommodation you’re looking for and the location.
For those who are on an extremely tight budget, accommodation can be a great place to cut costs as Montreal also features hostels that tend to start around $15 for a typical dorm-style room. If you’re looking for a private room, then it’s more likely to start at around $65 per night.
Set a Daily Budget for Yourself
One of the best ways to stay within budget is to actually have one. Don’t just set a general trip budget, rather break it down per day. Decide how much you have to spend per day and then be sure to stick to it. It may be helpful if you use cash so that you can’t spend more than you have on you.
This daily budget can be used for food, entertainment, shopping, tours, and transportation. As for what a reasonable amount would be, travel experts suggest that $80 per day should cover you. Obviously, you can cut back further if that still seems too high.
Do Your Research in Advance
Planning what the must-see and must-do things are will also help you to stay on budget. This means you’ll figure out the costs for these tours and entertainment in advance so there won’t be any surprises. It will also help you to put together an itinerary that makes sense. You can group daily things together based on their location so that you’re not running all around the city, spending a fortune in transportation costs.
Make Lunch Your Big Meal of the Day
While it’s perfectly normal to make dinner your big meal of the day, often lunch menus tend to be more affordable. So rather than fight it, why not use this to your advantage and make lunch your big meal? It will be cheaper than a fancy dinner, and then you will have the afternoon to work off the big meal you enjoyed. Dinner can then be something light and inexpensive.
And speaking of food, don’t forget that Montreal sets the bar where smoked meat is concerned. With that said, there are an endless number of delis serving up some of the most mouth-watering and affordable sandwiches out there. Also, you simply cannot travel to Montreal and not indulge in the province’s dish of poutine, which is fries slathered in gravy and cheese.
Create Your Own Self-Guided Walking Tour
While there are plenty of guided tours in the city of Montreal, they all cost money and will quickly chip away at your budget. Instead, pick up a map, get some tips from your hotel’s concierge if you have one, from locals, or with an online travel site, and plan your own self-guided walking tour. It will cost you nothing and you’ll still get to experience what the city has to offer.
Check Out All the Free Entertainment
These days it can be hard to believe that you can do anything for free, but in fact there is plenty you can do and see in Montreal that will either cost very little or nothing at all. Take for example the public markets that showcase local food, drinks, and culture. You can just browse around and take in the sights and not spend any money at all, or you can indulge in a few tasty treats.
If you enjoy museums, then you can take advantage of half-price Wednesdays at The Museum of Contemporary Art, whereas the Centre Canadien d’Archtecture and the Centre of Design at the Université du Québec à Montréal are both free to enjoy during certain days and hours.
Another tip is to schedule your trip during a big festival such as the popular Montreal High Lights Festival that takes place at the end of February. The festival is free to explore and features all kinds of fabulous activities and events.
Take a Stroll Along St-Paul Street
One of the most popular spots for tourists to visit is St-Paul Street which is lined with art galleries, restaurants, souvenir shops, and bars. Even if you don’t spend any money, it’s still a fabulous street to check out. It has that traditional European atmosphere that Montreal is so well-known for.
A Trip to Remember Right in the Middle of Winter
There is absolutely no reason to dread winter each and every year; instead, why not create a highlight in the season, something you can look forward to? A winter getaway offers you that break from everyday life, but it also gives tourists a chance to discover cities like Montreal and just how special they can be in the middle of winter. The snow and ice just add something unique to the city and gives it even more personality which can really make your whole trip.