"Women can feel safe walking around by themselves, even if it's late at night." We heard this repeatedly from locals during our first visit to Montreal a couple of years ago. It definitely piqued our interest and after spending some time exploring their streets by foot throughout the day and night, we grew to love the vibe. Of course, no city is 100% safe, but Montreal is far from the most dangerous of places.
It's also a really pedestrian friendly city, so renting a car is not necessary unless you plan to take a road trip. Ride sharing services, public transportation and taxis are available, however walking is king here. Bicycling is very prominent as well and you can easily check a bicycle out using their BIXI bike sharing system. Stations are plentiful.
We've come to really love Montreal and Canada in general, which was really unexpected. We never had anything against our Northern neighbors or anything. We just lacked the same enthusiasm that we've had for so many other destinations when it came to planning a trip. That whole time, the joke was really on us however. We were completely missing out. The exotic destinations get so much attention and rightfully so, but with that said, Canada is not to be overlooked. Also, an added bonus for Americans - we currently have a nice currency advantage.
When you walk the charming, quirky streets of Montreal, you'll often feel like you're somewhere in Europe. The historical influence is present in so many ways.
In Quebec, French is the official language, so you'll encounter it everywhere you go, although most people also speak fluent English. Street signs are usually in French. Food menus are handed to you in French unless you request otherwise. Many conversations overheard on the
street are spoken in French, which adds to the European feel. Something else worth noting - the legal drinking age in Montreal is 18.
Between the architecture, local cafes, restaurants, bars and boutique shops, you'll have enough to keep you busy exploring for days.
If there's something you can't escape in Montreal, it's art. It's pretty much everywhere and that's a factor that really drew us in. Between the street murals, graffiti, outdoor public installations, museums and galleries, it's clear that art is woven into the fabric of the city. Artists are embraced and celebrated, which is pretty awesome. It's part of what brought us back for a June visit. Besides from the fact that the warmer weather months are the best time to visit Montreal, it's also when the annual MURAL Festival takes place, which is free and open to the public.
Since it's founding in 2012, MURAL Festival has brought in artists from all over the world to produce 80+ street art murals in and around the Plateau Mont-Royal borough and surrounding areas. This is probably the coolest neighborhood in Montreal, so stay in the vicinity if you can. We recommend Hotel 10. From there, you're right in the mix of MURAL Festival. Due to Montreal's affordable rental prices, booking a residence via Airbnb.com or other comparable service is also a solid option.
In addition to witnessing the live creations in the streets during MURAL Festival, attendees can check out completed murals from previous years, attend one of the outdoor concerts at night or head to one of several galleries hosting special exhibitions throughout the festival dates.
MURAL Festival is definitely worth going back to for us. If you're an art lover who also enjoys pedestrian life, a trip is highly recommended.
There's plenty in Montreal to keep you interested and occupied. We still can't seem to get enough!