This article contains general information needed to smoothly transition for your move to Montreal Canada.
Information included here tackles the requirements for acquiring a visa, healthcare insurance, a driver’s license, as well as information on education and the general background of Montreal.
Securing Your Visa Before Your Move to Montreal Canada
Planning to move to Montreal, Canada?
While it’s always fun to just pack your bags and go it is a smarter move to prepare yourself for what’s to come.
Montreal is a beautiful place to live in but there are a few things you’ll want to know to make your transition smooth and easy.
Move to Montreal Learn Language
The first thing you’ll want is to secure your visa for legal entry.
The common visa is for professional/skilled workers and to qualify for this you need to complete the forms proving you will not be a problem to the region of Quebec (the governing province over Montreal City).
There is an examination that generalizes your eligibility, with things such as your occupation and age taken into account as well as your number of dependents and you want to score 67 or higher to attain a valid visa.
Other than the eligibility examination you will also be required to undergo and pass a medical examination.
You must also prove you can financially support yourself and your dependents while in Montreal.
To further check if you are eligible for visa application you will want to visit the official website for Canadian Immigration.
When you’re ready, it’s time to learn a bit more about your destination.
Basic Information About Montreal
Montreal is not the capital of the Quebec province of Canada; that honor goes to Quebec City but there are many astounding facts about the city.
For one thing, it is the second city where its main language is French, succeeded only by Paris itself.
As a matter of fact, the whole region of Quebec is primarily French and it is the only region of Canada where French is the sole official language.
This means you will find it difficult to get around – and get a job – if you do not have some previous experience in speaking French.
If you have plans to move to Montreal soon you will find it to your benefit to pick up basic lessons in the language, especially if you are hoping to get a job or to go to public schools.
It is also the Canadian city with the highest rate of bi-lingual residents.
Over 56% speak both English and French.
Unfortunately, most employers and public schools prioritize French over English despite of this. Population-wise, Montreal is the 2nd largest city of the country, right after Toronto.
According to the 2011 census, the city had a population of a little over 1.6 Million while the metropolitan area reached just a little over 3.8 Million people, totaling to a little over 4 Million people.
Economy of Montreal
For the longest time Montreal was Canada’s financial center until it was overtaken by the rapidly growing city of Toronto.
It is still recognized as having the 2nd largest economy in the country and it focuses primarily on:
Commerce and finance
In the city is one of the largest sea ports of the world, Port of Montreal, and the city is also home to Canadian Space Agency and the International Civil Aviation Organization among others.
Montreal is a center for film and entertainment as well, hosting the HQ of Alliance Films as well as different film studios and centers for numerous film festivals.
One of the booming industries in the country is the video game industry.
Ubisoft Montreal opened its doors in 1997 and since then this has been followed by THQ Montreal, Bioware, EA (Electronic Arts), Gameloft, and more recently Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.
Cost of Living Montreal Canada
To put this into contrast, the indices used in this portion are in relation to the cost of living index of New York City, USA.
Therefore if an index is 115% it means that the average cost for that prospect is 15% more expensive than in NYC.
If the index is 90%, it means that the cost is 10% below the costs of NYC.
With that in mind here is a look at the basic costs of living in Montreal, Canada as of 2014:
Consumer Price Index, Excluding Rent Costs – 81.09
Consumer Price Index, Including Rent Costs – 55.39
Rent Index – 28.37
Groceries Index – 89.33
Restaurants Index – 74.49
Local Purchasing Power – 105.08
In general, the cost of living in Montreal is very affordable when compared to other high-economy cities in the world, such as New York City (which was used as the primary basis for comparison here).
As a matter of fact, the Montreal is booming with many option for apartments, condominiums, and low-budget housing.
Obtaining Work in Montreal
Working in Montreal will require you to have either one of two different documents:
A residence permit
A temporary working permit
Many foreign nationals moving to the country interchange the two but they are very different and are used for different occasions, as well as different types of working contracts.
Here’s a little insight on their differences and uses.
A residence permit is for any expat planning to reside permanently in Montreal or has plans to live and work for a long period of time (several years).
This permit will not only allow them to legally work in Montreal but will also entitle them to several of Canada’s social systems.
These include entitlements to healthcare, education programs, and others.
This is quite different from the temporary work permit because this permit is only for a specific type of job to be done on a short-term basis.
This is for a one-time and it will expire after a short period of time.
This permit also does not entitle the holder to the different social systems of Canada and you will have to look for other means to attain a traveler’s health insurance or auto-insurance during your stay.
Temporary work permit you will need to provide the following
A completed Temporary Work Permit application form
Completed form for temporary residence
2 (passport size) photos
Valid copy of passport information page but only if the employee is not applying for temporary residence
Valid copy of original passport but only if applying for temporary residence
Valid copy of contract form – this must come from the Canadian employer
Proof of job requirements satisfaction (certification of employment, transcript of records, character references)
Proof of pay
Take note that the visa application official might require additional documents such as a police clearance or a medical examination certificate.
This process will also be required for any relatives that are coming to stay with the employee as well.
Obtaining a Driver’s License and Driving Basics in Montreal
If you are an expat coming from the UK then your international driver’s license valid for the United Kingdom will be valid in Montreal, Canada.
After some time, however, it will be more convenient to transfer to a local Montreal driver’s license.
For holders of a British Driver’s License you can easily transfer without having to take a driver’s test although you might have to provide recent medical certificates.
Whether a British expat or not, you will need to acquire a driver’s license after some time at the SAAQ or Societe de l’Assurance Automobile du Quebec.
For the most part, the rules of the road are quite similar to those found in the US or in the UK; no driving under the influence, seatbelts must be worn at all times, and child passengers must be seated in appropriately sized seats for their age and height.
There is one key difference in driving a vehicle in Montreal than in other countries under the United Kingdom; driving is on the right-hand lane and not the left.
This makes driving much easier to transition to for Americans but not so easily for British nationals.
There is also a key difference when it comes to vehicle insurance.
Unlike countries such as the United States there is no “fault” coverage when it comes to an accident.
In Montreal’s case, the damage on your vehicle will be covered by your insurance company even when the accident was caused by the other party.
Getting Around Montreal
Public transportation is also a viable means of getting around the city.
There are a total of 185 different bus lines as well as 4 subway rails, referred to locally as Metro.
The subway lines cover a total of 68 stations or stops.
Public transportation is, in general, governed by the STM or Societe de Transport de Montreal.
Although rare, if by happenstance you find yourself in a spot not serviceable by bus or tram then the STM also provides the taxibus as an affordable and reliable mode of transport.
To really learn your way around with the different public transportation it is highly recommended to visit the official website of the STM.
There you will find maps, fare rates, locations of different bus and metro stations, as well as an in-depth travel planner.
Montreal’s Healthcare and Taxes
In comparison to other countries, the tax rate of Montreal – Quebec in general – is only rated on the average line meaning it isn’t too high or too low, despite the fact that residents and citizens alike pay both regional and federal taxes.
Sales taxes have hiked to 14% and annual taxes are seeing slight increases since 2008.
However, the effects of these paid taxes also reflect on the numerous benefits given to the people.
Women may avail of up to 52 weeks of maternity leave and still receive up to 70% of their complete annual salary
Public healthcare is provided at no additional charge (more on this in the section below)
Public education is 100% free of charge all the way from kindergarten to college; do take note that most public educational institutions use French as their primary language and not English
Healthcare in Montreal is governed by the Regie de l’Assurance Maladie du Quebec or RAMQ and this is the general healthcare system of the entire region of Quebec.
However, Quebec still follows the Universal healthcare system of all Canada, ensuring everyone – expats included – can enjoy free or low-cost health insurances.
For people still moving in, you simply have to register at the RAMQ office and get yourself a medical insurance card.
This is then followed by a waiting period that lasts about three months.
During this time you will be responsible for medical expenses with the only exceptions being for: pregnancy emergencies, childbirth, patients with contagious diseases deemed dangerous to the society, and victims of violence.
Foreign nationals coming from countries that have a standing healthcare agreement with the region of Quebec will also be exempted from the three month waiting period.
These countries include:
Sweden, Denmark, Luxembourg, Finland, Greece, France, Belgium, Norway,
Do take note that the general subsidized healthcare is only valid for expats who move to Montreal and are staying at least 21 days and longer.
For foreign nationals only visiting for less than three weeks separate travel insurances, not universal Canadian healthcare, must be applied for.
Education in Montreal
There are a total of four major universities, seven multi-award degree-certifying academies/colleges, and twelve pre-university institutions within an 8km radius of the city center.
The most prestigious of these educational institutions is the Universite de Montreal – also known for being the 2nd largest research university in the country – and Universite du Quebec a Montreal, an institution prioritizing in the liberal arts.
There are only two major universities that prioritize in English rather than in French.
These are the McGill University and the Concordia University.
The aforementioned pre-university institutions are for a unique education level seated between secondary (high school) and university levels.
In Montreal they are referred to as CEGEP institutions (formerly stands for College d’Enseignement General et Professionnel) and are designed to be preparatory establishments before college.
Moving to Montreal Canada
Montreal has been listed among the Top 10 Happiest Places as according to Lonely Planet and it is also one of the richest places in terms of diverse culture and art.
The economy is booming with low prices for housing and rentals despite the average income rate per house/per family.
If you have any plans on moving to this beautiful and historically rich city then this guide will help prepare you to get on your way smoothly.
What To Eat In Montreal
Montreal was recently named the second best city to eat out in North America, after San Francisco and ahead of New York which came in third place.
But you don’t have to visit Michelin star restaurants or fancy fine dining places to get a taste of what makes Montreal such a great food city.
The many cafes and street side stalls are also reasons why Montreal is a city loved by foodies from all over the world.
It is also my favorite Romantic Things to Do in Montreal and Great Reasons to Visit Montreal This Summer.
Here are a few foods to try when visiting Montreal…
Ever since the 19th century, smoked meat has been a traditional staple in Montreal and can be found almost everywhere in the city.
The most popular and authentic place however is Schwartz, a Jewish deli that has been serving smoked meat (with a secret recipe of spices) since 1928.
The large local Jewish population contributed with these as well as the traditional Bagels.
Montreal claims to have the best bagels in the world, and they sell them in a variety of styles and flavors.
The Montreal-style bagels are smaller and sweeter than the New York bagels, and are baked in wood-fired ovens which give the bagels a slight hint of a woody taste.
Before they’re baked, they’re boiled in water sweetened with honey – the most classic bagel places are Fairmount Bagels and St-Viateur’s.
Montreal is often nicknamed Europe of North America thanks to its many European influences – one area in particular is great for European food; little Italy.
Little Italy has some truly spectacular Italian restaurants, but a tip is to try the Gelato.
The Gelato scene in Montreal is huge, and Little Italy is the place to go for a scoop of freshly made, original Italian Gelato.
If you prefer some Chinese, you can always head to Chinatown.
Minutes away from the Palais des congrès, a world renowned convention center in Canada, you can find many authentic Chinese restaurants and shops.
Consisting of a bowl or plate of french fries topped with cheese curds and brown gravy, the popular Poutine is the perfect dish when you’re craving for some comfort food.
Poutine can be found just about anywhere in Montreal, and some have mixed them up a bit.
Italian poutine has can have spaghetti sauce and sausage bits rather than brown gravy, and other restaurants offer custom made poutine where you can choose add-ons like beef, chicken, different types of cheeses and sauces.
A traditional dessert of Montreal is the sugar pie, a decadent dish made with vanilla, butter, salt, sugar, flour and cream.
The pie has a delicious caramel flavor, and some bakers use local maple syrup instead of brown sugar.
These are just a few of many food sensations you can find on the streets in Montreal – some other foods worth mentioning are “full dressed pizzas”.
These are just some of many delicious foods to try in Montreal, and a great time to explore the cuisine is during one of the food events and festivals that are held in the city every year.
One of the most popular events for foodies, however, is “The Omnivore Food Festival” and “Street Food Montreal”.
Mini Guide to Quebec Hacks – Romantic Things to Do in Montreal
Quebec is steeped in the history of early French civilization.
This province takes great pride in their love for the arts and winter recreational sports.
Thousands of visitors from all over the world come to the many areas of Quebec each year to enjoy its crisp clean air, fantastic views and its wonderful variety of attractions.
Opportunities abound in Canada, with much to do in Quebec.
The city of Quebec has much to offer, from it’s original old city to it’s vibrant historical center, small boutiques, quaint restaurants and of course the majestic Château Fontenac.
Quebec City Marketplace
This quaint historic marketplace within the Quebec walls dates back to the early 17th century.
Step back in time as you tour Old Quebec’s charming fully restored Church of Victories.
Stroll along European style streets and enjoy the French style homes where residents welcome everyone with open arms.
Have breakfast at a popular cafe and shop at one of many boutiques.
Remember to visit art galleries and antique shops that line the streets.
The Place Royale has been popular since the founding of Quebec.
Quebec Wine Tasting
If you fly into the city, make sure you take a day trip to the area of Victoriaville.
Wine tasting is a big must in this area, and they usually include great cheeses, cold cuts, beers, wines, orchard fruit and more.
If visiting toward the end of the year, the Gatineau’s Santa Claus Parade is a huge traditional you will want to see.
The Victoriaville Fine Cheese Festival is also a popular annual event.
Quebec is a top destination for those who love winter sports, and tobogganing is enjoyed by thousands from mid December to late in March.
This exhilarating ride begins at an elevation of 270 feet with speeds of more than 60 miles per hour.
Take your camera for fantastic views of the St. Lawrence River, Old Quebec and beautiful sunsets.
Stroll along the Dufferin Terrace boardwalk or enjoy relaxing on a park bench while taking in a performance by one of many street musicians.
Perfect Views and City Lights
Visit Parliament Hill at night for wonderful panoramic views of the city of Quebec’s city lights.
The the architectural design of Parliament is breathtaking so make sure you take note of it.
Fontaine de Tourny received a gold medal at the World Fair in Paris in the mid 1800’s.
This water-themed sculpture draws people worldwide because of its awe-inspiring beauty.
It is a legacy that celebrates Quebec’s 400th year anniversary.
Quebec travel tips
Quebec’s cobblestone roads make it such an interesting city, and they are often tricky for driving and getting around.
The city also has a complex traffic light system that combines automobiles, bikes and pedestrians.
Be sure to read up on this before you decide to take a stroll or your bike through the town.
If you visit from January to early April, don’t miss out on the “Ice Hotel”.
It’s only a 10 minute drive from the city, you can stay for the night or take a quick tour during the day.
Great foods to look for are the traditional meat pie (Tourtière Québecoise) or the very yummy poutine.
Quaint cafés are also a big part of the culture, don’t forget to order a great side of camembert style cheeses.
Food is expensive in Quebec so watch your wallet if you’re on a budget!
If you’re looking for that perfect location to sit back and relax, book a hotel with Hotels Villegia in cities such as Victoriaville or even Magog or Orford.
These wine-growing areas will give you the laid-back rural setting without being too far away from the city.
Is Quebec on your travel bucket list? Have you been to other provinces in Canada?
Romantic Things to Do in Montreal
Considered as the second largest city in Canada, Montreal has been known for its romantic sceneries and European flair.
This is why a lot of foreigners and even Canadians love going to the city for weekend romantic dates, family getaways, summer visits to Montreal.
There are several options on which a traveler, particularly a couple can choose from when planning to visit Montreal, but if time is only limited to a weekend, here are the top three romantic things to do:
Be in Awe of Astonishing Museums
Of course, to start the day, a couple must visit the best museums of Montreal;
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Chateau Ramezay Museum.
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts displays Canadia art, European art, Amerindian and Inuit art, Decorative art, and Contemporary art.
In addition, it does not only exhibit artworks but it also holds lectures, workshops and concerts, shows films, hosts guided tours, and have special events as well.
The Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art on the other hand, new conceptual art and holds multi media events which includes videos, films, and experimental theatre.
Lastly, the Chateau Ramezay Museum, located in the Old Port Area, is a history museum that exhibits paintings and memorabilia from Montreal from the 1705.
By visiting these museums, the travelers will be able to appreciate the beauty and serenity of art and at the same time spend quality time together.
They may also be able to share ideas and interesting opinions regarding the works of art they could find in the museums, making their relationships even more fun and intellectual.
Sunset Cruising on the St. Lawrence River a Romantic Things to Do in Montreal
Second stop would an exciting getaway for the couple.
Considered as one of the best spots in Montreal, Quebec, one can go cruising on the St. Lawrence River and experience the beauty and breathtaking views with their loved ones.
The river is approximately 800 miles long and stretches from Lake Ontario to the Atlantic.
The entire cruise will take about 1 hour and half 2 hrs and more, depending on which trip is chosen.
Lovers will not only be able to see nature from far away, but there are spots wherein the cruiser will stop so that passengers can go down, enjoy the beach areas and even have picnics.
The highlight of the cruise though, is the whale watching.
Numerous kinds of whales can be watched from the ship; including the Great Fin, the Baluga, the Humpback whale, and the Minke whale.
The trip will also be handled by a tourist guide, who will be imparting information about everything and anything about Quebec and the St. Lawrence River, in both English and French.
Another beautiful spot that will be encountered in the cruise is the Montmorency falls.
What’s even more interesting with the St. Lawrence River is the fact that there are a lot of activities that can be enjoyed aside from cruising.
Some of which are the following: White water rafting, wildlife viewing, and surfing.
Intimate Dinner at Bouillon Bilk
What is a romantic getaway without dining at a romantic restaurant?
To end the day, couples should check out romantic restaurants around Montreal.
One recommended café is the Bouillon Bilk, a French named restaurant serving contemporary cuisine.
Bouillon Bilk, although located at a grungy block, is highly suggested in review sites.
On Trip advisor specifically, the restaurant is rated top 12 from almost 4,500 restaurants in Montreal.
The restaurant is designed as minimalist and walls are mostly plain white, with a few beautiful paintings hanging on it.
Basically, the restaurant isn’t focused on the interior design but the excellent taste and presentation of their dishes.
The menu, as described by several reviewers who have visited the place refer to it as “inventive”.
This is because the restaurant is fond of making contemporary dishes with their own twists.
All the dishes are not only plated perfectly, but the various flavors mixed in each dish are all balanced, making it complex and simple at the same time.
The restaurant is always packed but it is not required for customers to call for a reservation to get a table.
Over all, it is undeniable that Bouillon Bilk is one romantic and relaxing restaurant.
Couples who want to experience flavorful dishes and a great ambiance should definitely visit the place.
Canada is a large interesting country, this is why many people from different countries all over world love to visit and even migrate in it.
It is also considered as one of the richest countries worldwide; offering numerous benefits for the people such as educational plans, house plans, life plans and many more.
They have a parliamentary system with the sovereign as Queen Elizabeth II.
Montreal is definitely a place to visit not only because of its tourist attractions but also because of its culture as a whole.
It is interesting to know that Montreal is the second largest French speaking city in the entire world next to Paris.
Also, most shops and restaurants in Montreal are French, making the city even more exquisite.
Visitors would feel like they’ve gone to Europe, but of course, with the American touch.
True enough, Canada as a whole and Montreal, specifically are interesting and educational in a lot of sense.
The city of Montreal is indeed a jaw dropping metropolis that visitors from all over the world should check out.
However, before one visits the place, it is highly recommended to check out all the important things that are needed to know: from where one should stay (hotels, inns), where to eat (affordable restaurants when in tight budget, expensive cafes, diners), the mode of transportation, establishments (shopping centers and etc), hospitals and the likes and how to go about the city.
One can check out online and look for reviews, blogs and websites that talk about the city and the establishments they find interesting.
Also, through these reviews and blogs, one will be able to know if the establishments are worth the price, comfortable, and recommended.
4 Great Reasons to Visit Montreal This Summer
Montreal is one of the most picturesque cities in Canada and it dazzles with its European-style architecture and hundreds of years of history.
Summer is a great time to visit, as the city will be bustling with festivals, events and great food.
The temperature will be warm and the sun will be shining on this beautiful old city – so why not book a flight to Montreal this summer?
This article will highlight the advantages of visiting during the summer and list some ideas for fun summer activities, such as kayaking, outdoor concerts and the Montreal International Fireworks Competition.
Enjoying the Great Outdoors
Montreal is surrounded by beautiful Canadian wilderness and here you will find many opportunities to enjoy the fresh air and gorgeous views.
Summer is the perfect season to get out and explore as the weather will be just right.
A must-try activity is kayaking, just off the shore in LaSalle at the park.
The Lachine Rapids offer major thrills and huge waves — lots of fun on a hot summer’s day.
You could also try river surfing, a sport practiced along the Saint Lawrence River.
While riding the standing waves, you might even spot some surf competitions along the river.
If you feel like exploring on two wheels, you could also try the many cycle path networks such as the Lachine Canal and the Parc Jean-Drapeau.
Listen to Some Music Outdoors
In the summertime, Montreal has more than its fair share of excellent outdoor concerts.
There is something about sitting out in the fresh air on a warm summer’s evening and listening to the sweet sounds of a great band that makes for a truly memorable night.
No matter what type of music you are into, you will find it here in Montreal.
The Montreal International Jazz Festival means that throughout late June and early July there will be dozens of free outdoor jazz concerts throughout the city.
The Pop Montreal Music Festival showcases emerging artists and indie music, and the FrancoFolies summer concert series offers free outdoor concerts of traditional French music.
Check the local event listings and you are sure to find several free musical events happening every week of the summer.
You may even want to sign up for French lessons online before coming so you understand the music.
Soak Up the Vibe of Patio Season
When the sunshine and warm weather come around after a long and cold Canadian winter, Montrealers take advantage of every opportunity to be outside, even when socializing and drinking with friends.
Summer in this great city is patio season, so everyone will be relaxing in the evenings, drinking cold beer on the restaurant patios.
This is a quintessential experience of summertime in Montreal and with so many fantastic pubs and restaurants to choose from in this gastronomic city, you are sure to find somewhere that suits you.
If you want the classic French café feeling, visit La Croissanterie Figaro in the Outremont neighborhood, or for the best view you can visit Terrasses Bonsecours and sip their famous sangria.
Attend the Montreal International Fireworks Competition
This fireworks competition, held every year since 1985, is a major event in the pyrotechnics world.
This stunning display of lights and fire is known as one of the biggest and best firework shows in the world and it attracts approximately three million visitors every year.
During the festival, eight or nine fireworks companies from around the world will present a huge 30-minute show, complete with musical accompaniment.
The best show will win the trophy, known as a “Jupiter.”
The event takes place from 22 June to 3 August, with fireworks shows taking place every Friday night at 10 p.m.
One of the best places to watch is from a boat on the Saint Lawrence River, but they can also be seen from many other points in the Montreal area including the Jacques Cartier Bridge and Longueuil.
These are just four of the top reasons that Montreal is so much fun to visit in the summertime.
Why not start planning your summer getaway?
And you might want to checkout our What To Eat In Montreal and 3 Weekend Romantic Things to Do in Montreal
Things To Do In Montreal
Montreal is a vibrant city with things to see and do all year round, from festivals to eating out to partying until the early hours – there is something for everyone in the city that never sleeps.
Visit A Festival in Montreal
Known as the city of 100 festivals, there are festivals and events in Montreal throughout the year.
If you visit in spring and summer you will be especially spoiled for choice; during these months Montreal is buzzing with life and festivals overlap each other.
From small local events to internationally famous “Just for Laughs” and “Jazz Fest”, there is something for everyone.
Many festivals also hold a number of free events, so when you arrive at your hotel make sure to ask the receptionist for some tips of festivals and free events to check out during your stay.
Art & Architecture in Montreal
Montreal is also well known for its architecture.
In 2006, UNESCO designated the city of Montreal as “UNESCO City of Design”.
Examples of great designs in Montreal include the Palais des congrès, a large-scale convention center and Habitat 67, a housing complex, are both design triumphs.
Indulge in Local Specialties & Italian Gelato in Montreal
Named the second best city for dining in North America, Montreal is a true food heaven.
Along with a great mixture of cuisine from all over the world, there are also some local favorites that are a must when visiting Montreal.
The Montreal style bagels and smoked meat sandwiches are two typical Montreal treats, both introduced by the local Jewish population in the 19th century.
Another must-try is of course Poutine, french fries topped with cheese curds and brown sauce – finally, pay a visit to Little Italy and indulge in some freshly made original Italian Gelato – they’re as good as in Italy!
Join the Awesome Nightlife in Montreal
Montreal’s nightlife is top notch and has earned its place as one of the “sin cities” in North America – with a drinking age of 18, “last call” at 3am, a variety of clubs and after-hours houses, there are many reasons why Montreal attracts so many party-goers.
The French-speaking Montrealers mostly hang out on Saint-Denis street, while the English-speaking Montrealers prefer the western part of the Downtown, with Crescent Street being one of the most popular streets in this sector.
Explore The European Surroundings in Montreal
Montreal is very unique with its many European influences, from the culture to the architecture.
Mark Twain once called Montreal the city of 100 bell towers, and the churches are perhaps the most obvious European influenced architecture in the city.
Montreal is North America’s Answer To Europe
If you’re looking for a unique European experience but can’t afford a flight from North America all the way to Europe, Montreal in Canada is just up your alley – a historical city and the second largest French speaking city in the world (after Paris), Montreal has a unique European influence unlike any other place in Northern America.
With bombastic cathedrals, buildings dating back to the 1600’s, cobble stoned streets and a laid back attitude with emphasis on good food and wine.
One particular church that stands out is the Notre-Dame, a cathedral which resembles the one in Paris with the same name.
In some parts of the city there are buildings dating back to the 1600’s, and the cobble stoned streets and a laid back attitude with emphasis on good food and wine really enhances the European atmosphere.
What To Eat in Mentreal
But the architecture and French language aren’t the only things that make Montreal feel like a European city.
The food is also quite unique, and since Montreal is named the second best city to dine in North America, you’re in for a real treat!
Some typical foods for Montreal are the smoked meat sandwiches and small crusty bagels, both foods that were introduced by the rather large Jewish residents in the 19th century.
Little Italy is also a great area to explore for hungry travelers, where the streets are lined with high quality Italian restaurants and fresh, delicious Italian Gelato.
Best of Both Worlds
Some people even go to Montreal to get an idea of what Europe will be like to prepare themselves for their upcoming Europe trips, which is not at all a bad idea.
Keep in mind however, that while Montreal surely has many European influences, it’s not exactly like Europe, or like the rest of North America – rather it’s a city with its very own unique style, some would say the best of both worlds.
A good way to sum up Montreal is a city with fashionable locals who love their wine, cheese, bistros and brasseries, two cheek-kisses and beautiful French speaking people.
People’s impression of Montreal is seems to be split when it comes to being compared to life in France.
Some claim that life in Montreal is quite similar to living in France, with all of the advantages and none of the inconveniences, while others don’t agree.
One thing is for sure, Montreal’s architecture was influenced by Classic European style, as you can see in the Old Port.
In addition, Montreal has many modern buildings within the downtown core that have earned high praise, like the Palais des congrès, a world class convention center.
The best way to make up your own mind on the matter is to simply go there with an open mind and take it all in and make your own impression of Montreal afterwards.
(photo credit: 1)
Heli Skiing Vacation – The Slopes Like You’ve Never Seen Them
If you are from a big city, travelling to western Canada is a bit of an unreal experience.
Suddenly beautiful mountains, fresh air and a sparkling ocean are right in front of you.
And if you are a skier, that experience is even more shocking.
For any avid skier who learned how to snowplow on small domestic hills, the first time you experience a more natural snowfall underneath your skis on a huge freshly-powered mountain, you probably had a pretty typical reaction; something like, “What the heck is going on?! This is awesome!”
Now that you know what you’re missing, it’s time to take your skiing to the next level with a heli skiing vacation in British Columbia, the ultimate way to travel and see the slopes.
Maybe you’ve heard of this sport; maybe you’re still in the dark about it; or maybe you’re just plain skeptical, but regardless of where you stand, there’s a good chance that once you learn more about what the sport entails, you’ll be strapping on your skis and booking a plane ticket faster than you can say “powder.”
So, what’s the big deal about helicopter skiing?
And why should you consider it as your next epic winter vacation with your family or friends?
Quite simply, you get to be ferried via a helicopter to what essentially becomes your very own amazing natural slope.
You’ll get flown to a region that is world famous for its quality and incredible terrain.
Even if you’re not the most seasoned athlete, a helicopter ride across the BC wilderness will result in stunning photographs of natural wildlife.
You’ll have access to an area that dwarfs the quality, size and landscape of any other North American or European resort, yet be secure in the knowledge that you are in the care of experts with decades of experience creating bespoke ski and snowboard tours for small, private groups.
Plus, you’ll have nearly unlimited vertical, more than enough for a trip of a week or more.
But, be sure that you’re ready for really serious powder and hip deep snow!
Of course, you’ll have to be prepared when you start planning the best heli ski trip, as heli skiing does require a few bits of gear that aren’t necessary when hitting the slopes at a resort.
You’ll likely need even more layered clothing for sub-zero temperatures and a backpack fit for glacier travel equipment.
Also, you’ll want freeride or “all-mountain” skis because they are less tiring and handle tough terrain more easily.
The same goes for snowboarders, who will need similar wider powder snowboards.
The whole point of trying out a helicopter trip to hit the powder is to lose yourself in snow (not literally!).
Skiers and snowboarders who will get the most out of a heliskiing trip are the ones who go with the flow, forget work, day to day life and stress, while they carve out their own adventure in pure, unpolluted powder on Canada’s most pristine mountains.
And best of all, when you finish a day after getting dropped into the powder, you’re going to be tired…in a good way.
And what better way to take care of that than a private cabin with a hot tub and amazing views of one of the most breathtaking natural scenes in the world?
Have a soak, a drink and world class meal as you rest up for your next day’s adventure!
If you love to travel and like seeking out unusual terrain, this could be the trip of a lifetime.
Road Trip Through Canada
Canada is a huge country with some of the most varied and beautiful landscapes in the world, something that many people miss out on as they tend to fly from city to city rather than traveling over land.
But crossing Canada by car is not only a way of getting from place to place, but also a journey of a life time – the freedom to hire a car and stopping over wherever you like really opens up for some awesome opportunities and experiences.
Here are 6 places to stop along the way on a road trip from coast to coast in Canada…
Nicknamed the “European capital of North America”, Montreal is a place unlike any other in the world with a mixture of North American and European influences.
With cobble stoned streets, European architecture dating back to the 1600’s, and a laid-back attitude with focus on good food and wine really makes it feel as though you’re in France.
Especially when you’re surrounded by French language and people doing two-cheek kisses!
Named the second best city to eat out in North America, Montreal is a foodie’s heaven, and whether you’re looking for street food or fine dining, there is plenty of great places to choose from.
Montreal is also known as a festival city, so make sure to check out which festivals are on during your visit.
Spend a day in Canada’s capital, watching the changing of the guards, hanging out in one of the many parks and wander the streets of the city.
Especially Sparks Street Mall, the Rideau Centre and Sussex Street.
And while you’re at it, get yourself some of that deep fried dough called Beaver trails, a local favorite snack!
One of the most popular and famous attraction in all of America, the spectacular Niagara Falls should definitely be on anyone’s itinerary when traveling through Canada.
One of the most popular ways to see the Niagara Falls and experience the powerful gushing falls is to get up close on the ‘Maid of the Mist’ cruise, where the cascades pound, churn and foam right before your eyes – prepare to get soaked!
The Great Lakes
Lake Huron and Lake Superior are two of five lakes that together are known as “The Great Lakes”, with the other three being Lake Michigan, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.
Combined, they’re nearly as large as the whole of United Kingdom – in surface area, Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world – rent a canoe and spend the day on one or two of the lakes, exploring the islands and enjoying the calm waters.
With some of North America’s best ski resorts in winter and the finest mountain scenery on Earth, the Canadian Rocky Mountains is a true winter wonderland during the winter months.
Summer is a perfect time for exploring the beautiful nature, whether you choose to do so on a horseback, bike or just your own manpower.
With five national parks that are all declared as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, you can be guaranteed to see some of the most unspoiled nature in the country.
With its luxury lodges the Canadian Rockies aren’t exactly known to be cheap, but with a car rental you can easily bring down the costs, just go for a small camper van and stay in the many camping grounds instead!
The cosmopolitan city of Vancouver has so many and large green parks and areas that it has been nicknamed “the city within a park”, and for those looking for “the best of both worlds”, it’s the perfect end to a road trip through Canada.
With nature at its doorstep and activities such as kayaking, hiking and skiing, you can also enjoy the good nightlife, shopping and restaurants in the city at the same time.
The list of things to do in Vancouver is endless.
Browsing online for tips you’ll find articles listing the 125 best things to do, which in my opinion are a bit overwhelming.
Usually when visiting a new city, you don’t have time to visit 125 places, and when there are so many different places to read about it’s hard to know which one of them is actually worth it.
So to make things a bit easier I’ll go straight to the point, narrow the list down to my favorite 3 things to do in Vancouver that you just can’t miss!
Trip To Vancouver Getting to Vancouver
Planning a trip to Vancouver in the magnificent city of Vancouver and exploring its treasures on a budget can be a seemingly difficult task.
However, you can avoid burning a hole in your pocket by bearing some money-saving tips in mind.
There are numerous online travel agencies that present good offers for discounted flights to Vancouver along with all-inclusive package deals.
For example, Flightnetwork.com specializes in offering highly discounted prices for domestic and International flights including: Air Canada, WestJet, United Airlines, and British Airways.
Stick to the Economy Class and schedule your flight during weekdays to acquire better deals.
If the available flights do not meet your budget, skip to flights that include stopover to reduce the price further.
Alternatively, you can board a flight to Seattle and rent a 2-hour drive to Vancouver.
From the Vancouver airport to the heart of Vancouver
A taxi ride from the airport to Downtown Vancouver would cost you roughly $25-$35 (CAD).
You can also inquire about airport shuttles offered by hotels that are relatively cheaper than taxis.
Another budget alternative is to board bus #424 near the domestic terminal.
Getting around the Vancouver
Though the city does not have many freeways, it has an extensive and modern metro network called the “SkyTrain”.
This automated train covers most parts of the city.
Vancouver also has efficient bus service.
The transit fare is applicable for both the SkyTrain and buses.
You can also purchase a “DayPass” and gain unlimited access to the train or bus service for a flat charge of $9 (CAD) per day.
Taxis are comparatively cheaper in Vancouver as compared to other major cities.
For short rides in the Downtown area, you would pay a fare of $5 – $10 (CAD).
There is a also ferry service called the “SeaBus” that transports passengers from the heart of Vancouver to the North part of the city.
If the weather is favourable, the best option is to hire a cycle.
Vancouver is a very cycle-friendly city with an expanding network of cycle lanes.
Where to stay Vancouver Hotel Hacks
There are many budget hotels in Vancouver along the SkyTrain route and outskirts of Downtown Vancouver.
However, ensure that the hotel is in close proximity to the nearest station or city attractions to save taxi fare.
If you are running on a tight budget, search for budget hostels with shared accommodation that can cost $30 a night.
Saving on Vancouver Attractions
One of the best things to do is to buy the “Entertainment Book for Vancouver” which will help you save on food and admission charges for major city attractions.
Buy the book well in advance to receive discounts of almost 75% on the original purchasing price.
The book is full of buy-one-get-one coupons that slash entry fees by half for attractions like Vancouver Aquarium and Space Centre.
You can also use the coupons for getting discounts for casual dining as well as fine dining restaurants.
Hope you have a great time in Vancouver – already been? What was your favorite part?
One of the most popular places in Vancouver is Granville Island, where you can shop at the local market, sit down at one of the many picnic spots or browse the art galleries and boutiques beyond the market.
Once a hippie hang-out, Kits now has some of the most expensive properties, and places like Kits Beach is the place to see and be seen.
Other things to do here is to visit the different museums, and eat at the many restaurants (this area has the highest density of restaurants in Vancouver!)
Ski or Snowshoe
For winter enthusiasts, Vancouver offers some great skiing and snow shoeing in the nearby mountains, making it possible to enjoy both the urban city as well as the nature on a visit.
Cypress, Grouse and Seymour are only half an hour out of town, and all provide terrain for skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing.
Thanks to the floodlights, the runs are open until as late as 10pm every day of the week during high season.
Another draw to these mountains are the spectacular views you get from the top.
The Chinatown in Vancouver is one of the biggest in North America, and offers some of the best Sushi in the country.
It is also one of the oldest parts of Vancouver and the old architecture which still largely remains gives the place a very unique and charming atmosphere compared to the glass and concrete buildings downtown.
During summer there is a lively night market, and there are plenty of beautiful Chinese gardens that are well worth a visit.
These are just a few of many more things to do in Vancouver, but this should be enough for a short weekend break, have fun!
Top Festivals in Toronto
There is so much to indulge yourself in while in Toronto.
It’s the city where everything happens, where there is not one weekend without a fun event going on.
If you’re planning a trip to Toronto, it’s always fun to plan it around one of the city’s annual events.
Here are three of the best…
The Beaches Festival
My most preferred event of the year is the Beaches Jazz Festivals that is held every summer, this year from July 20th – 29th.
The festival is huge and attracts a big crowd, with people from all over the world.
What makes it exceptional is that the performing bands are exceptionally talented, hence the high quality performances.
Saturdays and Sundays are completely outstanding with lengthy music held at the gazebo.
Bring a blanket, sit down and enjoy the show with some drinks and sandwiches.
The best part of this 10 day jazz, blues and Latin street festival is that it’s free!
Pride Week is Toronto’s premier gay and lesbian event, and everyone is welcome to join the party that lasts for 10 whole days.
The street festival, concerts and of course the famous parade are some of the highlights of the festival
This event takes place every year during Toronto’s Winter City Festival.
The winter festival has heaps of concerts, theater, street performers, ice-skating parties with famous DJ’s and more, but the highlight of the festival is the culinary event called Winterlicious.
During this time, fancy restaurants offer discounted prix-fixe menus, themed tastings and cooking workshops.
The reservations spaces are limited and you must book early for a specific restaurant.
One of the most famous Shakespeare festivals in the world, including at least 5 Shakespeare plays as well as other traditional productions, where famous actors participate.
If you’re a fan of Shakespeare this is definitely something for you.
Banff in the Fall, a New Experience
Banff, in Alberta, Canada, is a fantastic place to see the Canadian Rockies and venture out into the Great Outdoors.
The town is popular with hikers in the summer and skiers in the winter, leaving autumn as one of the best times to visit the town.
The shoulder season offers the peace and quiet that comes with less crowds.
From mountain biking to international film festivals, there is plenty to explore in Banff in the fall.
Banff National Park and many of the other parks that border the Rockies are designated UNESCO sites — with glaciers, lakes, waterfalls, forests, canyons, and caves, it’s easy to see why.
The landscape here is stunning, and you don’t have to venture far out of the historic town to appreciate it.
Lake Louise is breathtaking any time of the year, as are the mountain peaks towering beyond.
If you’re looking for a quick day trip, you can hike or take a gondola up to aptly-named Sulfur Mountain, and relax in the Upper Hot Springs upon your return.
Visitors interested in the prehistoric history of the region can take a day trip out to the Burgess Shale Fossil Site until mid-to-late September.
Here you can see some of the amazingly preserved fossils from the Cambrian period, some are as old as 505 million years!
Mountain biking is popular and there are more than 118 miles (190 km) of trails in the national park alone.
If the weather cooperates, biking is a fantastic way to take in the scenery and see some wildlife.
An evening wildlife safari with a tour guide all but guarantees sightings.
You can also take a horseback ride along the surrounding rivers and valleys, which will transport you back to the early days of Banff.
You can also opt for an overnight trip in the backcountry.
Back Up Plans
If the weather gets cold and damp, don’t despair!
In late October to early November, Banff hosts the Banff Mountain Film Festival, featuring films from around the world that focus on the outdoors and mountaineering.
If you’re feeling particularly inspired, you can also take a trip to an indoor climbing gym.
The Banff Park Museum, the Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum, and the Cave and Basin National Historic Site are all great rainy day attractions and provide insight on the natural history of the area and its original inhabitants.
Take a train ride through the clouds
Despite being frequently compared to its southern neighbor, it’s true to say that Canada has kept a few of their best bits for locals and tourists only.
Why visit Canada?
Because it’s the only place in the world you can do this…
You can’t visit the beautiful country of Canada without journeying through the Rockies.
Canada Train trip take wannabe adventurers on a train journey like no other.
After passing Hell’s Gate, the Rocky Mountaineer excursion takes passengers to some of the highest peaks in the Rockies so you are literally riding through the clouds from the comfort of your first-class seat.
Eat a Sweet Marie bar
For the native Brit or American, your trip to Canada may be the first time you’ve come across a chocolate bar of this kind.
But despite being produced by our beloved Cadbury, a Sweet Marie can only be tracked down on the other side of the water.
Widely known for providing sustenance during long, frost-bitten winters, the confectionery is an energy-fueled combination of chocolate and peanuts masking a slab of chewy nougat in the center!
It is sweet, satisfying and hunger-sating all in one bar; the ideal snack for when you’re exploring the harsh terrain in the wilds or nipping through Ottawa in search of the capital’s sites.
Catch the best ice hockey in the world
As the country’s national sport, ice hockey (or “hockey” in North America and Canada), is a big deal – and a must-see no matter how long you’re visiting for.
The National Hockey League (NHL) consists of multiple Canadian teams, plus many from the USA as well.
If you are fortunate enough to visit this fine country during April, May or June, try to catch a piece of the Stanley Cup action.
This prestigious accolade is as sought-after now as it was back in 1893 when the Cup was first organized.
Teams from Canadian and American cities compete in the playoffs, sending the crowds into a frenzy with every pass of the puck.
Things To Do in Canada Meet a Moose
Canada is the native homeland of a vast number of weird and wonderful creatures, including the Arctic hare, flying squirrel, wolverine and caribou.
View all Canadian animals and make a tick-list to challenge yourself to see them all!
Perhaps the most famous animal symbolising Canada is the moose, the largest member of the deer family.
Residing on the cusp of lakes, muskegs and streams as well as in dense wood forests, this mostly gentle creature is known to occupy vast expanses of Tundra, often seeking-out forests with low snow levels in winter.
Whatever you do while in Canada, make sure you take time-out to enjoy a few “only in Canada” experiences; they are well worth the journey and will provide you with epic tales of ‘living like a local’.
Typical Foods To Try In Canada
Every country in the world will have its own particular style of food that’s typical for the country and its culture.
Food tell a lot about the people, their culture and their history, and is a great way to get to know it better as a tourist.
Canada is no different, and there are some foods which are particularly Canadian in flavor and presentation.
Since the country is populated with people from all over the world, one can expect to find some eccentric but delicious dishes.
Here are 3 popular typical Canadian dishes you must try when visiting Canada…
Poutine French Canadian Dish
Poutine is a French Canadian dish of French fries, topped with cheese curds and brown gravy.
It’s originally from Quebec, but today you can find it everywhere in Canada, usually in fast food chains (even McDonalds sells them in Canada, but we recommend you try them from a more authentic place for better taste), cheap diners and pubs, as well as by roadside chip wagons.
Rappie Pie of Nova Scotia
In Nova Scotia, try some Rappie Pie.
This dish is made from grated potatoes which have had all the moisture removed.
Chicken or pork broth is added to wet the potato again and a casserole dish is layered with this reconstituted potato, fried meat with onions and then topped off with cubed pork rinds and baked in the oven until golden brown.
Tarte au Sucre
In Quebec, as one would expect, French cuisine is high on the list of foods to be experienced.
However, this is surely not the place for those who want to eat a healthy and low calorie diet.
Maple syrup is used in sweet treats like Tarte au Sucre, a traditional sugar and maple syrup pie, which is a dieter’s disaster for sure.
Literally translated into Sugar Pie, this single crust pie has a filling made from flour, butter, salt, vanilla, and cream and maple syrup as additional filler.
Maple Syrup is a local Canadian ingredient which you will see used in many dishes in Canada, and whether you choose to use it on your pancakes or indulge in cakes with maple syrup as the main ingredient, make sure you try it.
Because there is nothing more Canadian than maple syrup!
Train Trips in Canada ’s vast territory makes it an especially great place to take a train journey.
When you fly, it’s hard to take in the grandeur of the mountains and plains, and when driving across country we’re often focusing on traffic and navigation rather than enjoying the scenery.
When you travel by train, you can fully appreciate the beautiful vistas of the Canadian country side.
There are many options to choose from.
For some of the longer trips you can sleep on the train, while others are best for day jaunts based on the destinations at either end of your route.
If you want to avoid renting a car, a great tip is to try to find hotel deals near the train station.
Check out some of the available train trips available in Canada:
Traveling By Train In Canada
Canada is one of those vast and amazing countries that can be explored by many forms of transport.
However, exploring the country by train makes it possible for the visitor to sit back in comfort and watch a whole array of vistas as he moves across some magnificent landscapes.
Also, you have the flexibility to stop on the way and stay in hotels for the time you desire.
But Canada is a big country, and there are many great destinations and routes to travel by train, so which ones should you choose?
One of the best train vacation companies in Canada is the Rocky Mountaineer, which offers scenic train journeys in Alberta and British Columbia.
First Passage To The West
They cover 4 principal routes in the Canadian Rockies, the First Passage to the West being the most scenic and historically important one.
You’ll pass Castle Mountain, a small pretty station by a lake, Stoney Creek Bridge (awesome photo opportunity) and the Thompson and Fraser river canyons.
Apart from the wildlife that is seen en route, the visitor gets served up gourmet food in the double deck Goldleaf dome coach.
Indeed, most people will use a train to get from A to B, but with this kind of scenery and service (all the food is included in most packages) the visitor can make the train trip the highlight of the vacation.
There are plenty of different packages to be found and all of them have something unique to offer.
For example, the Western Explorer takes the visitor on a tour through the mountains, over the ice field parkway and Jasper, and on through Yoho and Banff.
There is even a helicopter ride on offer here to get a bird’s eye view of the surrounding countryside.
Rainforest to Goldruch Route
If you want to venture off the beaten track, then Rainfores to Goldruch route (Whistler-Quesnel-Jasper) is a good option.
You get off the beaten track into gold-rush and timber country, through wonderful scenery where yu may even se bald eagles, bears and ospreys.
The cool thing about this kind of vacation is that there are different levels of service for those who are on a tighter budget.
There is the Goldleaf, Silverleaf and Redleaf level with a difference of around fifteen hundred dollars between the most expensive and the more economic of the three.
(photo credit: 1)
The Rocky Mountaineer
Though often referred to as one train ride, the Rocky Mountaineer departs from Vancouver and actually offers a few train routes through stunningly gorgeous scenery.
A fun but quick train ride in British Columbia, the Rocky Mountaineer to Whistler passes through dramatic mountain scenery from Vancouver to ski- and mountain-bike paradise Whistler.
You’ll pass over canyons, rivers and through lush rain-forest before arriving at your destination.
The trip takes about three-and-a-half hours, including the time it takes to get there, a little time to have a look around Whistler, and then head back to sea level.
If you prefer a longer trip through amazing scenery, take the Rocky Mountaineer to Jasper in Alberta.
You’ll travel two days through the Rockies, past mountain peaks and secluded lakes.
The rails take you places you’d never see if you travel by car.
You’ll dip down into the Thompson Valley and stop for the night in Kamloops before enjoying more mountain passes on the way to Jasper.
Kettle Valley Steam Railway
If you prefer to take a trip back in time rather than over great distances, hop aboard the Kettle Valley Steam Railway.
This steam train only travels 10 kilometers in the Okanagan Valley, B.C., but passengers will travel 100 years back in time, to when the railway was used to transport fruit and passengers in this farming region.
You’ll see some of the region’s famous wineries and orchards as the train travels along its 90-minute course.
If a ride on steam train sounds like fun, be sure to schedule your trip to the Okanagan Valley during the summer, as the Kettle Valley railway only operates from May to September.
Royal Canadian Pacific Train Trips in Canada
For luxury on the tracks, the Royal Canadian Pacific train’s two routes in the Canadian Rockies provide options for high-class travel through world-class mountain scenery from Calgary.
Choose between a loop that takes in the best of the Rocky Mountains — north to Golden and south to Elko — or one that highlights fly-fishing opportunities in roughly the same terrain.
Accommodations are five-star, and the train stops at night so the movement of the train doesn’t disturb your rest.
Royal Canadian boasts that the excursions include some of Canada’s “most elite tourism experiences.”
Winnipeg to Churchill
If you prefer adventure to luxury, take Canada’s national train service, the VIA, on its Manitoban routes from Winnipeg to Churchill.
On this route you’ll travel 1,700 kilometres through subarctic terrain over the course of two days.
While this train is used for commuting to rural communities, it’s also a highlight of many travelers’ itineraries because it brings them to polar bear and beluga whale territory.
In the summer, when belugas congregate in the thousands in Hudson Bay near Churchill, visitors can sign up for kayaking excursions when off train.
In winter and autumn, travelers can go on polar bear safaris and marvel at the Northern Lights.
The Polar Bear Express
The Polar Bear Express operates on weekdays between Cochrane and Moosonee, Ontario, on the edge of James Bay.
Canoeists and other outdoor sports enthusiasts can bring their equipment along in the cargo cars and use Moosonee as a base to explore the area.
Strangely, despite the train line’s great name, polar bears are not often seen near Moosonee.