cheap montreal travel guide includes cycling

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Sitting between the Canadian capital, and the capital of Quebec, Montreal sparkles in history, art, and a certain European flair that’s hard to replicate elsewhere in North America.

I was charmed by this city on a visit in 2014, and haven’t looked back since.

I love calling this city home, which is why I’ve written this cheap Montreal travel guide.

old port is affordable in this cheap montreal travel guide

Montreal is a great city for budget travellers. Actually, Montreal is one of the best cities to visit on a budget.

Here’s all the tea on the city in my complete cheap Montreal travel guide.

Getting In

Montreal’s Pierre Elliot Trudeau Airport (named after our former Prime Minister) sits about thirty minutes outside of the downtown core in Dorval.

When you land, you’ll have a number of options to get downtown. I’ll highlight the cheapest, but the best one may differ based on your situation.

Bus

Best Value

The most cost-efficient way to get into the city is by bus. The STM has a direct route to the airport from downtown, so it’s actually quite easy.

The stop for route 747 (get it?) is near the arrivals section. It will cost you $10 CAD for a ticket downtown.

The bus connects to Montreal’s metro line easily. It will make its first stop at station Lionel-Groulx where you can connect to the orange and green line.

The bus also goes to station Berri-UQAM but this is the easiest option since metros are much faster than the bus.

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Hack: An STM Day-Pass is also $10 CAD and will grant you access to the 747 bus. Getting the day-pass is the better value if you plan on exploring the city that day. Actually, it’s always the better value.

Uber/Taxi

Best for late-night arrivals or for lots of luggage.

There are some situations where you just can’t be bothered with the bus. Or, you simply have no other option but to take a taxi or Uber from the airport.

You should have no problem finding a taxi or Uber from arrivals.

Taxis in Montreal usually have a flat-rate of $40 to get from the airport to downtown.

Uber is unsurprisingly the cheaper option. Rides to downtown cost about $30. Where I live in the Plateau, it costs closer to $35. They also add a $3 airport fee.

If you’re on a budget, it’s best to avoid Uber during high traffic times. Not only will surge rates apply, but traffic will drive up your final price.

Cheap Montreal Travel Guide to Getting Around

Montreal is super easy to get around. It’s not a massive city, so there’s really no need for a car.

On that note, I’d avoid driving in Montreal altogether unless you have a place to park. Parking here is a pain.

Metro/Bus

The STM connects the city pretty well by metro and bus. The metro is probably the main method of transportation in Montreal (especially in the winter).

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It’s inexpensive and efficient with four lines spread across 68 stations.

A single-ride ticket costs $3.25 CAD and you’ll be able to make transfers to other lines and busses.

There are many ways to stretch your dollar on the STM system though. 2-way fares cost $6, day passes are $10, and evening passes are $5.25 after 5pm on weekends.

For longer stays, weekend, weekly, and monthly passes are also available.

Note: When going to Laval, you’ll need to pay a completely different fare on your return ticket.

Bixi Bikes

Montreal is great for cyclists. It has over 600 kilometres of bike lanes stretching throughout the downtown core and outer neighbourhoods.

Montreal also has a number of gorgeous bike trails to take advantage of. And with a number of bike shops around the city, you may just feel out of place without one.

Luckily, there’s Bixi. Bixi is Montreal’s public bike-share system. For $2.95 you can hop on a bike from one of the city’s many stations and join in.

Bixi is great if you want to take the scenic route. It’s also a cheaper option and you won’t have to worry about where to lock your bike.

Bikes are alotted for 30-minute time-slots. At the end of your trip, you’ll be required to dock it into a Bixi station. Trust me, you’ll find one.

You can also choose between a $5 day pass, $10 long weekend pass, or $25 for 10 passes. Bixi also has long-term options available.

cheap montreal travel guide includes cycling

Walking

You might not even need to pay for public transportation on your visit to Montreal. This city is easy to walk around, and a joy to walk around as well!

If you’re visiting in the warmer months, pack comfortable shoes and take advantage of your surroundings.

Where I live in the Plateau, it usually doesn’t take me longer than twenty minutes to get anywhere, making this city super convenient for walkers.

Montreal’s neighbourhoods are like small villages, each with their own personality and vibe.

No matter where you are, you’re sure to see some magic on your walk.

Where to Stay in Montreal 

Cheap Hotels in Montreal

You’ll be able to find cheap hotels in Montreal in the low season. Montreal has a variety of options from the big names to cool boutique hotels.

While it’s not rare to luck out on cheaper hotels during the warmer months, summertime also brings festival season.

With events like Just for Laughs, JazzFest and Osheaga bringing tourists into the city, this is when prices will be higher.

Looking for cheap hotels in Montreal? Try some of these options:

graffiti stops make for cheap montreal travel guide

Montreal Hostels

Hostels are another option for cheap accommodations when you’re in Montreal.

One of our favourites is M Hostel. And not just because they have hot tubs on the roof. We actually used to frequent there when we had friends working there for their pub. It’s a welcoming, friendly vibe.

There are a number of other well-recommended Montreal hostels as well.

Montreal Airbnbs

Even though I live in this city, I find it so fun to look at Montreal Airbnb listings. Why? Montreal homes are so unique – you never know what you’ll find!

I’d recommend taking advantage of Airbnb so you can really envelop yourself in the Montreal lifestyle.

Airbnb offers a wide variety of homes in the Montreal area, most of which are very budget friendly.

It’s best to book early if you’re planning to arrive in the summer months. Outside of the busy season, you’ll be sure to find a really cool space for cheap.

Click here to save on your next Airbnb.

Best Neighbourhoods in Montreal for Budget Travellers

montreal staircase

The Plateau

Rent in the Plateau has risen over the years but it still has the same artsy vibe going for it today.

This bohemian-esque side of town sits near metros Sherbrooke, Mont-Royal, and Laurier.

The houses and artwork in the area are charming on their own, but you’re sure to find a load of cheap food, drink, and entertainment options in the Plateau.

Cheap local restaurants line St. Laurent and St. Denis, laid-back watering holes are far from scarce, and this area is great for thrift shopping.

The Plateau is in close proximity to other popular areas of Montreal including Downtown, Mile-End, The Village, Old Port and Chinatown.

The Gay Village

Sitting near the busy Berri-UQAM Station, the bustling village is historically home to Montreal’s LGBTQ+ community.

It’s most exciting to visit the village in the warmer months where the main street (St. Catherine) is closed off to pedestrian traffic.

There are a number of hostels, hotels, bed and breakfasts and Airbnbs on this side of town. While you should find cheaper accommodations, you’ll also be central.

The Village is close to The Plateau, Hochelaga, Downtown, Old Port and Chinatown. There’s a variety of restaurants, bars, and nightlife to indulge in, so you’ll be far from bored.

Note that the busy season happens during the annual Gay Pride Parade.

St-Henri

This is one of my favourite neighbourhoods in Montreal. St-Henri sits on Montreal’s west-side bordering onto Griffintown and the downtown core.

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Once a pretty industrial area, St. Henri has the vibe of Brooklyn, gentrification and all.

Since St. Henri is still in its ‘up and coming’ transformation, you’ll still be able to find cheaper accomodations here.

One of my favourite things about St. Henri is its food! There’s a variety of unique food choices in the area, from burritos to pho, to falafel.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad meal in St. Henri. What’s better is that these food options are often cheaper than choices downtown. The nightlife here is also growing .

St. Henri is a scenic part of town thanks to the Atwater Market and Canal, both great for viewing throughout the year.

It will be convenient getting to this part of town since it’s the first stop on the metro from the airport. It’s also great knowing you’ll have no trouble getting around with bus, metro, and bixi access easily available.

Hochelaga

Hochelega is a bit away from the rest of the action, but it holds a number of main Montreal attractions.

Not only is Hochelaga on the quieter side of the tourist path, but you’ll already be close to popular sites. Montreal’s Biodome, Olympic Stadium and Botanical Gardens all sit nearby.

Hochelega is well connected to the green line, and you’ll find cheaper, bigger accommodation options on this side of town.

farine five roses

Cheap Food in Montreal

You will not starve in Montreal, even on a budget. Chances are, most cheap Montreal travel guides will have an array of food options to choose from.

While I usually offer money-saving tips for groceries in other cities, chances are, you’ll be just fine without it for a short trip.

Montreal is one of my favourite cities for food.

As a matter of fact, Montreal has the highest number of restaurants per Capita in Canada. It’s also second in all of North America, following New York City.

Montreal is great for those on a budget because not all of these restaurants have sky-high prices.

Some of my favourite restaurants serve up meals under $10. Check here for a list of my recommendations.

There are gems everywhere, but if you’re staying in Old Montreal or Griffintown, cheaper options will be lacking.

Cheap Bars and Clubs in Montreal

As someone who isn’t too big on nightlife, I actually like Montreal bars.

Montreal isn’t too fancy of a city. While it has its glitz and glam, Montreal is also home to a wide variety of unique bars. There’s a venue for everyone.

For those on a budget, Montreal has a number of bars with drink deals. Be on the lookout for special days during the weeks where bars offer promos.

If you’re new to the city, stick to St. Laurent, St. Catherine, and St. Denis. You’re sure to find a watering hole right up your alley.

mile end

5 á 7

A ‘cinq á sept’ is basically Montreal’s happy hour. Yes we have two! That should hint to the vibe of the city.

It’s a French term, basically meaning the time after work from 5 to 7 p.m. Almost everywhere in the city will have a drink special during this time.

Not only is it a great time to mingle with locals, but if you’re looking to stretch your dollar, 5 o’clock is the perfect time.

How to Get to Montreal for Cheap?

By Air

Fly in With Budget Airlines

Budget airlines like WOW Air often offer cheap flights to Montreal from Europe and the US.

By Land

Take a Road-trip

Montreal is connected to US borders and many major highways. Whether you rent a car or drive your own, a road trip to Montreal is quite easy.

The hard part about driving to Montreal is the parking.

Try to plan your arrival time to avoid rush hour traffic. This will save you on your overall gas and travel time.

Hop on the Bus or Train

Bus services including Greyhound and Megabus have routes to and from Montreal.

Megabus will be your budget option. You can find tickets for as low as $10 if you plan early enough. The trade-off may be the uncomfortable seats and traffic.

Via Rail also offers routes to Montreal. You can find cheap tickets by checking out their Tuesday deals.

mtl tips

Sharing is Caring

Find a Rideshare

Montreal is a major city and popular destination surrounded by other major metropolises.

Major cities nearby include Quebec City, Toronto, Ottawa, New York City and Boston.

Thanks to its location, you’re likely to find a rideshare heading to or from the city. I often use Kangaride to book ridehsares.

Taking passengers through a service like Kangaride can also help you save money on gas if you’re driving. It’s also a great way to make some fun travel connections.

Hitchhike

If you’re like my partner, you can use the fact that Montreal is connected to major highways and hitchhike.

I know of a lot of people who have hitchhiked to Montreal. It seems to be a popular route.

Always do your research and be safe before choosing to hitchhike.

To Wrap it Up

Montreal is a great city for budget travellers. There’s plenty to do and so much to see that doesn’t require you to spend a single dollar.

When you are ready to spend, there are a ton of cheap options to fit your budget.

This cheap Montreal travel guide is just the tip of the iceberg. For any more information on travel to Montreal, don’t hesitate to ask!

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Looking for cheap hotels in Montreal? Try some of these options:

Other budget travel guides:

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