Your Complete “Montreal Solo Travel” Guide
Are you ready and excited to take a solo trip to Montreal? Believe me, I am super stoked for you. Montreal’s a wonderful city for both a weekend getaway, as well as an extended stay. To be honest, along with Vancouver, Montreal is one of my favorite cities in all of Canada. I loved it to pieces.
In 2016, I went solo in Montreal and had an incredible time even though I only had three days. Why did I love Montreal so much? As some of you know, I’m a huge hockey fan and had zero problems blowing my budget at a Canadiens game, on a Saturday night nonetheless! It will always be one of my favorite travel experiences.
Anyway, in this post, I will break down the benefits of traveling alone to Montreal. You shouldn’t hold back, because you’re traveling by yourself. And, if you’re a first time solo traveler, Montreal’s the perfect place to “get your feet wet.” This Canadian city will embrace you with open arms and lots of poutine.
Why You Should Go Solo in Montreal
Alright, now let’s discuss Montreal’s complete and total awesomeness in detail. As you can already tell, I think that Montreal’s a fantastic city for solo travelers, haha. And I always tell the truth.
First and foremost, Montreal’s very easy, especially for Americans on the east coast, and the city itself is relatively compact. Coming from New Jersey, my flight was only 55 minutes long. 55 bloody minutes. Even a fearful flyer like me can do that. Just pack a small carry-on. The planes are usually small.
Once you arrive in Montreal, it’s simple to reach all the sites by walking or taking the subway. I thought Montreal’s Metro was efficient, clean, and understandable. I used the metro mostly during the day (I spoiled myself and took cabs at night), but I never felt unsafe on the platforms or trains. Montreal has great infrastructure in place for tourists. No worries in that department.
Furthermore, at least for Canadians and Americans, Montreal is a great alternative if you want to travel to Europe, but don’t have the time or funds readily available. For example, everyone spoke French in the streets and I felt as if I had been transported to a medium-sized city in France. It was super awesome that I didn’t go through jetlag hell to experience French culture.
Finally you ought to go solo in Montreal, because meeting other travelers is easy in this part of Canada! For example, I talked to a lot of lovely people at my hostel, M Montreal, and met a fellow independent traveler on my food tour of Mile End. In Montreal, you don’t have to stay alone if you don’t want to.
Read More: How to Spend 72 Hours in Montreal
Exploring Montreal Alone — Is It Safe?
For obvious reasons, the biggest concern when traveling to any new place alone is safety. I receive emails and DMs about crime and safety all. the. time. And I completely get it.
However, for a city its size, I thought Montreal was very safe. As a solo female traveler, I experienced no harassment as I wandered Montreal during the day and night. Montreal has a decent sized homeless population (which is sad considering how cold it gets there), but they didn’t bother me once. Simply walk around like you own the place.
Regardless of my own experience, though, I still don’t want you to fall in the complacency trap. Let friends and family know where you’re staying, and provide them with a loose itinerary of your plans in Montreal.
Finally Montreal has a big party culture – which is one of the reasons this city is so popular. Avoid going out alone to the bars and clubs. Find other travelers at your hostel to tag along with if you want to enjoy Montreal’s nightlife.
Furthermore, you should exercise caution by keeping your drinking under control. Intoxication makes it a million times easier for unsavory people to take advantage of you. I promise I’m not victim blaming. No one has the right to harm another person – drunk or not – but limiting your alcohol intake is an easy way to remain aware of your surroundings.
As I’ve said, I mostly took cabs at night, and I think this was the right decision to make. While I don’t think it’s unsafe to walk alone, you can still minimize your risk by splitting cab fare with your newfound friends.
Where to Stay for My Solo Trip to Montreal
As always, I don’t recommend staying out in the distant suburbs for your solo trip in Montreal. You have plenty of accommodation choices right in Montreal’s downtown. Read reviews carefully. Don’t sacrifice cleanliness and comfort for price.
During my trip, I chose to stay at M Montreal Hostel and had a great time. The hostel was centrally located and clean with a very friendly and helpful staff. I loved the fresh croissants for breakfast, too!
What to Do in Montreal Alone?
Montreal has a lot of great activities that you can do alone. Seriously, there’s an endless amount of things to do in Montreal and you won’t feel bored. I mean, I brag a lot on this blog about how Canada’s a perfect destination for new solo travelers for many reasons.
The main reason I love going to Canada? People, in general, leave you the heck alone. You’re not stared at. You’re also not subjected to some of the ridiculous scams that plague major European cities such as Paris.
At the same time, Canadians are truly lovable and friendly, and they will help you if you ask them. I’ve never had a bad encounter with the locals and Montreal was no exception! You’re free to do whatever you please.
Now let’s talk about what to do in Montreal alone.
1. Go to a Canadiens Game.
Duh. Of course I’d mention this idea. I love hockey. Love, love, love hockey. It’s my favorite sport in the entire world.
Book tickets ahead of time. Hockey is very well loved and games sell out fast. Although I went to the Canadiens game with another traveler, I definitely think you can go to the stadium alone and still have a great time! The fans are so passionate. Their adoration of hockey is contagious. Don’t miss out on this unique experience.
2. Take a Food Tour in Mile End.
Montreal’s known for its food. Seriously, you guys, you can’t visit Montreal and not eat.
I’m shy about eating alone so I took a food tour in Mile End with Local Food Tours. As you wander this gastronomic neighborhood, you’ll devour bagels, chocolate, wine, pastas, and so much more. I thought my stomach would burst (in the best possible way) at the end of our delicious adventure.
And the best part? You’ll make new friends over food! Win/win situation for solo travelers.
3. Hike to the Top of Mount Royal.
Do you like hiking? Then you’re in luck, because you’ll see the best views of Montreal from Mount Royal. I happened to go in the fall when all the leaves were yellow and orange. The scenery was to die for.
Use this time in nature to relax and reflect. You won’t regret it.
4. Go to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
I love going to art museums alone. What better time to reflect on life than to relax and stare at amazing art?
You can find Montreal Museum of Fine Arts on the historic Golden Square Mile stretch of Sherbrooke Street. This is the city’s largest museum and spans multiple buildings, so big art buffs might want to dedicate an entire afternoon to this museum.
5. Walk around McGill Campus and Feel Smart.
Finally you want to visit McGill’s gorgeous campus when you take a solo trip in Montreal. McGill is a top ranked university and has several stunning historical buildings (the university was founded in 1821). You can easily walk to Mount Royal from McGill, too, making it a convenient place to visit after your lovely hike.
6. See Old Montreal
Although Quebec City is more well-known for its charm, you can still feel as if you’re in “old world” Europe when you visit the Old Montreal neighborhood.
This part of the city is a beacon to tourists so you won’t stand out or feel weird walking around alone. My favorite places to visit were the famous (and luminously lit) Notre-Dame Basilica and the informative Pointe-a-Calliere Museum, which is dedicated to history and archeology.
Old Montreal is compact and easy to explore in a single day.
Other Montreal Travel Tips
1. Purchase Travel Insurance Ahead of Time.
Argh, time for my lecture about protecting yourself and your health. Here it goes. Don’t even think about exploring Montreal alone without good travel insurance. Seriously. Do. Not. Even. Think. About. It,
Sure, Canada has universal health care, but come on now, it’s for residents only and extremely expensive if you’re a traveler who falls ill. Don’t take the risk. You want travel insurance.
As for me, I always buy World Nomads for my trips and have had zero problems with them. World Nomads is affordable giving you the option for both “run of the mill” travel insurance and adventure insurance. Don’t leave home without it.
2. Prepare for the Cold Canadian Weather.
Montreal is cold. Actually, in the dead of winter, Montreal is bloody freezing. You need to prepare ahead of time especially if you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors.
I’ll give you an example of how cold Montreal is. I took my solo trip to Montreal in early November. However, walking outside in the wild and whipping winds after the Canadiens Game was one of the coldest moments of my life. Yes, almost as cold as snorkeling Silfra in winter. Part of the problem was that I underdressed for the weather. Don’t be me.
So, if you’re visiting Montreal in winter, take the chill in the air seriously. Wear thick gloves. Pack a scarf. Utilize layers and long underwear. You don’t want to freeze.
3. Learn to Speak a Little Bit of French.
Montreal is located in Quebec where the primary language is French. It’s polite to learn a few phrases of French – even though everyone I met in Montreal spoke English. Saying “bonjour” upon entering a cafe or a small shop goes a long way in the hearts of locals.
Also – don’t be rude and tell people that the French spoken in Quebec isn’t real or not as “correct” as the French dialect spoken in France. Yes, it’s different, but not any less “correct.” Mind your manners. No one likes a “Know-It-All.”
4. Pace Yourself at Night.
As I’ve said, Montreal has a great nightlife and you ought to go out. I’m not staying trap yourself inside your hostel.
However, make sure to pace yourself. I think 2-3 drinks is a reasonable limit when going out for several hours. If you’re nervous about going out alone at night, join up with a local pub crawl and make lots of new friends! There’s safety in numbers.
5. Arrive to the Airport Early if You’re Going Back to the USA.
Whew, we made it, guys. My final tip for your Montreal solo travel experience is to know ahead of time if you need clear customs or not. I had to go through USA customs in Montreal instead of Newark. Which obviously takes time. If I had waited until later to call a cab, I wouldn’t have made it home.
Guys, I’m serious, you don’t want to goof off with time on flight days. Sure, I’m late sometimes for dinner or casual meetups, but I don’t mess around when it comes to arriving at the airport on time. Neither should you.
Read More: Pack Your Lonely Planet Guide for Canada
I hope you enjoyed my guide all about Montreal solo travel! Have you ever been to Montreal? What suggestions do you have? Thanks for reading!
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