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Canada Experience: Montreal & The Laurentians

The Ideal Balance of City & Nature

Montreal is one of Canada’s best urban blends of contemporary culture and colonial-era heritage. And, just a short trip away, discover a slice of Canada’s epic natural beauty in The Laurentians. These stunning mountainscapes are dotted with charming towns and perfectly compliment the city of Montreal.

Our resident Travel Expert, Sharon Harney, experienced this destination for herself and had this to report!

Why We Love Montreal, Canada

  • Easy to get there – direct flights take only 6-6.5 hours. This makes it easy to combine destinations – combine with Montreal/New York/Boston/Quebec and other parts of Canada
  • Its unique French infusion – everyone speaks French as a first language. The language is fiercely protected by locals, as is their cultural heritage
  • Great value – €100 gets you only USD $116, but you get $153 Canadian dollars
  • Quality of food is excellent
  • Feels very safe and secure throughout trip – people in The Laurentians leave their doors open
  • Very nice and friendly people – willing to help and love the Irish
  • Fantastic destination for families and the outdoorsy energetic types alike

Getting There

Getting to Montreal is simple. Air Canada operates direct flights 4 times a week from Dublin to Montreal. The flight took 6.5 hours with hot meals, drinks provided along with a snack before arrival. There was full entertainment on board with the latest releases and box sets.

For the transfer, electric car taxis are readily available outside the airport and cost $40 to go to downtown (fixed). The journey takes 20-30 mins. The airport is modern; not much shopping to speak of but excellent connections to other parts of Canada.

montreal travel guide

Montreal

There are a number of parts to this very walkable, clean, safe and pleasant city – the downtown/business sector has high rise skyscrapers and posh boutiques with some outdoor cafes – the beautiful basilica called Notre Dame is worth a visit. Fun fact: it’s where Celine Dion got married!

The other part of town known as Old Montreal is a warren of tiny streets and eclectic shops, art galleries, restaurants and bars. Mile End is the place to be for the “in crowd” bohemian with lots of great dining options. 

Montreal has some really unique features – namely, its 30km of pedestrian walkways running underground. These underground walkways link shopping centres, theatres, hotels, universities and the metro – there are 2,200 shops and 265 restaurants. The city experiences huge fluctuations of temperature +25 degrees in summer to -17 degrees in winter – so these underground walkways protect from both extreme heat and cold.

laurentians mountains, canada travel guide

The Laurentians

This is a great option to combine with a city visit. The Laurentians, or Les Laurentides in French, is where Montreal residents go to play all year round, and it’s only 1- 1.5 hours drive from the city. It’s perhaps the best kept secret of Montreal day trippers. There are rolling mountains, sapphire blue lakes and stunning rivers dotted with charming towns and villages. It’s the real outdoors.

These small villages have little town centres (Saint-Sauveur is lovely) and deliver an air of the Alps with designer shops and local crafts. The main resort area in this region is Mont Tremblant, 90 minutes from Montreal. With a National Park on its doorstep, it offers outstanding skiing. The only other place in Canada to rival the skiing here is Whistler near Vancouver. This compact resort might be a little commercialised but not overly so. It reminded me of a number of European ski/alpine resorts. It offers a number of shops/bars and restaurants (Fun Fact: Tommy Hilfiger has a house here and his son commutes by helicopter everywhere). It’s gorgeous in the summer with flowers and outdoor seating with the backdrop of the green and lush mountain. 

Surrounding areas offer e-bikes, helicopter rides, lake trips, kayaking, hiking, zip lining, canoeing, wine trails, micro breweries and sugar shacks (traditional houses where maple syrup is made) with all manner of outdoor sports - with skiing/snow-mobiling/cross country skiing in the winter months. If you’re a golf lover, there’s plenty of courses nearby too.


Learn more!

There are so many ways to learn more about this exciting destination - start by downloading our dedicated Canada Brochure! It's packed with info about this vast, exciting country.

See our Canada page for deals, as well as our dedicated Montreal page to start planning.


This blog is powered by Cassidy Travel, one of Ireland’s leading travel agencies. Our team of over 100 expert travel advisors send 1000s of Irish holidaymakers around the world every year. And we love doing it! Visit our website to start planning your next getaway. If you’re Dublin-based, drop into one of our stores. With 33 years of experience we’ve mastered the art of easy booking. Whether it’s a city escape, US adventure or family holiday we’d love to help you plan, book and dream.

 

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Sharon Harney - 26 November 2019

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