When you think of a vacation, it’s normal to think of exotic locations in faraway destinations, but the reality is that you don’t always have the available time and budget to go on an extravagant vacation. Does that mean you have to erase all thoughts of travelling and be satisfied just staying at home? Absolutely not, as short-haul trips and holidays can be some of the most relaxing ones out there. With such little transit time, you’ll have the ability to use your time relaxing, exploring, shopping, and dining instead – all of which makes for the ideal trip.
Those, who like me live in New York, are every lucky! There are so many fabulous cities all within a short-distance flight. This means that anything from a weekend trip, to a week away is do-able. One of the most popular destinations for New Yorkers looking to get away for a short-haul trip, is Montreal. Travelers will feel as though they’ve landed within a French city in Europe even though the flight is just over an hour and a half long.
So, let’s take a look at how you can get the absolute most out of a trip from NY to Montreal, whether it’s a short weekend trip or longer.
Skip the Madness of Pearson International and Get a More Personal Flying Experience
The first tip is to consider how you actually travel from NY to Montreal. While there are plenty of flights that arrive in Pearson International each and every day, you’ll also be dealing with the sheer madness of an international airport. It doesn’t exactly get your trip off to a relaxing start, and you always need to leave yourself extra time for the check-in since the airport is notoriously busy.
Another option is to fly to Porter Airlines which offers flights to Montreal (If you live in Toronto, you can fly via the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. The Toronto City Airport is much smaller and is conveniently located downtown, so you don’t have the hassle of travelling to Mississauga to Pearson International and dealing with all the traffic along with it.)
Porter Airlines is dedicated to providing travellers with a VIP experience from the moment they check in until the moment you get off the plane. You’ll be able to take advantage of such benefits as shorter check-in lines at the airport which means fast gate access, free snacks/beer/wine on-board the flight, drinks are served in actual glassware, and the fact the flight crew is so attentive to all your needs and requests. It takes the typical flight experience and elevates it to a whole new level of service and comfort.
Book a City-Centre Hotel
The next tip is to look for a city-centre hotel. Sure, this means you may need to spend a bit more money on accommodations, but it will allow you to be close to all the attractions, entertainment, dining, shopping, and sightseeing. This means you don’t have to deal with expensive cab fare in and out of the city, which also means getting stuck in traffic. Depending on the hotel you choose, you may also be within walking distance to all the things you want to see and do, making it even more convenient.
Montreal is also well-known for its wide selection of luxury and boutique style hotels so you’ll find some really unique options here. Some of the noteworthy properties include Hotel Gault, Sofitel Montreal Golden Mile, Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth, Hotel de Paris, and LHotel – there are plenty to choose from.
Do Your Research in Advance
It’s also a good idea to do your research in advance and create a tentative itinerary. This doesn’t mean you have to stick to the itinerary completely, but it at least gives you a rough idea of the things you want to do and see while in the city. Even if you just pick out a couple of “must-see and do” things per day, it gives you something to work with.
A great resource is the Tourisme Montréal website, which provides information on what to do, where to stay, what to explore, and even current deals you can take advantage of.
Check Out the List of Events and Festivals
If you have already picked your travel dates, you may also want to research any events or festivals that will be taking place while you’re in town. For some people this is actually what determines when they will travel, as there are a number of big events that happen on a yearly basis that are known to draw in huge crowds.
Some of the big events include the Montreal Jazz Festival that takes place in June, Fête des Neiges in January, Nuit Blanche à Montréal in February, the Just for Laughs Festival in July, and Merry Montreal in December.
Experience the Cuisine
One thing that Montreal is well known for is its exceptional cuisine. What this means is that you want to be sure you schedule plenty of time to sample some authentic Montreal dishes. Must-haves include a Montreal smoked-meat sandwich, traditional poutine, bagels that are hand rolled in honey-water, and steamies, which are Montreal style hot dogs.
Exclusive High-End Shopping
For those who love designer fashion and accessories, Montreal won’t disappoint as it offers all kinds of high-end shopping opportunities. The mecca for all things high-end and luxury is Rue Ste-Catherine, even if you just plan to do a little window shopping.
Be sure to also check out the underground shopping that actually spans a whopping 32kms. It covers most of the downtown core and can be reached all along Rue Ste-Catherine. This is ideal if you happen to be visiting during the colder months, as you can escape the chill and shop all day if you please.
Montreal’s Museum Scene Will Impress
The Montreal museum scene also deserves a mention, as tourists will be able to explore some of the most incredible museums out there. As an added bonus, the majority of the city museums are actually free to visit on the first Sunday of every month, which may come in handy depending on when you travel to the city. The only hard part about visiting the museums is narrowing down your list, as it’s likely impossible to visit them all in one trip.
Notable museums include the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Musée d’art Contemporain de Montréal, Pointe-à-Callière Museum, Space for Life, Société des Arts Technologiques, McCord Museum, and the Montréal Science Centre. Keep in mind that these museums will all appeal to different types of visitors, so again a little planning and research in advance is recommended.
Plan a Walking Tour
Finally, you may want to plan a walking tour of the city, whether it be self-guided or as part of a tour group. While you can certainly choose from a variety of itineraries, one option is to choose a themed tour and really make it memorable. There are historical themed tours, dining tours meant for foodies, Old Montreal walking tours, ghost walking tours, shopping tours, and so much more. You could literally pick a different themed tour each day of your holiday.
Montreal – the Perfect Short-Haul Destination
Montreal is not only a stunning city that feels like a little piece of Europe right in the middle of Canada, but it makes for the perfect short-haul destination for those traveling from the City.