Served by highways, transcontinental trains and buses, and several airports, Montréal is easily accessible from within Canada, the U.S., or overseas.
Most of the world’s major airlines fly into the Aéroport International Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau de Montréal (airport code YUL; www.admtl.com; tel 800/465-1213 or 514/394-7377), more commonly known as Montréal-Trudeau Airport.
Tip: Save time and hassle by arranging your flights so that your Customs entry takes place at your final Canadian destination. For instance, if you are flying from the U.S. and have to make one or more stops en route to Canada, try to transfer in the U.S. Otherwise, when you land in Canada you’ll have to collect your bags, pass through Customs, and then check your bags again to continue to your final destination.
Montréal-Trudeau is 21 km (13 miles) from downtown Montréal. The airport is served by Express Bus 747, which debuted in 2010. It operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and runs between the airport and the Berri-UQAM Métro station (the city’s main bus terminal). Its 11 designated stops are mostly along downtown’s boulevard René-Lévesque. A trip takes 45 to 60 minutes, depending on traffic, and buses leave every 20 to 30 minutes. One-way tickets are sold at the airport for C$10 from machines at the international arrivals level. The ticket is good for 24 hours on subways and buses. In the city, tickets to the airport are available at Métro stations and at the Stationnement de Montréal street parking pay stations (for use within 2 hours). You can also pay with cash on the bus (coins only, exact change). The schedule of stops is at www.stm.info/info/747.htm.
A taxi trip to downtown Montréal costs a flat fare of C$40, plus tip (C$4–$C6). Call tel 514/394-7377 for more information.
Roughly two dozen hotels offer airport shuttles; for a complete list check the airport’s website under “Access and Parking.”
Montréal’s central bus station, called Gare d’autocars de Montréal (tel 514/842-2281), is at 1717 rue Berri, near the corner of rue Ontario est. It replaced the city’s old bus station in 2011. Connected to the terminal is Berri-UQAM Station, the junction of several Métro lines. (UQAM—pronounced “Oo-kahm”—stands for Université de Québec à Montréal, which has a large urban campus here). Taxis usually line up outside the terminal building.
All international drivers must carry a valid driver’s license from their country of residence. A U.S. license is sufficient as long as you are a visitor and actually are a U.S. resident. A U.K. license is sufficient, as well.
In Canada, highway distances and speed limits are given in kilometers (km). The speed limit on the autoroutes is 100kmph (62 mph). Buckle up; there’s a stiff penalty for neglecting to wear your seatbelt. Radar detectors are prohibited in the province of Québec. They can be confiscated, even if they’re not being used.
The drive from Toronto to Montréal is about 5 hours. Most of the route is on the 401 highway (Macdonald-Cartier Hwy.), which you’ll take until you reach “the 20” (Autoroute du Souvenir) at the Ontario-Québec border. From there it’s about an hour to downtown Montréal.
Driving north to Montréal from the U.S., the entire journey is on expressways. From New York City, all but about the last 64km (40 miles) of the 603km (375-mile) trip are within New York State on Interstate 87. I-87 links up with Canada’s Autoroute 15 at the border, which goes straight to Montréal. From Boston, the trip is 518km (322 miles).
The drive from Montréal to Québec City takes about 3 hours. There are two options: Autoroute 40, which runs along the St. Lawrence’s north shore, and Autoroute 20, on the south side (although not hugging the water at all).
Québec became the first province to mandate that residents have radial snow tires on their cars in winter. Visitors and their cars are exempt, but the law does give an indication of how harsh winter driving can be. Consider using snow tires when traveling in the region from November through March.
Members of the American Automobile Association (AAA) are covered by the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) while driving in Canada.
If you’re coming from Toronto, you’ll board the train at Union Station, which is downtown and accessible by subway. Montréal is a major terminus on Canada’s VIA Rail network (www.viarail.ca; tel 888/842-7245 or 514/989-2626). Montréal’s station, Gare Centrale, is centrally located downtown at 895 rue de la Gauchetière ouest (tel 514/989-2626). The station is connected to the Métro subway system at Bonaventure Station. (The older Gare Windsor, which you might see on some maps, is the city’s former train station. The castlelike building is now used for offices.)
VIA Rail trains are comfortable—all major routes have Wi-Fi, and some trains are equipped with dining and sleeping cars.
The U.S. train system, Amtrak (www.amtrak.com; tel 800/872-7245), has one train per day to Montréal from New York City’s Penn Station that makes intermediate stops. Called the Adirondack, it’s very slow (11 hours if all goes well, although delays aren’t unusual), but its scenic route passes along the Hudson River’s eastern shore and west of Lake Champlain.
The train ride between Montréal and Québec City takes about 3 hours.
Both Montréal and Québec City are stops for cruise ships that travel along the St. Lawrence River (in French, Fleuve St-Laurent). The Port of Montréal, where ships dock, is part of the lively Vieux-Port (Old Port) neighborhood and walking distance from restaurants and shops.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.