At the beach in Koh Nang Yuan, Thailand

By Norbert Figueroa, an experienced architect, travel writer, long-term budget traveler, and photographer with over 13 years of travel experience in over 139 countries and counting. @globotreks


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Ever wondered what makes Montreal such a hit with visitors? It’s the charming blend of European flair and North American energy. But when you’re planning a trip, there’s something else on your mind: How safe is it, right?

Here’s the good news: Montreal is generally safe, especially compared to other major cities. Crime rates? They’re on the lower side, so both travelers and locals can breathe easily.

Of course, being informed is key to any travel experience. In this article, I’m not just going to tell you whether Montreal is safe; I’ll show you why.

If you’re considering a trip to this proudly Canadian city, keep reading for a worry-free adventure!

Montreal Mid-Day Aerial View

Overview: Is Montreal A Safe City?

Affectionately known as Canada’s Cultural Capital, Montreal is not just a blast to visit but it’s also super safe. In fact, I’d go as far as to say it’s a very safe city.

The city’s crime rate has been on a steady decline, so you can stroll through the city streets at night without too much worry. Chances are, you’re more likely to encounter a hearty serving of Montreal’s famous poutine or an offer to watch a local ice hockey game than any serious danger.

For those who don’t know, the contemporary version of ice hockey was born in Montreal! You can learn more fun facts about Canada on this post!

Of course, like any other major city, it’s smart to keep your wits about you. In Montreal, the biggest thing to watch out for is petty theft, but that’s about it.

All in all, Montreal is a super welcoming place for both visitors and locals. As long as you’re mindful of small risks, you’re all set for an unforgettable, safe trip to this amazing city!

Crime Rates in Montreal

So, how safe is Montreal really? Well, it’s pretty great on the safety scale. Right now, the overall crime rate is around 30%, which is fairly low compared to other Canadian cities.

Take cities like Vancouver and Toronto – they also have low crime rates, but Montreal often ranks better in categories like muggings and assaults.

Now, before you click away with the anxiety that Montreal is unsafe, here is some reassuring news: crime in Montreal, especially crime that affects locals and tourists, has been going down.

Since 2022, property crime, assaults, and theft have dropped at least 10%. Violent crime against visitors has also dropped by 20%.

Montreal Street Murals

Montreal’s not just resting on its laurels, though. The city has invested in numerous resources to enhance safety, such as security cameras and dedicated police patrols, especially around tourist hotspots.

To give you a better idea of Montreal’s safety, let’s break down the types of crimes and their severities. It’s all about staying informed, right?

Pickpocketing risk – MEDIUM

Montreal’s city center is always buzzing, which means you should be extra careful about pickpockets, especially in crowded spots like cafes and restaurants. While this risk exists, don’t let that stop you from soaking up all the fun the city has to offer!

Transport risk – LOW

Riding around on Montreal’s STM transit system is mostly a breeze. Just remember the usual stuff: watch your belongings and be mindful of road safety. The key is to stay alert, but relax – you’re in good hands.

Mugging risk – LOW

Good news – muggings aren’t, and you’re unlikely to bump into any serious issues. Still, it’s smart to stay alert, especially in certain urban areas late at night.

Don’t worry, I’ll go into more detail about the safest areas and places to avoid in Montreal in the next section.

Natural disasters risk – MEDIUM

As for environmental risks, Montreal’s seasonal weather can be a bit dramatic. Potential flooding in spring and icy storms in winter can occur, so be sure to pack warm and bring a spare pair of shoes!

Earthquakes can happen, though they’re incredibly rare and the city is well prepared, so you don’t have to worry.

Montreal Pedestrian Streets

How To Navigate Montreal’s Neighbourhoods – The Safest Areas & Places To Avoid

Whether you’re a tourist or a new Montrealer, knowing which neighbourhoods are super welcoming and which ones need a bit of extra caution is pretty handy.

Montreal is a tourist favourite and mostly safe. But, like any big city, it has areas that are best explored with a bit of caution, particularly at night.

But don’t worry, there are just a few neighborhoods to avoid, ensuring your Montreal experience will be both enjoyable and safe!

Areas to avoid in Montreal

Notre Dame Quest and Hochelaga-Maisonneuve Neighborhoods

These neighborhoods can feel different at night compared to the daytime. They’re not necessarily dangerous, but being street-smart goes a long way.

If you find yourself in one of these neighborhoods, you’ll notice signs of poverty and homelessness, so stay aware of your surroundings.

Saint-Michel

Located in the Southwest, Saint-Michel’s crime rate is a bit higher – 26% above the national average. It’s best to stick to daytime visits and hang out where there’s a crowd.

Pointe-Saint-Charles

Pointe-Saint-Charles is known for a higher crime rate, with open drug selling and regular robberies. If you do visit, keep your wits about you and try to avoid solo night walks.

Montreal Nord

Referred to as “the north” or “the suburbs”, Montreal Nord has pockets of high crime, especially after dark. Be extra careful around places like Jean Talon Market at night and double-check that your accommodation is secure.

Notre Dame Basilica in Montreal

Safest areas in Montreal

Alright, time to let out that breath you’ve been holding – the tricky part’s done! Seriously, you’re unlikely to even wander near those iffy spots, as all the cool, touristy action happens in the city’s safer neighborhoods.

Ready to explore? Let’s get to it.

Old Montreal

Step back in time with Old Montreal’s 17th-century vibes, complete with cobblestone streets. It’s super safe, tourist-friendly, and just a stone’s throw from downtown. Don’t miss the Notre-Dame Basilica, and the famous underground city is only 10 minutes away!

Outremont

Here, you’ll find a lovely mix of French and English speakers in an affluent setting. Upscale shopping and dining, Victorian homes, and ample green spaces – it’s all here.

Plateau-Mont-Royal

Plateau-Mont-Royal is all about the lively scene, with parks, cafes, shops, and restaurants galore. Whether it’s a stroll in Parc La Fontaine or Jeanne Mance Park, or a lazy coffee run, there’s always something happening.

Le Plateau Mont Royal, Montreal

Notre-Dame-de-Grace

A family-friendly area in the West End, Notre Dame de Grace – or simply NDG – is as safe as it gets.

You can explore Monkland Village, enjoy recreational facilities at Loyola Park, and savour delicious food at local eateries. While here, don’t miss out on the famous local rotisserie – it’s a must-try!

Westmount

Perfect for families, Westmount is loaded with parks and amenities, making it one of the city’s safest neighbourhoods. It’s a great pick if you’re traveling with kids.

Safety For Different Types Of Travelers

Visiting Montreal promises a welcoming and safe experience for every kind of traveler. But as I mentioned earlier, it’s smart to keep a few safety tips and local customs in mind.

Solo travelers

If you’re flying solo, Montreal will welcome you with safe arms. Just some basic tips: avoid walking alone late at night, watch your alcohol intake, and never leave drinks unattended when out.

For socializing, consider staying at social hostels like Auberge Saintlo, Auberge du Plateau, and The Alternative Hostel of Old Montreal. They’re not just wallet-friendly; they’re also great for making friends, and super close to cool spots and public transport.

Woman Waiting in the Montreal Metro

Female travelers

Ladies, Montreal also has you covered. In fact, many solo female travelers find Montreal particularly safe, partly thanks to the STM’s ‘Between Stops’ service, which allows safer night travel from bus stops. Plus, the city scored highly in female safety at night in the 2022 Post-Pandemic Women Solo Travel Index.

Digital nomads and expats

Thinking of working remotely or settling in Montreal? You’re making a great choice. The city scores high for quality of life and ease of settling in. Friendly locals, loads of coworking spaces, and reliable internet – what’s not to love? Plus, summers here are full of life, while winters are a bit more chill.

People of Color and LGBTQIA+ travelers

Montreal is generally welcoming to People of Color and LGBTQIA+ individuals. Canada is known for being safe and inclusive, but like anywhere, it’s not perfect and challenges do remain.

However, Montreal’s reputation for inclusivity and diverse cultures means a safe and comfortable experience for everyone.

Montreal Metro Sign

Getting Around Safely With Transportation

Ever had that nightmare where you’re lost in a new city? You realize you’re going to miss that tour you’ve been excited about for weeks. Yeah, not fun.

Thankfully, Montreal is a breeze to navigate, especially if you’re using public transport like the Metro, buses, or even taxis.

The city has a well-connected and extensive public transport network, making journeys from Downtown Montreal to Old Port safe and straightforward.

1. Montreal Metro (STM)

Hop aboard the Metro with its four lines and 68 stops – it’s affordable, reliable, and spick-and-span in terms of cleanliness. The orange line is your best friend for hitting up tourist hotspots and local hangouts.

Just a heads-up: not all lines operate 24/7, so keep that in mind if you’re out late.

2. Public buses

Alternatively, you have the option of public buses, which run 24/7. They’re both safe and easy on your wallet.

As I mentioned, Montreal’s public buses have a “Between Stops” program for extra safety. It allows riders, particularly women, to ask for stops closer to their destinations at night.

3. Walking in Montreal

Strolling through Montreal is generally safe. But if you’re exploring lesser-known areas, especially late at night, use public transport or taxis. Better safe than sorry!

4. Taxis and ride-sharing

Taxis, Uber, and bike-sharing services are just a tap away. They’re as safe as the rest of Montreal’s public transportation and super handy.

Transportation safety tips

If you’re out at night, you might see homeless folks seeking shelter in the subway. They’re usually just looking for some spare change and are harmless. Still, it’s okay to feel a bit uneasy.

Always stay alert, no matter how safe you feel. Keep your stuff close, especially in crowded spots like the underground Metro tunnels.

Old Montreal, Montreal

Practical Safety Tips For A Worry-Free Visit To Montreal

Ready to dive into the exciting vibe of Montreal? I can’t blame you! But before you hop on that long-awaited flight and sprint into the city, you need some tips!

Staying safe is all about being in the know and ready for anything. Don’t sweat it, though – I’ve got you covered with some smart safety tips to ensure your Montreal adventure is as worry-free as it is exciting.

1. Consider the weather when planning your Montreal trip

Heading to Montreal in winter? Brace for some serious chill – I’m talking icy roads and loads of snow. If you’re driving, take it slower than usual. Oh, and layering up is essential, plus some solid, warm boots are a must.

In other seasons, keep an eye out for potential flooding, which can shake up traffic and close roads. And when the weather gets really wild, like blizzards or heavy rain, maybe just cozy up indoors and plan to explore when the weather clears up.

2. Choose a cozy, secure stay

When choosing your accommodation in Montreal, go for options with good security and happy guest reviews. Don’t forget to lock up when you’re out and about, and pop your valuables in the hotel safe.

And a quick tip: be mindful of sharing personal details or your room number with people you don’t know well.

3. Be a street-smart tourist

Pickpocketing and muggings are pretty rare in Montreal, but better safe than sorry, right? Secure bags (like cross-body bags with locks) are a great idea. You also want to avoid flashing too much cash or jewelry, especially after dark.

Need to stash bigger stuff? Look into luggage storage services. And when you need to withdraw cash, use ATMs in secure spots like malls or banks.

Montreal Ferris Wheel Sunset Shot

4. Get travel insurance

This goes without saying, but don’t leave home without travel insurance! It has you covered for just about everything, from unexpected medical emergencies to lost belongings, and even those annoying flight delays. Travel insurance is all about peace of mind. I use HeyMondo travel insurance on all my trips and highly recommend it.

5. Know emergency numbers

It’s always good to know who to call if you run into an issue. So, here are some emergency numbers you can familiarize yourself with:

  • General emergencies: 911
  • Health-related inquiries: 811
  • Local police: 514-280-2222
  • Quebec’s security services: 514-310-4141

Pro tip: Save your embassy’s number too, just in case.

6. Be cautious of tourist scams

Every popular spot has its share of tourist scams. Montreal’s no different. They can be frustrating, but easy to dodge if you know what to look out for.

I’ve helped you out here too with some of the most common tourist scams you might encounter:

  • Picture scam: If someone asks you to snap a photo of them, be a bit cautious. There’s this sneaky scam where they might drop their camera and blame you for it. It’s usually safer to just say no unless you’re certain they’re fellow tourists just looking for a picture.
  • Taxis overcharging: Always ask the taxi driver to turn on the meter. Pre-plan your route to have an idea of the journey’s length and cost.
  • ATM helper: Be careful if someone offers to help you at an ATM. They might seem helpful, but sometimes, they’re trying to sneak a peek at your card info. They’ll act like they’re saving you from those pesky local bank fees, but it’s better to handle your transactions on your own.
  • Bird poop scam: As you’re walking, a stranger might discreetly drop a white substance on your shoulder and rush to help you clean it. It’s a common trick to distract you while they (or their buddy) try to pickpocket you. It’s best to politely decline any help and keep your belongings secure.
  • Guessing game scam: Those street games, like the three-box ball game, can be pretty entertaining to watch, but they’re often used as a distraction for pickpocketing. Enjoy the show from a distance, but maybe don’t get too involved.

7. Consider hiring a guide

Want to really soak up Montreal without a worry? Think about hiring a guide. They know the city inside out, keep you away from sketchy areas, and you get to hear all the cool local stories. Plus, it’s a surefire way to not get lost!

Downtown Montreal View

FAQs

Is it safe to walk in Montreal at night?

Yes, it’s generally safe to walk in Montreal at night, especially in popular neighborhoods like Plateau Mont-Royal, Ville-Marie, and Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie, which are considered safe at all hours.

However, it’s advisable to avoid certain areas after dark, including Notre Dame Quest, to ensure your safety. As always, stay aware of your surroundings and practice general safety precautions.

Are there any tourist scams in Montreal to avoid?

Yes, there are a few tourist scams in Montreal to be aware of. One common scam involves locals asking tourists to take a picture of them, then dropping the camera and demanding payment for damages. It’s best to be cautious when taking photos for strangers.

Another scam involves taxis overcharging passengers. Always ask the taxi driver to turn on the meter and consider mapping your journey beforehand to have an idea of the route and duration.

Is Montreal safer than US cities?

Yes, Montreal is generally considered safer than many US cities. It has relatively low crime rates, including one of the lowest homicide rates, compared to other major cities in North America. While it may not be the safest city in Canada, it certainly offers security for both locals and tourists.

Montreal Biosphere, Montreal

Conclusion

Montreal stands out as not just a city of vibrant culture and history, but also as a safe destination among metropolitan cities. It’s the kind of place where everyone, no matter what kind of traveler you are, can kick back and relax. With its low crime rate and super welcoming atmosphere, it’s like a warm hug for visitors.

Whether you’re there to soak in the historic charm, enjoy a hockey game, or indulge in their famous poutine, Montreal promises a secure and memorable adventure.

Now that you’re equipped with safety tips, you’re all set for the next step in planning your Montreal journey. Wondering where to stay? Don’t miss my article “Where to Stay in Montreal” – your next essential guide in my Montreal series.

Is Montreal Safe? | Ultimate Safety Guide & Tips For A Worry-Free Trip
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