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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Montreal is undoubtedly Eastern Canada’s crown jewel, and it’s not hard to see why. From the food to the atmosphere, the sights to see, and things to do, the city promises to keep your adventurous spirit on a high!

But now comes the hard part – where do you stay? There are so many options, each promising its own unique experience. I’d get pretty overwhelmed too!

Are you in town to soak up the history or dance the night away? Maybe you just want a serene little nook for some downtime? No worries, this guide has you covered.

Whether you’re here for the sights, the vibes, or the poutine (yes, it deserves its own category), I have the inside scoop on where to stay in Montreal.

Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Montreal

Old Montreal, Montreal

1. Old Montreal – Touristy & Historic

Old Montreal, or Vieux-Montreal, is your go-to for that European getaway vibe without leaving North America. Think of a romantic city center, cobblestone streets, and a stroll through history. It’s like walking into a postcard from the 17th century, but with a cool, modern twist.

Why choose Old Montreal as your place to stay? Easy – it’s where all the action is! You’re smack dab in the middle of Montreal’s most picturesque neighborhood.

What I really like about Old Montreal is that it’s bustling, but not in a ‘hustle-and-bustle’ kind of way. It’s more of a ‘there’s always something awesome to see and do’ kind of place.

From chic art galleries to the coolest food trucks (hello, gourmet eats on wheels!), your days here are sorted. And the nights? They’re just as lively, thanks to the legendary Igloofest Music Festival that lights up in the winter months.

Old Montreal is also a haven for you history buffs. You’re just a leisurely walk from some of the most famous landmarks, including the Notre Dame Basilica.

Long story short: Old Montreal is a place where history meets a lively tourist scene. So, if you’re looking for a place to stay that’s both central and chock-full of charm, Old Montreal’s got you covered.

Old Montreal in Montreal

Things to do in Old Montreal

  • Be amazed by Notre Dame Basilica: It’s not just any historic building; it’s a masterpiece of Gothic Revival architecture. The interior will take your breath away. And, did you know Céline Dion got married here?
  • Walk along Saint-Paul Street: This is the oldest street in Montreal and dates back to 1672. It’s packed with art galleries, boutiques, and eateries.
  • Visit Pointe-à-Callière Museum: This is where Montreal began! Built over the city’s original settlement, you can walk through actual archaeological sites and get a real feel for Montreal’s past.
  • Take a horse-drawn carriage ride: What’s more romantic? Start from Place d’Armes or Place Jacques Cartier and enjoy the old-world charm.
  • Get busy at the Old Port: This is where the fun is at. Besides the breathtaking views, it’s home to Cirque du Soleil and the iconic Clock Tower. If you’re up for a mini workout with a reward, climb those 192 steps to the top of the tower.
  • Grab a bite at Auberge Le Saint-Gabriel restaurant: Imagine tasting Quebec from the 1700s. Yep, it’s a thing.
  • Explore the culture at Saint Laurent Boulevard: This is the cultural heartbeat of Montreal, with vibrant commercial and cultural scenes.
  • Hit up the Bonsecours Market: Shop and dine in a 150-year old market. You’ll see French-Canadian architecture at its finest with plenty of unique boutique goods and upscale dining spots.
  • Mosey around Lachine Canal: Cycle or stroll along this 14.5-kilometre canal for some of the prettiest riverside views in Montreal.
Le Plateau Mont Royal, Montreal

2. Le Plateau-Mont-Royal – Hip & Artistic

Le Plateau-Mont-Royal, or simply ‘The Plateau,’ is Montreal’s artistic soul and your soon-to-be favourite neighbourhood. It’s an area where cool meets cozy, making it perfect for families, couples, and anyone who loves a laid-back, artsy scene.

What’s the draw? Colourful facades, funky murals, and so many coffee shops you’ll get dizzy. The area’s transformation from a working-class neighbourhood to the trendiest spot in town is a story in itself.

Biking is big in The Plateau, and you’ll often see locals cycling around, enjoying the area’s green gardens and laid-back vibe. Speaking of vibe, The Plateau is proudly Francophone, earning it the nickname “New France”.

You’ll find that French is widely spoken here, more so than in other parts of Montreal. Best brush up on those language skills!

As for the nightlife, it’s slow and steady. Start with a latte at a cozy cafe, then hit a local bar before capping off the evening at a gallery or theatre. It’s the ideal date night in my opinion!

Nature’s not far away, either. Mount Royal Park is the green escape in the city. You’ll find some of the most popular trails and picnic spots here. The park is set right against a backdrop of lake and mountain views.

Bottom line: The Plateau is where you want to stay in Montreal for a laid-back experience. It’s artsy, it’s trendy, and it’s waiting for you!

Plateau-Mont-Royal, Montreal

Things to do in Le Plateau-Mont-Royal

  • Relax in Parc Lafontaine: Who doesn’t love a lazy afternoon? It’s even better when you’re in one of the most beautiful natural settings!
  • Bike around the neighbourhood: As I mentioned earlier, biking is big in Le Plateau-Mont-Royal, so you have to take advantage of it. It’s a great way to explore and soak in The Plateau’s cool vibe.
  • Visit Écomusée du Fier Monde: History buffs will certainly geek out here. Once a public bathhouse, now a museum, this is where you’ll learn about the lives of working-class Montrealers.
  • Bite into the biggest sandwich at Schwartz’s Deli: Trust me, their world-famous smoked meat is hard to beat. It’s one of the oldest delis in Canada and a staple for locals and visitors.
  • See local art at Maison de la Culture: If you’re an art lover or fellow creative, definitely check out the exhibits here.
  • Grab some Québécois grub at La Banquise: If you haven’t tried poutine yet, start here. You can enjoy microbrews and taste over 25 varieties of Quebec’s iconic dish – if you can handle it, of course!
  • Visit Rialto Theatre: This famous theatre dates all the way back to the 1920s. Even if you’re not catching a show, just looking at it from the outside is pretty cool.
  • Experience the culture on Rue St-Denis & Boulevard St-Laurent: These streets are alive with music and shops, right in the heart of The Plateau’s cultural scene. It’s perfect for a bit of window shopping or just people-watching.
  • Take in the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Catholic Church: Built in 1875, this historic building is a real marvel to look at, with its baroque architecture and stained glass windows.
  • Enjoy a jazzy night at Bily Kun Bar: If there’s one place to get a taste of The Plateau’s nightlife, it’s at Bily Kun. The intimate and ultra-hip atmosphere coupled with the live jazz music draws patrons in constantly.
A Bagel

3. Mile End – A Multicultural Foodie Heaven

Mile End, snugly attached to Le Plateau-Mont-Royal, is like the cool, artsy sibling in the Montreal family. This neighborhood is where the city’s trendsetters and creatives hang out. It has a vibe that’s both relaxed and vibrant, and if you’re into great food and coffee, you’re going to love it here.

This neighborhood is fashionable but not in a try-hard way. It’s full of boutique shops and amazing food (I still dream of those sweet Montreal-style bagels). It’s a melting pot of cultures.

From the moment you arrive in this neighborhood, you’ll instantly feel its artsy spirit. Ever heard of the musicians Grimes or Arcade Fire? They started here! Mile End practically buzzes with music and creative energy.

It’s got a bit of everything – a touch of the local life but still close to all the fun spots like The Plateau and Little Italy. Walking around here, you’ll hear a mix of languages and see a range of cuisines and shops that reflect Mile End’s diverse community.

Speaking of shops and food, you won’t want to leave once you’ve explored the countless boutiques and eateries. You’ll find bookstores that feel like hidden gems, record shops with rare vinyl, and art galleries showcasing local talent.

And the food? It really deserves its own mention. From international dishes to sweet bagels and coffee, you’ll be popping open that top jean button often while in Mile End!

Staying in Mile End is a no-brainer if you’re into the whole artsy, laid-back scene. It’s a slice of Montreal that’s a bit off the beaten path but still right in the middle of everything. And with some really neat places to stay, from luxury hotels to cozy hostels, you’re all set for a great time.

Le Depanneur Cafe in Montreal

Things to do in Mile End

  • Bite into a Montreal-style bagel: Start your day with the great Montreal bagel debate – Fairmount or St-Viateur? Well, you just have to try both!
  • Stroll along Bernard Street: You won’t find it hard to pick up a quirky souvenir or get your caffeine fix on Bernard Street.
  • Shop ’til you drop: If you’re a shopaholic, Mile End might just be your undoing. Places like Boucle & Papier and Unicorn are full of quirky finds you won’t see anywhere else.
  • Visit Le Marché des Possibles in summer: This community park is bussing in the summer. Think live music, BBQs, and cool markets.
  • Get your coffee fix at Cafe Olimpico: Fancy the best espresso in town? Head to Cafe Olimpico. It’s a local favorite and a great spot to recharge.
  • Explore the art scene: Of course, you simply can’t miss the local art scene. From cool ateliers like Art Hive to established galleries, there’s a ton of creative stuff to see.
Downtown Montreal, Canada

4. Downtown Montreal – Entertainment & Big City Vibes

Downtown Montreal, or Centre-Ville, is where the city pulses with energy. If you’re in town for business or just love being right in the middle of it all, Downtown Montreal is your spot.

This place is packed with hotels that range from global brands to local gems. Shopping? Dining? You’re sorted, with choices galore. And getting around couldn’t be easier, thanks to the handy metro stations.

You’ll bump into every kind of Montrealer here – university students, business people, shoppers, tourists, and more. There are chain stores, malls, loads of bars and eateries – basically, everything’s happening here.

But Downtown isn’t just for business travelers. Sure, it’s the city’s official business district, with the biggest bunch of skyscrapers around, but there’s so much more. You’ll feel that ‘big city’ buzz with all the rushing around, but there’s a cool cultural side too.

Montreal’s Downtown area is brimming with museums, theaters, restaurants, shops, and so, so much more. Fancy some shopping in the underground city? What about rooftop bar-hopping? Visiting the museums? You can pretty much do it all right here!

If you’re someone who prefers the modern over the quaint or need to be near the business action, then Downtown Montreal is the place for you to stay. It offers the perfect blend of convenience, culture, and city vibes.

Cathedral Marie Reine Du Monde in Montreal

Things to do in Downtown Montreal

  • Endless shopping at Rue Sainte-Catherine: This street has nearly 3 km of shop windows to take in! Have a browse and grab a well-deserved coffee – or cocktail – afterwards.
  • Visit the many museums: For art lovers, check out the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. The historic McCord Steward Museum is great but for some really cool history, head to Redpath Museum at McGill University. You’ll see everything from shrunken heads and mummies to dinosaur bones.
  • Dive into Montreal’s fare: You’ll find something for every, and I mean every, craving in Montreal’s Downtown area. Food trucks, bakeries, niche food markets – it’s a serious feast for your taste buds.
  • Head to one of the festivals: Downtown is buzzing throughout the year with events and festivals. Jazz in the summer and sports in the winter – you’ll never be bored. Quartier des Spectacles is the main district where all the fun happens.
  • Watch a show at Place des Arts: For musical lovers and budding actors, you can’t miss a show at Place des Arts. It hosts everything from Broadway to opera.
  • Take in the sky views at Au Sommet PVM: For the best view of Montreal, head to the 46th floor of Place Ville-Marie. And maybe grab a meal at Les Enfants Terribles on the 44th floor – it’s the highest eatery in town and it’s definitely not terrible.
  • Shop in the underground city: One of the coolest things about Montreal has to be the underground city, where you can catch a break from the cold and shop without frostbite.
Griffintown in Montreal

5. Griffintown – Budget Stays & Cozy Rooms

Griffintown in Montreal is like finding a hidden gem that’s right in plain sight. It’s the place to be if you want the downtown vibe without the downtown price tag.

This neighborhood has a cool backstory – it used to be all about heavy industry and factories. Now? It’s transformed into a vibrant place with bike paths, green spaces, and some of the trendiest spots to grab a bite.

If you’re touring Montreal with an eye on your budget, Griffintown is a smart pick. It’s filled with affordable places to stay, right in the city center. You can kick-start your day in one of the many cozy cafes and then hit up the cultural hotspots, all without emptying your wallet.

Plus, Griffintown’s location is spot on. It’s next to the scenic Lachine Canal – perfect for bike lovers or anyone who enjoys a good stroll with a view. And you’re sorted food-wise with loads of budget-friendly options.

Right next door is Little Burgundy. If you’re a serious foodie, this is your paradise.

In a nutshell, Griffintown blends affordability with a trendy, cultural vibe and a much, much cheaper price tag.

Griffintown Sunset

Things to do in Griffintown

  • Meet the artists at Montreal Art Center and Museum: Wander around and meet some of the 100 artists working in their studios.
  • Take a scenic bike ride: The Lachine Canal is right there, waiting for you to take it all in. So rent a bike and pedal through all of Griffintown’s beauty.
  • Learn about sound history at Musée des Ondes Emile Berliner: Now, this may sound weird, but there’s a museum where you can learn about sound history and even the guy who invented the Gramophone!
  • Savour poutine at Paul Patates: I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: you haven’t done Montreal right until you’ve had poutine. Paul Patates serves up some of the best.
  • Enjoy some pub fare at Brasserie Capri: Old-school bar vibes, cheap beer, good ribs – what’s not to love? Brasserie Capri is one of the oldest bars in Montreal, so you don’t want to miss it.
  • Bake and take at the Lincoln Apartment Bakery: Love baking? Join a small group class here. You get to taste and take home everything you make – from macarons to cupcakes!
LGBTQ Hands

6. The Gay Village – Diverse & Lively Atmosphere

The Gay Village in Montreal, or simply ‘The Village’, is an absolute blast of a neighborhood. It’s like the heart of the city’s party scene.

This place has transformed from a rough part of town into a vibrant, fun-loving area thanks to the LGBTQ+ community’s magic touch. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from; this neighborhood has a way of making everyone feel right at home.

One thing that the Gay Village is most famous for is its nightlife. With over 80 bars, restaurants, and clubs, the options are endless when it comes to where to spend your evenings.

If there’s a time to stay in The Village in Montreal, it’s between May and September. During this time, Sainte Catherine Street turns into a pedestrian-only zone – pretty much a never-ending street party with great vibes.

If you’re worried about breaking the bank, don’t be. The Village is surprisingly affordable, especially considering it’s right in the middle of everything. It also has great public transport links, so getting around is a breeze.

If you’re looking for quiet charm, this isn’t the place for you. But, if you’re looking for a lively, fun-filled visit to Montreal, you best book a hotel in The Village!

Pride Flag at a parade

Things to do in The Village

  • Hop over to Quartier Latin: Within walking distance, you’ll find plenty of cool theaters, bars, and eateries in Quartier Latin.
  • Be entertained at the Theatre La Comedie de Montreal: There’s nothing better than laughing so hard your belly hurts. That’s the kind of fun you’ll experience at one of the comedy nights here.
  • Watch a drag show at Cabaret Mado: Drag queen flamboyance and 1920s glam make the perfect cabaret combo!
  • Go vintage shopping on Amherst Street: If you’re into antiques or quirky shopping, Amherst Street is a real treat.
  • Sip under the stars: For the perfect romantic night out, grab a drink at Complexe Sky on Saint Catherine Street. Not only is there a rooftop terrace, but there are eateries, drag shows, dancing, and even a pool and spa!
  • Visit during the Montreal Pride Festival: If you find yourself in Montreal in August, you have to go to the Montreal Pride Festival. It’s big, bold, and a whole lot of fun.
Montreal Ferris Wheel Sunset Shot

FAQs

Where is the best place to stay in Montreal for families?

Old Montreal, Mile End, Le Plateau-Mont-Royal, and the Old Port Area are just some of the best places for families to stay in Montreal. All these areas and neighborhoods have a great mix of local vibes and tourist attractions. Plus, countless activities to keep the kids busy and food stalls to keep them full.

Is it cheap or expensive to stay in Montreal?

Visiting Montreal is pretty budget-friendly. It’s actually one of Canada’s top spots for affordable travel. You’ll find a bunch of great places to stay that won’t make your wallet cry, plus plenty of cheap eats and cool, low-cost things to do. Of course, there are also luxury hotels to choose from.

When is the best time to stay in Montreal?

The best time to visit Montreal is during April and May or from September to November. During these periods, you’ll enjoy pleasant weather and find that hotels generally have good availability.

There’s always a great month to visit a certain place, and I’ve even created a guide on the best places to visit each month of the year. Feel free to check it out!

Montreal Biosphere, Montreal

Conclusion

And that’s a wrap on where to stay in Montreal! From Old Montreal’s old-world charm to The Village’s non-stop fun, and everything in between. Montreal has a neighborhood vibe for everyone.

Your next step is to find the perfect accommodation – I’ve got you covered for that too with my article “Best Hotels in Montreal.

Whether you want every need catered at a luxury hotel, a budget-friendly hostel, or a romantic boutique hotel – I’ve thought of everything! Lastly, you can also checkout vacation rentals in Montreal with cozycozy.

Where to Stay in Montreal | 6 of the Best Neighborhoods
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