Montreal is one of the best cities in North America, lying just above the United States in the Great White North of Canada. Its unique heritage and history attract millions of tourists each year who hope to get a unique insider look at Canadian culture.
The city hosts many festivals; from spring to winter, the city is always thriving. If you’re planning to visit, you’ll want to prepare for what you want to see, as the city is very different through the seasons, or even just month to month.
This city has everything you could want, sprawling underground shopping malls, parks, mountains to explore, and sugar shacks.
There’s always something to see and do no matter what time of the year you visit. So, pack according to the season and get ready to experience a welcoming historic city with plenty of Canadian charm and hospitality to spare.
Why You Should Visit Montreal
Montreal has winter sports, parks, festivals, underground networks of malls and restaurants, racing, historic districts, and a unique heritage you won’t find anywhere else.
There’s never really a wrong time to go to Montreal, as there are always seasonal activities to enjoy, along with a stacked festival schedule to keep you entertained.
You can head to Montreal during the high summer tourist season to experience all the festivals, warm weather, and gorgeous scenery to your heart’s content.
From the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix to smaller street festivals, you can decide where you want to go in the city while enjoying the moderate temperatures that are perfect for exploration.
The weather can get hot and humid later in the summer, but that’s just part of the charm, and there are plenty of cafes and shopping areas you can duck into to cool down. The weather is still fantastic, and this season is neither slouch regarding festivals and events.
Fall is one of the best times to visit as the parks and surrounding mountains become painted pictures of fall foliage. It’s perfect for exploring the city, and you get the bonus of splendid nature and parks, making it an ideal time to visit with fewer crowds than in summer.
You may think winter has only a few upsides in such a northern city, but that’s where you are wrong. Because the winter is so harsh in this city, Montrealers know how to enjoy it.
You can head underground to the sprawling Underground City filled with shopping malls, restaurants, and cinemas to get out of the snow.
Or you can head aboveground to enjoy the weather with skiing, ice skating, sugar shacks (where they pour hot maple syrup onto the snow, and you can roll it onto a stick and enjoy a sweet treat), and much more.
Spring is another great time to visit, particularly later spring in April and May. While there’s still a chance for snow, you get warmer temperatures, fewer crowds, and better prices.
There are still plenty of festivals to enjoy, and if you’re interested in bird-watching, head to the nearby parks to see birds of all shapes and colors on their annual migration north.
As you can see, there’s never a wrong time to visit. Montreal is a beautiful city worth exploring with tons of entertainment options and enough festivals that you are sure to find one you like.
Overall Best Time to Visit Montreal
If you want the best of everything Montreal offers, October is frequently the best time to visit. It has festivals, colors, warm temperatures, better prices, and fewer crowds.
Fall, in general, is a perfect time to visit Montreal, as September through November remains relatively warm, and the mild weather makes exploring Montreal perfect. The temperature is around sixty degrees in the day and drops to the lower forties during the night.
The World Film and POP Montreal usually occur around late September to early October, while the Burlesque Festival takes place in October.
All these festivals are huge draws for crowds, so if you want to avoid people, it may be best to stay away from these spots. While the foliage is usually gone, November also makes an excellent time to visit, especially in early November, before the holidays swing.
While visiting Montreal during the holidays is a fantastic experience, early November has better temperatures and fewer crowds. You can explore the city and enjoy the parks.
Moreover, in November, you’ll get a small taste of winter with sugar shacks and other winter-themed attractions popping up around this time.
In September, the tourism rates sharply dip as American kids return to school. This makes it an ideal time to visit, and you can still get a glimpse of the foliage by coming in the middle or end of September.
Cheapest Time to Visit Montreal
Right after the holidays, the winter blues begin to set in, and tourism drops to its lowest point. However, there is still plenty to see and do this time of year. If you want the lowest of the low rates, January and February are the best times to visit.
Winter sports are in full swing, and you can rent equipment for sledding, skiing, ice skating, and more at Lac aux Castors to beat cabin fever.
Once you have enough of the outdoors, head to the Underground City, a 30 km complex of connected tunnels underneath Downtown Montreal. You can shop, eat out, or watch movies to your heart’s content in this heated urban entertainment mecca.
Remember that while this is the time with the fewest tourists, that doesn’t mean you’ll have the slopes all to yourself. Plenty of ski enthusiasts come out full force to ski the mountains and resorts around Montreal.
Hit the slopes early to get that fresh powder, or enjoy ski season in Montreal, with plenty of people to meet and party with. This goes for sledding and ice skating, as plenty of people flock to the area to enjoy all the winter sports.
If you decide to brave the aboveground pavement, you’ll be rewarded with unique Canadian experiences. Roll up to a sugar shack and participate in a taffy roll, something only possible in harsh Canadian winters, warm pubs, and icy scenery.
Take part in the ever-popular Igloofest, where Montrealers band together to build the toastiest igloo they can. Or visit during a holiday like Family Day when the city comes alive to celebrate.
It’s usually snowy and icy. You see little of the sun in Montreal. However, if you pack for subzero temps and six feet of snow, you can have a great time. Be flexible with hotel dates and flights.
Much of Old Montreal is closed during this season, so if you’re interested in the history and culture of the area, you’ll want to visit during another season.
With reasonable prices, few crowds, and tons to do, Montreal is hands down one of the best places to visit during the winter. Just keep the unpredictable and cold weather in mind when planning your trip.
Least Busy Time to Visit Montreal
While winter is technically the least busy time with the fewest number of visitors, spring is a great time to visit if you’re just looking for fewer crowds.
March is much like winter in terms of weather, but April and May are great times to get outdoors and explore the city and parks. The weather remains somewhat unpredictable, but that keeps the crowds away.
It’s primarily warm temperatures with bouts of rain and the occasional snow. Spring in Montreal is when birdsong fills the city as the surrounding parks are popular stops along bird migration routes, a dream come true for any bird fanatics visiting.
In addition, greenery returns, and creatures come out of hibernation, making it perfect for nature enthusiasts. The city itself shakes off the ice and snow and warmly embraces the sunshine.
Old Montreal opens back up, and festivals are celebrated with increasing frequency throughout the season.
Those who want to explore everything Montreal offers are best off going in April. Ski season is beginning to wind down, but you can still hit the slopes, and while exploring the city, you may still find some winter attractions.
At the same time, you can explore attractions opening up in the winter, like parks, gardens, and the city’s historic center, and see it all in warmer weather.
If you want to get into the spring spirit, attend a festival like the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Festival Vue Sur la Revele, and the Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival. Or you can celebrate Easter, one of the most popular holidays of the year.
When you go to Montreal in the spring, you’ll find an undiscovered gem that you alone get to enjoy. It is a little of everything Montreal has to offer and is one of the best times to explore the city.
Worst Time to Visit Montreal
There’s never really a wrong time to visit, as each season has unique charms, events, and weather. There’s always something going on and always something to do, no matter when you choose to visit.
However, that doesn’t mean there are not any downsides to each season. Unfortunately, each season has its drawbacks and its shiny points. For example, in the summer, the weather regularly gets into the eighties and is humid.
It’s not precisely the ideal walking temperature, especially later in the summer, July and August. And the packed festival schedule and warm weather draw in tons of tourists.
It’s the most expensive and crowded time to visit Montreal. In the fall, the weather is still permissible, but it gets colder, especially near the end of the season.
It’s also the second most popular season after summer, so you’re still dealing with crowds, though not to the extent of summer.
In winter, the weather’s cold. It regularly gets twenty degrees below zero cold. Snowstorms hit Montreal hard, so cars and houses could get buried. Air cancellations and changes to your travel plans.
Spring has a little of everything. A little of winter, a little warm weather. And it’s unpredictable. The weather can change suddenly and drastically, so dress in layers and bring a warm jacket.
Also, while spring has a little of the other seasons on offer, it has little to offer itself in terms of unique experiences. Ultimately, it all comes down to what you want to see and do and what you want to deal with when choosing the best time to go to Montreal.
Things to Consider
Now that you understand what each season in Montreal is like, you can pick when to go for your trip. However, there are some things you should consider when going to Montreal, regardless of the season.
- Dress in layers
- Book well ahead of time
- Bring footwear for slippery surfaces (unless you’re visiting in summer)
- Do your festival research (entry fees, age restriction, etc.)
- Be flexible in your planning (unpredictable weather, flight delays, etc.)
Frequently Asked Questions
Montreal is known as a friendly Canadian city that’s filled with heart and culture. The friendly locals, the attractions, and the history are all top-notch, so Montreal should be on everyone’s travel bucket list. Below are some of the most common questions about Montreal.
How many days do you need in Montreal?
There’s so much to see and do in the city that it takes over ten days to see it all. However, this also heavily depends on other planned activities, like winter sports or festivals. Considering that you also need rest days while exploring the city, about two weeks is the perfect time to enjoy the city and your favorite activities at a leisurely pace.
Is Montreal or Quebec City better to visit?
They’re both great, depending on what you’re looking for. Montreal has a more urban feel than Quebec City, with more to explore, while Quebec City has more old-town charm, and their attractions are more bunched together.
Is Montreal a walkable city?
Well, the downtown and other touristy areas are. Walking in Montreal, even in winter, is doable, thanks to the Underground City, as you can quickly get from place to place.
Is English spoken in Montreal?
Yes, English is commonly spoken, especially if you don’t appear Canadian. While knowing some French here is good, it’s not required for you to have a good time.
Is Montreal safe?
Yes, Montreal is regularly ranked as one of the safest cities in Canada. It has some of the lowest homicide rates in the country. However, it still has petty crime, so practice good safety and keep an eye on your belongings.
So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Montreal?
It’s always a good time to visit Montreal. There’s always something going on, and each season gives you a fresh take on the city.
Fall has few crowds, beautiful foliage, and good weather; winter has the fewest number of visitors and the cheapest rates along with winter sports; spring has reasonable rates, few crowds, and incredible nature; and summer has warmer weather.
Each season has its ups and downs, but no matter when you visit, you’re sure to have a fantastic time exploring this iconic Canadian city.