Montreal in the Winter
When you think about Montreal in the winter, what comes to mind? Streets and sidewalks covered in a blanket of snow, turning into a solid sheet of ice when compacted by feet and tires? Frozen nose hairs, burning eyes, tingling and numb limbs? You aren’t too far off.
But what are you missing? Christmas lights adorning every tree and building; piping-hot and amazingly satisfying poutine; an endless supply of hot chocolate; the Christmas tree and wreath market outside of Jean-Talon Market; and the fireworks displays and ice skating at the Old Port.
Why You Should Visit
Sure, there are a lot of reasons not to visit Montreal in the winter, especially if you’re as anti-cold weather as I am, but if you’re feeling a bit adventurous and ready to brave the subzero windchill, it’s a great place to test your limits.
Traveling to a city in the cold and harsh winter doesn’t have to get you down. I think there’s something really special about seeing a city in its “worst” conditions—you get to see how the locals live (like Montrealers riding bicycles on snowcovered roads and running across the street without even slipping or sliding a bit); and you get to see a different perspective than you might in the summer because you’ll spend more time indoors than meandering around, which leads to the discovery of awesome little bakeries, cafes and cute vintage shops.
Despite the fact that I hate cold weather with a passion, I seem to do a lot of my traveling in the wintertime because it’s a great way to see a city without all the tourists and without the huge dent in my wallet. Montreal gets a bit of a tourism boost in the wintertime because of Montrealers’ love for winter sports (think ice hockey and curling), but when I visited, the city wasn’t overwhelmed with people—it was just the right amount for doing sightseeing.
My Experience with Montreal’s Winter
I visited Montreal for the first time last December because it ticked a few of my requirements boxes for my 30th birthday destination: European feel in a North American city (I didn’t want to travel too far for a long weekend); a romantic Christmastime-feel; easy to get around on foot or by public transportation; great food and drink options; and historic charm.
To beat the cold, I went to Montreal with a plan: stay in Old Montreal close to most of what I wanted to do so that I could easily get around on foot. And for those times when I planned to venture out a bit further, I took the buses, which were easy to navigate, hit everything I couldn’t on foot, and were heated to perfection.
I spent four days braving the single-digit windchill while checking out historic sites, stuffing myself with poutine and macarons, watching fireworks over the water, purchasing vintage bracelets and scarves, and trying on funny hats in various stores. At night, when I was chilled to the bone, I returned back to my hotel for a soak in the tub before lounging by the fireplace, happy for the reprieve from the cold.
I had one of the best trips ever exploring Montreal in the winter—something I think everyone should get a chance to do at some point!
Note: I am working as a blogger ambassador as part of Hipmunk.com’s #HipmunkCityLove campaign, and this post was sponsored by Hipmunk.