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Useful information for excursions in Montreal
In the following paragraphs, you will find information about the cruise port, the most beautiful sights and a lot of useful information for shore excursions in and around Montreal.
The most beautiful sights in Montreal
Montreal is Canada’s second largest city with a population of around 1.7 million. It is located southwest of the province of Quebec on the island “Île de Montréal”. This makes it one of 234 islands of the “High Elaga Archipelago”, which lies at the mouth of the Ottawa into the Saint Lawrence Current. The Ottawa River and the St. Lawrence River surround the city, forming a rudimentary boomerang-like island. This island is divided into 19 boroughs, which, just like Paris, are called arrondissements.
Montreal is connected to the other Quebec islands by several bridges. The oldest bridge was built in 1847 and crosses the Rivière de Prairies, which runs west of the island. Twelve years later, the Pont Victoria was finally built, the first bridge to cross the Saint Lawrence River. Today, there are 24 bridges in total, which can be crossed by cars, trains and underground trains.
The north of the island has extensive green areas, but there are not many tourist attractions in this part of the city. Most of the offers and facilities for tourists are located in the east or the center of the city. Starting with various parks and museums to various cathedrals and culinary delights.
Montreal has many historical attractions for you: These include the city’s two most important religious heirs – the Basilica of Notre Dame de Montréal and St. Joseph’s Oratory. While the Basilica of Notre Dame is located near the Saint Lawrence River in the east of the city, St. Joseph’s Oratory in the southwest is the highest point in Montreal, being located on the city’s local mountain, Mont Royal. The 233-metre-high Mont Royal, which was formed 125 million years ago by volcanic activity, gave the city its name.
The entire metropolitan region of Montreal has approximately four million inhabitants on 365 m². It is important to know that the official language in Montreal is still French and not English. About 57 % of the inhabitants speak French, whereas only about 19 % speak mainly English. The rest is made up of many other languages such as Spanish or Italian, which is why Montreal is often called a multicultural city.
Below are some inspirations for land excursions in Montreal if you want to explore the city on your own.
Olympic Stadium & Botanical Garden
Construction of the Olympic Stadium began in April 1973, and the opening was finally celebrated with the Summer Olympic Games in July 1976. The stadium, which is also called “The big O” because of its shape, is located in the east of the city and is part of the Olympic Park. A further highlight of the park is the tower of the stadium, which with a height of 175 m is considered the highest inclined tower in the world. However, the Olympic Park not only satisfies the curiosity of sports enthusiasts, but also covers areas such as biology, architecture and astrology.
On the one hand, the Biodôme is located in the Olympic Park. The Biodôme, which used to be called Velodrom, served as a venue for cycling and judo competitions during the Summer Olympics in ’76. Since 1992 it has been a museum where you can learn about the flora and fauna of four different American ecosystems.
Furthermore, the planetarium “Rio Tinto Alcan” is located in the Olympic Park. There are two theatres and exhibitions about astronomy, such as the “Exo on the tracks of life in the universe”, which takes place here permanently.
In the immediate vicinity there is also another highlight, the Montreal Botanical Garden. The second largest botanical garden in the world houses a wide variety of greenhouses on an area of 748,600 m² and displays thematically separated different vegetation with over 22,000 plant species in 30 themed gardens. The largest Chinese garden outside China is worthy of special mention.
Basilica Notre Dame de Montréal
The Basilica Notre Dame de Montréal is located in the old town (Vieux Montréal) on Rue Notre-Dame. It was built between 1824 and 1829 and replaced the parish church of the Sulpizian Order. As it became too small over time and further reconstruction measures were no longer considered useful, it was decided to demolish it. On the property next to the basilica Notre Dame you can still find some wall remains of the old parish church.
But the highlight of the basilica is probably its interior. The complete interior of the church is aligned to the chancel, which is in the center of attention by an impressive choice of colors. Also the church ceiling is a real eye-catcher. On a blue background, a bright starry sky is represented. The many ceiling windows and golden statues give the basilica a fascinating atmosphere.
Furthermore, the Notre Dame de Montréal is entitled to bear the Pope’s coat of arms. In 1982, Pope John Paul II granted the church the title of “Basilica minor”, an honorary title that the Pope can bestow on special church buildings.
Here you can make very good and above all inexpensive excursions on your own, as the tours of the Basilica are free of charge and it is only 12 minutes’ walk from the port.
Mont Royal & St. Joseph’s Oratory
The Mont Royal is a mountain range on the Île de Montréal. It is named after three peaks: Mont Royal itself, Colline d’Outremont and Westmount.
One of the largest green spaces in the city, the Parc du Mont-Royal, extends along the ridge for 190 hectares towards the city center. Frederick Law Olmsted, who became famous for his design of New York’s Central Park, was responsible for the park’s woodland.
In addition to the two terraces overlooking the entire city, Mont Royal is home to St. Joseph’s Oratory, a Roman Catholic basilica. It is not only the highest point of the city, but is also used by many pilgrims as a sanctuary. The St. Joseph’s Oratory received, just like the Notre Dame de Montréal, the title of a basilica minor, but already 28 years before by Pope Pius XII.
They say in Montreal, Europe meets North America. And this is mainly due to the love of good food and good wine. After all, the people of Montreal attach great importance to special culinary experiences.
And the Jean-Talon Market is probably the best representation of this, as around 300 traders, farmers and restaurateurs fill the market halls of the North American farmers’ market every day. But the variety and quantity of stalls is not the only special thing about this market. What distinguishes it is the regionality of the products. Here you will find homemade cheese, hand-picked mushrooms, the famous Montreal ice wine and much more, so that there is guaranteed to be something for every taste.
Museums in Montreal
Montreal is a city that is rich in culture. Besides various religious buildings, the port, the old town and the Mont Royal, museums are an important part of the cultural offer. This is especially noticeable by the fact that there are approximately 60 different ones in Montreal. From museums that tell the history of the city and those that combine modern and ancient art to waxworks, there is really something for everyone.
The most famous museum is probably the “Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal” (MACM), which has been in existence for over 55 years. It deals with contemporary art and offers regularly changing exhibitions, events for children or interactive tours for everyone. The MACM is located on the “Place des Arts”, Canada’s largest cultural and artistic complex. Concerts, festivals and plays take place there.
Map of the cruise port in Montreal
By boat, you will sail over the Saint Lawrence River to the “Old Port” (Vieux Port), which is an inland port. It has two docks and a total of four terminals for various ships. The berth for cruise ships is usually the Iberville Passenger Terminal (Terminal 1). From this terminal you can walk to various restaurants, bars, boutiques and the historic old town.
Due to the proximity of the city center and the Old Town, it is no problem to make shore excursions in Montreal on your own. The distance to the old town is one kilometer, which you can cover in about 12 minutes on foot. There you will already find the first sights, such as the city hall or the Château Ramezay.
Things to know for shore excursions in Montreal
Cruise companies and routes
From May to October, various cruise companies regularly call at the beautiful Canadian city. The most frequent ones are Holland America Line, Royal Caribbean and Oceania. AIDA Cruises and Hapag-Lloyd find their way as well to Montreal, whereby AIDA Cruises will discontinue its trips to the USA and Canada from 2021.
Canada has long and very cold winters, which is why the main season for cruises, just before, takes place in October. This is also the time when the so-called “Indian Summer” begins, when the city shines in the most beautiful autumnal colors. Toronto, Halifax and Québec are other Canadian ports of call. However, when cruise ships are already on their way to Canada, ports in the USA are also often called at. This often includes Boston, New York, Charleston and Miami.
Entry and visa
If you are coming to Montreal on a cruise, no visa is required. However, you will need a passport that is valid for at least as long as your cruise lasts. A temporary passport is sufficient in this case. However, if your cruise starts in Montreal and you need to travel to Canada by plane, you will need an electronic entry permit (eTA), which you can get within a few days for only $7 and you can fill out the application online. An identity card or even a temporary identity card is not sufficient for a trip to Canada.
To be on the safe side, we generally recommend that you obtain information about all valid entry requirements directly from your cruise line and your country’s Foreign Office in good time before your cruise.
Taxi and public transport
If you have not booked a transfer or a guided shore excursion, taxis are available just outside the port area or you can use public transport. Please note that for frequently visited places (e.g. airports), the prices are fixed, so you can save extra costs. It is best to inform yourself about the current fixed prices on the Internet beforehand. The fixed price from the airport to the port is usually $40, alternatively, there is a shuttle for 35$ for the same route. However, if you want to save some money, you can also take the bus line 747, which will cost you only $10 to get from the airport to the port terminal. Important to know in the buses you can only pay with coins!
If you want to go for a day trip to the old town, you can take bus line 125. With this line you can reach your destination within 8 minutes for 4$. Would you like to have the big city feel? Then just take the subway. Here the subway line 1 also goes to the old town for 4$.
The official currency in Montreal is the Canadian dollar (CAD). 1 Euro currently equals about 1.15 CAD. It is best to exchange a few Euros for Canadian dollars in Germany. If you have forgotten to do this, you can also do it in the banks or exchange offices in Montreal. However, avoid hotels or restaurants to change money, there the fees for the exchange are usually much higher than in the banks. But if you are not staying long in the city and only need a little money, you can get by with a credit card anywhere. On your next credit card statement the currency will then be converted automatically.
Canada has very cold and long winters. Therefore the peak travel season is from May to October, with most German cruise ships coming to Montreal in October. There is no classical rainy season in Montreal, thus months with more than 175 mm of precipitation. Instead, there can be heavy snowfall in January, February, March, April, November and December, and in January the temperature can additionally reach -15°C during the day.
Port operator and touristic organization website
- Official port website: Port of Montreal
- Official Website: Discover Montreal
- Online-Travel Guide: Wikitravel – Montreal
Video: Impressions of Montreal
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