If you're planning a trip, the best time to visit Montreal, Canada, is in early spring or fall. Of course, what you can see and do in any city varies from season to season. Montreal is a year-round destination, and there are many activities on offer.
Montreal is Quebec's largest city. Just north of the United States, it is one of the biggest French-speaking cities in North America. Every year, millions of travellers visit Canada to experience the country's diverse culture, including the European flair of Montreal.
The city has fine-dining restaurants, art galleries, and over 30 museums. An underground pedestrian network links shopping plazas, eateries, and entertainment venues. You can explore urban nature parks or go on food tours. Each season brings special events, from music concerts to maple syrup festivals. When you choose to go depends on what you want to do. The travel experts at Canadian Train Vacations have created this guide to help you plan your trip.
Best Time of Year to Visit Montreal
Consider the best time to visit based on your preferred vacation type. The city has four seasons, so temperatures and weather change each month. Some activities are only available during specific periods. Since Montreal hosts almost 90 festivals each year, your travel dates will likely coincide with a special event.
The best time of year to visit Montreal is April and May and September to November. During these months, the weather is pleasant, and hotels usually have good availability. In winter, the heated passageways of the Underground City give respite from the cold weather and allow you to explore without stepping outdoors. If you are traveling to Montreal in the summer, you must book your accommodation early. The city holds several major events, causing hotels to sell out.
Continue reading to discover what kind of tourist experience each season offers. We've listed the top events that happen each month, so you can find out when the best time to visit Montreal is for you.
March to June: Spring
During April, the snow begins to melt, and sidewalks reappear. Gradually, the city thaws and locals switch their thick winter coats for lighter rain jackets. The average temperature fluctuates between 40 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit (4 and 26 degrees Celsius) throughout the spring months.
Flowers bloom around the city, and migratory birds stop by on their way to their breeding sites, so this time of year is best for nature lovers. Mont-Royal Park is a great bird-watching spot. Look for red-shouldered hawks, indigo buntings, and bluebirds.
With May's increased daylight hours and sunshine, the streets come alive with activity — especially Boulevard Saint-Laurent. This is a great time of year to visit the stylish restaurants and laid-back cafes in Mile End and Little Burgundy, two of Montreal’s hip neighbourhoods. Mid-May marks the start of Piknic Electronik, a string of outdoor music concerts. Museum Day, an annual event where local museums offer free admission, also happens in May.
Packing tip: Bring a pair of boots to keep your feet dry in the snow and slush of early spring. The weather might vary dramatically from day to day. You should bring a range of clothing items and wear layers.
#1 Travel Tip: Summer fireworks
Don’t miss the L’International des Feux Loto-Quebec, a fireworks competition held on several summer evenings. The display is above La Ronde, across from the Old Port of Montreal.
June to September: Summer
The summertime in Montreal is another beautiful time to visit. The average temperature in summer is between 68 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit (20 to 26 degrees Celsius). It can be humid and feel hotter than the actual temperature.
You can enjoy several outdoor activities, sip cocktails on patios, and attend fun festivals during your stay. Most of the city is easily explored by walking or cycling. Ride rollercoasters at the La Ronde Amusement Park, cruise along the St. Lawrence River, and watch street performers in the Old Port in downtown.
Throughout the summer in Montreal, the streets are packed as tourists rush to all the festivities. High demand for spending time in Montreal during summer events means higher hotel and airfare rates.
The Montreal International Jazz Festival and the 10-day MURAL Festival are in June. Also, in June is the Formula One Grand Prix — tickets are a must for auto-racing fans. Saint Jean Baptiste Day occurs on June 24th, while Canada Day occurs on July 1st. Both holidays are celebrated with parties and fireworks. Consider the Montreal Pride Festival, the Just for Laughs Festival in July, and the Osheaga music festival between the end of July and the beginning of August.
Packing tip: Bring an umbrella, particularly if you travel to Montreal in August, as the weather can be unpredictable. Summer rain showers may persist for the whole day or occur in brief surges. Pack shorts and tank tops for warmer days, and a light pair of trousers and a sweater for the cooler days and evenings.
September to November: Fall
The fall season, between September and November, is an ideal time to visit Montreal. Typical daytime temperatures range from 34 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (1 to 21 degrees Celsius). The later in the year you travel to Montreal, the colder it becomes. You may want to plan your trip for early to mid-October to catch the pretty fall colours. The red and orange foliage is one of the best reasons to visit during fall in Montreal.
Cycling fans won't want to miss the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal in mid-September. POP Montreal International Music Festival offers five days of concerts for all ages in late September. At the Botanical Gardens, the Gardens of Lights festival fills the Chinese Garden with colourful silk lanterns during September and October. Tantalize your taste buds during MTL à Table, Montreal's Restaurant Week, in November. During late November, there are several festive events, such as the Santa Claus Parade.
Packing tip: There may be a few warm days in early September, then the temperature will drop. Bring some slacks, long-sleeved shirts, and a warm coat for the mornings and evenings. Snowfall is possible in late autumn, so you'll need a thick winter jacket and layers.
#2 Travel Tip: Where to see fall colours
Top spots for viewing fall foliage include Beaver Lake, Parc Jean-Drapeau, and Montreal Botanical Garden. Book a private sightseeing tour and ask your driver to take you to these locations.
December to February: Winter
There are many winter activities you can do in Montreal. December through February, the city transforms into a chilly winter wonderland. There is regular snowfall and sometimes snowstorms.
Montreal's underground city and metro system make it easy to get to shops and restaurants in the cold weather. You can reach nearly everywhere in the downtown region using these networks. The winter months are the perfect time to explore art galleries and museums. Cozy up in small pubs, intimate cocktail bars, and sugar shacks. You can ski on nearby mountains or slide down local hillsides on toboggans.
Montreal sparkles during Christmas when streets are decorated with bright lights. Throughout December, you can find several holiday markets around the city. In early January, there are New Year's Eve celebrations with fireworks. Igloofest, an outdoor music festival, occurs later in the month.
Packing tip: Temperatures range between 0 and 34 degrees Fahrenheit (about -17 to 1 degree Celsius). The wind chill may make it seem much colder. Pack warm outerwear, hats, gloves, and lots of layers.
Top Reasons to Visit Montreal
There are several reasons for visiting Montreal. It has lively festivals, innovative museums, and a vibrant culinary scene. The city's rich history and culture add to its charm. It doesn't matter which season you choose as your best time to visit Montreal Canada; you'll find various activities and events available. Our travel experts named these the top reasons to visit Montreal:
1. Montreal is a city of festivals
There is always a fascinating celebration going on. These festivals range from music, art, and literature to theatre and dance. The world's biggest jazz festival, the Montreal International Jazz Festival, is one of the city's most recognized events.
2. It’s a top spot for clothes shopping
Montrealers are known for their unique fashion sense, and the city's shopping options reflect this. Begin at the Eaton Centre Mall in the heart of Montreal. Then, head west along Rue Sainte-Catherine to explore 1200 upscale department shops, boutiques, and retail chains. Find excellent vintage stores on Boulevard Saint-Laurent, from Chinatown to Mile End.
Additionally, take advantage of Montreal's famous Underground City, known as the RESO system. You can shop and move between different hotels and restaurants without going outside.
3. There are lots of museums
Montreal has so many museums, you could spend days exploring them all. There is a museum for everything: art, culture, history, science, and more. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is the city's largest museum and features some of the world's finest art, archaeological finds, and antiques. Another popular spot is the Musée d'Art Contemporain (the Contemporary Art Museum), which has nearly 8,000 permanent works in its collection. Fascinated by the natural world? Visit the family-friendly Planetarium, Biodome, and Insectarium.
4. It’s a foodie paradise
Montreal, which has the highest number of restaurants per capita in North America (according to some statistics), is the perfect destination for foodies. The city provides a variety of food-related events throughout the year. Burger Week, MTL à Table, and La Fête des Restos all celebrate the expertise of local chefs. Food trucks provide a range of quick eats and regional foods.
When you're in the city, make sure you try a smoked meat sandwich, poutine, and a bagel made the Montreal way.
5. All the microbreweries
Several microbreweries, brewpubs and bars in Montreal serve local and artisanal beers. Dieu du Ciel and Amère à Boire are well-known destinations — they teem with locals all day, from after work to late at night, seven days a week.
You can visit Montreal any time of the year. Each season has different weather conditions, events, and attractions. There are always fun things to do, regardless of when you visit.
The pros for each season: Fall has fewer tourists than summer, gorgeous foliage, and pleasant weather. Winter has festive holiday events, lower prices, and snow sport opportunities. Spring has affordable rates, mild weather, spring flowers, and outdoor festivals. Summer has warm weather and famous music festivals.
The cons for each season: Summer can be humid and top attractions can be crowded. Fall has cooler temperatures and there may be rain or snow. It's also the second most popular tourist period after summer, so there will be some crowds. During winter, the weather can be very cold with snow and ice. Spring weather can be unpredictable.
About the author: Hannah Poaros-McDermott is the Senior Content Coordinator at Fresh Tracks Canada. She has previously written for and shared her local knowledge in Where Vancouver, Where Whistler, and Essential Vancouver magazines. Originally from the UK, Hannah travelled... Read more
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