Mount Royal Park. Photo by Bansari Gandhi /CC BY 4.0

How to Enjoy Montreal on the Cheap

Mount Royal Park provides a cheap and active day out in Montreal, offering stunning views of downtown.

Whilst not a city that’s generally associated with low-cost activities, Montreal can nevertheless be an affordable place to visit for budget travellers. From invigorating hikes to cheap eats to free cultural pursuits, the city has it all if you only know where to look for it. 

In fact, it doesn’t matter if your destination is Paris, Tokyo or even Las Vegas, by following a few tips and tricks, it’s possible to enjoy any city in the world on the smallest of budgets. One of the best ways to enjoy any city on the cheap is to do as the locals do and embed yourself in the city’s culture. Although it’s possible to live a life of luxury in what is undoubtedly one of the globe’s most fun-loving cities, Montrealers also know how to get great value from their city.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at our selection of ways to enjoy Montreal on the cheap…

Hike the famous Mount Royal

The peak after which the city is named is also home to one of Montreal’s most affordable and fun activities. Home to a stunning park that’s packed with nature and activities, not to mention a breathtaking viewpoint from which the whole city can be seen, Mount Royal is about as close to a Montreal landmark as you can get.

Hike the six or seven kilometres up the hill to enjoy the views and make sure to stop off along the way to enjoy Beaver Lake and the adjacent playground. There’s also an awesome café here serving some of the best coffee around and a variety of homemade treats that won’t break the bank. Perfect for an energy boost on your climb to the top! Don’t be put off though, the gradual walk to the summit of Mount Royal really isn’t that difficult at all. Just be sure to take your time and enjoy this gorgeous inner-city oasis.

Get cultural at one of the city’s many free art galleries and museums

Montreal is famous for its world class culture, with locals taking their Quebecois heritage extremely seriously and with good reason, too. The city is home to some of Canada’s finest cultural institutions and boasts a range of great art and history exhibitions. 

Perhaps the best known and most highly esteemed of all museums in Montreal is the Museum of Contemporary Art. Home to a truly dazzling array of modern art from paintings to sculptures to concept pieces, entry to the museum usually costs a pretty penny. However, every Wednesday between the hours of 18:00 and 21:00 the museum is free for all visitors, with a free guided tour offered from 18:30. Bear this in mind when visiting and you’ll be able to enjoy some of the best modern art in North America absolutely free. 

Aside from this splendid museum, there’s also the excellent Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, which is open to the public for free all year round. In addition, the lesser-known yet equally spellbinding Centre of Design at Quebec University Montreal is free during opening hours from Wednesday to Sunday. This museum hosts some stunning design exhibitions showcasing the work of pioneers both local and international, a must see for fans of design.

Atwater Market is famous across Canada for the quality of its produce including cured meats, cheese and bread. Photo by Anna Frodesiak /CC BY 0

Enjoy the city’s legendary food culture on a budget

Montreal is known throughout the world as a city in which food is king. The city’s French cuisine heritage has been combined with stunningly fresh local ingredients to make Montreal a truly first-class food destination. 

The heart of Montréalais food culture is in the city’s many markets, where locals and tourists alike rub elbows in search of the most delicious produce to both eat on the spot or carry home. Great markets in Montreal include the Jean Talon and the Atwater markets, both legendary in their own right.  Head to Atwater’s famous cheese spot to try amazing local cheese inspired by famous French styles, as well as imports from across the globe. There’s also some dangerously good charcuterie and breads to enjoy at both the major markets, as well as at the esteemed Maisonneuve – a public market with a particularly strong French vibe.