Travel Tips for a Montreal Vacation

Sample the European flavor of Montreal, with help from our insider's planning guide.

What to Expect:

Boy in Montreal Doorway

International flair, fantastic food, and beaucoup de museums, parks, and festivals make Montreal a great family destination. Just bear in mind: Canada is a foreign country, and visiting requires a little extra planning.

Document check: Passports are required for everyone except kids under age 16, in which case a valid birth certificate suffices (travel.state.gov). If you're bringing someone else's child (or traveling solo with your own), you'll also need a certified letter from the absent parent or guardian.

Cell service: Roaming rates kick in at the border, but many carriers offer affordable, short-term, international plans.

Money matters: Many shops and restaurants accept U.S. currency, but you'll get a better exchange rate by withdrawing cash at a Canadian ATM. Ask your bank and credit card company ahead of time about foreign transaction fees and let them know you'll be using your card outside the United States. (Note: Canadian prices are denoted here by C$.)

Where to Stay:

Parents will appreciate Le Westin Montréal's convenient location -- a short walk to Vieux-Montréal and across from a metro stop -- and kids will love the indoor glass-bottom pool on the fourth floor, which looks straight down into the hotel entryway. (Rates start at C$229; westinmontreal.com; 866-837-4262)

The grand Fairmont the Queen Elizabeth is just upstairs from Central Station, making it a prime choice if you're traveling by train or you have a railroad fanatic in your family. Other pluses include an indoor pool and a location in the heart of downtown. (Rates start at C$249; fairmont.com/queen-elizabeth-montreal; 866-540-4483)

Getting Around:

There's no need for your car once you're settled in Montreal. Public transportation is efficient, clean, and easy to use. For short itineraries, buses are a good option; those on the St. Laurent street route traverse the popular thoroughfare every ten minutes, making them convenient for sightseeing as well. Via metro you can cover more ground faster. (Both buses and the metro are C$3 one-way; the summer Family Outings program lets each paying adult take along up to five kids under age 12 for free; stm.info.)

Locals are biking fanatics, and the city's 347 miles of bike paths offer a great way to see the sights, especially along the Lachine Canal and through the Old Port. Ça Roule Montréal (Montreal on Wheels) rents bicycles, tandems, and trailers. (C$8 per hour and up; caroulemontreal.com/en)

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