How to get Around Montreal without a Car
Spend any time in Montreal and you will quickly realize that you don’t need to have a car to enjoy yourself. Whether you are staying in Vieux Port in one of the many boutique hotels or out in the suburbs with friends and family, figuring out how to get around Montreal without a car is easy. I’ve been in the city for almost two weeks and I’ve not needed a car once. I’ve used Uber and taxis late at night and during the day I’ve either walked or taken public transit (referred to as STM). I’ve compiled a few tips to help you figure out how to get around Montreal without a car. Once you’ve figured out the transit system I’m confident you’ll never want to rent a car unless you plan on venturing outside of Montreal on your vacation.
How To Get to Montreal
There are plenty of options to get you to Montreal. If you arrive by train or bus you are just steps away from public transit options that can get you anywhere you need to be in Montreal in minutes. If you are tired don’t fret because there are always plenty of taxis lined up to take you where you need to go.
- By plane – fly into Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport which is about 20 km from Vieux Port (aka old Montreal). There is also Mirabel but that is not as close.
- By train – Via Rail connects many cities like Toronto and Ottawa directly to downtown via Montreal Central Station
- By Bus – The Mega Bus also offers an affordable way to travel to Montreal from as far away as Niagara Falls. The bus terminal is only 250 metres from the train station so also very centrally located
If you arrive by plane then the cheapest way to get to downtown from the airport is via the 747 Airport Shuttle. Purchase a pass for $10 before you line up from one of the automated STM machines and it will take you to any of the 11 stops along its route. It runs 24 hours a day and the full route can take from 45 to 70 minutes depending on traffic.
Public Transit (STM)
If you really want to get to know a city take its public transit. The STM is a great way to explore Montreal and it is cheap. There are buses and a subway system to help you navigate your way around town. Best way to figure out what bus or subway to take I found is to use Google Maps. In the whole time I’ve been here it has been 100% accurate.
If you plan on taking public transit there are a few things you need to know first to help you navigate the system. Depending on your length of stay in Montreal you may wish to buy a 3-day or a weekly transit pass. I highly recommend you buy a pass as this way you never have to search for cash or worry that you’ve run out of tickets.
To buy transit passes you can visit any STM terminal. They have attendants on hand that can sell you tickets and passes but be warned they only accept cash. At every station, they also have automated machines that accept cash and credit cards. A 3-day pass is a paper ticket that is activated and good for 3 consecutive days from its first use. When you board a bus or enter a subway station you “tap” on with the ticket. Cost is $18 and great for those that are just here for the weekend. There is also a weekend pass for $13.75.
If you are staying longer than 3 days I recommend you get the weekly pass. These are $25.75 and good from Monday to Sunday. The 747 Airport Shuttle service is also included in this pass. The trick with the weekly pass is you need to purchase a reloadable OPUS Card so you can load the pass onto it. The process to buy the OPUS card & load the weekly pass is the exact same as the 3-day pass. Keep the card because you can reload it the next time you visit Montreal.
Don’t own a bike but want to cycle your way around Montreal how about hopping on a BIXI bike? This bike share program allows you to pick up a bike from one of the more than 500 bike lock-up locations in the city. When you are finished just lock it up at the BIXI bike station to where you are. If you have an OPUS Card you can even use it to pay for your rides. For more details on BIXI Bikes and how to use their service check here.
Montreal by Foot
My favourite way to explore Montreal is by walking it. This is where you will discover all the best local shops, cafes, and bistros. Not to mention the amazing parks and characters you will meet along the way. You may also discover some amazing street art tucked in discreet corners and alleys.
By foot, bus, bike or subway you do not need a car to figure out how to get around Montreal. Explore the city and save your money.