Getting Around Montreal

Montreal's Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport (formerly Dorval Airport) is about half an hour west of the city center on highway 20. Note that travel time to the airport from the city center can be as much as an hour, depending on traffic. The airport is served by all major Canadian and U.S. airlines, and is a major hub for Air Canada and WestJet. There are multiple daily trans-Atlantic flights to and from (amongst others) London, Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt, Rome, Madrid, Lisbon, Munich, Moscow, Cairo and Casablanca.

The taxi fare to and from downtown is a fixed price of $35 (a sticker on the window behind the driver gives the boundaries of the zone where the flat fare applies; for origins and destinations outside this zone, you will have to pay a metered fare). The Aérobus is a shuttle running from Dorval to the aérogare Centre-ville (777 De La Gauchetière, angle rue University) and to the city's inter-city bus station, Station Centrale (505 boul. De Maisonneuve East, above the Berri-UQAM métro station) via a number of downtown hotels. It departs every half hour from 7 AM to 1 AM. Tickets are $13 one-way.

Alternatively, public bus no. 204 leaves from outside arrivals every half hour to Gare Dorval (Dorval train station - check with the driver which direction he is going in, as both bus routes stop at the same pier). From Dorval, you can use your transfer ticket to catch express bus no. 211/221 to the Lionel-Groulx métro (subway). Your transfer will then let you into the métro. This costs only $2.75 but exact change must be provided to the first driver.

Another option is to take the VIA Rail AirConnect service from the airport terminal to downtown by shuttle and train. This service runs infrequently but costs only $11. The same trip can be made on the AMT commuter train for $4.25 if you can figure out how get to nearby Dorval Station from the airport, but check the schedule first.

From Toronto, take Highway 401 east for about 5 hours until it becomes Autoroute 20 on the Quebec side of the border. Highway 20 takes about an hour to get to downtown. Be alert for frequent speed-limit changes along this road. To reach downtown follow the Centre-Ville signs and take Highway 720 (Highway 20 continues over the Pont Champlain bridge to the South Shore). From Ottawa, it's about 2 hours east along Highway 417 (which becomes the 40 in Quebec) to Montreal. From Quebec City, it's about 2.5-3.5 hours west on either Highway 40 or 20. From New York City, take Interstate Freeway 87 north through Albany and the eastern half of New York State for about six hours. After the border crossing near Plattsburgh, the freeway becomes Highway 15, which leads directly into downtown Montreal over the Pont Champlain -- the most beautiful approach to the city. The drive time from Plattsburgh to downtown Montreal is approximately one hour. From Boston, take Interstate Highway 93 to Highway 89 in Concord, New Hampshire, through Vermont to the border crossing near Burlington, where it turns into Highway 133 which intersects Highway 10, which taken west leads directly into downtown Montreal. The whole trip takes about 6-7 hours.

Montreal Central Station (Gare Centrale) is at 895 De La Gauchetière West, one block west of rue University, and is served by the Bonaventure metro (subway) station.

Greyhound offers five daily direct services from New York (eight hours, from USD$76.50) and five from Boston (seven hours, from USD$72). There are extensive services to Montreal from cities in Ontario, Quebec, New York, Vermont and Maine. Buses arrive and depart from the Station Centrale (not to be confused with the Gare Central or central train station) at 505 boulevard De Maisonneuve Est.

Walking is a favored way to get around the densely packed downtown and the narrow streets of Old Montreal, especially during the warmer months. You can always take the stairs down to Montreal's famous "Underground City" (Montréal souterrain), called RÉSO, a network of pedestrian corridors connecting métro (subway) stations, shopping centers and office complexes.

Driving in Montreal can be a challenge for many North American motorists. It is most important to note that all road signs use symbols and that pedestrians have a much greater confidence in your ability to brake than you might. This is because driving in Montreal works on a "first-come first-serve" basis and hence you have to be proactive if you want to cross the road.