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Layover in Montréal – the ultimate guide 2021

Published by: Bounce4 September, 2021

If you find yourself having to do either a short or long stopover in Montreal, there are plenty of ways to turn this situation to your advantage. In addition to the usual array of taxis, Uber, and shuttle buses, Montreal’s Pierre Elliot Trudeau International Airport is connected to the downtown area by the 747-bus service which runs seven days a week. You should expect that journey to take between 45 and 75 minutes depending on traffic density.

Whether you are on a short Montreal layover or are there longer, you should consider dropping extra bags at a convenient Montreal luggage storage service so that you are not condemned to having to haul heavy bags throughout your stay.

This city was established in 1642 and that long history means that there has been plenty of time for the development of both historical and cultural tourist attractions to keep you happily entertained, no matter how long the duration of any layover.

6 hour Montreal layover


Old Montreal is just south of the downtown area and with a short Montreal airport layover, you will just about have enough time to explore this area. Having stored your bags in a convenient locker, jump on the 747 bus or catch a cab directly to the Old Town.

Once there, you can do much of your exploring on foot and the cobbled streets and intact old buildings have preserved much of the European atmosphere. In fact, sitting at a street-side café in Place Jacques-Cartier sipping coffee will have a distinctly European feel to it. There, in the summer months, many artists and street performers will have set up shop to add to your entertainment options.

After that, stroll along the Old Port which runs along the banks of the St. Lawrence River. Here is where the original settlers disembarked, and though no longer a working port it has been converted into a popular recreation area with plenty of bars, coffee shops, and restaurants. 

  • Unfortunately, a short layover doesn't give you time to do much more but hopefully, you will have escaped the airport for a few hours and enjoyed yourself in the process.

  • The Old Town and Old Port are great areas to suck up a bit of Montreal’s atmosphere in a limited amount of time.

  • Allow time to get back to the airport and to clear security before you board your connection.

8 hour Montreal layover


On a slightly longer layover, you are able to combine one or two different tourist attractions and discover a little more of what this city is about. As with a six-hour layover, you might get a feel for the area by starting in the Old Town but now you can make a more in-depth exploration.

You can delve deeper into the history of the region at the Montréal Museum of History and Archaeology. This modern museum tells the story of Montréal from the First Nations groups that originally settled the area through the heyday of Nouvelle France to the modern Canadian city Montréal has become. You could easily spend a couple of hours here, but remember that large bags are not permitted, so drop yours off at a Montréal luggage storage before you visit.

  • Explore Montréal’s history at the Museum of History and Archaeology.

  • Learn about the First Nations who originally settled the area and the French colonists who founded Montréal.

10 hour Montreal layover


Another option during a Montréal Airport layover might be to visit the Basilica Notre Dame. Here a self-guided tour will take an hour and you will see sublime stained-glass windows, a 7000-pipe organ, and numerous gilded ornaments. If you are lucky enough to be there for an Aura show it is one you won’t want to miss. Beneath the ornate vaulted ceilings, you will be exposed to a light and music extravaganza. This is quite breathtaking and will leave you with lasting memories.    

  • You might be able to combine all these options on your Montreal layover, but only if you are really disciplined about time management.

  • It may be more pleasant to cherry-pick your adventures than to try to cram in too much.

  • Don’t even attempt any of these attractions if you are carrying luggage.

12 hour Montreal layover


A long layover in Montreal means that you have more options to consider. You will still need to be choosey in order to get the best from your visit but hopefully, that few extra hours will mean you aren't obliged to pay so much attention to your watch.

If the weather is pleasant, Mont-Royal is the most popular park in the city and makes for a delightful outdoor stroll. It is easy to find because it is set on the triple-peaked hill around which the city is built and from which it derives its name. From the top, you will be afforded excellent views of the city.

Art lovers are in for a treat in Montreal. The Musee des beaux-arts Montreal is rated as one of the top art museums in the country. If you would prefer to explore art that is at more of a cutting edge, then the Musee d’art Contemporain is where you should head for.

Poutine is a dish closely linked to Montreal culture. It might not sound like much when you consider that the ingredients are cheese, gravy, and fries, but this city has managed to make it into a mouthwatering combination, so it is something to think about as you enjoy your layover.

  • You won’t get to visit all that you have just read about but you will be able to choose your favorite options.

  • Rather than trying to do too much, pick one or two attractions and enjoy them to the full.

24 hour Montreal layover


An overnight Montreal layover offers you the opportunity to explore some of the city’s buoyant nightlife. There are plenty of activities to make your stay a memorable one. In addition to bars and clubs, there is a thriving jazz culture in the city, so if you are an aficionado of this genre, you won’t have trouble finding somewhere to while away the hours.

Montreal is famed for its food. The heavy French influence really becomes apparent here, but other cultures such as Haiti and Italy have also staked their claim to the culinary creations of the city. Whether you want top-end classic dining, or you would prefer something more simple or regional, you will find a dining experience to suit you in the downtown area.

  • On an overnight layover always consider access back to the airport when choosing your hotel.

  • If you are traveling light, the return ride to the airport to make your next connection will be far less difficult.

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