The best time to visit Montreal, of course, depends on your travel priorities.
Summer by far sees the most visitors descending on this unique and historic city, best explored on foot. However, if you are not a fan of crowds or big festivals, you may prefer arriving outside of July and August.
Choosing the best time to visit Montreal involves weighing your travel needs and wants with your travel budget and then finding what's available.
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The Most Popular Time to Visit: Summer
Peak travel to Montreal occurs between June and September, especially July and August, the months when most North American schools are out and Old Montreal and the city festival schedule is in full swing.
Warm Weather Brings the Party Outside
Summer weather in Montreal is warm and sunny and perfect for strolling the streets, lounging on outdoor patios, and attending the myriad of festivals that take place, including the Montreal Jazz Festival, Osheaga, and Pride Montreal. Tens of thousands of people descend on Montreal to shake their stuff for these festivals and others.
If you visit Montreal between June and September, you will have no shortage of open-air activities, public programming, and neighborhood festivities - big and small scale - to spice up your Montreal stay.
Keep in mind Montreal temperatures get pretty steamy in summer - hot and humid. July and August average over 27℃ (82℉). Nevertheless, evenings and waterside locations can be cool.
Where to Stay
Of course with popularity and demand come inflated prices and limited availability. Book Montreal hotels early for summer stays - especially for weekend dates and during festivals.
Check out these cheap Montreal hotels, or consider staying in college or university residences, such as at Concordia or McGill - probably the best deal going in summer when the students are gone.
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The Least Popular but Cheapest Time to Visit: Winter
Lots of visitors are reluctant to go to Montreal in the winter because of the cold, snow, and ice. However, you can still pack a lot into a chilly Montreal sojourn and enjoy its fine food, shopping, culture, not to mention outdoor activities, like ice skating, cross-country skiing, or Montreal winter festivals.
Why People Stay Away
Montreal is colder and gets more snow than Toronto or New York City. If you're not from a northern country, the chill and snow of Toronto may be unlike anything you've experienced. Brace yourself but do not be afraid.
Temperatures reach sub-zero consistently December through February for sure. Gloves, parkas, proper winter boots, and hats are a given.
Most snowfall occurs from December through March, averaging between 40 and 60 cm (16 and 24 inches) per month during this time. Snowstorms can be sudden and intense and affect traffic and air travel.
Because the number of visitors drops off so sharply in winter, much of Old Montreal shuts down.
Hotels and Accommodations
Your reward for braving the brisk of Montreal? Hotel savings. Rates are cheaper in winter except over the Family Day weekend in February where demand increases.
Some hotels, like the Hilton Montreal Bonaventure, have a year-round heated pool - like a giant hot tub in winter. Magical.
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Shoulder Season If You're Flexible
October - especially early October, but beware of the Thanksgiving holiday - is a beautiful time to visit Montreal: The fall colors are maybe at peak or just past and the weather is cool but conditions are not bleak or mucky.
Old Montreal businesses are still open and comfortably meandering the cobblestone streets is still possible.
Spring in Montreal can be dicey. Winter can linger into April, so it can remain quite cold. But for the most part, you could expect warming weather, gardens greening, and a spring returning to Montrealers' steps.
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Be Aware of Holidays
Montreal celebrates the following holidays: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Family Day (third Mon of Feb), Good Friday and Easter Monday (Mar or Apr), La fête nationale, also known as Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day (June 24), Canada Day (July 1), Labour Day (first Mon in Sept), Thanksgiving (second Mon in Oct), Remembrance Day (Nov 11), Christmas Day (Dec 25), and Boxing Day (Dec 26).
On Good Friday and Easter Monday, schools and government offices close; most corporations close on one or the other, and a few close on both. Only banks and government offices close on Remembrance Day (Nov 11).