Montreal

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ShermansTravel experts rely on years of collective travel experience to bring you the best money-saving tips for your vacation. We take a discerning look at all the attraction passes, public transportation options, and other local bargains to make sure you get the most bang for your buck while traveling.

Montreal Money-Saving Tips

Groove in the Park

Parc Mont-Royal is always an excellent (free!) escape from downtown Montreal, but on Sundays from May to September be sure to head to the monument to Sir George-Etienne Cartier in the north of the park for the weekly drumming and dancing festival.

Underground City

Be sure to explore Montréal’s infamous underground tunnel system (look for signs marked RESO), which lies beneath most of downtown. It’s especially attractive during the frigid winter months, when it provides a way to get around without going outdoors. The pedestrian passageways are also lined with boutiques and restaurants.

Métro system

Much of the island of Montréal can be covered on foot. Failing that, the city's easily navigable public transit system will get you to most points of interest. Just look for the big blue signs with the white arrows.

City tours

Services are plentiful and range from the usual bus tours to specialized options like horse-drawn carriage rides and river cruises. For an initial orientation, Gray Line Montréal runs a popular three-hour bus tour that covers over 200 points of interest throughout the city. (www.grayline.com).

Montréal Museums Pass

Pick up a pass for just $44 for unlimited public transportation plus access to 32 museums and attractions over a three-day period – a great buy if your visit involves an ambitious sightseeing plan.

International Jazz Festival

This superb festival in late-June to early-July features 3,000 artists from 30 countries. Start planning at least four months in advance as tickets and accommodations sell out fast. (www.montrealjazzfest.com).

Just for Laughs Comedy Festival

Big name comedians like Joan Rivers and Jeremy Piven make this mid-July festival another Montréal hit. Plan vacations during this time at least three months in advance (www.hahaha.com).

La Fete des Neiges

Even winter doesn't stop Montrealers from having a good time at this festival in late-January to early February when all things “snow” – skiing, sledding, snow-sculpting – are celebrated  (www.fetedesneiges.com).

Airport Transportation

Getting into Montréal from the airport by public transit is possible but unwise – connections are both complicated and time-consuming. Fortunately, taxis and limos have a fixed rate ($34 and $49 respectively) for the 20 to 30-minute drive downtown. Another option, L'Aérobus, departs from the airport every 20 to 25 minutes and makes several stops before arriving at the Central Bus Station 40 minutes later (514-842-2281; $13).

Metro Tourist Card

Get unlimited access to the bus and metro system for one day for around US$8, or three consecutive days for around US$15. After you buy the card, scratch out the month and day (or three consecutive days) you wish to use it. 514-786-4636; www.stm.info

Learn French

Pick up some of the local lingo at one of two hotels that offer French lessons to guests. Hotel Nelligan and Le Place d'Armes Hotel have a package that includes five nights' accommodation and 18 hours of private tutelage. 514-842-1887; www.hotelplacedarmes.com

Smaller festivals

The two main events – jazz and comedy festivals – are a great time to visit. But Montrealers also celebrate literature, documentaries, video games, Asian film, Caribbean music, African culture, gays and lesbians, arts and crafts, beer, fireworks, and the French language. www.montrealfestivals.ca

Centre Info-Touriste

This multi-service tourist information bureau run by Quebec's Ministère du Tourisme has information on all Quebec destinations. It offers accommodation booking, sightseeing tours, currency exchange, Internet access, a souvenir shop, national parks information, and car rentals. 877-266-5687; www.bonjourquebec.com

Free Dose of Culture

A handful of museums offer free admission at certain days and times. Check out the Musée d'Art Contemporain (Contemporary Art Museum, www.macm.org) on Wednesday from 5 to 9pm or the Canadian Centre for Architecture's (www.cca.qc.ca) museum and outdoor sculpture garden on Thursday after 5:30pm. The Redpath Museum (www.mcgill.ca/redpath), showcasing Canada's natural history, is always free, though there is a CAD$5 suggested donation.

BIXI Public Bike System

BIXI (bicycle + taxi) offers 5,000 bikes around the city for easy one-off rentals or long-term subscriptions. Simply swipe your credit card in a machine, remove a bike using the provided access code, and pedal away! A 24-hour pass costs CAD$5 (a little over $5), with the first 30 minutes of each ride free (but note that a CAD$250 – about $255 – security deposit will be added to your credit card or bank account and can take up to 10 days to be refunded). montreal.bixi.com

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