Montreal is Canada’s largest French-speaking city and it’s here that you’ll find locals with a large source of pride and a unique blend of modern city dynamics mixed with historic charm. And though often referred to as the Canadian New York City, enjoying Montreal’s treats doesn’t have to be a burden on the wallet. There are plenty of great ways to see and experience the city that a free or close to it.
To start, Parc Jean Drapeau is probably Montreal’s most famous park and is spread out over the Notre-Dame and Sainte-Helene islands. These 62 acres have racetracks, amusement parks, free public art, incredible waterways and hikes and biking trails that allow visitors to appreciate the grounds at their own leisurely pace. In addition, on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday nights during the summer, free ballroom dancing lessons can be had here.
Another great option for a walkabout is the Mont Royal Cemetery. This tourist attraction is overrun with crab apple trees, chestnut trees, and even Japanese lilacs, making a stroll here a beautiful botanical experience, as well as an educational one—guided tours are available which inform guests of the notable Montrealers buried there.
For food touring, head over to Marche Jean-Talon, a market in a quaint strip of small houses located in Little Italy where these Italian-turned-Montrealers sell the best fruits, vegetables, and cheeses you can find in this wonderful city.
Free festivals and concerts are always being held year-round in Montreal, so it pays to stay up on events when you’re planning your visit there. The FroncoFolies is the largest French-speaking music festival in the world and for these 11 summer days, concerts erupt in near random-seeming verve throughout the city—even in public parks and waterways.