City breaks are a great way to discover the world’s most fascinating environments. The normal way to explore a new city is to grab a guidebook to the “must-sees” and pack them in as fast as you can. But there is another way, and that is to try to experience the city as its own residents do, at a slower pace. Here are some ways to get a new angle on a city like Montreal.
Choosing Your Base
You will not want to spend too much time in your hotel, so go for somewhere conveniently placed that has a good reputation. Montreal airport is fairly close to the city, so an airport hotel like the Marriott Fairfield Inn would be a sensible choice so that you do not waste energy getting to and from the airport.
Using Your Legs
In most cases, the best way to get around a city center is to walk. It gives you time to spot things that interest you, to stop for a drink or snack whenever you feel like it, and to frame your photos properly.
Most guidebooks will include self-guided tours, and there are great apps around that will stop you getting lost while you discover the interesting sights of the city, using their background notes.
An alternative is to join a group guided tour. Many cities like Montreal now have free tours you can join for a voluntary donation—the guides are often enthusiastic amateurs who can give you a unique insight.
Using Your Wheels
Another way to see the city at your own pace is to cycle. It’s a real compromise between the detail you see while walking, and the distance you can cover by car. Montreal is a hilly city, but even so, it has a strong cycling culture.
There is no shortage of bike rental companies to kit you out, or for short trips use the economical and convenient hop-on-and-ride Bixi Bike Share. Many cities have similar schemes.
Using Your Passion
If you don’t have much time, you can use your own interests and knowledge to control your itinerary.
If you have a hobby that you love, you could make that the focus of your trip. Check out the groups that meet in the city and find out if you can meet up with them. It will give a human contact element to your vacation and may introduce you to places which you would otherwise not find.
Set yourself the task of having something different to bring back. Compile a scrapbook of things relevant to your interests, or a photo album of some particular aspect of city life that attracts you.
Bringing Back the Memories
With a city break in a place like Montreal, you will be spoiled for choice about how to spend your time. You will not be able to see it all, so decide your priorities and tackle them at a gentle pace that allows you time to stop, stare, and chat.