So, you’re spending winter in Montreal. If you’re a first timer, you’ve probably already received plenty of ominous warnings; the reminder that Winter is Coming is enough to make anyone quake in their (heavy, thickly lined) boots. Winter in Montreal can be cold, damp and unforgiving, and unless you’re a ski buff (or a masochist), it’s possible that you’re not thrilled about the impending drop in temperature.
It’s not all bad; the holiday season—with its festivals, lights and influx of party invites—is a magical time in Montreal, and the cold weather provides a perfect excuse to indulge in hot beverages and back out of social commitments in favour of sitting by the radiator in your sweatpants. If you’re feeling a little less defeatist, check out these tips for surviving your first winter here!
If you’ve never spent winter in a country with weather comparable to Canada’s, you’re going to need to expand your wardrobe. Warmth and comfort are of paramount importance, and that starts with what’s going on beneath your outerwear. Inside spaces will vary in temperature—you might be sweltering in your cable knit at the mall but reaching for your scarf at the office, so layer, layer, layer. A good winter coat, toque and mittens or gloves are a must, and look for winter boots that are both waterproof and lined for warmth (but be warned that even the most indestructible pair will likely fall victim to staining from the salt that’s scattered on snow and ice). Good winter footwear isn’t just about warmth, though; you’ll want something that will stop you from slipping and sliding on the ice that builds up on streets and staircases. Add ice cleats to your boots for extra traction.
The best thing about experiencing the harsh Quebec winter in a big city like Montreal is that you never have to go through it alone. Montreal is host to a number of winter activities designed to get people outside and make the most of the snow and cold. Take in outdoor concerts, try your hand at some winter sports or stuff your face with the season’s favourite comfort foods; whether you prefer music or art, food or the great outdoors, family friendly fun or party vibes, there’s a winter festival or event with your name on it.
If you’re lucky enough to live or work downtown, you can cut down on unnecessary outdoor time significantly by using Montreal’s Underground City, which consists of 33 km-worth of tunnels connecting metro stations, stores and restaurants, six shopping centres and nine hotels. Hop on the metro, grab a bite to eat, do some shopping and recharge with a coffee without ever having to face the cold.
There’s no way better way to experience a quintessential Canadian winter than by renting a cabin in the woods, stocking up on hot chocolate and mulled wine, piling on the blankets, snuggling up by a fireplace and watching the snow fall outside. Quebec is home to a number of cottages for rent just outside of Montreal, perfect for those who want a cozy place to come back to after a day on the slopes as well as those who have no intention of ever leaving the cabin. Grab your board games and your softest sweaters and get busy making winter memories with friends.
Perhaps no one is poised to enjoy winter in Montreal more than sports lovers, for whom the season is a goldmine of new activities to try. Canadian classics like curling, hockey and figure skating abound throughout the city (with many public parks transformed into outdoor rinks for the season) but there are also plenty of less conventional options available both in Montreal and nearby. Strap on some snowshoes or toss a Christmas tree and impress your friends and family with your new Quebec street cred.