Where to stay in Montreal for first time: 5 Safe areas

Hi guys, on my website, I already wrote an article about staying in Montreal without a car (I will put the links to it at the end of this article). In today’s article, I will help you to find the best places to stay in Montreal for first-time visitors and tourists.

I will share with you what I believe are the best and safest areas to stay in Montreal for first-timers and tourists, along with a helpful map and areas to avoid. I’ll also share where I stayed in Montreal and recommend some of the best hotels in Montreal for various budgets.

Before getting into the detail of the main topic, let’s look at some facts about this city:

Montreal is the largest city in the province of Quebec, Canada. It is located on the Island of Montreal, which is at the confluence of the Saint Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers.

It is a bilingual city with both French and English as official languages. French is the predominant language, and the majority of the population speaks it as their first language.

The city has a long history, dating back to its founding in 1642. It has a well-preserved Old Montreal (Vieux-Montréal) district with historic architecture and cobblestone streets.

Montreal is renowned for its culinary scene, with a focus on French and Quebecois cuisine. Poutine, a dish consisting of french fries, cheese curds, and gravy, is a local specialty.

Montreal has an extensive public transportation system, including buses and a metro system. The city is also a major transportation hub with two international airports: Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport and Mirabel International Airport.

Some notable landmarks in Montreal include Mount Royal, a large hill with a park and scenic views, the Notre-Dame Basilica, and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

Montreal is passionate about sports, with ice hockey being a major part of its culture. The Montreal Canadiens, one of the original six NHL teams, are a beloved professional hockey team. The city also hosts the Canadian Grand Prix Formula 1 race.

The city hosts numerous festivals throughout the year, including the Montreal International Jazz Festival, the Just for Laughs comedy festival, the Montreal World Film Festival, and many more.

Montreal is generally a safe city with a relatively rare violent crime rate. But, like any urban area, there may be isolated incidents of petty crime, so it’s wise to take care of your belongings, stick to well-lit areas at night, avoid poorly lit areas at night, and stay aware of your surroundings.

While no place is entirely free from risk, Montreal’s reputation for safety makes it a great choice for travelers looking to explore its rich history, cuisine, and vibrant arts scene.

Where to stay in Montreal for the first time?

The best and safest areas to stay in Montreal for first-timers and tourists are Old Montreal, Downtown, Le Plateau-Mont-Royal, Quartier des Spectacles, and The Village. While these areas are generally safe, it’s important to exercise the same caution you would in any city.

If you love history and culture, Old Montreal might be your best choice. If you prefer a more central and modern vibe, Downtown is suitable. For an artsy and bohemian atmosphere, Plateau-Mont-Royal is a great option. The Village is a great base for a lively LGBTQ+ scene. 

Keep in mind that Montreal has a well-connected public transportation system, so you can easily explore the city from any of these neighborhoods.

During my trip to Montreal, I stayed at the mid-range Hotel Place D’Armes in Old Montreal. The hotel has a prime location, a great base to explore the city and its attractions. Easy access to the Place d’Armes metro. I had a pleasant stay at the junior suite which was spacious, clean and comfortable. 

Below is a map of the popular areas in Montreal for first-time travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the safe areas to stay in Montreal first time
Map of the safe areas to stay in Montreal first time

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Montreal, especially for first-time visitors. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in Montreal have been carefully selected by me, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

5 Safe areas to stay in Montreal for first-timers and tourists

1. Old Montreal (Vieux-Montréal)

Old Montreal is one of the most popular areas to stay in Montreal for first-timer visitors who want to be in the historic heart of the city. It is home to many historic landmarks, including the Notre-Dame Basilica, the City Hall, the Old Port, and Place Jacques-Cartier. 

The neighborhood’s cobblestone streets and European architecture give it a unique and picturesque ambiance. Strolling through the area’s narrow streets is a delightful experience.

You can explore museums like the Pointe-à-Callière Museum of Archaeology and History, which provides insights into Montreal’s past. There are also art galleries, boutique shops, and antique stores to discover.

Old Montreal boasts a wide range of restaurants, cafes, and bars. It’s an excellent place to sample both French and international cuisine. In the evening, the area comes alive with its vibrant nightlife scene.

The Old Port of Montreal offers stunning waterfront views, and you can take a riverboat tour along the St. Lawrence River, or enjoy outdoor activities like biking and paddleboarding in the warmer months.

Old Montreal hosts various festivals and events throughout the year, such as the International Fireworks Competition and the Montreal en Lumière festival.

Old Montreal offers a range of charming boutique hotels and inns, many of which are located in historic buildings. This can provide a unique and intimate lodging experience.

Best places to stay in Old Montreal for first-time tourists:

  • Mid-range ($$): Hotel Place D’Armes, great 4-star hotel located in the heart of Old Montreal, featuring good breakfast, spacious family rooms, and private parking. Close  to so many nice restaurants, attractions, and public transportation.
  • Mid-range ($$): Hôtel Uville Montréal, popular 4-star hotel in central Montreal, within a short distance from popular attractions such as the Place Jacques Cartier, Montreal Convention Centre and Underground City. 
  • Budget ($): Le Petit Hotel St Paul by Gray Collection, 3-star accommodation located within a short walk from Notre-Dame Basilica and Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art. It features a European café, 24-hour front desk, and very good breakfast.

2. Downtown Montreal

Downtown Montreal is the central business and commercial district of the city, and it’s a popular area for both business travelers and tourists who prefer a more central location, enjoy shopping, dining, and entertainment, or are in the city for business purposes.

Downtown Montreal is a shopper’s paradise, with its various boutiques, department stores, and shopping centers. The famous Sainte-Catherine Street is known for its shopping, including the massive Underground City (La Ville Souterraine), a huge network of underground shops and malls that is particularly convenient during the winter.

The downtown area is home to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the McCord Museum, and the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art. These institutions offer a wide range of artistic and historical exhibitions.

This area has a vibrant nightlife scene with many bars, nightclubs, and theaters. The Quartier des Spectacles, which is adjacent to downtown, hosts numerous festivals, concerts, and cultural events throughout the year.

If you’re in Montreal for business or attending a conference, the Palais des congrès de Montréal (Montreal Convention Centre) is located in the heart of downtown, making it convenient for business travelers.

Downtown Montreal is well-connected to other parts of the city through the Montreal Metro system and multiple bus routes, making it easy to explore other neighborhoods and attractions.

Best places to stay in Downtown Montreal for first-time travelers:

  • Luxury ($$$): Hôtel Birks Montréal, 5-star hotel in the heart of Downtown Montreal, a short distance from Eaton Centre and the Museum of Contemporary Art. Great location for sightseeing.
  • Mid-range ($$): Le Square Phillips Hôtel & Suites, popular 4-star accommodation in central Montreal, short distance from Mcgill University and Notre-Dame Basilica. It has Private parking, family rooms, and 24-hour front desk. Easy access to shops, bars and restaurants.
  • Budget ($): Le Dauphin Montréal Centre-Ville, 3-star hotel, located in the middle of the business district, an easy walk from Bonaventure Station, Montréal’s Convention Center, and Rue Sainte-Catherine. It has large and comfortable rooms.

3. Le Plateau-Mont-Royal

Le Plateau-Mont-Royal is a trendy and artistic neighborhood located next to downtown Montreal. It is an attractive area for visitors who appreciate arts and culture and a more bohemian lifestyle.

The Plateau is a hub for artists, musicians, and writers. You’ll find many colorful and artistic murals, street art, and creative displays throughout the neighborhood. It’s an excellent place for art lovers and those who appreciate a bohemian atmosphere.

The area is famous for its diverse culinary scene, with numerous cafes, bistros, and restaurants offering a wide range of international cuisines. You can explore cozy coffee shops, bagel bakeries, and enjoy a mix of French and international flavors.

You can take a stroll along avenues like Mont-Royal, St-Denis, and St-Laurent, which are known for their lively atmosphere. These streets are lined with shops, boutiques, and bars, making them ideal for shopping and people-watching.

Parc Lafontaine is a green oasis in the heart of Le Plateau. It’s a great place for picnics, leisurely walks, and outdoor activities. In the summer, the park often hosts cultural events and festivals.

While it’s not as historic as Old Montreal, the Plateau is known for its colorful row houses and duplexes with exterior staircases, adding to its unique architectural character.

The Plateau offers a vibrant nightlife scene, with numerous bars, clubs, and live music venues. You can find various options for entertainment well into the late hours.

Best places to stay in Le Plateau-Mont-Royal for tourists:

  • Mid-range ($$): Hotel St.Thomas, great 4-star hotel located in an excellent location, easy access to the metro stations and a major bus station that links to the airport. You can find many fun restaurants and cafes nearby. 
  • Mid-range ($$): Sonder Le Guerin, this accommodation located in the heart of Plateau Mont Royal. It offers rooms with air conditioning, a private bathroom and a kitchen. Easy access to the metro system, dining outlets, and Mont Royal Park.
  • Budget ($): Auberge de La Fontaine, popular 3-star  stone house, located in the vibrant Plateau Mont-Royal district, easy access to many shops and restaurants. It offers great views of Parc LaFontaine, which is Montreal’s third largest park.

4. Quartier des Spectacles

The Quartier des Spectacles is a dynamic and cultural neighborhood located between downtown Montreal and the Gay Village. It is known for its vibrant arts and entertainment scene, making it a top choice for visitors interested in the performing arts, music, and festivals.  

This area is home to many significant festivals and cultural events, including the Montreal International Jazz Festival, Just for Laughs comedy festival, Montreal World Film Festival, and many more. The area comes alive with performances, installations, and street entertainment during these events.

The neighborhood is home to several theaters, concert halls, and venues, including Place des Arts, which hosts a wide range of performances, from ballet and opera to contemporary music and theater.

You’ll find numerous public art installations and interactive exhibits throughout the Quartier des Spectacles, making it a visually engaging area to explore.

In addition to Place des Arts, you can visit cultural institutions like the Cinémathèque québécoise, which showcase contemporary art and cinema.

Quartier des Spectacles features several open spaces and squares, such as the Place des Festivals, which is a central gathering point for many events and performances.

Best places to stay in Quartier des Spectacles for visitors:

  • Budget ($): Manoir Sherbrooke, 3-star historic accommodation located only 5 mins walk from Sherbrooke Metro Station, short distance from Place des Arts. Easy access to Prince Arthur and Saint-Laurent streets, where you can find many unique shops, restaurants and cafes.
  • Budget ($): Hyatt Place Montreal – Downtown, 3-star hotel in central Montreal, easy access to the metro system, the Gay Village, St. Catherine’s, and many restaurants on st. Denise.
  • Budget ($): Hôtel Saint-Laurent Montréal, 3-star hotel located in the Latin neighborhood close to Chinatown, red-light district, and Old Montreal. You can find a 747 bus stop nearby to take the bus to the airport. It also has free washers and dryers for clothes.

5. The Village 

The Village, also known as Le Village in French, is a vibrant neighborhood located east of the Latin Quarter. This area is recognized as the city’s LGBTQ+ district and is known for its inclusive and lively atmosphere. 

The Village hosts Montreal’s annual Pride Parade and various LGBTQ+ events throughout the year, making it a focal point for the city’s LGBTQ+ community and allies.

The neighborhood boasts a wide array of LGBTQ+ bars, clubs, and venues that come to life in the evenings. It’s a great place to experience the city’s nightlife, with many options for dancing, drag shows, and entertainment.

Best places to stay in Montreal in The Village:


In conclusion, Old Montreal, Downtown, Le Plateau-Mont-Royal, Quartier des Spectacles, and The Village are the best places to stay in Montreal for first timers and tourists. They are generally safe areas with plenty of accommodation options for all budgets to stay and explore the city.

If you don’t plan to drive in Montreal, you can check this article: Best areas to stay in Montreal without a car.

There you have it, my recommendations for the most popular and safest neighborhoods that you can stay during your first trip to Montreal. I hope you enjoyed my article and find it both informative and helpful.

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality content.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. This means that, at absolutely no additional cost to you, I'll earn a small commission if you click through and purchase something I've recommended. I only recommend products that I use myself or firmly believe in. Thank you!

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