Studying in Montreal: What to do and where to stay

Montréal recently became the best city in the world for international students – a title held by Paris for the last four years running. And there’s plenty of reasons why : QS’s rankings measure 6 factors including ‘Student View’, which aims to measure things like ‘friendliness’ and ‘good nightlife’, alongside other factors like university rankings. The bilingual Canadian city always does well in rankings for quality of life and affordability, making it a prime location for students from across the globe to experience the Quebecois way of life. The diversity and ‘European meets North American’ blend makes Montreal a welcoming and exciting city – and with 11 universities, there’s probably one that floats your boat!

What to do

Such a diverse, vibrant city offers a whole host of things to do, and a lot of it is student friendly. One of the first things to do is visit the Mount Royal, after which the city is named, as it’s free and will give you a great introduction to the city. Similar ‘must-see’ tourist attractions include the Basilisque Notre Dame de Montréal, Old Montréal and the city’s buzzing markets. The city also has exciting attractions such as the Montreal Botanical Gardens and the Biodome de Montreal which can make for a more unusual day out!

The city also has great museums befitting its history, such as the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the popular Pointe-a-Calliere Museum and the Musée Grevin of waxworks! If you prefer your culture to be more interactive, Montreal has a whole host of music and theatre venues, both big and small. For a more unique night out, try one of the many jazz, blues or comedy clubs – if you’re feeling fancier, try L’Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal!

Montreal is home to the Montreal Canadiens of the National Hockey League, and a trip to an ice-hockey game is a must for any newbie! Unusually, Montreal is also a prominent city for boxing, hosting the most events in Canada and third most events in North America. If shopping is more your style, there’s something for all tastes. From the exciting markets where you’re sure to pick up a bargain, to the city’s malls, with the Underground City providing an unusual option for rainy days. More unique shops such as Noel Eternel, the year-round Christmas shop, can give an unusual twist to your shopping spree!


It comes as no surprise that Montreal offers some of the best nightlife and restaurants. It would be impossible to list them all, but live music pub Brutopia, hip-hop scene of legend SUWU and McLean’s Pub – the only place to watch a Canadiens game – are all good shouts for a lively night out. If you’re looking for something classier or more laid back, the famous Brasserie Dieu du Ciel offers a cool atmosphere, while the pioneering Le Lab offers some of the coolest cocktails in Canada. As for restaurants, French Canadian cuisine sits alongside a host of international offerings, from the iconic Joe Beef in the centre of the foodie district to Lawrence, serving up scrumptious British style brunch. The iconic Grumman78 which began life as a food truck serves incomparable burritos, while the vegan Aux Vivres paved the way for delicious vegan eating in the city.

Where to stay

With so many universities and campuses around Montréal, it’s no surprise that there’s a lot of accommodation on offer all over the city. It goes without saying that whichever university you attend will affect which areas you want to live in, but some regions are more popular than others. The McGill Ghetto is the real student hub as it is close to McGill Unversity and the bustling downtown, but not everyone wants to be in the centre of the action.

Saint Henri is one of the trendiest neighbourhoods, with an abundance of niche and exciting shops, cafes and restaurants, and its excellent transport links make it convenient for most students. If lowkey and calm is more your style, Verdun is popular among students looking for cheaper rents and a more community based feel – the area is not typically ‘studenty’ so if you want to focus on your studies, this may be for you. Plateau-Mont-Royal is a proper student area, with most living in the south of the neighbourhood – though this should not stop you considering cheaper areas like the north and east. Other, more residential areas such as Notre-Dame-de-Grace and Little Italy in Petite-Patrie are becoming increasingly popular with students.

With tons of different accommodation to choose from, you can select the one that best suits you. Also, choosing cheaper forms of accommodation allows you to have extra money to spend on all the great stuff to do in Montreal!


Author: Roomlala