Dirt Cheap Montreal Guide ($150)

As someone who’s about to graduate with an English Degree (aka jobless), I need to save 💰. After scrolling through pages of “cheap” Montreal itineraries during my lectures, I found nothing cheap enough for my budget.

So I made my own for two of my other broke friends and myself.

Cost: $150 / 30 Starbucks drinks / a tasting menu for one
Duration: 4 days, 3 nights
Includes: Everything, not shopping → if you’re broke you can’t shop

🚍 Transport…

yourself into the most European city in North America because if you could be there you probably wouldn’t be here. Transportation and accommodations are usually the most expensive part of a getaway but with Megabus you can ride your way to Montreal for a cool $10 each way, a total of $25.06. Just make sure to book in advance, bring Gravol and headphones.

For getting around the city, I would recommend buying the three day unlimited Metro pass, $19 or the unlimited weekend pass (valid between 4 p.m. on Friday and 5 a.m. on Monday) for $13.75. You can also walk or sign up for Lyft, which offers up to $50 OFF your first ride with promo codes “LYFTSTER18” or “CAMPUSCODE2017”. ← I have personally never used Lyft.

🏡 Stay…

in the heart of Montreal where saving doesn’t mean time hours wasted on public transportation because you couldn’t afford to stay in the city. I never understood bloggers who recommend the cheap travelling tip: “find a place outside the city.” I came to Montreal FOR the city so why should I live on its outskirts? Stay in arguably the best hostel in Montreal, Auberge Saint-Paul Hostel for 3 nights, breakfast included, for $79. You heard that right, $79 for ALL three nights. I couldn’t even find an Airbnb that cheap!

🥘 Indulge…

in something other than McDonald’s Fries without breaking the bank. Here are some places I recommend:

👌 OK places, a little overrated:

  • YokaTo YokaBai Ramen /4185 Drolet, Montreal / $18 tax & tips
    hidden on the side of a main street, this ramen place is jam-packed with customers and a line that coils around the street corner. For the three of us it was a 25–30 minute wait at 6 pm on a Saturday evening, and another 20 minutes for our ramen. The portions are slightly smaller than what you’d get at a usual ramen place and also costs slightly more. The pork belly and tea eggs were the tastiest, the noodles and soup were average. Service was amazing, overall 6/10.
  • Ethan Restaurant / 72 Rue de la Gauchetière O / $4–12 tax & tips
    coming from Kingston, good Chinese food is rare so when we passed through Chinatown we knew we had to feed our malnourished Asian. We stopped at a restaurant that had a bit of everything (dim sum, noodles, sandwiches, and hong-kong style dishes). It isn’t the Chinese food you’d get in Toronto/Richmond Hill, but it wasn’t bad. The prices were affordable, and the staff were very friendly and welcoming; 6.5/10.Getting work done

☕️ Getting Work Done:

Because I left for Montreal right before exam season, I still had a shitload of assignments to do. Here are some gems that made my essays more bearable:

  • Crew Collective Cafe / 360 St. Jacques / M-S 8 am — 8 pm
    Wifi & Outlets:
    Yes / Price: $-$$
    Crew Collective is a historical landmark repurposed into a cafe & co-working space. They serve fresh coffee, baked goods, a table boasting of artisan snacks and a full lunch menu. Crew Collective is one of the most beautiful cafes in Montreal with its high ceilings and historical feel. There are private meeting rooms available for booking ($30/hr) and free booths for students and public customers.
  • Cafe Des Arts / 350 St Paul St E, Montreal / M-S 10 am — 6 pm
    Wifi & Outlets: Yes / Price: $6–10
    If you took my suggestion and stayed at Auberge St. Paul, then this cafe is the hidden gem you need. It’s located inside the boutique mall across the street, Marche Bonsecours, and serves up some delicious (LIKE REALLY GOOD) smoothies, paninis, and bagels. I got the matcha chia seed smoothie (ugh heaven) and the peanut butter bagel, they give a very generous portion of peanut butter. It’s also quite spacious and features some cool art things.
  • Temps Libre / 5605 Avenue de Gaspé #106 / M-F 10 am — 6:30 pm
    Wifi & Outlets:
    Yes / Price: Free
    Temps Libre is the only co-working space in Montreal that’s free to the public!! It’s stacked with unlimited coffee AND theatre quality popcorn which makes this the perfect place to finish any assignment. It’s also a great place to meet creatives!!
Eva B

🚶‍♀Things other than studying & eating:

  • Notre Dame Basilica / 110 Rue Notre-Dame West / $6 / Service is free
    They said: Cash only
    We said: Jesus’ salvation is free
  • Eva B / 2015 St Laurent Blvd, Montreal / M-S 11 am — 7 pm
    If you love thrifting, Eva B is the Mecca of thrift shops. They have everything from $5 salmon cream cheese bagels, $1 samosas, $30 mannequins, to $15 vintage jackets, doll heads, buttons, books, free popcorn, an area to chit-chat, everything. Seriously. This is THE BEST place to reinvent your style. Thank me later.
  • Chinatown
    A stone’s walk away from the hostel, Chinatown has Char Siu, chatty aunties and uncles, the cutest and softest character buns, bubble tea and lots of food. Like I said, it’s not as ‘authentic’ as Toronto or the stuff in HK but it’s still good stuff.
  • SAT
    If you like art, design and admiring things you can’t afford, visit SAT (Society of Arts and Technology). They hold programs, workshops and events. We went to Souk @ SAT where they featured innovative and contemporary creations including sculptures, soap, furniture, clothes, etc. It’s like a little art market that will blow your mind!!!
  • Photoshoots
    Pose in front of a large decorated tree, pretend you’re being whisked away by the wind, shout at a couple getting their wedding pictures taken… because if you didn’t get a cute pic to post did it really happen?
  • Getting Lost
    Not the spontaneous kind, but the “Where are we?” “OMG we walked the wrong way!!!” “The bus is supposed to be here…” If you’re directionally challenged you don’t need to worry about planning this.
  • Downtown & Old Montreal
    Walk it.
tbh I only drank one sip

🌃 Nightlife

If you don’t want to spend your night twerking, getting clawed by thirsty boys & girls or crying in the bathroom about your insecurities…skip out on this section. If you’re under 30 and still enjoy doing the grocery cart dance, this one’s for you.

  • Tokyo Bar / 3709 Boulevard Saint-Laurent / T — S
    Cover: $9 / Hours: 10 pm — 3 am

    We hit Tokyo Bar at 11:30 pm and there was a short line. Hype started around 12 am. The $9 cover included a free shot or beer, coat check was free, music was okaaaaaaay. The bouncer almost rejected my photo I.D because it wasn’t “green,” he said he would let it slide this time. For your information I did not stuck cash into his breast pocket or bat my eyelashes. It is everything a club would be, loud, sweat, and guys trying to talk to you. I responded “WHAT?” every time.
  • Others: Musique & Apartment 200

❗️Overrated but Important Tips:

  • If you’re staying in a hostel, BRING A LOCK
  • DO NOT forget your water bottle
  • $1 postcards make great gifts
  • In some places they let you use the laundry machine for no extra cost
  • Buy snacks (& alcohol) at grocery stores/cook your meals in the kitchen hostel to save more money. They may also have a “free bin” where guests can leave unused food/groceries like pasta, bread, oatmeal and sauce for others to use
  • In winter pack extra clothes since blankets at hostels are usually thinner than hotels and Airbnbs
  • Be flexible & spontaneous; talk to strangers, share your food, walk down streets you wouldn’t usually go down, and enjoy the adventure

Currently: Post-Grad Crisis