12 things no one tells you about Montreal

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Maybe it’s the accents. Maybe it’s the restaurants — arguably more per capita than any city in North America except New York. Or maybe it’s just the joie de vivre that makes it different from any other city on the continent. Montreal’s easy to fall in love with, but doesn’t reveal itself easily to visitors. These 12 tips will get you a little closer to the beating heart of Canada’s second-largest city.

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You can leave the airport in a ‘747’  

Skip the taxi line at Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL). For just $10 Canadian (about $7.60), the 747 shuttle transports you nine miles straight to downtown Montreal. You’ll still have to deal with traffic, but there’s a bonus: Since the bus is part of Montreal’s public transit system, your ticket also buys 24 hours of unlimited travel on the city’s extensive subway and bus network.

The city’s big museums, mostly located along Sherbrooke Street, showcase world-class exhibitions all year round. But Montreal’s smaller, less-trafficked arts institutions offer singular takes on local culture. A former garment factory houses the Museum of Jewish Montreal, whose in-house café, Fletchers, has become a neighborhood hotspot. And the ultra-smart Musée Des Ondes Emile Berliner — a “Museum of Soundwaves” — spotlights radios, recording equipment and televisions.

Beware the sales tax

For visitors spending greenbacks, Montreal can feel like a shopper’s paradise — that jacket you’re eyeing in the window that might be $100 Canadian dollars is only going to set you back about $76 in U.S. dollars. Before you go crazy though, make sure you factor in a sales tax of nearly 10%, thanks to Quebec and Canadian levies, which often undoes at least some of your gains from favorable currency-exchange rates.