Montreal vs. Chicago

Montreal or Chicago? A decision that's tougher than a stale baguette! Each city flaunts its unique charm, promising an unforgettable experience. But which one will steal your heart? Stick around, and we'll explore the depths of these urban gems!
Montreal vs. Chicago

Table of Contents

Hey there, traveler! Welcome to the great Montreal vs. Chicago showdown! With both cities bursting at the seams with history, culture, and adventure, it’s no wonder you’re having trouble choosing. So sit back, grab a snack, and join us as we dive into the nitty-gritty of these two tantalizing destinations. Ready? Let’s go!

History & Culture

When it comes to history and culture, Montreal and Chicago offer quite the contrast. As we embark on this journey, let’s dive into what makes each city’s past and present so captivating.

Montreal, a city rich in French heritage, boasts a vibrant blend of old-world charm and modern flair. Its roots trace back to the 17th century, and you can’t help but be swept away by its enchanting atmosphere.

Chicago, founded later in the 19th century, is a true testament to American ingenuity, rising from the ashes of the Great Chicago Fire to become an architectural marvel.

Art lovers will find themselves in paradise in both cities. Montreal’s cultural scene is a delightful mix of international influences, with galleries, museums, and street art that celebrate its diverse history.

Meanwhile, Chicago is home to renowned institutions like the Art Institute of Chicago and a thriving theater scene, which has produced world-class talent and unforgettable performances.

Language is another striking difference between the two destinations. Montreal, as the largest French-speaking city outside of Paris, offers a bilingual experience that’ll have you brushing up on your Français. Chicago, on the other hand, sticks to English but showcases its melting pot of cultures through a tapestry of diverse neighborhoods.

One thing’s for sure: history and culture buffs will find no shortage of excitement in either Montreal or Chicago. Ultimately, it comes down to the type of experience you’re craving. A European-infused adventure? Montreal’s your muse. A taste of American spirit? Chicago won’t disappoint.

Attractions & Activities

Both Montreal and Chicago pack a punch when it comes to attractions and activities. Let’s explore what makes these cities so alluring to visitors in search of a good time.

Montreal offers a unique blend of old-world charm and modern attractions. Stroll through the cobblestone streets of Old Montreal and you’ll discover the stunning Notre-Dame Basilica, a marvel of Gothic Revival architecture.

For a dose of natural beauty, head to Mount Royal Park, designed by the same landscape architect behind New York City’s Central Park. Here, you can hike, bike, or simply soak in the stunning views of the city skyline.

Chicago, known as the “Windy City,” is a playground for architecture and art enthusiasts. Don’t miss the chance to marvel at iconic buildings like Willis Tower, once the tallest building in the world. For a truly unforgettable experience, embark on an architectural boat tour along the Chicago River, where you’ll learn about the city’s impressive skyline from a unique perspective.

When it comes to green spaces, Chicago holds its own with gems like Millennium Park, home to the famous reflective sculpture known as “The Bean.” Venture a little further and you’ll find yourself in the sprawling Lincoln Park, where you can visit the free Lincoln Park Zoo or relax in the serene Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool.

Montreal’s not just about the classics, though. For adrenaline junkies, the city offers thrilling activities like jet boating on the Lachine Rapids or zip-lining through the Old Port. Alternatively, unleash your inner child at La Ronde, an amusement park boasting an impressive collection of roller coasters and rides.

Chicago also has its fair share of thrills. Test your courage with a vertigo-inducing visit to the Skydeck at Willis Tower, or get up close and personal with aquatic life at the Shedd Aquarium, one of the largest indoor aquariums in the world.

No matter your interests, both Montreal and Chicago cater to a wide range of tastes and preferences. The choice ultimately lies in what you’re seeking. Are you drawn to the romantic charm and European flair of Montreal? Or do you crave the excitement and architectural splendor of Chicago? The adventure awaits you.


A trip to either Montreal or Chicago wouldn’t be complete without a visit to their beautiful shorelines. Let’s dive into the beach vibes that await you in these two bustling cities.

Montreal, though not known for its beaches, offers a few delightful spots to soak up the sun. Clock Tower Beach, located in the Old Port, provides a taste of the tropics with its imported sand, palm trees, and stunning views of the St. Lawrence River.

Just a 20-minute (12.4 miles / 20 km) drive from downtown, you’ll find Cap-Saint-Jacques Nature Park Beach, where you can relax on its sandy shores and take a refreshing dip in the water.

Chicago, on the other hand, boasts an impressive 26 miles (41.8 km) of lakefront, with plenty of sandy spots for sunbathing and swimming.

North Avenue Beach is a popular choice, featuring a lively atmosphere, beach volleyball courts, and a picturesque view of the city skyline. Further south, you can escape the crowds at the serene 57th Street Beach, just a stone’s throw away from the Museum of Science and Industry.

While neither Montreal nor Chicago can claim the title of a beach destination, both cities provide a refreshing escape from the urban hustle. It’s up to you to decide whether you’d prefer to dip your toes in the waters of the St. Lawrence River or Lake Michigan. Your beachside getaway awaits in either of these vibrant cities.

Eating, Drinking & Nightlife

When it comes to indulging in good food, tasty drinks, and a lively nightlife, both Montreal and Chicago have plenty to offer. Allow your taste buds to explore these cities’ thriving culinary scenes and vibrant night-time atmospheres.

In Montreal, you’ll be treated to an array of French-Canadian delicacies and local favorites like poutine, smoked meat sandwiches, and bagels. Head to the diverse Plateau Mont-Royal neighborhood to discover an eclectic mix of trendy restaurants, cozy cafes, and international flavors.

In terms of drinks, Montreal is home to a thriving craft beer scene, with countless microbreweries and lively brewpubs to quench your thirst.

Chicago’s food scene is no less impressive, boasting a rich culinary history that includes deep-dish pizza, Chicago-style hot dogs, and Italian beef sandwiches. Wander around the West Loop to find some of the city’s most popular eateries, from award-winning restaurants to casual food halls.

For drinks, Chicago offers an exciting craft beer scene and numerous speakeasies, rooftop bars, and taverns to explore.

Montreal’s nightlife is known for its late-night dance clubs, bustling bars, and a strong live music scene. The city’s party district, Crescent Street, comes alive at night, offering a variety of entertainment options.

On the other hand, Chicago boasts a legendary blues and jazz scene, with famous clubs like Buddy Guy’s Legends and Kingston Mines showcasing talented musicians.

Both cities offer something for everyone when it comes to eating, drinking, and nightlife. Whether you’re in the mood for indulging in local flavors, sipping on craft brews, or dancing the night away, Montreal and Chicago are sure to impress. The choice is yours to make – so get ready to experience a memorable night on the town in either of these vibrant cities.


Shopping enthusiasts, rejoice! Both Montreal and Chicago are fantastic destinations for those looking to indulge in some retail therapy. Get ready to explore their unique shops, bustling markets, and luxury boutiques.

Montreal offers a mix of European charm and North American flair in its shopping districts.

Stroll down Sainte-Catherine Street, the city’s main shopping thoroughfare, where you’ll find major department stores, trendy boutiques, and high-end brands. For a more local experience, head to Mile End, a hip neighborhood known for its vintage shops, artisanal stores, and designer ateliers.

Chicago, on the other hand, boasts the famous Magnificent Mile, a stretch of Michigan Avenue packed with luxury retailers, high-end department stores, and popular brand names. Venture into the surrounding neighborhoods, like Wicker Park and Bucktown, to discover a wealth of vintage shops, trendy boutiques, and independent art galleries.

Both cities cater to a wide range of shopping tastes, whether you’re looking for luxury items, unique finds, or budget-friendly bargains. With diverse shopping districts and an array of local and international brands, Montreal and Chicago promise a shopping experience you won’t soon forget.

So grab your wallet and hit the streets – you’re in for a treat in either of these fabulous shopping destinations!


Searching for the perfect place to lay your head after a long day of exploring? Fear not, Montreal and Chicago are brimming with accommodation options to suit every traveler’s taste and budget. Let’s dive into the cozy world of these two cities’ lodging options.

In Montreal, you’ll find a delightful blend of charming boutique hotels, luxurious downtown high-rises, and budget-friendly hostels. Old Montreal is the perfect spot for history buffs, offering elegant hotels within historic buildings. For a more budget-conscious experience, try one of the city’s cozy hostels or Airbnb options.

Chicago is home to an impressive range of accommodation choices, from swanky downtown hotels to stylish boutique properties and budget hostels. If you crave a skyline view, consider booking a room in one of the city’s iconic high-rises. For a more intimate experience, try a trendy neighborhood Airbnb or a quaint bed and breakfast.

No matter which city you choose, you’re guaranteed to find a comfortable and welcoming place to rest after a day of adventure. Both Montreal and Chicago provide an array of options to suit every preference and budget, ensuring a memorable stay in either destination.

Family-Friendliness & Children’s Activities

Traveling with the whole family? No worries! Both Montreal and Chicago are family-friendly destinations that offer loads of entertainment for the young and young at heart. Let’s take a look at the fun activities awaiting kids in these two bustling cities.

Montreal is a playground for families, filled with interactive museums, engaging attractions, and spacious parks. The city’s Espace pour la vie complex houses a biodome, insectarium, and planetarium, perfect for a day of educational exploration. Don’t forget to visit the Montreal Science Centre, where hands-on exhibits will keep children entertained for hours.

In Chicago, you’ll find a plethora of family-friendly attractions, from the famous Field Museum to the Lincoln Park Zoo. The city’s renowned Museum Campus is a one-stop-shop for learning and fun, with the Adler Planetarium and Shedd Aquarium also in close proximity. Millennium Park, with its iconic Cloud Gate sculpture, offers a great space for outdoor play.

Both Montreal and Chicago cater to families with children, offering exciting experiences that will create lasting memories. The abundance of museums, parks, and attractions in each city ensures that young minds will stay entertained and engaged. So pack up the kids and embark on a family adventure in either of these fantastic cities!

Getting There & Getting Around

Planning your trip to Montreal or Chicago? Let’s talk about how to reach these cities and navigate their streets once you arrive. We’ll dive into the transportation options for each destination, making your travel experience smooth and hassle-free.

Getting to Montreal is a breeze, with a variety of options to suit your needs. Fly into Montreal-Trudeau International Airport (YUL), located 12 miles (20 kilometers) from the city center. From there, hop on a train, bus, or taxi to reach your accommodation. Alternatively, if you’re in the mood for a road trip, Montreal is easily accessible by car from several major cities.

Chicago, on the other hand, is serviced by two airports: O’Hare International Airport (ORD) and Midway International Airport (MDW). O’Hare is about 17 miles (27 kilometers) from downtown, while Midway is around 10 miles (16 kilometers) away. Both airports offer convenient public transportation and taxi options to help you reach your destination.

Once in Montreal, you’ll find navigating the city a piece of cake. Public transportation, including buses and the Metro system, is reliable and easy to use. Biking is another popular option, with numerous bike-sharing stations scattered throughout the city. Renting a car is also possible, but not necessary for most visitors.

In Chicago, the “L” train system and buses are your go-to options for getting around the city. The extensive network connects all major attractions, making public transportation a breeze. Bike-sharing is available, too, if you prefer a more active mode of transport. Like Montreal, renting a car in Chicago is an option, but not essential for tourists.

So, whether you choose Montreal or Chicago, rest assured that getting there and getting around won’t be a headache. Both cities boast well-connected public transportation systems, ensuring a stress-free travel experience for visitors. All that’s left to do is pack your bags and get ready for an unforgettable urban adventure!


Considering a trip to Montreal or Chicago? Let’s compare the weather in these two cities, so you can plan your visit accordingly. We’ll break down the climate for each destination to help you pick the perfect time for your travels.

Montreal experiences cold winters and warm summers. In January, the average temperature is around 16°F (-9°C), while July sees highs of 79°F (26°C). Spring and fall are generally mild, with temperatures ranging from 40°F (4°C) to 60°F (15°C), making them pleasant times to explore the city.

Chicago, known as the “Windy City,” has a similar climate to Montreal. Winter temperatures hover around 22°F (-6°C) in January, while July sees warmer temperatures averaging 84°F (29°C). Spring and fall offer mild weather, with temperatures ranging from 45°F (7°C) to 65°F (18°C).

In summary, both Montreal and Chicago experience cold winters and warm summers, with milder temperatures during the spring and fall months. Depending on your preferred weather, you can choose the ideal time to visit these cities. Just remember to pack accordingly and enjoy the unique experiences that each season offers!


When deciding between Montreal and Chicago, it’s essential to consider the safety of each city. In this section, we’ll compare the safety levels, common concerns, and unique factors in both destinations to help you make an informed decision.

Montreal is generally a safe city, with low crime rates compared to other major cities. However, as with any urban area, it’s always wise to be cautious and aware of your surroundings. Pickpocketing and theft can occur in crowded areas or near tourist attractions, so be mindful of your belongings.

Chicago, on the other hand, has a mixed reputation when it comes to safety. While some neighborhoods are considered safe, others have higher crime rates. As a visitor, sticking to well-populated areas and avoiding risky neighborhoods can significantly reduce potential dangers.

Both cities face typical urban concerns such as petty theft and pickpocketing. Be cautious when using public transportation or exploring crowded areas. Additionally, it’s always a good idea to stay updated on current events and local news for any potential risks or incidents.

In conclusion, Montreal tends to be safer overall than Chicago, but both cities require visitors to exercise common sense and take necessary precautions. Regardless of the destination, stay alert, and make informed choices to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.


When it comes to traveling, budget plays a crucial role in deciding between Montreal and Chicago. In this section, we’ll compare the overall cost of visiting these cities, covering aspects like accommodation, dining, and activities.

Montreal is known for its affordability, making it a popular destination for budget-conscious travelers. Accommodation, food, and attractions tend to be reasonably priced in Montreal. For example, you can find a decent meal at a restaurant for around CAD 15-20 (USD 12-16), and a comfortable hotel room for CAD 100-150 (USD 80-120) per night.

Chicago, in contrast, is a bit pricier than Montreal. Dining out and finding accommodations might set you back a little more, as you can expect to pay about USD 20-30 for a meal at a mid-range restaurant and USD 150-200 per night for a standard hotel room. Activities and attractions in Chicago also come with a higher price tag compared to Montreal.

In summary, if cost is a significant factor in your decision, Montreal may be the better option. The city offers a more budget-friendly experience without sacrificing quality or variety. However, both destinations provide unique experiences and memories that are well worth the investment.

Which Is Better – Montreal or Chicago?

As we’ve explored throughout this article, both Montreal and Chicago are remarkable destinations, each with their unique allure. The choice between these two cities ultimately depends on your preferences, priorities, and what kind of experience you’re seeking.

Montreal, with its rich history, European charm, and affordability, is an ideal choice for travelers seeking a budget-friendly experience that doesn’t skimp on culture. The city’s unique blend of old-world and contemporary vibes, coupled with its food scene and diverse attractions, makes it a standout option for those who value immersive experiences.

On the other hand, Chicago boasts an iconic skyline, world-class museums, and a bustling urban environment. If you’re a fan of architecture, arts, and big-city life, Chicago might be more up your alley. While it tends to be more expensive than Montreal, the city offers a wide range of activities and attractions that cater to different interests.

When it comes to beaches, both cities offer some fantastic options. Montreal’s shoreline along the St. Lawrence River provides a serene escape, while Chicago’s Lake Michigan beaches are ideal for sunbathing and water sports.

If you’re traveling with family, both destinations have plenty to keep the little ones entertained. However, Montreal might be a more budget-friendly choice in this aspect.

As for getting there and getting around, both cities have well-connected airports and efficient public transportation systems. Choosing between them in this regard will come down to factors like flight availability and personal preferences regarding transportation options.

Weather-wise, Montreal’s colder winters and milder summers may be more appealing to those who prefer a cooler climate, while Chicago’s warmer summers and relatively mild winters might suit travelers seeking a more temperate experience.

In terms of safety, both cities have their concerns, but being aware of your surroundings and taking precautions can help ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. Lastly, when considering cost, Montreal is generally more affordable, making it an attractive choice for budget-conscious travelers.

In conclusion, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to whether Montreal or Chicago is the better choice. Each city has its unique charms and characteristics, and your personal preferences will play a significant role in making a decision. So, weigh the factors we’ve discussed, consider what matters most to you, and let your wanderlust guide you to the perfect destination.