I never thought at the beginning of 2020 that I’d end up spending most of the year in Canada.

I’ve spent about 5 months living in Toronto, and almost 4 months living in Montreal.

Both cities have been amazing to live in, but they both stand out for different reasons.

Toronto is a larger metropolitan area, more similar to my home in New York.

While living in Montreal feels a bit like living in a Canadian version of France

So I bet you’re wondering, which city do I love being in more?

Read below to find out my opinion on the great Toronto vs Montreal debate!

Year Founded

Toronto Skyline 2

Toronto: Toronto was originally called York when it was founded in 1793. York was eventually renamed Toronto in 1834 in order to better distinguish itself from the more popular New York. 

During the late 1800s, Toronto experienced lots of economic growth, as the Toronto Stock Exchange opened, and the railways grew. 

Today, Toronto is the largest city in Canada. 

port of old montreal

Montreal: The city began as a missionary colony in 1642, and became an official city in 1832. 

Montreal is Canada’s second-largest city and is quite proud of its French origins. 

Famous French explorer Jaques Cartier is said to have named the famous Mount Royal in 1535, which is thought to be where the name of Montreal eventually came from. 

Montreal began as a center for fur trading and a home base for explorers. Then in the late 1800s, the city became a dominant economic center of Canada because of its many railways.

It really became known around the world when it hosted the International World Exposition in 1967 and the 1976 Summer Olympics.

Today, you can walk around the Port of Old Montreal to take in all the city’s history. This historic port is where French fur traders worked as early as the 1600s. 

While you’re strolling around the area, check out the Place dArmes which is a picturesque plaza that dates back to the end of the 17th century. 

The Marché Bonsecours montreal

Fun Fact: The title of capital shifted between Montreal and Toronto until 1857 when Queen Victoria gave the title to Ottawa. 

Verdict: Montreal wins this round based on its historic Old Town. Overall, it feels like Montreal just has more history to see compared to Toronto. 


Check out some of these popular Montreal tours!

Population

Montreal Population

Toronto: 6,196,000 

Montreal: 4,220,566

Verdict: I’m surprised these numbers aren’t closer, I feel like in both cities I’ve seen similar numbers of people on the street. 

Based on experiences in both cities, I’m tempted to call this tie. 

Number of Tourists Per Year

Montreal Winter Iceskating 2 1

Toronto: 28 million

Montreal: 22.1 million

Verdict: Toronto is still the bigger tourist destination and wins this round. I think in the next decade Montreal will continue to grow in popularity with tourists.

Weather

Toronto CN Tower fall leaves

Toronto: The weather in Toronto is pretty similar to Montreal, since it’s only about a six-hour drive from Montreal. 

During the summer, the weather stays in the high 70s, with winter temperatures hitting the low 20s.

Similar to Montreal, summer in Toronto is prime time for tourism, so expect prices to be higher for accommodations. 

Golden Gate Bridge Vintage Postcard 5

Montreal: Winter temperatures in Montreal clock in in the low 20s, but the locals don’t seem to mind. The city hosts multiple festivals and events throughout the season, keeping locals happy and tourism high.

Summer temperatures hit the high 70s, which makes it the best time to visit Montreal. The weather is perfect for exploring, and there are still plenty of local festivals and events to check out.

The only downside to summer is that it’s a peak time for tourism. Be prepared to wait in lines and pay higher prices for accommodations.

Verdict: This is absolutely a tie in my book. The weather is pretty much identical. 

Safety

City Safety Comparison 3 2

Toronto: 96 homicides in 2018

Montreal: 47 homicides in 2018

Verdict: Montreal obviously wins this one, with almost half the yearly homicides of Toronto. 

Public Transport 

Toronto Train

MontrealToronto
Monthly Transport Pass Cost$86.50$156
Single Transport Pass Cost$3.50$3.25
Bike Sharing AvailableYes – $2.99 per tripYes – $3.25 per trip
Number of Airports12
CabsYou must call them ahead of time.You must call them ahead of time.

Verdict: The numbers don’t lie, Montreal is more affordable for transportation.

Cleanliness

Toronto: The city doesn’t have enough public garbage bins on street corners. I do like that a lot of the bins I saw had a recycling option.

That said, I’ve rarely come across an excess of litter on Toronto’s streets. 

Torontonians always have their garbage neatly waiting on the curb for pickup. 

Toronto also doesn’t have an excess of road closures due to non-existent construction, which is a great bonus.

Monreal Fall

Montreal: Montreal isn’t awful for cleanliness, but it’s also not the cleanest place that I’ve been.

I’ve seen a fair amount of litter on the streets, particularly in residential areas. I even saw the super of the building next to our apartment sweeping litter and excess trash from the sidewalk straight into the street instead of just picking it up and putting it in the bin.

Montreal also has lots of streets closed off for construction. Some of these streets just seem closed off for no reason, as months later there’s still been no construction.

These meaningless road closures are so normal, that our Uber driver got out of our car to move cones before driving right through the area the cones were blocking off.

Verdict: Toronto wins this round! It’s a place that’s clean and more organized when compared to Montreal. 

Entertainment

Toronto Second City 2

Toronto: As the biggest city in Canada, Toronto also gets plenty of theater coming through town, which is a big bonus in my book! 

They also have the famous sketch comedy club, The Second City. It’s one of my favorite spots to go out while visiting Toronto.

It also has plenty of concerts, museums, an aquarium, and of course, hockey.


While you’re in town, check out some of these popular Toronto tours!

montreal ferris wheel

Montreal: Montreal’s claim to fame is that it’s the birthplace of world-renowned Cirque du Soleil

The city is also filled with festivals and events of every kind year-round. These include multiple film festivals, a car race, dance competitions, art festivals, a popular cycling race, dog sledding, and annual holiday events. 

Montreal also has many museums, plus the Quebec National Library, Place des Arts, which is its main arts theater, and a hockey team that’s won more Stanley Cups than any other Canadian team. 

Verdict: When compared to Montreal, Toronto is lacking in annual festivals and events. Montreal wins this round.

Diversity

Toronto Racial Composition 800x496 2

Toronto: The chart, based on 2016 Census statistics posted by Statistics Canada, shows that about 50% is less diverse than Montreal. 

However, in the 4 years since that Census that Toronto is growing with diversity and catching up to Montreal.

Montreal Diversity 800x509 2

Montreal: Montreal is one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse cities in the world. This is likely because it has a high number of immigrants moving there each year. 

Verdict: Montreal wins this round, it’s more culturally diverse when compared to Toronto. 

Housing

Toronto: The average rent for a one-bedroom is $1600.

Montreal: The average rent for a one-bedroom is $1,403.

Verdict: Montreal wins this round, but not by a lot.

Hotel Cost

Toronto: The average cost per night for a hotel room in Toronto is about $122. This seems like a great deal to me, especially for a hotel that’s close to the action and convenient. 

Montreal: With an average cost of $229 per night, Montreal hotels are more expensive than I’d imagined.

Save Money With Airbnb

Want to save money on your next trip? I easily save thousands of dollars a year using Airbnb instead of hotels. Plus, if you're anything like me, it'll make you feel like more of a local.

Plan Your Next Adventure Read Our Review
If you click this link and make a booking, I earn a commision at no additional cost to you.

Verdict: Toronto wins this one by a landslide! I can’t believe a Montreal hotel room cost almost twice the amount of one in Toronto. 

Food Scene

Toronto: I was pleasantly surprised when moving to Toronto to find out that they actually have a pretty solid ethnic food scene.

I still miss the Indian and Chinese food that my boyfriend and I would have delivered at least once a week. 

In addition to ethnic food, Toronto also has Canadian staples like poutine, and Tim Horton’s available. 

Crepe Quebec City

Montreal: It shouldn’t be a total shock that with Montreal’s French heritage, gastronomy is big here.

I’m guessing some of you are wondering, “what the hell is gastronomy?”

Gastronomy focus on the relationship between food and culture. It’s about the ingredients, and the experience of eating it. 

I was surprised to learn that Montreal is known for its bagels. As a New Yorker, I’m a firm believer that NYC will always have the best bagel in the world. 

That said, Montreal’s bagels were the best non-New York bagels that I’ve ever had.

In addition, the city has plenty of poutine, swanky cafes, crepes, and craft beers.

Verdict: I’d call this round a tie. Both cities have great food available, but they also have areas where they could improve.

Top Sights

casa loma toronto 2

Toronto: Toronto’s got the CN Tower, high-end shopping on Bloor Street, the Distillery District, Ripley’s Aquarium, and the Hockey Hall of Fame. 

They’ve also got Casa Loma, Toronto Islands, the botanical gardens, and hockey games.

Montreal Notre Dame

Montreal: Even though Montreal is a lesser-known city, they’ve got a surplus of sights to see. 

They’ve got Mount Royal, Notre-Dame Basilica, the Fine Arts Museum, the Biosphere, Saint Joseph’s Oratory, the Biodome, botanical gardens, La Ronde amusement park, hockey, and the boardwalk along the Old Port of Montreal.

Verdict: I think Montreal wins this round. It’s got more things to see and do while you visit.

Toronto vs Montreal: The Winner!

AllyMontreal3JPG

Toronto is one of Canada’s best-known cities, but Montreal is the under the radar city that’s been growing in popularity over the years.

As someone who loves living in busy metropolitan areas, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I fell in love with the slightly slower Montreal.

I especially adore it for its European vibes, history, and plentiful French bakeries. 

The next time I plan a trip to Canada, I’m picking Montreal over Toronto.

Which city would you pick? Let me know in the comments below!


The next time you’re in Montreal, check out some of these popular tours!

Save Money With Airbnb

Want to save money on your next trip? I easily save thousands of dollars a year using Airbnb instead of hotels. Plus, if you're anything like me, it'll make you feel like more of a local.

Plan Your Next Adventure Read Our Review
If you click this link and make a booking, I earn a commision at no additional cost to you.

Leave a Comment