Forbes thinks Montréal is the number one budget travel destination IN THE WORLD

The only Canadian city they named is Québec’s busiest island.

The only Canadian city they named is Québec’s busiest island.

Dirty Dogs eatery in Montreal, Que. (Credit: iStock/Getty Images)

I often say (and usually to visitors in my fair city) that Montreal is what would happen if New York and Paris had a baby - it's an accurate mash up in almost every sense. For all it's faults - not the least of which are its potholes, a controversial pitbull ban, and oft curious enforcement of language laws (#pastagate) — the art, food, fashion, festivals, culture and nightlife crammed into the tiny island of Montreal are tough to top. As a fiercely proud Montrealer, I gladly take the good with the bad because the good is really, really good. So, it's not without some zeal that I can now say Forbes Magazine agrees with me (and all the other diehard 514s).

First off, of the 27 cities Forbes lists in their best budget travel destinations for 2018, Montreal isn't just the only Canadian destination to get a nod, it's numero uno with a cheese curd. Islands seemed to do well this year — Curaçao, Zanzibar, Fiji, Koh Lanta, Silk Island, with la Ville de Montréal topping the list.

Samantha Brown, host of an upcoming PBS travel show, helped rate the cities. Brown says, "Montreal, with its strong French influence, offers a European fix without the long and expensive flight." For Americans in particular, the favourable exchange rate easily sells a small scale "Euro-trip" when travel time and budget are negotiable but a getaway simply isn't. European colour isn't the real draw so much as how that old world influence rubs up against the contemporary, something that gets baked into the cityscape. So, you know, no hidden fees.

As for some of things that makes Montreal their top budget travel pick, Forbes references Cite Memoir. They name the historical reenactments projected onto the cobbled facades of the Vieux-Port (Montreal's Old Port), "one of the most ambitious public artworks ever." An app walks you through dramatic installations of Montreal's 375-year legacy which they say is "nothing short of spectacular." It is pretty epic. Street art is big here, with MURAL fest and ongoing installations cropping up around the Musée des beaux-arts and the rest of the city, Montreal is a happy hub for art lovers — be their tastes high or low-brow. The price to see all these works is Free.99 of course.  

Taste is an area in which we excel (yes, I've censored my humility). Fashion aside, sheer trendiness placed The Plateau (think Williamsburg of the great white North) as the very coolest neighbourhood in the world to live, by one account. So, maybe Williamsburg is The Plateau of the States, come to that. A walk around the borough will cost you exactly zero dollars. But check out Bar Darling, Atwater Social Club and Buvette Chez Simone if you prefer to sip your cool — they all made National Geographic's must-see Montreal list. I'd add Le Majestique to your itinerary as well.

Though higher-end eateries like David McMillan's Joe Beef, Liverpool House and Vin Papillon all dominate Montreal's epic food scene, you don't have to spend big to eat well. There's a triumvirate of singular and select food offerings that we provide and from which we have yet to be dethroned. They are, in no particular order: the poutine, the Montreal bagel, and the smoked meat sandwich. Humble fare and all available to enjoy at pocket-friendly prices.

It's nice to be the best at something. Even if it's being the very zenith of low-rent travel destinations. Here are Forbes' top ten most budget beautiful travel spots on the planet for 2018:

  1. Montréal, Canada
  2. Xian, China
  3. Houston, Texas
  4. San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
  5. Barcelona, Spain
  6. Curaçao
  7. Zanzibar, Tanzania
  8. Dakar, Senegal
  9. Port Salut, Haiti
  10. Gaziantep, Turkey

Did I mention we elected Valerie Plante, our first female mayor, this month? Also, aside from bagels, poutine and smoked meat, you're welcome for Leonard Cohen.


Marc Beaulieu is a writer, producer and host of the live Q&A show guyQ LIVE @AskMen.