Montreal is an amazing city. It’s what you get when quintessential Canada is mixed with a creative and cosmopolitan streak, a one-of-a-kind combination that you won’t find anywhere else. I’ve recently returned from a truly fantastic trip here, and as a wheelchair user I was pleasantly surprised with the accessibility of the city and the special accommodations that I encountered. If a visit to Quebec’s bustling centerpiece interests you as well, I’m sharing some of the city’s best accessible sights as well as some insider tips from my own adventure below. wheelchair accessible montreal canada handicap access
Things to Do
Part of a sprawling complex that includes Montreal’s famous Olympic Stadium and Sports Center, the Olympic Tower is at the top of many tourists’ lists — my own included. The highest inclined tower in the world, its facilities are designed with easy wheelchair access in mind. As you’re headed to the top of the tower in a funicular, you’ll enjoy unparalleled scenic views of the surrounding city.
If you’re lucky, a special sporting event or concert will coincide with your visit to this complex. It’s a good idea to check about this in advance, so that you can reserve accessible seating if you’d like to attend.
This Montreal mountain contains some of the city’s most well-known destinations, including the University of Montreal and Mont Royal Park. Widely considered one of Quebec’s most stunning parks, this natural landmark was landscaped by the same man who created New York City’s famous Central Park — and its beauty is every bit as grand.
If you’re interested in touring the area, my recommendation is to rent an accessible van or find an accessible taxi driver to take you from scenic overlook to scenic overlook. Rolling around is possible in some places, but the hilly terrain and sheer size of the mountain (which is really more of a very expansive hill) makes exploration by wheelchair alone fairly difficult if you want to see more than just the overlook. Still, since the mountain itself is too huge to traverse on foot anyway, car is the preferred mode of transport for most interested tourists.
If it seems like my Montreal vacation included a tour of the city’s most scenic spots, that’s because it basically did! Parc Jean Drapeau was one of my favorite locations because of the absolutely breathtaking vistas of downtown Montreal that it offered from a green and tranquil spot across the river.
A lengthy circuit around the park is available for anyone on wheels (bikers, inline skaters and wheelchair users) as well as pedestrians, and some of the park’s other hiking trails have accessible stretches as well. Other fun features of the park include a plethora of art, musical performances, an interesting environmental biosphere museum and the chance to watch incredible athletes do their thing at the Olympic Basin. I definitely recommend checking online to see if there are any special events or performances happening when you plan on visiting, because that can take your day at the park to a whole other level.
Au Sommet Place Ville Marie
A 360-degree observation deck elevated at a height of 185 meters makes this a unique view of Montreal that you won’t find anywhere else. You can buy adult admission for $19 or a Day Pass for $22 — a small price to pay for the superb panoramic views and intriguing, interactive exhibits about the city and its inhabitants. Perhaps my favorite part of this attraction was eating at Montreal’s “most elevated dining destination.” Sampling traditional Montreal cuisine was both a delicious and one-of-a- kind experience, and I could think of no better place to do so than the Les Enfants Terribles restaurant.
The entire attraction bills itself as fully accessible, boasting spacious corridors and wheelchair accessible restrooms. You can get to Au Sommet Place by public transport, but there’s also a sizable and convenient parking lot that’s open 24 hours a day if you want to travel by van or taxi.
A Tour with Cité Mémoire
Cité Mémoire is probably the most unique attraction we saw in Montreal, and it was stellar. Every night, this initiative makes history come alive in Old Montreal — quite literally! This incredible operation projects historical photos/videos onto the walls, buildings, streets, and even trees of the Old Montreal neighborhood. The intricate installation involves more than 80 projectors which light up the city from dusk to midnight, and it is the largest attraction of its kind in the whole world.
When I visited Montreal, I saw four of Cité Mémoire’s unforgettable projections while touring the historical dreamscape that is Old Montreal by night. My favorites were the depiction of the 1680-1750 Beaver Rebellion, which I spotted at the Place de la Dauversière, as well as the Grand Tableau — a large projection which is shown every hour on the hour at Champ-de-Mars.
Whether you’re gay or not, I found that it’s well worth walking or wheeling through this area of Montreal. One of the coolest neighborhoods in the city, during the summer its central avenue becomes a pedestrian corridor, so it’s fun to wheel around on the street. It also features 180,000 colorful balls hanging above the street, and it’s a purely magical experience wheeling underneath them. Locals often refer to the neighborhood as simply “Le Village,” and you can get there by heading to St. Catherine Street East. In recent years, The Village has expanded to include parts of Amherst Street as well, so be sure to explore that area too!
Where to Stay
The ideal spot to stay during my visit to Montreal was the Hôtel de l’ITHQ and I had a truly wonderful experience. It was much-lauded Canadian hospitality at its finest — every member of the staff I encountered was incredibly friendly, the location was perfect and the hotel’s accessibility was second to none.
Accessible rooms are available at the hotel starting at $179, with ample space to roll around the room. Features include a roll-in shower as well as a portable shower head and a transfer bench. Support bars by the shower and toilet were a given, and there was easy access to the sink from my wheelchair as well. Closet hangers and electrical switches have all been placed in the accessible rooms with wheelchair users in mind, and it’s easy to wheel to the hotel’s own restaurant from your room. If you’re renting or driving your own car or van, l’ITHQ features reserved indoor parking spaces for wheelchair users.
Aside from its awesome accessible rooms and four star luxury, l’ITHQ is located in the heart of Montreal and in the same building as the Quebec Institute for Tourism and Hotels. Plus, it’s ideally situated in between the Latin Quarter and Mont Royal, with several accessible restaurants close by — though the hotel has its own delicious restaurant and even hosts culinary workshops.
Other benefits of the hotel include the staff’s helpfulness when it comes to arranging flight confirmations as well as transportation to and from the airport. The ever-pleasant staff is happy to provide information about all the nearby tourist attractions, and they’ll even help you reserve tickets. Plus, l’ITHQ features free breakfast every morning!
To check prices at Hotel de l’ITHQ, please click here.
Accessible Van Rentals
We rented a wheelchair accessible van from Location Legare, and it is something I would highly recommend to any Montreal tourist. Public transportation is less accessible than one might think in the city, and having my own transport made it so simple to get from one place to another in the city. Most attractions have parking for such vans, and I loved the ability to drive around places like Mont Royal and downtown without having to rely on a taxi.
If you’re traveling with a couple of friends who use wheelchairs, some of their vans can hold up to three wheelchair passengers at one time, depending on the type of chairs. You can rent a van for as little as one day if you’d like, or of course there are options for longer periods of time.
Tourist and Leisure Companion Sticker
Unless you’re traveling alone, I also really recommend looking into obtaining a Tourist and Leisure Companion Sticker for your travel buddy (or for one of them, if you’ll be traveling with a group of people). With this special sticker, a care attendant who accompanies you can get in for free to many local attractions. These stickers are valid for care attendants of anyone over 12 years old who has a physical or mental disability.
Keroul and Quebec For All – Quebec’s Incredible Accessibility Resource
While I hope that this guide has given you some great ideas for an accessible adventure in Montreal, reaching out to Keroul can help you plan and customize your trip even further. Their website has a wealth of resources about accessibility in Montreal and Quebec in general, and it is their mission to support travelers like you and me.
By assessing and certifying destinations as fully or partially accessible, Keroul can give you an idea of the kind of services and wheelchair-specific accommodations you can expect from over 1,700 of Quebec’s organizations and businesses. Keroul’s website features a database of accessible facilities for travelers in wheelchairs, and you can get some ideas about activities you might like to add to your agenda on The Accessible Road. Quebec for All is also a priceless resource, especially if you’re interested in exploring the province beyond the city limits of Montreal. Quebec for All is a database of all of the tourist businesses and organizations that have been certified by Keroul, and I found it an incredibly useful place to begin anticipating my Canadian adventure.
Modern design, a distinctive Old Europe feel, and the cheerful mix of French and English heard on the streets make Montreal a favorite vacation spot for people from around the world. If this lovely city piques your interest, I hope you’ll take my suggestions to heart as you plan your accessible trip to Montreal.
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Handicap access Montreal Canada
*Thanks to Keroul and Visit Montreal for organizing this trip. While some experiences were complimentary, all opinions are authentic and my own. This post includes affiliate links. When you click on a link, I may receive a small compensation, which will help this blog grow into a better resource for disabled travelers.
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