Safety or not, Montreal
Seriously, this city is a very safe one. I'm a young woman and I live here, and I've always felt completely comfortable. One exception was when I was walking home with a drunk friend and was approached by several men who tried to convince my friend to go home with them- but then again it was 3am and they were drunk, so it's not surprising. In the end I convinced them to leave us alone.
Other than that, I've never had a problem. I go for long walks downtown every day, often after dark (though usually not after 10) and have my iPod in and I've never felt afraid. Just know the city. I agree that St. Catherine has some drug dealing and prostitution but it's not a problem for someone just walking by. You won't get approached by anyone unless they're asking for directions or a homeless person asking for spare change (they're not aggressive, you can easily just walk away).
Just don't go down any dark side streets and you'll be just fine.
A bunch of people have mentioned everything east of Berri as being dangerous - this is really not the case. The Gay Village, for anyone who has actually visited it, is extremely safe. In fact, in the summer time, they convert the main street, Rue St-Catherine, into a giant pedestrian mall, with bars and restos putting terraces out into the street. Also, Parc La Fontaine, located just North of metro Papineau, is one of the nicest parks in the city. The main thing to know about the east end of the city is to avoid going south of Rue Ontario east of Rue Amherst. A lot of the advise here seems to be written by people who are located strictly in the downtown core or West Island, and I'll be honest, those areas are boring! Go out and explore!
The only thing I could do is warn you about the lesser safe parts of town because in general, the whole city is really safe. I wouldn't recommend staying in these parts of town if your young ladies or feeling shaky in your boots.
- parts of the East End (Anything East of Berri)
- St.Henery (Although some parts are getting a big face lift)
- Ville st.Pierre
I would recommend you steer clear of the hotels on St.Hubert (located just behind the buss station). When they rent by the hour,,,its a telling sign of the clientele.
Montreal is a generaly safe city. Actually, the province of Quebec has some of the lowest crime rate in Canada...which does not mean there's no crime at all. If the drug and prostitution industry were to break down under intense police actions, we'd find that there's a lot more crimes than the stats point out. Yet, these crimes are inside a structure that avoids violent or apparent crimes, they work in the shadows.
As for the city itself, there are few places where it might be dangerous to walk all alone late at night. Some parts of Sainte-Catherine seem scary, but my experience learned me that nothing really happens on the main avenues. It's in the dark little perpendicular streets that you might confront the right people. Yet, this is only between 1 to 5 am, and mostly during friday and saturday nights. Weekdays are real safe, no matter what time of the day. Some non-touristic areas have a bigger crime rate, yet visitors usually only get there because they know locals.
The authorities treat the beggars, pushers and "deadbeats" pretty nicely compared to other cities. There's the temptation, supported by local businessmen, to send them away from Ste-Catherine street, the Berri square, and the whole downtown altogether (you'll see beggars even in the Business Area, around McGill/Square Victoria metro). Yet this would probably create a new ghetto somewhere nearby downtown, a concentration of potential law breakers (discrimination often leads to it).
Instead, we have found a weird social balance, social peace by mixing in a small area : tall business oriented buildings, shopping malls, music scenes, clubs and bars, strip bars, high class restaurants....And I get the feeling it explains why Montreal is a safe city. Poverty is unavoidable in large cities, and tolerance is high here, yet I fear that is it more indifference than intolerance, altough many people told me how sad they were to see all the misery constrasting with the 5 stars hotels and huge expositions halls.
I just wanted to add my 2 cents worth about the general safety in Montreal.
I live in Toronto, ON currently and I have to say when I visit Montreal I feel far safer than I do in Toronto. Sure, Montreal may have some shady areas, but really...which city doesnt? However, I wouldnt go so far to say to avoid certain areas along Rue Ste Catherine as they really dont pose any safety issues.
I've walked along Ste Catherine in the area of Ste Laurent where supposed drug activity and prostitution takes place, sure it may take place in this area, but you dont see it happening around you at all...or at least i havnt.
As a gay male with a partner in Montreal you come to realize that things in Montreal are alot safer, alot more accepted and people are generally alot more open and sure you may get the occasional look from people dont worry, its bound to happen anywhere.
In closing, you best know what your comfort levels are, so if you don't go out at night at home then don't do it in Montreal, just go with your gut, but don't miss out on this amazing city!
Montreal seemed to be a generally safe city and although we did see quite a few beggars and homeless people, none of them were aggressive. As with all big cities, watch your purse/wallet/ backpack/camera on buses and the metro, my sister in law had her wallet stolen on the metro in Montreal. If you are renting or driving a car, don’t leave your luggage sitting out in plain view and lock your doors.
Montreal is a safe city in general. You can normally walk alone at night without any danger, even though it is safer to walk on main bright streets at night.
The only bad downtown neighbourdhood that I dont recommend walking thru at night is the red light district (Around Ste-Catherine street and St-Laurent Blvd) just because its not nice and there are alot of crazy people, drunks, prostitutes, drug addicts, pimps and drug dealers...however, it is not that dangerous as there are alot of cops in the area and its very busy with people all the time.
But like any city, anything could happen...so use your judgement and intuition...if you dont feel safe, better hop in a cab! :)
Other bad neighbourhood outside downtown are NDG, Cote-des-neiges, St-Michel, RDP and Montreal-Nord.
Debit card fraud has become an increasingly popular activity in Montreal lately.
When using your card (be it debit or anything else) hide your pin number because people in small shops install overhead cameras, or ones behind people to catch their PIN's. Beware. Some show owners carry special devices that scan your card's electronic strip in the back. Always keep an eye on it.
Careful if you visit Montreal in the winter. Walking on the sidewalks can be a dangerous affair. The city has mini snowblower cars racing down the sidewalks, clearing off the snow. While it is fantastic to walk on freshly cleaned walkways, this luxury comes at some risk to pedistrians. My friends and I thankfully were not hit, but there were several near-misses. Just stay aware when walking and be prepared to jump off into the street or a snowbank when the snowblowers roar by. They do not like to stop, and they can't go around you!
Montreal is a pretty safe city with the exception of any large city dangers... pickpocketers. Other than that the only danger is the very rowdy college kids that come up to drink. (our legal drinking age is 18 as opposed to 21) However the beer Americans(4%) are used to has half the alcohol content of that of Canadian beer(8%). The kids just can't handle it and get rowdy. It's a known fact that if you start shouting American pride in a bar or basically anywhere nowadays, you'll probably start a fight.
Montreal may be generally regarded as a fairly safe city and I believe it is, but not unlike any other major city, Montreal does have a dark side and there are several areas that I would reccomend that tourists stay away from.
1. Ste Catherine st. between Atwater and Guy. Drug use and dealing has increased dramatically in this area and it's a huge problem. It's not a very dangerous area but if you can avoid it, do so, especially Cabot Square.
2. East of St. Laurent st., downtown Montreal becomes fairly seedy and dangerous, especially near the gay village and Papineau St. There's plenty of drug use and prostitution.
3. Finally, try to avoid the Parc Extension and lower Cote Des Neiges areas (especially around Victoria st.) as they are not unfamiliar to gang violence.
Nonetheless, Montreal is a great city and I wouldn't live anywhere else. Just use common sense when you're walking downtown and you'll be fine.
All in all, I noticed that Montreal is a very safe town. One of the few annoyances here are street people who hang out around Metro stations and ask for change or sometimes want to sell you drugs, almost always in French. The best you can do is ignore them or say something in English and they'll stop.
If you have any unlikely problems contact the Montreal Police Service or the Surete du Quebec (Quebec Provincial Police). If you are ever in an emergency, by all means please call 911
Name any area, I've been there...and never felt in danger...
Having lived in downtown for many years, I heard all those horror stories about the poorer areas. Let me tell you, compared to East-Side Vancouver or South Central LA...any areas of Montreal is paradise...
St-Henri is much better than it use to be. Young couples look in that area for the proximity to the newly reopened Canal Lachine and cheap housing.
Centre-Sud has numerous small parks and is neighbor/overlapping the trendy Gay Village. It used to have a lot of prostitutes but they moved away in the past years
Hochelaga is worth visiting as it still has a lot of old factories from the early 20s. It's located between the Olympic stadium and the St-Laurent.
Do like I did, take a bike and take a ride !
P.S. Like anywhere...it's all better during the day !
Montreal is the safest city in North America so dont be afraid to walk alone in downtown during the night. All the district are safe in the city. The only warning I can give you is in the Centre-Sud district (South Downtown), a lot of prostitutes with homeless people and junkies
Montreal is a safe city to travel in.
It doesn't matter what hour of the night you are up and wandering, the city is safe! If you are on a bus late at night they have special allowances for ladies to let you off on your actual street even if it is not a designated bus stop (as long as it is along the root).
There is a very lively downtown night life in Montreal as well. Nothing too scary in this city that you should be warned about. We are one of the safest cities in North America!