View Malls of Montreal in a larger map

Montreal is an exciting shopping city, as it exists on a cultural axis between Europe and North America that means an eclectic mix of goods is always available here from all corners of the globe.

Like all big cities, Montreal has some major malls, marked on the map above, and also neighbourhoods that are known as meccas for certain kinds of shopping.

Possibly the most famous aspect of shopping in Montreal is the underground city, an interlinked maze of malls, passages, food courts, metro stations, hotels and other downtown buildings. Although it's technically impossible to show the whole thing without a 3D rendering, here are some maps in PDF format:

La ville intérieure from the Université de Montréal (2005)
Montréal souterrain from the STM (2008)
The city's downtown map includes the underground city

None of these maps are completely up to date and you may find additions to the underground sprawl here and there since they were produced.

There is, however, nothing underground in the cultural sense about the underground city. If you're looking for used items, obscure collectibles, imported delicacies or anything like that, this isn't the place to look.

As in many cities, businesses of certain types tend to cluster in particular areas. Thus, if you're looking for clothing by local designers or well chosen used clothes ("friperie") you should walk along Mont-Royal between Saint-Laurent and Papineau, and down Saint-Denis to Sherbrooke. Bernard Street in Mile End is also becoming something of a hot spot for small local designers. Of course if money is no object, stay downtown and go to Le Cours Mont-Royal and the boutiques along Peel, Crescent and de la Montagne or shop in Old Montreal.

Griffintown is becoming a centre for furniture and housewares stores.

On Boulevard Saint-Laurent between Laurier and Bernard you'll find unique boutiques that are not parts of chains.

Stylish people without huge budgets should try Simons, H&M, Zara and Urban Outfitters along Ste-Catherine.

Deals on locally designed clothing can be found on Saturday mornings in the garment district. Bring cash, and wear shoes that you'll be comfortable in, because it involves walking from outlet to outlet and building to building along Chabanel Street. You'll be buying samples, so you'll do best if you're a fairly standard small to medium-small size, and there are no returns. Also be prepared to bargain. This isn't retail in the usual sense.

A common question is what you can buy in Montreal as a souvenir that you can't get anywhere else. The first category that springs to mind here is food, and one of the local delicacies that can travel is maple products. But anyone with an epicurean interest will enjoy themselves at either of the major farmers' markets here, Jean-Talon and Atwater, both of which pair actual farmers' stalls with cheese shops, bakeries, spice sellers, natural food shops and all manner of related things.

Maple syrup is best bought in pragmatic 500 ml tins rather than in decorative little glass bottles, and go for the amber instead of the light for a denser and more complex flavour.

Our major museums all have boutiques featuring unique objects made by local artisans, among other interesting goods.

Quebec produces apples, and thus cider, while not massively popular here, is commonly available. But so is ice cider, an apple analogue to icewine (eiswein), and a bottle of ice cider makes a nice gift. Try any SAQ outlet, or if you're at Jean-Talon market, Le Marché des Saveurs.