Amphibus Tours – Montreal, Quebec

The Amphibus is unmistakable – somewhere between a bus and a boat while functioning as both. Its distinctive design is only made more noticeable by its distinguishing paint job; bright blue and yellow on one side and painted like a fish on the other. The front of this vehicle is certainly boat like, while the rear resembles a standard bus. The Amphibus, or amphibian bus, serves as one of the more delightful and yet unusual ways of getting around Montreal while learning more about the history of the city’s fascinating streets and waterways.

The Amphibus departs near the Old Port of Montreal and the tour begins on land traversing through the picturesque streets of Old Montreal providing great views of iconic monuments in the city, including the gorgeous Notre Dame Basilica, the Hotel Place D’Armes, and the Aldred Building, which looks shockingly similar to New York City’s Empire State Building.

The land portion of the tour even takes a trip down Rue Saint-Jacques which bares another resemblance to New York’s downtown Manhattan.

Our guide for the tour, James, was lively, funny, personable and friendly. He was happy to joke around and answer any pressing questions about the city. Most importantly, he was a fount of information about the city streets. Rue Saint-Jacques, James informed us, used to be Montreal’s Wall Street as Montreal used to be Canada’s financial capital before Toronto took over the title. He explained that the famous brewing company of Molson used to own banking institutions as well, as we drove past the Molson Bank.  James also informed us about the cultural makeup of Montreal – Francophones to the east, Anglophones to the west and immigrants down the middle.

As the tour approached the point upon which the Amphibus lives up to its name and makes a triumphant dive into the St-Laurent River, we are granted a rather eerie view of Silo #5. The silo, which has been decommissioned since 1994, used to house stores of grain shipped in from the Prairies. The site now sits abandoned and has become a destination for urban explorers. In the distance, it sits haunting and looming.

As the Amphibus takes its plunge into the St-Laurent River, passengers are treated to stunning views of the Montreal skyline including La Grande Roue de Montreal, the city’s sky-high Ferris wheel. The water portion of the tour also brings passengers a more up close and personal view of Habitat 67, the famous cube apartments built for the 1967 World Fair. Passengers were also given a great view of one of Montreal’s more luxurious offerings, Bota Bota, the spa on a boat.

While sailing the St-Laurent, we quickly realized that we happened to be sharing the waterways with the Oceanex Shipping liner, reminding us all what the river is predominantly used for aside from tours. While we waited for the ship to pass us, thus delaying the water portion of our tour slightly, it was certainly impressive to see the sheer size of this ship before us.

Though unfortunately, our tour happened to fall on a cloudy and rainy day, the weather failed to dampen our spirits. The Amphibus offers blankets for passengers to snuggle under; people are reminded to dress for the weather. Seriously increment weather may prevent departure; it is encouraged for patrons to inquire in advance.

The Amphibus tours are fun, memorable, and a truly unique experience as will show in the photos you’ll have from land and river. And, of course, don’t forget to get your photo taken with the bright and cheery Amphibus itself.

The Old Montreal tour takes approximately one hour to complete (our tour took slightly longer due to the water traffic), with departures at multiple times a day. Tickets for the old Montreal tour are $35 for adults, $30 for seniors and students, $18 for adolescents (6 – 12 years) and $10 for children (1 – 5 years) and can be bought from the ticket agents at the boarding point.

 

Review by Samantha Wu
Photos by Yehuda Fisher
Lead Photo courtesy of Amphibus

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