Toronto in detail

Flights & getting there

Toronto is well served by international and domestic flights to its main airport. There are a few more options if you're arriving from the USA, including a smaller Toronto Islands airport and a couple of Amtrak trains from Buffalo and New York. Long-distance buses also connect Toronto to towns near and far. You can make a land crossing into Ontario from the southwest at Detroit-Windsor. Flights, cars and tours can be booked online at lonelyplanet.com/bookings.

Air

Toronto Pearson International

Most Canadian airlines and international carriers arrive at Canada's busiest airport, Toronto Pearson International Airport, 27km northwest of downtown Toronto in the suburb of Mississauga: it's a giant and attracts one of the highest airport taxes in the world. (Don't worry, you'll have unknowingly paid that in the price of your ticket.) There are two terminals: Terminal 1 and Terminal 3; check the website or call your airline to confirm which one you'll be arriving into or leaving from to help with pickup/drop-off logistics. A free train connects the terminals as well as the Viscount Station, where car-rental-agency shuttles pick up customers.

Transport Options

UP Express The fastest way to get downtown is the Union Pearson Express rail link. The comfortable trains leave every 15 minutes, have free wi-fi and power points, and take just 25 minutes to get to Union Station, stopping at Weston and Bloor stations, too. Traveling on a PRESTO card is highly recommended: the $6 rechargeable card pays for itself with a return trip to the airport and is useful for local transport in Toronto and on GO regional transit (www.gotransit.com/en).

TTC The cheapest (but not the best) way to get to the airport is on the TTC ($3.25). It's a pain with heavy luggage: many stairs. Catch the subway to Kipling station (you may need to change lines at Bloor-Yonge), then connect with the 900 Airport Express bus – be sure to use a transfer ticket! From the airport, the bus departs Terminals 1 and 3 every 10 to 20 minutes from 5:30am to 2am (from 7:30am Sunday). Allow at least an hour for the journey.

Taxi From Pearson to the city takes anywhere from 40 to 70 minutes, depending on traffic. The Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) regulates fares by drop-off zone: it's $60 to downtown, $75 to destinations east of town. Don't pay more and remember to tip. Airport limos often match the rate and have nicer cars and drivers.

Billy Bishop Toronto Airport

On the Toronto Islands, the small Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is home to regional airlines like Porter Airlines, helicopter companies and private flyers. Air Canada Jazz flights from Ottawa and Montréal land here rather than at Pearson. A free shuttle bus runs to and from Union Station every 15 minutes daily.

Opened in 2010, this airport has become a darling of gridlocked downtowners. Since then, a rapidly expanding network of destinations within Canada and the US have ensured its success. Far-flung cities like Sault Ste Marie and Thunder Bay have benefited from an influx of domestic tourists, and residents of Toronto's inner neighborhoods now pop over to New York, Boston, Chicago and Washington for the weekend.

Transport Options

  • The Billy Bishop Airport Tunnel is a pedestrian path that takes you from the foot of Bathurst St to the check-in counters at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport in just six minutes using looong moving walkways.
  • There's also a free ferry that takes passengers 121m over the water to the airport terminal, one of the shortest ferry rides in the world (90 seconds, every 15 minutes, 5:30am to midnight). It leaves from the foot of Bathurst St.
  • A free shuttle bus (15 minutes, every 15 minutes, 5am to midnight Monday to Friday, 6:30am to 8:40pm Saturday, and 6:30am to midnight Sunday) links Union Station (from 123 Front St W) to the ferry terminal and tunnel.

Bus

Long-distance buses operate from the art-deco Toronto Coach Terminal. Greyhound Canada (greyhound.ca) has numerous routes throughout the country from here, while Megabus (ca.megabus.com) has a smaller, and cheaper, selection of destinations. Advance tickets offer significant savings with both companies; online sales often close two hours before departure.

Union Station serves as the bus and train depot for GO Transit (www.gotransit.com), the commuter service of the GTA.

Parkbus offers limited seasonal departures to the Bruce Peninsula, Algonquin and Killarney Provincial Parks, Georgian Bay Islands and Elora Gorge. The range and frequency of service keep expanding; check the website for the latest details. Pickup locations around downtown Toronto and its suburbs.

Greyhound Bus Services

DestinationCostDurationFrequency
Buffalo, NY (USA)$213-4½hr12 daily
Hamilton$12.501-1½hr2 daily
London$39-442-4½hr12 daily
Montréal$718-10hr6 daily
Niagara Falls$22-241½-2½hr8 daily
Ottawa$67-745-7hr8 daily
Sudbury$805½hr1 daily
Windsor$60-634½-6hr4 daily

Car & Motorcycle

Toronto is wrapped in a mesh of multilane highways that are frequently crippled by congestion. The Gardiner Expwy runs west along the lakeshore into Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) to Niagara Falls. At the city's western border, Hwy 427 runs north to the airport. Hwy 401 is the main east–west arterial and is regularly jammed. On the eastern side of the city, the Don Valley Pkwy connects Hwy 401 to the Gardiner Expwy. Hwys 400 and 404 run north from Toronto. A GPS is strongly recommended.

All major car-rental agencies, such as Avis and Enterprise, have desks at Pearson airport and offices downtown and throughout the city. Book in advance for the best rates. Rates start at around $60 per day excluding taxes. On busy summer weekends prices spike and cars sell out – plan accordingly.

Train

Union Station downtown is Toronto's main rail hub, with currency-exchange booths, the Ontario Travel Information Centre and a Travellers' Aid Society help desk. From here, VIA Rail plies the heavily trafficked Windsor–Montréal corridor and beyond. Amtrak (www.amtrak.com) links Toronto with Buffalo, NY ($47, 4½ hours, two daily), and New York City ($131, 14 hours, two daily). GO Transit (www.gotransit.com) trains and buses also use the station, with an ever-expanding network of destinations, including Kitchener, Hamilton, Barrie and other Ontario locations, often with the cheapest rail fares.

Via Rail Services

DestinationCostDurationFrequency
Kingston$992½hrfrequent
London$622-3hr7 daily
Montréal$1105-9hr11 daily
Niagara Falls$222-3hrseasonal, infrequent
Ottawa$1094½-5hr10 daily
Sudbury Junction$1057hr1 daily
Vancouverfrom $49897hr3 weekly