Toronto is the most populous city in Canada and the provincial capital of Ontario. It is located on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. Toronto, with a population of 2.6 million, is at the heart of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) which contains 6.2 million people. The city is the anchor of the Golden Horseshoe region, which wraps around Lake Ontario from Toronto to Niagara Falls and totals over 8.5 million residents, approximately a quarter of Canada’s entire population. Toronto is the fourth largest city and fifth largest urban agglomeration in North America. Toronto is sometimes referred to as The New York City of Canada because of the general feel of the city is similar to that of New York City, and because Toronto has been a popular destination for immigrants.
Spawned out of post-glacial alluvial deposits and bluffs, the area was populated at different times by Iroquois and later Wyandot (Huron) peoples. The settlement by Europeans started with the French building a seldom occupied fort near today’s Exhibition grounds in the mid-1700s, then grew out of a backwoods English trading post established as York in 1793 (reverting to the current name Toronto in 1834). Later in the 19th century, it grew to become the cultural and economic focus of Canada. Owing largely to the country’s liberal immigration policies starting in the 1960s, and the region’s strong economy, Toronto has, in recent decades, been transformed into one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse cities in the world. More than 80 ethnic communities are represented, and over half of the city’s residents were born outside Canada.
When Metropolitan Toronto amalgamated its six internal cities into one in 1998, it created a new “mega-city” known simply as Toronto, now made up of varied and unique neighbourhoods. Covering more than 600 square kilometres, Toronto stretches some 32 kilometres along the shores of Lake Ontario, and includes a dense, urban core surrounded by an inner ring of older suburbs followed by an outer ring of post-war suburbs. The city is laid out on a very straightforward grid pattern and streets rarely deviate from the grid, except in cases where topography interferes such as the indented, curved Don River Valley and to a lesser degree the Humber and Rouge valleys at opposite ends of the city. Some main thoroughfares do intersect the grid at angles. The six Toronto districts are:
In 1998, the cities of Toronto, Scarborough, North York, Etobicoke, and York and the Borough of East York amalgamated to form the current City of Toronto. This is also known as Metropolitan Toronto or “the 416” after its area code (although now there are some new area codes, the majority of landline phone numbers in the Toronto area are still “416”). The city has a population of over 2.6 million people, of which more than half were born outside Canada: a fact immediately obvious to any visitor, as the city has many vibrant bustling neighbourhoods with street signs in several languages.
Toronto and its surrounding suburbs are collectively known as the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Outlying suburbs are also known as “the 905” after their area code, although technically this code is also used in both Hamilton and the Niagara Region, stretching to the border within Niagara Falls. The entire area including Toronto is known as the “Golden Horseshoe” and has a population of over 8 million people. Distances between cities in the area can be great as it sprawls along, outward and even wraps around the western end of Lake Ontario. Public transit is not always effective enough for a quick or seamless trip and many suburban residents rely on motor vehicles to get around.
A popular urban myth has it that the United Nations rated Toronto as “the most multicultural city in the world.” While the UN and its agencies are not in the habit of rating cities, it remains a fact that Canada is a nation of immigrants, and Toronto demonstrates this abundantly. A UN agency lists Toronto as second only to Miami as the city with the most foreign-born residents, but Toronto’s residents represent far more cultural and language groups, which is arguably a better measure of multi-culturalism. Most immigrants either pass through Toronto on their way to other parts of the country or stay in Toronto permanently. Many people born abroad consider themselves, and are considered, to be as Canadian as native born Canadians, and asserting or behaving as though otherwise is considered offensive, especially so in Toronto. This contributes to the overall cultural mosaic that is Toronto today. Within Toronto, most ethnic groups will work their way into the fabric of Canadian society but some still retain their distinct ways such as language, dress (if only for special occasions), custom, and food.
As a result of this cultural mosaic, Toronto is home to many ethnic festivals throughout the year. Toronto also boasts several radio stations that broadcast in various languages and at least two multicultural television channels. The City of Toronto officially deals in 16 different languages, while the public transit agency Toronto Transit Commission offers a help line in 70 languages. Even large department stores such as The Bay in downtown Toronto proudly advertise service in nine languages. The lingua franca of Toronto, however, remains English.
|Daily highs (°C)||-1||0||5||12||18||24||27||26||21||14||8||2|
|Nightly lows (°C)||-7||-6||-2||4||10||15||18||18||14||7||2||-3|
See the Toronto 7 day forecast at Environment Canada
Toronto’s climate on the whole is on the cool side and variable conditions can be expected. Downtown temperatures average -3.8°C (25°F) in January, but the extreme cold experienced further north typically lasts less than a week at a time. Despite this, come prepared. Winters are still cold and mostly cloudy, at some times snowy and uncomfortably windy and at other times, damp. At times, severe storms can impact flights into and out of the city, as well as slow down transportation and activities in the city for a day or two.
The city experiences warm and humid summers with an average high of 27°C (80°F) and a low of 18°C (65°F) in July/August, with many muggy evenings, but rarely extreme heat. The historical annual average of the temperature exceeding 30°C (86°F) is 12 days, but this number has roughly doubled over the last decade. The sun shines more often than not in the summer, but brief thunderstorms occur from time to time, usually lasting less than an hour and bringing heavy rains.
The best times to visit for the weather are late spring/early summer or early fall, with comfortably cool nights and less crowds. Mid-summer is the peak tourist season, but visitors will find that Toronto’s vibrancy extends throughout the winter with outdoor ice rinks and bundled up clubgoers. Air conditioning and heating are standard in Toronto’s public buildings.
Toronto has several major league sports teams:
The Air Canada Centre, 40 Bay St, . Sometimes referred to as “The Hangar”.
The Rogers Centre, 1 Blue Jays Way, ). Often referred to by its original “SkyDome” name.
The Buffalo Bills, . The National Football League are under contract to play one regular-season (home) game at the Rogers Centre through to the 2018 season. The contract also calls for one preseason home game in even-numbered years.
|Terminal 1||Air Canada, Austrian Airlines, Avianca, Copa Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Emirates, Ethiad Airways, Egypt Air, EVA Air, Jet Airways, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, United|
|Terminal 3||Aer Lingus, Aeromexico, Air France, Alitalia, American, British Airways, Caribbean Airlines, Cathay Pacific, China Eastern Airlines, Cubana, Delta, El Al, Fly Jamaica Airways, Hainan Airlines, Icelandair, KLM, Korean Air, Pakistan International Airlines, Philippine Airlines, SATA International, Saudia, TAM Airlines, Transaero Airlines, WestJet|
Toronto Pearson International Airport (IATA: YYZ)  is about 30-50 driving minutes by car from the downtown core (depending on traffic) and is serviced by most major international carriers. There are two terminals: Terminal 1 hosts all Air Canada flights and a few other international (mostly Star Alliance) carriers while Terminal 3 hosts all other airlines. When traveling from Toronto Pearson (and other major Canadian airports) to the United States, travelers will go through United States immigration and customs preclearance in Toronto, and should leave some extra time to account for this. Toronto Pearson has free WiFi internet access.
Billy Bishop Toronto City Center Airport, (IATA: YTZ), , (commonly known as “The Island Airport” by locals), handles short-haul regional flights only. Its main tenant is Porter Airlines , a low-cost carrier that operates flights using turboprop planes to many cities in eastern Canada (Halifax, Moncton, Mont Tremblant, Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec City, Sault Ste. Marie, St. John’s, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Timmins, Windsor) and the northeast United States (Boston, Burlington, Chicago/Midway, Myrtle Beach, New York/Newark, Washington/Dulles). Air Canada  provides service to Montreal. One of the main benefits of flying into this airport is its proximity to the downtown core. Upon landing, you can be downtown within ten minutes.
A free ferry service makes the short crossing. It is just 121 m (397 ft) and the world’s shortest regularly-scheduled ferry route. It operates between TCCA and the mainland every 15 minutes, 6:45AM-10:07PM. Don’t worry, you don’t have to buy tickets or anything, you just look for the line (there are separate pedestrian and car lines) and board when directed to do so. If you are renting a vehicle at YTZ, National and Avis are on the mainland, while Hertz is actually on the island meaning you will get to experience driving on and off the ferry. Once on the mainland, a free shuttle bus connects the terminal with the Fairmont Royal York Hotel, across the street from Union Station.
TTC Streetcars are available a short walk north from the mainland ferry terminal. Route 511 Bathurst provides service north along Bathurst, to Bathurst subway station. Route 509 Harbourfront travels east along the waterfront (Queen’s Quay) to Union Station. Both routes end a short distance to the west at Exhibition Place. However, the most convenient connection to TTC Subway and GO Transit services are via the free shuttle to Union Station.
Hamilton International Airport, (IATA: YHM), , located about 80 km from downtown Toronto and Niagara Falls, is served by WestJet and CanJet. This airport is served by the ((Hamilton Street Railway)) from the the Hamilton GO Station (36 Hunter Street East) where you can catch a GO commuter bus to Union Station in downtown Toronto ($9.50 one-way). Buses run every 30 minutes. A taxi from downtown Hamilton to the airport is about $25.
For frugal travellers coming from the United States, Buffalo-Niagara International Airport, (IATA: BUF), , is another option. Flights to Buffalo tend to be significantly cheaper than to Pearson. Megabus, , has varying prices and requires early booking. They run from the Buffalo Airport to Toronto. The trip takes 3 hours, including the border crossing. Rental cars are available at the airport if you prefer to do the drive yourself. Buffalo Airport Limo  offers a flat rate of $175 to downtown Toronto from BUF.
The main bus terminal in Toronto, the Toronto Coach Terminal (also known as Bay Street Terminal or the Metro Toronto Coach Terminal), is used for intercity coach travel and is served by Greyhound, Coach Canada, New York Trailways, and Ontario Northland.
The bus terminal’s main entrance is on Bay Street immediately north of Dundas and the terminal’s departures building takes up the northern half of the block bounded by Bay Street, Dundas Street, Edward Street, and Elizabeth Street; the arrivals building is located immediately across Elizabeth Street from the departures building. The departures building is connected by the underground PATH walkway system to Dundas subway station on the Yonge line via the Atrium on Bay shopping centre. The terminal is also several blocks east of St Patrick subway station on the University-Spadina line. Unlike Union Station, the bus terminal has lockers in which people may store luggage. The cost is $5 for 24 hours and you must get a token from one of the token machines located next to the lockers. The lockers are located in the hallway connecting the departures building with the arrivals building. Storing items in lockers overnight is not advisable as break-ins are common at night. Certain items too large to fit in a locker may be stored in the information booth at an extra cost.
The bus terminal in Toronto is very poorly designed, forcing passengers to queue in a space that is little more than a shed with walls on two sides, as a result passengers queueing are forced to inhale the diesel exhaust fumes from the coaches as well as endure the cold winters and hot summers. In addition, there are often queues so long for the commuter coaches that they block other coaches from reaching their platforms. Platforms are also poorly marked, and it is not difficult to queue up for the wrong bus. Do not hesitate to ask anyone for help. Most people in the terminal have plenty of experience with it and understand how difficult it is to navigate. Arrive at the terminal at least 30 minutes before your coach is scheduled to depart. You can avoid the hassle of having to purchase tickets at the terminal; it is generally faster to buy tickets online if possible. If you must purchase tickets at the terminal, be wary of peak travel periods, as the line can take up to 20 minutes. But be aware that Greyhound tickets purchased at the terminal can be used at any time (although they may have blackout periods) while tickets purchased online force you to reserve on a certain bus.
Coach Canada buses to Montreal and Greyhound buses to Peterborough and Ottawa also stop at the Scarborough Centre bus station to the east of central Toronto, this station lies on the Scarborough RT mass transit line. Greyhound buses to Kitchener, Guelph, St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, Buffalo, and New York and Coach Canada buses to Buffalo and New York also stop near Union Station, either in front of the York Street entrance to the Royal York Hotel or on University Avenue north of Wellington Street. Two new, heavily-discounted services between Toronto and New York City now operate from the sidewalk in front of the Royal York Hotel, across the street from Union Station. Both advertise electrical connections at each seat, wi-fi, movies, and more legroom than traditional buses. If purchased far enough in advance, tickets can be found for $1 although in reality, most seats range from $15 to $50.
GO Transit, , runs the commuter transit network in the Greater Toronto Area. Their bus services are designed to supplement their commuter trains, most of which run only during rush hour. When the trains are not running, GO runs buses on the same route. Most GO buses run to the Union Station Bus Terminal, adjacent to Union Railway Station. GO Transit also operates services to bus stations at several subway stations, including: Yorkdale Mall, Finch, York Mills and Scarborough Centre.
All scheduled passenger trains in Toronto run into and out of Union Station , which is located at 65 Front Street, between Bay and York Streets. Opened in 1927, Toronto’s Union Station is generally considered to be one of the grandest, most impressive train stations in North America; with an enormous great hall, the ceiling rising to a height equivalent to seven stories. Despite this impressive hall, most of the activity in the station takes place in the underground concourses which link the commuter rail platforms with the subway station. The great hall is still used for purchasing intercity rail tickets with a row of ticket booths and several ticket machines. The train station is served by a subway station with the same name, accessible from the GO concourse. The main intercity concourse is accessed from the great hall, but all commuter rail platforms are accessed from the underground GO Transit concourse, as is the Union Station Bus Terminal across the street. The GO Transit concourse is accessed by taking any one of the three large staircases in the great hall or directly from the subway.
Most intercity rail travel in Canada is provided by VIA Rail, . Union Station is one of VIA Rail’s main hubs and connects several of their lines. Railway lines operated by VIA Rail out of Union Station include:
Ottawa 3hrs 57min
Montreal 4hrs 37min
Major highways leading into Toronto are the QEW, the 404, the 401, the 400, and the 427. Toronto is in the enviable position of being the largest city in Canada, so it’s relatively easy to find a sign pointing you in the right direction. Be advised that traffic on incoming highways can be extremely heavy. In the downtown core there are many turn restrictions, particularly from main thoroughfares to other main thoroughfares (e.g. Yonge to Dundas Streets).
The main streets in Toronto are laid out in a grid pattern that makes it one of the easiest cities to get around in by car. Getting from point to point anywhere in the city can be achieved with only a few turns. Parking in the downtown core can be expensive and hard to find, but is plentiful and inexpensive or free throughout the rest of the city.
Toronto follows some bylaws related to the transit system that often confuse or surprise visiting drivers:
Additionally, drivers are advised that Torontonians generally take their obligation to give a wide berth to emergency vehicles quite seriously: if you hear sirens or see lights, pull over to the side of the road safely but quickly.
The trip to the Toronto Islands from the downtown core (Bay St and Queen’s Quay) is a pleasant 15 minute ferry ride, with frequent summer service and the best views of the Toronto skyline.
There are also guided sailing vessels that take tours of the inner/outer harbour and circumvent Toronto Island
Toronto is huge, and most roads run for very long distances. Streetcar rail, subway rail, and intercity rail services are clean and efficient but overcrowded, and it’s entirely possible to get around Toronto without a car, especially downtown. You may find it quicker and easier to drive, but be aware that traffic congestion is severe at almost any time of day, especially during rush hour. Toronto has plentiful parking garages downtown, most of which can be identified by the prominent green P signs, but they are very expensive, particularly on weekdays.
Toronto’s long streetcar lines, coupled with more than a decade of service cuts, have resulted in chronic “bunching”, where one might wait for thirty minutes at a stop, and then 4 streetcars will arrive bunched together. In contrast to this, the subway system is quite fast and efficient; the subway lines extend well into the suburbs and have spurred a great deal of high-density, high-rise development in far-flung neighbourhoods that would not otherwise have had any large-scale development. A prime example of this is the neighbourhood of North York, filled with high-rise development right on top of three subway stations. As a result, the subway is the easiest, fastest and most efficient way to get around the city.
Cash fare is $3.00 (discounted to $2.70 if you buy several tokens at a time, minimum purchase is 3). Be aware that some token vending machines are out of service, but do not have signs on them to indicate that. It is therefore safer to use manned ticket booths whenever possible.
A day pass is available for $11.00. This pass allows unlimited travel on all TTC services within the City of Toronto, except for Downtown Express buses. For one person, it allows unlimited one-day travel on any day of the week, from the mid-morning (9:30 a.m.) until 5:30 a.m. the next morning. On Saturday and Sunday, and statutory holidays, up to 6 people (maximum 2 adults over 19) can travel with one TTC Day Pass, from the start of daytime service until 5:30 a.m. the next morning. The day pass does not have to be purchased on the day of use.
A weekly pass costs $39.25. It allows unlimited travel from 5:30 a.m. Monday morning, to 5:30 a.m. the following Monday. The weekly pass is transferable, meaning it can be used by more than one person but only one person may be travelling under that pass at any given time.
A monthly pass, termed the Metropass, costs $141.50. This pass is also transferable, with no pass-backs.
Tokens as well as daily and weekly passes are available at subway stations, variety stores and newsstands throughout the city. Most businesses that sell passes and tokens have a TTC sticker on their front door.
The Scarborough RT runs from the eastern end of the Bloor-Danforth line at Kennedy Station, through central Scarborough to McCowan Station. As its name suggests, this line serves the mainly working-class suburb of Scarborough. This line’s main draw for visitors is that it serves Scarborough Town Centre, one of the city’s enormous regional shopping centres, at its Scarborough Centre station; this station is also a major regional transit hub and is served by a large number of TTC buses, several GO Transit commuter buses, and is a stop on Greyhound coach routes to Peterborough, Ottawa, and Coach Canada routes to Montreal and Kingston.
Other TTC services are provided by buses, streetcars, the Scarborough RT line, and Wheel-Trans vans (for people with disabilities). There are also a number of Downtown Express buses that run during rush hour, for which additional fare must be paid.
Note that the metro system do not operate 24 hours and first trains do not start until after 0845 AM on Sundays and public holidays.
Caution: When getting on and off streetcars, make sure that the traffic is stopped in the lane next to the streetcar. While drivers are required by law to stop behind open streetcar doors, some drivers don’t. This does not apply when there is a safety island between you and the traffic lane(s). Also, be aware of pickpockets in crowded rush hour situations. Do not keep your belongings in outside pockets.
All but two (Routes 99 and 171) of the TTC’s bus and streetcar routes have a subway station somewhere on the loop, and while many routes will take you into the station and beyond the ticket barrier, some of them (especially downtown) will take you only to the outside of the station. In this case, you can enter the station by presenting a valid transfer. If you don’t have one, you need to pay another cash fare.
Transfers are free, but should be obtained at the first vehicle or station you enter on your journey. If your journey starts on a bus or streetcar, ask for one as you pay your fare (simply saying “Transfer, please” to the operator will suffice). If you start at a subway station, look for a red machine just beyond the ticket booth with a digital time clock on its face. Press the gold button and collect your transfer.
A transfer may also be used to pass from a bus or streetcar to another bus or streetcar moving in a perpendicular direction – for example, from a northbound bus to an eastbound streetcar. But in doing so, make sure to transfer at the first intersection possible (i.e. do not get out at an intersection, walk east for a block, and transfer there).
The areas that surround Toronto—Mississauga, Brampton, York Region, Durham Region, Oakville, Burlington, Milton, Hamilton—have their own transit systems. There are no free transfer privileges between the TTC and these other transit systems. To use both the TTC and another system, two fares must usually be paid (though see GTA Pass below). In many places, these networks do overlap, so you can transfer easily. Prices are similar to prices for the TTC. Generally bus services outside Toronto city limits are fairly infrequent, except for a few busy routes (e.g. Mississauga Transit route 1, 19, 26, Brampton 501, 502, 511 or Viva Blue, Purple).
A weekly GTA Pass (Greater Toronto Area Pass) is available for $54. It is valid on the TTC and the transit systems in Mississauga, Brampton, York Region, but not Durham Region or Halton Region. This pass is also transferable, although only one rider may use it at a time. If you are travelling through the fare-zone boundary in York Region with a GTA pass, you will have to pay an additional $1.
The regional transportation agency, ‘Metrolinx’, operates the PRESTO  farecard system which allow users to pay transit fares throughout the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (with the exception of the TTC, where only select subway stations currently accept the card). Although fares and transfer rules are set individually by each transit operator, using the card generally provides a discount from the cash fare and discounted or free transfers between certain systems. Cards cost $6 and are not refundable, but visitors making significant use of GO Transit, or several GTA transit systems might find some cost savings and convenience over using cash or tickets.
A system of regional trains and buses, GO Transit , connects Toronto to its surrounding areas. The majority of these services, especially trains, are oriented to weekday commuters travelling to and from downtown Toronto. GO Transit charges fares by distance. Trains are large and comfortable, and the vast majority run only during rush hours. The main exception is on the Lakeshore Line between Aldershot and Oshawa, via Union Station, which runs every 30-60 minutes during off peak times. The GO bus network is much more extensive and fills in for trains in the off-peak hours, but beware that buses may get delayed due to traffic congestion. The vast majority of tourist destinations are reachable by TTC, although you might want to use the GO to get to the Zoo, or to the homes of family members or friends in the Greater Toronto Area.
Discounts on the fares for connecting transit services are available under certain conditions, if you are travelling to or from a GO Transit rail station. The GTA Pass is not valid on GO Transit.
NOTE: in many cases, a GO bus will not stop unless the passengers-to-be indicate waiting to be picked up, even if they are standing at a designated stop. Users must flag the bus down, usually just by raising their hand or ticket in the air as the bus approaches. That is because GO stops often share stops with other municipal transit systems.
Also, GO Trains operate on the Proof-of-Payment system; passengers must possess a valid ticket for the entire length of their journey before boarding a train. Tickets cannot be purchased on board, and there are no gates or staff before boarding to ensure you have a fare for a particular train. GO Transit enforcement officers conduct random inspections of tickets, issuing expensive fines to anyone without the correct fare. Enforcement officers have likely heard every possible excuse from passengers who regularly try to avoid paying a fare, and are often unforgiving of any (even legitimate) reason you might give. If using a Presto card on the GO bus or train, be sure to tap your Presto card both at the beginning and end of your trip.
Each GO train runs with a three-person crew. There are two engineers, who are responsible for operations, as well as the Customer Service Ambassador, who is responsible for passenger service (opening/closing doors, making station announcements, answering questions, dealing with emergencies, etc.) The CSA is stationed in the Accessibility car (the 5th car behind the locomotive), and introduces him/herself during his/her opening spiel. If you are unfamiliar with the system, it is recommended that you remain close to them.
Taxis are plentiful and safe, but not cheap. As with most big cities, driving a car downtown can be annoying; parking is often hard to find and expensive, and traffic along certain streets can make vehicle travel slower than mass transit. However, travelling longer distances, when not close to subway lines is often significantly faster by car or taxi.
There are many casual cyclists out all the time and cycling is fast: door to door, in all of downtown Toronto, a bike beats a car or transit nearly every time.
There is a lack of clear understanding about regulations regarding bicycles and as a result, there can be hostility between automobiles and cyclists. Generally speaking, if you are on the road, you are expected to obey the same laws as cars, and you are not allowed to ride on the sidewalk. In reality, cyclists have all sorts of driving styles; expect the unexpected.
The city is predominantly flat, aside from a general climb away from Lake Ontario and the deeply indented, forested Don Valley and Humber River Valley, and post-and-ring locking posts are present throughout the city. There are many bike-only lanes on major roads and threading through various neighbourhoods and parks. The city publishes a cycling map, available on the city website .
BIXI  provides a public bike system with 1,000 bikes available at 80 stations throughout downtown. Subscriptions start at $5 for 24 hours and allow you to use a bike for 30 minutes or less, as much as you like (usage fees apply for trips longer than 30 minutes). BIXI operates 24 hours a day, all year long (but see the warning below about winter biking). Several businesses also offer rentals .
It is a provincial law that cyclists under 18 must wear a helmet, and all riders must have a bike with reflectors and a bell. This tends to only be enforced when the police go on their annual “cycling blitz”.
The TTC has taken measures to be welcoming of bicycles. All TTC buses have easy to use bike racks, and bicycles are allowed onto the subway during off-peak hours. This allows you to be able to take your bike almost anywhere in the city.
Some recommended cycling routes:
As Toronto is a very large city and many areas of the city are inadequately served by the public transit system, the car is the most commonly used method of transportation in the Greater Toronto Area. The road system (except for Highway 407 ETR) suffers from traffic congestion at almost all times of day, 7 days a week, and severe traffic congestion occurs during rush hour (approximately 6:30am-10am and 3pm-8pm Monday-Thursday. Even Highway 401, with 9 lanes in each direction (making it the world’s second largest freeway, after Katy Freeway in Texas) and bypassing Downtown by almost 8 miles North, can experience some slowing during off-peak hours and is jammed like any other freeway. Stay in the local lanes if you are not familiar with the local-express system. Avoid driving during rush hour, and avoid driving in severe weather. Traffic information is available on Google Maps (maps.google.ca, click on the traffic button), 680 News (radio station, AM 680, every 10 minutes on :01, :11, :21, :31, :41, :51 of each hour) and CP24 (television station). Highway 407 ETR [www.407etr.com] is almost never congested, but is a very expensive toll road, also it is strongly recommended that you rent a transponder if you use this highway regularly due to high video toll charges if you do not have a transponder.
Roads in Toronto (including major roads like the Gardiner Expressway, Don Valley Parkway and Lake Shore Boulevard) are frequently closed on weekends for construction or special events, which causes major traffic problems on parallel roads in other parts of the city. Every year there is the “Ride for Heart” which closes both the Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner Expressway on a Sunday morning in late May or early June, causing severe traffic congestion on parallel roads. There are also two marathons per year on Sunday which cause extensive road closures, the “Honda Indy” which closes Lake Shore Boulevard near Exhibition Place, the Pride Toronto parade, the Santa Claus Parade, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and many other events which close major roads practically every weekend from March to November. Furthermore there is an annual weekend closure of the DVP, Gardiner and Allen Road on different weekends for construction.
Eglinton Avenue is under construction between Black Creek Drive and Don Mills Road for the “Eglinton-Crosstown LRT” (partially underground light rail) and construction between Don Mills and Kennedy Road will start in 2016. It is strongly recommended that you avoid this area.
Royal Ontario Museum, 100 Queen’s Park, ☎ +1 416 586-8000, . F 10AM-9:30PM, Sa-Th 10AM-5:30PM. One of the better and larger museums in North America. The original building was built in 1910, and is a handsome romanesque revival, with many carvings of people and events and breathtaking original frescoes lining vaulted interior atria. The newer addition is a large deconstructivist crystal, made of steel and glass – the result is a striking, thought-provoking, and polarising juxtaposition of ancient and post-modern styles, an attempt to capture the unique modernity of Toronto’s culture. Thousands of artifacts and specimens are featured in over 20 exhibits; including dinosaurs, Ancient China, native Canadians, Canadian furniture, medieval Europe, art deco, ancient Egypt, textiles, middle east, India and Pacific islanders. The world’s largest totem pole, which is over 100 years old, is also housed in a place of honour. In October of 2011 the museum drastically reduced admission prices (formerly $24 for adults). Adults $15, Senior/Student $13.50 Thursday night half-price.
Toronto City Hall. Two buildings forming an apparent semi-circle (though in fact from overhead the circle hemispheres can be see to be asymmetrically oblate) overlooking Nathan Phillips square, which has a very popular skating rink in the winter. Architecturally stunning, it is one of those few examples of 1960s-era ultramodernism that manages not to look dated decades down the line. Next door to Old City Hall (currently the court house) which has a more classical architecture. As a side-note, images of Toronto City Hall have played stand-in for many science fiction film and television locales, including consistently being used to represent Star Trek’s Federation Headquarters ever since the original Star Trek series.
Rogers Centre, . Rogers Centre, formerly known as SkyDome, is a multi-purpose stadium, situated next to the CN Tower near the shores of Lake Ontario. Originally opened in 1989, it is home to the American League’s Toronto Blue Jays, the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts, the site of the annual International Bowl American college football bowl game, and as of 2008, the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills’ second playing venue in the Bills Toronto Series. While it is primarily a sports venue, it also hosts other large-scale events such as conventions, trade fairs, concerts, funfairs, and monster truck shows. The stadium was renamed “Rogers Centre” following the purchase of the stadium by Rogers Communications in 2005.
The venue was noted for being the first stadium to have a fully-retractable motorized roof, as well as for the 348 room hotel attached to it, with 70 rooms overlooking the field. It is also the most recent North American major-league stadium built to accommodate both football, as well as baseball, although some of the newer baseball parks have been known to host the occasional college football game, such as AT&T Park, Chase Field, and Safeco Field.
Soon after its opening, the stadium became a popular venue for large scale rock concerts and is the largest indoor concert venue in Toronto; it has hosted many international acts including Metallica, Madonna, U2, Depeche Mode, The Rolling Stones, The Three Tenors, Radiohead, Simon & Garfunkel, Garth Brooks, Backstreet Boys, Roger Waters, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Limp Bizkit, Eminem, Janet Jackson, Avril Lavigne, Jonas Brothers and Cher.
The stadium will be the centrepiece of the 2015 Pan American Games as the site of the opening and closing ceremonies.
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, 288 Bremner Boulevard, Toronto, . The aquarium is one of three aquariums owned and operated by Ripley Entertainment. It is located in downtown Toronto, just south of the CN Tower. The aquarium features several aquatic exhibits including a walk-through tank. The aquarium has 5.7-million litres (1.5-million gallons) of marine and freshwater habitats from across the world. The exhibits hold 13,500 exotic sea and freshwater specimens, from more than 450 species. edit
Koreatown, is composed of the retail businesses and restaurants along Bloor Street between Christie and Bathurst Streets in the Seaton Village section of The Annex.
Since the early 1990s, a Koreatown has also emerged in North York along Yonge Street between Sheppard Avenue and just north of Steeles Avenue. The area comprises parts of North York, Ontario (Willowdale, Toronto and Newtonbrook) and Thornhill, Ontario (Vaughan, Ontario and Markham, Ontario).
The new Koreatown has many retail stores, Korean grocery stores (some quite large), karaoke bars and family restaurants catering to younger Koreans and those living in the north part of the City of Toronto and York Region. A larger proportion of this neighbourhood are recent immigrants or visa students from South Korea.
Toronto has ample opportunities for shopping, and nearly any section of the city has unique places to shop:
Toronto Eaton Centre,  A massive shopping mall on the West side of Yonge between Queen and Dundas Streets, The Eaton Centre is a Toronto landmark. Because of its downtown location and accessibility by subway, the mall tends to have a less-antiseptic feel than more remote suburban centres. This place is generally packed with people, an exciting mix of locals and visitors. The bottom level houses an impressive fountain, which is a nice place to take a rest and make a wish. If you’re coming from a warm country during winter, a popular store with locals that work outdoors where you might find fairly-priced winter clothes is Mark’s inside the mall.
Most Canadians don’t carry large amounts of cash for everyday use, relying on their credit cards, ATMs and direct debit cards. Personal checks are rarely accepted. Also, many places in Toronto accept US Dollars for small transactions- with a rough 1:1 exchange rate.
Interbank ATM exchange rates usually beat traveller’s checks or exchanging foreign currency. Canadian ATM fees are low ($1.50 to $2 per transaction), but your home bank may charge another fee on top of that.
Visa, MasterCard, American Express and JCB cards are widely accepted in Canada. Credit cards can get you cash advances at bank ATMs, generally for a 3% surcharge. Beware: many US-based credit cards now convert foreign charges using highly unfavorable exchange rates and fees.
Always change your money at a recognized bank or financial institution. Some hotels, souvenir shops and tourist offices exchange money, but their rates won’t put a smile on your dial.
American Express (905-474-0870, 800-869-3016; www.americanexpress.com/canada) branches in Toronto only function as travel agencies and don’t handle financial transactions. Instead, tackle the banks, or try Money Mart (416-920-4146; www.moneymart.ca; Yonge Street Strip, 617 Yonge St; 24hr; Wellesley).
Affiliated with Marlin Travel (www.marlintravel.ca), Thomas Cook (www.thomascook.ca) branches include the following:
Another organization, Calforex Currency Services (290 Queen St West) give good rates for cash, buying and selling GBP, USD, EUR; on substantial sums can be as little as 1% from interbank rates.
Toronto is generally considered to be one of North America’s top food cities. As one of the most (if not the single most) multicultural cities in the world, Toronto has authentic cuisine from most of the world’s cultural and ethnic groups. It is easy to eat out in Toronto and have a superb meal for cheap, while even the more distant neighbourhoods in the city frequently contain one or more ethnic grocers’ with both local stock and freshly imported products and brands from all over the world. Since Toronto is a city of a wide variety of distinct neighbourhoods, there are excellent restaurants scattered across the city. Many of the trendiest and hottest restaurants in Toronto are located outside of the downtown core and visitors should be prepared to travel a short drive or transit trip to visit them.
As a visitor is quickly bound to notice, Torontonians virtually subsist upon coffee and tea, and the city contains an extremely high density of cafés of all types, from affordable franchise locations, to classy bars, to trendy independently owned locales with idiosyncratic brews. An unguided walk through literally any part of the city will take one past many shops selling hot beverages, snacks, and light meals, oftentimes at a rate of several per city block. This makes it exceptionally convenient to fuel a long day of walking, shopping, and sightseeing, as a traveller is certain to be no more than a few minutes travel from a seat, a meal, and a hot drink.
Surrounded by the extensive fertile farmlands of Southern Ontario, Toronto has an abundance of farmer’s markets – one is happening, in season, almost every day. Several markets are year round, while others are seasonal, generally running from May to October.
Other farmer’s markets in Toronto:
The majority of nightlife in Toronto is centred on the appropriately named Clubland and in the fashion district on Queen Street West. Nearly everywhere is packed to the brim with pubs and bars, but none so much as Adelaide and Queen Street in those districts. Clubs tend to operate on Richmond and Adelaide streets (both run east-west, 1 block apart); names change frequently, but the district keeps on going. Four other clubs of note outside this district: The mega club/ultra lounge Muzik Nightclub (by Exhibition Place), The (long-lasting) Phoenix (on Sherbourne), The Government (Toronto’s largest club – on the harbour east of Yonge Street) and the Docks (literally operating on part of Toronto’s commercial port, but this place has an outstanding view of the city on warm summer nights, and boasts an extensive entertainment complex).
Some of Toronto’s newest and hottest nightclubs have opened up in the King Street West / Liberty Village area. This area tends to attract a more mature (25+ years old) crowd; however this comes at a cost as drinks and admission into the venues are typically a bit more expensive here than in Clubland.
Hip art and music oriented crowds tend to gravitate on the West side of the city, in neighbourhoods such as Queen West, Parkdale and the Junction. The hipsters hangout in the wide array of bars, galleries and clubs that dot the area – in particular Stones Place (mostly Indians and sometimes gay crowds),and the Drake and its poor cousin Gladstone Hotels. The same folks also frequent the Annex / Kensington Market Area of the city at night for club nights, casual drinks and art / music events. One of the main “corsos” of the city is Little Italy: College Street, between Bathurst and Ossington flows over with music, sidewalk cafes and excellent food and a crowd that enjoys the summer heat and the offerings. College Street, east of Bathurst, is home to many student hangouts, including Sneaky Dee’s which is famous among locals for its nachos. The legal minimum drinking age is 19.
Toronto is also home to a number of microbreweries. These include Mill Street, Steam Whistle Pilsner, Cool, Amsterdam, Great Lakes, Junction Craft Brewing, Indie Ale House and Bellwoods Brewery. The breweries offer free samples and some have restaurants and/or are brewpubs. Although a tour of the Steam Whistle Brewery costs $10, it includes a gift.
Most hotels and hostels are situated directly outside the downtown core. Prices for rooms generally range from $150+ for a standard hotel, $60-80 for a motel, and $20-40 for a bed in a hostel.
Toronto has a wide variety of hotels that can suit every budget.
Toronto has several youth hostels, including ones in the downtown area.
Another popular alternative for over nighters are bed & breakfasts, of which Toronto has hundreds, many of them in the downtown core. Prices range from $60 to several hundred dollars depending on the house and amenities offered.
Homestays are an ideal option for mid-term stays of a few months, or for newcomers who need a few months of accommodation while searching for a place to rent. Homestays are very popular for ESL students, often coming from South Korea, Japan, China, and Brazil. It’s estimated that there are hundreds of homestays in Toronto, usually in the price range of $750 to $900 per month, and including home-cooked meals. Payments are typically made in cash. Homestays are often listed in online indexes, presented in a manner much like selecting a hotel.
International students often prefer to study in Toronto because of its safety, proximity to other tourist destinations, and favourable exchange rates and visa policies. However, despite its status as the largest city in the country and Canada’s economic centre, it is surprisingly under-served by universities. This lack of post-secondary education has led to the development of major universities in the mid-sized cities that surround Toronto: the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, the University of Guelph in Guelph, Brock University in St. Catharines and Trent University in Peterborough. The universities in Toronto remain some of the best in the country:
Toronto, like other Canadian cities, also has dozens of English as a Second Language (ESL) schools. The largest association of private English and French language schools is the Canadian Association of Private Language Schools .
For an emergency, dial 911 (you can dial it at the pay phone without inserting any coins).
Local calls from a pay phone cost 50 cents and are not metered, so you can talk as long as you want. Due to the popularity of mobile phones, street pay phones have slowly disappeared. However, most of the large public facilities still offer ample pay phones and they are usually located between the inner and outer doors at the entrances in shopping malls.
Further, many public facilities (such as shopping malls) now offer phones providing free local calls, and are funded by advertisements run on colour LCD screens. Watch for large, wall-mounted ovals in high-traffic areas.
As a visitor, it’s also possible to purchase a pay-as-you-go SIM card for your GSM phone. There is no shortage of mobile phone shops and visiting 3-4 different shops should give you an idea of what’s available.
Toronto now has 3 area codes: 416,437, and 647. These area codes overlap. That is, they are all associated with the same geographic area. The suburban areas outside of the city also have three overlapping area codes, 905,365 and 289. As a result, Toronto has 10-digit local dialing. You must always dial the area code as part of the number you are trying to reach.
International calling cards are widely available in convenience stores and offer reasonable rates.
Toronto is a city with many internet cafés, especially on Yonge Street around Bloor, and also on Bloor Street between Spadina and Bathurst. It’s not hard to find a place to call home and the costs range from $3 for 30 minutes. The widespread availability of high-speed internet access means that internet cafes are largely becoming a thing of the past, so on repeat visits to the city, you may find that the one you used last time has disappeared. Most major hotels offer high-speed internet in their rooms and in their business centres. In addition many coffee shops in Toronto such as Tim Horton’s, Second Cup, and Starbucks offer free Wi-Fi for their customers.
Cogeco operates a public WiFi network called One Zone  that covers six square kilometres in the downtown core. Rates are $4.99 for one hour, $9.99 for a day, or $24.99 for a month.
Free internet access is available on computers at Toronto Public Library  branches, and the Toronto Reference Library  also provides free wireless access on the first two floors.
Unlike in much the rest of the English speaking world, the 2007 Recession was not as devastating to the newspaper business in Canada as it was to many other venerable organs such as The New York Times or the Times of London. While business and readership have declined notably, the signature papers of Canadian record have not shown the same sudden catastrophic losses, and newspapers in Toronto are stocked in most places, with paper advertising still considered a “must buy” for some companies.
Papers such as the following are still considered to be standby sources of the day-to-day news, regularly breaking substantive stories first with highly respected pieces of investigative journalism, and purchasing a paper for a dollar (or two for the weekend editions) in order to read the day’s events does not carry the same old-fashioned air it does elsewhere, especially in the States:
Free weekly newspapers, distributed from boxes on street corners and in racks in stores and restaurants can be good sources of information on cinema, dining, music, theatre, and other events and local news:
Depending on where you go in Toronto, you will be able to find locally printed newspapers in a variety of languages. For example, in Chinatown, you will find Chinese newspapers. In “Little Italy”, you’ll find Italian newspapers. You’ll also find newspapers in Spanish, Portuguese, Persian, Arabic, Tagalog, Greek and more.
Other alternative weeklies include the popular Xtra! , which reports for Toronto’s large and active LGBT community.
Toronto is remarkably safe and the streets are vibrant with pedestrians and bicyclists, even in most neighbourhoods at night. If you use common sense, you should have no trouble at all.
The overall violent crime rate in Canada, and particularly in Toronto, is much lower than that found in major cities in the United States and below the average of other large Canadian cities to the west. Over the last decade, there have been an average of fewer than 70 homicides per year in the city, a rate of fewer than three per 100,000. Organized gang violence occurs but has been very sporadic since a noticeable rise mid-last decade. Petty crime is generally not a large-scale problem in Toronto, but as always, keep vigilant with your possessions and avoid keeping valuables in outer pockets. Car and bike theft are comparable to other large North American cities and many stolen automobiles wind up being exported overseas.
Some neighbourhoods are known in the media and on the street as being more dangerous, but police statistics evaluate crime in a given area based occurrences per 10,000 residents, not including incoming non-resident traffic. The Bay Street financial downtown core actually experiences the highest rate of assault and drug crimes using these parameters, but this has not been well publicized by local or national media. Higher than average crime (compared with the city overall) does occur in certain neigbourhooods. These include:
Parts of Toronto have a visible homeless population, many of whom will ask you for money. This can be a bit startling for newcomers from outside North America. You do not need to give them money and can simply say “no, thank you,” or ignore them. They nearly always leave you alone. There have been occasional occurrences of aggressive homeless people, with one resulting in a fatality. If a person becomes aggressive, move away quickly and alert a police officer.
Be careful when getting off the streetcars and look always to your right before leaving the car. Although vehicles are supposed to stop when the streetcar doors open, some motorists and cyclists will ignore this and keep going.
Avoid river/creek banks or bridge underpasses during periods of excessive rain, during/after heavy thundershowers or melting snow. Recent flooding can soften soil and cause it to suddenly collapse into the water under any weight.
Occasionally, Toronto will be hit with a severe winter storm accompanied by significant snowfall (quite often mixed with freezing rain, ice, or sleet). Avoid driving during and immediately after the storms if at all possible. This is especially true for those unfamiliar with winter driving and controlling a car in a skid. Take public transit, walk, or stay inside.
Toronto is a great starting point for exploring southern Ontario.
Many people visit these regions in fall to experience some of the best fall-colour leaves anywhere in the world.
There are also several golden sand beaches along the clean fresh waters of the Great Lakes that are ideal for hot summer days. Popular beach destinations within 1.5 – 2.5 hours of Toronto include Wasaga, Sauble Beach,Sibbald Point Provincial Park, Sandbanks, Grand Bend, Long Point, and Turkey Point.