Getting to Toronto

The Toronto Airport is a short drive away from the center of the city. Travelling is always a popular option, but it requires time and planning. If you already live close to the city, there are plenty of effective trains and car routes. The most popular airport in Toronto is just 25km outside of downtown, and flying is your only option coming from outside of North America.

Airfares to Toronto from the UK, Australia, and New Zealand vary depending on the season. The best deals can be found during the low season – mid-November through April (excluding Christmas and New Year). If you are flying out of the US or coming in from another country, you should expect to pay more on a Saturday or Sunday. No matter which day you fly, the price can fluctuate anytime because airlines can change their prices quickly.

You can often find cheaper tickets on a flight by going through an agent. Agents come in two categories – consolidators, who buy blocks of airline tickets from the airlines and then sell them at a discount, and discount agents, who may also offer special student discounts in addition to insurance, car rentals, etc. Some special agents specialize in charter flights. Charter flights can be cheaper than anything available on a scheduled flight, but you risk leaving on a specific date, and there are high withdrawal penalties if you need to cancel your ticket. Tour operators rarely offer competitive prices when you manage to get to Toronto. However, the best companies allow inexpensive getaways, leading to a relaxing stay in reasonable accommodations.

Booking Flights Online

Airlines offer clients the option to book flights online, eliminating the use of agents and intermediaries. Many airlines now charge a small handling fee, but there are additional benefits as most sites allow for bargain fares. You can find affordable flights using auction sites, with careful attention to how you bid. When looking for a flight on an airline’s website, search for competitive deals with more prominent online travel agents.

From North America

Toronto is accessible to those in the northern US and within a short flight or drive. Toronto is just a 2-hour drive away from the Canada/US border. Most major cities in the US offer direct flights to Toronto, with service being frequent too. About 60% of North America’s population lives close enough to Toronto, which makes it an easy trip for all. There are several different methods for getting to Toronto. Canadian tourists usually fly and drive, but mass ground transit options are also available, though they are less common in Canada.

By plane

Twelve of the 60 international airlines that fly into Toronto are American. Out of those 12, 59% of weekday flights show the flight volume is high for business travel on weekdays. Air Canada is the national carrier and offers the most direct flights to the US. United Airlines code-shares with Air Canada on major transporter routes to Toronto, such as those from New York and Chicago. American Airlines has similar routing structures to its subsidiary American Eagle.

Flights can often be found at the best price by doing a bit of research. Flights on Air Canada are more expensive than on other airlines, and even within Air Canada, you can find significant differences in flight prices. Direct flights unrelated to one’s destination cost significantly more than indirect ones. The cheaper the fare, the more restrictions you will have on changing future dates. Air Canada offers tickets at different price ranges with different levels of flexibility. You should also pay close attention to the options offered when booking online, and for the best rates, you want to enquire about the nature of a seat reservation before buying.

Air Canada is using Tango fares to compete with WestJet, which offers a no-frills paperless process for booking flights. Air Canada and WestJet continuously offer specials in specific locations, although fuel costs have made these wars less frequent.

Operating Airlines from the US to Toronto: Air Canada, American Airlines, CanJet, Continental Airlines, Delta Airlines, Northwest Airlines, United Airlines, and WestJet.

By Bus

It is much cheaper to take the bus to Toronto, and you will arrive at the terminal on Bay Street directly. It takes a long time compared to other methods of travel, but time is not a concern for you; it is an option. Toronto is served from the US by Greyhound. Trips to Toronto from major cities such as New York, Detroit, Chicago, and Montréal take eleven, six, fifteen, and eight hours, respectively. From Los Angeles, it’s about a two-and-a-half-day journey, so budget and time constraints are the determining factors here.

By Rail

Given the increased time in airport security lines, more people are considering rail travel to Toronto. With the station conveniently located downtown and a trip from New York City taking thirteen hours with a wait of about an hour and twenty minutes at the border, you have time to explore the nooks and crannies before you arrive. VIA Rail Canada is a Canadian railway providing passenger service between Toronto and US destinations. There are fare discounts available for seniors, students, and families. If you’re returning to the US, AMTRAK provides the rail service. The company offers paper tickets and e-tickets, though there’s an extra processing fee for the latter.

By Car

The time for cross-border driving is about ten hours, assuming an uneventful trip to the Toronto border. Crossing from New York City to Toronto equals about 790km; crossing from Detroit equals 370km and only takes four hours; coming from Montréal equals 540km and will only take five hours.

Suppose you are driving a rental car in from the US. In that case, it may be helpful to inform the agency that you intend to cross the border into Canada with the car to avoid any misunderstandings concerning theft. A few major North American car rental companies are National Car & Truck Rental. Remember that once you reach Toronto, a car may be more of a hindrance than a help, as downtown parking and gas stations – both in short supply – are pricey.

Crossing the US/Canada border

Recently there has been a lot of confusion in the US about what is needed to cross the US/Canada border. American visitors crossing the border in either direction do not need a passport. However, they may be asked to verify their citizenship with a passport, a birth certificate, and a photo ID. Naturalized US citizens should carry a naturalization certificate, and permanent US residents who are not citizens should carry their Alien Registration Receipt Card (Green Card). Non- American visitors to Canada crossing into the US for a simple day trip should be aware of all visa regulations and residency requirements for both countries and have the proper paperwork, or else risk being stranded at the border.

From the UK and Ireland

Toronto is easily reachable, as there are multiple flight options. Most flights leave London Heathrow, but there are a few other airports in the UK. From Ireland – North or South – you would have only one seasonal direct flight to Toronto; the primary option for Ireland is either taking a charter flight or going through the UK and a US hub airport. Remember that direct, nonstop flights can be more expensive than one-stop, depending on what you’re looking for.

A standard return fare on a scheduled flight from London Heathrow directly to Toronto with Air Canada, the principal carrier, can range from £400 to 1200 (low season—high season). With restrictions, though, this can easily be trimmed to a very affordable £300–350. Air Canada’s direct flights from Dublin and Shannon to Toronto (June–Sept only) from Ireland can cost as little as €450, but without restrictions, they can weigh in at around e1750. Much more competitive, however, are the fares offered by the budget airline Zoom, whose going rate for a return from London to Toronto is between £200 and £300.

Airlines flying from the UK & Ireland to Toronto: Aer Lingus, Air Canada, American Airlines, British Airways, British Midland, Continental Airlines, Delta, KLM/Northwest Airlines, Lufthansa, United Airlines, Zoom.

And you may check the discount travel and flight agents: Apex Travel, Aran Travel International, CIE Tours International, Co-op Travel Care, ebookers, Flight Centre, Flights4Less, Go Holidays, Joe Walsh Tours, Lee Travel, McCarthy’s Travel, North South Travel, Premier Travel, Rosetta Travel, STA Travel, Top Deck, Trailfinders, USIT.

From Australia and New Zealand

There are no direct, nonstop flights from Australia and New Zealand to Toronto; you will have to break your journey in either an Asian city, like Hong Kong or North America (usually Los Angeles or Vancouver); the same applies to charter flights.

Fares vary considerably, based on the restrictions attached to your ticket rather than the time of year you travel. A standard return fare from Sydney to Toronto (via Vancouver) with Air Canada costs around Aus$3000 – about the same from Auckland (via Los Angeles or San Francisco) – but special deals and discounts are commonplace.

Available Airlines: Air Canada, Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, United Airlines.