Is Toronto safe to visit? A comprehensive safety guide
While not the Canadian capital, Toronto is a very populous city. It's the capital city of Ontario and is situated on Lake Ontario. This busy city is known as being a cultural hub for theater, music, television, and film production with several major Canadian television networks having their headquarters in Toronto.
Filled with amazing attractions such as the Toronto Zoo, Royal Ontario Museum, Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art, and Art Gallery of Ontario, the city attracts tourists from around the world, with summertime being its peak season. Despite many locals and tourists streaming in and out of the metro area, it's considered one of the safest North American cities even though you would expect the crime rate to be high.
With a population of 2.8 million and a visitor count of about 27 million annually, Toronto is a safe city. Still, there are still some places where you'll want to use caution when visiting. Yonge Street is the longest street in the world but some areas of this famous street can be the shadier places to take a stroll.
Before you start exploring Toronto, find a Bounce luggage storage service near your hotel so you can stow your bags and keep your valuables safe. The best way to stay safe when discovering a new city is to not look like a tourist at all and that includes not lugging large bags through the streets.
Is Toronto safe to visit right now?
Unlike other cities with a large urban population, Toronto is not a dangerous city. Sticking to the safer neighborhoods and Downtown Toronto is a good way to ensure you'll not fall victim to a petty crime. With a Global Peace Index of 1o in 2021, Canada is not a risky place for travelers.
Being home to a rather sizable homeless community, mainly around Moss Park, Toronto does have areas that you'll want to avoid or at least not visit alone or at night. Although major nature related events are rare, one of the issues that could affect your safety when in Toronto is the weather. It's not unheard of to see snowstorms that slow down the city in wintertime or severe thunderstorms and tornadoes during the peak tourist season of June and July.
Before you finalize your travel plans to Toronto, check your government’s official travel guidelines and follow their recommendations. Even if you are a well-seasoned traveler, when visiting a big city you'll want to know of any potential dangers. Below, we'll look at Toronto safety tips to ensure a wonderful trip.
Top petty crimes and scams in Toronto affecting tourists
Even the safest cities have crime and Toronto is no exception. While Toronto is a safe city, it does crime, as every big and bustling destination does. But don't let the fear of crime keep you at home. Tourists are generally targeted by those committing petty crimes such as pickpocketing, purse snatching, and scamming.
Most Canadian cities have low scam risks, or scammers are not being called out and reported. Toronto, on the other hand, has a higher scam risk. Internet scams such as ticket sales are prevalent and tourists should only purchase directly from trusted or official websites. If you are not sure if a site is legit, don’t use it. You should also not use your credit or debit card on a site that is not secure.
Touristy areas such as popular landmarks like the CN Tower are prime spots for thieves to look for unsuspecting tourists and snatch their valuables. Restaurants and cafes are also targeted spots. You can protect yourself from pickpockets by keeping your wallet in your front pocket and not carrying your cash and cards in one place.
Out and about taking part in Toronto's terrific shopping scene? Ladies should use a crossbody purse rather than a larger handbag that can easily be grabbed. Don't flash a lot of cash or sparkly, blingy jewelry and accessories. Also, find a Bounce luggage locker and lock your valuables up before hitting the streets. Dress like a local and try to blend into the crowd as petty thieves love to target tourists.
Is Toronto safe to travel alone
Traveling solo is a fabulous way to see the world. And when visiting a new city where you don't know anyone, relying on common sense or street smarts will help keep you safe.
When traveling alone, consider staying at one of the hostels in Toronto to connect with other travelers. Many hostels even have social events and activities that help you see more of the city, such as walking tours or bar crawls.
Solo female travelers will find Toronto to be great fun. Just remember to stay alert and be aware of the people around you. Canada has a rating of 8 on the Bounce Women Travel Safety Index, making Canada, and therefore Toronto, a safe place for women to explore alone.
There are some things you can do to ensure your safety when traveling alone. If drinking in bars and clubs, especially the Club District, keep an eye on your drink and don't leave it unattended. Ask at your hostel or hotel which bars and clubs are safest for women.
Safest neighborhoods in Toronto
When deciding what to see in Toronto, you'll want to know where the safest neighborhoods or desirable areas can be found. Toronto neighborhoods as a whole are safe for visitors but there are a few that stand out above the rest.
Downtown Toronto can be very busy at night, especially when there is a big event taking place. Exploring downtown during the day is a wonderful way to check out the marvelous restaurants, shops, and attractions.
Is Downtown Toronto safe? The relative safety of downtown rivals Canadian cities across the country. Downtown West, though, is a terrific way to be close to all the action of the city center without the crowds and rowdiness of being in the thick of things.
West Queen West
Locals, and most tourists, agree that West Queen West is the coolest neighborhood in Toronto. Filled with unique attractions, friendly locals, and trendy restaurants, it's one of the safest neighborhoods. The area draws a melting pot of people with different styles, tastes, and backgrounds including graffiti artists, designers, foodies, writers, and even fashionistas.
Head to central Toronto and visit one of the most vibrant neighborhoods, and also the largest Chinatown in North America. You won't have to worry about your personal safety while you stroll through the street and explore the shops, cafes, bars, and restaurants that make up Chinatown. It's also home to several backpacker hostels and budget hotels.
Toronto also has a few places you'll want to steer clear of, especially if a solo female traveler. This is only true when the sun goes down. Bloor neighborhood, Dundas Street, and Queen Street are areas you don't want to venture into at night. Other places to be wary of include Moss Park, Kipling & Albion, St. James Town, and Regent Park.
Is Toronto public transportation safe?
Overall, the Toronto public transport system is efficient and safe. Being run by one company, public transportation is easy to conquer even for first-time visitors. Taking the streetcars and subway system are efficient ways to get around the city and see more of the tourist attractions and must-visit neighborhoods. Buses tend to take longer but are a safe way to get around, although the night buses can get rather loud and full of people.
When you are planning to use Toronto’s public transportation system, make sure your belongings are on your lap or right next to you, and keep an eye on anyone moving into your personal space. Sit near the guard on the train or the bus driver.
If you are being bothered by someone, move seats, and inform the bus driver or guard. Stay alert and awake. All trains stop at all the stations in the city so if you happen to miss your stop, you can get off at the next one and backtrack. The subway stations all have staff at their entrances.
Important emergency numbers in Toronto
When you are heading to a different country, jot down important emergency numbers in case you run into trouble or need medical assistance. It's also wise to have the phone number of your country’s embassy in Canada. Important numbers should be saved in your phone and also kept with your official documents such as your passport.
- Canada’s country code: +1
- Toronto’s area code: 416, 647, 437
- All Emergencies: 911
- Non-Emergency police number: 416-808-2222
- Information on city programs and services: 311
Staying safe in Toronto
Locals love Toronto because it's a large city with an emphasis on infrastructure security and safety. It does have its fair share of homeless people but you are generally safe when walking through the city.
You'll find cool neighborhoods where you can take a bike ride in the downtown area and be perfectly safe. Kensington Market is in one of the hippest neighborhoods where public safety is a priority. The west side of Toronto sees people walking and checking out the sights and the crime rate is practically non-existent.
Being listed as one of the top 10 safest cities in the world, it's also an expensive city. The real danger is breaking your budget when you visit. But it does rank high in digital security and personal security.
Before you land in Toronto to start your vacation, read Where to Stay in Toronto: The Ultimate Guide as well as How to Get Around Toronto, even though the public transportation system is one of the easiest to learn in North America.