Toronto may not be Canada’s capital, but it is the largest city in the country and arguably its cultural as well as financial heart. It’s also one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, with over 200 different languages spoken in the city. As a result, it’s a fascinating place to explore. And if you find yourself on a layover in Toronto Airport, you’ll probably be very tempted to get out and explore.
Toronto’s Pearson International Airport is the biggest in Canada and the second busiest international gateway in the Americas. If you don’t feel like spending time in an airport lounge, it’s possible to see a little of Toronto even on a short stopover. The Union Pearson Express train departs from Terminal 1 every 15 minutes and can reach downtown Toronto in around 25 minutes. You can get into the city and back and still have plenty of time to make your connection.
To make things easier on yourself, don’t forget to drop off your bags at a Toronto luggage storage. Traveling light means you’ll be able to see more of what this vibrant city has to offer without worrying about your belongings.
6 hour layover in Toronto
Even with a fairly short Toronto layover, you’ll be able to see some of the city thanks to its excellent transit connections. The UP Express drops you off at Union Station, Toronto’s main rail hub. From here, it’s easy to get to most of the city’s top attractions.
One you shouldn’t miss is the CN Tower. This impressive structure is located right next to Union Station, and is an icon of Toronto. When it was built in 1976, this radio tower was the tallest freestanding structure in the world, a title it kept until 2007. It’s still one of the tallest buildings you’re ever likely to see, and its observation deck offers incredible views of the city and a thrilling encounter with extreme height. Leave your bags behind at a Toronto luggage storage and take a ride to the very top of the city at this iconic attraction.
- Take the UP Express to Union Station in downtown Toronto.
- The CN Tower is just steps from the station and offers incredible views of the city.
8 hour layover in Toronto
With a little longer to spend in Toronto, you can afford to see more of the city. Visiting the CN Tower won’t take more than an hour or two, leaving you plenty of time for the short walk to the Central Waterfront. Located on the shore of Lake Ontario, this is one of the city’s most desirable and most vibrant areas. Along with impressive views of the vast lake, you’ll find tons of restaurants and bars where you can grab something to eat or drink and watch the world go by. There’s always something going on in this lively district, so don’t forget to check it out while you’re in the city.
- Take a short walk to the Central Waterfront to see one of the city’s most vibrant districts.
- Visit one or more of the area’s restaurants and bars to get a feel for the city’s atmosphere.
- Enjoy a drink or a meal with incredible views of Lake Ontario.
10 hour layover in Toronto
With a little more time on your hands, you could explore how Toronto got to be the way it currently is. Metro line 1 will take you from Union Station to the Royal Ontario Museum in less than 10 minutes. The largest and most visited museum in Canada, the ROM holds an incredible collection that explores everything from natural history to clothing and textiles to world cultures to outer space. Realistically, you could spend days at the museum and still not see everything has to offer, but three to four hours here is enough to at least give you a taste of the treasures it contains.
Be aware that large bags are not permitted inside the museum, so make sure to drop yours off at a suitcase storage in Toronto before you visit so you can really enjoy yourself.
- Take Metro line 1 to the Royal Ontario Museum.
- Explore a collection that lets you travel the world and venture into outer space without leaving Toronto.
- Large bags are not permitted, so drop yours off before you visit.
12 hour layover in Toronto
A 12-hour long layover in Toronto could simply mean you have more time to spend at the Royal Ontario Museum. But if you’ve had enough education for one day, don’t worry. The city has plenty more to offer. Just a short walk from the museum you’ll find Kensington Market, Toronto’s most diverse and vibrant neighborhood. Spend a while browsing the many vintage clothing stores, or visit some of the trendiest bars and restaurants in the city. Soak up the unique atmosphere of this district and enjoy the best people-watching in the city. There’s always something going on in Kensington Market, and a couple of hours wandering the streets is the best possible way to absorb some of Toronto’s countercultural vibe.
- Take a short walk from the Royal Ontario Museum to Kensington Market.
- Go vintage clothes shopping, explore record stores and bookshops, or visit one of the many bars and restaurants.
- Soak up the unique atmosphere of this Bohemian city neighborhood.
24 hour layover in Toronto
With an overnight layover to spend in Toronto, you can get much more ambitious. Once you’ve found a hotel and a place to leave your bags, you’ll be perfectly placed to explore Toronto’s nightlife. You can get a glimpse of the best places to go with a Toronto food tour or even a pub crawl. These lively tours let you see the city through the eyes of a local and will fill you in on the best places to enjoy everything that makes the city what it is.
Alternatively, you could celebrate a true Canadian passion at the Hockey Hall of Fame. Ice hockey is Canada’s favorite sport and is a key component of the country’s culture. Celebrate the careers of great Canadian players at this quirky and interactive attraction.
- Explore Toronto’s nightlife with a food tour or pub crawl.
- Visit the Hockey Hall of Fame to celebrate Canada’s favorite sport.