The Canadian metropolis of Toronto, Ontario, is a vibrant place to visit whether you want a lakeside retreat or an urban adventure. Between uniquely Canadian activities and delicious food, this city has more to offer than you may expect.
If you want to have a good time in Toronto, it’s essential to know what to expect from different seasons. Certain times of the year are more appealing than others in the city. It does not hurt to know which times of the year to avoid for your Toronto visit.
While some travel preferences are subjective, there are some times of year that are objectively more or less popular than others. Many factors play into popularity, including weather, activities, and cost. Read on to learn more about the best time to visit Toronto.
Why You Should Visit Toronto
Queen City has a long history in Canada as the city in Canada with the highest population. It’s known for its essential contributions to business, arts, and sports.
The city proper has a population shy of three million, while the Greater Toronto Area consists of almost seven million people. A fantastic aspect of Toronto is that it’s one of the world’s most multicultural and diverse cities.
English and French are some of the official languages of Canada. However, more than 150 languages are spoken in Toronto, representing many cultures. Experience those cultures through foods, shops, and more.
This city truly has something to offer every citizen and visitor. Of course, it has skyscrapers found in many cities. However, it also has more going on than its business center.
Enjoy outdoor festivals, sports games, museums, galleries, and other events on your visit. Toronto has many neighborhoods that each offer something a little different. Some provide delicious food, while others offer green space or shops.
These neighborhoods include Liberty Village, Distillery District, The Beaches, Leslieville, Cabbagetown, The Annex, Chinatown, and Kensington Market.
Overall Best Time to Visit Toronto
In general, the best time to visit Toronto is late spring and early fall. Specifically, you should aim for April, May, September, and October.
At these points, you can avoid extreme temperatures, tourist season, and all the experiences that come with those variables. Visiting in the spring and fall allows you to enjoy all Toronto has to offer in mild weather.
For both seasons, the temperatures don’t usually go above 60 degrees Fahrenheit or 15.5 degrees Celcius. Temperatures don’t usually dip below 45 degrees Fahrenheit or seven degrees Celcius. These seasons are affordable compared to the busy summer season.
Therefore, hotels will often be cheaper at these times, and you won’t have to battle through a few million other tourists. While you enjoy the lower prices and mild weather of Toronto in these seasons, there are plenty of exciting activities for all ages.
As the city wakes up in the spring, enjoy the Toronto Vintage Clothing Show, explore the city during Doors Open, and see the cherry blossoms.
In the fall, you may enjoy the Toronto Film Festival, watch sports games, or immerse yourself in the Toronto International Festival of Authors.
Toronto is also beautiful to experience in the fall if you like fall foliage. When visiting Toronto during these times of the year, always bring plenty of layers.
Cheapest Time to Visit Toronto
The cheapest time to visit Toronto is in the winter. This time is cheaper because there are fewer tourists and fewer outdoor activities in which to participate. You can expect to find good deals from November to March.
To save money on flights, it’s a good idea to plan. If you fly from within Canada, allow about two months of advance notice before booking any flights. When flying from other parts of North America, plan for about three months.
Visiting from other continents may require at least six months of planning. If you intend to visit during the summer or Holidays, allow more planning time.
Compared to the best times to visit, this season is much colder and somewhat quieter. When visiting during this time of year, expect temperatures around 30 degrees Fahrenheit or negative one degree Celcius.
There are generally fewer activities available. Luckily, Toronto offers plenty of enchanting indoor activities, from visiting museums to watching a hockey game.
Plus, there are still some fun activities in Toronto if you can brave colder weather. Try ice skating and light festivals. As long as you dress warmly, you can get plenty out of your Toronto visit.
Least Busy Time to Visit Toronto
Many travelers want to explore a new place, but they don’t want to do surrounded by millions of other tourists. If this sounds like you, looking for the least busy time to visit is ideal.
Coming to Toronto at the right time can help you access fun activities in the city while having some breathing room. Winter is the least busy time to visit Toronto, between November and March.
As a result, that time of year is also the cheapest time to visit the city. With fewer tourists, prices become less competitive. The number of people in the city gets reduced because Canadian winters are known for their severity.
More than 27.5 million people visit Toronto each year. Those visitors spent around 6.5 billion dollars in the Toronto area, and the city had 10.3 billion dollars in total economic impact.
However, only a small portion of those visitors come in the winter. Toronto has no shortage of ice skating rinks, snowshoe loops, skiing, and snowboarding.
In preparation for the cold weather, the city also offers several firepits and outdoor ovens throughout Toronto. You can experience plant-filled air at one of the city’s conservatories. The city also includes a zoo, far, and bird-watching opportunities.
Worst Time to Visit Toronto
Your idea of the worst time to visit Toronto will vary somewhat depending on your goals for the trip. In general, the worst time to visit Toronto in terms of weather is winter, while the worst time to visit in terms of crowds and expense is summer.
However, both of those seasons have plenty of activities. Since Toronto is on lake Ontario, the weather is somewhat different than in nearby areas further from the lake.
As a result, summer is less hot, and winter is less cold than inland places. The lake is also a contributing factor to an increase in summer humidity. There may also be a few smoggy days during this time of the year.
Temperatures usually hover between 70 degrees Fahrenheit and 95 degrees Fahrenheit or 20 to 35 degrees Celsius. Rain is also quite common in the summer. If you want to brave the heat and humidity, Toronto has plenty to offer in the summer.
There are many outdoor festivals and activities in the parks. There are also plenty of fantastic restaurants in which to spend your time. If you want to get out of the city, visit Toronto Islands on your foot or bicycle.
Toronto also has a unique program where it closes the streets to car traffic. While all those activities are delightful, it’s worth remembering that Toronto is much more expensive to visit in the summer.
Everything from flights and accommodations to activities is more expensive. Plus, most people who visit Toronto do so in the summer, making it very busy. Winter may be less busy and expensive than summer.
However, it’s also very cold, with about 140 centimeters or 55 inches of annual snowfall. So, each of these seasons is somewhat of a trade-off, especially compared to the well-rounded spring and fall.
Things to Consider
Whether you decide to enjoy one of the mild shoulder seasons or brave the cold winter, there are several considerations you should make about Toronto.
Keeping these things in mind will help you get the most out of your visit:
- Toronto is becoming known as one of the most robust food cities in the world. Visit with an appetite.
- Brunch, in particular, is integral to a weekend in Toronto.
- When navigating around Toronto, choose between the bus, trains, car, or walking.
- If you choose to drive, know that traffic-prone times occur before and after the work day.
- Be prepared to pay for expensive parking.
- The city is extremely walkable.
- When flying into Toronto, you can come via the Pearson International Airport or Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.
- If you fly into the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, you’ll need to take a ferry.
- Toronto is quite diverse, and the many cultures within it are represented throughout the city.
- While French is one of the official languages of Canada, it’s not spoken much in Toronto.
- When paying for items in Toronto, card payments are mostly preferred.
- Expect to tip for goods and services in Toronto at a rate of around 15%.
- If you want to blend into Toronto, it helps to get to know the local lingo. Add Timmies, Canuck, pop, double-double, a loonie, and a toonie to your vocabulary.
- It’s always vital to familiarize yourself with the currency of the place you visit. Get to know the different bills and coins in Canada.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few common questions about visiting Toronto:
How should I dress in Toronto?
How to dress in Toronto will depend on when you end up visiting the city. If you visit any time from September to May, you’ll likely need at least a light jacket.
From November to March, pack for cold weather. Ensure you have a coat, mittens, a hat, a scarf, and appropriate boots. No matter when you visit, layering is always a good idea.
How many days do you need to visit Toronto?
Since Toronto has so much to offer, it’s good to spend at least three days in Toronto. Ideally, try to be there for four or five days minimum. This amount of time allows you to enjoy indoor and outdoor activities.
Plus, you can explore the city’s neighborhoods and get to know the plethora of cultures within Toronto. Not to mention, you have plenty of time to try tons of delicious food.
Is it expensive to visit Toronto?
Toronto is now the most expensive city in Canada. As long as you plan in terms of flights and accommodations, you can reduce the amount you pay for your trip overall.
Remember that winter is the cheapest time to visit the city, while summer is the most expensive time. On average, most visitors to the city spend around $225 each day in the city.
Is a car necessary in Toronto?
A car is not necessary for Toronto, thanks to the public transit and walkability of the city. However, if you choose, a car can work well as long as you schedule your drives well. Try to avoid rush hours on weekdays around 8 am and 5 pm.
It’s also a good idea to be aware of special events and holidays to help you avoid high-traffic areas or days. In Canada, drivers stay on the right side of the road. Toronto Island does not allow cars, and at certain times you may find streets shut down to vehicle traffic.
How safe is Toronto?
According to the 2019 Safest Cities Index from The Economist Intelligence Unit, Toronto is one of the safest cities in the world.
It ranked as the 6th safest city out of 60 using digital security, infrastructure safety, health security, and personal safety metrics. The city also ranked as the 8th safest in terms of personal security and ninth in digital security.
As with any large city, you should take certain precautions when you visit. Keep an eye on your purse or money, don’t wave your money around, be aware of your surroundings, and don’t leave any food or drinks unattended.
What do I need to see in Toronto?
Toronto and its surrounding area have plenty to offer to visitors and citizens alike. Some of the most popular attractions include The Gardiner Museum, The Art Gallery of Ontario, and the Royal Ontario Museum.
But there’s also the Casa Loma, CN Tower, The Toronto Zoo, the Ontario Science Center, the Hockey Hall of Fame, the PATH (Toronto’s underground city), and the St. Lawrence Market Complex.
What foods are Toronto known for?
While Toronto has delicious options, such as poutine and maple syrup, it has so many more offerings. The city’s capital dish is a bacon and mustard roll. Other popular Toronto dishes include poutine, ketchup chips, caesar cocktails, butter tarts, sushi pizza, Nanaimo bars, and tourtiere. Toronto is also known for its brewery scene.
Thanks to the robust diversity of the city, you can also engage with an enormous amount of cultures through food. On your visit, look for cuisines from China, the Caribbean, Poland, Korea, France, Hungary, Syria, the Philippines, Italy, India, and Mexico.
So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Toronto?
When it comes down to it, the best time to visit Toronto depends on your own needs and preferences. The spring and fall are good times to check out the city if you want to avoid crowds and severe weather.
If you love snow, visit in the winter, and if you enjoy a crowd, the summer may be up your alley. However, there’s technically no bad time to visit Toronto, as there’s a great season for all budgets and interests. So what are you waiting for — book your trip to Toronto today!