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The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is centred on the city of Toronto, in Ontario's Golden Horseshoe. It is generally considered to extend west to the border with Hamilton, east to the border of Port Hope, and north to the shore of Lake Simcoe. It is by far Canada's most populous urban/suburban area, with 6.7 million inhabitants (2021); nearly half of Ontario's population. The GTA is a commercial, distribution, financial and economic centre, and is the second largest financial centre in North America.

Regions[edit]

Greater Toronto Area regions - colour-coded map — switch to interactive map
Greater Toronto Area regions - colour-coded map
  City of Toronto
the most populous city in Canada, the centre of the country's financial sector, and an energetic, diverse destination for travellers
  Durham
the eastern suburbs, and a growing technology hub
  Halton
the very wealthy far western suburbs, but with a lot of land still in agricultural use
  Peel
the populous near western suburbs with a combined population of 1.5 million, around the same population as the whole Edmonton metro area.
  York
the northern suburbs, with some interesting heritage districts, and ethnic enclaves

Cities[edit]

  • 1 Ajax — founded around a World War II munitions factory, it grew into a bedroom community for Toronto after the war
  • 2 Brampton — one of Canada's fastest-growing cities with a significant Sikh and Indian population
  • 3 Burlington — a pleasant, wealthy suburban community that is home to the amazing Royal Botanical Gardens
  • 4 Markham — a growing suburban community and technology centre with several charming heritage districts, and a significant Chinese population
  • 5 Mississauga — Toronto's largest suburb and Canada's sixth largest city
  • 6 Newmarket — its Main Street Heritage Conservation District includes several historic sites
  • 7 Oakville — an affluent suburb of Toronto whose downtown has a quaint, small-town atmosphere
  • 8 Oshawa — the home of a massive auto manufacturing facility that has been gradually closing down through the 2010s, it is trying to transition to an education and health sciences hub.
  • 9 Pickering — the city bordering Toronto, it is also home to the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station
  • 10 Richmond Hill — a growing suburban town with a significant Chinese and Persian population.
  • 11 Vaughan — famous as the home of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, with a significant Italian and Russian-Jewish population.
  • 12 Whitby — during the Second World War, it was the location of Camp X, a secret spy training facility established by the "Man Called Intrepid".

Understand[edit]

The suburban areas around Toronto have grown quickly in the last few decades. Mississauga's city hall was surrounded by fields when it opened in 1987. It is now dwarfed by modern high rises.

Greater Toronto consists of the City of Toronto and four surrounding regional municipalities: Durham, Halton, Peel, and York; which in total contain 25 urban, suburban and rural municipalities.

The region generates about a fifth of Canada's GDP and is home to 40% of Canada's business headquarters. In 2010, over half of the labour force in the Greater Toronto Area was employed in the service sector, with 19% in the manufacturing, 17% of the labour force employed in wholesale & retail trade, 8% of the labour force involved in transportation, communication & utilities, and 5% of the workforce was involved in construction.

The Toronto CMA also has the largest proportions of foreign-born residents (46%) as a share of the total population out of all metropolitan areas in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

History[edit]

The Greater Toronto Area was home to a number of First Nations (Indigenous) groups who lived on the shore of Lake Ontario long before the first Europeans arrived in the region. At various times the Neutral, Seneca, Mohawk and Huron nations were living in the vicinity. The Mississaugas arrived in the late 17th or early 18th century, driving out the Iroquois.

By the 17th century, the area was a crucial point for travel, with the Humber and Rouge River providing a shortcut to Lake Simcoe and the upper Great Lakes. These routes were known as the Toronto Passage. The area would later become very crucial for its series of trails and water routes that led from northern and western Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Known as the "Toronto Passage", it followed the Humber River, as an important overland shortcut between Lake Ontario, Lake Simcoe and the upper Great Lakes. For this reason area became a hot spot for French fur traders. The French established two trading forts, Magasin Royal in the 1720s, although abandoned within the decade and Fort Rouillé in the 1750s, which was burnt down and abandoned in 1759 by the French garrison, who were retreating from invading British forces.

The first large influx of European settlers to settle the region were the United Empire Loyalists arriving after the American Revolution, when various individuals petitioned the Crown for land in the Toronto area. In 1787, the British negotiated the purchase of more than a quarter million acres (1,000 km²) of land in the area of Toronto with the Mississaugas of New Credit.

Climate[edit]

Toronto
Climate chart (explanation)
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29
 
 
−1
−7
 
 
 
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0
−6
 
 
 
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−2
 
 
 
5
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2
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Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation+Snow totals in mm
Source: Environment Canada.
Imperial conversion
JFMAMJJASOND
 
 
 
1.5
1.1
 
 
31
20
 
 
 
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0.8
1.3
 
 
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65
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75
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2.5
 
 
80
64
 
 
 
3.2
 
 
78
63
 
 
 
3.3
 
 
70
56
 
 
 
2.5
 
 
57
45
 
 
 
0.3
3
 
 
46
36
 
 
 
0.9
1.5
 
 
36
26
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation+Snow totals in inches

The Greater Toronto Area is classified as a humid continental climate. In winter, which begins in December and ends in March, typical high temperatures will range from −5 to 2 °C (23 to 36 °F) and low temperatures from −11 to −6 °C (12 to 21 °F). Occasional cold spells hold daytime highs below −10 °C (14 °F) for several days, while low temperatures sometimes drop below −18 °C (0 °F). Mild spells are also a feature of Toronto's winter, with temperatures occasionally surpassing 5 °C (41 °F) for several days. Spring is short and often mild, although snow sometimes falls as late as April. Summer is warm, sometimes hot and humid and begins in June and ends in late September. High temperatures typically range from 24 °C (75 °F) to 31 °C (88 °F) while low temperatures hover around 15 °C (59 °F) in the suburbs and 18–20 °C (64–68 °F) downtown and near the lake. Although fairly sunny, summers do feature occasional heavy, thundery showers. Heat wave conditions featuring temperatures between 32 °C (90 °F) and 35 °C (95 °F) are not uncommon. Temperatures are lower near the lake and higher inland. Although rare, the mercury sometimes rises above 38 °C (100 °F). Autumn alternates between wet and dry periods. Temperatures fall sharply in November and by December, cold and snowy weather is common. The summer of 2016 was one of the hottest summers on record with 38 days at or above 30 °C (86 °F).

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

  • Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ IATA) is the area's major international airport, in Mississauga. It is well-served by many North American and international airlines.
  • Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ IATA) is on the Toronto Islands, connected to the Harbourfront by ferry and pedestrian tunnel. It is much closer to downtown Toronto, but there are far few airlines and flight options than Pearson. Airlines mostly serve airports in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada, as well as Boston, Chicago, New York-Newark, and Washington DC.

By bus[edit]

See also: Toronto#By bus

By train[edit]

See also: Rail travel in Canada, GO Transit

Trains serving the Greater Toronto generally use Toronto Union station as their terminus station.

By car[edit]

The entire region is connected to the rest of Ontario by modern highways and major roads. Highway 401 connects Windsor with Quebec, through Halton, Peel, Toronto and Durham. Highway 400 is the route to cottage country, running north to Barrie and beyond. Many routes are congested even outside of rush hour.

Get around[edit]

By public transit[edit]

Union Station in Toronto is the major transit hub for the GTA, connecting the train and bus services of GO Transit, the TTC, UP Express, VIA Rail, and various regional and long distance bus services.

GO Transit operates the commuter transit services serving municipalities within and near the GTA. It operates 7 commuter rail lines, radiating from Union Station at the base of Toronto's financial district. The Lakeshore West and Lakeshore East lines operate every day from 6AM to 1AM between Burlington and Pickering. Three other lines have limited mid-day service to Unionville (Markham), Aurora and Brampton. Otherwise, all other GO rail destinations are commuter-oriented, inbound to Union Station during morning rush hour and outbound during evening rush hour. GO buses often complement GO Transit rail service for destinations or time periods not covered by GO trains. Many GO bus route originate at four stations along subway Line 1 Yonge–University; they are Union Station, Yorkdale, York Mills and Highway 407.

There are various local transit operators to serve the different municipalities within the GTA. The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) is the largest, running all the buses, streetcars and subways within Toronto. York Region Transit operates buses in York Region, to the north of Toronto. YRT also runs 6 bus rapid transit (BRT) lines, known as VIVA; most connect to a TTC subway station. Durham Region Transit operates local bus service in Durham Region, east of Toronto, serving cities and towns between Toronto and Oshawa. MiWay operates bus service in Mississauga to the west of Toronto. Most of its services are centred on the Square One shopping centre and many of its routes connect to subway Line 2 Bloor–Danforth at Islington station. Also, to the west of Toronto, there are three small cities (Brampton, Oakville and Burlington) that have their own local bus systems.

Toronto International airport (YYZ IATA) in Mississauga is served by GO commuter buses (to Yorkdale/York Mills), Mississauga, Brampton and Toronto local buses and a TTC bus (at regular fare, $3.25) directly to TTC's Kipling subway station in Toronto/Etobicoke. There's also the UP Express, a train direct to Union Station in Toronto/Downtown with on-board wi-fi (cash fare $12.35, or $9.25 with a Presto card, credit card or mobile app payment, as of Mar 2021).

Presto fare payment system[edit]

Paying by Presto card

Presto card is a multiple-use, electronic fare card with a stored balance; it is used by most public transit services in the Greater Toronto Area, including TTC, GO Transit and UP Express. Unless you are eligible for reduced senior/youth fares, it is simpler to use a credit or debit card instead of purchasing a Presto card.

Presto cards can be purchased for $4 plus a minimum balance ($5 or less) at the UP Express service counter at Pearson International Airport, from vending machines at subway stations and Pearson International Airport (cash, credit cards and debit cards accepted at the large black machines), at the GO Transit service counters at Union Station, TTC head office at Davisville station, Hamilton GO Centre in downtown Hamilton, and at Shoppers Drug Mart stores across the region. Presto cards are automatically configured to deduct adult fares. For reduced senior/youth fares, the customer must have the card's fare type changed at a purchase point (not a vending machine); a government-issued proof of age may be required.

Presto is an electronic fare payment system used by most transit systems in the Greater Toronto Area plus Hamilton and Ottawa. Presto is used by GO Transit and UP Express and the local transit agencies in Burlington, Brampton, Durham Region, Hamilton (HSR), Oakville, Ottawa (OC transpo), Mississauga (MiWay), Toronto (TTC) and York Region. Presto accepts payment by credit card, debit card, Presto card and (for TTC services only) Presto ticket. When you pay by credit or debit card, the standard fare is charged (i.e. no senior or youth discount available. Presto cards can be set for senior or youth discounts; see the Presto card infobox. For GO Transit and UP Express, you can tap a credit, debit or Presto card on a Presto reader but remember to tap off with the same card at your destination. For other systems such as the TTC that support Presto, tap your card against the Presto reader on the bus, streetcar or when passing through the subway faregates. To avoid accidental double charging, keep any unused credit or debit cards away from the Presto reader, and always use the same card during your trip. If travelling as a group, each rider must use a separate card. Debit card users may be charged a refundable pre-authorization fee.

The Presto ticket (different from the Presto card) is used only on the TTC. Unlike a Presto card, a Presto ticket has no stored value, and can only be used once for a specified period on TTC vehicles; it cannot be used on non-TTC vehicles. See the fares section of the Toronto article for details on Presto tickets.

Presto is not used by Via Rail trains nor by intercity bus routes not operated by GO Transit.

GO Transit[edit]

GO Transit operates a system of regional trains and buses within and near the Greater Toronto Area. Many of these services, especially trains, are oriented to weekday commuters travelling to and from downtown Toronto.

GO trains[edit]

The following table summarizes service levels on all seven GO Transit train lines. There may be seasonal variations; riders should check the GO Transit website for precise train times. In the following table: "rush-hour, peak direction" means inbound to Toronto during the morning rush hours, and outbound in the evening; "mid-day bidirectional" means two-way service between the morning and evening rush hours; "limited bi-directional service" means inbound service runs roughly from late morning to mid afternoon and outbound from about noon to early evening; "weekdays" excludes holidays. Trip times are for one-way trips from Toronto Union Station.

Service levels on GO Transit train lines (effective October 13, 2023)
Train line Toronto to/from Service Trip
Time
Lakeshore East Oshawa 7 days per week, 5:30 am to 12:30 am, every 15-30 minutes 1 hr
Lakeshore West Burlington (Aldershot) 7 days per week, 5:30 am to 12:30 am, every 15-30 minutes 50-70 min
Hamilton (West Harbour) 7 days per week, early morning to late evening, hourly service 70-80 min
Hamilton GO Centre Weekdays: Rush-hour, peak direction only
Niagara Falls (Ontario) Weekdays: Rush-hour, peak direction plus a two off-peak round runs
Weekends: 3–4 trains per day
2.5 hrs
Barrie Aurora Weekdays: Rush-hour, peak direction plus mid-day bi-directional service
Weekends: Limited bi-directional service
50 min
Barrie Weekdays: Rush-hour, peak direction plus one extra evening round-trip
Weekends: Limited bi-directional service
105 min
Stouffville Markham (Mount Joy) Morning to mid-evening service 50 min
Stouffville (Old Elm) Weekdays: Rush-hour, peak direction only
Kitchener Brampton (Mount Pleasant) Weekdays: Rush-hour, peak direction plus mid-day bi-directional service
Weekends: Hourly service, morning to late evening
50 min
Kitchener Weekdays: Rush-hour, peak direction plus a few extra round-trip runs 100 min
Richmond Hill Richmond Hill Weekdays: Rush-hour, peak direction only
Milton Milton Weekdays: Rush-hour, peak direction only

For tourists and visitors, GO Transit offers the Niagara Weekend GO Train Service to Niagara Falls year-round.

GO trains operate in trains of 6-to-12 double-decker passenger coaches. Each GO train has a Customer Service Ambassador, who is responsible for making station announcements, answering questions, and dealing with emergencies. The CSA is stationed in the Accessibility car (the 5th car behind the locomotive).

GO buses[edit]

The GO bus network is much more extensive than the GO train network serving areas or time periods without GO train services. Most GO bus routes operate out of bus terminals at various locations within and near the Greater Toronto Area.

In many cases, a GO bus will not stop unless you indicate you want to be picked up, even if you are standing at a bus stop. You must flag the bus down by raising your hand or ticket in the air as the bus approaches.

GO Transit bus routes often complement GO train service, or serve communities away from GO train lines. The following is a partial list of GO bus routes:

  • Barrie on route on route #68, transferring at Aurora GO station to the Barrie train route to Toronto, or on route #68B, transferring at East Gwillimbury GO station to route #65 to Toronto. Travel time to Toronto from Barrie is 2.5-2.75 hours.
  • Brantford on route #15, transferring at Aldershot GO station to the Lakeshore West train route to Toronto. Travel to Toronto from Brantford is 2.25 hours.
  • Guelph on route #33. Some trips operate directly to Toronto in 2.75-3.25 hours, including all trips on Saturdays and Sundays. Some trips from Monday to Friday involve a transfer at Mount Pleasant GO station to GO Transit's Kitchener train route with a trip time to Toronto from Guelph of 2.25 hours.
  • Hamilton on route #16 to Toronto in 1-1.25 hours.
  • Kitchener on route #30, available from Monday to Friday only. Transfer is required at Bramlea GO station to reach Toronto, on either GO Transit's Kitchener train route or route #33, depending on which is scheduled for the timed transfer. Travel time to Toronto from Kitchener 2.25 hours if trip involves the Kitchener train route and 2.5 hours if travel involves route #33.
  • Niagara Falls on route #12, transferring at Burlington GO station to the Lakeshore West train to Toronto. Travel to Toronto from Niagara Falls is 2.75-3 hours.
  • Peterborough on route #88, transferring at Oshawa GO station to the Lakeshore East train to Toronto. Travel time to Toronto from Peterborough is 3 hours.
GO fares[edit]

GO fares are the same on buses and trains, and are distance-based. Children 12 & under can ride for free on all GO Trains and buses. GO Transit does not have ticket counters at railway and bus stations, GO trains and buses have no on-board ticket vending machines, and bus operators do not accept cash.

Fares can be paid and validated by tapping a credit, debit or Presto card (more details at previous link) on a Presto fare reader, which are available at GO train station or platform entrance, and at the front of a GO bus. Unlike for credit and debit cards, Presto cards can be configured for senior (65+) and youth (13-19) discounts, which receive a 55% and 40% discount off regular (adult) Presto fares respectively. The fare for cards that use the Presto reader is 11.15% less than for paper tickets or e-tickets.

If you use a debit, credit or Presto card for fare payment, you must tap the card against Presto reader at the start of the trip, and again tap at the end. If you transfer between a GO train and a GO bus, or between two GO buses, you must tap off the first vehicle before tapping onto the next. For GO trains, customers tap in and out at the station or platform entrance/exit. For GO buses, you must tap both on and off inside the bus door. Remember to tap off when you disembark in order to avoid paying an excessive fare. To cancel a trip after tapping in but before departing, press the "correction" button on the Presto reader menu, and tap again. If your wallet has multiple credit/debit cards, keep other credit/debit cards away from the Presto reader to avoid multiple fare payments. People traveling together must each have a separate card.

When transferring between GO Transit and a local transit operator using Presto readers, you may be eligible for a free ride on that local transit system; just tap your credit, debit or Presto card on the local transit vehicle whether going to or from a GO Transit train or bus. The local fare will be refunded by the end of your trip.

Paper tickets can be purchased before boarding at a ticket vending machine at a station. There are 3 types of paper tickets: single-ticket, day pass and group pass (for up to 5 persons travelling as a group on the same ticket).

If you have a smartphone, you can buy e-tickets to pay your GO fare. Some GO promotions such as the weekend pass are available only with e-tickets. Senior discounts but not youth discounts may be available. Purchase your e-tickets online, after which an email will be sent to your smartphone's email address containing a link. Click the link on your smartphone to activate your e-ticket at least 5 minutes before you board your GO train or bus as it takes 5 minutes for the GO computer to validate your ticket. Once activated, the e-ticket is valid for 4 hours.

GO trains operate on the Proof-of-Payment system; passengers must possess a valid paper ticket, e-ticket or a tapped-on credit, debit or Presto card for the entire length of their journey before boarding a train. 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 carry a special handheld inspection device which allows them to electronically inspect a customer's credit, debit or Presto card to see if that card was used to purchase the fare).

GO trip planner[edit]

Here are a few tips for using the GO Transit trip planner. If you are departing or arriving at Toronto (downtown), enter "Union Station" rather than "Toronto". "Union Station GO" is the railway station, "Union Station Bus Terminal" is for GO buses, "UP Express Union Station" is for the airport train and "UNION STATION TTC" is the TTC subway station, all four of which are in close proximity. For downtown Hamilton, select "Hamilton GO Centre". However, for hourly train service to Hamilton, select West Harbour GO as Hamilton GO Centre has mostly bus service. Most GO train stations are identified by the location name followed by the acronym "GO", and most GO bus terminal names end with the words "bus terminal". Thus, "Newmarket GO" is the GO train station in Newmarket while "Newmarket GO Bus Terminal" is 2 km west of the railway station.

GO Transit also has a Full Schedules page with links to bus/train schedules by GO Transit corridor. The linked pages include route maps for the corridor.

By car[edit]

While it is expensive to park in downtown Toronto, driving remains convenient for many areas of the GTA (or necessary in the outskirts of GTA). Pay attention that Highway 407 is tolled. They charge based on distance and time of driving (highest charge during weekday rush hour, lowest at night and on weekends). You do not see toll booths. All tolls are charged electronically. An toll-free alternative to Highway 407 is Highway 401.

See[edit]

The City of Toronto is the biggest draw for visitors to the region and a good starting point to explore other reaches of the area. The CN Tower is North America's tallest free-standing structure, and takes visitors up nearly 450 m (1,480 ft) to observation decks, a restaurant, and a glass floor. From the observation decks, look toward the horizon to appreciate the sprawling scale of the GTA; silhouettes of high-rise apartments to the west in Mississauga are about 20 km (12 mi) away, and the shapes of tall smokestacks in Hamilton are are over 50 km (31 mi) away. Look downward to see how daily life throughout the GTA converges on a busy downtown core; day and night, the trains, buses, airplanes and expressways passing by the tower connect the downtown to the rest of the region and beyond.

Heritage[edit]

Formal gardens at the Parkwood Estate Gardens provide a nice spot to relax and explore the region's history in Oshawa.

Canada's history is woven into the GTA's oldest neighbourhoods. Monuments, protected buildings, and historic markers turn these areas into destinations for seeing what life was like several generations ago. Toronto's Old Town preserves some of the region's oldest buildings still accessible to the public, such as the St. Lawrence Market, the Cathedral Church of St. James, and various buildings in the Distillery District. Just north of Downtown is Casa Loma, an impressive castle completed in 1914, open for tours and overlooking the city from a small ridge. Head further north to North York to see Black Creek Pioneer Village, a living museum near York University.

In Toronto's suburbs, Old Oakville, has a few small buildings restored to the pioneer era, with costumed interpreters. Parkwood Estate Gardens in Oshawa is a grand private estate featuring architectural, landscape and interior designs of the early 20th-century English Arts and Crafts period. It operates as a museum and public garden. Unionville Main Street historic village developed in the 1840s in what was then Markham Township. As typical of a small village, it boasts numerous quaint period buildings in an idyllic surrounding.

Museums and Galleries[edit]

The Art Gallery of Ontario and the Royal Ontario Museum are among the largest in the country, with permanent collections and special exhibitions that could take your entire day to explore in detail.

In Vaughan, the McMichael Canadian Art Gallery focuses on Canadian art, including the Group of Seven and First Nations, Métis, and Inuit artists. In Brampton, the Peel Art Galley Museum and Archives presents local historic and contemporary art, and international pieces of interest to the communities of Peel while museum artifacts tell the stories of the towns and communities to the west of Toronto.

Science and Nature[edit]

In Toronto, the Ontario Science Centre is a vast hands-on museum with exhibits for all-ages, covering science and technology topics such as geology, physics, health, and astronomy. Immersive educational films are shown daily in Ontario's only IMAX dome. The Toronto Zoo occupies a huge area of land near Rouge Park in Scarborough, home to many exotic animals and Canadian wildlife.

Toward the western edge of the GTA in Burlington, the Royal Botanical Gardens preserves over 900 hectares (2,200 acres) of nature sanctuary that forms part of the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Reserve. With several gardens, an arboretum and conservatory, the complex is one of the largest botanical gardens in North America.

Do[edit]

Arts and Culture[edit]

Toronto has a busy live theatre calendar, including locally produced shows, shows being prepared for Broadway, and touring shows. Venues are focused in the Entertainment District and Yonge-Dundas. Smaller theaters located in the suburbs also offer quality programming throughout the year, including many shows for children. North of Toronto, York Region is home to the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts. Peel has the Brampton Rose Theatre and Mississauga Living Arts Centre, and Halton has the Oakville Centre for Performing Arts. These venues also host each city's local symphony orchestra, as well as visiting musical performers.

The Toronto International Film Festival, over 10 days in early September, is one of the leading film festivals in the world. Unlike the Cannes Film Festival, TIFF is open to film fans, showing a massive 245 films to almost half a million movie-goers in 2019. Through the rest of the year, the festival's headquarters at the TIFF Bell Lightbox is open to the public for screenings of Canadian and international cinema, special exhibits, and research at the provinces' film library

Sports[edit]

Toronto is represented in most of North America's major sports leagues, including the Toronto Blue Jays (baseball), the Toronto Maple Leafs (hockey), the Toronto Raptors (2019 National Basketball Association champions), the Toronto Argonauts (Canadian football), and Toronto FC (soccer/association football). Woodbine Raceway is a major horse racing venue in Toronto/Etobicoke.

Other professional or regional leagues can be a great way to experience popular Canadian sports up-close, or when the major leagues are sold old. For Hockey, check out the Toronto Marlies, (playing in the American Hockey League), the Mississauga Steelheads or Oshawa Generals (both in the Ontario Hockey League). The Raptors 905 play basketball in Mississauga, while Lacrosse is played by teams in Oakville and Whitby.

Outdoors and Recreation[edit]

Rouge National Urban Park includes parts of Markham, Pickering, Toronto, and Uxbridge.

Rouge Park is a 63-km² urban national park crossing the boundaries of the cities of Toronto, Markham and Pickering and the Township of Uxbridge. It has 13 hiking trails ranging from 500 m to 5 km and from easy to challenging.

Public beaches, playgrounds and picnic spots dot the Lake Ontario waterfront. The Toronto Islands are most central, but feel a world away thanks to the short ferry ride from the city and the panoramic view over the lake. The Burlington Beachway near the Hamilton border is popular among families in the west end of the GTA. The Great Lakes Waterfront Trail runs parallel to the shoreline connecting many of the parks together, but note some segments of the trail are on-road and shared with traffic.

Further from the lake, the Niagara Escarpment touches the GTA in Milton, providing the region with access to the Bruce Trail, scenic look-outs at Rattlesnake Point, and a small ski and snowboard hill popular with beginners at Glen Eden. In Vaughan, the Kortright Centre for Conservation provides 16km of trail through forests, marshland and meadow, and runs nature and environmental education programs for children and adults. Events range from demonstrating maple syrup production to displaying renewable energy technology. Uxbridge offers winter sports and hiking through the Oak Ridges Moraine, in the east reaches of the region.

Canada's Wonderland is a Cedar Fair theme park in Vaughan.

Events[edit]

The Canadian National Exhibition is an annual agricultural exhibition and carnival that combines food, technology, gardening, live entertainment, arts, sports, shopping and the Canadian National Airshow. Held each year in late-August until the first Monday in September, it has grown since 1879 to become a modern end-of-summer tradition not just for residents of Toronto, but for families throughout Ontario. For a taste of the small town fairs that once defined spring or summer throughout the rural parts of the GTA, head to the fairgrounds in Whitby (June) or Milton (September).

The Toronto Caribbean Carnival (formerly known as Caribana) is a huge Caribbean festival held over three weeks in July in early August, with parades and parties and music and dancing and food. It is the largest festival of Caribbean culture in North America, drawing over a million people, and serving as a reunion for people of the Caribbean diaspora in North America.

A huge LGBT Pride Festival and parade, held usually near the end of June, brings several hundred thousand people to downtown Toronto.

Buy[edit]

The busy main street of Toronto, Yonge Street, draws a more diverse collection of merchants with more independents than the malls.

There is a very authentic Chinatown in Toronto/Downtown, near the Kensington Market district. The Pacific Mall in Markham is also very Asian in character.

Toronto was once headquarters for two rival national department store chains, Eaton's and Simpsons, which both have either closed or been merged into other chains. The largest malls are the Toronto Eaton Centre and Hudson's Bay Centre in Toronto/Downtown, Yorkdale Mall at 401 and Allen Road in Toronto/North York, the Scarborough Town Centre in Toronto/Scarborough, Sherway Gardens in Toronto/Etobicoke and Square One in Mississauga.

Pickering (Ontario) operates an extensive indoor flea market on weekends.

Eat[edit]

New neighbourhoods around the GTA grew around old downtowns and main streets. Many still have a heritage village feel, but restaurants and markets cater to today's tastes.

A few national chains claim Toronto or its suburbs as home base; the Swiss Chalet roast chicken restaurants originated in Toronto and the Pizza Pizza delivery chain has strong enough ties to the city to have registered as a trademark the last seven digits of their heavily-advertised Toronto number, +1 416-967-1111. The Harvey's flame-broiled hamburger was first served in York Region. Many smaller regional chains grew from a successful single location to serve a growing suburban population.

Because of strong and growing immigrant communities, ethnic foods in Toronto are of good quality and comparable to those of the respective home countries. Dishes are often prepared by cooks and chefs from those countries and entice expatriates to travel around the region for a "taste of home". While authentic restaurants are found in each of the local main streets and downtowns, you'll also find dining gems scattered in some otherwise quiet neighbourhood strip malls and commercial areas, taking advantage of cheaper real estate and additional space to offer groceries or catering services in addition to dining.

In Toronto, you'll find Greek food on Danforth Avenue, Chinese foods in Chinatown, Caribbean food in Scarborough among others. Elsewhere in the GTA you'll find Indian foods in Brampton, Lebanese and Hakka cuisine in Mississauga, a variety of Chinese restuarants in Richmond Hill and Markham, or Italian in Vaughan. If a local refers you to their "local" spot for a particular dish, it may well be on the other side of the GTA and worth the trip.

Entire books have been written as collections of reviews of Toronto-area restaurants, which span every segment from takeaway foods to the most expensive of haute cuisine. Within Ontario, very high standards protect food safety and restaurateurs in most cities are legally required to post the results of regular inspections.

Toronto is home base to the Loblaw supermarket chain, one of the big three nationally (its rivals Métro from Montreal and Sobey's from Nova Scotia are also widely present). Loblaws city markets tend to be large stores with an assortment of sidelines, ranging from clothing to housewares.

Drink[edit]

Plenty of bars along Front St. in downtown Toronto.

Sleep[edit]

The widest range of accommodation is found in Downtown Toronto, especially in the Entertainment District and Yorkville. Hotels outside the core tend to be found along major highways, especially in Burlington, Oakville, Markham, and Mississauga around Pearson International Airport. Many of these suburban hotels are national chains and cater to travelers arriving by car.

Go next[edit]

Hamilton (in the west) pretty much picks up where the Toronto sprawl ends (with a bit of overlap), but it's the urban heart and gateway for communities that don't tend to associate with Toronto, with an food and arts scene all its own.

Some options for further travel include:

  • The Niagara Region - home to the Falls, the Shaw Theatre, a multitude of wineries, and many other tourist attractions.
  • Prince Edward County and Eastern Ontario - an opportunity to get out of the city, even pick your own apples and strawberries in season.
  • North of Barrie, Central Ontario - cottage country for many Torontonians. Head around the west side of Lake Simcoe toward Orillia and Muskoka, or head east through Peterborough and the Kawarthas toward Algonquin Park.
  • Many people in the region make regular trips to Collingwood through the winter months, drawn to the Blue Mountain resort village for skiing, snowboarding, and other outdoor activities. The town has a snowier climate than the GTA; a balmy, slushy winter in Toronto could still be a perfect day on the slopes.


This region travel guide to Greater Toronto Area is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.