12 Hours in Toronto
How to turn a layover in Toronto into an enjoyable leg of your trip.
Whether you planned a layover at Toronto Pearson International Airport or you find yourself hanging around Canada’s largest and busiest airport while en route to Europe or Asia, there are plenty of fun things to do in Toronto in just a few hours. To explore the city, an eight-hour layover is ideal. (Generally, for a layover of four hours or less, you’ll want to stick around the airport.) When planning your stop, check out these helpful tips when it comes to your luggage, travel visas and boarding passes during an international layover.
If your schedule permits you to leave the airport, you can take the UP Express – the direct rail line to Union Station – to get to the heart of downtown in about 25 minutes. Just a short walk from Union Station is the CN Tower, which should be on every traveler’s list as it holds the greatest views of Toronto. Steps from the CN Tower is Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, which is home to more than 160,000 animals. You can get up close and personal with stingrays, sharks and color-shifting jellyfish at the Dangerous Lagoon tunnel.
If you’re looking for something a bit more laid back than wandering an aquarium, check out Steam Whistle Brewery, which is one of the city’s top tourist attractions. Take a tour of this famous brewery, or just sit back and enjoy a beer or two. Another famous spot is St. Lawrence Market, a 200-year-old food hall filled with plenty of dining options. It was named the world’s best food market by National Geographic for good reason.
Hop in a cab and explore The Distillery District filled with shops, restaurants and entertainment. The district was previously known as the Gooderham and Worts Distillery, which was one of the largest distilleries in the world from 1831 through the late 20th century. Now, you can stroll the cobblestone streets and explore the unique shops and restaurants.
If you’re a hockey fan, or sports fan in general, plan a visit to the Hockey Hall of Fame located in the heart of downtown. Filled with interactive exhibits, unique memorabilia and the most famous trophy in sports, the Stanley Cup. If you’re stop in Toronto will be over night, head to Rodgers Centre if the Toronto Maple Leafs are in town to see one of the Original Six teams in the NHL.
Finally, no matter how much time you have, it’s important you try poutine, Canada’s famous dish of crispy fries, cheese curds and gravy. Located downtown, Poutini’s House of Poutine is a tourist destination, with traditional poutine, bacon poutine, BBQ pulled pork poutine and even vegan poutine. If you’re layover isn’t long enough to leave the airport, check out Smoke’s Poutinerie for your taste of the unique cuisine.
If 12 hours in Toronto sounds appealing, you’ll be happy to know that United States citizens traveling overseas via Air Canada can add a stopover in Toronto for no extra charge. Give us a shout on our Facebook page if you have any Toronto tips or if you have a great layover city we should highlight for our guests.