By North American standards, public transport in Toronto is quite good, as there is a network of suburban trains, metro and bus services. However, unless you are simply planning on doing in eastern Canada city break and perhaps also visiting Montréal, Ottawa and Quebec, then you almost certainly want to get out into the great outdoors.
There are more long-haul flights to Toronto then there are to any other city in Canada, so many people Toronto is the gateway to exploring the country by land. It goes without saying that considering the vastness of Canada and the fact that it is extremely sparsely populated outside the major cities, a hire car is an extremely good move.
For those who prefer getting around by train, then it doesn’t get more scenic than the Toronto to Vancouver rail trip, although all the good bits are significantly further west. Trains between Toronto and Quebec city, which also run through Ottawa and Montréal, are reasonably fast and frequent, although they are still some way off European high-speed rail standards.
- Despite a reasonable public transport network, Toronto is still a car city.
- Toronto is a natural starting point for a Canadian road trip (although if you are short of time, it would be better to start further west, for example in Edmonton or Calgary).
- Toronto’s subway system isn’t that good – it’s aimed more at commuters than tourists.
- Various bus (easy) or train (less frequent) options are available for getting to Niagara Falls.
- The city centre is compact, and connected by the PATH system of walkways.
- Attractions like the CN Tower are central, and easily reached using transit.
Do you need a car in Toronto? Conclusion — picking up a hire car in Toronto is the best option, unless you either just want to stick to the cities or want to explore the Canadian interior by train.
Verdict — yes