North America > Canada > Toronto
See: Why rent a car in Toronto ? | Why not? | Ratings | Summary | Comments
(All of these pages will look a lot nicer when they are tidied up later in the spring)
Your key questions for any destination:
Do I need a car in Toronto ?
Strictly speaking, there are very few travel destinations anywhere in the world where it's absolutely essential to rent a car in order to see the main points of interest.
That's why we give you loads of ratings scales from 1 to 10, rather than just yes or no answers!
- The need question is generally answered by looking at public transport (transit) options. Is it good enough for visitors who are happy to consider using it?
- How many public transport routes are there, and are they mainly rail or road (bus) based?
- Is public transport fast, frequent, safe, reliable and cheap?
- Does public transport actually take you to the places you'll probably want to see?
Is it worth hiring a car in Toronto ?
This question is usually more about value for money. For this, we look at Toronto car hire options, and consider how rental costs compare with using transit.
How far are you likely to drive anyway, and how much might you expect to spend on fuel, road tolls, parking and any other charges. We compare Toronto with other destinations locally and around the world.
This is obviously much more of an issue if you are planning a longer road trip than it is on a small island.
Should I rent a car in Toronto ?
This is basically a merging of the two questions. Everything else might be about giving certain facts about the costs of car rental or using public transport in Toronto , but answering this question is very much a matter of opinion.
Please note that Carornocar.com is currently being revised and updated in preparation for the Summer 2022 (northern hemisphere) tourist season.
We do not intent to include detailed covid information, nor do we intend to suggest hiring a car, just because public transport might still have a mask requirement. Our advice will be based on the same criteria we've always used, ie whether or not you can get a better travel experience, or at least a better value one, by choosing not to hire a car.
Toronto is in car rental price band: 6/10 (1 = cheapest car rental location)
General comment - based on price alone, is it worth renting a car in Toronto ?
Sometimes. Car rental is slightly more expensive than global averages.
Can you expect big swings in car rental prices in Toronto between the peak and the off peak season?
5/10 (0 = stable prices)
Driving score: 7/10
Non car score:3/10
(0 = car hire not advised / 10 = rental car essential)
General comment -
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.
Why? Visiting Toronto using a hire car
Why do you need a car in Toronto ?
- 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.
Why not? Visiting Toronto without a car
Why don't you need a car in Toronto ?
- 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.
Ratings: How does Toronto compare?
Is it worth hiring a car in Toronto ? TBC
This is based on a rough consideration of the costs of renting a car in Toronto , and how this compares with the costs of using public transport. The answer to this varies hugely from one destination to the next, based on a wide range of factors. It's based on renting a car at the airport (TBC), and driving for an average of 2-3 hours on open roads on most days.
How does this compare if:
You are travelling:
Solo / As couple / small family / larger family / senior couple etc
Does car rental make sense on different budgets?
Do you need to hire a car in Toronto ? TBC
This is based strictly on whether or no we think it's possible to visit Toronto (and the surrounding area) without using a car. Of the three key questions, this one is the most likely to be a "no".
Should you rent a car in Toronto ? TBC
This is a balance of all factors. Remember this is an answer to the question for people who are already asking it. That's why the answer might still be a "yes", even when public transport is good.
See global comparisons
Hiring | Driving | Parking
Trains | Buses | Local travel
Car hire basics:
Public transportation basics:
Regular bus services: YES
Coach (inter-city): YES
High Speed Rail:
Rail type (end stub / through / junction / hub):
As you start ....
Does Toronto airport have a direct rail link?
(Yes - within terminal / adjacent / short walk) (Yes - bus transfer / other) No
Has our advice for Toronto car rental changed over time, or has it been pretty constant?
2017 - 6
2019 - 7
2021 - 7
Average score - 7
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.
Do you or don't you need a car in Toronto ?