What to do with six hours in the Toronto airport?
August 8, 2009 3:07 AM   Subscribe

What should I do with a six-hour layover in Toronto?

That's right - 6 hours. Just enough time to get really bored in the airport, and I'm not sure if it's enough time to get into the city center for a meal or a drink. Anyone who knows Toronto, please let me know what you think I should do with my extra hours. Also, please give information about the best method of transport into and out of the city.
posted by angab to Travel & Transportation (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You should probably allow an hour to get downtown. It'll likely take less, but travel in Toronto should always have contingencies.

Favourite method for me is the TTC #192 Bus. It's cheap, fairly frequent, and you can stop somewhere other than just downtown.
posted by scruss at 3:56 AM on August 8, 2009

(I really meant to use the 192 to connect to the subway. Kipling station, where the 192 terminates, is by no means downtown.)
posted by scruss at 3:57 AM on August 8, 2009

The Airport Express costs about $30 round trip, and only leaves every 20-30 minutes, but might be faster than the bus/subway route if you really want to go downtown. It can drop you right near Union Station, so depending on what you want to do (see the CN tower? Have you been to Toronto before?), you will be quite close.
posted by cider at 4:50 AM on August 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

As scruss said, #192 bus + subway works well. That'll cost you the single TTC fare, and you can stop anywhere on the TTC network. I don't think the airport express will save you much more than 15 minutes, depending on where you go, but you will have less to worry about (navigating the subway system, making transfers, carrying your luggage).

It's really hard to suggest things if you don't tell us what kind of things you want to do and what time/day you'll be there. Also, the 6 hours is from arrival until departure? If that's the case, you'll only comfortably have 2 hours in the city (0.5 hr arrival, 1.5 hr bus/subway, 1 hr to check in for departure)...
posted by bread-eater at 5:50 AM on August 8, 2009

Have you been to Toronto before? Are you Canadian? It's hard to know what to suggest.

It might be best to find your way down to Queen Street West and just walk along between city hall at one end and Queen and Spadina at the other. You can go further than Spadina though, and I'd recommend doing that if you have time. After that you could walk north a little way (right up Spadina, why not?) and see some of the Chinese area and then Kensington Market. You'll see some shops, you'll have a view (at a distance) of the CN Tower, and you'll get a taste for the city. I wouldn't recommend visiting the CN Tower specifically as you'll be flying over the city in a plane anyway - seems a little redundant. Don't bother with the Eaton Centre mall either - you can go to the mall anywhere.

I'm so envious of you, even if you only have a few hours. I spent six months on a working holiday in Toronto and coming from a sleepy English market town it was like visiting a better future.
posted by SebastianKnight at 6:18 AM on August 8, 2009 [2 favorites]

With two hours back and forth and an hour to get re-connected, you won't have much time. That airport is inconveniently located, to say the least.

TTC192 and the Subway is the preferred route most of the time (subway stops are right downtown in the interconnected walkways, convenient if you can find them again), but the direct-to-downtown-and-backness of the Airport Express can't be beat for your situation. I'd spend the extra money for that convenience. (A hotel lobby is a nicer place to wait for your return shuttle, too.)

Even if you chicken out on the commute, it's a decent airport in terms of things to do/buy/eat. Much better than LAX or LaGuardia, that's for sure. About the same as SeaTac or Heathrow.
posted by rokusan at 6:20 AM on August 8, 2009

If I had a six hour layover here, I'd want to stretch my legs, get a bite to eat, and maybe drink a beer. First, head to the public bus (#192) stop. It's on the lower level - you can either pay with exact change ($2.75) on the bus or you can buy a token at the currency exchange booths near the baggage claims. Take the bus to Kipling Subway station which is the very end of the subway. Here's the subway map. It will take about an hour to an hour twenty to get downtown from the airport (it all depends on how long you have to wait for the bus).

From there, and for a simple visit, I would probably get off at the Bathhurst stop, which is the beginning of Toronto's Annex neighborhood, which is sort of a student area and there are lots of places to grab a bite and a beer. This website has a good listing of restaurants, bars, cafes, etc in the neighborhood (use the drop down menu on the right).

Anyway, after hanging out in this neighboorhood, I'd walk straight east down Bloor Street until you get to Yonge Street - it's about a 2 km walk (here's a map). Along the way, you'll see Honest Ed's, The bulk of the Annex, Part of the University of Toronto, The Royal Conservatory, The Royal Ontario Museum, and the Fancy Shopping Area of Bloor & Bay. And Yonge street, you gan either head north by a block or two and visit the ritzy area of Yorkville, walk South down Yonge and see all sorts of eateries and shops, or hop back on the subway and go back to the airport. If I had extra time and a few extra bucks, I'd have a beer and take in the view of downtown from the outside patio of Panorama on the 51st floor of the Manulife Centre (which is between Bay and Yonge on Bloor). Beers are pricey there, though, but the view is great.

Anyway, no matter what you do, have a good visit!
posted by Staggering Jack at 6:30 AM on August 8, 2009 [2 favorites]

Even if you chicken out on the commute, it's a decent airport in terms of things to do/buy/eat. Much better than LAX or LaGuardia, that's for sure.

This depends on where you're going. Terminal 1 is pretty cool, but the U.S.-bound part of Terminal 3 is a wasteland (not even as good as LaGuardia).
posted by oaf at 6:49 AM on August 8, 2009

Yeah, what Staggering Jack said. Plus, if you go to Yorkville you might see whichever famous people are in Toronto that day (oh, and you should stop for ice cream at Summer's on Yorkville Ave.--yummy!). I saw the Real Madrid boys wandering around there this past Thursday, which was great if you're into European leprechauns.
posted by Go Banana at 7:06 AM on August 8, 2009

If you just want to leave the Airport for a meal, and it's during the day, I'd suggest Dim Sum at Grand Chinese Cuisine at the Doubletree hotel. It's an airport hotel, so a short, inexpensive cab ribe from the airport. Their dinner menu, on the other hand, is reported to be not so great.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:57 AM on August 8, 2009

Honestly - the last time I had a 6-hour layover in YTO, it was alot less in "real-time", as it was an international transfer and I had to switch terminals, more security, etc.

You're best bet is to find a "lounge" and relax if possible. When is it? I have an Air Canada lounge coupon I could send you (I ain't gonna use it before it expires)
posted by jkaczor at 9:42 AM on August 8, 2009

Thanks all for your suggestions. Sorry for not having been more specific earlier. I'll be arriving around noon tomorrow (Sunday), so I thought swinging into Toronto for lunch would be cool, as I've never seen the city before. And I shouldn't have to worry about traffic at that time/day...right?

I am flying from Dublin to Toronto, then on to Denver. So yes, the terminal (or what I saw of it on the way over to Ireland) was a wasteland as oaf said.

And jkaczor, I would typically think the same, but a four-hour layover a week ago in the same place felt like about 10 years, which is what made me think heading into the city was a good idea with the extra two hours.

Thanks all for the suggestions! I look forward to seeing Canada tomorrow.
posted by angab at 11:37 AM on August 8, 2009

And I shouldn't have to worry about traffic at that time/day...right?

You always have to worry about traffic in Toronto.

I mean, you can probably get to the city and back in time to make your flight, but I'd only try to do one thing, and don't dawdle.
posted by AV at 12:32 PM on August 8, 2009

Just so you know, all taxis between downtown and the airport are flat fee. I live near Bloor and Bathurst and it's something like $46. If you're willing to drop a bit more than $100, this would be the fastest way to get somewhere central quickly. The 192 Rocket + subway ride from Kipling is an hour if things line up nicely. The cab tends to be 35 minutes in my experience. Of course, the transit route costs you a grand total of $5.50.
posted by Beardman at 4:01 PM on August 8, 2009

I second SebastianKnight's suggestion of strolling down queen street, and seeing chinatown and kensington market. If you like walking, continue west on queen street, between spadina and bathurst are nice bars, shops and restaurants, and past bathurst the art galleries begin. Continue on past ossington, and stop at Poutini's for poutine!
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 6:39 PM on August 8, 2009

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