Everything you need to know to get around in Toronto


While downtown Toronto does not have a perfect grid pattern, it can be navigated relatively easily on foot and by public transit once you learn a few key points:

  • Yonge Street (pronounced yung) runs from Lake Ontario in the south to the Manitoba border in the north and is the longest street in Canada. It also separates the city from an East-West perspective. For example: 100 King Street West is one block West of Yonge and 230 Queen Street East is 2 blocks East of Yonge.
  • Just look up….way up to see the CN Tower a space needle like structure that towers above the city at 1815 feet or 553 meters.   The tower built by the Canadian National Railway opened in 1976 as a telecommunications tower and until the recent construction in Dubai it held the record for the tallest free standing structure. The CN Tower is a major landmark in Toronto to assist you in navigation.
  • Major streets Front, King, Queen, Dundas, College, Wellesley and Bloor run east-west and Spadina (pronounced Spa-dyna), York, Bay, Yonge and Jarvis all run north-south. All the major streets are also Toronto Transit Commission or TTC subway stops (except York and Jarvis).
  • If you walk south you will eventually reach the Lake and the Boatel
  • If all else fails open up a map (which we will provide you with) at a street corner and someone will likely offer assistance. It does seems surprising that in such a fast paced city, with everyone appearing to be on a mission to get somewhere that Torontonians are never too busy to help guests to the city.

Public Transportation

Riding the TTC Streetcar in TorontoToronto offers a clean and safe public transportation systems called the Toronto Transit Commission or TTC for short which is made up of Subway, Bus and Streetcars. They all use the cash, tokens or tickets which are available at the Boatel and at many retailers displaying a TTC Ticket Agent sign or at any subway stop. Bus and streetcar drivers do not sell tokens or provide change for a cash fare which is $3.00 for adults and $2.00 for seniors (65+). Tokens are good for any single ride for all modes of transportation and you can transfer from a streetcar to a bus or subway by getting a transfer which is available from the bus/streetcar driver or at red boxes at the entrance of the subway stations. On weekends and holidays it is beneficial to use a TTC Day Pass which is valid for 2 adults and up to 5 children for all-day travel. The Boatel has TTC Maps, Tokens and Day Passes available for guests.

You enter the street cars and buses from the front doors and exit from the doors in the middle and you request a stop by pulling on a cable located above the windows. A lot of newer buses and streetcars have an automated voice announcing all the stops but to be sure just let the bus driver know which stop you want to get off at so that he/she can call it out for you. Bus drivers are (usually) very helpful to visitors but keep your dialogue with the driver to a minimum to keep the line moving and the bus on schedule.

By Car or Taxi

Part of the benefit at staying at the Boatel is that you are centrally located with easy access to the downtown core of Toronto without the need of a car unless you are going to the zoo or to Niagara Falls for a day trip. While you can get around by car in Toronto, the stress of finding your way around and getting a parking spot in this busy city is hardly worth it. Available parking spots on downtown streets are scarce and parking regulations are strictly enforced by the large fleet of parking police. An expired meter will cost you more than the original hourly fee and parking on a prohibited street during rush hour is a $150 fine and your car may be towed. Green and White parking signs indicate when parking is allowed (usually a three hour limit) and Red and White signs indicate when parking isn’t allowed. Sound confusing? We suggest that if public transportation is not your thing then you are best getting a taxi (although it can be faster to walk at rush hour(s) than a taxi). Taxis are plentiful and can easily be flagged. Rates are set by the city and all taxis are metered.

Walking or Biking

Bringing your walking shoes because Toronto is pedestrian friendly and a wonderful way to discover the many parks and neighbourhoods within the downtown core. There are also a number of walking and biking tours available so just ask us for that information. If it’s too hot or raining then you can walk in Toronto’s underground network know as PATH, which is 16 mile/27km of underground tunnels connecting 1200 stores and restaurants, 48 office towers and subway stations. PATH runs from the Eaton Centre soBike Share Bikesuth to Union Station. But be prepared that you might not end up where you want because it is confusing, but then again you can always poke your head up above ground and get your bearings. The shops and restaurants in the PATH are only open during the day because they cater mainly to the many office towers within the financial core. Just look for the P A T H sign with each letter in a different colour indicating a different direction.

The Boatel has 2 bikes for rent or you can rent a BikeShare (aka BIXI) at one of the many bike stands located throughout the city. There are also rental bicycles (single, tandem and quad) available on Toronto Island on an hourly basis.

Travelling by Water

If you want a break from it all then Toronto Island is the place to go. See previous Blog Post on what to do on Toronto Island. Getting to Toronto Island is easy by using the 5-Star Water Taxi that picks you up near the Boatel. Adult fee is $10 for water taxi in Torontoa one way trip. Alternatively you can take the Toronto Island Ferry which is at the foot of Bay Street and Queens Quay (about a 15-20 minute walk) with a cost of $7.25 for adults or $4.25 for seniors and the return fee is included. Ferries run every 15 to 30 minutes but sometimes the lineup can be pretty long at the ferry terminal on weekends or holidays which is when you might want to take the water taxi instead. Just ask us for a ferry schedule or water taxi reservation.

kayak to Toronto IslandIt’s also fun to rent our Sea Eagle kayak for an afternoon ride over to Toronto Island or along the waterfront. Our inflatable kayak is perfect for beginners or experience kayak enthusiasts.

We can also arrange for your to get out on the water with one of the charter ships in the harbour.

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About Diane Greene

Diane Greene stepped off the corporate treadmill in 2004 for pursue a life of traveling and adventure. 10 years later she is still operating Toronto's only Boat Bed and Breakfast and travelling with her husband on Boatel, their 65 foot trawler in the US and Bahamas during the winter. Diane has three wonderful children and 3 grandbabies. Diane loves photography, travel and scuba diving.

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