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12 Things to Know BEFORE Visiting the Toronto Islands

12 Things to Know BEFORE Visiting the Toronto Islands

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After spending time exploring Toronto, we decided to pay a visit to the nearby Toronto Islands. I think it’s the perfect place to escape from the city for a few hours, although we wanted to stay even longer!

The Toronto Islands is a group of 15 islands that are all connected by bridges, paths, and walkways, and you can walk from one side to the other in an hour. These picturesque, vehicle-free islands are just a 15-minute ferry ride from Toronto, and there’s so much to do here!

When we visited while spending a weekend in Toronto, we enjoyed the beaches, checked out historic sites, and cycled around the whole network of islands! There’s also a petting zoo, an amusement park, and places to rent kayaks and SUP boards. Plus, you get amazing views of Toronto’s skyline – especially at sunset!

Basically, the Toronto Islands are a must-visit while you’re in the city. They’re really easy to get to and a lot of fun to explore. In fact, in terms of day trip destinations from Toronto, we’d say that the Toronto Islands are second only to Niagara Falls! So with that in mind, let’s dive into everything you need to know before visiting the Toronto Islands.

Don’t have time to read the full article? One of our favorite ways to explore the Toronto Islands is by bike! You can take this morning bike tour to see a good bit of the islands. Or for that golden light, this evening bike tour lets you watch a beautiful sunset over the Toronto skyline as you cycle around the islands.

Table Of Contents
  1. 1. About the Toronto Islands 
  2. 2. Where are the Toronto Islands?
  3. 3. How do you get to the Toronto Islands? 
  4. 4. Which is the best island to visit on the Toronto Islands? 
  5. 5. What are the best things to do on the Toronto Islands?
  6. 6. What are the best tours to the Toronto Islands?
  7. 7. Where are the best places to eat on the Toronto Islands?
  8. 8. Can you stay on the Toronto Islands? 
  9. 9. How long do you need to visit the Toronto Islands? 
  10. 10. How do you get around the Toronto Islands?
  11. 11. Are the Toronto Islands suitable for kids? 
  12. 12. Are the Toronto Islands worth visiting? 
  13. Other Things to do While You’re in Toronto
  14. Where to Stay in Toronto
  15. Thanks for reading!

1. About the Toronto Islands 

Daniel and Bailey pose for a photo while on the Toronto Islands, Canada
Such a relaxing place to visit in the heart of Toronto!

There are 15 Toronto Islands that span around 820 acres (331 hectares) in total, which is a similar size to Central Park in New York City

It’s about 5 kilometers (3 miles) to walk from one side of the island network to the other, so you can explore it all in a day. 

The Toronto Islands were once a peninsula. They were first used by Indigenous people for ceremonial gatherings, and they’re sacred land for the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. The islands were bought by the British as part of the Toronto Purchase in 1787, and the first buildings went up in the 1790s. The Gibraltar Point Lighthouse was built in 1808, and you can still go and visit it today – but more on that later. 

In 1852, a huge storm separated the peninsula from the mainland, turning it into an island. A breakwater was built, but then destroyed by another storm in 1858. 

After that, the Toronto Islands began to develop as a popular summer holiday destination for city dwellers. A baseball stadium was constructed where the legendary Babe Ruth hit his first ever professional home run – although sadly, this stadium no longer exists. 

Nowadays, the Toronto Islands are home to around 700 residents, who live on Ward’s and Algonquin Island, which are the easternmost islands. It’s pretty rare for people to move on and off of the island. In fact, since 1994, only 70 houses have been sold – that’s just one or two each year. 

If you want to buy a house on Ward’s or Algonquin Island, you must apply to get on a special list to register for a lottery and then pay a $50 CAD annual fee to stay on the list. There are about 500 people on the list and when a property goes up for sale, 150 people get a chance to make an offer. Talk about a competitive housing market! 

Another cool thing to note about the Toronto Islands is that there are some fantastic birds here, too. On a trip to the Toronto Islands, you can see mute and trumpeter swans, belted kingfishers, American goldfinches, and several different species of herons. If you paddle out on the water like on this sunset canoe tour, you might also see minks, beavers, and muskrats. 

2. Where are the Toronto Islands?

Views of Toronto skyline from the back of ferry on the way to the Toronto Islands
Views of the Toronto skyline from the back of the ferry on the way to the Toronto Islands

The Toronto Islands are located in Lake Ontario, just off the coast of Toronto. This means you get amazing views of the city skyline as you explore the islands! The ferry ride only takes about 15 minutes, so it’s super easy to get here. 

Related Read: If your trip includes a stop in Quebec, be sure to read our guide to the best Niagra Falls tours from Montreal!

3. How do you get to the Toronto Islands? 

A ferry leaves Toronto and heads to the Toronto Islands to transport guests
The ferry!

Toronto Island Ferry

The most popular way to get to the Toronto Islands is via the Toronto Island Ferry. During the summer, the ferry runs from Jack Layton Ferry Terminal to Ward’s Island, Centre Island, and Hanlan’s Point. During the winter months, the ferry only goes to Ward’s Island. 

When you buy a ferry ticket, it’s valid for all three islands, and then you can decide which one you want to visit first. To be honest, it doesn’t really matter, as it’s so easy to walk or cycle between the islands anyway! But during the summer, the Centre Island ferry is the most popular. 

Ferries depart every 20-60 minutes throughout the day, but the schedule for each island is slightly different, and changes throughout the year. The best thing to do is check the schedule here before you go. You can also use this handy website to check live ferry times to and from all three islands on the day of your visit. 

You can buy your ferry tickets in person on the day, or you can book them in advance online. We recommend the latter option because the ticket lines can be really long! However, if you buy tickets online, you can skip all of that and enter through a separate gate, which saves a ton of time. 

Plus, you don’t have to use your tickets on a specific date as they’re valid for a year after purchase, so you won’t lose money if your plans change. 

Return ticket prices are as follows: 

  • $9.11 CAD for adults 
  • $5.86 CAD for seniors over 65
  • $5.86 CAD for teens aged 14-19 
  • $4.29 CAD for kids aged 3-13
  • Free for infants aged 0-2

The ferry is the cheapest way to get to the Toronto Islands, but it’s also the most popular. During the summer, you’ll almost certainly have to stand up during the ride. It’s only 15 minutes long though, and you’ll be distracted by the spectacular city views anyway!

One thing to note is that ticket officials might take your ticket on the way over to the Toronto Islands. If this happens, don’t worry, as you don’t need to show a return ticket on your way back to Toronto. 

You can catch the ferry back from any of the Toronto Islands. For example, if you took the ferry to Hanlan’s Point, you can board your return ferry at Ward’s Island (or vice versa!).

How to get to Jack Layton Ferry Terminal 

Jack Layton Ferry Terminal can be found along Toronto’s harbourfront, where Queens Quay and Bay Street intersect. There’s parking nearby but it’s pricey at $25 CAD per day, so if you’re staying downtown you’re better off taking an Uber! 

You can also walk to the ferry terminal from lots of the central hotels, or take the subway to Union Station. From there, it’s a 15-minute walk or you can catch the 509 or 510 streetcar to the terminal. 

Bailey sits on the ferry to the Toronto Islands from downtown Toronto
On the ferry!
Daniel on the ferry to the Toronto Islands in Toronto
The views of the city!

Water Taxi

If you don’t like the thought of a crowded ferry, you can always take a water taxi over to the Toronto Islands instead. The water taxis are more expensive than the ferry at around $12.50 CAD each way, but they’re very convenient and there are some fun themed options available. Plus, you’re guaranteed a seat. 

You can also take a water taxi out to the Toronto Islands, and then catch the ferry back to the city for free! Like with the ferry, you can take a water taxi to either Hanlan’s Point, Ward’s Island, or Centre Island. You can’t usually book water taxis in advance, but they depart more frequently than the ferry and don’t have super long ticket queues. You can just turn up and hop in!

Toronto Harbour Water Taxi 

Toronto Harbour Water Taxi is Toronto’s oldest water taxi company, and they can take you out to the Toronto Islands for $12.50 CAD per person each way during the summer. There’s also a $1 CAD fee if you don’t have any cash. 

You can board at 5 Queens Quay West or 207 Queens Quay West and from June to September they run from 9 am – 10 pm daily. The service does operate during the shoulder months of May and October as well, but the hours change from day to day so it’s best to call ahead and find out. 

Harbour Tours Toronto Water Taxi

Harbour Tours Toronto Water Taxi is another reputable water taxi company. They run weekend services to the Toronto Islands in May, and then every day from mid-June until the end of September. 

Water taxis depart from 145 Queens Quay West every 15 minutes during the week, and every 5-10 minutes during the weekend, so you’ll never have to wait for long. 

Prices are $12.50 CAD per person each way, plus a $1.50 CAD card transaction fee. If you’ve got a big group, you can also contact the company about a private ride! 

A water taxi station to the Toronto Islands
A water taxi station to the Toronto Islands

Tiki Taxi 

For something fun and a little different, you can take a Tiki taxi boat out to the Toronto Islands! These thatched-roof bamboo boats give off serious holiday vibes, and they play fun music on the way over, too. If you’re heading out to the Toronto Islands for a fun beach day with friends, we think that this is a great way to kick things off. 

The Tiki taxi costs $12 CAD per person each way, and there’s no card fee because they don’t take cash. You can find them at 437 Queens Quay West, which is where Queens Quay intersects with Spadina. They’re open from 10 am until 8 pm on weekdays, and from 9 am until 8 pm on weekends. 

Pirate Taxi 

In a similar fashion, the Pirate Taxi is another fun way to get out to the Toronto Islands. This is a great option if you’re traveling with kids! 

You can find the Pirate Taxi at either their HTO Park location or Harbourfront Centre location, and buy tickets either on the day or in advance online. They even have an app you can use! 

Tickets cost $12 CAD each way and hours of operation change from month to month, so we recommend checking online. However, during peak season taxis usually run from mid-morning until pretty late at night – sometimes as late as midnight. 

4. Which is the best island to visit on the Toronto Islands? 

map of the Toronto Islands
Map of the Toronto Islands

If you’re only going to visit one of the three main islands, then we would recommend Centre Island. However, that’s not really necessary as it’s possible to visit them all! It’s about a 5-kilometer (3-mile) walk from Hanlan’s Point, which is the westernmost Toronto Island, over to Ward’s Island, the easternmost island. 

This is also why we think renting a bike is so great, as you can easily cycle around all of the 15 islands in just a few hours! We saw pretty much everything and still had plenty of time to chill. 

We’ll go through the highlights of the three main islands so you can decide which to visit or be like us and visit them all!

Hanlan’s Point

If chilling out is your main goal when visiting the Toronto Islands, then head to Hanlan’s Point. It’s the quietest of the three islands that the ferry goes to.

It’s home to the historic Gibraltar Point Lighthouse, which is one of the oldest lighthouses in Canada, and there are plenty of places to play sports. There are volleyball nets on the beach, a baseball diamond, tennis courts, and grass. 

The beach here is super scenic and it’s the best place to watch the sunset over the Toronto skyline. However, do bear in mind that it’s a nude beach, so if that’s not your thing then you might be better off visiting one of the other islands instead. 

Centre Island

Centre Island is the most popular of the Toronto Islands. As the name suggests, it’s smack dab in the middle of the Toronto Islands, so it has the most things to do. 

The Centreville Amusement Park is here, which is awesome for kids and home to over 30 rides. There’s also a free petting zoo here, so Centre Island is a must for families looking for free and cheap Toronto activities

There are beaches where you can sunbathe, or you can rent kayaks and canoes and paddle out on the water. You’ve also got washroom facilities here, as well as beautiful gardens and a pier that extends out over Lake Ontario. 

And as you’d probably expect from the Toronto Islands’ tourist hotspot, there are several places to eat and drink. Alternatively, you can enjoy a picnic in the parklands as you enjoy views of the Toronto skyline. Dreamy! 

Ward’s Island 

Ward’s Island is one of just two Toronto Islands where people actually live all year round. As we mentioned earlier, competition to live here is pretty fierce, with would-be buyers paying $50 CAD a year just to have the chance to make an offer. It’s kind of a crazy system, but it has prevented the island from being overtaken by tourism and holiday homes. 

Ward’s Island is really nice to explore and honestly, we can see why some people are so keen to live here! It’s very scenic and Ward’s Island Beach is one of the best around. There’s also a disc golf course, a nice boardwalk you can stroll along, and one of the Toronto Islands’ very best eateries – the Riviera Ward’s Island Kitchen

5. What are the best things to do on the Toronto Islands?

Visit the Island Church

St. Andrew-by-the-Lake church on the Toronto Islands, Canada
St. Andrew by-the-Lake Church on the Toronto Islands, Canada

St. Andrew by-the-Lake Church is a charming little church on Centre Island. It’s actually no longer right by the water’s edge because it had to be moved in 1959 after it was sold to the city’s Parks department, 

The church was originally built in the late 1800s and its style is a curious mix of Gothic, Medieval, and Stick-style architecture. It’s definitely worth checking out this historic church and snapping a few photos as you explore Centre Island. 

Go to Far Enough Farm

Far Enough Farm is a volunteer-run petting zoo on Centre Island, just a short walk from the dock. It’s got cute, traditional-style red barns and the staff here are super friendly and welcoming, so it’s a really wholesome thing to do on the Toronto Islands. 

You can meet lots of adorable animals here including llamas, guinea pigs, rabbits, Cameroon dwarf goats, and mini pot-bellied pigs. If you’re visiting the Toronto Islands with kids this is a must, but if you love animals then this is a pretty fun experience no matter how old you are!

Far Enough Farm opens daily from 9 am until 4 pm from June until August, and on weekends during May and September. Entry is free but donations are encouraged, as the money goes towards caring for the animals.

See the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse

Gibraltar Point Lighthouse on the Toronto Islands
Gibraltar Point Lighthouse
Door at the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse
Cute door!

On the southern end of Hanlan’s Point Island, you’ll find the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse. It’s a historic lighthouse – one of the oldest in the country in fact – with a super creepy history. 

The lighthouse was inhabited by J.P. Rademuller, who is said to have been the first permanent resident of the Toronto Islands. The story goes that during the War of 1812, Rademuller would sell bootlegged beer to soldiers in order to make a bit of extra money. However, one night, a fight broke out between Rademuller and two of his customers, and they killed and dismembered him. 

The soldiers were never convicted of Rademuller’s murder, as his body was never officially found. Skeletal remains were found near the lighthouse, but this was way before DNA testing, so it was never confirmed whose bones they were. Still, it’s said that Rademuller’s ghost can be heard howling inside the lighthouse at night…

Relax at one of the beaches 

Views of Toronto city from a beach on the Toronto Islands, Canada
Head to the beach!

There’s a reason why locals and tourists flock to the Toronto Islands during summer in Toronto: the beaches! 

There are four long stretches of beach on the Toronto Islands where you can relax, swim, and soak up the sun. Hanlan’s Point Beach and Ward Beach even have Blue Flag status, which means that they meet very high environmental standards. 

Hanlan’s Point Beach is about a 10-minute walk from the dock. The boat here is less crowded and the beach tends to be quieter, too, so it’s perfect for a relaxed day out. The beach has a clothing optional section, but if that’s not your thing there’s another section where everyone in sight will have at least a bathing suit on. 

Centre Island Beach is the most popular, and it has the most facilities. There are toilets nearby and places to eat and drink, as well as lockers where you can store your belongings while you swim or lounge on the sand. And if you want to get away from the crowds, Gibraltar Point Beach is much quieter and just a 10-minute walk away. 

We also like Ward’s Island Beach! Since this island is residential, the beach tends to be quieter, although there are toilets, a soccer field, and a beach cafe nearby. The only thing is that this isn’t the best beach to cycle to, as there are limited bike racks and it’s rare to find a lockup spot after mid-morning. 

Canoe or SUP the canals

We love canoeing and SUP-ing pretty much anywhere, but it’s extra special on the Toronto Islands because you get to explore the canals between the islands and enjoy amazing views of the city as you go. 

If you want to rent a canoe or a kayak, you can head to the blue Boat House on Centre Island, right next to the pier. It costs $30 CAD an hour for a canoe, $19 CAD an hour for a one-man kayak, and $38 CAD for a tandem kayak. The hourly fee drops after the first hour.

For SUP boards, head to Toronto Island SUP on Ward’s Island, right next to the Algonquin Bridge. You can rent a board or a kayak for $30 CAD for the first hour and then $10 CAD an hour after that. They also offer SUP and kayak lessons if you’re nervous about going out on the water. 

Also, do bear in mind that you usually need to leave a valid form of ID as a deposit, so bring your passport or driver’s license with you if you want to rent a canoe or SUP. 

Ride a bike around the Island

Daniel poses for a photo in front of a cute house on the Toronto Islands, Canada
The Toronto Islands are so cute!
Daniel rides a bike with a tour group at the Toronto Islands
It’s a great way to explore!

We loved taking bike tours in Toronto, so it’s no surprise that one of our favorite parts of visiting the Toronto Islands was cycling around the entire island network. You can walk, of course, but cycling is way faster and allows you to see pretty much everything, while still having time to enjoy the beaches and cafes. 

The Toronto Islands are vehicle-free (except for work vehicles) so there’s no traffic to worry about.

We went on this morning cycling tour of the Toronto Islands and loved it, but you can also rent a bike and explore by yourself if you prefer. There’s a bike rental shop next to the Centre Island pier. It’s $10 CAD an hour to rent a regular bike or $19 CAD an hour for a tandem. Again, you’ll need to leave an ID with the cashier as a deposit. 

You can also bring a bicycle over from Toronto on the ferry or water taxi for free.  

Explore Centreville Amusement Park

Centreville Amusement Park is perfect for a family day trip to the Toronto Islands. It’s got over 30 kid-friendly rides, like teacups, bumper cars, antique cars, a Ferris wheel, and coasters. There’s nothing scary or adrenaline-fuelled here – it’s very much geared towards kids, not thrill seekers. 

There are also a bunch of food stands where kids can get their fill of sugary treats. 

Entry to the amusement park is free but you have to pay to go on the rides. When you buy tickets online, a day pass costs $40.71 CAD for kids over 4, who can go on most of the rides unaccompanied. For kids aged 3 and under, it costs $31.64 CAD, but they need to be accompanied by an adult or older child. Tickets at the gate are more expensive, so make sure to buy them online at least one day in advance.

The park is open from June until August, and then it opens on weekends during September before closing for the winter. During peak season, it’s usually open from 10:30 am until sometime between 5 pm to 8 pm, but this does vary so it’s best to check the official calendar to be sure.

Take in the views of Toronto’s skyline

Bailey and Daniel pose for a photo at the ferry terminal on the Toronto Islands with a view of Torontos skyline in the background
Even on a smoky day, the views are epic!

We keep saying it, but the views of Toronto’s skyline really are awesome from the Toronto Islands. You can see the famous CN Tower and all of the other skyscrapers that make up the iconic cityscape. Toronto has one of the best skylines in the world, so don’t take this view for granted! 

Related Read: For another unique view, you can visit Casa Loma – a castle in downtown Toronto that was built as a private residence in 1914!

Walk around the islands

Another fun (and free) thing to do on the Toronto Islands is just to walk around them! All of the different islands are connected by bridges and walkways, so you can traverse the entire network on foot, which is pretty cool. 

For example, you can walk from Hanlan’s Point on the west side of the island to Ward’s Island on the east (or vice versa) in around an hour. So you could easily take things at your own pace and just spend a couple of hours wandering around the island, stopping off at cafes, beaches, and points of interest. 

Play disc golf

Disc Golf on the Toronto Islands in Toronto, Canada
Disc golf on the Toronto Islands in Toronto, Canada

Disc golf is much quicker to play than regular golf, and it’s a great way to get some exercise. It’s a lot of fun to play, and it’s an up-and-coming sport in the US and Canada. It’s like regular golf, except instead of balls, clubs, and holes, you use discs and baskets. Easy! 

So whether you’re a pro or want to try it out for the first time, you can do so right here on the Toronto Islands at the disc golf course on Ward’s Island. It’s a challenging course with water hazards, and there are different layouts for different ability levels. It takes about 2 hours to complete, and it’s popular because of the amazing views of downtown Toronto from here. 

6. What are the best tours to the Toronto Islands?

Bailey rides a bike along a boardwalk on the Toronto Islands in Toronto, Canada
Bailey rides a bike along a boardwalk on the Toronto Islands in Toronto, Canada

Toronto Islands Morning Bike Tour

We did this morning bike tour and loved it! It starts in downtown Toronto, and you take the ferry over to the islands with your group. Then spend the morning cycling around and enjoying the gorgeous views. We really liked exploring the residential areas of the islands and seeing the pretty houses, and our guide shared lots of insider info about the islands that we wouldn’t otherwise have known. 

We also visited the Royal Canadian Yacht Club and the haunted Gibraltar Point Lighthouse, which was cool. The tour lasted for about 3.5 hours from the time we met our guide downtown at 8:30 am, and it was super comprehensive. We saw pretty much everything!

Don’t worry if you’re not an avid biker either, we moved at a relaxed pace and made lots of stops, so it didn’t feel like the Tour de France! We loved this tour so much that we think it’s one of the best tours available in Toronto.

The tour costs $113 CAD per person, and we thought it was so worth it. Our guide was great and the fact it’s a small group tour (maximum 10 people) means you get a friendly and personal experience. The morning bike tour is pretty popular, so make sure to reserve your spot in advance here!

Toronto Islands Evening Bike Tour

This evening bike tour is very similar to the morning bike tour, but you get to experience the Toronto Islands at golden hour and then enjoy a beautiful sunset over the city skyline as you explore.

As with the morning tour, you meet in downtown Toronto and then catch the ferry with your group over to the islands. The fact that it takes place in the evening means that you get to avoid the midday heat, and there’s also an extra stop at a local cafe for dessert. The tours tries to time that sunset perfectly, so it leaves at 4:30 pm in the spring and fall (when sunset is earlier) and around 6 pm in the summer months.

Having done the morning version of this tour, we can safely say that the guides are excellent and the route is really well-thought-out. This is a great way to experience the Toronto Islands if you haven’t got long in Toronto and can’t come for the entire day. 

The tour costs $111 CAD and it’s such a great way to experience the beauty and charm of the Toronto Islands. If you want to enjoy a magical sunset while on the Toronto Islands, book this evening bike tour online here.

Guided Bicycle Tour – Toronto Waterfront, Island, and Distillery

We think that this bike tour is awesome for those who are short on time in Toronto because it takes you on an epic cycling adventure around the Distillery District, the Harbourfront, and the Toronto Islands. 

Having a guide take you around the Distillery District is awesome because this place has such an interesting history. There’s actually only one true distillery left now! 

You’ll also ride the whole way across the islands past beaches, the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse, and lots of scenic spots. You’ll be guided by a local who knows all about the islands and how they fit in with the rest of this huge and varied city. This is such a great way to either get your bearings in Toronto or cover a lot of ground if you’re not here for very long. 

The tour lasts for 3 hours and at $105 CAD per person, it’s good value for money because you see a ton! To see as much of Toronto (including the islands) as possible in a short time, book your guided bicycle tour here.

SUP or Kayak Eco Tour in Toronto Islands

If you’re keen to get out on the canals in either a kayak or a SUP board, then this eco tour is perfect. In a small group (we’re talking 6 people or fewer), you’ll head out to check out the wildlife around the Toronto Islands and visit some hidden spots that usually only the locals get to see.

As we mentioned earlier, the Toronto Islands are home to some amazing birds, and this tour is the best way to get out on the water and see them. We’ve seen great blue herons around here!

You get to choose whether you SUP or kayak – we love just how personalized this tour can be! Since there are only a few people on each tour, your guide will tailor it to the group’s ability levels so that no one is bored or left behind. 

The tour starts on Ward’s Island, near the acclaimed Riviera Restaurant, so you can explore by yourself before and after the tour. In fact, we definitely recommend stopping at the Riviera and refueling with a coffee in their gorgeous courtyard.

For nature lovers and adventure travelers, this is the perfect way to explore the Toronto Islands! Check availability and book this eco tour online here!

Sunset Canoe Tour of the Toronto Islands

We love canoeing, but canoeing at sunset is even better, which is why we think that this evening canoe tour is so cool. 

You don’t just head out on any old canoe, either. You’ll be paddling a replica of the historical canoes that were used by European settlers over 300 years ago as you explore the lagoons and canals of the Toronto Islands.

Not only is going canoeing at sunset beautiful, but it’s also when a lot of wildlife tends to be most active, so you’ll get to see plenty of the creatures that inhabit the Toronto Islands as you explore. And as if that weren’t enough, you’ll see Toronto’s skyline begin to light up as the sun goes down. 

The tour meets at the Centre Island ferry dock, and it’s a wonderful way to finish off a day of exploring the Toronto Islands before heading back to the city. It costs $125 CAD per person so it’s a bit pricier than some of the other tours, but we think it’s worth it for this awesome sunset adventure. To enjoy a stunning sunset from the water in the Toronto Islands, book your canoe tour online here.

Related Read: Catch a sunset on the West Coast too – it’s one of the activities we have planned in our 3-Day itinerary for Vancouver.

7. Where are the best places to eat on the Toronto Islands?

Bailey and Daniel with coffees from The Riviera on the Toronto Islands
The Riviera on the Toronto Islands

Island Cafe

The Island Cafe is a super cute spot to grab coffee and a bite to eat on Ward’s Island. They serve small plates like chicken wings and salads, as well as bigger options like fish and chips, and they’ve even got a range of craft beers and farm-to-table wine. They also cater to vegans and vegetarians pretty well, too. 

It’s a colorful, quirky, and welcoming cafe – the kind of place where you can just sit and watch the world go by. 

You’re looking at about $3-$5.50 CAD for a coffee here, $18 CAD for a small plate, and around $21 CAD for something more substantial. Food and drinks do tend to be a little pricey on the Toronto Islands, but everything we ate and drank here was top quality, so I guess you get what you pay for! 

Toronto Island BBQ & Beer Co

This homestyle cooking spot is a popular place to eat and drink on Centre Island. Toronto Island BBQ & Beer Co. serves mouth-watering, slow-cooked barbecue dishes and locally brewed craft beer – what’s not to like?

It costs between $13-$18 CAD for a sharing dish here, $18 CAD for a half pound of brisket, $20 CAD for a burger, and $46 CAD for a full rack of ribs. It’s one of the pricier spots on the Toronto Islands because it’s right next to the dock, but given the delicious food, nice ambiance, and beautiful views, it’s definitely worth it. 

The Upper Deck 

The Upper Deck is located at the Marina, just a short walk from Toronto Island BBQ & Beer Co. It has similarly beautiful views, but it tends to be a bit quieter and prices are lower. It’s the place to go on Centre Island if you want a peaceful lunch or dinner with gorgeous views of downtown Toronto! 

The Riviera ~ Ward’s Island Kitchen

The Riviera on Ward’s Island was our favorite place to eat and drink on the Toronto Islands, and we’re not alone in this. We stopped here for a coffee after our bike tour and just fell in love!

It’s got a beautiful patio area and a small but carefully curated menu, with most items costing around $20 CAD. I had the Island Smash Burger and enjoyed every bite. They also serve big pitchers of mimosas and margaritas starting at $25 CAD until 3 pm if you’re in the mood for a drink. 

The Riviera’s opening times do change according to the time of year, and the best way to find out when they’re currently open is to check their Instagram page.

Related Read: Toronto has an amazing foodie scene and we scoped out more of the top spots on the best food tours in Toronto!

8. Can you stay on the Toronto Islands? 

A house on the Toronto Islands used as an Airbnb
No hotels just Airbnbs!

Yes, you can! 

There are no hotels on the island but some residents do put their homes on Airbnb. Since there aren’t that many homes on the Toronto Islands, there are only a couple of options. Make sure to book way in advance if you want to stay overnight here during the busy summer months in Toronto

9. How long do you need to visit the Toronto Islands? 

Daniel on a beach on the Toronto Islands in Canada
It depends on what you have planned!

A full day is perfect if you’ve got enough time. That way, you can cycle or walk all over the islands and have some time to chill on the beaches, go SUP-ing or kayaking, and enjoy the cafes and eateries. 

However, you don’t have to spend a whole day here. You can definitely see most of the highlights in half a day by either renting a bike or by taking a bike tour. To be honest, if you’re short on time then a tour would be the better option as with a guide you see a lot in just a few hours. 

10. How do you get around the Toronto Islands?

A lady rides a pedi bike on the Toronto Islands
Bikes are the best way

Either on foot or by bike. There are no taxis or private vehicles allowed on the Toronto Islands, only emergency and commercial vehicles get a pass if they have a special permit. That means everyone either walks or rides.

The Toronto Islands are really small and easy to get around – as we mentioned earlier, you can walk from one side to the other in about an hour. 

11. Are the Toronto Islands suitable for kids? 

Bailey walks along the water on the Toronto Islands
Bailey walks along the water on the Toronto Islands

Yes! It’s a very family-friendly destination, especially Centre Island. Kids love the theme park and petting zoo here, and Centre Beach is a nice place for families to relax together, too.

Little ones might not love walking or cycling all over the island network, though, so we think if you’re visiting with kids then it’s best to stick to Centre Island. 

12. Are the Toronto Islands worth visiting? 

Views of the canals on the Toronto Islands, Canada
Yes!

Yes, we loved our visit. A trip to the Toronto Islands is a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the city. It might not be the best rainy-day activity in Toronto, but it’s well worth a visit during the summertime! It’s so easy to get here and the views are epic, so you should definitely make the trip across while you’re in Toronto. 

Other Things to do While You’re in Toronto

Views from the Canadian side of Niagara Falls looking down at the cruise below Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls is close enough for a day trip from Toronto!
Daniel poses for a photo with the current Stanley Cup at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Canada
The current Stanley Cup!

Toronto is a city filled with tons of things to do and see. So before (or after!) your visit to the Toronto Islands, take some time to explore some of the other top attractions and activities:

  • Check out the view from the CN TowerSightseeing tours in Toronto might pass this iconic tower, but we recommend going inside too! As the tallest building in the city and all of Canada, heading up the CN Tower is a must! The main observation deck is on the 33rd floor and if you’re feeling brave, there’s a glass floor or the Edgewalk that takes you outside to walk high above Toronto! General admission is $43 CAD.
  • Eat great food! – With so many different cultures and restaurants, Toronto is a foodie heaven! Miku Toronto is considered the best sushi restaurant in the city with a big outdoor patio. Food tours in Toronto are also top-notch and we enjoyed this walking food tour to help us try a variety of tasty dishes from butter tarts to pierogies to maple syrup and the chance to explore the iconic St. Lawrence Market.
  • Go sailing – For a unique cruise, climb aboard a 1930s schooner with this Toronto tall ship cruise. You’ll help the crew raise the sails for the journey from Toronto Harbor to Lake Ontario. There are panoramic views to take in and kids love it when the crew fires the ship’s canyon! Tickets are available online for only $43 CAD for adults and cheaper for kids.
  • Watch a hockey game – Hockey is HUGE all over Canada, so taking in an NHL game while you’re here is sure to be a fun night. While I’m a diehard Oilers fan, the Toronto Maple Leafs are the home team here and the atmosphere is a lot of fun. Tickets range from $150 – $350 CAD and you can buy tickets on Viator. If it isn’t hockey season, pop into the Hockey Hall of Fame instead to see the famous Stanley Cup!

Where to Stay in Toronto

One King West Hotel & Residence
Photo credit: One King West Hotel & Residence

With limited accommodations on the Toronto Islands, you’ll likely have to stay overnight in Toronto itself instead. Toronto is a huge city with practically endless options when it comes to hotels. But, not all hotels are created equal – you want to ensure you book a place with an amazing location and even better amenities, which narrows down your choices.

Luckily, I’ve done the work for you and handpicked some of the best places to stay in the city. The below hotels all have an ideal central location for the rest of your visit as well as everything you need to have a comfortable stay!

If you’re looking for more info about where to stay in Toronto, be sure to read our blog. It includes detailed info on the best area to stay, how to get from the airport to your hotel, and the top hotels!

Fairmont Royal York Hotel (Luxury Stay – $$$)

The Fairmont Royal York Hotel is one of the most luxurious hotels in Toronto. With its historic ballroom, beautiful rooms, and a gorgeous skylit indoor pool, you’ll have to force yourself to leave and explore the city! But once you do, you’re steps from Union Station, so getting around via public transport is really easy. It also means that you can take the train from the airport directly to the hotel! 

The Hockey Hall of Fame is two blocks away, and you’re also about a 20-minute walk from both the waterfront and the Distillery District. Rooms usually start from around $500-$600 CAD per night and you can check availability and book the Fairmont Royal York online here!

The SoHo Hotel (Moderately-priced Boutique Hotel – $$)

The SoHo Hotel is an excellent choice for anybody looking for a centrally located hotel that is just stunning. This hotel is located only a short walk from attractions like the CN Tower, and it also has plenty of nice facilities including a lap pool and fitness center. Oh, and did I mention the rooms have heated bathroom floors?!

Room rates typically range from $300 CAD and up. The SoHo is one of the highest-rated hotels in Toronto, so be sure to book online here well in advance to secure your room.

One King West Hotel and Residences (Moderately-priced Full Apartments – $$)

If you’re looking for a home away from home, then One King West Hotel and Residences might be the best choice for you. Although a hotel, this property features fully self-contained apartments complete with a kitchen. This is perfect if you like to cook some of your own meals. On top of that, the location is ideal and you’ll also find a fitness center and onsite bar and restaurant.

For an entire apartment in Toronto, prices start at about $330 CAD. You can check availability and book online here.

Town Inn Suites Hotel (Budget Hotel – $)

You don’t have to spend a small fortune to stay in Toronto. If you’re on a tighter budget, Town Inn Suites Hotel is the best choice for you. Starting from only $170 CAD per night (in the low season), this centrally located hotel is tastefully decorated and features plenty of amenities. Rooms also feature a kitchenette, which comes in very handy. You can check prices and secure your room online here.

Samesun Toronto (Budget Hostel – $)

The Samesun Toronto is the perfect choice for backpackers or solo travelers wanting to meet others. The hostel has a great location as well as communal spaces (including a huge kitchen) where you can relax. They offer both dorm beds as well as budget private rooms, but bathrooms are all shared.

You can grab a dorm bed for less than $100 CAD per night during peak season. You can book the Samesun Toronto online on either Booking.com or Hostelworld.

One of the best ways to experience Canada is by hitting the road. Some of the best things to do and attractions are located in remote areas between destinations. For that reason, we highly recommend getting your own wheels!

  • Rent a car – To simply rent a vehicle, search on Discover Cars where they compare tons of different rental companies near you. This way you can easily compare prices, features, policies, and more!
  • Rent a campervan or motorhome Motorhome Republic is great for finding a motorhome or campervan to rent in Canada. With your own home on wheels, you can camp in beautiful places and save money on accommodation!

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey take a selfie at Casa Loma in Toronto
Thanks for reading!

We hope you enjoyed this list of suggestions for visiting the Toronto Islands. Whether you visit for the day or are lucky enough to stay overnight, you’ll have a blast. We certainly did! Let us know what your favorite part is after you visit.

If you’re planning on spending more time in the country, make sure to see more of our Canada blogs. We’ve also written lots of guides for destinations all over the world. You can click on one of the blogs below to get started.

How to Spend THREE DAYS in Toronto: 3-Day Itinerary for First Timers

12 Absolute Best Lakes in Banff You NEED to Visit

How to Spend SIX DAYS in New York City – An Ideal NYC 6-Day Itinerary

16 BEST Breweries in Vancouver – By A Local!