The city of Toronto has one major international airport, but several other airports in the area may also be convenient for your visit. Sometimes you can find better deals to these secondary airports.
Although Toronto Pearson International Airport is the busiest airport in Canada, Billy Bishop Airport is actually closer to downtown Toronto, making it the most convenient to get to the city. If you want to visit Niagara wine country outside of Toronto, you can fly into the Niagara Falls International Airport or the Hamilton International Airport instead.
- Location: Mississauga
- Best If: You're flying internationally (beyond the U.S.)
- Avoid If: You have a tight connection
- Distance to the CN Tower: With no traffic, a taxi will take 25 minutes and cost about US$50—but there's almost always delays. Instead, ride the UP Express train, which costs about US$9 each way for adults and takes just 25 minutes (it also has WiFi). The train stops right near the CN Tower at Union Station.
Toronto Pearson International Airport is the major airport serving the Toronto area and the busiest airport in Canada, with 49.5 million passengers traveling through its terminals in 2018. Located in the suburb of Mississauga, the airport is actually about 25 minutes from downtown Toronto with no traffic. The airport is a hub for AirCanada, but most international airlines fly here, too. If you're traveling to the U.S. from Pearson, you can go through immigration and customs right here, saving you a lot of time as compared to going through it on the U.S. side.
Given the airport's sprawling size, you won't want to make a tight connection here. It can also get quite crowded at security. The best way to travel from Pearson to downtown Toronto is the UP Express train, which runs nearly every 15 minutes and gets to Union Station in just 25 minutes. You'll likely get stuck in traffic if you take a taxi, and it also is typically much more expensive.
- Location: Toronto Islands
- Best If: You want quick and easy access to downtown Toronto
- Avoid If: You want to fly any airline besides Porter
- Distance to the CN Tower: It's a 25-minute walk if you take the pedestrian tunnel. You can also take the 90-second ferry, which is free for pedestrians, then hop in a US$5, cab from there.
Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, commonly known as the Toronto Island Airport is conveniently located just offshore downtown Toronto, near Union Station and many major hotels and attractions. The only airline that serves the Toronto city center is Porter Airlines, a short-haul airline with destinations in northeast Canada and the U.S. There's hardly every any crowds in the airport, and they serve free coffee, tea, and cookies to all passengers traveling through. In short, this airport offers a stress-free experience—the only downside is its limited flights.
In order to get to the airport, you'll need to take a 90-second ferry (free for pedestrians, $14 return for cars) from the mainland or walk through the pedestrian tunnel. There's a free shuttle bus that takes passengers from the ferry terminal to Union Station, which is in the heart of downtown.
- Location: Mount Hope, Hamilton
- Best If: You're going wine tasting in the Niagara region
- Avoid If: You're pressed for time to get to downtown Toronto
- Distance to downtown Toronto: Most travelers rent cars to drive to Toronto from Hamilton, but you can also take Megabus, which costs US$8 each way. Taxis cost a flat $95 (Canadian).
Set 40-miles outside Toronto, or about an hour's drive, Hamilton International Airport offers advantages over Pearson and Billy Bishop, including competitively priced flights, a convenient location for exploring the Niagara Wine Region, and more affordable accommodations near the airport. The downside is there are only a few direct routes servicing this airport, including Cancun, Dublin, Fort Lauderdale, and Las Vegas. Given Hamilton's distance from Toronto, if you're planning on visiting the city, you'll have to either rent a car, take a bus (Megabus has routes), or call for an extremely expensive cab.
- Location: Cheektowaga
- Best If: You're visiting Niagara Falls or the Niagara wine region
- Avoid If: You don't want to drive across the border
- Distance to downtown Toronto: A taxi will run you over $200, so you're probably better off renting a car for the two-hour drive. There are also a number of affordable buses that can take anywhere from two to four hours.
Buffalo Niagara International Airport is about a two-hour drive from Toronto, but if you're flying in from another U.S. destination, it may be considerably cheaper than flying into Pearson. Additionally, the Buffalo Airport is smaller and easier to get in and out of; you will not have to face customs and immigration at the airport. But you will have to deal with the hassle of stopping as you drive across the U.S.-Canada border. Sometimes it's a seamless crossing, but other times, there can be long waits of over an hour.
The plus side to the drive is that you'll go through the Niagara region, giving you the opportunity to stop along the way in Niagara Falls or indulge in tastings across the Niagara wine region.
Niagara Falls International Airport (IAG)
- Location: Niagara, New York
- Best If: You want a budget flight from Florida or South Carolina
- Avoid If: You don't want to fly Spirit or Allegiant
- Distance to downtown Toronto: A 90-minute taxi will cost over US$200. Your public transportation options are limited—you'd have to take a taxi to a bus or train station before heading to Toronto. Most people rent cars.
Flying into Niagara Falls International Airport is another alternative to bigger, more congested international airports like Pearson. The Niagara Falls airport is close to the U.S.-Canada border and boasts a $31.5 million passenger terminal that was built in 2009. The airport has become popular for ultra-low fares offered by Spirit and Allegiant—but the routes they offer are limited to destinations in Florida and South Carolina. The airport is not the best if you're trying to get to Toronto by public transportation (too many connections) or taxi (too expensive).
Your best option would be to rent a car. As for passengers flying into Buffalo, you'll have great access to Niagara Falls and the Niagara wine region on your way to Toronto, though.