How to Take the Ferry to the Toronto Islands

Learn how to get from downtown Toronto to the Toronto Islands

toronto-islands-view
City skyline from Toronto Islands. Getty Images/Bert Hoferichter

The quiet, relaxing beauty of the Toronto Islands is just a short ferry ride away from the city's downtown core. Learn how to take the Toronto ferry to visit this park on the water, relax on one of the island beaches, or to join in the fun at the seasonal Centreville amusement park.

Three Ferries, One Big Destination

There is a central dock on the Toronto mainland from which three ferries head out across Lake Ontario. One goes to Hanlan's Point, one goes to Centre Island and the third goes to Ward's Island. Although the three islands have distinct names (and docks) you can easily walk from one to the other. This means you can never really take the "wrong" ferry, but you'll likely want to wait for a certain ferry depending on how and where you plan to spend your day.

Getting to the Mainland Ferry Docks

You can get on any Toronto Island ferry from the the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal (the ferry docks)  located near the base of Bay Street, south of Queens Quay. The pedestrian entrance is tucked back from the road on the west side of the Westin Harbour Castle hotel. Walk south into Harbour Square Park at Bay and Queens Quay and the ferry entrance will come up on your left.

• By TTC head to Union Station and get on a southbound streetcar, either the 509 or 510. It is a very short ride to the Queens Quay-Ferry Docks underground stop. Or you take the Bay Bus #6 southbound from the corner of Front and Bay to the Bay and Queens Quay stop. Alternatively, it's only about a 10-minute walk to the ferry docks from Union Station.

• There are paid parking lots within about one block of Queens Quay and Bay Street in each direction (but taking public transit eliminates the need to find and pay for parking).

Toronto Ferry Fares & Buying Tickets

As of July 2018 a return trip on a Toronto ferry cost:

  • $7.87 for Adults
  • $5.16 for Youth (15-19) and Seniors (over 65)
  • $3.80 for Juniors (under 14)
  • Children under 2 ride free

There are also monthly passes available for $99.96 for adults, $74.43 for students and seniors and $49.98 for juniors.

(Fares and monthly pass saving rates subject to change)

Buy tickets either at the ferry docks or online and print your tickets at home. If you're going to buy tickets at the ferry docks, prepare for long lineups in July and August. For this reason, it can be easier to buy tickets online, in advance. This won't get you priority boarding, but it does mean you skip the ticketing line.

Fares Include Return

Once you're on the island the assumption is that you must have paid to get there, so you won't need to show a ticket to get on a return ferry. With this in mind, it obviously doesn't matter which ferry you take in each direction. For example, you can easily take the Centre Island ferry on the trip out, then walk over and take the Ward's Island ferry for your return.

The Schedule

The Toronto ferry schedules are seasonal, changing for the spring, summer, fall, and winter. The biggest difference between the schedules is that the Centre Island ferry doesn't run in the winter when the Centreville Amusement Park is closed. In general, ​Toronto ferry service is fairly frequent, often with a trip to and from each dock every half-hour. For a casual island visit in the middle of the day, it's easy to just head to a dock and wait. If you'll be visiting into the evening, be sure to note the times of the last ferries back to the mainland.

Travel time to and from the islands is about 15 minutes each way.

• Check the current ferry schedule

Pets and Bikes are Welcome

There is no extra charge to bring your bike on the ferry - in fact, cycling is a very popular way to explore the Toronto Islands. You're also welcome to bring along inline skates or roller skates, but note that you can't wear them on the ferry itself. Cars and other motorized vehicles, including motorcycles and scooters, are not allowed on the Toronto Islands without a special advance permit deeming them necessary.

Pets are also welcome on the ferry for no extra charge, but they must be on a leash at all times.

Ths is NOT the Way to the Airport

If you need to get to the Toronto City Centre Airport (more commonly referred to as the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport), the ferries discussed here are NOT what you want to use. Porter Airlines, the airline which operates from the TCCA, has their own shuttle and ferry service. Their docks are at the base of Bathurst Street, well west of the Toronto Island docks. Visit the official ​Porter Airlines website for more information on getting to and from your flight.

Still have questions about the ferries to the Toronto Island? Visit www.toronto.ca/parks/island or call the Toronto Island Ferry Information Line at 416-392-8193.

Updated by Jessica Padykula