Toronto, Ontario, and Montreal, Quebec, are two of Canada's most popular destinations. Although they're 541 kilometers apart, tourists (well, and locals) travel between the two often because they boast such different, unique vibes. Toronto is a bustling, modern city with luxury high rises and the like while Montreal is more of a historic, cultural hub.
The commute takes about five hours, 30 minutes via major highways or longer if you care to take a more scenic route. If you don't fancy driving or don't plan to rent a car, other options for traveling between Toronto and Montreal include by plane, by train, and by bus. Flying is doubtless the fastest option, but also can be the most expensive. The bus is the most economical, but takes the longest. The train—a perfect middle ground—might just be your best bet for public transportation.
How to Get from Toronto to Montreal
- Plane: 1 hour, 15 minutes, from $65 (fastest)
- Train: 5 hours (or more, with stops), from $40
- Bus: 6 to 9 hours, from $35 (budget-friendly)
- Car: 5 to 6 hours, 541 kilometers (336 miles)
There are more flights between Toronto and Montreal than between any other two Canadian cities. This is the fastest option, seeing as flying the route takes only an hour, 15 minutes, but then you need to factor in transport to and from the airport (both Toronto Pearson and Montréal-Trudeau are about a 30-minute drive from their respective downtown areas), and the time it'll take to check in and retrieve your bags. Travelers who are really crunched for time may rather fly out of Billy Bishop Airport in downtown Toronto. This airport is much smaller and calmer than Toronto Pearson (Canada's biggest and busiest), but you might have to pay a little extra for the convenience.
You can expect to pay between $130 and $180 for a flight between the two cities, but if you book one early enough (or late enough, rather), you can find them for $65. Air Canada, Porter, West Jet are the popular airlines to take.
Via Rail, Canada's national passenger railway, provides a nifty downtown-to-downtown service between Toronto and Montreal on the daily. The train can take five hours or just under unless it stops for an extended period of time in Ottawa—then it can take up to 10 hours, which is not what anyone wants. It's about the same time as it would take to drive the distance, but it's more economical and potentially more comfortable, too.
While the train ride is not particularly scenic, it has cozy seats, free WiFi, and it's reliable and convenient. Travelers may pay a little extra to upgrade to business class (there are five options, with Escape being the cheapest and Business Plus being the most expensive). An Escape ticket can go for as low as $40 if you book far enough in advance. Otherwise, an economy ticket starts at $94. Pro tip: Keep an eye on VIA Express Deals to save up to 75 percent on fares.
If you don't mind extending the commute by a couple of hours, you might save money by taking the bus. Fares typically start around $35, but the ride takes between six and nine hours, which is longer than driving, flying, or riding the train.
The services offering Toronto-to-Montreal routes include Megabus, which has a daily express service on double-decker buses equipped with WiFi, and Greyhound Canada, which facilitates connections to many smaller towns between these two cities. Because of Greyhound's frequent stops, Megabus is the quicker option (six hours as opposed to eight or nine).
Alternatively, there are a slew of guided coach tours to choose from. This may be a good idea if you have limited time and want to make the most of your trip and learn as much as you can during your travels, but it'll inevitably be more expensive than your standard bus ride.
If you have a car or will be renting one, then driving the distance—541 kilometers (336 miles)—yourself is an option. It should take between five and six hours. The two cities are connected by a major system of highways: 401 Highway in Ontario becomes Highway 20 and goes straight into Montreal and then onto Quebec City.
Driving puts you in control of your own itinerary and can be fun if you're road tripping with family or friends. There are plenty of nice spots to stop for breaks and have a bite to eat along the way: Prince Edward County, a charming agri-rich area that is popular with the Toronto weekend crowd, and Kingston, a city steeped in history that sits at the halfway point between the two cities. You could even take a little detour and stop by Ottawa for a day.
What to See in Montreal
More than 10 million visitors flock to the charming, historic hub that is Montreal every year. While it isn't the capital, it's the biggest city in Canada's Quebec province. Still, though, it's only about half the size of Toronto in terms of population, but the smallness is what people like about it. Montreal is a big city with small-town vibes. It's brimming with culture and heritage and cobblestoned streets. The French influence is far more present here than it is in Toronto or anywhere in Canada (in fact, it's the second largest primarily French-speaking city in the developed world, after Paris).
Visitors may spend their day exploring Mount Royal, a hill that sits in the heart of the city; forgetting they're in North America at all in Old Montreal; reveling at the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal; navigating the beloved Botanical Garden; or dining in the foodie-approved neighborhoods of Mile End, the Plateau, and the McGill Ghetto.
Obviously, a five-hour drive isn't conducive to day trips from Toronto, so rest your head at the devastatingly cozy Hôtel Nelligan, the snazzy 1960s-style Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth, or the intimate, 28-room Le Petit Hôtel.