Best Time to Visit Toronto (from a Canadian)

Best Time to Visit Toronto (from a Canadian)

And I’m back!

Thank you for waiting patiently while I caught up on 2 years of doctors appointments, celebrated my grandmother’s 90th birthday, over ate with my sister, cuddled my dogs and spent time with my family.

But enough about all that. You’re here for the travel!

 

What is the Best Time to Visit Toronto?

It’s weird that, even though I grew up in Toronto, being here feels like travelling. I no longer think of it as home. Which provides me with a great opportunity to be a tourist in the city.

One of the best things about Toronto is that it experiences very distinct seasons. We have a clear Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. There are different smells, foods, clothes, temperatures and activities for each one.

As much as I dislike the snow, having those four seasons is something I really treasure about Toronto.

So which season is the best time to visit Toronto??

 

Spring

Spring in Toronto is less that period of rebirth you see in medieval tales or Disney cartoons. It’s more damp air, wearing shorts in 10C weather and mud everywhere.

We don’t have much wildlife in the city. The only rebirth we see is the restarting of construction on seemingly every city road.

That’s not to say it’s not worth visiting Toronto in the Spring.

Spring means that Lake Ontario starts to thaw, making walks along the boardwalk. People slowly emerge from our underground tunnels (yes, we really have those) to walk above the earth again. We also refuse to believe that it’s cold. For some reason, the second temperatures hit double digits in Spring, we all break out our Summer gear. The same temperatures in Fall would have us bundled up in layers of fuzzy sweaters and wool socks.

Temperatures rise towards April, but don’t really pick up until May. If you’re visiting earlier pack for unpredictable weather. Toronto has been known to suddenly decide to go back to Winter temps after a week of Spring weather.

April showers bring May flowers, right? Well, sort of. Toronto does get rain in the Spring but not more than most other months. But the adage makes every drop of rain feel excessive. At least there are flowers!

If you visit Toronto in the Spring, check out the cherry blossoms in High Park or time your stay to attend one of Toronto’s many street festivals. Farmers markets and hiking trails are popular spots for Canadians in the Spring. Get your pride on at Toronto’s annual Pride Festival or hide from the crowds by going out of the city to camp.

 

Summer

Isn’t Summer the best season to visit any city? Not necessarily!

Summer in Toronto can get H-O-T. As someone who doesn’t like temperatures above 21C, I’m not a fan. The city is unfortunately humid and stale on especially hot days because of the smog. Often even the breeze is warm.

Now, this isn’t all Summer. Most of the season is very reasonable. Temperatures average 21C for the whole season. But those hot days feel like they last forever. The last two years have been especially warm with temperatures rising above 35C.

Rainfall is pretty much the same as Spring. Sometimes we get Summer thunderstorms that help break the humidity. But mostly it’s sunny skies during Summer.

The sun makes a beautiful mirror out of Lake Ontario. Parks and trails are speckled with people enjoying the warm days. Flowers are fully bloomed in Summer, making botanical gardens a lovely spot for a stroll.

Toronto is a great city to be in during the Summer. We know how to put on some pretty amazing festivals and events to entertain our massive population. From movies in the park to food festivals to firework celebrations, we’ve thought of it all.

Getting too hot? Hop in Lake Ontario or head to a public pool.

Hike beyond the city to get some amazing views and soak up those rays.

Or, if you’re like me, sit as close to your fan as possible and pray you don’t get sunburnt.

 

Fall

Fall is hands down the best season. The weather is more temperate. You can wear a variety of comfy clothes. It’s still sunny. The leaves begin to change colour. There’s a crisp quality to the air. The pollen that plagues me all Summer begins to dwindle. And my birthday is in Fall.

Alright, maybe I’m biased. But it’s still a great season!

Fall in Canada is undoubtedly the best time to visit. Most tourists tend to come in the Summer, assuming that warmth is the most attractive thing. But they’re wrong.

Children are out of school. Camps are constantly running excursions. Adults take time off to enjoy the good weather.

Suddenly everything is busier.

But in Fall, the students go back to school. The parents go back to work. Most tourists filter out of the city. Lines begin to shorten and prices for hotels take a dip.

The weather is still pleasant. The crispness of the air makes Toronto feel fresh and unpolluted. Ruby, gold and amber leaves pepper the streets.

Fall is a time of fresh apples and refreshing hikes. It brings with it Thanksgiving and pie.

Make the most of Fall by going apple picking or marvelling at the changing leaves on country roads. Head downtown for the Toronto International Film Festival to spot some stars or curl up with a good book at a café.

 

Winter

When you think “Canada”, you probably think “snow.” It’s a natural connection, but it’s not always true. Toronto is warm 80% of the year. In fact, we’re more southern than some U.S. states.

But we do get snow.

Toronto doesn’t get epic snowfalls like the Prairies or the Maritimes, where blizzards regularly cancel daily life. Mostly, the city gets sprinkles of snow from late December to March. A few larger snowfalls stick on the ground, leaving lots of fodder for snowmen and snowball fights. It also feeds a Canadian tourist draw: skiing.

I think the ice is better. Toronto freezes so easily that you can make skating rinks in your back yard. But an easier route is the head to city run rinks, like the outdoor one at the Lakeshore and Kipling. They’re free to use if you bring your own skates.

Warm up afterwards with hot chocolate and central heating (a Canadian blessing I desperately missed in New Zealand).

For children (or children-at-heart), sledding is Canadian tradition. Grab a sled and find any sloped surface, then you’re ready to go. In the Winter, public parks are full of children on plastic toboggans barrelling down the biggest hills they can find.

We prepare to be that cold by hiding underground all day. Toronto’s downtown is full of an underground tunnel system called the “Path.” It runs through most of downtown, meaning that you can go through most of your day without going outside.

Winter also means Christmas, which now means Toronto’s Christmas market. The Distillery District has recently started hosting a large Christmas market, reminiscent of a German market. They host live music, hot drinks, trinket shops and various other booths from mid-November to December.

I bet you’re waiting for the average Winter temperatures in Toronto. Honestly, they surprised me. We average -3C over the Winter.

That’s not that cold.

Temperatures in Toronto do vary. Last Winter was especially harsh with temperatures into the -30s. Usually, we have a few weeks of -10C and a few colder days (usually from wind chill).

If you visit in the Winter, be prepared to take lots of warming up breaks. Walks that don’t feel long in the Summer are suddenly monstrous treks. It really slows down your tours of the city.

 

Drumroll Please…

So what is the best time to visit Toronto?

The Fall!

It offers the best balance of weather, activities, natural beauty and busyness. You’ll get a good mix of warm and cool days, depending on what month you visit. I recommend September or October to get in while the leaves are still on the trees.

Fall brings a special air to the city that other seasons don’t have. I’ve never seen another country do Fall as well as Canada does. Maybe it’s all the bright leaves or fresh air that seep into my brain and make me totally crazy for Fall. Or maybe it’s just the best.

Come visit Toronto and find out!

 

 

 

What’s your favourite season to travel?



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