March 29, 2024
9 mins

How To Travel To Toronto On A Budget In 2024

Toronto On A Budget
Summary.This guide offers valuable tips for travelling to Toronto on a budget in 2024. Discover how to find affordable flights, accommodations, and dining options in the city. Learn about free and low-cost attractions, such as Nathan Phillips Square...

Toronto, Canada's largest city and a cosmopolitan hub in North America, is a must-visit destination. It is known for its diverse culture, stunning architecture, and vibrant arts scene. Toronto is often associated with high living costs. But savvy travellers can still experience the best of this incredible city without breaking the bank in 2024.

Getting to Toronto on a Budget

An illustration of various travel planning-related items

As a budget traveler, inding cheap flights to Toronto is key to keeping your travel costs down. Book your tickets well in advance and be flexible with travel dates to secure the best deals. Consider flying into Toronto Pearson International Airport during the shoulder seasons. These seasons include spring (April to May) and fall (September to November). Airfare tends to be cheaper during these times. On approach, enjoy views of the CN Tower from afar.

Once you arrive, use budget-friendly transportation like the UP Express. This service connects the airport to Toronto Union station in the downtown core. Also consider the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) buses and subways.

Other helpful tips include the following:

  • Check out Booked, a new AI-enhanced travel planning web and progressive web (mobile) app. Booked is just getting established, and flights, budget car rentals, and many other services are in the works. They are essentially your travel guide and booking expert.
  • Compare prices on flight aggregators like Skyscanner, Kayak, and Google Flights.
  • Sign up for airline newsletters to receive alerts about fare sales and promotions.
  • Consider budget airlines such as Swoop, Flair Airlines, and Air Transat.


Where to Stay in Toronto on a Budget

An illustration of hotel booking, location, and rating information on a laptop screen

To save on accommodations, consider staying in budget-friendly neighbourhoods like Kensington Market, Chinatown (downtown core), or The Annex. These areas offer a variety of affordable hotels, hostels, and vacation rentals. They are also within walking distance of popular attractions and public transit.

One highly rated option is The Planet Traveler, a hostel near Kensington Market. This hostel offers private room or dorm-style accommodations, free breakfast, and Wi-Fi. Other budget-friendly choices include the HI Toronto Hostel and the Rex Hotel Jazz & Blues Bar. The latter features live music and affordable rooms in the heart of the entertainment district.

The following table outlines some advantages and disadvantages of each neighbourhood.

Kensington MarketVibrant, bohemian atmosphere, close to downtown, affordable dining optionsCan be noisy at night, limited parking
ChinatownCheap eats and shopping, easy access to public transit, close to attractions like AGO and ROMCrowded and busy, some areas may feel less safe at night
The AnnexClose to University of Toronto, trendy cafes, bars, and shops, residential, leafy streetsFarther from downtown, Pricier than other budget options

Cheap Eats in Toronto

An illustration of a bar to sit at to eat a meal with three stools

Toronto's diverse food scene means you can enjoy delicious meals without spending a fortune. Visit the historic St. Lawrence Market, named the world's best food market by National Geographic in 2012. Here, you can sample local specialties and grab cheap eats from over 120 vendors.

Another budget-friendly foodie destination is Kensington Market. You will find an eclectic mix of international cuisine, vintage shops, and casual eateries at this market. Don't miss the tacos at Seven Lives or the Jamaican patties at Golden Patty. Other affordable dining options include the Ramen Isshin for hearty Japanese noodles and Maha's for Egyptian brunch. Also try Uno Mustachio for giant slices of New York-style pizza.

Taste the difference of a remarkable meal

You may also want to try the following:

  • Grab a peameal bacon sandwich at Carousel Bakery in St. Lawrence Market.
  • Try the affordable and authentic Thai cuisine at Salad King near Ryerson University.
  • Indulge in delicious Ethiopian platters at Nazareth in Bloor-Bathurst Village.

James Bok visits five spots in Toronto where you can eat for $10 or less. Also, a helpful hint from the video: If you’re looking for cheap parking, always look for the green “P.”

Free and Low-Cost Things to Do in Toronto

Free walking tours are a great way to learn about Toronto's history and architecture while saving money.


The best things in life are free. Toronto offers plenty of free and low-cost activities for budget travellers. You can start your tour of popular destinations by exploring Nathan Phillips Square. This central plaza features a seasonal ice rink, art installations, and free events like yoga classes and concerts.

Next, stroll through Graffiti Alley, a colourful stretch of street art in the Fashion District. You can also visit High Park, the city's largest public park with hiking trails, gardens, and a free zoo. Like those offered by Tour Guys and Strawberry Tours, free walking tours are a great way to learn about Toronto's history and architecture while saving money.

Cost-effective favourites

For affordable must-see attractions, visit the Art Gallery of Ontario on Wednesday nights from 6-9 pm when admission is free. Or, the Royal Ontario Museum on the third Tuesday of each month when entry is free.

Casa Loma, a stunning Edwardian castle turned museum, offers discounted tickets during the shoulder seasons. The castle also offers free admission on select holidays. Don't miss the Toronto Island Park, a picturesque escape from the city. The island has beaches, amusement parks, and stunning skyline views, accessible via a cheap ferry ride.

The table below outlines possible discounts available at selected attractions. Please be aware that prices and conditions are subject to change at any time. For the most current promotions, contact the attraction directly.

AttractionRegular price (Q2 2024)Discounted options
Art Gallery of Ontario$30 adult day passFree for anyone under the age 25, always free for Indigenous Peoples
Royal Ontario Museum$27.50 or moreFree with CityPASS®, 15% off for GO Transit riders, discounts for certain groups such as Canadian Armed Forces Servicemembers or Veterans
Casa Loma$40 adult ticket, $20 flat rate for parkingDiscounted during shoulder seasons
Toronto Island Park$9.11 adult return trip ferry ticketOccasionally has free sailings available

Budget-friendly entertainment and nightlife options include free concerts and events at Yonge-Dundas Square. You can attend pay-what-you-can comedy shows at The Social Capital (SoCap). Or, check out affordable improv performances at The Bad Dog Theatre Company.

For unique experiences, attend the free Distillery District Sunday Market or catch a free film screening at the Harbourfront Centre.


Getting Around Toronto on a Budget

Toronto is a cosmopolitan city with an extensive public transit system run by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). Public transportation is the most cost-effective way to navigate the city. Purchase a reloadable PRESTO card for discounted fares on subways, buses, and streetcars. Or, opt for a day pass if you plan on taking multiple trips in a single day.

Bike Share Toronto is another affordable option, with over 6,500 bikes and 625 stations across the city. Of course, walking is always free and a great way to explore Toronto's vibrant neighbourhoods and hidden gems.

Helpful tips include the following:

  • Use the TransitApp to plan your trips and get alerts about service disruptions.
  • Consider buying a weekly or monthly pass if you're staying longer and plan to use transit frequently.

Best Time to Visit Toronto on a Budget

To save money on accommodations and enjoy fewer crowds, plan your visit during Toronto's shoulder seasons. Shoulder seasons are considered to be spring (April to May) and fall (September to November). While the summer offers warmer weather and popular festivals like Luminato and Caribana, hotel and flight prices are higher.

Look for free events throughout the year, such as the Toronto International Film Festival in September. You can also check out the Nuit Blanche art festival in October and the Cavalcade of Lights in November.

Sample itinerary for a budget-friendly Toronto trip

An illustration relating to photography and photo editing

Here's a 2–3-day itinerary covering cheap eats, free attractions, and affordable accommodations.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3


Experiencing Toronto on a budget is possible with careful planning and insider knowledge. And, you can enjoy all these incredible city offerings without overspending. Take advantage of affordable accommodations, cheap eats, free attractions, and budget-friendly transportation.

Whether you're a budget traveller or simply looking to save money on your next adventure, Toronto should be at the top of your list.

So, start planning your 2024 visit to “The Six”—your wallet and sense of wanderlust will thank you!

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Frequently asked questions

  • How to explore Toronto on a budget?

    To explore Toronto on a budget, stay in affordable accommodations like hostels or vacation rentals, eat at markets and ethnic eateries, take advantage of free walking tours and public attractions, and use public transit or bike shares to get around.

  • Is Toronto a cheap place to travel?

    While Toronto is known for its high cost of living, budget travellers can still enjoy the city by being smart about accommodations, dining, attractions, and transportation. There are plenty of free and low-cost activities and affordable places to stay and eat.

  • What salary do you need to live in Toronto?

    The cost of living in Toronto is relatively high, so the salary needed to live comfortably depends on factors like lifestyle, family size, and housing. However, budget travellers can still enjoy the city by prioritizing expenses and using cost-saving tips and resources.

  • Is Toronto expensive or cheap?

    Compared to other major cities in Canada and North America, Toronto is considered expensive in terms of housing, transportation, and dining out. However, savvy travellers can find ways to experience the city on a budget by staying in affordable accommodations, eating at markets and ethnic eateries, and enjoying free or low-cost attractions and activities.

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