The drive time from Buffalo to Toronto is approximately 99.4 mi (160 km). If you are going on a road trip from Buffalo to Toronto, we compiled some great stops along the way. These include Niagara Falls, Hamilton, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Vaughan, Lincoln, Mississauga, Burlington, and St. Catharines.
Amongst the top places are Buffalo Naval Park, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House, and the ever-popular Canalside. Buffalo is Toronto’s US neighbor city, connected via a modern highway system. We have compiled a list of things you should take for the journey and what to expect.
Factors Influencing Drive Time
Table Of Contents
Road Conditions and Traffic Patterns
Rush Hour Congestion
You might not avoid rush hour, but you will save yourself more time and trouble. Buffalo’s rush hour is from 7 am to 9 am and from 3 pm to 5 pm. Keep up to date with road conditions. Live Navigation helps you know which roads are crowded. Avoid, by all means, trying to arrive in Toronto before 10 a.m. Avoid the return trip from 3 pm to 6 or 7 pm. If you intend to arrive at 10 am, you will have a long day if you wait till after 7 to head back.
Weekday vs. Weekend Travel
Weekends are much more congested than weekdays. Weekends tend to peak later and be busiest between 6 and 10 p.m. For a busy port, travel as early as possible or later in the evening.
Weather Impact on Travel
Knowing the weather along your route can help make your trip safe and enjoyable. Toronto experiences higher temperatures and more heat events, and you can experience approximately 66 days with maximum temperatures above 30°C.
Border Crossing Considerations
Documentation and Identification
Entry into Canada requires proof of citizenship and identity. That includes a valid U.S. passport, ID card, or NEXUS card (Cbp.gov). Minors age 15 and under must have a birth certificate, passport, citizenship card and a permanent resident card.
Customs and Immigration Procedures
Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Canada must declare goods from outside Canada
Choosing the Optimal RouteSee Route Map
Via Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW)
The Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) is a 400-series highway in the Canadian province of Ontario linking Toronto with Buffalo, New York . The freeway starts at the Peace Bridge in Fort Erie, ending at Highway 427 in Toronto. The QEW is one of Ontario’s busiest highways, with almost 200,000 vehicles per day. The freeway circles the western lakehead of Lake Ontario, St. Catharines, Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville, and Mississauga en route. When driving towards Toronto, the route is QEW Toronto throughout its length.
Through Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls is the most popular city on the route and is less than an hour from Buffalo and 1 hour from Toronto. The route takes you through vast and beautiful Niagara Falls, which straddles the Canadian border. Enjoy scenic viewpoints such as the Observation Tower at Prospect Point in Niagara Falls State Park or explore other trails from the Niagara Gorge Discovery Center.
There are several border crossings between the two countries in the Buffalo area. These include the Peace Bridge, the Rainbow Bridge, and the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge.
Scenic Stops Along the Way
Exploring Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls is on the Niagara River. What makes the city popular is the vast and beautiful Niagara Falls, which straddles the Canadian border. It features multiple scenic viewpoints such as the Observation Tower at Prospect Point in Niagara Falls State Park or trails from the Niagara Gorge Discovery Center (Niagarafallslive.com).
The Aquarium of Niagara is also a must-visit for animal lovers. There are Humboldt penguins, seals, and sea lions. Niagara Falls connects to the U.S. through the Rainbow Bridge. Its western shore offers breathtaking views of Horseshoe Falls, known for its expansive cascades.
- Casa Loma
- McKinley Death Rock
- Buffalo Central Terminal
- Electric Tower
Estimated Drive Time
The average duration from Buffalo to Toronto is 1 hr 52 min. That is if there is less traffic and no detours. The speed limit on city and town streets and roads is 50 km/h, and elsewhere is 80 km/h.
Peak Travel Times
Expect delays due to road conditions. Check the road conditions from Toronto to Buffalo and plan your trip. Road maintenance operations will take some of your time. Avoid driving during peak driving hours. That is between midnight and 6 a.m. and in the late afternoon. Stick to when your energy is the highest.
Insider Tips for a Smooth Drive
Preparing for the Journey
Keep your vehicle registration and proof of insurance available. Identification is important, hence the need for your ID.
Snacks and Refreshments
- Energy bars
- Energy cookies
Entertainment for the Drive
Planning Breaks and Rest Stops
Rest Stop Options
Rest Areas and Service Plazas
The Whitney Point rest stop features picnic tables, a great view outside, and vending machines and benches indoors, but there is no gas (Whitneypoint.org). The bathrooms have composting toilets, which can be disconcerting for children. Prepare your children if they will be using the bathrooms there.
Points of Interest En Route
- Niagara Falls
- CN Tower
- Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
- Journey Behind the Falls
- St. Lawrence Market
Combatting Driver Fatigue
- Get enough sleep beforehand
- Have a pre-driving nap
- Enjoy a mid-drive nap
- Move around when you get tired
- Play loud music
- Stay hydrated
- Chew gum
If you are not riding solo and have company in the car with you, who is of driving age and can legally drive, consider switching with them for a while. That gives you space to revive the energy.
Crossing the Border Effortlessly
Scan your travel document, take your photo, and answer a few questions on your declaration. You must declare purchased goods, gifts, prizes or awards, goods bought at a duty-free shop that is still in your possession, and the value of any work.
- Obscene material
- Hate propaganda
- Child pornography
- Counterfeit coins
- Goods made by prisoners intended for sale Firewood
- Weapons, such as tasers, brass knuckles, pepper spray, and certain knives.
- A valid travel document, like a passport
- Good health
- No criminal record
Temporary Travel Restrictions
Temporary Travel Restrictions are applicable to land ports of entry and ferry service between the United States, Canada, and Mexico. These include a temporary limit on traveling from Canada and Mexico into the United States at land ports of entry along the United States-Canada and United States-Mexico border. Traveling will be limited to essential travel due to Covid 19.
Local Regulations and Roadway Information
Speed Limits and Traffic Laws
Understanding Canadian Regulations
Statutory speed limits are 50 km/h (31 mph) in urban areas and 80 km/h (50 mph) in rural areas. Canadians drive on the right-hand side of the road and pass on the left. Make stops at red lights and stop signs otherwise, you will get a ticket. Pedestrians always have the right of way, and speed limits are followed and enforced with photo radar detectors.
Metric System Conversion
The Canada Metric Act sets forth the regulation of measurements and the commerce conducted using measuring devices. The International System of Measurement should be with Customary units used with the international system, such as hours, minutes, liters, hectares, tonne, or metric tons.
Toll Roads and Fees
ETR 407 Express Toll Route
The 407 ETR runs east-west just north of Toronto, from Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) to Highway 7. It connects with six interchanges on the 400 series highways: 401, 403, 410, 427, 400, and 404.
You can pay for toll roads in Canada online, or over the phone with Visa, Mastercard, or American Express. You pay a toll for each border crossing into the United States and back into Canada. At some border crossings, paying in cash for the toll is an option.
Exploring Toronto Upon Arrival
Acclimating to the City
Understanding Public Transit
The best way to get around Toronto is by public transportation. The Toronto Transit Commission runs three modes. That is subway, streetcar, and bus. Use a token or a pass to travel on TTC; day and week passes allow unlimited rides on all three forms of public transport.
Renting a Vehicle
To rent a small car in Toronto, Canada, expect an average price of 55/day. January is the cheapest month, while August is not affordable.
CN Tower and SkyPod
SkyPod is the highest observation platform in the Western Hemisphere, with 33 stories higher than the Main Observation Level and 447 meters above the ground. You can feel the Tower sway in the wind. The Skypod level of the CN Tower is smaller than the main observation deck, with the windows at a different angle. This angle gives visitors a different perspective than the lower, main observation deck. If you are obsessed with city views, try the SkyPod, but for a quick visit, then it might not be for you.
The Distillery Historic District opened in 2003. Canada’s premier arts, culture, and entertainment destination. It is filled with creativity and creative people. Buy your tickets at the Distillery District Winter Village website. Explore it during a walking tour or a Segway tour.
In summation, there are numerous stops from Buffalo to Toronto. Expect beautiful waterfalls in Niagara Falls, the beautiful CN Tower, and a Canadian Aquarium. For a better experience, do not travel during peak hours and research the weather. Remember to take your documents with you. That is the passport, I.D., and license. Prepare to fill out a declaration form.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Q: How long is the drive from Buffalo to Toronto on average?
A: The average drive time is approximately 2 hours. The actual journey time will vary depending on traffic, border control, weather and other factors.
Q: Are there any border-crossing tips I should be aware of?
A: When crossing borders, like from the United States to Canada, keep these tips in mind:
- Valid Identification: Use accepted ID like a passport or enhanced driver’s license, depending on requirements.
- Visa Requirements: Understand if you need a visa or qualify for visa-free entry in your destination country. Check their official government website for details.
- Travel Documentation: Keep essential travel documents accessible, including your passport, visa (if needed), itinerary, and supporting papers like hotel reservations.
- Prohibited Items: Learn local customs and immigration regulations. Be aware of banned or restricted items. Declare when necessary and prepare for inspections.
- Travel Insurance: Consider travel insurance covering trip cancellations, medical emergencies, and lost luggage. Review policy terms and limits.
- Know the Rules: Research the specific border crossing rules and hours of operation for your chosen route.
- Travel Alerts: Check government travel advisories for safety and security updates.
- Currency and Banking: Familiarize yourself with local currency and exchange rates. Notify your bank of your travel plans.
- Language: Learn basic phrases or use translation apps if the destination has a different official language.
- Travel Apps: Download helpful travel apps for navigation, currency conversion, and more.
- Emergency Contacts: Carry emergency contact information, including your country’s embassy or consulate in the destination.
- Plan Ahead: Arrive at the border with extra time to account for potential delays, especially during peak hours.
Q: Can I drive to Toronto during the winter?
A: Toronto experiences winter weather, including snowfall, freezing temperatures, and icy roads, like many other northern cities. To drive to Toronto in winter:
- Check Weather Forecasts: Monitor weather for your location and Toronto to prepare for snow storms or freezing rain.
- Winterize Your Vehicle: Equip it with winter tires, antifreeze, and cold-weather windshield washer fluid. Ensure your battery, brakes, and heating work.
- Pack Emergency Supplies: Carry a kit with blankets, flashlight, non-perishable food, water, a first-aid kit, and a shovel for delays or road closures.
- Drive Cautiously: Slow down, increase following distance, and use headlights on slippery roads.
- Plan Your Route: Know alternate routes for possible road closures due to weather.
- Monitor Road Conditions: Check online resources or apps for real-time road and traffic updates.
- Stay Informed: Tune into local radio for traffic and weather reports. Use a weather app for alerts.
- Adjust Your Schedule: Be flexible and consider delaying or taking breaks in severe weather.
- Plan Accommodations: Prepare for overnight stays if needed due to unsafe road conditions.
- Drive Safely: Prioritize safety; if conditions worsen, postpone or cancel your trip.
Q: What’s the best time to avoid heavy traffic on the route?
A: To avoid heavy traffic on your route, consider the following:
- Weekdays Outside Rush Hours: Plan your trip during mid-morning or mid-afternoon to avoid peak commute times typically from 7:00 AM to 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM in urban areas.
- Non-Peak Days: Tuesday and Wednesday often have lighter traffic than Mondays and Fridays due to varying work schedules. Thursdays can also offer smoother traffic conditions.
- Watch for Special Events: Check the local event calendar for concerts, sports games, or festivals that could cause unexpected delays.
- Holiday Travel: While holidays generally have lighter traffic due to fewer people working, major holidays can still see congestion as people travel for leisure.
- Use Traffic Apps: Employ navigation apps like Google Maps, Waze, or GPS systems for real-time traffic updates and alternative routes.
- Consider Overnight Travel: If feasible, travel during late night or early morning hours when traffic is typically lighter.
- Leverage Local Knowledge: Reach out to contacts at your destination for insights on the best times to travel and avoid traffic.
Q: Is there a scenic route option with notable attractions along the way?
A: There’s a scenic route from Buffalo to Toronto via Niagara Falls, offering notable attractions:
- Niagara Falls: Witness the falls’ power and beauty, explore viewpoints, or take a boat tour like the Maid of the Mist.
- Niagara Falls State Park (American side): Offers hiking trails, observation towers, and the Cave of the Winds for a close-up experience.
- Canadian side attractions: Explore the Butterfly Conservatory and Skylon Tower for panoramic views.
- Niagara-on-the-Lake: A charming town with historic architecture, wineries, and Lake Ontario views.
- Wineries: The Niagara region boasts wineries on both sides of the border, ideal for wine tasting and scenic views.
- Welland Canal: Stop by to see ships navigating the locks if you’re interested in engineering marvels.
- Dufferin Islands: Small islands near Niagara Falls with serene walking paths and gardens.
- Bruce Trail: For nature enthusiasts, parts of the Bruce Trail offer picturesque vistas and short hikes.
- Historic sites: Look for historic markers like Old Fort Erie or Fort George along the way.
The journey takes approximately 1.5 to 2 hours, providing a memorable and picturesque route between Buffalo and Toronto.
A: COVID-19 travel restrictions change frequently. Before planning your trip:
- Check Official Sources: Visit your destination and home country’s government or health department websites for up-to-date travel info.
- Review Airlines and Travel Sites: Check airlines and travel websites for the latest guidelines, including mask rules and testing procedures.
- Consult Travel Insurance: Review your policy to know what it covers for COVID-19-related issues.
- Monitor the Situation: Stay updated on COVID-19 in your departure and arrival areas. Watch for changes in infection rates, vaccinations, and new variants.
- Plan Flexibly: Due to travel uncertainties, book refundable tickets and accommodations. Prepare for potential disruptions.
- Prioritize Health: Follow safety guidelines: wear masks, social distance, and practice good hygiene during your journey.
- Check Vaccination and Testing: Be aware of vaccination and testing requirements. Many places need proof of vaccination or negative test results for entry.
Q: What are some family-friendly attractions in Toronto?
A: Toronto offers various family-friendly attractions:
- Toronto Zoo: One of the world’s largest zoos with 5,000+ animals representing global species. Explore exhibits like the African Savanna, Gorilla Rainforest, and Tundra Trek. They also host children’s events.
- Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada: Located near the CN Tower, it’s an immersive underwater experience. Families can observe thousands of aquatic creatures, including sharks, jellyfish, and sea turtles. Interactive exhibits and touch tanks enhance the experience.
- Ontario Science Centre: Perfect for interactive learning. Hands-on exhibits explore science and technology. Kids can conduct experiments, watch live science demos, and stargaze in the planetarium. Special exhibitions on space, biology, and more.
- Royal Ontario Museum (ROM): Canada’s largest museum, featuring world cultures, natural history, artifacts, dinosaur fossils, and art collections. Regularly hosts family-friendly events and activities.
- High Park: An expansive urban park offering picnics, nature walks, and the Jamie Bell Adventure Playground for kids.
- Toronto Islands: Accessible by ferry, it offers beaches, picnic spots, bike rentals, and scenic views of the city skyline. Centre Island has attractions like Centreville Amusement Park for younger children.
- Ontario Place: A waterfront entertainment complex with a water park, Cinesphere IMAX theatre, and a scenic promenade. Ideal for family outings, especially in the summer.
Q: Is parking easily available in downtown Toronto?
A: Downtown Toronto is a bustling urban center with a high demand for parking spaces. While you can certainly find parking options, the availability and cost can vary widely depending on the time of day, day of the week, and specific location within downtown.
To help you navigate the parking situation in downtown Toronto, here are some key points to consider:
- Parking Facilities: There are numerous parking garages and lots scattered throughout downtown Toronto. These facilities are typically the most reliable option for finding parking. Some are operated privately, while others are city-owned. It’s a good idea to identify nearby parking structures in advance and have a backup plan in case your first choice is full.
- Street Parking: Street parking is available in certain areas of downtown Toronto, but it can be limited and often comes with time restrictions and metered fees. Be sure to check for signage indicating parking rules and times, as these can vary from one street to another.
- Parking Fees: Parking rates can be quite high in the heart of the city. Be prepared for varying hourly or daily rates, and consider using mobile apps or websites that provide real-time information on parking prices and availability. Some facilities also offer early bird or evening discounts, so timing your visit strategically can save you money.
- Public Transportation: Given the potential challenges of parking in downtown Toronto, you may want to consider using the city’s efficient public transportation system, including buses, streetcars, and the subway. This can be a convenient and cost-effective alternative to driving and parking.
- Weekends and Holidays: Parking may be more readily available and possibly cheaper on weekends and holidays, as some businesses and offices may be closed, reducing the overall demand for parking spaces.
- Plan Ahead: To ensure a smooth parking experience, it’s advisable to plan your trip, including your parking strategy, in advance. Use online maps and parking apps to locate nearby parking facilities, check rates, and monitor real-time availability.