Union Station

Top Things To Do in Toronto During a Layover

Published: January 1, 2023

When you have a layover, it’s all a question of time. Is there enough of it to leave the airport, get downtown, take in some sights or attractions and be back in time for your next flight? Luckily, UP Express makes it simple with fast and affordable 25-minute downtown service to Union Station from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport (YYZ).,

If your Toronto layover is 4 hours or less, you may want to stay at Pearson International Airport and explore. Feeling hungry? Grab some eats at Toronto’s famous Caplansky’s Deli (T3 after security) or Boccone Trattoria by Masimo Capra (T1 after security). Quench your thirst for local craft beer at the Mill Street Brewery Pub (T1 after security).

Man walking through Pearson airport terminal

There’s lots to do at Pearson International after you’ve finished re-fueling yourself, why not check out some of the Art Installations, do a little Shopping or explore some of the Premium Lounges? You could always visit one of several Spas, grab a Manicure or even see a Doctor at the walk-in clinic.
But what if you have more than 4 hours on your Toronto layover? What are some of the key things to do in Toronto that you can quickly take in? Union Station happens to be within perfect walking distance of several exciting attractions. The famous CN Tower is just a 9-minute walk west from Union Station. Standing over 1500 feet tall, those seeking a thrill can travel up the tower for a breathtaking view or a walk across the Glass Floor. The truly fearless may want to try Edge Walk. It’s the world’s highest full-circle hands-free walk around a 5-foot wide ledge on the top of the Tower’s main pod, 116 storeys above the ground.

Union Station

Heights not really your thing? You can always skip walking on the clouds for swimming at the bottom of the sea with exotic marine life at Ripley’s Aquarium Of Canada. Located just next door to the CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium features several different galleries full of sharks, rays and other fascinating fish along with a rotating special activity list.

Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is located a short walk from downtown Toronto’s UP Express Union Station

Maybe you’ve got time to catch a quick game of baseball; the Toronto Blue Jays play at the Rogers Centre which is adjacent to the CN Tower and Ripley’s Aquarium. The ballpark itself features souvenir shops and stadium tours when the Jays aren’t in action.
Feeling thirsty? Just down the street from all the above attractions you can find Steam Whistle Brewing. Famous for their pilsner-style beer, Steam Whistle brewery is located in an old converted train yard roundhouse. Take a tour of the historic roundhouse and discover some local history while seeing how a quality microbrew is made, or just take a load off at the bar!
If you’re hungry after that, you can always venture east of Union Station to St Lawrence Market. There you’ll find butchers, produce vendors, cheese mongers, and loads of freshly prepared food vendors selling delicious farm-fresh food.
Also just east of Union Station is where you’ll find the Hockey Hall Of Fame. Could there possibly be a more Canadian way to spend some time on a Toronto layover than stopping off at the hallowed shrine of Canada’s national past-time? We think not. Explore legendary players of the game, records, jerseys, films and interactive displays. Pick up a souvenir hockey puck at the gift shop.

Spirit of Hockey retail store

Maybe you just want to take it easy and walk around exploring Toronto’s vibrant waterfront. Harbourfront Centre down by the water offer lots to see and do by the beautiful lakeshore. After a short 12-minute walk south of Union Station, you’ll be rewarded with great views of the lake, places to shop, dine, and local artists looking to inspire and entertain you. There are marinas and boat tours available and even a skating rink with skates for rent in the winter months. You can even hop on a ferry or water taxi to the Toronto Islands where there are even more things to see and do.
If it’s some quick shopping you’re after, you can always head north of Union Station up to Queen Street. The stretch of Queen Street between University Avenue and Spadina Avenue features loads of boutique shopping, patios, and restaurants. For even more fantastic shopping, you can head over to The Eaton Centre which is also on Queen Street, just east of University just past Nathan Phillips Square and old City Hall.
Once you’ve seen and done everything you wanted to do on your Toronto layover, head back to Union Station, hop on the UP Express and be whisked back to Pearson International Airport in no time flat. Hopefully, there’ll still be a few items on your list of things to do in Toronto for the next time you come to visit us!