Just because the weather outside is frightful, doesn’t mean you can’t have a blast in the city. Toronto is a winter wonderland with plenty of activities to keep you busy. In this guide, we will share all the fun things to do in Toronto in winter along with packing, sightseeing, and travel tips!
Now, Toronto is a great city to visit any time of year, but there’s something special about it in winter. The streets are lined with twinkling lights, the trees are dusted with snow, and there’s a festive feeling in the air.
If you’re thinking of paying a visit to Toronto in winter, you are in for a treat!
Toronto in winter guide: Things to do in Toronto in winter
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Why visit Toronto in winter? Reasons to visit Toronto in the winter
Many people might write off visiting Toronto in winter because of the cold weather. But there are actually many reasons to visit Toronto during this time of year!
Here are a few reasons why you should consider coming to Toronto during winter.
Get a taste of the real Canada
Sure, it might be cold in Toronto during winter, but that’s part of the charm!
Embrace the winter weather and get a taste of what it’s like to live in a real Canadian city.
You can go ice skating at Nathan Phillips Square, wander through the Distillery District while it’s all decked out for Christmas, or cozy up with a warm drink at one of Toronto’s many great cafés.
See the city in a whole new light
There’s something special about seeing a big city covered in snow. Everything looks so different—and so beautiful!
Take a walk around Toronto and see the sights in a whole new light.
Winter is also a great time to take advantage of some of Toronto’s great rooftop bars and patios, where you can enjoy stunning views of the cityscape while staying warm and cozy indoors.
Enjoy world-class winter festivals
Toronto is home to some of the best winter festivals in the world. From IceFest, where you can see incredible ice sculptures to the Winter Lights Festival, where you can enjoy a mile-long lane of festive decorations on a scenic route.
From outdoor activities to art installations, Christmas markets, and food trucks, there’s something for everyone at Toronto’s winter festivals.
The food is even better in winter
There’s nothing like warming up with a bowl of chili or a hot chocolate from one of Toronto’s many great restaurants.
And if you’re looking for something a little more unique, there are always pop-up restaurants and food trucks to check out in winter.
You can save money by visiting in winter
Hotel rates are typically lower in winter, so if you’re looking to visit Toronto on a budget, this is the time to do it.
Plus, many attractions offer discounted rates during the off-season as well.
Where to stay in Toronto Ontario?
Hotel recommendations for Toronto,
- Fairmont Royal York: Stay at this 5-star property during your winter trip to Toronto. Fairmont Royal York is housed in a 1929 building, and it features beautiful rooms, with spacious sitting areas and some suites also have a kitchenette. The CN tower is only a 13-minute walk away, plus the Harbourfront centre is a few steps away. Book your stay here
- Ritz Carlton Toronto: Located in downtown Toronto, this property means staying in the city in style. The building and its suites ooze a lot of luxe and are perfect if you have a good budget. Find more details here
- Drake Hotel: This a mid-budget hotel located in a nice neighborhood and surrounded by contemporary art, culture, and genuine hospitality. There is live music and a cool eatery inside. Book your stay here
If you don’t love the cold but still want to experience all that winter has to offer, Toronto is the perfect place for you. Compared to cities like Edmonton and Calgary, Toronto is warmer in the winter.
With so many great indoor activities and plenty of places to eat and drink, you can have all the fun of winter without having to deal with any of the negatives.
Toronto Canada winter weather & temperature
Toronto is a city that experiences all four seasons, and winter is no exception. The winter months in Toronto are from December to February.
During this time temperatures typically drop to around -10 degrees Celsius. Toronto is also prone to occasional cold snaps, which can send temperatures plunging even lower.
You can expect snow on the ground beyond February, but come March – things clear up.
|December||2° C (35° F)||– 4° C (25° F)|
|January||– 1° C (30° F)||– 7° C (19° F)|
|February||0° (32° F)||– 6 ° C (21° F)|
In December and January, you can enjoy festive activities, retail sales, seasonal menus, and special packages for tours and accommodation. Snowfall is common, and rains are rare. In fact, January is the least rainy month of the year.
January is the coldest month of the year as well, and it is also the cheapest to fly to Toronto (and not crowded).
Toronto winter temperature
What is the weather like in the winter in Toronto?
- Does it snow in Toronto? Yes, you will find the city covered under a blanket of snow for the most part of winter. It is cold, and winter clothing will be required at all times. Snowfall and snow on the ground are possible from mid-December to mid-March.
- How cold does it get in Toronto? Oh yes, it does get/feels cold! Minus 10 degrees C is an average for the season. Some days when the sun is out and shining bright, it might look nice and warm, but it is deceiving – it will be cold and layering is a key to enjoying winters in Toronto. Keep in mind the windchill can make temperatures feel more severe!
What to pack for Toronto in winter?
Before you start packing your bags for Toronto, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Chief among them? Make sure you have the right gear to keep you warm and dry during your stay.
Here’s a quick guide to help you pack everything you need for a memorable—and comfortable—trip to Canada this winter.
1. A Heavy coat or parka: Temperatures in Toronto Canada can dip well below freezing during the winter months, so make sure you pack a coat that will keep you warm and dry.
A heavy wool coat or a down-filled parka are both great choices.
2. Waterproof boots: Another must-have item for any winter trip is a good pair of waterproof boots.
You’ll be doing a lot of walking while you’re in Canada, so make sure your feet are comfortable by packing a pair of sturdy, supportive boots that will also keep your feet dry in case you step in any puddles or snow banks along the way.
3. Hats, scarves, and gloves: Don’t forget the accessories! A hat, scarf, and gloves are essential for keeping warm when temperatures start to plummet.
Choose items that are easy to pack and that can be layered for added warmth if necessary.
4. Thermal underwear: Thermal underwear (or long johns) is always a good idea when traveling in cold weather—it provides an extra layer of warmth without adding bulk or taking up too much space in your suitcase.
Pack one pair per person for each day of your trip, plus an extra pair just in case.
5. An emergency kit: In case of emergencies, it’s always good to have a few key items on hand—especially when traveling in a foreign country.
Your emergency kit should include items like bandages, pain relief medication, antacid tablets, and any other medications you or anyone in your party might need while on your trip.
You should also pack a small first-aid kit containing items like band-aids and gauze pads—just in case anyone gets hurt while exploring all that Canada has to offer during its winter months!
With these essential items packed and ready to go, you’ll be all set for an unforgettable trip to Canada this winter!
Tip: Just remember to dress in layers, wear comfortable shoes, and pack plenty of snacks and drinks to keep yourself fueled throughout your journey.
How to get around Toronto in winter? Airport, and local transportation
Toronto International Airport is the perfect starting point for the country from overseas. You can use public transportation to transfer to the city’s core. Grab airport to city transfer tickets here
In order to get around in the city, or travel to other cities and Niagara Falls, we recommend using public transportation or tours.
Renting a car is not necessary if you are planning to explore Toronto.
The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) is the city’s public transit system, and it’s an essential tool for getting around during winter. Make sure you know how to use it before your trip so you don’t get stranded in the cold.
TTC operates buses, streetcars, subways, and trains throughout the city.
If you’re not sure where to start your sightseeing, consider taking a tour. We will round up some of our favorite tours below:
27+ Fun Things to do in Toronto in Winter
Toronto is a magical place during the colder months and there’s so much to do! Here are all the inside scoop and our local favorites from the city,
1. Go ice skating at Nathan Phillips Square
One of the best things about winter in Toronto is Nathan Phillips Square. Nestled in the heart of downtown, Nathan Phillips Square is home to a variety of events and activities all winter long.
One of the most popular is the free outdoor rink, which is open from mid-November to early March.
Skating is FREE for all ages, and there’s a rental place to borrow one if you don’t have your own skates.
If you’re feeling hungry after all that skating, be sure to stop by one of the on-site food trucks for a bite to eat.
2. Take a walk through the Distillery District
Toronto is a city filled with the coolest gems, and the Distillery District is one of its most charming.
Located in the heart of the city, the Distillery District is home to a variety of shops, restaurants, and cafes. In the winter, the district is transformed into a magical winter wonderland, with twinkling lights and festive decorations.
One of the best ways to experience the magic of the Distillery District is to take a walk through it.
On a cold winter day, there’s nothing better than strolling through this charming neighborhood, and stopping to warm up with a hot cup of coffee or cocoa.
You can also book a guided tour with a local expert and soak in the festive vibes of the Distillery District.
- The must-visit Distillery Winter Village is set up in the district from late November to December.
- Toronto Lights Festival is held here from mid January to March.
3. Tobogganing down the hills at Riverdale Park East
There’s nothing like the feeling of sliding down a snow-covered hill on your tummy, with city views and an amazing soundtrack to keep you pumped up.
Riverdale Park East has long been popular among locals for its perfect combination between thrilling adventures in winter wonderland terrain plus one incredible view over downtown Toronto!
The park is 18 hectares and is located near Danforth and Broadview avenues. Riverdale’s wide hill provides quick, thrilling sled rides with its straight, and steep descent.
4. Explore Christmas Markets in Toronto
There are plenty of Christmas markets to choose from in Toronto. Some of our favorites include the Distillery Historic District Christmas Market, St Lawrence Market, Flatiron Holiday Market, and Scarborough Town Centre Holiday Market.
These markets are great places to do your holiday shopping while supporting local businesses. And what could be more festive than that?
Toronto Christmas Market or Distillery Winter Village
Dates: November 17 to December 31, 2022
This is one of the prime Christmas markets in the city. Filled with shops, food stalls, lights, and festive decorations and entertainment, the Distillery Winter Village is a must-add to your Toronto winter activities.
Ticket information here
Nathan Philips Square Christmas Markets – Holiday Fair at the Square
Dates: December 2 to 23 2022
Enjoy outdoor skating and festive markets at Nathan Philips Square in downtown Toronto. Entry is free. More details here
5. Enjoy Winter Festivals in Toronto
Take part in numerous winter festivals in Toronto. We will list our favorites here
Toronto Light Festival
One of the most popular winter events in Toronto is the Toronto Light Festival. This event takes place at the historic Distillery District in which light installations are set up across the neighborhood.
This event kicks off after the Winter Village/Christmas Markets are gone – in January.
Enjoy an illuminated walk through the district in the winter from mid-January to March.
And there’s a weekly schedule of performing arts, food trucks, and other family-friendly activities. Best of all, admission is free!
Cavalcade of Lights
The Cavalcade of Lights is an annual event that takes place at Nathan Phillips Square. This year’s event will feature a tree-lighting ceremony, live entertainment, an outdoor market, and more.
The Cavalcade of Lights is the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit.
Winter Festival of Lights
The Winter Festival of Lights takes place along the scenic route of Niagara Parkway. You can take in interactive illuminations, fireworks, and festive events from the comfort of your car seats.
Glow is an annual winter lights festival where you can enjoy illuminated gardens, structures, delicious food, and live entertainment indoors! This is perfect for families or newcomers to the city who are not used to the cold!
Bloor-Yorkville Ice Fest
This decades-old winter festival takes place in the Bloor-Yorkville neighborhood. You can see amazing displays of crystal-clear ice in magical structures!
Plus there is music! And this is a FREE event as well!
6. Shop, eat and chill out at the St Lawrence Market
Although many of Toronto’s popular markets are only open during the warmer months or catered around seasonal festivities, there are still a few that brave the cold and operate year-round, and St. Lawrence Market is one of them.
Located in the heart of downtown Toronto, the market features vendors selling everything from fresh produce to artisanal cheeses to handmade goods.
There’s also a wide selection of restaurants offering cuisines from all over the world.
So whether you’re looking for a unique gift or just want to take a stroll and soak up the festive atmosphere, St. Lawrence Market is definitely worth a visit this winter in Toronto.
This is your spot to try the World Famous Peameal Bacon Sandwich! YUMMM! Enjoy a food tour at St Lawrence Market!
7. Visit Kensington Market during the winter solstice
Kensington Market is home to an array of unique shops and restaurants, all of which come to life during the winter months.
From cozy cafes serving up warm drinks to independent boutiques selling one-of-a-kind gifts, Kensington Market has something for everyone.
When in town, head there during the winter solstice – on December 21st and enjoy the festive ambiance!
Kensington Market neighborhood is a designated Canada National Historic Site.
You might like this tour: Chinatown and Kensington Market tour
8. Climb up the CN Tower (in style)
Toronto’s iconic landmark is the CN Tower. This structure is one of the tallest free-standing towers in the world, and it offers stunning views of the city skyline.
Visitors can take an elevator to the top, where they can walk around the outdoor Observation Deck or enjoy a meal at one of the tower’s restaurants.
The CN Tower is a must-see for anyone visiting Toronto, and it’s sure to provide an unforgettable experience – even in the winter.
In fact, in the winter you can soak in the views of the snow-dusted landscape from above!
9. Explore the Casa Loma
Toronto is a city that comes alive in the winter. The chilly weather and the festive atmosphere make it the perfect place to visit during the holiday season.
And there’s no better way to experience Toronto than by visiting Casa Loma.
Casa Loma is a castle built by Sir Henry Pellatt for himself and his family (20th century).
This grandiose castle is located in the heart of the city and it’s surrounded by a winter wonderland of sorts – from snow-covered gardens to festive lights, Casa Loma is a magical place to visit during the winter months.
Tours of the castle are available throughout the day, and there’s also a cafe on site.
So whether you’re looking for a fun activity for the family or a romantic date night, be sure to add Casa Loma to your Toronto itinerary.
Tickets: Get entry tickets for Casa Loma here
10. Take a leisurely walk Through Allan Gardens Conservancy
Allan Gardens are the only botanical garden located in downtown Toronto which is great to warm up when it’s cold outside. Plus it is FREE!
The Conservancy features several gardens, including a large greenhouse filled with tropical plants and towering palm trees. You can stay warm inside while taking in the snowy views outside the glass dome.
Whether you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city or simply warm up in the midst of exotic plants, then the Allan Gardens Conservancy is definitely worth a visit.
11. Tour the ROM
When it is super cold outside, run to the ROM – Royal Ontario Museum. Toronto is home to some of the best museums in the world, and ROM is definitely one of them. In fact, it is the most visited in the country.
With over six million items on display, the ROM offers something for everyone. From dinosaurs and mummies to ancient artifacts and stunning artwork, there is truly something for everyone at the Royal Ontario Museum.
Tickets: Get entry tickets for ROM here
12. Marvel at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto
Toronto is home to many world-renowned museums and galleries, but one of the most popular is the Art Gallery of Ontario.
The AGO boasts an impressive collection of art from all over the world, as well as a number of rotating exhibitions that highlight specific artists or periods.
Visitors can also take advantage of the AGO’s educational programs, which offer insight into the gallery’s collections and provide opportunities for hands-on learning.
Whether you’re a Toronto native or just visiting, be sure to add the Art Gallery of Ontario to your list of must-see attractions.
13. Visit the Hockey Hall of Fame
If you’re a hockey fan, the Hockey Hall of Fame is a must-visit while you’re in Toronto.
The museum has exhibits on the history of the sport as well as on contemporary players and teams. You can even try your hand at shooting a puck into an interactive goal!
14. Spend an afternoon at the Bata Shoe Museum
Toronto is home to a wealth of cultural attractions, and the Bata Shoe Museum is one of the city’s most unique.
The museum houses an impressive collection of shoes, ranging from ancient Egyptian sandals to modern sneakers. Visitors can learn about the history and construction of shoes, as well as their cultural significance.
The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions, which have included collections of North American native footwear and famous Toronto snowshoes.
Whether you’re a fashion aficionado or just looking for something different, the Bata Shoe Museum is definitely worth a visit.
15. Go on a day trip to Niagara Falls from Toronto
Toronto is an amazing city to visit in winter, and a day trip to Niagara Falls is a great idea!
The Falls are located just a short drive from Toronto, and they offer a fantastic winter wonderland experience. You can also embark on day tours – and there are many to choose from.
The Falls are beautiful year-round, but they are especially stunning in winter when they are covered in ice and snow.
Visitors can take a walk along the viewing platform, see the frozen Niagara River, or even wait until the evening for fireworks!
There are also plenty of other winter activities to enjoy in the area including wine tasting, bowling, ice skating, and more.
16. Go skating at the Harbourfront centre
The Harbourfront Centre in Toronto is the perfect place to go skating in winter. The rink is located right on the waterfront, so you can skate while enjoying stunning views of Lake Ontario and of course the city’s skyline.
And when you need a break from skating, you can warm up in one of the many restaurants or cafes nearby.
17. Join a food tour
Toronto is a food lover’s paradise, with cuisine from all over the world represented in its restaurants. From traditional Canadian dishes to exotic fusion fare, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
If you’re looking to get the most out of your Toronto dining experience, consider joining a food tour.
Here are some of the popular ones
- 3–Hour Secret Food Tour
- Local Craft Beer, History and Culture Tour
- 3 to 8 hour Private Tour with a Local
Toronto food tours offer a great way to sample a variety of dishes from different restaurants in a single day. You’ll also learn about the city’s culinary history and get a chance to meet some of its top chefs.
Best of all, food tours are a great way to meet new people and make new friends.
18. Bundle up and stroll through Graffiti Alley
Toronto is a city with plenty of personalities, and nowhere is that more evident than in Graffiti Alley. This stretch of colorful wall art is located in the heart of the city, and it’s a popular spot for both locals and tourists.
Whether you’re looking for a photo op or just want to soak up some of Toronto’s unique culture, a stroll through Graffiti Alley is a must.
The Alley is about 1000 feet long and always changing. We recommend spending 10 minutes or so in Queen Street West when you are in the area for sightseeing here.
19. Enjoy afternoon tea at the Windsor Arms Hotel
Toronto is a bustling city with plenty to see and do. But sometimes, it’s nice to just slow down and enjoy some of the finer things in life.
If you’re looking for an elegant afternoon escape, look no further than the Windsor Arms Hotel.
This luxury hotel offers a traditional afternoon tea service that will transport you to another era. Sip on delicate teas as you nibble on finger sandwiches, pastries, and scones.
The Windsor Arms Hotel is the perfect place to indulge in a little bit of luxury. And who knows – an afternoon tea at the Windsor Arms just might become your new Toronto tradition.
20. Visit the Ontario Science Centre
The Ontario Science Centre Toronto is a great place to visit in winter. The Science Centre has a variety of interactive exhibits that are designed to educate and entertain visitors of all ages.
There are also a number of events and programs that take place at the Science Centre throughout the winter months.
Whether you’re interested in learning about the science of snowflakes or exploring the universe through a telescope, the Ontario Science Centre Toronto is sure to offer an enjoyable and educational experience.
21. See cool art installations by the waterfront
Yup! That’s right. Only in winter, and only at Toronto’s Ice Breakers on the Waterfront fest.
They are perfect for Instagrammable shots!
22. Shop at the finest malls
Toronto is a great place to go shopping in the winter. The city has a wide variety of malls, from large department stores to smaller specialty shops. Many of the malls are located in the downtown core, making them easy to get to by public transit.
And with the colder temperatures, you can enjoy some of the great Toronto restaurants and cafes while you shop.
Our favorites include – Toronto Eaton Centre, Yorkdale Mall, Fairview Mall, and Scarborough Town Centre!
So whether you’re looking for that perfect winter coat or just want to window-shop, Toronto’s malls are sure to have what you’re looking for.
23. Pig out at the Winterlicious food festival
Toronto in winter can be a magical place. The chilly weather and sparkling snow create a romantic atmosphere, and the city’s many attractions provide plenty of entertainment.
One of the best things about Toronto in winter is the Winterlicious food festival.
For two weeks, some of the city’s best restaurants offer special prix-fixe menus at an unbeatable prices. This is your chance to sample the finest cuisine Toronto has to offer without breaking the bank.
Winterlicious 2023 is to be held from January 27 to February 9, 2023.
24. Have fun at the Toronto Zoo
Toronto Zoo is located just 25 minutes’ drive away from downtown, and they are open all year round.
In the winter, they have a special trail (+ interactive winter map) that takes you through the zoo in a unique experience in a snow-filled ambiance!
25. Watch Toronto Maple Leafs at the Scotiabank Arena
There’s nothing quite like watching the Toronto Maple Leafs play at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto in winter. The atmosphere is electric, and the team always puts on a great show.
Plus, there’s no better place to enjoy a cold beer and some hot wings than in the middle of a packed arena.
If you’re looking for an exciting way to spend an evening, be sure to check out the Toronto Maple Leafs. You won’t be disappointed!
26. Enjoy the Bentway Skate Trail
Toronto in winter is all sorts of FUN, and one of the coolest is the Bentway Skate Trail. The trail is located under the Gardiner Expressway, and it’s a great place to skate in the winter.
The trail is well-maintained and there are plenty of places to rest and warm up.
27. Go cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in and around Toronto
In Toronto, you can enjoy cross-country skiing. The city has a variety of trails to choose from. Some of the most popular trails include the High Park, Toronto Island Park, and Don Valley Trail.
Each trail offers a different level of difficulty, so you can choose one that’s right for you.
If you’re new to cross country skiing, don’t worry! There are plenty of places that offer lessons. For example, the North Toronto Ski Club offers group and private lessons.
You can also learn downhill skiing and snowboarding at Earl Bales Park in Toronto.
Toronto in winter: Events and festivals calendar
|Nov 20, 2022||Toronto Santa Claus Parade|
|Nov 11 to Dec 31, 2022||Terra Lumina Night Walk|
|Nov 17 to Dec 31, 2022||Distillery Winter Village||Buy tickets here|
|Nov 19 to 20, 2022||Toronto Zoo Marketplace|
|Nov 26 to Dec 3, 2022||Kensington Winter Market|
|Dec 2 to 23, 2022||Nathan Philips Square Christmas Markets|
|Evergreen Brick Works’ Winter Village|
|Dec 21, 2022||Kensington Market winter solstice|
|Jan 27 to Feb 9, 2023||Winterlicious Food Festival|
Visit Toronto in winter this year
There’s no denying that Toronto can be a bit bleak during winter. But even though it may be cold outside, there’s still plenty to do in this great city.
From ice skating at Nathan Phillips Square, and snowshoeing at Toronto Islands to taking in the festive lights at the Cavalcade of Lights, there’s something for everyone in Toronto during winter.
So bundle up and enjoy all that this magical city has to offer!
We hope you found our post on Toronto winter activities useful in planning your trip!
Read more of our Toronto Canada guides here