Nuts-and-bolts information to plan your trip, plus a checklist of essentials to include when you pack

Planning

Entry Requirements: U.S. citizens need a valid passport to enter Canada. No visa required for stays up to six months.

Security: Toronto is considered one of the safest major cities in North America. As with any metropolitan area, however, there are some unsavory districts off the typical tourist’s path and traditional tourist areas attract petty thieves. Keep your wallet and shopping bags close, and don’t leave valuables in the car.

Time: Toronto follows U.S. eastern standard time.

Money: The currency in Toronto is the Canadian dollar. U.S. dollars are accepted in most Toronto establishments, although you’ll receive change in Canadian funds and exchange rates will differ from merchant to merchant. For current conversion rates go to www.oanda.com/convert/classic.

Phone Calls: The area codes for Toronto are 416 and 647. For phone calls to Toronto from within Canada and the U.S., dial 1 416 seven-digit phone number. For phone calls to Toronto from outside Canada and the U.S., dial your country’s international access code 1 416 seven-digit phone number. In Toronto, local calls from a pay phone cost 50 cents.

When to Go: Toronto’s climes can be dramatic and prone to hostile extremes. Expect hot and (sometimes terrifically) humid weather in the summertime; winters invite leaden skies, below-freezing temperatures, and snow. Springtime (when ravines pop into minty bloom) or autumn (when trees burn into color) are the best times to visit. May, June, September, and October are prime months for travel.

Getting there

By Air: Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ, www.gtaa.com) is Canada’s principal airport. There are 76 scheduled and charter airlines currently serving Toronto Pearson International Airport. Air carriers provide nonstop service to 28 Canadian and 49 U.S. destinations and same-plane service to 76 international cities. Pearson Airport is located 17 miles (27 kilometers) from downtown and is accessible by public transit. The City Centre Airport (YTZ), located on the Toronto Island, provides flights to a host of Canadian cities (and now Newark, New Jersey) and links to the city by shuttle.

By Rail: VIA Rail (for reservations, call 1 888 842 7245, www.viarail.com) and Amtrak (www.amtrak.com) provide frequent daily service from Canadian and U.S. hubs into downtown Toronto’s Union Station.

Getting Around: Parking in downtown Toronto can prove a frustrating (and expensive) undertaking, and constant condo construction means fewer and fewer available spots. Renting a car is ill-advised. Toronto Transit Commission (TTC, www.toronto.ca/ttc) is considered one of North America’s finest (and cleanest) transportation systems. Subways, buses, and streetcars are relatively reliable and easy to navigate. GO Transit (www.gotransit.com) is Ontario’s inter-regional bus and train service, linking Toronto with its suburbs. Taxis in Toronto are plentiful and easy to hail. PATH (www.toronto.ca/path) is downtown Toronto’s underground walkway linking 16 miles (27 kilometers) of subterranean shopping, services, and entertainment: a boon on subzero winter days.

Checklist

Winter Wardrobe: For those brave enough to plan a sojourn in deep winter (January, February): pack a parka. The peacoat and woolies that might carry you through a Manhattan winter will not save you from aggressive Labrador winds. Down and Gore-Tex prove seasonal friends. Keep ears covered to protect against frostbite.

Winter Footwear: Snowy, slushy, salt-strewn streets are the enemy to the suede boot. And footwear should claim solid snowdrift-navigating treads to rescue you from nasty spills.

Summer Wardrobe: Temperatures in summer can soar, and soupy humidity can make long walks a wilting and steamy affair. Bring lots of gauzy cottons and linens for mid-summer visits.

Hot Weather Disclaimer: Asthmatics should be wary of summertime smog; and sunshine can be dangerous to the fair of complexion. Pack sunscreen.

Springtime Visits: Weather is wildly unpredictable—bewildering and exasperating even to locals—in March, April. Blizzards and heat waves and pretty much anything in between (hailstorms, thundershowers, and perfect sunshine) have been known to strike. Best to check the forecast before packing.

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