Only an hour away from New York City, Toronto is the perfect international weekend destination for East Coasters. In fact, it’s taken me entirely too long to visit! In my defense, every year I plan to attend Caribana and OVO Fest, Toronto’s biggest summer music festivals. But things just never seem to work out. Nevertheless, this summer was different. It was the “cheaper than usual” flights to Toronto (and later Montreal) that inspired this trip. And even though my trip to Toronto was short, I covered a lot of ground in 48-hours. I joined a walking tour, had lunch at Amsterdam BrewHouse and even visited a greenhouse. So to help take the guesswork out of planning your Toronto budget, I’m sharing exactly how much a weekend trip to Toronto cost me.
Now depending on your needs and interests, your Toronto budget may look different from mine. Nevertheless, use this detailed spending plan as a guide. It’ll give you a better sense of how much money you’ll need. It’ll also shed some light on the spending pitfalls to avoid.
Before we get into it, here are the financial things you need to know about Canada before you go.
Planning A Trip to Canada
Toronto’s FlatIron Building
What currency does Canada use?
Canada’s official currency is the Canadian Dollar (CAD). Major tourist attractions may accept U.S. currency but don’t count on it. Accepting U.S. currency is at the discretion of the retailer. Retailers that accept the U.S. Dollar can set their own exchange rates. This may not be in your best interest.
$1 USD = ~$1.32 CAD
Since the U.S. Dollar is stronger than the Canadian Dollar, Canada is a bargain destination for U.S. travelers right now.
Credit Cards & Debit Cards
Most non-Canadian debit cards will not work at Canadian retailers.
You can, however, use all major international credit cards in Canada including Visa and MasterCard.
Some establishments only accept Canadian debit and credit cards so be mindful of that. If this is the case, you’ll have to go to the ATM at some point during your trip. This only happened to me once in Montreal. In Toronto, I did not carry cash. I only used credit cards.
If your bank or credit card company requires a travel notification, set your travel dates in advance. This prevents you from running into financial trouble abroad.
There are plenty of 24-hour ATMs in Canada. ATMs will give you Canadian Dollars. So avoid over withdrawing funds and having to exchange them later.
Weekend Toronto Spending
Round-trip Flights From NYC: $194.26 USD
I booked round-trip flights to Toronto with WestJet for $194.26 USD. This was the lowest fare I had seen to Toronto from New York City in a while.
Haven’t flown with WestJet yet? Check out my experience flying economy in this WestJet flight review.
Lodging: $94 USD
I stayed at a private Toronto Airbnb room in a 23-storey condominium in Yorkville.
At first, I paid $114 USD for my 2-night stay but since my host delayed check-in, she generously offered a 30% discount for my one night inconvenience.
In total, my lodging cost $94 USD.
This was much cheaper than the Toronto hotels nearby. My Airbnb was within walking distance to Union Station – about 45 minutes. I also had gym access and a gorgeous view of Toronto’s skyline from my room, balcony, and kitchen.
If you haven’t signed up for Airbnb yet, use this promo code for $40 USD off your first stay.
Transportation from NYC to Airport: $15 USD
A convenient way to get to LaGuardia Airport (LGA) from midtown Manhattan is to hop on the NYC Airporter.
NYC Airporter is an airport shuttle bus. A one-way trip to LGA costs $15 USD. Round-trip is discounted at $27 USD. A tip is expected but not required.
If you decide to take an airport shuttle bus, plan your trip to the airport ahead of time to avoid traffic.
Money Saver Tip: Avoid inconveniencing your driver by keeping your carry-on items with you on the bus.
Transportation To/From Toronto: $40.68 USD
One-way Uber pool ride from Toronto Pearson International Airport to Toronto city center: $25.84 CAD or $19.24 USD.
One-way Uber pool ride from Toronto city center to Toronto Pearson International Airport: $28.78 CAD or $21.44 USD.
Average Daily Food Cost: $19.11 USD
Day 1 Food Total: $17.42 USD
- Dinner at LaGuardia Airport: $17.42 USD
Day 2 Food Total: $32.01 USD
- Medium Latte at McDonald’s: $3.45 CAD or $2.55 USD
- Medium Latte at Moonbean Cafe: $4.20 CAD or $3.12 USD
- Lunch at Amsterdam Brewery: $35.50 CAD or $26.34 USD
Amsterdam Brewery Sample Menu Prices:
- Summer Ravioli: $17 CAD or $12.61 USD
- Brewmaster’s Sausage Pizza: $17 CAD or $12.61 USD
- Hand-cut Poutine: $8 CAD or $5.93 USD
- Beer Flights: $8.50 CAD or $6.30 USD
- Mojito: $11 CAD or $8.16 USD
Day 3 Food Total: $7.92 USD
- Breakfast at Crepe It Up: $10.66 CAD or $7.92 USD
How much to tip in Toronto?
At restaurants, tip between 15-18% of the pre-tax amount. You can of course tip more if you like but it’s not required.
Activity Cost: $20 USD
Toronto Activity Details
- Downton Toronto Walking Tour with Tour Guys: $20 USD tip (optional)
- Brewery tour at Amsterdam Brewery: $0 CAD or $0 USD
- Allan Gardens Conservatory: $0 CAD or $0 USD
For my first trip to Toronto, I wanted to familiarize myself with the city by joining a free walking tour. I also wanted to meet up with friends in the afternoon at a local brewery. Since I only had one full day to spend in Toronto, this itinerary was enough to keep me busy.
Downtown Toronto Walking Tour
I joined the 90-minute Downtown walking tour with Tour Guys. Through this tour, I learned so much about Toronto’s history. My tour guide Julian was engaging, insightful and informative. We visited many historic places in the Financial District including The Fairmont Royal York, the Canadian residence of Queen Elizabeth II.
I’ve watched “The Crown” on Netflix so I felt like I knew so much about the royal family.
Although $20 USD is a generous tip, my tour guide did a great job introducing me to Toronto. He deserved it!
We even visited the impressive 1913 vault at One King West Hotel in Toronto. This vault is massive!
For my weekend trip to Toronto, I spent $424.29 USD total. Minus the generous tip to my tour guide, this was on par to what I expected to spend on an international weekend getaway.
The strong US Dollar definitely helped with keeping my expenses low and I also spent most of my time sightseeing for free.
As expected, flight and accommodation were the most expensive parts of my Toronto budget.
Would I go back to Toronto? Ugh yes, please! Although a weekend wasn’t enough time to explore the entire city, it was a great start.
On a tight Toronto budget?
Here are a few ways that I could have saved even more of my Toronto budget.
- Use public transportation instead of taking the NYC Airporter. Instead of spending $15 USD, I could have spent $2.75 USD on a bus or subway ride – 82% savings.
- From Toronto Pearson International Airport, take the UP Express to Union Station for $24 CAD instead of spending $55 CAD on Uber pool round-trip – 57% savings.
Found this helpful? Share your favorite Toronto budget or Canadian money tip!
Author: Danielle Desir
Danielle Desir is a Travel Finance Strategist that uses her financial background and knack for financial planning to empower those who want to travel afford travel and excel in their personal finances. She shares creative planning strategies, saving tips, cheap flight deals and even talks about her student loan repayment journey on her blog, The Thought Card. Her financial expertise has taken her across the globe to over 21 countries and 3 continents (and counting), all while paying off her student loans, saving for a house, owning a home, and working full-time.
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