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Car Rental in Toronto: one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world
Canada’s largest city, Toronto, boasts the best of the cultural melting pot metaphor: less than 50% of the city’s residents have their roots in Anglo-European countries, leading to a genuine mix of shopping, dining, and arts experiences throughout the city. It’s also one of the safest cities in the world, according to the 2015 Safe Index. Make the most of your visit to this metropolis on the coast of Lake Ontario by booking a rental car and exploring the area in comfort.
Toronto witnesses four distinct seasons each year, with bitingly cold winters and hot, humid summers. This makes the shoulder seasons, from late April through May, and from mid-September through mid-October, the most comfortable time of the year to visit.
English and French are the two official languages of Canada, though Canadians are generally quite multilingual. Toronto was originally home to the Huron-Wendat and Petun First Nations, the Seneca, and the Mississauga of the Credit River, though many of Canada’s First Nation’s languages are spoken in Toronto as well, including Ojibway, Inuktitut, Mi’kmaq and Dene.
Toronto is located in the Eastern Time Zone, UTC-5.
The currency is the Canadian dollar, and most financial transactions take place via credit or debit card.
Automobile hire is available in over 20 locations throughout Toronto, including the Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ), the Billy Bishop City Airport (YTZ), downtown, and at the Union Railway Station.
Citizens from a vast number of countries can enter Canada as a tourist visa-free for up to 6 months. You will need to fill out the eTA (electronic Travel Authorization) in advance of your arrival; the fee is $7. A number of other nationalities must apply for a visa at a Canadian Visa Office in advance of their departure.
Driving in Toronto
Public transportation is clean and efficient in Toronto and this huge city’s downtown is also quite walkable. For attractions and exploration outside of the city center, however, a rental car can provide you unbeatable convenience and comfort.
- Traffic drives on the right-hand side of the road in Toronto, as throughout the rest of North America.
Typical Speed Limits
- In the city: 50 km/h
- On rural highways: 80 km/h
- On expressways: 100 km/h
- Toronto’s grid-like structure and frequent highway access points typically keep the city’s traffic moving, but it’s still recommended to avoid morning and evening rush hours, from 7 to 10 am and 4 to 7 pm respectively.
- Parking is typically available but expensive in downtown Toronto. On-street parking costs anywhere between $1.50 and $4.00 an hour depending on the location, and garage parking is similarly priced, if not more expensive.
- If your domestic driver’s license has been issued in English or French, it is valid for up to 90 days of driving throughout Canada; otherwise you will need an international driver’s permit as well.
- The Ontario Highway 407 or 407 Express Toll Route and Highway 412 are the tolled roads of Ontario. They are electronically monitored, so your rental company will issue you a bill for your use of these roads after the fact, typically with the addition of an extra fee as well. Use of the 407 can get pricey, so double-check toll rates before you take the express.
- The minimum driving age in Ontario is 16 years with a provisional license, though most rental companies will require that you are at least 20 years old to rent a car, and you are likely to face young-driver surcharges until the age of 25.
- If you’re interested in driving into the United States from Toronto, talk to your rental agency. This is typically permitted by larger rental companies, such as Hertz, though you will likely need some extra documentation to cross the border, and be aware of US border regulations, including the ESTA!
Cheap Car Rental in Toronto
Automobile hire in Toronto typically starts at around $20 a day. Here are some of the best deals in Toronto:
- Nissan Versa or similar (economy class) – $20/day
- Toyota Corolla or similar (compact class) – $24/day
- Hyundai Elantra or similar (intermediate class) – $35/day
- Chevrolet Cruze or similar (standard class) – $38/day
- Volkswagen Jetta or similar (fullsize class) – $42/day
Note that prices vary depending on the availability of each specific car and the season in which you rent. For the most accurate offers, use the search bar above.
Tips for Renting a Car Inexpensively in Toronto
Through agencies such as Thrifty, Dollar, and Ace Rent-a-Car, the typical rental price year-round for your basic car throughout Toronto is $33. However, if you book your car within 5 months of your arrival at the Toronto Pearson International Airport, you can typically save another $10 to $20 a day! Local agencies such as Routes Car Rental, Zoom Rent a Car, and E-Z Rent a Car offer unbeatably low prices.
Only international companies such as Hertz, Dollar, and Thrifty lower their prices by around $5 a day for extending your rental period to over a week.