The Toronto Islands are centrally located, easily accessible right across the harbour from downtown Toronto, at the shore of Lake Ontario. The easiest and most common way to access the island is via the Toronto Islands ferry service. The islands can also be accessed by water taxi, private boat, or, if you’re feeling brave, canoe or kayak. Unfortunately it’s far too dangerous to try to swim to the island, so don’t even think about it.
The Jack Layton Ferry Terminal is located at 9 Queens Quay W, easily accessible by TTC (subway, streetcar, and bus), by GO Train (a regional transit system), by car, by taxi, by Uber, by Lyft, by bicycle, or on foot.
The ferry service runs 365 days a year from the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal
The closest subway station to the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal is Union Station on Line 1. It is a short walk (approximately 9 minutes) from Union Station south to the ferry terminal. Union Station is served by these bus and streetcar lines:
Additionally, the 97B Yonge (pronounced “young”) bus travels south and along Queens Quay between Bay and Yonge, providing direct access to the ferry terminal. The aforementioned 6 Bay bus route also stops in front of the ferry terminal.
For users with accessible needs who may not be able to make the walk from Union Station south to the ferry docks, the 509 and 510A streetcars leave Union Station via a streetcar tunnel and stop at the Queens Quay/Ferry Docks Station before continuing on the rest of their route.
If you’re coming from outside of Toronto proper, the GO Train or GO Bus is a great way to get into the downtown core without any hassle. Most of the Greater Toronto Area to the east, west, and north of Toronto is serviced by GO Transit with direct routes to Union Station. Check the GO Transit website for more information.
Bikes are a great way to get to the ferry terminal, as the Martin Goodman Trail runs directly in front of the terminal. The 56 km (35 mi), east-west trail runs the entire length of the waterfront in Toronto. The area immediately around the ferry terminal is often very congested, so be wary of pedestrians who absent-mindedly wander into the bike lanes. And yes, you can bring your bike on the ferry!
If you don’t have your own bike, Toronto has an extensive Bike Share network available, with a docking station right outside the ferry terminal. Each Bike Share ride is good for 30 minutes before incurring large overage fees, and there are no docking stations on the islands — therefore it is not recommended to bring a Bike Share bike on the ferry to the Toronto Islands, as you’ll be paying an enormous amount in overage fees by the time you get back to the mainland.
The Harbourfront Canoe & Kayak Centre is the place to rent a canoe or kayak if you want a little exercise getting to the Toronto Islands. Rentals begin each season once the water temperature hits 12°C. Rates start at $40 for up to two hours in a kayak, and $50 for up to two hours in a canoe.
If you regularly travel to the islands, consider buying your own kayak. Inflatable kayaks are sturdy and dependable, and much easier to store in small spaces where traditional kayaks won’t fit. The Intex Challenger comes with oars and an air pump in 1-person and 2-person models.
Uber and Lyft are the two most popular ridesharing services in Toronto. While there are designated areas around the ferry terminal for taxi cabs to wait, pick up, and drop off passengers, there are no designated places for Uber or Lyft rideshare vehicles. The best places for these vehicles to drop off or pickup passengers is on Bay St rather than on Queens Quay W. Because Queens Quay W is so congested and highly trafficked, it is highly advisable that if you are taking an Uber or Lyft that you ask to be picked up or dropped off on Bay St instead.
Get a free credit for your first ride with Lyft or your first ride with Uber.
Just like any big city, driving in downtown Toronto is not recommended. It’s slow, congested, and parking is difficult and expensive. You should consider taking your car to the ferry terminal as a last resort only. However, if you must drive, the two closest parking lots to the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal are:
Check Best Parking or Parkopedia for more options.