At the beach in Koh Nang Yuan, Thailand

By Norbert Figueroa, an experienced architect, travel writer, long-term budget traveler, and photographer with over 13 years of travel experience in over 139 countries and counting. @globotreks


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So, you’re planning to hit up Toronto, eh? I get it; the city’s got a lot going for it – that iconic skyline, the buzz of Yonge-Dundas Square, and let’s not forget the mouth-watering poutine and maple syrup!

Of course, before you even book your flights, you’ll always wonder whether your travel destination is safe. After all, knowing what you’re stepping into is part of being a savvy traveler.

Well, here’s a relief: Toronto is actually one of the safest cities out there – number six globally, to be exact! Sure, like any big city, it’s got its quirks and a few no-go spots, but nothing that should make you cancel your plans.

Still, this guide dishes out the real deal on Toronto’s safety – the good, the bad, and the savvy traveler tips.

One of Toronto's Parks

Overview: Is Toronto A Safe City?

Toronto is not just Canada’s pride but a melting pot of cultures, cuisines, and, yes, a pretty impressive skyline. It’s got parks that make you forget you’re in a bustling city, food that’ll have you drooling, and an artsy vibe that’s hard to beat.

Toronto may not be the capital of Canada, but it sure is the big cheese of Ontario, sitting pretty on the shores of Lake Ontario. It’s the cultural hub for music, business, film, and arts.

But let’s cut to the chase: Is Toronto safe? Absolutely! Now, I’m not sugarcoating here at all. Toronto’s not some wild west of danger. In fact, it’s ranked as the sixth safest city according to the World Population Review. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s void of danger.

While the heart of the city, especially the downtown areas, is generally safe, wandering too far off the beaten path can land you in some less desirable spots. Some neighborhoods are a bit rough around the edges, and it’s smart to stay alert.

Petty crimes like pickpocketing do happen, especially in tourist-heavy areas. And yeah, those nightlife spots can get rowdy, so maybe steer clear if you’re not into the late-night party scene. 

As for the homeless community – it’s there, just like in any big city. Violent crime? It happens, but it’s not the norm.

Bottom line: Toronto is a safe city for tourists, but keep your street smarts about you, and you’ll enjoy everything this diverse city has to offer.

Curious to know more cool stuff about Canada? Take a peek at these fun facts about Canada and find out what makes this country so appealing to travelers!

Toronto's Sign with Skyline

Crime Rates & Risks In Toronto

Statistically speaking, Toronto’s doing pretty well compared to other Canadian cities. But – and there’s always a but – recent years have seen a bit of a spike in crime. According to Statistics Canada, while Toronto’s overall crime rate is still on the low side, it did jump by 17% in 2022. And yep, the trend’s been nudging up in 2023 too.

Despite this uptick, Toronto is still a safe and comfortable destination to visit. For you, the traveler, this means your chances of bumping into crime are pretty slim.

Most tourists in Toronto cruise through their trips without a hitch. Major crimes? They’re pretty rare for visitors to bump into. But, as with any large city, a little street smarts go a long way. Think twice about those dark alleys at night and keep a close eye on your stuff in crowded spots.

Now, the whole “Toronto is safe” line is cool and all, but let’s not paint it as some crime-free paradise. Every city has its struggles, Toronto included. Even if the risks are on the lower end, it’s always smart to know about them.

Let’s dive into the details…

Major crime

In terms of serious crimes, like homicides, Toronto has seen this go down. But others, like assault, auto theft, and breaking and entering have seen a spike. Still, these aren’t usually something that tourists need to sweat about.

Petty crime

Here’s where you might want to pay attention. Shoplifting, bike theft, and other small-scale thefts top the charts in Toronto. Luckily for travelers, these aren’t a huge concern.

Pickpocketing and muggings are fairly rare, but it pays to be cautious with your belongings (pardon the pun). Touristy spots are pickpocket playgrounds, so watch your wallet.

Pro tip: Keep your cash and cards separate, and maybe wear a crossbody bag instead of a back pocket wallet, backpack, or handbag.

Scams

Now, here’s something to keep on your radar. Scams are the sneakiest trouble you might run into in Toronto. Housing scams mostly target locals, but tourists aren’t off the hook. Watch out for internet scams, especially with ticket sales.

Remember, if a deal seems too good to be true on some random website, it probably is. Stick to the official sources for your tickets and purchases.

Yonges Dundas Square in Toronto

How To Navigate Toronto’s Neighborhoods – The Safest Areas & Places To Avoid

Navigating Toronto’s neighborhoods can be quite an adventure, and knowing where to roam (and where to think twice) is key for a great experience in Ontario’s capital city.

Safest areas in Toronto

West Queen West

West Queen West isn’t just a neighborhood; it’s a vibe. Streets lined with unique shops, a laid-back atmosphere, and locals who are as friendly as they come… this trendy patch has it all.

Here, you can explore the renowned Graffiti Alley, a living canvas of street art. For foodies, try the iconic Ossington Strip, known for its variety of eateries like Pizzeria Libretto for some killer pizzas.

And if shopping is your thing, the boutiques here offer everything from vintage finds to contemporary fashion.

Downtown West

Downtown West is like the quieter sibling of the bustling downtown Toronto core. It’s got family vibes, top tourist attractions, and it’s pretty safe, even when the night gets lively. Bonus: you’re smack dab in the heart of the city, so exploring other neighborhoods is a breeze.

The CN Tower and the Royal Ontario Museum is just a stone’s throw away, offering insane views of the city. For a really cool experience, check out the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada. When hunger strikes, King Street West is lined with restaurants like WVRST, known for its sausages and beer.

Kingsway South (The Kingsway)

Low crime rates, stunning architecture, and scenic parks – Kingsway South has it all. It’s a peaceful retreat in the city. But heads up – it’s a bit on the pricey side.

If you’re craving a serene stroll, the Humber River trails are perfect. For dining, check out The Old Mill Toronto, a beautiful spot with a history, great for a classy dinner or a high tea experience.

Yonge-St.Clair

The heart of midtown Toronto beats strong in Yonge-St. Clair. It’s a mix of city buzz and suburban calm with lively nights and culinary delights. Safety-wise, it’s one of the city’s stars, with a crime rate much lower than the city average.

For a culinary adventure, try Zelden’s Deli and Desserts for a hearty sandwich, or head over to Barnsteiner’s for some contemporary fare. If you’re up for a unique dining experience, The Sprout offers amazing dishes in a cozy setting.

Chinatown

Vibrant, colorful, and the largest of its kind in North America, Chinatown is a feast for the senses. It’s safe, and the biggest risk here is falling in love with too many dishes and flavors. Foodies, you’ve been warned! It’s also a great spot for budget-friendly stays, from hostels to boutique hotels.

For a taste of authentic Chinese cuisine, head over to Rol San Restaurant for some of the best dim sum in town. And if you’re looking for a spot to chill with a drink, the cocktail bar at Cold Tea is worth exploring.

Areas to be cautious of in Toronto

Jane and Finch

Up in Toronto’s northwest, Jane and Finch has a rep for being a bit rougher. It’s a large community with diverse cultures and some socio-economic challenges. While it’s known for its diversity and welcoming spirit, it’s wise to stay alert here.

Regent Park

Downtown’s Regent Park is in the midst of change but faces issues like high crime rates and socio-economic struggles.  The Daniels Spectrum is a cultural hub worth visiting, hosting various arts and community events. However, it’s advisable to stay aware here, especially after dark.

St. James Town

Once a trendy spot, St. James Town now grapples with higher crime rates and dense population issues. It’s a place with a rich past and present story, but as a visitor, there are safer neighborhoods to explore.

Moss Park

Known for its high crime rates, Moss Park is an area to be more vigilant in. It’s close to the Distillery District, where you can safely enjoy cobblestone streets lined with artsy shops and restaurants like Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie for a French-inspired meal.

Again, there are better neighborhoods to explore, and you’ll want to be cautious if you find yourself here after dark.

West Queen West in Toronto

Safety For Different Types Of Travelers

Toronto is a place where diversity and safety go hand in hand. No matter who you are or where you’re from, this city welcomes you with open arms. Just remember to stay smart, stay safe, and get ready to have an amazing time in one of Canada’s coolest cities!

Solo travelers

Toronto is generally safe for solo travelers, but remember, being on your own means you’ve got to keep your wits about you. Enjoy the nightlife, but don’t go overboard with the drinks. Letting someone back home know your plans isn’t just thoughtful; it’s smart.

For lodging, Toronto’s hostels are a solo traveler’s dream. They’re not only safe and reliable but often host social events like walking tours or bar crawls, perfect for meeting fellow travelers and getting a local’s take on the city. HostelWorld is a great resource for finding your perfect stay.

Female travelers

Ladies, Toronto’s calling! This city is an awesome spot for solo female travelers, thanks to its relative safety and endless activities. Most hostels here offer female-only dorms, so you’ve got plenty of safe and comfy options for accommodation.

While Toronto is pretty safe, it never hurts to do your homework (like reading this guide) and keep common-sense safety tips in mind, especially when you’re exploring solo.

People of Color and LGBTQIA+ travelers

Toronto’s diversity is one of its biggest strengths. With a significant minority population, thanks in part to Canada’s welcoming immigration policies, this city is brimming with culture. For travelers of color, Toronto’s Caribbean Canadian community adds to the city’s rich tapestry, offering amazing food and a strong arts scene.

Toronto is also incredibly welcoming to travelers of the LGBTQIA+ community, ranking as one of the most LGBTQ-friendly cities in the world. In Church-Wellesley, Toronto’s LGBT-oriented enclave, you’ll find plenty of gay bars, open-minded folks, and LGBTQ-friendly accommodations.

Toronto's Tram

Getting Around Safely With Transportation

Getting around Toronto? It’s a piece of cake! Let’s dive into the ins and outs of navigating this bustling city safely and efficiently.

Walking and biking around

Toronto is totally walkable, and honestly, it’s one of the best ways to see the city. The sidewalks are roomy, and there are plenty of crossings and streetlights. Just keep an eye out for the usual city stuff – cyclists, scooters, and the odd hurried driver, especially in the city center.

Biking is a little more risky, especially if you’re new to the city, but it is also a wonderful way to experience Toronto.

Public transportation

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) is the main mode of transportation here, with a subway, streetcars, and buses. It’s all pretty straightforward once you get the hang of it.

The subway is super frequent and stops at every station – no express trains to accidentally hop on. Each station has a helpful staff member, just look for the “TTC” sign.

The classic Toronto streetcars are pretty much a rite of passage when visiting – you simply have to ride them! They’re super safe and easy – just drop your fare in the box, pull the cord for your stop, and exit through the back.

Public transportation tip: The night bus can be a bit wild. It’s best to avoid it – unless you’re one of those loud drunk people too!

Driving

Driving in Toronto by rental car is safe but can be a hassle. Winter driving is especially tricky with icy roads and lower visibility, not to mention the infamous potholes.

Traffic can be a headache, and honestly, it’s not the best way to see the city. But if you’re venturing out to Niagara Falls or the wine region, then driving makes sense.

Just bear in mind that car rentals and gas aren’t cheap, and parking can be both expensive and hard to find. Oh, and those parking officers don’t mess around – they just love handing out tickets.

Tip: If you plan to drive in the city, know the local rules. There are lots of one-way streets here and you can turn right on a red light – just watch for pedestrians!

Taxis and rideshares

Both taxis and rideshares like Uber and Lyft are safe options. Lately, there have been some taxi scams, so ride shares might be the safer option. They’re trackable, the payment’s through your account, and it’s just easier to punch in an address than give directions.

Toronto Metro Station

Practical Safety Tips For A Worry-Free Trip To Toronto

Alright, let’s get you prepped for visiting Toronto worry-free. There are a few safety tips you’ll want to keep in mind.

And no, I’m not talking about avoiding maple syrup spills – though that’s a legitimate concern! I’m talking traveler-savvy street smarts and common sense.

These tips will help you navigate Toronto like a local.

1. Keep your belongings close

Toronto is a big and populous city, so it’s smart to keep your valuables secure. Don’t make it easy for pickpockets – keep your bags zipped and be extra cautious at ATMs. The less you carry, the better. Leave the fancy stuff and critical documents like passports in a safe place.

2. Research your destination

Toronto’s mostly safe, but some outskirts can be iffy. You’re likely sticking to the main areas, but a little Googling beforehand doesn’t hurt. Not only will you feel more confident about where you’re going, but you’ll also ensure you’re in safe neighborhoods.

3. Be street smart

Downtown Toronto is particularly rife with beggars asking for change, food, and cigarettes, among other things. They’re mostly harmless, but sometimes they can get pushy.

While it’s certainly kind to offer some spare change, it’s best to keep walking and avoid engaging.

4. Watch for distractions

Thieves might try some sneaky tricks – a bump, a dropped item, a sudden request for directions. Trust your gut; if something feels off, it probably is.

Scams are quite common in Toronto, more so than in other major cities in Canada.

5. Know the emergency contacts

Knowing who to call in a pinch is super important. While visiting Toronto, it’s wise to add these emergency numbers to your phone: Emergencies: 911 and Toronto Police – 416-808-2222.

6. Get that travel insurance

Canadian healthcare is top-notch, but if you’re not from around here, you might not be covered. Travel insurance is a must – for health, lost luggage, or theft. Need some guidance? Our guide on selecting the correct travel insurance will help! I always use HeyMondo travel insurance, and I highly recommend it!

7. Take extra care after dark

Toronto at night is usually safe, but extra caution never hurts. Stick to well-lit, busy areas. Avoid shortcuts through alleys and isolated spots, and save the off-the-beaten-path exploring for daylight.

8. Dress for the weather

Many people overlook the weather when discussing safety, but it’s a serious thing to consider. Toronto’s weather can be wild. Winters are freezing, and summers can get super hot. And let’s not forget the occasional thunderstorm or tornado. Dress appropriately and stay informed about extreme weather alerts.

9. When in doubt, ask a local

Got a question? Just ask! Whether it’s directions or safety tips, don’t hesitate to ask a local or your hotel staff. They’re usually more than happy to help. This is Canada, after all!

University of Toronto Aerial View

FAQs

Is Downtown Toronto safe for solo female travelers?

Yes! Downtown Toronto – and the whole of Toronto – is safe for solo female travelers. Canada is renowned as one of the safest countries for solo travel, and Toronto lives up to this reputation with its respectful local population and low incidence of harassment. However, as with any major city, it’s wise to maintain common sense, particularly in avoiding empty or poorly lit areas after dark.

How does Toronto’s safety compare to other Canadian cities?

Toronto is one of the safest cities in Canada, ranking fourth with a safety index of 6.63. It’s surpassed only by Barrie (1), Brantford (2), and Guelph (3), in terms of safety.

Is Toronto or Montreal safer?

Toronto is generally considered safer than Montreal. Statistics Canada’s data, as compiled by the Canada Crime Index, shows that Montreal has higher rates of various crimes. In comparison, you’re less likely to encounter these crimes in Toronto. If you’d like to know how safe Montreal is, check out our guide!

Is it safe to walk at night in Toronto?

Toronto is pretty safe to walk around in at night, though some spots are safer than others. Do a quick check on the area you plan to be in. Stick to bright, bustling streets, and avoid wandering into places you don’t know or that seem a bit too quiet after the sun goes down.

Harbourfront in Toronto

Conclusion

And there you have it – Toronto, a city where the vibe is as safe as it is cool. With its high ranking on global safety indexes and Canada’s solid rep for peace and safety, your trip to this electric city is looking pretty great.

While Toronto is by no means a dangerous city, city life can still be unpredictable. That’s why I’ve provided you with all these savvy tips on how to navigate Toronto like a pro. Dress warm in the chilly weather, watch out for the odd pickpocket, and steer clear of sketchy spots after dark.

But ultimately? Get ready to have a blast in what’s not only one of the safest but also one of the most happening cities around!

Oh, and before you click off and jet set to Toronto, don’t miss out on our next guide: “Where to Stay in Toronto.” I’ve got all the tips about the best neighborhoods to stay in and things to do.

Is Toronto Safe? - Ultimate Safety Guide and Tips for a Worry-Free Trip
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