How to Get from Ottawa to Toronto [Drive, Bus, Plane, Train]
If you’re planning a trip from Ottawa to Toronto then you’re in the right place. Here’s a thorough look at your options.
Ottawa and Toronto are two of the largest and most dynamic cities in Canada, attracting visitors from all over the world for their unique culture, history, and attractions. Whether you’re a tourist or a local, getting from Ottawa to Toronto is a common travel route that can be done by various modes of transportation.
Having made the trip multiple times ourselves, we’ll highlight the different options for traveling between Ottawa and Toronto, including driving, bus, plane, and train, so that you can choose the best method that suits your budget, time, and preferences.
How to Get from Ottawa to Toronto – Your Options
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick look at your options for how to get to Toronto from Ottawa:
Most Scenic Way: Self-Drive Through Eastern Ontario (Rent a Car here)
Cheapest Way: Take a bus
Fastest Way: Fly from Ottawa to Pearson or Billy Bishop Airport
Most Comfortable Way: Take VIA Rail Train
Recommended Toronto Hotel: InterContinental Toronto Centre (Entertainment District)
Ottawa to Toronto Distance
The distance between Ottawa and Toronto is approximately 400-450 km (250-280 miles) depending on the route you take. There are three main driving routes to Toronto from Ottawa, which we’ll dive into next.
1. Ottawa to Toronto Drive
Our favourite way to travel between Ottawa and Toronto is by car. To us, nothing beats the excitement of a road trip through the beautiful countryside on the way to someplace exciting.
Given how widespread Ontario is, driving between Toronto and Ottawa is a long road trip by most of the world’s standards.
But if you’ve spent a considerable amount of time in Canada, you’ll be accustomed to our large landmass and the long distance between major cities. Suddenly a 4-hour drive doesn’t seem all that long.
If you’re planning a road trip to Toronto from Ottawa, here are the three most popular routes, with some suggested stops to make along the way.
📍Ottawa to Toronto via Highway 401
Total Distance: 450 km (280 miles)
Expected Drive Time: 4 hours 20 minutes
Highway 401 is the largest highway in Ontario, running east-west from Windsor to the Quebec border past Cornwall, so naturally this highway is one of the most popular ways to travel between Ontario’s two largest cities.
To get to Hwy 401 from Ottawa, you’ll leave the city heading west on Hwy 417, then stay exit onto Hwy 416 South.
After approximately 80 km or 45 minutes of driving, Hwy 416 S will merge into Hwy 401. Merge onto Hwy 401 West, and follow it all the way into the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).
Once in the GTA, you can take the Don Valley Parkway (DVP) southbound into the City of Toronto.
✔️Pros: You don’t have to worry about passing slower vehicles on a two-lane highway, as the 401 has multiple lanes. This is technically the fastest route by drivetime. The ONroute rest areas along the 400 series highways are very convenient for the drive.
❌Cons: This is the least scenic drive from Ottawa to Toronto, as you don’t get the chance to pass through small towns like you do on the other routes. Traffic on the 401 can get very congested around Toronto, especially when traveling during rush hour or on holidays or summer weekends when cottagers are returning to the city.
Where to Stop When Driving via Highway 401
Kemptville: Explore the historic downtown, grab a bite to eat at Salamanders along the waterfront, and if time permits, canoe along the Rideau River.
Thousand Islands National Park: Get out and explore this unique part of Eastern Ontario, filled with rugged shorelines, forested trails and spectacular lookouts.
1000 Islands Tower: Located on Hill Island just before the border crossing into the USA, head to the top of the tower for incredible views of Thousand Islands National Park (tower open seasonally).
Kingston: Visit the many historical sites including Fort Henry National Historic Site, walk along the St Lawrence River at Confederation Park, tour the Kingston Penetentiary, and dine in downtown Kingston.
Napanee: Catch a glimpse of Napanee Falls and walk along the river.
Belleville: Tour Tyendinaga Cavern and Caves, visit Glanmore National Historic Site, walk the Kiwanis Bayshore Trail, and stop for local cheese at Maple Dale Cheese.
Detour to Sandbanks Provincial Park: See the incredible sand dunes and swim in Lake Ontario at this popular provincial park in Prince Edward County.
The Big Apple (Colborne): You can’t miss it as you’re driving along the 401! Stop in for a bite to eat, shop the country store and entertain the kids with their children’s activities.
Port Hope: Shop the quaint, historic town of Port Hope, stop in at Garanaska Brewing Company (if you’re not the driver!), or spend a few hours at Treetop Trekking in the Garanaska Forest.
📍Ottawa to Toronto via Hwy 7 (Trans-Canada) and Hwy 401
Total Distance: 410 km (255 miles)
Expected Drive Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
Exit Ottawa on Hwy 417 westbound. In Stittsville, take the exit onto Hwy 7. Follow Hwy 7 through various small towns, until you reach Hwy 37 leading to the town of Tweed.
Follow Hwy 37 through Tweed and various other towns until you reach Belleville, where you’ll merge onto Hwy 401 westbound. Follow Hwy 401 into the GTA, then take the Don Valley Parkway southbound into Toronto.
✔️Pros: This route provides a good mix of expressway driving and some scenic driving (along Hwy 7). You’ll pass through the beautiful countryside and get to see the landscape of Eastern Ontario.
❌Cons: You will have to contend with a two-lane highway for part of the trip, as Highway 7 is only one lane in each direction for a good part of the drive.
Where to Stop When Driving via Hwy 7 and 401
Carleton Place: Walk the quaint historic downtown located along the Missisippi River.
Perth: Another historic waterfront town filled with cute restaurants, boutique shops and manicured parks. Shop at Code’s Mill (a historic mill now housing shops and restaurants) and visit The Perth Cheese Shop.
Sharbot Lake: Take a quick detour into the village of Sharbot Lake. Head to the beach, grab a coffee at Cardinal Cafe or pick up locally cured meat at Seed to Sausage. Head to nearby Sharbot Lake Provincial Park or Silver Lake Provincial Park for more swimming and hiking in beautiful cottage country.
Tweed: Enjoy a meal at your halfway point between Ottawa and Toronto, and stretch your legs on a walk through Tweed Memorial Park on Lake Stoco.
Belleville (see previous route for recommendations)
Detour to Sandbanks Provincial Park
The Big Apple (Colborne)
📍Ottawa to Toronto via Hwy 7 (Trans-Canada)
Total Distance: 400 km (250 miles)
Expected Drive Time: 4 hr 30 minutes
The most scenic drive from Ottawa to Toronto is by way of the backroads. While Highway 7 isn’t exactly a “backroad” in the truest sense, it is when compared to the 401 Expressway.
To drive to Toronto from Ottawa via Hwy 7, leave Ottawa on Hwy 417 westbound. Like the previous route, exit onto Hwy 7 and take this road all the way into Peterborough (rather than heading south on Hwy 37 through Tweed).
Just past Peterborough, Hwy 7 turns into Hwy 115. Take the 115 westward until the exit onto Hwy 407 Express Toll Route (407 ETR) westbound or continue on the 115 until you reach the 401 westbound. Follow the 407 or 401 into Toronto.
✔️Pros: The most scenic route from Ottawa to Toronto is along Highway 7. You’ll pass by plenty of small towns, roadside stores, restaurants, lakes and provincial parks, and you may even see wildlife in this rural part of Eastern Ontario.
❌Cons: You should be prepared to add on time to your drive, as you’ll have to contend with passing vehicles on two-lane roads. Night driving on Hwy 7 can also be more challenging than on the expressways, and you should be prepared for dark roads and potential wildlife. If you take the 407 you’ll have to pay toll fees.
Where to Stop When Driving via Hwy 7
Carleton Place (see previous route for recommendations)
Campbellford: 15 minutes south of Highway 7 you’ll find the quaint town of Campbellford, Ontario. Walk along the Ranney Gorge Suspension Bridge over the Trent River, pick up some local sweets at “Canada’s Sweetest Bakery,” or bring home some locally made cheese and discounted chocolate from the World’s Finest Chocolates outlet store.
If you’re looking to overnight halfway between Ottawa and Toronto, check out our review of Wingfield Inn & Gardens, located just outside of Campbellford.
Canada’s Dinosaur Park (Indian River): Visit Canada’s only dinosaur park and reptile sanctuary and enjoy a walk through the dinosaur park, hike along trails and play mini-golf at this fun family attraction (open seasonally).
Peterborough: Walk along the Otonabee River at Lock 21 of the Trent Severn Waterway, or head to the Riverview Park and Zoo (Canada’s only free accredited zoo) for fun way to break up the drive.
Treetop Trekking: Have an adventure at Treetop Trekking in the Garanaska Forest in Clarington.
Oshawa Zoo & Fun Farm: Hang out with the animals at the Oshawa Zoo near the 407.
2. Ottawa to Toronto Rideshare – Alternate to Self-Drive
Taking a rideshare can be a convenient and cost-effective alternative to other modes of transportation. Whether you use Poparide or find your rideshare on Facebook Marketplace, there are always lots of carpooling options available if you’re comfortable with this option.
The cost and duration of the ride will depend on various factors such as traffic, distance, and the number of passengers. You can expect to spend approximately $45 or more on a rideshare for this distance of travel.
It’s always a good idea to compare prices and read reviews before booking a ride to ensure a safe and comfortable journey.
3. Ottawa to Toronto by Bus – Cheapest Way
Taking a bus is a great way to explore both cities without the hassle of driving or finding parking. The journey usually takes around 4-5 hours depending on traffic and weather conditions, but it’s a comfortable ride with modern buses.
With fares within the range of $40-80 one way (depending on the date, time and bus company), the bus is often the cheapest way to get from Ottawa to Toronto.
Buses depart Ottawa from different locations, and typically end at Union Station in downtown Toronto. Most buses also make stops in cities like Kingston, Oshawa and Scarborough.
Note: The GO Bus does not travel from Toronto to Ottawa, and is only an option as far east as Peterborough.
4. Ottawa to Toronto by Train – Most Comfortable Way
Taking a train from Ottawa to Toronto is a comfortable and relaxing way to travel between these two cities, and is also a great way to see the Eastern Ontario countryside.
Via Rail to Toronto from Ottawa
There are usually 7-8 trains leaving Ottawa daily, which are all serviced by the same company: Via Rail. While the train has technically the longest travel time, it’s a great option if you want to get work done while traveling, as there’s Wifi onboard (though it can sometimes be spotty).
You also have the luxury of food and beverages (for cost) onboard, as well as bathrooms on the train.
The train ride takes about 4-5 hours, depending on the other stops included in your route.
The address for the Via Rail Station in Ottawa is 200 Tremblay Road.
The train arrives at Union Station in downtown Toronto, located at 65 Front Street West.
Both cities have local public transportation, OC Transpo in Ottawa and TTC in Toronto, to help you get to and from the station.
You can expect the train price to be anywhere from $54 to over $300. Via Rail offers five price tiers, and for the best prices be sure to book early.
Note on the GO Train and Bus Service:
You might be wondering if you can take the GO Train in Ottawa. You cannot do so, except for the very last part of your trip. The GO Train goes as far east as Oshawa, whereas the GO Bus goes as far east as Peterborough.
5. Ottawa to Toronto by Plane – Fastest Way
The fastest way to travel to Toronto from Ottawa is by plane. The flight itself is short, at only 1 hour or so.
And since it’s a domestic flight, you shouldn’t need to be at the Ottawa airport too far in advance. The Canadian Government advises arriving at an airport at least 60 minutes before the departure time of a domestic flight.
You will be leaving from the Ottawa International Airport (YOW). This airport is a mid-sized airport (by Canadian standards), and has two terminals and 28 gates.
You have the choice of booking your Ottawa-Toronto flight with Air Canada, West Jet, or Porter Airlines. You also have the choice of flying into Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) or Toronto Island Airport / Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ).
Toronto Pearson International Airport is the busiest airport in Canada and is located about 30 kilometers (by car) from downtown Toronto. It’s a hub for major airlines and has plenty of international and domestic flights.
The best way to travel from YYZ to downtown is by the Union Pearson Express train.
Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is located on an island in the Toronto Harbour and is much closer to downtown. It’s a smaller airport and primarily services regional flights, so you might not find as many flight options as Pearson. The airport is accessible via a ferry ride or a pedestrian tunnel, which is a unique experience in itself!
Flight prices between both cities depend greatly on the time of year and how far in advance you book. A good price is anything below $200, and if you’re booking last minute you can easily pay multiple hundred dollars more than that.
Flying to Toronto from Ottawa isn’t your best option if you’re budget-conscious or want to have a scenic trip. But it may be your best option if you’re planning a longer flight out of Toronto and first have to get there, in which case you may not have to pay too much more to tack on your commuter flight out of Ottawa.
Tip: If your trip to Toronto includes a stop at Niagara Falls (1 hour east of Toronto), check out the best ways to get from Pearson International Airport to Niagara Falls.
Where to Stay in Toronto
If you’re visiting Toronto as a tourist, you’ll want to make sure you book your hotel in advance. Especially when traveling at high times of the year or when there happens to be a big event happening downtown, hotels can either fill up or get really pricey. Securing your room in advance is definitely wise!
We recommend staying in downtown Toronto if your budget allows. The energy of the downtown core is incredible and you’ll be close to most of the main attractions and in the perfect spot to enjoy the nightlife of Toronto.
More specifically, our recommendation is to stay in the Entertainment District neighbourhood, which is the area between Queen Street West to the north, Gardiner Expressway to the south, Spadina to the east and University Ave to the west.
There are tons of great hotels in this area – but as mentioned above, be prepared to pay for what you get. Our top recommendations for hotels in downtown Toronto are:
- Best Mid-Range Hotel: InterContinental Toronto Centre (Entertainment District)
- Best Budget Hotel: Holiday Inn Express Toronto Downtown (Old Town Toronto)
Here’s a look at a few of the most common questions about traveling between Ontario’s two largest cities.
How far is Ottawa from Toronto?
Ottawa and Toronto are approximately 400-450 kilometers (250-280 miles) apart, with Ottawa located to the east of Toronto. The distance between the two cities can be covered by various modes of transportation, including flights, trains, buses, and cars, with travel times ranging from one hour (flight) to over 4 hours (by car, bus or train).
Is there a passenger train from Ottawa to Toronto?
Yes, VIA Rail Canada operates a passenger train service between Ottawa and Toronto several times per day, providing a convenient travel option for those who prefer to avoid driving or flying. The trip takes approximately 4-5 hours and tickets should be purchased in advance for the best prices and options.
How much does it cost to take the train from Ottawa to Toronto?
The cost of taking the train to Union Station can vary depending on factors such as the time of year, time of day, and the level of service selected. Generally, a one-way economy class ticket ranges from approximately $50 to $150, while premium options are available for higher prices. It’s recommended to book tickets in advance to get the best fares.
What is the best way to travel from Ottawa to Toronto?
If you have access to a car, self-driving to Toronto from Ottawa is preferable for a lot of reasons. You can take your time and explore some of the scenic towns you pass through along the way. You can also eat at local restaurants and stop at roadside stands selling fresh produce during the summer and fall months.
If you prefer to let someone else do the navigating, then the next best option would be to travel by Via Rai train to Toronto.
What is the cheapest transportation from Ottawa to Toronto?
Generally speaking, the cheapest way to travel between Ottawa and Toronto is by bus or rideshare. When considering your costs to travel remember to factor in things like rental car fees and insurance (unless you have your own car), gas, restaurant stops, toll fees (if you take the 407), and how you will get to and from the airport, bus station or train station.
Conclusion: Traveling from Ottawa to Toronto
Traveling between many cities in Ontario, including Ottawa and Toronto can be done by various modes of transportation, including driving, bus, train, and air travel. Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages, depending on personal preferences and circumstances.
Having traveled between Ottawa and Toronto multiple times, we recommend taking advantage of the adventure by planning an exciting road trip. Eastern Ontario is incredibly beautiful and is waiting for you to explore!
Erie is the owner and author of Everywhere Ontario. She’s lived and traveled around Ontario for over 30 years, visiting small towns and big cities from the shores of Lake Erie to the crisp northern air of Hearst along the Trans-Canada Highway. She is passionate about maximizing fun and supporting local tourist businesses and is always looking to provide the best recommendations to her fellow Ontario travelers. Read more about Erie here.