The Toronto Islands are just a short ferry ride from downtown Toronto, but they feel like a world away. Skate in naturally formed ice skating rinks, keep yourself warm in charming cafes, or simply enjoy the stunning views of the city skyline.
Planning to visit the islands during winter? Don’t let the freezing weather stop you and visit these spots for a unique and magical experience:
Toronto Islands’ Best Attractions During Winter
Toronto Island Park
— From: @aheatherman.photography
Address: 9 Queens Quay W, Jack Layton Ferry Terminal, Toronto, ON M5J 2H3
Operating hours: Monday to Sunday – 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Toronto Island Park is a public park on Centre Island where you can enjoy a peaceful picnic or rent a bike to explore the trails and find the best view of Lake Ontario. It’s close to other must-visit spots like Hanlan’s Point Beach and the Centre Island Pier.
During winter, you can ice skate in naturally-formed rinks as long as you have your gear. It’s a great spot for some outdoor fun with your friends or family.
If your dog loves the cold, bring them to the park where they can explore and have fun in the snow.
Hanlan’s Point Beach
— From: @transdarkandhandsome
Address: Lakeshore Ave, Toronto, ON M5J 2W2
Contact details: +1 416-392-8196
Hanlan’s Point Beach is a public clothing-optional beach in the Toronto Islands. Of course, clothing is recommended during winter unless you’re willing to fight through the freezing waters.
It’s known for its inclusive and laid-back atmosphere and has become a popular spot for the LGBTQ+ community. In 1971, Canada’s first Gay Pride celebration was held on the beach.
You don’t usually go here during winter to swim, it’s better to enjoy the view and have fun on the snowy shore.
Ward’s Island Beach
— From: @ridofittoronto
Address: Ward’s Island Beach, Toronto, ON
Contact details: +1 416-338-4386
Ward’s Island Beach is a long, sandy beach located on the eastern tip of Ward’s Island, one of the Toronto Islands. The water at the beach is clean, clear, and shallow enough for swimmers of all levels.
During winter, the atmosphere is more serene with fewer people on the beach. It’s a great place to walk or hike while enjoying the beauty of the city and the islands.
You can take a water taxi to the island for around $12.50 per person if you want to avoid the lines for the ferry.
Gibraltar Point Lighthouse
— From: @travel_accountant
Address: 443 Lakeshore Ave, Toronto, ON M5J 2W2
Operating hours: Monday to Sunday – 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM
Gibraltar Point Lighthouse is a lighthouse located on the Toronto Islands. It’s the oldest existing lighthouse on the Great Lakes and one of the city’s oldest buildings.
Visitors can climb to the top of the lighthouse for stunning views of the Toronto skyline and Lake Ontario. The lighthouse and its grounds are popular for weddings and other special events.
It’s a historic building where you can read about haunted stories and paranormal encounters.
Centre Island Pier
— From: @iamsandyhurst
Address: Lake, ON
Contact details: +1 437-983-0326
Operating hours: Open 24 hours daily
Located at Centre Island Beach, the Centre Island Pier is a concrete jetty projecting into Lake Ontario. Standing at the pier, you’ll see a magnificent view of the waterfront and the surrounding islands from different angles.
During winter, it’s transformed into a winter wonderland with snow-covered benches, twinkling lights, and stunning views of the frozen lake.
Bring food and snacks since vendors are limited and their offerings are on the expensive side.
Address: 20 Withrow St, Toronto, ON M5J 2C4
Contact details: +1 416-203-6460
- Monday to Thursday – 8:30 AM to 8:00 PM
- Friday to Sunday – 8:30 AM to 9:00 PM
Island Cafe is a casual family-friendly cafe located on Ward’s Island. It’s a great spot to enjoy a hot cup of coffee and try tasty dishes.
It’s popular during winter as a place to keep yourself warm and away from the freezing outdoors. They serve comforting and hearty meals you can enjoy while listening to live music.
They also serve vegan food and they grow their own vegetables for their dishes.
Address: 102 Lakeshore Ave, Toronto, ON M5J 1X9
Contact details: +1 416-203-2152
- Friday to Monday – 12:00 PM to 7:00 PM
- Tuesday to Thursday – Closed
Also on Ward’s Island, The Riviera is a restaurant and bar known for serving delicious beach food, fine wines, and classic cocktails. It’s a popular spot for events such as weddings, birthday parties, and corporate events.
Visit the bar during winter for some drinks with a lively crowd. It’s great for escaping the cold in a cozy environment that offers tasty meals.
Expect some bees and wasps if you choose to sit on the outdoor patio.