Toronto, nestled on the northern shore of Lake Ontario, attracts a constant influx of travelers and residents from around the globe. As one of the largest North American cities, Toronto has plenty to offer. It’s no wonder that millions of travelers visit Toronto each year.
If you’re planning to visit the capital city of Ontario anytime soon, it’s crucial to consider safety as you plan your trip.
You never know what nasty surprises the city might be hiding behind its wanderlust-evoking image.
Safety Concerns in Toronto
While Toronto is overall a safe city, some common problems still exist that make you question its safety. These shouldn’t hold you back from exploring such a beautiful city, but it’s a good idea to come prepared.
As much as you might think nothing will happen, almost anyone can fall prey to fraud scams. Well, it doesn’t take much for a scammer to target the right person at the right time.
Although most Canadian cities have low scam risks, some tourist scams are prevalent in Toronto, such as phone call scams, street petitions, ticket scams, phishing, crypto scams, etc. Look at the fraud landscape here to avoid falling for such scams.
Some popular tourist places might attract potential thieves. The entertainment district of Toronto witnessed multiple pickpocket-like thefts in 2022. If you want to avoid losing important stuff like your wallet, keep them in your front pocket, and don’t carry too much cash and cards with you all the time.
As with any other city, petty crimes still occur in major tourist areas. Muggings are rare in Toronto, but there are some areas that you might want to avoid going at night. Crescent Town, Parma Short, and Scarborough are some areas that can get dangerous, especially at night.
Reports suggest that a vehicle is stolen every 48 minutes in Ontario, so you could say vehicle break-ins are quite common around the province. Thieves mostly target rental cars hoping to find some valuables. If you’re renting a car, be careful and don’t leave your belongings in the car when exploring the city.
Canadians are no strangers to adverse weather conditions, particularly natural disasters. Toronto has experienced its fair share of weather calamities, such as blizzards, snowfalls, and ice storms, which can make driving in winter fairly hazardous.
Typically, Toronto experiences wintertime lows of -20°C (-4°F) and summertime highs of between 30°C (86°F) and 40°C (104°F). You can plan your trip accordingly.
Major Crimes in Toronto
In 2018, the homicide rate was highest in Toronto at 2.31 per 100,000 population, and by 2021, the rate stood at 1.81. Also, the city had the highest number of property-related crimes in Canada in 2020. These numbers may influence perceptions of safety among travelers.
Toronto’s crime rate has been fluctuating for the past decade. However, the majority of violent crimes involve public transportation systems.
In the wake of these incidents, the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) has strived to move hundreds of millions of passengers every year without compromising public safety. You can follow some simple safety steps issued by TTC to stay safe while in transit.
Despite everything, tourism in Toronto has not been significantly impacted by these numbers. In fact, Toronto still attracts millions of tourists every year.
Unlike other major cities with a large urban population, Toronto still remains to be one of the least dangerous. It was the safest North American city and fourth safest city globally in 2017, according to an index of city-wise rankings compiled by The Economist.
Safest Neighborhoods in Toronto
While the city is generally safe to live in, some of its neighborhoods are safer than others. According to Toronto Life, some of the safest neighborhoods in Toronto are the following:
- Bloor West Village: It’s a charming neighborhood in Toronto known for its quaint tree-lined streets, classic Toronto homes, boutique shops, diverse dining options, and of course, the sprawling High Park.
- North Riverdale: It’s a vibrant residential neighborhood with magnificent views of Downtown Toronto. It offers a friendly community environment with easy access to parks and local attractions.
- Danforth: Vibrant streets, delicious food, cultural events, and friendly people; there’s actually a lot about this lively neighborhood that makes it so special.
- Mount Pleasant East: It’s a tranquil community and one of the most attractive Toronto neighborhoods. It’s a perfect option if you’re seeking a peaceful, family-friendly location.
- Lawrence Park North: It’s one of the most affluent and wealthiest neighborhoods in Toronto, featuring elegant architectural homes, well-manicured gardens, and tree-lined streets.
These neighborhoods are ranked based on several factors, such as safety, housing affordability, transit, community, diversity, etc.
That being said, Toronto is safe for travelers as long as they stay within its safest areas. Within these tranquil and secure neighborhoods, people, including tourists, are to walk around both during the day and night.
Foreign governments issue a travel advisory to provide information about the safety of traveling to a foreign country or destination. The United States, for example, has put Canada under Level 1, which is the lowest advisory level for safety and security risk.
Is Downtown Toronto Safe?
Downtown Toronto is the main central business district of Toronto and home to some of the most iconic attractions, such as the Royal Ontario Museum, the CN Tower, St. Lawrence Market, etc.
Unlike other populous neighborhoods, Downtown Toronto is relatively safe for travelers. There are some petty crimes reported in some areas, which is normal, but you can avoid those if you stick to the safer neighborhoods, such as Yorkville, The Annex, Cabbagetown, Entertainment District, and more.
Dangerous Neighborhoods in Toronto
Toronto is the most populous city in Canada, with some bad neighborhoods that aren’t as safe as other tourist-friendly neighborhoods, especially after dark. Their presence doesn’t necessarily make Toronto a dangerous city, but tourists are advised to avoid these areas.
Some of the areas that tourists should avoid at night include Regent Park, Crescent Town, Little Portugal, Moss Park, Flemingdon Park, St. James Town, Kipling & Albion, Weston, and Bay Street Corridor.
Tourists and travelers should also avoid strolling around parks at night because that’s where most of the homeless people take shelter after dark.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Toronto
Whilst statistically, Toronto is one of the safest North American cities, some exceptions can make your stay or visit unpleasant. To help you navigate the city safely, we’re sharing some insider tips to ensure your safety during your visit.
- Keep your belongings secure at all times when you’re out, especially in crowded areas.
- Don’t go around carrying valuable items or important stuff with you, like documents, passports, etc.
- Carry additional supplies and take necessary precautions while visiting remote areas.
- Pay attention to local weather warnings before going out.
- Avoid the sketchy areas of Toronto, especially at night.
- Check local regulations, as drinking in public may be illegal in certain areas.
- Plan your itineraries in advance rather than walking around with maps.
- Note down important emergency numbers in case you run into some trouble.
- If you do get into trouble, don’t feel shy to ask for help; Canadians are friendly.
Final Thoughts: Is Toronto Safe?
When visiting a big city like Toronto, it’s natural to expect some inconveniences as a traveler. Sometimes, it’s all about being in the wrong place at the wrong time, so keep our pointers in mind to stay safe.
Like any metropolis with a vibrant city center, you can find some cool neighborhoods and bad neighborhoods.
If you’re planning to visit Toronto this year, we recommend staying in the downtown core or nearby neighborhoods such as Yorkville, Chinatown, or the Entertainment District.
Toronto has some violent neighbourhoods, too, mainly the areas around Moss Park, that you’d probably want to avoid or at least not visit alone at night.