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The basics
Canada: Once you arrive

Getting around Canada

What transport options are there in the vast country that is Canada? Read our guide to public transport in the country...

Transport in Canada

One of the largest countries in the world, Canada has an area of almost 4 million square miles. In fact its territory is second only to Russia. Plus, as you may be aware, the weather can be somewhat hazardous the further north you go. However none of this should put you off from exploring Canada or attending a particular institution just because of its location. Canada has very good transport options which will serve you well during your time studying in the country.



By air

All major cities in Canada have an airport to meet the needs of those travelling across the large country, as do many large towns. The five busiest airports according to passenger traffic per year are (in order): Toronto Pearson, Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Edmonton, though there are many more airports which satisfy both internal and external flights and passengers. Air Canada and WestJet are the most popular airlines which accommodate the various corners of the country.


As a major country in close proximity to America, air security and border control in Canada are taken seriously (though it is still not as high a priority as in America). Therefore you should ensure you have the correct documentation on you when you attempt to enter the country and abide by any rules and guidelines which are outlined to you by officials when flying.



By train

The various corners of Canada are well connected by train, from Vancouver and Prince Rupert in British Columbia on the west coast, all the way east to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Basically anything south of the border separating British Columbia and Yukon/North West Territories is reachable by rail.  You can check times, buy tickets and plan your journey at ViaRail. It will often be cheaper to buy your tickets in advance online, though you can purchase them on the day too.



By subway

There are three Canadian cities with major subway systems: Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. These are comprised of a handful of lines only. These are much quicker than taking the bus or streetcar, which might be affected by harsh weather from time to time. A monthly pass in Montreal is about CAD$65, while a weekly pass is about CAD$20. Take a look at the section on travelling by buse for more information about Toronto’s monthly pass.



By car

Similarly, driving long distances in Canada can be problematic due to weather conditions – the further north you go and depending on the time of year, you may run into problems. Therefore it’s best to check the weather updates before starting your journey and making sure you have any necessary equipment (e.g. spare tyre, repair kit, petrol can, torch etc.) in your boot (or ‘trunk’).


You will need to get a Canadian driver’s licence in order to drive in the country though you might be able to drive for a short time after you arrive if you have a driver’s licence from your own country already. Before driving, check that you are allowed to under the terms of your current licence.



By bus

The bus is probably the best way to travel both around a Canadian city, and even around the country too (especially when travelling to small towns which aren’t very well connected). However you should remember that because of the long distances between cities and the icy weather conditions which Canada is known for, the road might not always be the quickest or smoothest route to take if you’re going far.


Each city will have their respective transport service within that area. To give you an idea of prices for travelling around a city, let’s look at Toronto whose public transport is handled by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). Students can buy a monthly pass for all modes of public transport (bus, subway and streetcar) for about CAD$112. Weekly passes are around CAD$30-40. Some cities will also have streetcars. Prices in other cities and smaller towns may vary.


To travel between cities and provinces, you can get a Greyhound bus or a bus service from one of the more regional operators just as you would in the States. These buses also cross the US-Canada border into the States.



By ferry

Ferry boats are used on coastal areas of Canada to transport both individuals and vehicles. Ferry is a popular mode of transport in areas like British Columbia and is certainly a different way to get around!