Toronto has held many legendary titles over time. It’s been home to the world’s longest street, the world’s highest freestanding structure and the world’s oldest drag queen. But hidden beneath the streets is a record that’s yet to be beaten — the world’s largest underground shopping complex. Here’s a quick guide to the Toronto PATH.
Located in the downtown core, the PATH encompasses 30 kilometres of tunnels and walkways that link over 50 office buildings, 20 parking garages, six subway stations, eight hotels and a railway terminal. With over 1,200 shops and services, plus dining and entertainment, it’s a not just a critical pedestrian thoroughfare (over 200,000 downtown workers use it every day), it’s also a destination in itself.
The PATH stretches north-south from College St. to Queens Quay, and east-west from Yonge St. to Simcoe — meaning you can travel across much of the downtown core without having to brave the elements. Access from any of the 125 street-level entrances — from the hotel, walk 100 metres to Yonge-Dundas Square/Dundas Subway Station.
The Underground City
Once you’re inside, the world is your oyster. The PATH connects attractions like the Scotiabank Arena, Hockey Hall of Fame and Ripley’s Aquarium along with top-rated restaurants like Mio Ristobar. (There are plenty of grab-and-go options as well.) The city’s most important office towers, including the Exchange Tower, First Canadian Place, Brookfield Place, Sun Life Financial Tower and the Royal Bank Plaza (among others) are all accessible from the PATH, making for convenient travel between meetings, especially in bad weather. (If you’re a fan of Suits, you may recognize scenery from the Bay Adelaide Centre, which was a frequent shoot location). For self-care on the go (like a quick midday massage), you can even find personal services — like the Adelaide Spa and Maverick Studio for Men.
If you get lost, you’re not alone. Even the most seasoned locals get lost in the PATH from time to time — it’s been called everything from an “underground maze” to “the bowels of the city.” (So don’t be afraid to ask for directions — you’re in one of the friendliest places in the world, after all.) Signage can be limited if you’re looking for a specific business, so arm yourself with the official map or a third-party app like Pathmap. Posted at nearly every intersection are colour-coded signs that tell you which direction you’re going and indicate nearby landmarks. Directional signs also indicate which building you’re in, and the next building you’ll be entering. (If you still wind up walking in a circle and feel the need to loudly vent your frustration, you won’t be alone. Breathe, and move on. Or exit to the street, where it’s easier to know where you are.)
Navigating the PATH can be challenging, but if you’re looking for a quick and convenient way to get through the downtown core, or a way to keep warm while you window shop and snack, it’s the answer to your prayers.