Driving to Buffalo Airport from Toronto

Tuesday 29th, January 2013 / 04:24 Written by
Driving to Buffalo Airport from Toronto
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In this series, I will talk about how to use Buffalo as an alternate airport to Toronto.

Related Posts

In a previous post, I wrote about the benefits of using Buffalo Airport (BUF) as an alternate airport for flying out of the Toronto area. Here I will give some details on how to best get to Buffalo airport by car, including my favorite routes and how to best plan your trip. In future posts, I’ll comment on the best way to get to and from Buffalo airport if you don’t have a car or are not interested in taking your car to Buffalo.

Driving To BUF from Toronto

The actual distance from Toronto area (say YYZ) to BUF is about 150km. I tend to budget about 2 hours of actual driving time, with some buffer for a long border wait, assuming it is not rush hour and there are no major traffic delays. I live in Richmond Hill, just outside of Toronto. I would leave about 3-3.5 hours before the scheduled departure for a US domestic flight out of BUF. View Larger Map There are 3 different border crossings that you can take. My personal favorite route for going to BUF is the Peace Bridge at Fort Erie ON, since that saves you a $1 toll on the US side. It is also the most straightforward and least likely to get you lost. If you are following your GPS’s instructions, it will likely instruct you to take the Queenston-Lewiston bridge. This route is technically the shortest, by distance, but in experience, I believe I have saved both time and money going the Fort Erie route.

Bridge Commentary Tolls (to BUF) Tolls (to Toronto) Notes
1. Peace (Fort Erie) Closest bridge to BUF (most driving in Canada) $0 $3 (Bridge) Avoid during Buffalo Sabres games
2. Queenston Closest bridge to Toronto (most driving in USA) $1 (Grand Island) $3.25 (Bridge) $1 (Grand Island)
3. Rainbow (Niagara Falls) Closest to outlets and tourist attractions $1 (Grand Island) $3.25 (Bridge) $1 (Grand Island) Only bridge with pedestrian access

Avoid Traffic

The first thing you will want to do is check the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission website or the Canada Border Services Agency website. On these sites, they post the border wait times so you know which one to avoid. If you are driving, you can call 1-800-715-6722 for updated traffic information.

Border Crossings

Route 1: Peace Bridge at Fort Erie ON

I prefer this route as you do most of your driving on the Canadian side (which means you can drive faster with less traffic usually) and you save on the tolls.

  • 403 / QEW towards Hamilton / Niagara
  • Enter USA using the Peace Bridge at Fort Erie ON
  • I-190 South towards I-90
  • I-90 towards Buffalo Airport

There is a $3 toll (USD or CAD) for entry INTO Canada at the Peace Bridge.

Route 2: Queenston Lewiston Bridge

This is probably the most commonly taken route as you cross into the United States much earlier than if you took the Peace Bridge. If you are going to be going shopping in Niagara Falls NY on the way to the airport, or want to fill up gas on the US side sooner, then this is the route for you.

  • 403 / QEW towards Hamilton / Niagara
  • 405 towards Queenston Lewiston Bridge to USA
  •  I-190 South towards I-90*
  • I-290 East towards I-90
  • I-90 towards Buffalo Airport

*There is a $1 toll on the I-190 when you go onto Grand Island.  To avoid this toll, exit I-190 at Niagara Falls Blvd East or exit at Buffalo Ave / Hwy 384 East and follow to I-290. Niagara Falls Blvd is where the outlets are. Buffalo Ave is a more major road.

There is a $3.25 toll (USD or CAD) for entry INTO Canada at the Queenston Lewiston Bridge.

Route 3: Rainbow Bridge at Niagara Falls

This route takes you to Niagara Falls ON, where the casinos and tourist areas are. This is also the only bridge that allows for the ability to walk across the border. This may be important if you can get a ride to the border only.

  • 403 / QEW towards Hamilton / Niagara
  • 420 towards Niagara Falls USA
  • Enter USA using the Rainbow Bridge*
  • Follow 8th Street to R. Moses Parkway
  •  I-190 South towards I-90**
  • I-290 East towards I-90
  • I-90 towards Buffalo Airport

*The Whirlpool Bridge, which is less than 5 minutes drive from the Rainbow Bridge can also be taken if all passengers in the car have Nexus / Global Entry **There is a $1 toll on the I-190 when you go onto Grand Island. To avoid this toll, continue on R. Moses pkwy to LaSalle Expwy until I-290.

There is a $3.25 toll (USD or CAD) for entry INTO Canada at the Rainbow Bridge. The toll is $2.75 when using the Whirlpool Bridge.

Recap

There are a few different routes that you can take when you drive to Buffalo airport. Each have their advantages. My favorite is the Peace Bridge at Fort Erie ON.

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3 comments on “Driving to Buffalo Airport from Toronto”

  1. Jonathan says:

    Thanks for the comparisons. This is exactly what I was looking for. I will try the Peace Bridge route :)

  2. tim maguire says:

    Thank you for putting this together. We often flew into Buffalo to visit my in-laws in London. We live in Toronto now and are flying to NYC to visit old friends. We’re saving $400 for 3 tickets by going through Buffalo–well worth the inconvenience.

    Tomorrow is the first time we’ll be making the Toronto to Buffalo trip and you give me some confidence i won’t miss my flight.

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