30 AMAZING THINGS TO SEE IN TORONTO – COMPLETE GUIDE!
Toronto is one of the most vibrant and cosmopolitan metropolises in North America. An amalgamation of cultures and nationalities has contributed to creating an enormously attractive city. Whether you go with or without children, you will find many possibilities and activities. After five days of touring the city with a friend who lives there, I have collected 30 things to see and do in Toronto. I hope you can thoroughly enjoy your vacation and if you find any other recommended corners, let me know.
WHAT TO SEE IN TORONTO
- 1 WHAT TO SEE IN TORONTO
- 1.1 How to save money: Toronto City Pass
- 1.2 Toronto Subways
- 1.3 Where to sleep in Toronto
- 1.4 30 Things to see and do in Toronto
- 1.4.1 Climb the CN Tower
- 1.4.2 See wonderful graffiti in Graffity Alley
- 1.4.3 See dinosaurs at the ROM Museum
- 1.4.4 Discover the hipster neighborhood, Kensington market
- 1.4.5 Get to know the vibrant Chinatown
- 1.4.6 Eating at St Lawrence Market
- 1.4.7 Watch the sunset from the Toronto Waterfront
- 1.4.8 Take a photo with the letters of Toronto
- 1.4.9 Have a picnic on Center Island
- 1.4.10 Take a dip at the beach
- 1.4.11 Stroll through High Park
- 1.4.12 See the old Town Hall
- 1.4.13 See the extraordinary murals of Islington
- 1.4.14 Go to the Distillery District, the trendy neighborhood
- 1.4.15 Feel like a fish in water at the Toronto Aquarium
- 1.4.16 Try street food
- 1.4.17 Hallucinate with the Loma House
- 1.4.18 Make a Steam Whistle beer tasting
- 1.4.19 Compare the Catholic and Protestant cathedrals
- 1.4.20 See the signs in Yong Square, Toronto’s Times Square
- 1.4.21 Visit Church street, the gay neighborhood
- 1.4.22 Feeling Zorba the Greek in “Greektown on the Danforth”
- 1.4.23 Attend a concert or musical
- 1.4.24 Release adrenaline in Canada’s Wonderland
- 1.4.25 Emulate Javier Fernández skating on ice
- 1.4.26 Go to a sports event
- 1.4.27 Discover the Aga Khan museum
- 1.4.28 See the Greater Toronto Art Gallery (AUG)
- 1.4.29 Shopping at Eaton Mall
- 1.4.30 Go to Niagara Falls
How to save money: Toronto City Pass
First of all, I want to recommend the Toronto Citypass tourist card. It has a price of €62 (children €41), but it compensates if you intend to visit three or more of these sites included in the card:
- CN Tower ($38CAD)
- Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada ($31CAD)
- Casa Loma ($26CAD )
- Royal Ontario Museum ($20CAD)
- Toronto Zoo or Ontario Science Center ($22CAD)
Attention: Do not miss the Guide to traveling to Canada by public transport. All the necessary information: budget, transportation, food, insurance, communications, and many other tips.
Canadians are not big fans of public transport, but they have a very convenient and efficient subway network. The only bad thing is the price, like almost everything in Canada. A trip costs CA$3.25. Tokens can also purchase at the expense of 3CA$. There is a minimum amount of those tiny tokens, and you have to buy at least three tickets.
One thing that seemed very curious to me is that if you don’t have a weekly card, that is, if you pay with money or tokens, there are no turnstiles at the stations. You walk past the ticket office, put the exact amount of money in a piggy bank, and access the platform.
Where to sleep in Toronto
Hotels in Toronto are pretty expensive, so it’s a good idea to look for a good deal and choose the area where you’re staying. I recommend these two hotels with good value for money :
- Pembroke Inn. Central hotel, tastefully decorated and very close to the metro. It has excellent punctual offers. Book at the best price HERE.
- Hotel Park Inn. Hotel with a good location, spacious rooms, and friendly staff. It has excellent punctual offers. Find your request HERE.
30 Things to See and Do in Toronto
Climb the CN Tower
It is probably the most iconic building in Toronto. With its 553 m, it is the tallest tower in America. The general ticket allows access up to 447 m, from where there are impressive views of the entire city. It is recommended to book before or go first thing in the morning to avoid long queues.
See fantastic graffiti in Graffiti Alley.
A street decorated with alternative graffiti that will delight all Instagrammers. It is located near Chinatown, and in just 200 meters, you will see real works of urban art. In the area, there are also some bars with lively terraces.
See dinosaurs at the ROM Museum.
It is the largest Natural History Museum in Canada. It has an essential collection of dinosaurs and Asian and African art. There are also fossils of all kinds and even some meteorites. On Fridays, they organize Friday night live, an opportunity to visit the museum at night, with live music and drinks. On Wednesdays, it is free from 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm, but keep in mind that it is not enough to visit it in its entirety.
Discover the hipster neighborhood, Kensington market
Despite its name, it is not a market but rather a multicultural and alternative neighborhood with shops and restaurants. I have to say that it is one of my favorite places to spend a Sunday in Toronto. It is the trendiest and most hipster neighborhood in the city, with second-hand shops and vintage style—a place to browse and have a coffee in one of the charming cafes.
From May to October, the last Sunday of each month is Pedestrian Sunday, the day without cars. From 12:00 to 19:00, the streets of this neighborhood become pedestrian and are filled with food stalls, street artists, and stalls of all kinds.
Get to know the vibrant Chinatown.
The neighborhood of the Chinese community of Toronto occupies a vast area, and in a way, it is a bit diffuse since there are not the typical doors that we find in other cities. It is curious to walk through its streets full of signs in Chinese and restaurants where you can have a good feast for little money. There are some pastries with buns and sweets from 1$CAD. It is also an excellent place to buy souvenirs at a better price than downtown stores.
Eat at St Lawrence Market
This huge market is Toronto’s primary market and a great place to browse and eat. It is divided into several areas and offers fresh products, local specialties, souvenirs, and antiques. The main building is an old pavilion. You will find stores with the best products at excellent prices and some restaurants where you can eat for a few dollars. They are informal places with a handful of shared tables, and they offer Asian, Canadian, and European specialties from €5. The small antique market is located on one side of the pavilion. They close on Sundays and Mondays.
Watch the sunset from the Toronto Waterfront.
Near the ferry that connects to the islands, there is a lovely walk along the lake. This kind of boardwalk next to a park also has an area of restaurants and cafes with privileged views. It is a highly recommended place to stroll in the afternoon. The Harbourfront Center is also there, a huge cultural center with many activities, from concerts to skating courses. You can browse their website here.
Take a photo with the letters of Toronto.
We all like to take these kinds of foreign photos so that we will deny it. You have them available in front of the new town hall, and if you’re lucky, it might coincide with one of the numerous events organized in the square.
Picnic on Center Island
It is a group of small islands in front of Toronto. It is the best place to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, and in it, you will find parks, picnic areas, beaches, and fantastic places to walk or ride a bike. There is also a small amusement park for the little ones. You get the best views of the Toronto skyline from the island, especially after dark. On the same island, you will find places to rent bikes. If you prefer to walk it, I recommend taking the ferry to Hanlan’s Point and returning from Ward’s Island or vice versa. The ferry price is $7.87 roundtrip. You can see the schedules here.
Take a dip at the beach.
Although Toronto has no sea, it does have a few beaches on the shores of Lake Ontario. The most popular of all is Woodbine beach, which is more than 5 km long. You can go by bus 103 or tram 503. The most accessible are those of Center Island. There are three beaches: Chelsea, Ward’s Island, and Hanlan’s Point. The latter, with fine sand, is the largest, and nudists are welcome. Torontonians are a bit reluctant to swim at these beaches, but most of them have a blue flag, and it is a fantastic option to cool off in summer.
Stroll through High Park
This vast park is the central lung of Toronto. It features a network of trails through the forest, where foxes and raccoons can be found. There is also an area of marshes with numerous waterfowl, and wherein winter, you can skate on its icy waters. If you go with children, they can cool off in the recreational areas with fountains and children’s structures with fountains.
See the old Town Hall.
Next to the letters of Toronto is the old city hall (Old City Hall). It was built in 1889 and is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. Currently, it is the seat of the judicial courts, and you can hardly visit inside.
See the extraordinary murals of Islington.
The neighborhood of Islington was one of the great surprises of our trip since it is hardly known. It is about 30 minutes by subway from the city center and has the best murals in all of Toronto. There are 26 large murals in just one street, most of them based on events in the neighborhood. An authentic jewel that you cannot miss. You can see the map and location of the murals here.
Go to the Distillery District, the trendy neighborhood.
This former neighborhood was home to the world’s largest whiskey factory in 1860. Today it’s a quaint, trendy area with cafes and bars with an industrial and vintage look. Come to the Mill Street Brewery if you feel like having a beer.
Feel like a fish in the water at the Toronto Aquarium
It is one of the largest aquariums globally, housing more than 20,000 aquatic species, including sharks. A highly recommended activity, especially if you go with children. Admission: 31$CAD.
Try the street food.
Eating in some restaurants in Toronto can cost a kidney and a half. But don’t worry. There is nothing more typical than eating street food, which is affordable. In addition to the classic hot dogs, which you will find almost on every corner, you can try other specialties for a small price.
I have already told you about the St Lawrence market before. In front of the Union Station, they also set up a small market with food stalls in the summer. There is another area with food stalls next to Yong Square (423 Yong Street). They also offer good value for money at Asian restaurants in Chinatown or the central Dundas area.
Hallucinate with the Loma House
This vast mansion was the crazy dream of a billionaire who tried to make a replica of Balmoral Castle. It has 98 rooms and currently functions as a museum. I am not a big fan of visiting these places inside, but it is well worth visiting to see them from the outside.
Do a Steam Whistle beer tasting.
Not everything will be a formal visit, so I propose a different and alternative plan, visit a brewery. Steam Whistle is a small local brewery offering guided tours with two beers for only $13. It is very well located, a few meters from the CN tower. Even if you don’t do the tour, it’s worth going in for a drink and a bite to eat at its beautiful premises. It closes at 5:00 pm. It is essential to book your website to do the tour.
Compare the catholic and protestant cathedrals.
A few meters from each other are the Anglican St James Cathedral and the Catholic St Michael, competing in beauty and parishioners. They are halfway between St Lawrence Market and Church Street, so you can take the opportunity to visit them on the way.
See the billboards of Yong Square, Toronto’s Times Square.
If New York has its Times Square, Toronto has Yong Square. A square is full of neon signs and giant plasma screens. It is one of the most famous squares in the city and especially lively at night.
30 AMAZING THINGS TO SEE IN TORONTO – COMPLETE GUIDE!
Visit Church street, the gay neighborhood.
Toronto is a very tolerant and progressive city with a large gay community. The epicenter of the collective is at the confluence of Church street and Wellesley. Right here is a statue of Alexander Wood, a pioneer in the fight for homosexual rights. Along Church Street, there are a handful of very lively clubs.
One of the most famous is Woodys & Sailors, easily recognizable by its Façade decoration on its Façade, an entire house covered in blue graffiti. Also noteworthy are the pedestrian crossings in the neighborhood, customized with the rainbow colors of the homosexual community.
Feeling Zorba the Greek in “Greektown on the Danforth”
The Greek community is one of the largest in Toronto, and its party, Greek on the Danforth, is the funniest of all. It is celebrated on the weekend in mid-August, and they close the main street of the neighborhood to fill it with food stalls, music, and shows, mainly from their community. You can also find other types of food, from tacos to gazpacho and paella.
Go to a concert or musical.
Toronto is a city with an incredible entertainment offer, with numerous concerts and musicals. You can take a look at the agenda of the Sony Center, the Royal Alexander theaters, or some other. For more information, you can look here.
Release adrenaline in Canada’s Wonderland
It is an amusement park for a true feast of emotions. You will find more than 200 attractions in its extensive facilities, including 16 roller coasters and a water park—an excellent option for a summer day.
Emulate Javier Fernández skating on ice
Canadians love ice skating, and in winter, they take to the streets to practice this beautiful sport. There are countless tracks, the most famous of which is at Nathan Phillips Square. Access is free, and they rent skates for $10CAD. If you are more expert, you can go skating on High Park lake.
Go to a sporting event.
The matches of the local teams are a real party, where the least important thing is often the result. Families come to enjoy the whole show they put on, with singers, cheerleaders, and mascots. The most famous teams are the Toronto Raptors for basketball and the Blue Jays for baseball. Get ready to enjoy a hot dog in one hand and a beer in the other. The show must go on!
Discover the Aga Khan museum
It is a state-of-the-art museum of Islamic, Iranian art, and Muslim culture. From the outside, the museum is beautiful, and inside they have an excellent art collection. It is exciting to learn more about a less-known culture in the West. Free on Wednesdays from 16:00-18:30.
See the Greater Toronto Art Gallery (AUG)
The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) has recently been expanded to include nearly 100,000 works from the 1st century. Even if you are not a big fan of art galleries, you should also keep an eye on their schedule, as they organize everything from talks to free afternoons on Wednesdays with a breakdance show.
Go shopping at Eaton Mall.
Surely some of you also want to go shopping in Toronto. In the heart of the city, there are huge shopping malls. The largest and most recommendable is the Eaton Mall, with hundreds of shops of all kinds in a charming building.
Go to Niagara Falls
In the end, we will leave a getaway outside the city but obviously, essential. It is barely two hours from Toronto, and you can visit it on a day trip, although I recommend you spend one night. There are indeed many people at the falls, but they do not detract from the beauty of the falls.
30 AMAZING THINGS TO SEE IN TORONTO – COMPLETE GUIDE