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Toronto is one of Canada’s most iconic cities – so much so that it’s often mistaken for the capital! It’s home to a diverse mix of cultures, resulting in lots of amazing restaurants, museums, and art galleries. There are also over 1,600 parks in the city, so it’s a very green space, and there’s plenty of natural beauty around.
We think that Toronto is one of those cities that really does have something for everyone (cliché, I know, but stay with us), from the major attractions like the famous CN Tower to nearby natural wonders like the Toronto Islands and, of course, Niagara Falls! On top of that, it’s got a great entertainment scene, plenty of fun tours to join, and there are even some beaches around.
With so much to do, it can be hard to know where to start! That’s why we’ve compiled a guide to the 33 absolute best things to do in Toronto, Canada, so you can have an amazing time in this vibrant city.
Don’t have time to read the full article? Check out our list of our absolute favorite things to do in Toronto:
- Things to do in Toronto, Canada
- 1. See Niagara Falls
- Niagara Falls Day Tour from Toronto
- Niagara Falls Platinum Tour from Toronto
- Niagara Falls Tour from Toronto with Boat, Journey Behind the Falls and Lunch
- Private Niagara Falls Tour in an SUV
- 2. Hockey Hall of Fame
- 3. Head up the CN Tower
- 4. Check out Casa Loma
- 5. Wander the Distillery District
- 6. Enjoy brunch at Lady Marmalade
- 7. See Toronto from the sky
- 8. Watch a hockey game
- 9. Take a tour of the city
- 10. Fall in love with Little Italy
- 11. Eat the finest sushi in Toronto at Miku Toronto
- 12. Go on a Food Tour
- 13. Royal Ontario Museum
- 14. Visit Chinatown
- 15. Toronto Tall Ship Boat Cruise
- 16. Drink local craft beer
- 17. Sip some cocktails
- 18. St. Lawrence Market
- 19. Visit the Toronto Islands
- Getting there
- Things to do on the Toronto Islands
- Toronto Islands Bike Tours
- 20. Art Gallery of Ontario
- 21. Go Sailing
- 22. Explore Old Toronto
- 23. Ripley's Aquarium of Canada
- 24. Kensington Market
- 25. Explore Toronto's Parks
- 26. Check out Little Canada
- 27. Toronto Botanical Garden
- 28. Relax at Woodbine Beach
- 29. Fort York National Historic Site
- 30. Graffiti Alley
- 31. Yonge-Dundas Square
- 32. Visit the Legislative Building
- 33. Eaton Centre
- Getting around Toronto
- Where to Stay in Toronto
- Thanks for reading!
- Why We Book Tours with Viator
- Don't get Caught without Travel Insurance!
Things to do in Toronto, Canada
1. See Niagara Falls
You can’t go to Toronto without paying a visit to arguably the most famous waterfall in the world!
In case you didn’t know, Niagara Falls is a group of three huge waterfalls that spans the border between Ontario and upstate New York. The largest falls are on the Canadian side, where you’ll get amazing views of the Horseshoe Falls, which are the most powerful in North America. You’ll be able to see the American Falls across the river, and you can also zip line across the falls from here, which if you ask us, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
You can make the trip out to Niagara Falls on your own if you have a rental car with the journey taking around 90 minutes depending on the traffic and where you are staying. From there, you can board a cruise for around $30 to $50 CAD. Niagara City Tours is a great company to check out for cruise-only options. On top of that, you can book a scenic flight such as this one which gives you 20 minutes to enjoy the views from the sky, or a trip up the Skylon Tower for a cheaper option.
However, if you’re like me and enjoy not having to plan all your activities, the best way to visit Niagara Falls is as part of a tour from Toronto. Not only will you get to enjoy lots of fun activities and learn all about this iconic natural wonder without any stress or planning involved. Some of the best tours, including the one I did, are:
Niagara Falls Day Tour from Toronto
For $99 CAD, you can take this full day tour from Toronto to Niagara Falls, which includes lots of viewing and photo stops, and three hours to explore the falls site. There are also visits to regional attractions like the floral clock and the Living Water Wayside Chapel, which stakes a claim to being the smallest church in the world.
You’ll also visit the Niagara Whirlpool, which is a bright blue, incredibly powerful natural whirlpool located at the bottom of the Niagara Gorge.
On the day, you’ll also have the option to take a boat ride behind the falls for an additional fee. You can also head up the Skylon Tower, which has an observation deck and a revolving restaurant that offers amazing views of the falls from high above. We did not do this tour, but it’s a great budget option. Just remember, your cruise is not included and costs around $40 extra.
You can check availability and book this budget-friend Niagara Falls tour online here.
Niagara Falls Platinum Tour from Toronto
Meanwhile, this premium tour of Niagara Falls includes some exciting extras, as well as a guided visit to the falls. During the late fall and winter months, you’ll get a three-course lunch at the Table Rock House restaurant included in the price of your tour, which we think is a big win because the restaurant overlooks the falls – talk about dining with a view! In the spring and summer, you’ll enjoy a ride on the Hornblower catamaran and then lunch in Niagara Parks. Either way, you’ll get a fantastic Niagara Falls experience.
Another thing we love about this tour is that it includes a visit to one of the best wineries in Ontario for a tasting, and a stop at Niagara-on-the-Lake, a picturesque old town full of charming boutiques, historic buildings, and beautiful flower displays.
This is a really great way to experience some of the best that the Canadian side of Niagara Falls has to offer! It’s more expensive than the above tour at $180 CAD per person, but lunch and your boat tour are included in the price.
This is the tour we did and to be honest, we loved it. Not only did we see a ton, but when you factor in all the extras, we couldn’t have done it much cheaper ourselves.
Niagara Falls Tour from Toronto with Boat, Journey Behind the Falls and Lunch
This is a super-comprehensive tour of Niagara Falls that includes a boat ride behind the falls during the summer months, or a trip up to the Skylon Tower Observation Deck during the winter. You’ll also get a delicious lunch and a visit to a winery in the scenic old town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, as well as a ride on the Niagara Whirlpool Aero Car, which is suspended above the rushing waters of the Niagara River. This is a really thrilling experience because you’ll get to see the water suddenly change direction below you, and the views are just incredible!
This tour will also take you to the floral clock, which is covered in a carpet of over 16,000 flowers, the tiny Living Water Wayside Chapel, and a scenic drive through the botanical gardens.
It’s an excellent way to see the falls and all that their beautiful surroundings have to offer. It costs $325 CAD for adults, $319 CAD for seniors, and $269 CAD for kids aged 4-12. You can book it online here!
Private Niagara Falls Tour in an SUV
If you’d rather take a private tour, then this is a great option for a group of up to 6 people. What’s great about this tour is that you have total control over your itinerary, so you can choose which highlights to visit and where you want to spend the most time. You can also ask your guide to take you around certain spots, or explore independently if you prefer.
The tour costs $834 CAD per vehicle, and some activities – like a ride on the Aero Car, the Hornblower Boat Ride, and a visit to the Skylon Tower – cost extra, but you can decide which ones you want to include. If you’re traveling in a group and want lots of flexibility, this is the perfect choice.
You should secure your private tour online well in advance to avoid missing out.
Related Read: If you happen to be in Quebec, there are also great Niagara Falls tours from Montreal available!
2. Hockey Hall of Fame
If you’re a hockey fan (or even if you aren’t), then you should definitely pay a visit to the Hockey Hall of Fame while you’re in town.
As you can probably guess, it’s full of all kinds of hockey memorabilia from across the world, which was super fun to look around. There are also loads of fun exhibits and interactive activities for kids (and big kids!) to try out, like the NHLPA Game Time where you can go head-to-head against animated versions of NHL legends in a model rink to see who comes out on top!
They also have a to-scale replica of the Montreal Canadiens dressing room, which was really cool to visit – it’s got to be one of the most famous dressing rooms in NHL history. If commentating on all the action is more your thing, then check out the TSN Broadcast Zone, where you can test your sports anchor skills in front of a camera!
One of my favorite moments here had to be seeing the original Stanley Cup, which was donated by Lord Stanley of Preston over 130 years ago. While you might not be able to take the original trophy back home with you, but you can definitely snap a pic with the current one like Dan did! You can either take a photo for free, or have it done professionally for $10 CAD, which I think is a great idea for a family photo.
Honestly, you could easily spend hours and hours here seeing everything on display and trying out all the activities. By the end of it, you’ll understand why Canadians are so crazy about hockey!
Open from 10 am to 5 pm daily except for Christmas and New Year’s Day, this is also one of the cheapest things to do in Toronto at just $25 CAD per person. Discount tickets are available for youths (ages 4-13) at $15 CAD per person, and tickets for seniors over the age of 65 cost $20 CAD per person.
My tip? To skip the queues and get stuck into the action (this place can get quite popular), I’d recommend buying your tickets online in advance here.
3. Head up the CN Tower
The CN Tower is the tallest and most iconic building in Toronto, so heading up here is a must while you’re in the city. At 553 meters (1,814 ft) high, it was actually the world’s tallest building from 1975 until 2007, when it was surpassed by the Burj Khalifa. It’s still the tallest building in Canada, and the second tallest in North America behind the One World Trade Center in New York City.
Naturally, the views from the CN Tower are absolutely amazing. You’ll find the main observation deck on the 33rd floor, and there’s also the Glass Floor deck which allows you to look down at the city below. You’ll be forgiven for feeling some nervousness as you walk across (or even sit down on) the glass floor, but it’s perfectly safe.
General admission for the main observation deck costs $43 CAD for adults and $30 CAD for seniors and children, and you’ll need to choose a time slot in advance.
To get even higher, you can head up to the SkyPod observation deck to see the city from 447 meters (1,465 ft) above for an extra $10 CAD per person.
If you’re daring enough, you can even do the EdgeWalk along the outside of the tower’s iconic pod. You’ll be harnessed in so that you can walk hands-free about the perimeter and even lean over the edge! It’s an insane, adrenaline-pumping experience that you’re not likely to forget in a hurry. It costs between $199 – $225 CAD per person and is only for ages 13 and up.
There’s also the 360 Restaurant that rotates once every 72 minutes, so you have unbeatable views of Toronto as you dine on steak or seafood and sip your wine. This is an incredible way to see the city, but it’s not exactly a hidden gem, so it’s best to book in advance.
There’s a $75 CAD minimum spend per person, which is the price of a 2-course set meal or will easily cover a starter and main from the a la carte menu. Guests at the 360 Restaurant get complimentary admission to the Main Observation Deck and don’t need to pay the general admission fee, so if you’ve got room in your budget we think it’s worth heading up the tower for a gourmet meal!
4. Check out Casa Loma
Casa Loma is a super impressive Gothic Revival castle in downtown Toronto that’s now been transformed into a museum! But to call Casa Loma just a museum is a HUGE understatement – it’s full to the brim with so many incredible exhibits, interactive activities for all ages, and beautiful photo opportunities. You can easily spend 2 to 3 hours here just taking in all the sights!
Wandering around this historic building will definitely take you back in time and there are loads of interesting exhibits to check out. One exhibit that I didn’t think I’d like as much as I did was the eerie Dark Side of Toronto photo collection, which tells grim but fascinating stories of Toronto during its darker days, like during Prohibition, The Great Toronto Fire, and more!
They also have an extensive WWII intelligence exhibit, full of tales of bravery and courage during one of the darkest periods in history. For the car enthusiasts out there, they also have a sweet classic car collection in the stables which is a real joy to walk around and take some photos.
There are also plenty of special exhibits that change regularly, and are usually centered around Torontonian history, so if you’ve stopped by before, then why not drop by again to see what’s new?
If you’re feeling a little hungry, then you’ve got a few juicy options to pick from! On select days between June and August, The Gardens of Casa Loma is open, which is an outdoor eatery with beautiful views overlooking Toronto. They serve a bunch of al fresco dining options, and I’d recommend grabbing a glass of wine and enjoying a nice lunch here! Reservations are highly recommended.
The Liberty Caffé is another nice on-site spot to drop in and grab a light bite to eat. Open daily from 10 am to 4 pm, you’ll need to have purchased admission to Casa Loma to stop by, but no reservations are required!
For something a little more substantial, you can also go and dine at the upscale BlueBlood steakhouse, where you can enjoy some prime cuts surrounded by fine antiques and works of art by Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali. The restaurant is open from 5 pm to 11 pm on weekdays, and 4 pm to 11 pm on weekends. It’s pretty pricey at between $75 and $240 CAD for a steak, but how often do you get to say that you dined in a castle?
The castle is open from 9:30 am to 5 pm daily for touring, with the exception of Christmas Day. Entry costs $40 CAD for adults, $35 CAD for seniors and teens, and $25 CAD for 4 to 13-year-olds.
Pro Tip: Queues here can get pretty long, especially during the summer, you can skip all this by booking in advance via Get Your Guide. We’re so glad we did as when we went, the queue looked at least 20 minutes long and we talked right past everybody!
5. Wander the Distillery District
Toronto’s Distillery District was once responsible for the production of over 2 million gallons of whiskey per year, but it became pretty run-down in the late 20th century. However, the 47 well-preserved Victorian buildings that made up the original distillery complex were identified as ripe for redevelopment, and since the 1990s, this district has blossomed into a pretty awesome part of the city.
The Distillery District was redeveloped with pedestrians in mind, and lots of the roads are closed to cars, so it’s a lovely place to wander around and admire the Victorian architecture. There’s a really charming buzz to this place, and there are lots of buskers around and frequent special events happening.
During the festive season, the Distillery District also hosts the Toronto Christmas Market, which is definitely worth checking out if you’re here around that time.
You won’t find any chain businesses around here – all of the buildings are exclusively reserved for independent boutiques, cafés, restaurants, and art studios! Speaking of restaurants, one place that Dan and I loved visiting was BOKU Japanese Eats + Drinks, which serves some of the most incredible ramen. I also couldn’t help but enjoy their Tokia Old Fashioned cocktail, which came served in a teapot!
The Spirit of York Distillery is the only actual distillery that still distills spirits here, so pop on by if you’re a fan of vodka or gin like us – they have a ton of fruity flavors that make the trip oh-so-worth it. For $15 CAD per person, you can also go on a self-guided tour of the distillery, with your ticket including a flight of 3 delicious spirits in their luxury tasting room. I’d recommend booking this in advance!
You could also grab a craft beer at the Mill Street Brewpub (where you’ll often find Daniel!), treat yourself to a decadent chocolate dessert at Cacao 70 (where you’ll find me!), or grab a pastry and coffee at the charming Brick Street Bakery. In fact, to be honest, there are just so many cool spots here that it’s hard to know where to start.
If you want a little more guidance or are keen to learn more about the history of the Distillery District, this walking tour is also a great way to explore the area. Your guide will teach you all about the story of how the Distillery District came to be, and it’s a good way to get your bearings. The tour costs $24 CAD per person and lasts for around an hour. It ends in the Distillery District, so afterward you’re free to go and explore the area more by yourself.
Why We Book Tours with Viator
Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:
- Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
- Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
- Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
- Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.
6. Enjoy brunch at Lady Marmalade
You’re going to need some fuel for all of your Toronto sightseeing adventures, and Lady Marmalade is one of the best places in the city to grab brunch.
Lady Marmalade serves breakfast and lunch from 8:30 am – 3 pm every day of the week, and the food almost looks too good to eat (almost being the keyword here).
There are 7 different types of eggs benedict to choose from, including mango and pulled pork options, and you can even kick things up a notch by adding a mimosa or an Aperol Spritz. But don’t worry if you’re a coffee drinker, the coffee is top-notch and very strong! We both loved our meals here and will certainly be back.
Lady Marmalade is a popular place, so popular that you’ll often have to wait in live to get a table (they don’t take reservations.) However, if you arrive about 10 minutes before they open, you should get seated as soon as they open without an issue. This is what we did and it worked out perfectly.
7. See Toronto from the sky
The only way to get a better bird’s-eye view than you do from the CN Tower is by going on a scenic flight.
A scenic flight is one of our favorite ways to see new cities, and flying over Toronto’s skyline is a really special experience. Obviously, this is quite an expensive thing to do, so it’s not in the budget for everyone, but we do think that this aerial tour is pretty good value for money at $119 CAD per person (plus a $30 CAD fuel charge per person).
It’s a 24-minute flight that will take you over iconic landmarks like the CN Tower and the Rogers Center, as well as over Toronto Island and Lake Ontario, so you’ll get some beautiful views of the city’s urban and natural landscapes.
There’s a maximum of 8 people per plane, so you won’t be fighting for a good seat, and you can also chill in the VIP lounge before your departure.
Or, if you want to go really classy and take a helicopter ride, this 14-minute flight will take you from the Toronto Islands over to downtown Toronto, High Park, and to the Lake Ontario waterfront. You’ll also get a free digital photo to remember your experience! There’s a maximum of 3 people per helicopter, so you’ll feel like a true VIP.
This helicopter flight costs $235 CAD per person plus a $14 CAD fee per vehicle if you take the ferry across the inner harbor to the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, but you can also ride for free as a pedestrian.
Related Read: We also once did a seaplane ride in Vancouver – it was so much fun!
8. Watch a hockey game
Hockey is HUGE in Canada, so we definitely think that attending a game is a must while you’re in Toronto. Even if you’re not a fan of the sport, the atmosphere at Canadian hockey games is electric and the crowd is always in good spirits.
The Maple Leafs are Toronto’s local team, and they play their home games at the Scotiabank Arena, which is right in the South Core district downtown. Ticket prices range between $150 – $350 CAD depending on where you sit, and you can buy them on Ticketmaster through the Scotiabank Arena website, or on Viator here.
Games usually kick off at 7 pm and there’s plenty of public parking nearby, which costs between $15 – 35 CAD for the duration of the game. If you’re driving to the arena, you can book your parking in advance via ParkWhiz, which is a good idea to save hassle on the day.
Related Read: Watching a hockey game is also one of the best things to do in Edmonton (I must be biased though, I’m an Oilers fan!)
9. Take a tour of the city
Taking a tour of Toronto is a great way to get your bearings and cover a lot of the highlights in one day. We think that this particular tour is a great way to spend your first morning in the city and get to know the city a little better before exploring independently.
Over the course of 4 hours, you’ll visit the CN Tower observation deck, take a cruise on the harbor, and visit the St. Lawrence food market, which was actually named the best food market in the world! During the winter months, you won’t get to do the cruise as it’s too cold, but you’ll visit Casa Loma instead. The food market is also closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, so on those days you’ll get to explore the Distillery District, which is also super cool.
This is a small group tour with a maximum of 11 people, so it feels nice and personal, and it can even be a great way to make some friends if you’re traveling solo. Hotel pick up and drop-off is included in the price, so you won’t need to stress about finding a pickup point, either. The tour costs $210 CAD for adults and $140 CAD for kids aged 4-12, including all of your transportation and skip-the-line admission to the attractions you visit.
10. Fall in love with Little Italy
Little Italy is a buzzing district centered around College Street. Daniel’s family is actually Italian, so we were really excited to check this place out before we arrived in Toronto!
At first, I thought that Little Italy would be far too touristic for me, but I was really surprised – it actually felt super authentic and quaint. Even just going for a walk down the street is a really nice experience that’s got to be on your list of things to do in Toronto.
As you would expect, there are some amazing places to stuff yourself with pizza, pasta, and the like in Little Italy. Starving Artist is an excellent brunch restaurant slash gallery that serves up amazing sweet and savory waffles, while Sotto Voce Pasta and Wine Bar is a nice, sophisticated spot to enjoy an evening meal.
Meanwhile, Il Gatto is an affordable restaurant that has great pizza and that family-owned Italian vibe you just can’t replicate. Lastly, for the best pasta (and that’s a big title!) with the best prices, stop by Trattoria Taverniti. Dan and I tried the Gnocchi and Burrata Con Prosciutto which was out-of-this-world! One thing to note though is that Trattoria does get pretty busy, so making a reservation is a good idea.
There’s also an old-style movie theater in the area called The Royal, which could be a super cute date spot. They play new movies as well as classic ones, or sometimes even live bands and comedy shows.
You can also visit the Italian Walk of Fame along College Street, which is basically a much smaller version of the one in Hollywood. It honors 25+ prominent Italians who have made significant contributions to all sorts of fields, from finance to literature. No stars have been added since 2014, but who knows, maybe after reading this blog, they’ll add Daniel’s last name!
11. Eat the finest sushi in Toronto at Miku Toronto
Miku Toronto is considered to be the best sushi restaurant in the city, and it was actually the first eatery to bring Aburi cuisine to Toronto. It’s a huge restaurant in the Southern Financial District with a raw bar, a sushi bar, and a big outdoor patio.
The sushi is beautifully presented and melt-in-your-mouth delicious, and you can wash it down with sake pairings or Japanese craft cocktails. This place is pretty pricey, but it’s definitely worth it if you’re a big sushi fan or celebrating a special occasion.
If you’re not sure what to try, then the Miku Kaiseki menu will take you through a variety of sushi and cooked dishes for $160 CAD, and you can add a wine and sake pairing for another $50 CAD. The menu also changes regularly to incorporate seasonal ingredients, so you get something different every time!
If you do want to try some of their sushi without spending a ton, visit during Happy Hour (3 pm – 4:30 pm) when they have a special discounted menu. For example, you can get three pieces of Aburi for $13 CAD, which is a fraction of the price of their regular menu. The Happy Hour menu features a selection of sushi and cooked items, as well as discounted drinks and desserts.
Miku is open from 12 – 10 pm daily, except for Sundays when it closes at 9 pm. It’s a good idea to book online in advance as it’s a popular spot.
12. Go on a Food Tour
We love getting to know a city through its food, and Toronto is home to some truly amazing eateries – it’s one of the things we love most about the city. It’s the most diverse city in Canada, so a food tour is a great way to sample all of the different cuisines that coexist here.
This walking food tour is easily one of the best things to do in Toronto. It gives you a great insight into the diverse fabric of Toronto and you’ll get to try some local classics, including butter tart, sushi, pierogies, and a peameal bacon sandwich. There’s also a secret dish at the end and, best of all, a maple syrup tasting!
We like this particular tour because it takes you off of the beaten path to lots of local hidden gems, including the St. Lawrence Market, and you’ll get to learn all about the different culinary traditions that exist in Toronto. It lasts for about 3.5 hours and costs $88 CAD per person, or you can upgrade to a private experience for $188 CAD per person. You can book this food tour online here.
Alternatively, this particular food tour takes you on a culinary journey through the hipster Kensington Market, where you’ll find food from all over the world – from Tibet to Jamaica! Your guide will help you navigate the market and take you to at least six of the top food stalls to skip the lines and sample a huge range of goodies. The market has such a cool history, which you’ll learn about along the way, and so this tour is an amazing way to learn about the culture and diversity of Toronto.
13. Royal Ontario Museum
The Royal Ontario Museum will have you snapping away before you even walk through the door. Half of the museum is housed in an early 20th-century brick building, while the other half is inside a futuristic class structure that kind of looks like a shard of glass jutting out towards the street.
There are over 13 million objects in the museum’s collection, so you can walk through time as you explore the exhibits, which cover everything from dinosaurs to ancient Indigenous culture to precious jewels and art. You’ll probably need at least 3-4 hours to explore everything this place has to offer.
The museum is open from 10 am – 5:30 pm every day except Sunday, and tickets cost $23 CAD for adults, or $18 CAD for youths and seniors – you can buy them online here! You can also upgrade your ticket to include admission to the wildlife photography exhibit for an extra $8 CAD.
14. Visit Chinatown
We always love exploring Chinatown in any given city, and Toronto has a super dynamic and interesting one that dates all the way back to 1878. There are lots of shops, food stalls, and restaurants to explore, and you’ll also find plenty of Japanese and Vietnamese places here, too, so it really is a bit of a melting pot.
You can visit Chinatown on your own and simply do some exploring, or you can join a guided tour.
This tour is the perfect choice as it will take you through this vibrant neighborhood with a local guide who will help you to understand its history and character better. You’ll also check out some street art and visit the awesome Kensington Market, which is a true hipster hotspot filled with independent stores, amazing food, and art galleries. It’s a fantastic way to witness all of the different cultures that make up Canada’s most diverse city.
15. Toronto Tall Ship Boat Cruise
Say “ahoy!” and step aboard a 1930s tall ship for this 2-hour cruise from the Toronto Harbour on Lake Ontario! This is a super immersive experience, and you’ll sing sea shanties as the crew fire the massive canon on board.
You also get a yummy meal on board as you enjoy the food, and poutine is on the menu, which is a must-try when you’re in Canada!
The cruise is only available on weekends and departs every 2 hours from 11:30 am until 7:30 pm, so you can even go at sunset if you like – our personal recommendation! It costs $43 CAD for adults, $40 CAD for seniors, and $32 CAD for kids aged 5-15. We think it’s such a fun way to celebrate a special occasion, or a great choice for a family outing on the water.
16. Drink local craft beer
We’re huge craft beer fans and love sampling different brews all over the world. Toronto’s craft beer scene is booming, so taking a tour of the city’s many pubs and breweries is high on our list of things to do in the city. Let’s take a look at some of the best breweries here, as well as some really fun tours!
When it comes to having the best location in Toronto and some of the tastiest beer, the Amsterdam Brewery (AKA the Amsterdam Brewhouse) might just be our favorite brewery of the bunch. It’s in a beautiful spot right on Toronto’s waterfront and also has a ton of outdoor and indoor seating options (did somebody say four patios?!).
Then, of course, we have the awesome selection of craft beers that really speaks for itself. They’re brewed up right at their on-site brewing facility, from pale ales to IPAs and much more! One of my favorites is the Amsterdam Blonde, which is soo crisp and perfect for sitting outdoors by the lake on a warm summer’s day.
They also have a pretty extensive food menu at the Brewhouse, making it a great spot to stop by for lunch or even in the evening if you fancy watching the sunset with a craft beer or two.
- Sunday – Thursday – 11 am to 12 am
- Friday – Saturday – 11 am to 2 am
Mill Street Brewery:
Another really popular brewery in Toronto that’s also pretty close to the waterfront is Mill Street Brewery. Being right in the heart of the Distillery District, I’d recommend going for a walk beforehand to see the sights and then ending your tour with a nice pint of beer or two. That’s what Dan and I did, and we had a great time!
Speaking of beer… Mill Street Brewery has a really neat organic range of beers, from pilsner to amber lager and a ton more. The last time I was here, I gave their raspberry wheat beer a try, which was so fruity and refreshing – definitely what I needed on a hot day.
Mill Street Brewery also offers brewery tours which are a lot of fun! You’ve got two tour options available – either the standard beer and a tour option for $15 CAD which includes a 16 oz beer, or just the tour without the beer for $7 CAD. You can check availability over on their website here.
- Monday – Thursday – 11:30 am to 11 pm
- Friday – 11:30 am to 12 am
- Saturday – 10:30 am to 12 am
- Sunday – 10:30 am to 11 pm
While Mill Street and Amsterdam Brewery definitely cater to the large crowds, Bandit Brewery is a smaller venue that’s not too far from High Park. But that doesn’t mean the beer here is any less tasty, and in the peak tourist season a nice inner-city retreat like this might just be what you’re looking for!
Their outdoor seating area seems to resemble a classic German beer garden that’s away from the busy streets. It really is like its own little oasis, so if you’re looking for a little bit of peace and quiet, this microbrewery is an awesome choice.
They have a really interesting selection of beers here too, from the dark and brooding Hazelnut Coffee Stout to the light and fruity Meadow Farmhouse Ale. When I learned they had a pale ale with watermelon and hibiscus (affectionately known as Mr. Pink) – I had to give it a try (and I’m glad I did!).
- Monday – Thursday – 4 pm to 12 am
- Friday – Saturday – 12 pm to 1 am
- Sunday – 12 pm to 11 pm
Our favorite craft beer tours:
This small group walking tour really encapsulates what Toronto’s craft beer scene is all about. You’ll head to three classic pubs to taste some of the best local beers around, including the Mill Street Brewery in the Distillery District. You’ll also get to visit the St. Lawrence Market to sample goodies at some of the best artisan food stalls, and take a walking tour of the Distillery District. As you go, you’ll also learn all about the history of beer in Toronto and how it has shaped the city.
The tour costs $103 CAD per person and there’s a maximum group size of 12, so it’s a close-knit experience, and you won’t feel like you’re being herded around like sheep. You can also upgrade to a private tour for $143 CAD per person if you want an even more intimate experience. You can check the available options and book the craft beer tour online here.
If you want a behind-the-scenes look at how craft beer is made, then we think that this brewery tour is a fantastic option. You’ll get tasting sessions at 3 different breweries and get a beer-scoring card, so you can remember all of your favorites! You’ll also get snacks along the way, as well as a Belgian beer glass and a bottle open to remember your experience.
17. Sip some cocktails
If cocktails are more up your street (or you like both, like us!), then you’ll be happy to know that Toronto has an equally-awesome cocktail scene! Here are a few spots Dan and I recommend you stop by:
Bar Pompette (Our favorite)
Starting off with the bar that’s closest to our hearts, it’s Bar Pompette! Although you’ll find it in Little Italy, this little gem serves some beautiful French cuisine, but the stars of the show have to be the delicious modern and classic cocktails. Their menu is constantly changing, with new cocktails being rotated seasonally, so to see the latest specials make sure to take a look over on their Instagram page.
If you’re lucky, you might also be in time for their live music sessions, which add an awesome vibe that pairs amazingly with a cocktail or two (or three). Bar Pompette is open from 5 pm to 1 am from Sunday through Thursday, and closes an hour later on Friday and Saturday, so it’s a great stop whether your night’s just starting or winding down to a close.
Joining Bar Pompette in Little Italy is Bar Raval, another popular bar that serves some pretty mean cocktails! As soon as you walk in, you’ll see that the bar (and pretty much the entire bar), has this warm and inviting wooden decor, so it’s safe to say we felt right at home stepping in out of the cold.
The staff are also a real treat, cracking jokes and making sure you have an awesome stay while you’re there.
The tapas options here are also really good, so if you find yourself craving a snack or two, pair a dish with a cocktail for the perfect start to your night! Speaking of cocktails, they have a great selection over on their drinks menu, with some tasty mocktails too if that’s more your thing.
Open daily from 11 am to 1 am, this is a pretty sweet alternative to Bar Pompette if it’s busy, or if you’re feeling tapas over French cuisine. That being said, both bars are pretty strong contenders in my eyes, so if you’re uncertain, why not try both?
Civil Liberties (Canada’s No. 1)
Winning The World’s 50 Best Bars’ award for best bar in Canada, Civil Liberties is a real staple in the Toronto bar scene, but would you believe it opened just 5 years ago? It’s got tons of rustic charm, but my favorite part had to be the personal service you get from the staff. Simply tell them how your day is going, and they’ll rustle up the perfect cocktail based on your mood and preferences. It’s like magic!
In fact, the whole bar is menu-free, which means every trip you make feels unique – with new colorful cocktail creations being curated every day. They’re open daily from 6 pm to 2 am, so feel free to drop by, pull up a barstool, and see where the night takes you!
BarChef on Queen Street West is an uber-edgy cocktail bar that serves up all manner of quirky and unique cocktails. A visit here is about more than just grabbing a fancy drink – it’s an immersive experience. The menu changes with the seasons, and the mixologists used spice and herb combinations that reflect the time of year.
The cocktails are always beautifully presented; you might get one that is served with dry ice, in a plant pot, or inside a giant shell.
This is most definitely a classy establishment and it’s certainly not cheap. Prices start at $20 CAD but go all the way up to $55 CAD per drink, so this is definitely a treat-yourself spot. It’s open from 5 pm – 2 am every day, so if you’re looking for a memorable night out in Toronto, this is a great place to start (or end) your evening.
18. St. Lawrence Market
St. Lawrence Market is a lively and authentic local market in downtown Toronto, housed in a large indoor complex. It’s actually the oldest market in the city, dating all the way back to 1803, although it has been rehoused and renovated several times since then!
At the market, you’ll find a huge range of local goods, from gourmet cheeses and chocolates to artisan jewelry and clothes. Of course, no market is complete without some trendy and delicious food spots, like St Lawrence Pizza and Pasta, which has super authentic and mouthwatering slices – you’ll soon be wondering where all that food has gone!
Another super popular spot is Buster’s Sea Cove, which has some of the freshest and tastiest seafood around. It’s so popular that there’s often a line wrapping around the corner, so make sure to get here early to snag a deal before the crowds drop in.
If you’re a cheese-oholic, then you’ll want to stop by the Olympic Cheese Mart, which is actually home to over 600 varieties of cheese. You’re bound to find something you like here! If cooking is more your thing, then Domino Foods is a specialty cooking store where you’ll find lots of niche ingredients that are notoriously difficult to track down elsewhere.
The timings for the historic market do change quite a lot depending on which day of the week you’re visiting (and they also run special holiday hours), so don’t get caught out! Here’s a breakdown of when the market is open:
- Monday – Closed
- Tuesday – Friday – Open 9 am to 7 pm
- Saturday – Open 7 am to 5 pm
- Sunday – Open 10 am to 5 pm
This historic market is a perfect example of the vibrant and friendly atmosphere that you’ll find all over Toronto. We think strolling through the stalls and checking out all the goodies on offer is a really lovely way to spend a few hours in the city!
19. Visit the Toronto Islands
The Toronto Islands are a chain of 15 different islands that are interconnected by bridges and walkways, so you can walk from one to the next. There’s also lots to do here, such as checking out the beaches, paddleboarding, cycling around, and visiting the amusement park. It’s basically a network of islands that serves as a big outdoor playground.
The best way to get yourself to the Toronto Islands is to take the City of Toronto ferry service. During the summer, boats go from the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal to Centre Island, Hanlan’s Island, and Ward’s Island. It doesn’t really matter which one you get off at, as it’s easy to walk between the three.
However, we do think that it’s best to head to Ward’s Island first, because the operating hours for the ferry stay the same pretty much year-round, and during the winter the ferry actually only goes to Ward’s. This way, you don’t have to worry about times changing throughout the year because the schedule stays consistent.
The boats depart every 20 – 60 minutes from 6:30 am until 11:30 pm, with the last one back to the mainland leaving at 11:45 pm.
It costs $8.70 CAD for an adult return, $5.60 CAD for a senior or youth ticket, and $4.10 CAD for children aged 2-14, so it’s not too pricey. Plus, the journey only takes about 20 minutes each way, so it’s nice and quick.
Things to do on the Toronto Islands
Admire the Toronto Skyline
You’ll get amazing views of the city skyline as you travel over to the Toronto Islands, and there are some great vantage points once you reach the shore. The best place, though, is the Toronto Islands Lookout, which is right by the Centreville Amusement Park. You’ll also get an incredible view from the ferry dock, too.
Walk across the islands
You can actually walk across all of the Toronto Islands in a matter of hours. You can complete a 14.6 kilometer (9 mile) loop that will take you from the Hanlan’s Point ferry dock all the way to the Ward’s Island dock on the other side of the island chain and back again. It’s a very easy, flat walk and it should only take you around 3.5 hours, and it’s such a nice way to make the most of this unique island chain and soak in the beautiful views all around.
If walking doesn’t;t sound ideal, rent a bike and ride instead!
Centreville Amusement Park
Centreville Amusement Park is the perfect family day out on the Toronto Islands. It’s home to over 30 rides and lots of green space for kids to play. There’s a carousel, mini golf, bumper cars, and nothing too scary or adrenaline-inducing, so this is definitely one to visit if you’re traveling with kids.
Visit Gibraltar Point Lighthouse
You can find one of the oldest lighthouses in Canada on the Toronto Islands – more specifically, the southwestern tip of the island complex.
There’s actually a spooky story behind the lighthouse that’s well known by Toronto locals: legend has it that during the War of 1812, the lighthouse keeper J.P. Rademuller would sell bootlegged beer to soldiers on the side. One night shortly before the end of the war, two soldiers bought beer from Rademuller, but a dispute broke out between the men, and they killed and dismembered him. It’s said that he was buried nearby, and his ghost still haunts the building…
Grab a bite to eat
Seeing all the best spots sure is hungry work! Thankfully, there are a few places where you can grab a bite to eat with a cool drink. When we last visited, we dropped by The Riviera on Ward’s Island, which had a pretty courtyard where we stopped and had a much-needed coffee!
They’re open from 12 pm to 8 pm Monday to Thursday and close an hour later from Friday to Sunday. If you’re hungry, they have a small but delicious menu, which also has vegetarian and vegan options. Most dishes cost between $18 to $20 CAD – I tried the Island Smash Burger, and it was super delicious!
Drop by the petting zoo
With over 40 different species of farmyard animals and exotic birds, visiting Far Enough Farm is a must if you’re traveling with kids! From mini pot-belly pigs all the way to rabbits, llamas, and peacocks, the cute factor is definitely off the charts here, and it’s so easy to reach, being just a 9-minute walk from the Centre Island Dock.
The petting zoo is open from 9 am to 4 pm, and the best part is that entry is completely free! If you would like to give back, the friendly folks running the petting zoo do accept donations, which goes directly towards the welfare of the animals.
Visit Hanlan’s Point Beach
Hanlan’s Point Beach is a scenic beach close to the Hanlan’s Point ferry dock. It’s the best place on the island to watch the sunset, so we recommend bringing a blanket and some snacks to enjoy before catching one of the later ferries back to the mainland. Do bear in mind, though, that this is a nude beach so although you don’t have to strip off, there will be others around who do.
Ward’s Island Beach
Ward’s Island Beach is a sheltered beach that’s ideal for swimming. Ward’s Island, as a whole, is a more residential part of the Toronto Islands, so it’s generally quieter than Centre Island or Hanlan’s Point, which tends to be more touristy. So basically, if you’re looking for a nice, peaceful place to swim and catch some rays, you can’t go wrong with this nice stretch of sand!
Kayaking or Paddleboarding
The calm waters around the Toronto Islands are perfect for kayaking and paddleboarding. You can rent a sup board or kayak from Toronto Island Sup if you’re visiting the island between June and September. It costs $30 CAD for a 1-hour SUP board rental, or up to $70 CAD for 5 hours, so the longer you rent the board for, the cheaper it becomes per hour. The same rates also apply for kayaks, and lessons are available if you need some extra help!
Toronto Islands Bike Tours
Since the Toronto Islands are pretty small, cycling around them on one of the bike tours from Toronto is a great way to explore the area in just a few hours. Plus, the island network is actually the largest car-free community in Canada, so there’s really no better place to cycle in Toronto than around here!
You can seize the day and take this morning bike tour of the islands (this is the tour that we did), during which you’ll visit Gibraltar Point Lighthouse and the Royal Canadian Yacht Club, as well as explore more residential areas and soak in the panoramic views of Toronto’s famous skyline. A local guide will also share lots of insider info about the islands, which makes things even more interesting!
Alternatively, you can take this evening tour if you want to enjoy the beauty of the islands against the backdrop of the setting sun. It’s a similar route to the tour we mentioned above, but this time you also get a free dessert at a local cafe – yum!
Both tours cost $107 CAD for adults, $85 CAD for kids aged 8-11, $62 CAD for 5-7 year-olds, and $28 CAD for infants under 2 (who will be in special seats, of course). It’s a nice, family-friendly day out and a great way to travel all over the Toronto Islands in just 3.5 hours, so that you can spend the rest of the day relaxing and exploring at your own pace.
20. Art Gallery of Ontario
If you’re interested in art, then you’ve got to go and check out the Art Gallery of Ontario. It’s a huge museum that spans 45,000 square meters (480,000 sq ft), so it’s one of the largest art museums in North America. It was originally established in 1900 and now houses over 120,000 works from all over the world, dating all the way back to the first century.
It’s inside a really futuristic building, so even if you don’t end up going inside, it’s definitely worth snapping a photo of the facade.
The art gallery is super popular and there are often long lines, so we recommend booking your tickets in advance here to avoid waiting around. Tickets cost $30 CAD for adults aged 26 and over, while those aged 25 and under can visit for free (although you will need to bring a valid form of ID to claim this). Indigenous peoples also go for free, and there’s no admission fee to the collection galleries on Wednesday nights from 6 pm – 9 pm.
The museum is open from 10:30 am – 5:30 pm on Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. On Friday and Wednesday, it stays open until 9 pm, and it’s closed on Mondays, so bear this in mind when planning your visit.
21. Go Sailing
Who doesn’t love sailing the high seas?
Okay, so the Toronto Harbour, Lake Ontario, and the Eastern Gap don’t technically count as the high seas, but we think that this sailing tour is a really fun way to explore the city’s coastline and see the Toronto Islands as you go!
This 2-hour tour is a fantastic way to soak in the sights while relaxing on a bean bag on deck, or even standing at the helm. The crew are super friendly and do everything they can to make sure that you have fun, and there’s a maximum of 12 passengers per boat so it’s a really fun and social experience that doesn’t feel too busy or overwhelming.
It costs $175 CAD per passenger, and we think it could be a nice romantic experience or a fun trip out as a family or group of friends. It’s definitely a memorable way to see the city and its natural surroundings from the water.
You can check availability and book this sailing tour online here.
22. Explore Old Toronto
Toronto might be famous for being a trendy and dynamic city, but as you’ve seen by now, it’s also got its fair share of history too! Old Toronto is a popular downtown district that was actually the first named neighborhood in the city, getting its name back in 1815 when Toronto was still a town called York.
There’s a lot to explore here, from Toronto’s First Post Office to St. Lawrence Market and even the Alumnae Theater.
Many of the buildings here are of an older architectural style, around two or three stories high, so you can bet it’s a great place to go for a wander with a camera and take in the sights! Although much of the area was damaged or destroyed in the Great Fire of Toronto back in 1849, there’s still tons of charm and character that lives on in the area to this day.
In fact, Dan and I were going on a stroll through the neighborhood and came across the Fourth York Post Office, AKA Toronto’s First Post Office, the oldest purpose-built post office in Canada! Nowadays, it’s been transformed into a museum and events center – they frequently run fun themed events so don’t forget to take a peek over at their upcoming events page.
Another spot we stumbled upon was St. Lawrence Market, which once served as the hub of the town where crowds would come to sell their goods and socialize. The market originally dates back all the way to 1803, so if you want to tick off visiting one of Toronto’s oldest buildings, this is the place to visit! They also run a farmer’s market on Saturday from 5 am to 3 pm, so drop by to see what’s on offer and grab a bargain.
Just don’t the road, be sure to check out the Cathedral Church of St James. This church is simply stunning, and you can also even wander inside.
Last up, we have the Alumnae Theater, which lies right at the heart of Toronto’s art scene. If this sounds like your kind of thing, then check out their upcoming shows over on their website and book your tickets. While Dan and I didn’t step in this time, we’ve heard really good things from friends who’ve been there before, so it’s definitely worth a shot!
23. Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
A visit to Ripley’s Aquarium is another great family-friendly activity in Toronto. They’ve got a ton of interactive exhibits, from Planet Jellies to a whole gallery dedicated to famous shipwrecks. It’s a really interesting place to learn more about marine life in Canada and beyond, and they often host events like painting nights or jazz on a Friday.
If it’s due to rain on one of your days in Toronto, then we think that Ripley’s Aquarium makes an excellent indoor activity in the city, and kids love it!
It’s open from 9 am – 9 pm daily, and tickets cost $44 CAD for adults, $29 CAD for seniors and youths, or $12.50 for kids aged 3-5.
24. Kensington Market
Kensington Market is undoubtedly one of Toronto’s coolest neighborhoods, with an edgy Bohemian vibe that draws visitors from far and wide. The “market” is actually a full block of streets that is full of vintage stores, lots of specialty grocery stores and delis, and a huge range of food from every corner of the globe.
In fact, Kensington Market is one of my favorite places to grab a bite to eat in downtown Toronto. For food that is absolutely bursting with flavor, you have to stop by the Latin American food court which has a few stalls to pick from – this was where we found Birria Tacos which we absolutely loved!
If it’s a hot day out, or you’re just feeling a little thirsty, then definitely stop by Ton of Juice, who sell 100% fresh fruit juice blends that are just next level. I had the mango orange and couldn’t help but go back for seconds!
The area is an awesome place to wander around and soak in the atmosphere, especially at lunchtime when you can grab a bite to eat. It’s also the perfect spot to pick up some local goodies that you never knew you needed, or for friends back home.
You can also join this walking tour that takes you around both Kensington Market and Chinatown to check out all of the best local stores, stalls, and cafes, as well as to learn more about the history of these fascinating areas of Toronto. You’ll also have the chance to check out lots of street art and explore some of the narrow alleyways that you might never have found by yourself.
25. Explore Toronto’s Parks
Toronto may have almost 3 million residents, but it’s far from a concrete jungle! In fact, there are loads of green spaces dotted around where you can escape the traffic and get a little more peace and quiet. Three of our favorite parks are Riverdale Park, Queen’s Park, and High Park, but you can also catch awesome views of Lake Ontario from spots like HTO Park and Sugar Beach!
Riverdale Park is an 85-acre oasis perfect for some outdoor adventure or simply somewhere to spend a bit of time if you find yourself with some to spare. There are a few local landmarks to keep an eye out for here, like the meandering Don River, as well as the super-cute animal farm! If you’re traveling with a dog, then the West Riverdale Dog Park is worth a visit – it’s the largest off-leash spot in Toronto.
Riverdale Farm is open 7 days a week, 365 days a year, and the best part is that visiting is completely free! It’s great for families, and I’ve seen loads of kids have an awesome time getting to know the furry locals (not the Torontonians!). Speaking of locals, there’s sheep, chickens, pigs – basically all the farm animals you can imagine here.
Queen’s Park is smaller than Riverdale Park, but it’s still pretty big and no less beautiful! Right in the heart of the city, it’s pretty close to the Royal Ontario Museum, the University of Toronto, and countless shops downtown, so you’re definitely not short on things to do and see.
Speaking of landmarks, when you visit Queens, the first thing you’ll notice is the Legislative Assembly of Ontario that’s right in the heart of the park, and offers free tours which are actually super fun (more on this later!).
High Park is Toronto’s largest public park, and it truly is a space for everyone. From kids’ playgrounds and a zoo to hiking trails and a dog park, we feel like this place really reflects the friendly, inclusive spirit of Toronto.
If you’re lucky enough to be in Toronto in late April or early May, then you might even catch the cherry blossoms (or sakura) around the duck pond and Hillside Gardens. This is a really pretty sight to behold, but you’ve got to be quick – they only last for a week and a half, max.
We go hiking or walking pretty much every chance we get, so we also think the High Park Loop is worth doing. It’s essentially just a nice walk around the park, but it’s a great way to take in the scenery and stretch your legs. It’s 5.6 kilometers (3.5 miles) long, and it’s flat the whole way around, so this is a chilled route that pretty much anyone can do.
And if you don’t feel like walking around, you can always just relax and enjoy a picnic in the park instead.
26. Check out Little Canada
See the whole country in miniature form at Little Canada, which is an insanely detailed model of some of the most famous places in the country, including Niagara Falls. Plus, you can also make a tiny, 3D-printed version of yourself – and if you select the ¾ inch size, your tiny self can even be placed inside the miniature world!
Tickets to Little Canada cost $45 CAD for adults, $36 CAD for seniors and teenagers, and $25 CAD for kids aged 4-12. We think this would be a great place to host a kids’ birthday party or enjoy a fun day out with little ones, but to be honest, seeing a miniature version of Canada is pretty cool no matter how old you are.
Related Read: Visiting a miniature museum is also one of the best things to do in Victoria, BC, Canada!
27. Toronto Botanical Garden
The Toronto Botanical Garden spans 4 acres and it has a series of beautiful themed gardens featuring over 4,000 types of plants and flowers. There are guided learning experiences available all year round for both kids and adults.
The Bloom Cafe here is a lovely spot to enjoy a drink and cake while you take in the beauty all around you. The cafe is only open during the summer, but you can visit the gardens all year round for free from dawn until dusk.
28. Relax at Woodbine Beach
Woodbine Beach is the largest one in Toronto, and it’s a favorite spot amongst both locals and tourists for swimming, sunbathing, picnics, and even playing volleyball! On busy days, there are lots of ice cream vendors around, as well as places to rent kayaks, SUP boards, and canoes.
It’s located in the creatively named “The Beaches” neighborhood, east of downtown.
If you’re visiting during the summer, there’s always a good vibe here and it’s a great spot to cool off on a hot day. The water temperature hovers around 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit), so it’s nice and refreshing but not too cold to swim.
29. Fort York National Historic Site
Fort York National Historic Site really brings history to life with its immersive exhibits and artifacts. It was used to house British and Canadian soldiers during the War of 1812, and was the site of the Battle of York in 1813. It’s also said to be the site where Toronto was born, and it’s interesting to visit this well-preserved military site while surrounded by the skyscrapers and modern buildings that make up downtown Toronto today.
There are lots of interesting exhibits to see here and Fort York also uses sources such as letters, memoirs, and military records, to tell the stories of the Indigenous people who were involved in the war, but whose contributions have often been overlooked.
Special events like music festivals, outdoor cinema screenings, and standup comedy nights are held here throughout the year, particularly during the summer. You should definitely try and see what’s on while you’re in Toronto, because attending an event in the city’s only remaining fort would be pretty cool!
30. Graffiti Alley
Want to find a really unique background for your next Insta post? Graffiti Alley is in the heart of downtown Toronto next to Queen Street West. It spans three blocks, including Rush Lane, and graffiti art was actually made legal here in 2011 (since it was already a huge street art hub, anyway).
Nowadays, the artists actually receive funding and murals can be officially approved and protected. That being said, it’s worth knowing that the alley itself is pretty run down, so I’d recommend stopping by only if you’re in the area.
If you’re planning to visit Kensington Market, then Graffiti Alley is less than a 15-minute walk away, so if you’re into street art, why not drop by after grabbing some souvenirs?
31. Yonge-Dundas Square
Yonge-Dundas Square is basically Toronto’s equivalent of Times Square in New York, Piccadilly Circus in London, or the Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo. It’s lit up by neon billboards and always filled with street performers, commuters, and tourists.
There’s definitely a cool buzz about this place, so it’s a fun place to hang out and people-watch. It’s close to the university, so you’ll most likely see some students cutting class, too!
32. Visit the Legislative Building
Sitting in the heart of Queen’s Park, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario is the most important building for Ontario’s provincial legislature – this is where important decisions are made and laws are drafted to shape the province’s future!
But even more than this, the building itself is a pretty impressive sight, with intricate carvings, arched windows, and well-groomed gardens too. The best part? There’s a wide range of tours here that’ll help you explore everything that the building has to offer, from free building tours to architectural tours and even an afternoon tea tour!
The 30-minute building tour gives a fantastic overview of what goes on inside, from where Parliament meets to a bunch of interactive activities (we won’t spoil the fun!). You can also book onto an afternoon tea tour for $45 CAD, where you’ll take part in a tour of the building and also enjoy a traditional English-style afternoon tea service! All tours can be booked over on their website here.
You can’t explore the building without being part of a tour, and you’ll also need to pass through the airport-style security and show proof of ID. The Legislative Assembly is open from 8 am to 6 pm Monday to Friday and is closed on weekends,
Note: It’s recommended that you arrive 15 minutes before the tour starts to make sure it runs smoothly!
33. Eaton Centre
The Eaton Centre is a HUGE shopping mall in the center of downtown Toronto that’s famed for its glass roof and beautiful design. I mean, it’s known as North America’s busiest mall, home to more than 230 stores, so you’ll probably come away with your wallet feeling somewhat lighter!
The mall is super straightforward to reach via the subway, or by bus or tram, and being right in the heart of downtown Toronto means that you’re also close to a ton of other landmarks, like the Old Town, City Hall, as well as a ton of restaurants.
Of course, that’s if you even want to leave the mall once you’ve stepped inside! There’s literally a store for everyone, from Indigo books for the bookworms out there, to luxury clothing stores like Nordstrom, and a ton of other outlets like Banana Republic, Free People, and Dynamite. This is just scratching the surface – you really need to walk around yourself to discover what’s on offer.
Yup, even if you’re not that keen on shopping, it’s still worth wandering through the mall to admire the architecture and the seasonal displays – the Christmas decorations in particular are usually absolutely gorgeous! Plus, they have free WiFi throughout the mall, so feel free to get lost here for a few hours and see what you come out with.
The Eaton Centre is open from Monday through Saturday from 10 am to 8 pm, closing an hour earlier on Sunday.
Getting around Toronto
Finding your way around a new city can be a little intimidating – it’s a feeling Dan and I know pretty well! But here in Toronto, it’s actually a breeze. You’ve got loads of nice and easy transport options to pick from, whether you’re traveling just a short distance or across the city.
In a nutshell, the Toronto Transport Commission (TTC) is made up of the subway (especially useful for longer distances), as well as trams and buses. You can also take a taxi (Uber is really good in Toronto!) for shorter journeys, although I’d avoid booking around rush hour as things can get a bit hectic on the road at this time!
However, one thing to know before you arrive is how the fares work – in order to ride the subway, bus, or tram, you’ll need to purchase a PRESTO ticket, reloadable PRESTO card, or day pass before you ride. These can be bought from most (though not all) metro stations, as well as most Shoppers Drug Mart branches.
There are also machines on the trams where you can buy tickets with cash, however these don’t give change or PRESTO cards, so don’t get caught out by this! Bus drivers also don’t carry change, so I’d recommend stopping by a Shoppers Drug Mart or Metro station beforehand to grab your tickets.
A single one-ride ticket costs $3.35 CAD per person, however if you buy a reloadable PRESTO card, then you get to travel as much as you like within a 2-hour window for $3.30 CAD per adult (20+), $2.35 CAD for youths (13-19), and $2.25 CAD for seniors (65+). If you’d like to buy a day pass instead, these cost $13.50 CAD per person – great value if you’re planning to do a day of sightseeing!
Note: If you’re using the subway, then chances are you’ll want to use the yellow line (AKA The Yonge-University-Spadina line) which connects to many of the most popular hotels and attractions in Toronto.
Where to Stay in Toronto
Let’s face it, Toronto is a huge city with practically endless options when it comes to hotels. But, not all hotels are created equal – you want to ensure you book a place with an amazing location and even better amenities, which narrows down your choices.
Luckily, I’ve done the work for you and handpicked some of the best places to stay in the city. The below hotels all have an ideal central location as well as everything you need to have a comfortable stay!
Radisson Blu Downtown Toronto (Luxury Stay – $$$)
The Radisson Blue Downtown Toronto is one of the most luxurious hotels in downtown Toronto. This trendy hotel features a rooftop patio complete with a pool that you can enjoy in the summer. You’ll also find a fitness center and top-rated restaurant onsite. The hotel offers a variety of rooms to choose from, including the most luxurious king studio boasting an amazing view of the city. Prices start from $350 CAD per night in the low season, but get much higher in the summer. You can check prices, availability and book the Radisson Blu online here!
The SoHo Hotel (Moderately-priced Boutique Hotel – $$)
The SoHo Hotel is an excellent choice for anybody looking for a centrally located hotel that is just stunning. This hotel is located only a short walk from attractions like the CN Tower, and it also has plenty of nice facilities including a lap pool and fitness center. Oh, and did I mention the rooms have heated bathroom floors?! The SoHo is one of the highest-rated hotels in Toronto, so be sure to book online here well in advance to secure your room.
One King West Hotel and Residences (Moderately-priced Full Apartments – $$)
If you’re looking for a home away from home, then One King West Hotel and Residences might be the best choice for you. Although a hotel, this property features fully self-contained apartments complete with a kitchen. This is perfect if you like to cook some of your own meals. On top of that, the location is ideal and you’ll also find a fitness center and onsite bar and restaurant. You can check availability and book online here.
Town Inn Suites Hotel (Budget Hotel – $)
You don’t have to spend a small fortune to stay in Toronto. If you’re on a tighter budget, Town Inn Suites Hotel is the best choice for you. Starting from only $170 CAD per night (in the low seasons), this centrally located hotel is tastefully decorated and features plenty of amenities. Rooms also feature a kitchenette, which comes in very handy. You can check prices and secure your room online here.
Samesun Toronto (Budget Hostel – $)
The Samesun Toronto is the perfect choice for backpackers or solo travelers wanting to meet others. The hostel has a great location as well as communal spaces (including a huge kitchen) where you can relax. They offer both dorm beds as well as budget private rooms, but bathrooms are all shared. You can grab a dorm bed for less than $100 CAD per night during peak season. You can book the Samesun Toronto online on either Booking.com or Hostelworld.
Don’t get Caught without Travel Insurance!
We never travel without travel insurance! We’ve had a few instances during our travels when one of us has ended up in the hospital, and travel insurance has saved us thousands of dollars over the years!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance, we both have policies with them whenever we travel.
They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!)The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!) While most travel insurance companies left people stranded, SafetyWing fully reimbursed us for our last-minute, pricey flights!
Also, because it is so affordable, there really is no excuse not to take out a policy. Check prices and get a quote online here with SafetyWing (you can even take out a policy if you’re already traveling!)
Thanks for reading!
Wow, what a list! As you know, Toronto is a huge city and there is just so much to see and do there! I hope this blog has helped you to decide what exactly interests you most and keeps you busy during your visit to Toronto.
Be sure to also check out our other blogs about Canada including a few of our favorite posts below: