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33 BEST Things to do in Toronto, Canada: Guide for First-Time Visitors

33 BEST Things to do in Toronto, Canada: Guide for First-Time Visitors

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Looking for the best Toronto has to offer? Whether you’re passing through for the day or staying for several, there’s something on this list for everyone!

Toronto has hundreds of places to go and things to do and see. Knowing which is worth your time is a pretty tough decision!

We have visited the city more times than we can count and have done a lot, and I mean a lot, of what it has to offer. From the obvious and awesome main tourist attractions to little-known local highlights.

We narrowed down our favorite experiences as well as included some essential insider tips so you can make the most of your time in this amazing city. Seriously, there’s stuff here you won’t find anywhere else!

Table Of Contents

Things to do in Toronto, Canada

1. See Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls in the background of the viewpoints on the Canadian side
It’s a popular place!
A cruise cruises past Niagara Falls on a tour
The falls are so beautiful!

You can’t spend a few days in Toronto without paying a visit to arguably the most famous waterfall in the world!

You can make the day trip from Toronto out to Niagara Falls on your own if you have a rental car. The drive takes around 90 minutes from the city, depending on the traffic and where you are staying. From there, you can board a cruise at the falls around $30 to $50 CAD.

There’s also the incredible Skylon Tower, which rises high over the falls, and is a great option for those traveling on a budget. You can grab tickets for the Skylon Tower here, with admission costing just $22 CAD per person.

If you 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.

We’ve written all about our favorite Niagara Falls tours from Toronto in this blog, but two of the best tours we’ve ever done here are:

Niagara Falls Platinum Tour from Toronto

Daniel poes for a photo at the front of the boat on the Hornblower Cruise in Niagara Falls
The cruise is the highlight!
Bailey enjoys a glass of wine at Queen Victoria Place Restaurant with views of Niagara Falls
Bailey enjoys a glass of wine at Queen Victoria Place Restaurant with views of Niagara Falls

The last time we were here, we went on this premium tour of Niagara Falls, which included some exciting extras on top of a guided visit to the falls! We loved the three-course lunch that was included in the price of the tour, and the restaurant actually overlooked the falls – talk about dining with a view.

Another thing we loved 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! Not only did we see a ton on this experience, but when you factor in all the extras, we couldn’t have done it much cheaper ourselves.

Private Niagara Falls Tour in an SUV

Two boat cruises below Niagara Falls, Canada
The US side of Niagara Falls!

If you’d rather take a private tour, then this private tour of Niagra Falls is ideal, especially if you’re planning for a larger group of people! We think having total control over the itinerary is fantastic for designing a personalized tour experience. There’s also the option to ask the guide to take you around certain spots, or explore independently if that’s more of your thing.

Prices vary depending on the number of people going. For 6 people, it costs just $225 CAD per person, with this decreasing the more people you have. So for those with a larger group and want lots of flexibility without breaking the bank, this is the perfect choice.

Keep in mind that activities – like a ride on the Aero Car, the Voyage to the Falls boat ride, and a visit to the Skylon Tower – cost extra, but you can decide which ones you want to include.

2. Hockey Hall of Fame 

Daniel poses for a photo with the current Stanley Cup at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Canada
The current Stanley Cup!
The original Stanley Cup at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto
The original Stanley Cup at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto

For the hockey fan out there (or even if you aren’t), a visit to the Hockey Hall of Fame is a must 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 we got to go head-to-head against animated versions of NHL legends in a model rink to see who comes out on top!

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, 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.

Bailey poses with a statue at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Canada
The place is huge!
A man plays a hockey game at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto
The games are fun!

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 in the city 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.

3. Head up the CN Tower

View of Toronto from the CN Tower
What a view!
The shadow of the CN Tower over Toronto as seen from the top viewing platform
It’s the best vantage point in the city!

The CN Tower is the tallest and most iconic building in Toronto, so heading up here is a must for anyone visiting the city!

Naturally, the views from the CN Tower are absolutely amazing. The main observation deck on the 33rd floor is ideal for grabbing photos, and there’s also the Glass Floor deck, which offers a thrilling (and a little scary) look down at the city below!

If you’re feeling especially brave, they also offer their exclusive Edgewalk experience, where participants can get strapped in a harness and literally walk along the edge of the CN Tower, 116 stories above the ground!

General admission for the main observation deck costs $43 CAD for adults and $30 CAD for seniors and children, but don’t forget to choose a time slot in advance. While you won’t catch us doing it, if taking thrills to the next level is your thing, you can also book the Edgewalk experience for around $200 CAD per person!

4. St. Lawrence Market

The front of the St Lawrence Market in Toronto
St Lawrence Market!
Daniel enjoys a slice at St Lawrence Pizza and Pasta in the St Lawrence Market, Toronto
Daniel enjoys a slice at St Lawrence Pizza and Pasta in the St Lawrence Market, Toronto

The 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! You can find the full breakdown for when the market is open here on their website.

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!

5. Check out Casa Loma

Bailey poses for a photo at Casa Loma in Toronto, Canada
It’s such a beautiful castle!
A bedroom at Casa Loma, Toronto
Just one of the bedrooms!

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. In fact, we wrote an entire blog on all the things to know before exploring Casa Loma!

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!

Vintage car out the front of Casa Loma on display in Toronto
A vintage car!
Daniel with a statue of Mike Tyson at Casa Loma, Toronto
The museum of the stars!

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. Reservations are recommended, though!

The Liberty Caffé is another nice on-site spot to drop in and grab a light bite to eat. You’ll need to have purchased admission to Casa Loma to stop by, but no reservations are required.

The castle is open from 9:30 am to 5 pm daily for touring, with the exception of Christmas Day. Entry costs $45 CAD for adults, $39 CAD for seniors and teens, and $29 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 the website. We’re so glad we did, as when we went, the queue looked at least 20 minutes long and we walked right past everybody!

6. Wander the Distillery District

Entrance to the Distillery District in Toronto
Welcome to the Distillery District!
Bailey enjoys a drink at Spirit Of York distillery in the Distillery District of Toronto
At Spirit Of York Distillery in the Distillery District of Toronto

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.

During the festive season, the Distillery District also hosts The Distillery Winter Village which is basically like the ultimate Christmas market. It’s 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!

A Tokyo Old Fashioned at BOKU Japanese Eats + Drinks in the Distilery District of toronto
A Tokyo Old Fashioned at BOKU Japanese Eats + Drinks in the Distillery District of Toronto
A boutique shop in the Distillery District in Toronto
A boutique shop in the Distillery District in Toronto

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 $17 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 ice cream at Scooped (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.

Keen to learn more about the Distillery District, we decided to try out this walking tour, which turned out to be even better than we hoped! Our guide taught us all about the story of how the Distillery District came to be, and we think it’s a great way for someone new to this part of the city to get their bearings.

The tour costs just $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.

7. Kensington Market

Birria Tacos from the Kensington Market in Toronto, Canada
Birria Tacos from the Kensington Market in Toronto, Canada
Ton of Juice at the Kensington Market in Toronto, Canada
Perfect on a hot day!

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.

8. Enjoy brunch at Lady Marmalade

Daniel with brunch from Lady Marmalade in Toronto
Brunch is our favorite!
Two brunch meals at Lady Marmalade in Toronto, Canada
How good does that look?

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.

9. See Toronto from the sky

Bailey in a helicopter about to fly over Toronto City in Toronto, Canada
Off we go!
View of Toronto city from a scenic flight in Toronto
The views!

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 scenic flight 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, we highly recommend this iconic helicopter experience! Exploring the Toronto Islands over to downtown Toronto, High Park, and the Lake Ontario waterfront, we also got a free digital photo to remember the experience! There’s a maximum of 3 people per helicopter, so we will feel like a true VIP from start to finish.

This helicopter flight costs $269 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. 

10. Watch a hockey game

Canadian Hockey Game
Sorry guys, but I’m an Oilers fan!

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 to $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 one of the best things to do when it rains in Toronto. If you’re stuck for ideas, check out our blog for some rainy day inspiration!

11. Take a tour of the city

View looking down a walking street in the Distillery District of Toronto
View looking down a street in the Distillery District of Toronto
Toronto city skyline on a City tour
Explore with a local guide!

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 city highlights tour is a great way to spend your first morning 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 Sundays and Mondays, 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 9 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 $189 CAD for adults and includes all of your transportation and skip-the-line admission to the attractions you visit.

12. Fall in love with Little Italy

A Little Italy sign in Little Italy in Toronto
Welcome to Little Italy!
Bailey eats her meal at Trattoria Taverniti in Little Italy, Toronto
Trattoria Taverniti!

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 we’d recommend to anyone

We found some amazing places to stuff ourselves 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.

If you fancy some drinks after dinner, there are a ton of great bars in the area, like Bar Pompette and Bar Raval (more on these in the cocktails section of this blog!).

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! 

13. Eat the finest sushi in Toronto at Miku Toronto

Bailey eats miso soup at Miku in Toronto
Miso soup is the perfect starter!
some colorful sushi one a plate at Miku in Toronto
This sushi tasted as good as it looks!

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 around $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 to 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.

14. Go on a food tour

Cheese curds on a food tour in Toronto
Mmm, cheese!
Tacos cook on a grill on a food tour in Toronto
Did someone say tacos?

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 in Toronto is a great way to sample all of the different cuisines that coexist here.

This walking food tour that we did is easily a highlight for us. It gave us a great insight into the diverse culinary scene of Toronto, and we got 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 liked this particular tour because it took us off the beaten path to lots of local hidden gems, including the St. Lawrence Market, and we got to learn all about the iconic culinary traditions that exist in Toronto.

The tour lasts for about 3.5 hours and costs $99 CAD per person, or you can upgrade to a private experience for $185 CAD per person (based on 4 adults booking).

Related Read: If you love exploring local delicacies and hidden culinary gems like we do, check out our blog on the best food tours in Toronto!

15. Royal Ontario Museum

Royal Ontario Museum outside in Toronto, Canada
Photo credit: Bloodua Depositphotos

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 Monday, and tickets cost $26 CAD per person – you can buy them online here! You can also upgrade your ticket to include admission to their specialty exhibit for an extra $9 CAD. 

Make sure to check your calendar because the 3rd Tuesday night of each month is free admission! On these evenings from 4:30 – 8:30 pm, the museum is free of charge to the public – you can’t get a better deal than that! It’s among the best free activities in Toronto that we’ve found.

16. Visit Chinatown 

Bailey on the streets of China Town in Toronto
Chinatown!
Chinatown, Toronto
Chinatown, Toronto

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 3-hour walking tour is our top choice for exploring Chinatown, as it will take you through this vibrant neighborhood with a local guide who will help you to understand its history and character better.

We got to 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. 

I love that this is a small-group tour, with a maximum of 12 people per group – no huge crowds drowning out the guide on this one!

17. Toronto Tall Ship Boat Cruise

Toronto Tall Ship Boat Cruise in Toronto
Toronto Tall Ship Boat Cruise in Toronto

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, and we think it’s such a fun way to celebrate a special occasion, or a great choice for a family outing on the water.

18. Drink local craft beer

Bailey drinks craft beer from Amsterdam Brewery in Toronto
Mmm craft beer!
A cold beer from Amsterdam Brewery in Toronto
Amsterdam Brewery!

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!

Amsterdam Brewhouse

Starting off strong, 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?!). 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.

Mill Street Brewery

Mill Street Brewery is 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! 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.

Bandit Brewery

While Mill Street and Amsterdam Brewery definitely cater to large crowds, Bandit Brewery is a smaller venue that’s not too far from High Park. 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.

Our top craft beer tour

Whether you’re a craft beer lover like we are, or you’re just curious about this buzzing side of Toronto, nothing quite beats the ease and fun atmosphere of a guided craft beer experience! Our favorite by far was this small group walking tour, which includes visits to three classic pubs, and, of course, plenty of samplings!

With a maximum group size of 12, I loved that this was a close-knit experience – unlike so many other tours we didn’t feel like we were being herded around like sheep. Tickets cost $99 CAD per person, and there’s also the option to upgrade to a private tour for $143 CAD per person, which I think would be perfect for larger groups.

19. Sip some cocktails

Two cocktails at the bar at Pompette Bar in Toronto
Pompette Bar in Toronto
Daniel drinks a cocktail from Pompette Bar in Little Italy
Cheers!

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.

Bar Raval

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 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!

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!

Barchef

BarChef 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 use spice and herb combinations that reflect the time of year.

This is most definitely a classy establishment, and it’s certainly not cheap. Prices start at around $20 CAD but go all the way up to $55 CAD per drink, so this is definitely a treat-yourself spot.

20. Visit the Toronto Islands

Bailey and Daniel pose for a photo on a small bridge on the Toronto Island in Canada
The beautiful 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. 

For families with kids, I highly recommend dropping by Far Enough Farm, a super cool petting zoo that has over 40 species of animals! Or if kicking back and relaxing is more your thing, Ward’s Island Beach is a sheltered beach that’s ideal for this.

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.

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!

Costing just $113 CAD for an adult ticket, 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.

Related Read: We’ve covered just the tip of what the Toronto Islands have to offer here – check out our blog on the top things to know before visiting the Toronto Islands to learn more!

21. Art Gallery of Ontario 

Bailey poses for a photo with a statue at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
The statue out the front!
Bailey looks at a display at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
This display can be purchased for $100,000!

If you’re interested in art, then you’ve got to go and check out the Art Gallery of Ontario. It’s actually 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 outside.

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).

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.

22. Go Sailing 

Sailing in Toronto
Sailing in Toronto!

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 budget-friendly 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 $189 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.

23. Explore Old Toronto

The Cathedral Church of St. James in Old Toronto
The Cathedral Church of St. James in Old Toronto
Old Buildings in Old Toronto
Old Buildings in 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 down 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 we 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!

24. Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada

Walk through tank at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada
This is my favorite part!

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 $45 CAD for adults, $29 CAD for seniors and youths, or $12.50 for kids aged 3-5. 

25. Explore Toronto’s Parks

Sheep at Riverdale Farm in Toronto
Sheep at Riverdale Farm in Toronto
A statue in Queens Park, Toronto
A statue in Queen’s Park, Toronto

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

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 Riverdale Farm, a 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.

Queen’s Park

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.

High Park

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. 

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.

26. Check out Little Canada 

A display at Miniature World or Little Canada in Toronto, Canada
A miniature display!

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 per person, and we think this would be a great place to host a kids’ birthday party or enjoy a fun day out with little ones. That said, seeing a miniature version of Canada is pretty cool, no matter how old you are!

27. Toronto Botanical Garden

Tulips at the Toronto Botanical Garden
Tulips at the 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 café is only open during the summer, but you can visit the gardens all year round for free from dawn until dusk. 

Related Read: The Toronto Botanical Garden is one of my favorite places to visit during summertime in Toronto. You can check out our blog to learn a few more of our top activities!

28. Relax at Woodbine Beach 

Woodbine Beach in Toronto
Toronto is home to some nice beaches!

Woodbine Beach is the largest beach 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.

Come summertime, 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 °C (68 °F), so it’s nice and refreshing but not too cold to swim. 

29. Fort York National Historic Site

The 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

Daniel walks down Graffiti Alley in Toronto
The artwork changes often!
Graffiti Alley in Toronto
So cool!

Want to find a really unique background for your next Insta post? Graffiti Alley is in the heart of downtown Toronto and spans three blocks, including Rush Lane. 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

Bailey poses for a photo at the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in Toronto
How beautiful!

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

Outside of the Eaton Center in Toronto Canada
Outside of the Eaton Center in Toronto Canada. Photo credit: Depositphotos Surangastock
Inside of the Eaton Center in Toronto
Inside of the Eaton Center in Toronto. Photo credit: Depositphotos Deymosd

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

A tram travels through the city of Toronto, Canada
A tram travels through the city of Toronto, Canada
Bailey on the subway in Toronto Canada
The subway!

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

One King West Hotel & Residence
Photo credit: One King West Hotel & Residence

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.

I’ve 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!

If you’re looking for more info about where to stay in Toronto, be sure to read our blog. It includes detailed info on the best area to stay, how to get from the airport to your hotel, and the top hotels!

Fairmont Royal York Hotel (Luxury Stay – $$$)

The Fairmont Royal York Hotel is one of the most luxurious hotels in Toronto. With its historic ballroom, beautiful rooms, and a gorgeous skylit indoor pool, you’ll have to force yourself to leave and explore the city! But once you do, you’re steps from Union Station, so getting around via public transport is really easy. It also means that you can take the train from the airport directly to the hotel! 

The Hockey Hall of Fame is two blocks away, and you’re also about a 20-minute walk from both the waterfront and the Distillery District. Rooms usually start from around $500-$600 CAD per night and you can check availability and book the Fairmont Royal York 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. Rooms also feature a kitchenette, which comes in very handy when traveling on a budget!

Starting from only $170 CAD per night (in the low seasons), this centrally located hotel is tastefully decorated and features plenty of amenities. 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.

One of the best ways to experience Canada is by hitting the road. Some of the best things to do and attractions are located in remote areas between destinations. For that reason, we highly recommend getting your own wheels!

  • Rent a car – To simply rent a vehicle, search on Discover Cars where they compare tons of different rental companies near you. This way you can easily compare prices, features, policies, and more!
  • Rent a campervan or motorhome Motorhome Republic is great for finding a motorhome or campervan to rent in Canada. With your own home on wheels, you can camp in beautiful places and save money on accommodation!

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey take a selfie at Casa Loma in Toronto
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:

22 Absolute BEST Places to Visit in British Columbia

50 EPIC Things to do in Banff, Canada

33 BEST Things to do in Alberta