Toronto is a vibrant, quirky and multicultural city. No matter what type of trip you’re looking for, be it shopping, culture, great food or natural attractions, Toronto has it all!
1. CN Tower
This may seem like I’m stating the obvious, however I’ve often visited the top tourist attractions in certain countries and left disappointed. This iconic attraction that was once the world’s tallest tower for more than 3 decades is one not to miss and definitely worth paying for!
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Everyone says to get to the CN Tower early to avoid queues, but I figured that everybody has the same idea & they’re the ones creating the queues 😂 We got there for around 3.30pm so we could watch day turn into night and be there for golden hour, and the views of the Toronto Skyline were incredible! 🏙 Thanks to @icelollyholiday for the fab experience! Ps: there was no queue at that time of day either 😉 – 📸 @jassv__ #NishiTravels #ExploreCanada #ExploreToronto #cntower
Our tickets were very kindly gifted to us from icelolly.com and we had the ‘General admission & SkyPod’ package. I would however, recommend skipping the SkyPod completely as it was underwhelming and quite frankly, the additional cost of $15CAD is a bit of a con. It’s virtually impossible to take any photos of the view from the highest level; the windows are much smaller, very high up, not cleaned as frequently as the ones in the main pod and the railings are all very close together.
If you’re feeling adventurous though, you can do the EdgeWalk which takes you on a hands free walk around the roof of the main pod and if you’re feeling particularly bourgeois, you can book a meal at the 360 restaurant in advance.
Located next door to the CN Tower is the Aquarium. The Dangerous Lagoon; the underwater tunnel is definitely the highlight of the aquarium. You stand on a moving platform and as you glide through the tunnel, you can see sharks and sea turtles swimming above your head.
3. The Path
This massive underground pedestrian walkway is the largest in the world, and was built to provide a safe haven from the cold weather. Spanning around 30km, it connects more than 80 buildings in the city and houses plenty of shops, eateries and services including a dental surgery and florist!
As well as connecting major tourist attractions; The Hockey Hall of Fame, The Air Canada Centre, Rogers Centre, The CN Tower and more, the PATH also includes access to hotels, subway stations and shopping centres. You can’t miss it when wandering around the city!
Home to the iconic city sign, this is obviously the perfect ‘I’m-in-Toronto-b*tches!’ instagram shot. Aside from that, this popular spot attracts lots of visitors due to the iconic City Hall Building and the large open space. It’s where numerous events, art displays and celebrations are hosted all year round; the most popular being NYE celebrations! The fountain also turns into a skating rink during the winter months too!
Known as ‘The Market’ amongst locals, this isn’t a traditional market that you may expect, so don’t be surprised if your uber driver drops you off in a colourful, artsy, multicultural neighbourhood. This was one of my favourite areas; it’s an eclectic mix of hippie markets, vintage boutiques, record stores, hole in the wall bars, cute bakeries and much more!
Some of the most famous spots are Rasta Pasta for it’s Jamaican-Italian fusion pasta dishes and Wanda’s Pie in the Sky for sweet treats. This area is just the perfect place to wander around with a camera in hand and simply people watch.
6. Casa Loma
This may look like a castle, but is actually a gothic revival style mansion. It was originally built as a home complete with secret passageways, stately towers and a whopping with 98 rooms! If you’re visiting around Halloween time, this is the place to be on the 31st, with it’s immersive theatrical interpretation of all of the classic horror figures and guided walking tour of the parts of the house that aren’t usually open to the public!
This famous historic house & gardens has quite the storied past and will make you feel as though you’ve travelled back in time to the 1920’s and 1930’s. From the love of the Charleston to the effects of new technology, discover how this mansion-turned-museum portrays an era that drastically changed and influenced the way Torontonians lived.
Public transport abroad is always a fun experience, and you’ll certainly want to take a journey in a streetcar in Toronto. The older models are being phased out, but if you’re lucky you may get to ride on one of the vintage ones.
For art, world culture & natural history, you should visit the largest museum in Canada. It covers everything from dinosaurs to Ancient Egypt, but with over 6 million objects and 40 galleries you’re never going to see it all, so pick a few sections that interest you the most to have the best experience.
Hockey is practically religion in Canada, and you can join the worshippers here. Hockey fans can check out all the trophies and kit on display, and novices (like yous truly) can find out more about the game, why it’s so huge in Canada, and can even test out your ice hockey skills with interactive games.
Toronto loves its sports, and whether you’re into Baseball, Basketball, American Football or Hockey, Toronto has a team for it. There are different seasons for sports so if visiting in the summer, you should watch a Blue Jays baseball game at the Rogers Centre; it’s a fantastic taste of Canadian culture! If visiting in the winter, you should watch a basketball game.
The AGO is one of the biggest art galleries in North America. It’s popular for its Henry Moore room, as the gallery is home to the largest collection of his sculptures in the world.
The European paintings exhibit is quite spectacular and there’s an extensive collection of Canadian art on display here, as well as a gallery that focuses on modern and contemporary art. Good news for travelers on a budget: Wednesday nights are free!
13. Bata Shoe Museum
With a unique collection of over 13,500 items of footwear from around the world, this is the world’s largest and most complete collection of shoes, spanning every culture and continent.
There are 4 exhibits, one of which is a semi-private gallery and three that change regularly. Some of its most famous shoes are ballroom slippers worn by Queen Victoria, Elton John’s monogrammed silver platform boots and a pair of Elvis Presley’s white and blue patent loafers!
This is Toronto’s most iconic neighbourhood; merging style, culture, art and wellness into a few blocks. From Gucci to Chanel and Burberry to Hermes, more than 700 designer boutiques, hotels, restaurants and galleries have made their home in Yorkville.
You’ll often spot celebs sipping on cappuccinos and the über-affluent driving their latest sports car through these narrow streets. So if you want to people-watch to see how the other half live, this is the place to be!
Bloor-Yorkville is great for the high end brands and some of the markets and neighbourhoods below are the ones to hit up for the vintage boutiques, however Eaton centre has all your high street stores under one roof. You’ll be spoiled for choice here, the shopping centre is huge – just don’t forget to look up at the glass gallery to see the giant Canadian geese. It’s a beautiful display!
Toronto’s nod to Times Square and Piccadilly Circus. It’s illuminated by large billboard screens and corporate logos, but essentially, its just a very busy intersection, surrounded by bright lights, shops, restaurants and a cinema.
It’s a happening spot though, as there’s always something exciting going on; with outdoor performances, festivals and even free movies in the summertime.
17. Centre Island
Just a short ferry ride away from the city, there is a trio of islands that offer some of the best, postcard perfect views of the city. Centre Island is the largest and most popular one and you can walk to Hanlan’s and Ward’s Islands from there too. Home to an amusement park, lots of green space, eateries and other family-friendly attractions, it’s a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, especially in the warmer months.
18. Graffiti Alley
Located off Spadina Avenue, between Queen Street West and Richmond Street West, this area is covered in murals and really cool graffiti and it usually full of photographers and instagrammers looking for that perfect shot!
19. Queen Street West
This used to be known for cheap vintage markets, tiny bars and indie cafes, and though the area is slightly more gentrified now, you can still see the artsy places dotted around. This area is great for fashion, arts, live music and shopping.
Looking for somewhere to stay in Toronto? Click here for my review of one of Toronto’s newest boutique hotels.
Where to eat in Toronto
Toronto is one of the most multicultural cities in the world, which makes it a foodie paradise. There are so many incredible restaurants and eateries to chose from, but here are some ‘must-visit’ places and things you need to try while in the city.
This is one for the foodies! Located in the Old Town district of Toronto, this huge market has plenty of food stalls, restaurants and stalls selling classic Canadian souvenirs such a bottles of maple syrup and hockey jerseys. You’ll find the odd jewellery stalls downstairs too.
You can’t visit Toronto without a trip to BeaverTails! They have stores dotted around all over the city, and whether you have a sweet tooth or not, you’ll want to try one of these decadent Canadian fried dough pastries that are shaped like a beaver’s tail. Served piping-hot and with endless flavour combinations, these pastries are similar to churros – both crispy and chewy at the same time! Hands down, my fave is the peanut butter, nutella and Reece’s pieces one.. *drool*
Like many cities around the world, Toronto has it’s own Chinatown; located between Dundas Street West and Spadina Avenue. This is a fun area to explore; eat dim sum and grab a bargain at the shops and outdoor markets.
This is the perfect place for delicious Korean food and Noraebang (karaoke), but you can also find plenty of bubble tea and stationery shops here too. I wish we’d had enough time to go back here as I had the best bibimbap that I’ve ever eaten, here.
I’ll be honest, I was in two minds about recommending this restaurant. As a vegetarian, the classic American soul food dish ‘chicken and waffles’ has always intrigued me. I just cannot imagine what a combination of a sweet waffle, with savoury fried chicken with maple syrup would taste like. Well, they have a vegan offering here – so now I have an idea!
As soon as I came across this restaurant on Instagram and saw the menu, I immediately added it to the list. In hindsight, I could have predicted I wouldn’t like my ‘unchicken & waffles’ as I rarely enjoy sweet food alone, never mind when it’s a combination of sweet and savoury. The waffle alone was fine, the vegan fried ‘chicken’ alone was fine, but I don’t think the sweet potato mash and steamed kale added anything to the dish – in fact, I felt as though I was punishing my tastebuds for having done something awful!
Why am I recommending this dish? Though it really wasn’t for me, I’m pleased I got to almost experience what ‘chicken and waffles’ may taste like. It certainly was an experience; one I’ll never repeat, but one I’m glad I tried!
You can’t not try some poutine (hot chips topped with cheese curds and gravy) while you’re in Canada! Poutini’s House of Poutine and Smoke’s Poutinerie are two of the best restaurants; they know their niche market and ONLY sell the good stuff! It’s probably best to save either of these stops for post-drinks, but you should know that they even cater for vegetarians and vegans!
26. Tim Hortons
Whether you’re a coffee-addict or not, it’s a crime to be in Toronto without trying the infamous French Vanilla coffee at Tim Hortons! Sadly, it’s not dairy free, and personally I wouldn’t really call it a coffee – it’s more of a sweet hot beverage (if there is any coffee in it, it’s very weak and undetectable) – however, it is delicious!
Make sure you purchase a tin of FV to bring back home with you as you can’t buy them for love nor money at home, and it’s the perfect alternative to a hot chocolate! Yum!
If the sweetness of the French Vanilla doesn’t quite hit the spot for you, make sure to try the Timbits. You’ve heard of donut holes, right? Well, they’re called Timbits in Canada, and they come in all different flavours and you can only get at Tim Hortons.
Where to drink in Toronto
This is one of the most distinct neighbourhoods in the city. It’s home to over 40 heritage buildings that were once at the heart of the whiskey export. Now you’ll find plenty of cafés, restaurants, galleries and coffee shops here and the Toronto Christmas market here in December.
Steam Whistle is Canada’s premium pilsner and this microbrewery has been voted one of the best in Toronto. Located just outside the CN Tower and Ripley’s Aquarium, this microbrewery is set in a historic brick roundhouse and is the perfect place for a pit stop and refreshing pint of beer. While you’re here, you can also take a free tour of the brewery itself.
If trains are your thing, the Steam Whistle brewery is part of the Roundhouse Park, which is surrounded by the Toronto Railway Museum’s collection of vintage trains. There’s an original 120-foot-long locomotive turntable as well as a miniature train you can take a ride on.
30. Niagara Falls
I know, strictly speaking, Niagara Falls isn’t in Toronto, however no trip to Toronto would be complete without a jaunt over to the Falls. Only an hour and a half away, it’s very easy to take a day trip in a rented car, or with a tour company, to one of Southern Ontario’s most beautiful sights. Along the way there are numerous vineyards where you can sample some of Niagara’s delicious wines.
Though you can certainly make a day trip of this, if you have more time to spare, I’d highly recommend spending a night or two at Niagara-on-the-Lake. It’s one of the most adorable little towns I’ve ever been to and you get to experience more of the Canadian culture – and have somewhere nearby to crash after sampling all that wine of course!
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