1. Take an elevator to the top of the world, CN Tower
The CN tower is the iconic image of Toronto. Initially built as a communications tower, it has become a cult tourist attraction. If you hate heights this might not be the best place for you but if you are brave enough to get the lift to the top you will get 360-degree panoramic views across the city. There is also a revolving restaurant at the top of the tower so you can sit back, relax and take in the view. For the adrenaline junkies out there you can also walk around the top of the tower called the Edge Walk.
Opening Hours: 9am-10.30pm Tickets: Free to enter Address: 301 Front St W, Toronto, ON M5V 2T6
2. Enjoy a taste of Toronto at the St Lawrence Market
This is not on the tourist map but it definitely should be. The market has over 120 different stall selling typical farmers’ market fare, showcasing local produce and it is a local favourite, haven been running for over 200 years.
Opening Hours: Farmers Market: Saturday 5am-3pm Tickets: Free to enter Address: 93 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5E 1C3
3. Day trip to Niagara Falls
While you are in Toronto it is definitely worth taking a day trip to Niagara Falls which is just an hour and a half from the city. The Falls connect Canada with the United States. Once you get to Niagara be sure to take a trip on one of the tourist boats like the Hornblower but beware – the ponchos they give you aren’t just for fun, you really do get drenched. The city of Niagara Falls is very commercial so for a more laidback and traditional feel head to Niagara on the Lake, a relaxed little town with some pretty shops and cafes.
How far is Toronto from Niagara Falls? It takes an hour and a half in a rental car. You may also want to consider public transport, or going with a private tour. Opening Hours: 24 hours Address: Niagara Falls, Ontario
4. Shopping in the Eaton Centre
Toronto boasts some very high end shops in the ‘mink mile’ district on Bloor Street where you can find brands like Louis Vuitton and Chanel. Although great shopping is not limited to this area, the Eaton Centre in the city centre offers shopping for everyone’s budget. They have even made it easier for you in case you get tempted by something you can’t afford. The budget stores are on the bottom level and the higher you go in the centre the more expensive the stores get.
Opening Hours: 10am-9.30pm, 10am-7pm on Sundays, 9.30am-9.30pm on Saturdays Tickets: Free to enter Address: 220 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M5B 2H1
5. See what all the fuss is about at the Hockey Hall of Fame
Ice hockey is a way of life for most Canadians, they eat, breathe and sleep it. So if you want to live like a Canadian you have to visit the Hockey Hall of Fame. Even if you know very little about ice hockey it is hard not to get caught up in the national pride in their favourite sport, although interestingly lacrosse is still Canada’s official national sport. Interactive games, 3D movies and a chance to see the famous Stanley Cup Trophy are some of the highlights.
Opening Hours: 10am-5.30pm weekdays, Saturday 9.30am-6.30pm, Sunday 10.30am-5pm Tickets: $18CAD per adult, $12CAD per child Address: 30 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M5E 1X8
6. Visit the Distillery District
This is a very industrial yet somehow welcoming part of the city. Once the stomping ground of wealthy Scottish whisky producers, the distillery district is now a thriving tourist attraction. There are a bunch of creative tours around here, a favourite being the Segway tour! Who doesn’t love a Segway? There have also been quite a few famous films shot in Toronto because of its resemblance to New York so look out for some familiar sights.
Address: Tank House Lane, Toronto, ON M5A 3C4
7. Go island hopping in Toronto bay
Just a couple of hundred metres across Lake Ontario from the city are a cluster of small islands. This is the largest car-free residential area in North America. You can access the islands from a series of small ferries from Ontario harbour which take less than 10 minutes. A good way to view the islands is to take a boat cruise from the harbour which will show you around the islands from the lake whilst giving you some great views of downtown Toronto.
Cost of a boat tour, Toronto: Tallships Toronto do tours around the bay for as little as $26 per adult, $15 per child. Address: Tallships depart from 235 Queens Quay W, Toronto, ON M5J 2B8
8. Discover the past, present and future at the Royal Ontario Museum
Even if you don’t actually go into the museum you should visit just to see its eye-catching façade. The Michael Lee-Chin Crystal dominates the front of the terracotta brick building. The museum hosts a wide range of collections from ancient history to contemporary culture, one of the most impressive being the ROM’s Chinese collection which is the biggest collection of Chinese artefacts outside of mainland China. Give yourself plenty of time for this one as there is much to see.
Opening Hours: 10am-5.30pm, open til 7.30pm on Saturday-Monday Tickets: $20CAD per adult, $14CAD per child Address: 100 Queens Park, Toronto, ON M5S 2C6
9. Take your pick between The Rogers Centre and The Air Canada Centre
Sport is very important to Torontonians. There are two major sports stadiums in Toronto, The Rogers Centre home to the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team and the Air Canada Centre which houses the Toronto Maple Leafs Ice Hockey team, the Toronto Raptors basketball team and Toronto Rock the lacrosse team. So whatever time of year you visit Toronto you will be in the middle of a sports season so be sure to try to catch a game.
10. Step through time at The Bata Shoe Museum
Now the clue is in the name for this one and although it might sound a little strange, this is actually worth a visit. The museum explores centuries of history through the medium of shoes. The collections include the shoes of some well-known celebrities including Marilyn Monroe, John Lennon, Roger Federer and Canada’s own Justin Bieber.
Opening Hours: 10am-5pm, Sundays 12pm-5pm Tickets: $14CAD per adult, $5CAD per child Address: 327 Bloor St. W. | (at St. George St.), Toronto, Ontario M5S 1W7
11. Get romantic at Casa Loma
This Gothic-revival styled house was originally built for financier Sir Henry Mill Pellatt – having travelled through Europe, he’d developed a taste for fine art and architecture, and thus chose to built Toronto’s romantic House on the Hill. It cost $3,500,000 to create the house and the work of 300 men. Enjoy the fruits of their labour in the 5-acre estate, walk between the stables and the stately rooms of Casa Loma.
Opening Hours: 9am-5.30pm daily Tickets: $25CAD per adult Address: 1 Austin Terrace, Toronto, ON M5R 1X8
12. See Gehry’s masterpiece at the Art Gallery of Ontario
This is an amazing place to see both European and Canadian art, housed in one of Frank Gehry’s outlandish designs. Their Art & Dine Fridays and family Sundays are great ways to meet other travellers in the city too. Check their exhibitions online before you go.
Opening Hours: 10.30am-5pm weekdays, open til 9pm Wednesday and Friday, 10.30am-5.30pm on weekends, closed on Mondays Tickets: $19.50CAD per adult, $11CAD per child Address: 317 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M5T 1G4
13. Get under the sea in Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
This is one of Toronto’s all weather attractions – the 16,000 animals inside don’t shy away during the Canadian winter. Hop from the Dangerous Lagoon to the Rainbow Reef for sharks, rays and more. The Canadian waters exhibit is great for learning about the Great Lakes Marine life.
Opening Hours: 9am-11pm daily Tickets: $30CAD per adult, $20CAD per child. Discounts available online. Address: 288 Bremner Blvd, Toronto, ON M5V 3L9
14. Get dinner in Chinatown
Toronto has an extremely diverse population, so it’s no surprise they have an amazing Chinatown (which is now growing to include Thai and Koreatowns). Whilst one of the best times to visit is during Chinese New Year for drago dancers and performances, you don’t need an excuse to hop into Swatow Restaurant for dim sum, oodles of noodles and peking duck.
Address: Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4W 2H1
15. Chill out at Kensington Market
If you’re in Toronto in the summer, come to Kensington to lazily meander between vintage stores, pop-up shops and street vendors selling every type of artisan coffee you can imagine. The entire area is car free on the last Sunday of every month, so the streets are flooded with cyclers, pedestrians and street performers.
Opening Hours: 11am-7pm Tickets: Free to enter Address: Bounded by Dundas St., Spadina Ave., Baldwin St., and Augusta Ave., Toronto, Ontario
How to get to Toronto
You can catch direct flights from London and Manchester to Toronto. It takes 8 hours to fly across to Canada. You can also catch connecting flights from all other major U.K cities.
Where to stay on a city break in Toronto
If you’re looking for a hostel:
The Travellers Home in Toronto has private, cheap single rooms and it’s just off Alexandra Park.
If you’re looking for a hotel:
The Metropolitan Hotel has a dim sum restaurant in house – you won’t want to leave.