What makes your city great? Ask anyone who hails from Toronto and they’ll proudly say diversity. With 2.9 million residents from more than 250 ethnic groups, speaking more than 180 languages, it’s no surprise that the city’s motto is “Diversity, Our Strength”. By
In recent years, Canada’s largest city has experienced a shift in character, output and self-confidence, creating a fascinating and increasingly complex place. This may be due to amazing musical and cultural talents that shoot to international success – most notably Drake and The Weeknd – who help amplify Toronto’s cool factor. Or unforgettable sporting moments, such as when the Toronto Raptors won the 2019 NBA Championship, the first NBA finals played outside of the U..
This shift is also a sign of maturity due to economic, intellectual, and educational development. The city is known as “Silicon Valley of the North“, because of its growing technology hub, and “Hollywood North” because of its strong film and TV industry. The food and beverage scene is also having its own renaissance that will blow your taste buds away, as local chefs and business owners draw inspiration from the multicultural city they’ve grown up in and reflect this in their food.
Regardless of what spurred Toronto’s caterpillar-to-butterfly moment, the city has a unique character and multiethnic voice that you’ll experience in no other place. T+L’s Toronto City Guide shows you what makes the city interesting, vibrant, fun and so very special.
Eastern Standard Time
Best Time to Go
Not surprisingly, visiting Toronto during the warmer months of the year (late spring to mid-autumn) is the best time to experience the city. Although winter is cold and can be a pain, there are just as many things to see and do, just make sure to bundle up!
In spring/summer (May to mid-September) an innumerable amount of festivals, events and performances happen every weekend. Notable ones to catch are the Beaches International Jazz Festival, Toronto Caribbean Carnival (known as Caribana), Luminato, Pride, Toronto International Film Festival, and many other neighbourhood events that are just as fun and delightful.
Winter activities in the city (December to February) are just as plentiful – just make sure to wear a good winter coat and thermal wear. Some great experiences include Toronto Christmas Market, Toronto Light Festival, Winterlicious, and outdoor ice-skating in public spaces such as The Bentway. This is also a perfect time to explore Toronto’s excellent museums and galleries, such as the Bata Shoe Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario, that host a slew of indoor programs and activities for kids and adults.
Things to Know
(Check the current exchange rate)
Canada does not have one or two dollar bills. This currency has been converted into coins; the loonie ($1 or INR 59) and toonie ($2 or INR 118).
In 2012, the Government of Canada phased out the penny from the country’s currency system for economic and environmental reasons. As a result, cash payments or cash transactions are rounded up or down to the nearest five-cent increment.
Canadian currency is colourful and pays homage to historical figures and key moments in the country’s history. In November 2018, The Bank of Canada released a new vertical $10 (INR 594) bill featuring Viola Desmond, a Canadian civil rights activist and Black businesswoman from Nova Scotia.
Contactless payment: Contactless or tap payment is a common payment system used by Canadians and nearly all retailers in the country. Contactless payments can be made by using major credit or debit cards, and mobile wallets like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay.
The dollar limit for contactless payment at a point of sale is typically between $100 (INR 5,940) – $250 (INR 14,852) CAD. If a purchase exceeds this amount, merchants will either require you to sign a receipt or enter a PIN number. Remember that bank fees and currency conversion may apply, check with your financial institution for more details.
Calling codes: 011 international call prefix, +1 country calling code
Essential stores: Looking for essential toiletries, health products, over-the-counter medicine, a pharmacy or other convenience items? There are a number of retail drug stores in Toronto where you can pick up these items. Look out for Guardian and I.D.A., Rexall, and Shoppers Drugs Mart (aka Shoppers) to purchase them.
Directions: For the most part, the development of Toronto’s streets is based on a straight line, grid pattern. The benefit of this street system makes it easy to navigate in and around the city. If you lose your bearings while downtown, look at the direction major road slopes; downward is south, upward is north.
Phrases to know
The Six or The 6ix: A nickname used to describe the City of Toronto, pronounced as “The Six.” This was coined by international rapper, singer, and Toronto native Drake who developed the term based on the city’s area codes 416 and 647.
The 905: Areas of the suburbs outside of the City of Toronto whose phone area code starts with 905.
Big Smoke, T-Dot, T-O, T.O. and The 416: Alternate nicknames used to describe the City of Toronto.
Double-double: A coffee order with two creams and two sugars. Traditionally, a double-double is used to describe a coffee order from Tim Hortons, an iconic Canadian coffee chain.
Streetcars: Toronto has a network of above-ground streetcars which run throughout the downtown core. They are referred to as “streetcars” not “trams.”
Toque: another word for a beanie.
Torontonian: a native or resident of the City of Toronto. When pronouncing this word it is correct to say it phonetically.
How to Get Around
Toronto Transit Commission (TTC): the TTC is the city’s official transit operator, running a network of city buses, streetcars and subways. A single adult fare costs $3.25 (INR 241), a day pass costs $13.50 (INR 1004) and children under 12 years of age ride free. Purchase TTC fares at collector booths in subways stations. Bus and streetcar operators do not sell fares or carry change. When exploring Downtown Toronto, factor in approximately 20 -25 minutes of travel time to your destination due to wait and transfer times.
- Stay informed: the TTC has an SMS system where you can receive real-time, route data for the next bus or streetcar arriving at a specific stop, directly to your mobile phone (standard rates apply). To receive arrival times for the next TTC vehicle at your location, text the multi-digit transit stop number to 898882 (TXTTTC).
PRESTO card: a contactless smart card with an automated fare payment feature allows you to use public transit system in and around Toronto such as the TTC, GO Transit and UP Express. PRESTO cards can be bought from fare-vending machines found inside all TTC subway stations. Find out more about PRESTO.
Cycling: Cycling is a popular mode of transportation in the city, even in the middle of winter! It’s advised that you don’t bike on sidewalks; there are dedicated lanes for cycling (protected and painted) that you can use. View the Toronto Cycle Network map to view and plan your route. Also, here are several things to remember when biking in the city:
- Dooring: Proceed with caution and pay attention when biking by parked or stopped cars; many cyclists have been accidentally doored by passengers exiting a car, a collision which can result in serious injury.
- TTC streetcar tracks: Cycling in and around TTC streetcar tracks can be just as damaging as being doored by a car. Streetcar tracks are indented grooves in the road with embedded metal plates. Bike tires have been known to get caught in streetcar tracks and manoeuvring around them can also be hazardous leading to a collision with fellow cyclists
Bike Share Toronto: this is the most widely used public bike-sharing system in the city. Users can purchase a single trip ($3.25 or INR 241), day pass ($7 or INR 521) or a three-day pass ($15 or INR 1,116) to access more than 6,800 bikes and 600 stations so you can cycle throughout Toronto.
Ride share: popular car-sharing companies such as Lyft and Uber operate in Toronto, and are easily available on-demand via their respective mobile apps.
GO Transit (Greater Toronto Transit Authority): is the regional provider for the Greater Toronto Area, operating a network of buses and trains. Travelling on the GO is an easy and comfortable mode of travel from the suburbs to Downtown Toronto and even within the city limits. GO trains and buses are identifiable by their green and white design, and many GO vehicles and stations connect with the TTC, particularly Union Station in Downtown Toronto.
Walking: Toronto is a walkable city with sidewalks everywhere permitting pedestrian safety. Factor in 10-20 minutes of walk time between subway stops, to and from your destination. If you decide to walk the city during the fall, spring or wintertime, don footwear that is warm, ideally waterproof and has traction because sidewalks can get icy, slushy or wet.
Taxis: there is rarely a shortage of available taxis in the city. Several major and best-known operators are Beck Taxi, Co-op Cabs and Diamond Taxi.
Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ): This airport is situated 16.7 mi (27 km) from downtown and is the main international hub in and out of the city.
Union-Pearson Express (UP Express): This train transports travellers to and from Toronto Pearson International Airport to Toronto Union Station (downtown) within 25 minutes. It is the most reliable mode of transportation, involving minimal hassle and is highly recommended, especially if you want to avoid the city’s notorious traffic jams on local streets and highways.
Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ): A small regional airport located on Toronto Island in the heart of the city, Billy Bishop serves 20 cities in Canada and the US. Billy Bishop Airport is situated at the foot of Bathurst Street and can be accessed via a pedestrian tunnel that runs underneath a portion of Lake Ontario. Another more scenic way to travel to Billy Bishop is to take the 90-second ferry ride that covers 396 ft. (121 m), one of the world’s shortest ferry rides.
The Annex Hotel
Address: 296 Brunswick Ave, Toronto, ON M5S 2M7, Canada
Phone: +1 647-694-9868
The location and character of The Annex Hotel situates you to move and blend in the city like a local. With 24 rooms, it offers guests a hybrid experience of an Airbnb and boutique hotel with a few interesting nuances; there is no room service, no TVs, no phones, no parking lot, no gym, and no front desk. Check-in is completed online and rooms include iPad Pros, turntables, and curation of books. Food and beverage offerings on-site include The Annex’s lobby bar and café.
Kimpton Saint George
Address: 280 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M5S 1V8, Canada
Phone: +1 416-968-0010
The Kimpton Saint George delivers five-star service, but with the feel of staying at a stylish friend’s home. The hotel proudly takes on the personality of the city with many local and loving design touches; from the beautiful art deco furniture to all the in-room art created by local artists. The location of the Kimpton Saint George straddles two contrasting neighbourhoods; explore affluent Yorkville to the east or the unpretentious Annex to the west, and when you return from exploring the city eat on-site at The Fortunate Fox, an elevated gastropub popular with locals.
Address: 80 Blue Jays Way, Toronto, ON M5V 2G3, Canada
Phone: (844) 275-1726
The striking Bisha Hotel is known for its sumptuous interior and elevated guest experience. This luxury boutique hotel contains a rooftop pool and 96 rooms whose décor is inspired by pop art and cultural icons, such as Andy Warhol. It’s also a popular culinary destination with four on-site dining options; the Gatsby-esque lobby bar Mister C. and a café called French Made occupy the first floor; fine dining establishment Akira Back occupies the second floor; and on the 44th floor is KŌST, where you can enjoy an almost 360° view of the city.
The Ritz Carlton
Address: 181 Wellington St W, Toronto, ON M5V 3G7, Canada
Phone: +1 416-585-2500
The Ritz Carlton is situated in the heart of Toronto’s financial and entertainment districts and is a minute’s walk away from many attractions. With stunning views of Lake Ontario and the downtown skyline, this five-star hotel contains more than 260 rooms, updated Club Level guest rooms and suites. The hotel’s Spa MyBlend by Clarins is exclusive to North America and on-site dining options include DEQ Terrance & Lounge, an urban retreat great for weekend brunch on the patio, and TOCA, an Italian restaurant and home to Canada’s only cheese cave in a hotel.
Address: 188 University Ave, Toronto, ON M5H 0A3, Canada
Phone: +1 647-788-8888
Staying at the Shangri-La Hotel is akin to being whisked away to Asia without the 14-hour aeroplane ride. Asian décor governs the hotel’s 202 rooms and suites – wood furniture accents shaped to replicate old Chinese coins make eye-catching visuals. Make sure to book a treatment at the Miraj Hammam Spa By Caudalie Paris, an oasis of relaxation. There are also plenty of on-site dining options such Bosk, Momofuko Noodle Bar, and Kojin.
The St. Regis Toronto
Address: 325 Bay St., Toronto, ON M5H 4G3, Canada
Phone: +1 416-306-5800
In the heart of the city is The St. Regis Toronto, a towering five-star hotel with 65 floors, 134 guest rooms, and 124 suites, plus a spa, fitness centre, and indoor pool. The arrival of this hotel brings an elevated level of glamour to the city; from its iconic butler service, Iridium Spa, and iconic rituals, such as its weekend afternoon tea and daily evening champagne sabrage. The hotel’s LOUIX LOUIS restaurant serves contemporary American cuisine on the 31st floor. Here, you’ll be wowed by its grand two-storey bar which possesses one of the largest dark spirits collections in Canada and is home to the infamous King’s Cake dessert, a sublime 13-layer chocolate cake.
The Broadview Hotel
Address: 106 Broadview Ave, Toronto, ON M4M 2G1, Canada
Phone: +1 416-362-8439
The Broadview Hotel is an upscale boutique property housed in a 127-year-old Toronto landmark with a colourful history. Now, the hotel is a happening spot with 58 guest rooms outfitted with art deco-inspired furnishings, record players and even nipple tassels – an ode to its former persona. The hotel is also a foodie destination with three restaurants on-site: The Civic, Broadview Bistro + Bar and The Rooftop. This property is great for travellers seeking accommodation outside of the immediate downtown core, who want a slower pace.
Omni King Edward Hotel
Address: 37 King St E, Toronto, ON M5C 1E9, Canada
Phone: +1 416-863-9700
Built-in 1903, Toronto’s first luxury hotel represents the city’s historical past; notable past guests have included Elvis Presley and Elizabeth Taylor. The hotel lobby is designed in an Edwardian Baroque style with a nearly two-storey ceiling and portraits of British monarchs – the King Eddy (as it is affectionately called) was awarded the 2018 Best Historic Hotels Worldwide Hotel in the Americas. There are a total of 301 luxury guest rooms and suites, ranging in size from a deluxe king (300 square feet) to the royal suite (1,800 square feet).
The Drake Hotel
Address: 1150 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1J3, Canada
Phone: +1 416-531-5042
The Drake Hotel is one of the most energetic and happening mid-range boutique hotels in the city with a longstanding reputation for its vibrant arts and culture scene – the ideal location for guests who want to be in the thick of things. Rooms range in size from a compact 150 square feet to a cosy 385 square feet designed in a mid-century style. Absent of an on-site gym, the hotel has partnerships with local businesses to offer complimentary yoga and spinning classes. The on-site dining options are well-loved by the local community; the Drake Café, Drake Hotel Lounge, and Drake Hotel Sky Yard. The hotel is also home to the Drake Underground, one of the city’s premiere small concert venues.
The Anndore House
Address: 15 Charles St E, Toronto, ON M4Y 1S1, Canada
Phone: +1 416-924-1222
The Anndore House is a stone’s throw from restaurants, shops, public transportation, and vibrant neighbourhoods. The hotel’s design, décor, and amenities take inspiration from the building’s 1950s beginnings; it was once the hot spot for many celebrities and jazz musicians of the era. Now, this boutique hotel is cool and contemporary with 113 loft-style rooms and Instagrammable bathroom features. The Anndore House also hosts Crow’s Nest Barbershop, a café, and the swanky Constantine Restaurant and Lounge.
Four Seasons Hotel
Address: 60 Yorkville Ave, Toronto, ON M4W 0A4, Canada
Phone: +1 416-964-0411
The global flagship hotel for the Four Seasons is in the epicentre of Toronto’s posh Yorkville neighbourhood. Large in physical presence but intimate on the inside, this 55-storey hotel is family-friendly and contains 259 spacious light-filled rooms; upscale toiletries by Le Labo are offered, storage space is plenty, and in-room iPads allow guests to use the Four Seasons Chat, an instant message service. The hotel has a 3,500-square-foot state of the art fitness centre, an indoor pool, and a spa with 17 treatment rooms, one of the largest in the city. Dining on-site is exceptional with the presence of Café Boulud, which serves delicious soulful French cuisine.
Address: 1194 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6H 1N2, Canada
Phone: +1 647-346-1881
Alma is Latin for “nourishing” or “kind” and the food prepared in this charming 28-seat restaurant embodies its name. Owned and operated by chef Anna Chen, the cuisine is an eclectic mix based on her diverse career and background incorporating Indian, Italian, and Chinese flavours. Everything is created in-house such as pasta, stracciatella cheese, miso, and soy sauces – you are strongly encouraged to order the flatbread which comes piping hot to your table.
Address: 163 Spadina Ave., Toronto, ON M5V 2L6, Canada
Phone: +1 416-260-2222
Owned by chef Patrick Kriss, Alo is a contemporary French restaurant that has received many national and international accolades. Two types of dining experiences are offered to guests; the first is in Alo’s intimate dining room to experience a blind, tasting menu highlighting seasonal ingredients with optional wine pairings; the second takes place in the adjacent barroom, where you order from an à la carte menu. Alo staff is knowledgeable and attentive to guests’ needs, and food is developed to perfection creating a symphony of flavours that awe your taste buds from start to finish. Advance reservations are strongly recommended.
Address: 163 Spadina Ave. 1st Floor, Toronto, ON M5V 2A5, Canada
Phone: +1 416-260-3444
Aloette combines haute cuisine with your favourite everyday dishes. Constructed like a passenger train dining car, the restaurant is open for lunch and dinner where service is quick, friendly, and the food is consistently delicious. Menu items such as the iceberg wedge salad and burger and fries are classic favourites while seasonal dishes keep this spot fresh. Maximise your gastronomic experience by sharing plates with friends and leave room for dessert – you don’t want to miss out on Aloette’s to-die-for lemon meringue pie.
Address: 526 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4K 1P8, Canada
Phone: +1 416-461-1996
Located in the city’s Greektown neighbourhood (aka The Danforth), Anestis Taverna’s Santorini-inspired décor emits a relaxing atmosphere complemented by a roomy indoor and outdoor space. Specialising in home-cooked Greek food, it’s a family-friendly spot with attentive wait staff and an open kitchen concept where you can see cooks prepare classic dishes such as souvlaki and grilled whole fish. Make sure to order the saganaki (flambe Keflotiri cheese) so you can shout “OPA!”
Address: 505 College St, Toronto, ON M6G 1A5, Canada
Phone: +1 647-344-8001
Step into Bar Raval and you’re transported into a stunning, Antoni Gaudí-inspired space. This popular day-to-night neighbourhood spot is the only Canadian bar to be named to The World’s 50 Best Bars 2018 and won Canada’s Best Bar three years in a row. Inspired by Spain’s dining culture, guests stand around high-top counters, barrels, and the beautiful mahogany wood bar which encourages lively discussions and a gusto eating experience; delectable Spanish tapas and pintxos are served, and other popular menu items include the hamburguesa and basque cheesecake. Reservations are not required.
Beach Hill Smokehouse
Address: 172 Main St, Toronto, ON M4E 2W1, Canada
Phone: +1 416-792-8275
Authentic Texas barbecue is a rarity in Toronto; therefore, it’s no surprise that food lovers from around the city flock to Beach Hill Smokehouse on a regular basis to taste its delicious dishes. The smoky scent of barbecue hits your nose nearly a block away from the restaurant and inside picnic tables for seating sets the tone for friendly and warm service. It’s recommended that you place your orders in advance or arrive early to nab popular menu items such as burnt ends, brisket, ribs, and their well-known Southern mac and cheese.
Address: 604 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1M6, Canada
Phone: +1 416-865-1600
Buca Osteria & Enoteca is a long-standing food fixture located in Toronto’s popular King West neighbourhood. Buca is consistently regarded as one of Canada’s top restaurants by critics and diners. Its Italian menu changes regularly due to ingredient seasonality; however, staples that never fail to please the taste buds are the nodini (garlic bread knots), bigoli (duck pasta) and parmigiana di melanzane (fried eggplant with ricotta) – yum!
Address: 169 Niagara St, Toronto, ON M5V 1C9, Canada
Phone: +1 416-703-4222
Tucked away on a quiet residential street you’ll find one of Canada’s best restaurants. Operated by a husband and wife team, Edulis focuses its food philosophy and practice on authenticity and seasonality, emphasising seafood and vegetables. The cosiness and intimacy of the restaurant’s space (32 seating capacity), thoughtful servers, and sublime cuisine will charm you. Guests can dine from two choices of set menus, usually five or seven courses. Reservations are accepted one month in advance and are strongly encouraged.
Address: 559 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M5S 1Y6, Canada
Phone: +1 647-343-1101
Located in The Annex neighbourhood, KINKA IZAKAYA is well-known for its electric and energetic atmosphere where you’re guaranteed a fun and libatious time in an authentic Japanese pub setting. There’s more than sushi on the menu, it has an extensive selection of Japanese pub fare from edamame to karaage (fried chicken) and fusion dishes such as carbonara udon and unagi bibimbap. There is a large selection of Japanese beers and signature cocktails – if you’re up for the challenge, ask for the potent samurai bomb, a three-layered alcoholic sake bomb – kanpai!
Address: 92 Ossington Ave, Toronto, ON M6J 2Z4, Canada
Phone: +1 416-537-0134
Heart, soul, and reverence to family history are at the core of La Cubana’s identity. Sister and brother, chefs Corinna Mozo and Pabolo Monzo, modelled the restaurant after their grandfather’s luncheonette which operated in the 1940s and 1950s in Cuba. Look no further for Cuban comfort food served with a warm and friendly smile; conch fritters, pressed Cubano sandwiches and the guava BBQ beef short rib plate will satisfy your stomach. Make sure to save room for the house-made buttermilk doughnuts and key lime bar – both sweets are delicious!
Address: 794 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1V1, Canada
Phone: +1 647-350-8999
Owner and chef Craig Wong showcases his Caribbean and Asian heritage in the food created for this fun, lively spot full of swag. Caribbean soul food is an apt description for the mouth-watering dishes on the menu; the award-winning juicy jerk chicken, Jamaican patty double down, OG crispy cauliflower, and Chinese pineapple bun burger are all a must-eat.
Address: 478 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1L7, Canada
Phone: +1 416-367-0505
Tucked down a quiet laneway is Patria, a Spanish tapas restaurant with a spacious outdoor courtyard patio and an even larger indoor dining area with soaring ceilings. The restaurant’s menu has an extensive range of choice for brunch and dinner; house marinated olives arrive warm to the table and embutidos (Spanish charcuterie) is mouth-watering. Ordering the paella here is a must and requires 45 minutes to cook; choose from several types focusing on seafood and meat flavours, there’s even vegetarian paella for those with dietary requirements. Patria also has an extensive Spanish wine list that provides a lovely accompaniment to your meal.
Address: 155 University Ave, Toronto, ON M5H 3B7, Canada
Phone: +1 416-551-0433
Pizzeria Libretto is one of the most well-known and loved pizza joints in the city, mainly due to the fact that they serve Verace Pizza Napolitana (VPN), certified Neapolitan style pizza – the first in Toronto. There are several Pizzeria Libretto locations throughout the city, but the restaurant’s University Avenue spot is the most central with a bright and airy feel. Everything is made in house and the pizzas are cooked in a wood-burning oven; choose from more than a dozen types, from classic pepperoni to the sweet and savoury duck confit pizza.
Rendez-Vous Ethiopian and Eritrean Restaurant
Address: 1408 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4J 1M9, Canada
Phone: +1 416-469-2513
Rendez-Vous is one of Toronto’s best and longest-running Ethiopian restaurants. Since 2001, it has served classic dishes such as shio wot (milled chickpeas) and doro wat (stewed chicken), the national dish of Ethiopia – all are accompanied with injera, a traditional spongy sourdough flatbread that you use to scoop up your meal. One of the special hallmarks of Rendez-Vous is the post-meal coffee ceremony which you can order; servers roast coffee beans tableside, which are then ground, brewed, and served in a traditional clay pot accompanied with salted butter popcorn.
Address: 323 Spadina Ave., Toronto, ON M5T 2E9, Canada
Phone: +1 416-977-1128
Day or night locals flock to get their dim sum fix at Rol San; this unfussy and classic Chinese restaurant serves delicious food and has been a long-standing fixture in Toronto’s Chinatown community. There are two menus you can order from; the dim sum menu has classic items such as shrimp dumplings and BBQ pork buns; the second is a la carte menu, where you have more substantial dishes such as noodles and fried rice.
Things to Do
Art Gallery of Ontario
Address: 317 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M5T 1G4, Canada
Phone: +1 416-979-6648
The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) is one of the largest art museums in North America, containing an impressive collection of 95,000 works; from classic masterpieces, paintings to cool contemporary sculptures and photographs. Here, exhibitions are always on the cutting edge, making it a must-visit attraction in the city; take in Canadian art by the iconic Group of Seven or visit Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room – Let’s Survive Forever, the first contemporary artwork in Canada to be acquired through a major crowdfunding campaign.
Address: 1 Austin Terrace, Toronto, ON M5R 1X8, Canada
Casa Loma (Spanish for “Hill House”) was a mansion built in 1914 by financier Sir Henry Pellatt to serve as his dream home, a castle-like structure in the heart of the city. Now, it’s a cherished heritage landmark that celebrates and captures the richness and romanticism of Toronto’s history. Explore three floors filled with elegant European décor, historical artefacts, a classic car collection, a stunning conservatory, and the estate gardens.
Address: 290 Bremner Blvd, Toronto, ON M5V 3L9, Canada
Phone: +1 416-868-6937
The Toronto skyline is defined by the CN Tower and it’s a must-visit attraction where you can take in a stunning, 360° birds’ eye view of the city. Riding up the Tower’s glass elevator is a fun experience. Daredevils can purchase tickets to partake in the EdgeWalk, strolling the circumference of the Tower’s main pod, outdoors and hands-free 1168 feet (116 stories) above ground – this is the first experience of its kind in North America and the world’s highest hands-free external walk on a building.
The Distillery District
Founded in 1832, the Godderham & Worts Distillery started as a small windmill and grew into one of the largest distilleries in the British Empire. Now, it is a national historical site and hub for the city’s arts and culture scene, serving as the home for artists, art galleries, shops, and restaurants. You’ll adore walking the cobblestone streets of this pedestrian-only space and seeing beautiful Victorian buildings, which speak to the history of Toronto and why The Distillery is one of the most filmed locations in the country.
Fort York National Historic Site
Address: 250 Fort York Blvd, Toronto, ON M5V 3K9, Canada
Phone: +1 416-392-6907
Fort York National Historic Site is 43 acres of history. Considered the birthplace of Toronto, it’s best known for being a crucial battle location during the War of 1812, where British troops defended the city from invading US forces. Today, visitors can explore the grounds year-round to experience guided tours, exhibitions, and seasonal demonstrations, take in amazing views of the city skyline and experience one of the coolest features of the site – the cannon firing, which occurs twice daily.
160 Rush Lane, Toronto, ON
Toronto’s Graffiti Alley is an accidental attraction that helped give way to legalised street art in the city in the early 2000s. Building walls that occupy this stretch of Rush Lane from Portland Street to Spadina Avenue are decorated with some of Toronto’s most colourful and notable graffiti murals by respected artists. As a result, this area is the hot spot for many music videos, photoshoots, and mini street festivals. The art in Graffiti Alley is constantly changing, so make sure to snap lots of photos while here.
Address: 235 Queens Quay W, Toronto, ON M5J 2G8, Canada
Phone: +1 416-973-4000
Harbourfront Centre is a 10-acre site located along the city’s stunning lakeshore that serves as the scene for many contemporary arts, community and cultural events. This indoor and outdoor space of theatres and parks, restaurants, and retail stores make it a vibrant area to visit and experience year-round. For example, activities and programs such as Dancing on the Pier and Canada Day are very popular. In the summertime, you can paddle boat on Natrel Pond and in the winter, it transforms into Natrel Rink, an outdoor public ice skating space.
Address: 93 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5E 1C3, Canada
Phone: +1 416-392-7219
St. Lawrence Market is a culinary destination of some of the city’s best and well-known purveyors of food. The South Market building is a visual fixture in Toronto, housing more than 120 food vendors who provide fresh ingredients to home cooks and professional chefs around the city. This is a food lovers’ paradise where you can see, feel, and taste the history of Toronto. Get the famous peameal bacon sandwich from Carousel Bakery, lobster rolls from Buster’s Sea Cove, and the everything bagel from St. Urbain Bagel.
The Rex Hotel & Jazz Blues Bar
Address: 194 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1Z1, Canada
Phone: +1 416-598-2475
From humble beginnings in the 1980s, this family-owned business is one of the longest-running jazz and blues bars in the city and is considered a musical institution. A casual, comfortable and unpretentious atmosphere, The Rex runs more than 19 shows per week. They continually attract some of the world’s finest musicians, who have been known to take the stage for impromptu performances; Wynton Marsalis and Harry Connick Jr. have visited and blessed the bar’s audience with their talents.
Royal Ontario Museum
Address: 100 Queens Park, Toronto, ON M5S 2C6, Canada
Phone: +1 416-586-8000
Founded in 1914, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is one of the pre-eminent museums in North America that is easily identifiable by its Daniel Libeskind-designed Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, a striking angular glass and steel form exploding from its original heritage structure. With 40 permanent galleries and more than 13 million objects and specimens in its collection, visitors can explore art, artefacts, and cultures from around the world such as South Asian art and ancient Egyptian treasures. The ROM also consistently hosts fascinating exhibitions and hip events, making it one of the city’s coolest and most notable attractions.
Address: 28 Bathurst St, Toronto, ON M5V 0C6, Canada
This modular market space transforms a vacant city plot into a vibrant and impressive 1,00,000-square-foot indoor and outdoor complex. Operating 364 days a year, reclaimed and new shipping containers are used to create spaces for retail stores, food and beverage outlets, community and service experiences run by local and international vendors. A family- and pet-friendly market, explore unique vendors such as Belgian Moon Brewery and self-service sneaker customisation studio Mack House.
TIFF Bell LightBox
Address: 350 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V 3X5, Canada
Phone: +1 416-599-2033
Located in the heart of the Entertainment District, TIFF Bell Lightbox is home to the world-renowned Toronto International Film Festival. Five floors and six first-rate movie theatres host and celebrate international and Canadian films, panel discussions, exhibitions, and programs for all ages year-round. Free, weekly guided tours of the building are offered to the public, where you can explore the architecture, history, and inner workings of this state-of-the-art facility. Also housed in the TIFF Bell Lightbox is the Film Reference Library, TIFF gift shop and two restaurants.
Toronto City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square
Address: 100 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5H 2N1, Canada
Phone: +1 416-392-2489
Toronto City Hall is the location of the city’s municipal government and is also an iconic landmark building of two curved towers with a saucer-like structure at the base. In front of City Hill sits Nathan Phillips Square, an outdoor community space that serves as the site for many events, festivals, and celebrations year-round. These sites, plus the iconic Toronto sign, make a lively area filled with constant activity and a great photo backdrop. During the summer, the Nathan Phillips Square reflecting pool is a popular water feature and during the winter, it turns into a free outdoor ice-skating rink.
CF Toronto Eaton Centre
Address: 220 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M5B 2H1, Canada
Phone: +1 416-598-8560
The CF Toronto Eaton Centre is a premier shopping destination that houses more than 250 restaurants, retailers, and services. Locally known as the Eaton Centre, this shopping mall spans 2,167,000 square feet and is a hub of activity. Explore offerings from Canadian-based stores such as Indigo Books & Music and Roots, as well as global brands like Apple and H&M. Picturesque features of the Eaton Centre to capture on camera are its soaring glass ceiling; Michael Snow’s iconic Flight Stop geese, a permanent sculptural installation; and the futuristic pedestrian bridge, a floor to ceiling glass structure with spiralling angles.
Address: 18 Distillery Lane, Toronto, ON M5A 3C4, Canada
Phone: +1 647-498-6827
Cult brand DECIEM has taken the world by storm with its vast array of affordable skincare and beauty products, such as The Ordinary and Hylamide. While visiting the home city of this industry-changing company, you must stop in its store in The Distillery District, which is a whopping 6,186 square feet. This beautifully minimalistic and spacious shop has a welcoming store team who can answer product- and skin-related questions, and with more than 160 products from DECIEM’s seven current in-house brands available for purchase you have to stock up!
Address: 190 Richmond St E Floor 2, Toronto, ON M5A 1P1, Canada
Phone: +1 416-901-1195
For the latest in men’s streetwear designs head to HAVEN, located in a light-filled 1,500-square-foot space with soaring ceilings. HAVEN carries approximately 50 labels – many are exclusive to the store – and prides itself on being the purveyors of coveted Japanese brands such as Sakai, Neighborhood, and WTAPS. This is also the site for some of the latest and hottest sneaker releases in the city; drop dates for coveted shoes like Yeezys are announced on the HAVEN Instagram account, along with details for purchase.
Helen + Hildegard
Address: 1174 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1J5, Canada
Phone: +1 647-348-1833
Helen + Hildegard is a herbal apothecary and artisanal beauty shop founded by Sonya D’Cunha. The store’s name pays tribute to D’Cunha’s grandmothers, who used their knowledge of plant medicine to care for themselves and their families. Helen + Hildegard’s shelves are stocked with many contemporary bath, body, and skincare products, including locally loved brands such as Da Lish Cosmetics and Province Apothecary. The selection of items in store is so plentiful that you’ll happily get lost exploring.
Hudson’s Bay Queen Street Toronto
Address: 176 Yonge Street, 37 Richmond St W, Toronto, ON M5C 2L7, Canada
Phone: +1 416-861-9111
The Hudson’s Bay Company is Canada’s longest-running department store and North America’s oldest company. Its flagship Hudson’s Bay Queen Street store is housed in a historical building comprised of eight floors that carry men’s and women’s apparel, beauty and home products, a food hall, restaurants and a vast 12,000-square-foot women’s shoe department. Visit their HBC Stripes shop on the lower level to take a piece of Canadian history home with you; check out their multi-stripe products or purchase the iconic HBC point blanket, whose origins date back to 1780 and is a world-renowned item symbolising the company and Canadian history.
Address: 1191 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1X3, Canada
Phone: +1 647-352-1191
Saudade is an exquisite lifestyle and home store located in Toronto’s Little Portugal neighbourhood, which celebrates Portuguese design and artisanal crafts. Within this store, you’ll discover a highly curated range of classic and contemporary Portuguese products such as terracotta pottery, trinkets, woven rugs, and bath and body care – some of which are so unique and lovely that you’ll find it difficult to leave without purchasing a piece to take home with you.
Address: 215 Spadina Ave., Toronto, ON M5T 2C7, Canada
Phone: +1 416-532-0334
Owner Jeffrey Barber has been running Canada’s largest independent record store, as well as buying and selling LPs, CDs, and DVDs, since 2001. Sonic Boom is a sprawling 12,000-square-foot space covering two floors of seemingly unending crates of vinyl records from every musical artist and genre imaginable, from Metallica to Thelonious Monk. This place is so well known that it’s not uncommon to bump into legendary musicians, such as Elton John and Nile Rodgers, digging through the crates.
Address: 401 Richmond St W, Toronto, ON M5V 3A8, Canada
Phone: +1 416-644-1017
Spacing Store is an off-shoot of its namesake magazine Spacing. This city-themed gift shop is a great alternative if you’re looking to purchase Toronto-centric items that aren’t the typical tourist souvenirs. Here, you’ll find a cool and interesting array of paraphernalia such as apparel, books, gifts, and more that highlight the city’s complex history, culture, and idiosyncrasies by local artists and brands.
Address: 883 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1G5, Canada
Phone: +1 416-366-8973
Founded by Joanne Saul and Samara Walbohm, Type Books is one of Toronto’s most beloved independent bookstores. Step inside and you immediately feel that this is not only a bookstore but a welcoming community space that carries an eclectic selection of contemporary fiction and non-fiction books, small press titles, art, design, and travel books. At the back is an adorable children’s section with many interesting and progressive titles that you can share and read to your little ones.
Address: 101 Yorkville Ave, Toronto, ON M5R 1C1, Canada
Phone: +1 647-347-7946
Shopping for swimsuits can be an agonising process; however, ŪNIKA changes this with their custom made pieces for women of all ages, shapes, and sizes. Founded by Betsy Campos, this is one of the very rare companies in Toronto that make high-quality, modern, and inclusive swimwear. Friendly and knowledgeable staff navigate you comfortably through the fitting process, where you can choose from 150 fabrics, and one- or two-piece styles. ŪNIKA can customise pieces from sizes 0 to 30+, bra cups AAA to J+ and women working around bodily changes or surgical procedures, such as breastfeeding or mastectomies. Turnaround time for a custom swimsuit typically takes 10-12 business days, but rush options can be done for an additional fee.
Address: 7 St Thomas St Unit 101, Toronto, ON M5S 2B7, Canada
Phone: +1 437-777-9358
WDLT117 is a highly curated luxury lifestyle concept store found off the beaten path in the city’s Yorkville neighbourhood. The store derives its name from the word “wanderlust” and gives a nod to the heritage building it resides in, combined with its modern physical address. Inside you’ll find a bright and sleek space selling homeware, apparel, shoes, and accessories for women and men by international brands rarely found elsewhere in Toronto, such as Inneraum and Palomar.
Neighbourhoods to Know
The diversity of Toronto’s over 250 ethnic groups is reflected in its multitude of neighbourhoods, each with its own distinctive look and feel. This is where you can experience cultures from around the world. Ask any Torontonian what their favourite neighbourhoods are and they’ll excitedly relay an unending list of places to enjoy the best Jamaican patty or where you can shop for great vintage finds. Peruse our curated list of some of the best neighbourhoods in the city to visit.
The Annex: Bordering the University of Toronto’s St. George campus, The Annex is a lively area populated by students and grand homes. Along its main stretch of Bloor Street West, experience affordable, friendly, and locally run businesses, cafes, and indie retail stores. An abundance of casual bars and diverse restaurants are at your fingertips, from sushi to pizza, where you’ll be spoiled for choice. For entertainment, check out Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, the world’s largest documentary cinema, and Lee’s Palace, a rock concert hall that is a city institution.
Chinatown: A hub of activity day or night with sidewalk markets, innumerable Canadian souvenirs shops and Asian restaurants. During Lunar New Year, Chinatown is extra festive as the community celebrates this occasion with lion dances along the street and inside Dragon City Mall. Also in the neighbourhood is the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), one of the largest art museums in North America.
Kensington Market: Next door to Chinatown, this bohemian village within the city contains an eclectic mix of cafes, vintage stores, and food markets largely untouched by the modern changes of time. Pedestrian Sundays are a popular event, taking place on the last Sunday of the month (from May to October), where the streets are closed to vehicle traffic and are teeming with music and activity. Make sure you snap a picture of the Kensington Market Garden Car, a local attraction and public art piece permanently parked at Augusta Ave and Oxford Street for more than 10 years.
Entertainment District: This was the epicentre of Toronto’s club district between the 1990s and early 2000s, but has largely gentrified to accommodate businesses and condo dwellers. The area still retains a few nightclubs but is mostly known for its selection of restaurants, bars, and thriving concert and live theatre venues such as Roy Thompson Hall, Princess of Wales Theatre, and the TIFF Bell Lightbox where you can catch a show or watch some of the world’s most acclaimed films.
King Street West: Formerly an area populated with industrial buildings and warehouses, King Street West has transformed into a bustling hub of popular bars, a thriving club scene, and cool shops, such as local favs SOMA Chocolatemaker and SPin Toronto. This stretch of coolness extends for approximately 1.2 miles from Spadina to Strachan Avenue.
Little Italy: This area along College Street West is lined with quaint restaurants and outdoor cafes surrounded by beautiful tree-lined streets with Edwardian period homes. Dine and explore at your leisure during the day – Café Diplomatico is a long-time community staple. At night the neighbourhood turns into a lively hot spot with El Convento Rico, a Latin nightclub and drag show venue, and Revival Bar, a popular club and event space.
Old Town Toronto: The founding neighbourhood of Toronto (originally named the Town of York) has the largest concentration of 19th-century buildings in the province. This area has a wealth of local history, great restaurants and bars, and a thriving arts scene. Points of interest to take in are the photogenic Gooderham Building (locally known as the Flatiron Building), Berczy Park dog fountain, and Sugar Beach. Satisfy your taste buds at St. Lawrence Market, a world-renowned culinary haven, and stroll through the historic Distillery District, one of Canada’s premier arts and culture destinations.
West Queen West: Day or night this westerly area along Queen Street West is home to a multitude of cool bars, vintage shops, and a diverse selection of locally run businesses. Two of the city’s beloved boutique hotels are found here – The Drake and Gladstone – as well as the ubiquitous Trinity Bellwoods Park, a popular spot to hang and partake in local community events. The vibe here is hip, young, and active – couple that with the above-mentioned points of interest and you immediately understand why Vogue named West Queen West one of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world.
Yorkville: During the 1960s, this was a relaxed bohemian enclave, but is now an affluent and sophisticated area – Drake is known to frequent Yorkville and during the Toronto International Film Festival it teems with celebrities. Many upscale restaurants and international luxury retailers are found here, as well as long-time local purveyors of class Harry Rosen and Holt Renfrew. Yorkville is also a cultural destination where within a few hundred feet you can visit the Bata Shoe Museum, Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art, Royal Ontario Museum, and Royal Conservatory of Music.
Toronto Islands: Hop on a ferry and get away to the Toronto Islands, a group of 15 interconnected islands that sit in Lake Ontario. It offers a relaxing respite for individuals and families from the bustling vibe of the downtown core. Take a dip at its beaches (note that Hanlan’s Point is a clothing-optional beach), rent sports and water equipment, enjoy a picnic, play at Centreville Amusement Park, or experience the quaintness of the 150-year-old community living year-round in cottage-style residences.
In Toronto, you’ll experience all four seasons of the year to Mother Nature’s maximum. Here, winter (December to February) means a lot of snow, wet rain, icy conditions and wind chill so intense it makes the city feel colder than the Mars. Springtime (March to May) is highly variable with warmer temperatures, periods of snow and frequent rainfall. Summer (June to August) has hot sunny days with extreme humidity and periodic thunderstorms. Autumn (September to November) starts off warm with cooler nights and signals the start of gorgeous fall colours, expect periodic thunderstorms.
January: 0°C – -7°C
February: 0°C – -6°C
March: 3.8°C – -2°C
April: 11°C – 3.8°C
May: 17°C – 10°C
June: 23.8°C – 159°C
July: 27.2°C – 17.7°C
August: 26°C – 17°C
September: 21°C – 12.7°C
October: 13.8°C – 7.2°C
November: 7.2°C – 2.2°C
December: 2.2°C – -2°C
Apps to Download
CycleFinder: this is the official app for Bike Share Toronto. Use it to plan your bike route, locate bike stations, track and check bike inventory at nearby docks around the city.
Green P Parking: official mobile app for the Toronto Parking Authority. Use it to pay fees for street parking and city-owned lots.
Transit App: an all in one, real-time transit app that tracks the arrival and location of TTC vehicles. You can also use this app to map bike routes in the city and check the inventory of Bike Share Toronto docks.
UP Express Mobile App: access service information, purchase tickets and view schedules for the UP Express when travelling to and from Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) to Union Station in Downtown, Toronto.
Related: The Ultimate Tulum Travel Guide: Things To Do, See, Eat And Explore