Explore Toronto

Toronto Travel Guide

The most heavily populated city in Canada, Toronto is a vibrant and cosmopolitan place; the country's financial, commercial and cultural centre with a rich multi-cultural heritage of more than 80 ethnic groups, speaking more than 100 languages. The city has a lively stock exchange, soaring futuristic architecture, museums, art galleries, performing arts companies, fine restaurants, large shopping complexes, a waterfront and hundreds of parks.<br /><br /> Toronto is situated on the north shore of Lake Ontario, and sports distinctive neighbourhoods as well as the longest street in the world, Yonge Street, as its main north-south artery. Toronto's most prominent landmark is the CN Tower, which is one of the world's tallest free-standing structures, with glass-fronted elevators that rise 1,815ft (553m) to indoor and outdoor observation decks. The city also boasts the 'Skydome', which is a multi-purpose entertainment complex with a retractable roof, billed as the world's greatest entertainment centre.<br /><br /> In the 17th century Toronto was a small French colony; then came the American Revolution which encouraged scores of British loyalist families to flee north. Many settled beside the lake establishing a town known as York, which slowly grew in importance as an administrative and manufacturing centre. In 1834 the name was changed to Toronto, an Indian word meaning 'meeting place'. The new name proved appropriate when about a century later the city's English character began to be buried beneath the conglomeration of cultures brought in by a massive tide of immigrants from all corners of the world. Old English pubs and Victorian and Edwardian architecture survive among the skyscrapers, but Toronto is today a lively and cosmopolitan city and Canada's commercial capital.<br /><br /> It does get very cold over the winter months of November to March so if you are averse to chilly weather plan your visit over the mid-year period. Toronto just might be the destination that has it all - reason enough to visit and enjoy what has been described as Canada's 'world within a city.'<br /><br />

Casa Loma

Address: 1 Austin Terrace Toronto

Admission: C$25 (adults), C$15 (children aged 4 - 13). Other concessions are available. Open daily, from 9.30am to 5pm

Telephone: (416) 923 1171

Canada's own castle, Casa Loma, is today owned by the City of Toronto and draws plenty of interest, standing in medieval splendour on its hilltop site. The castle was formerly the home of Canadian financier, Sir Henry Pellatt, who engaged the noted architect E J Lennox to help him realise a life-long dream of building a castle. Construction started in 1911 and it took 300 men nearly three years to complete the impressive Casa Loma. Inside visitors can see the magnificent decorated suites, secret passages, and 800ft (244m) long tunnel, while outside it is possible to stroll through the beautiful five-acre estate gardens. Self-guided audio tours are available and the castle is open every day.<br /><br />

CN Tower

Address: 301 Front Street West Toronto

Admission: General Admission: C$35 (adults), C$25 (children aged 4 - 12). Special deals and discounts available if booking online. Open daily 9am to 10:30pm

Telephone: (416) 868 6937

Standing 1,815ft (553m) high, Toronoto's landmark CN Tower was the world's tallest building until 2007, and remains a celebrated icon, an important telecommunications hub and the centre of tourism in Toronto. About two million people visit the tower each year to take in the panoramic view and enjoy all its attractions. The tower was built in 1976 by the company Canadian National, who undertook the project to prove the strength of Canadian industry and solve the city's communication problems. Since then tourist attractions and facilities have been added, and the revitalised tower opened to the public proving a hit with locals and visitors alike.<br /><br /> The tower has four look out levels. At the first, at 1,122ft (342m), is an outdoor observation deck with a spectacular glass floor; somewhat higher at the next level is an indoor observation deck and the Horizon's café, offering light meals high in the sky; at the 1,150ft (351m) level is a revolving restaurant, which rotates once every 72 minutes, allowing a stunning view of the city below while dining on the award-winning fare; finally comes the top level, at a dizzying 1,465ft (447m), known as the Sky Pod. At the top of the CN Tower visitors stand on one of the world's highest public observation decks. The tower is situated in the heart of Toronto's entertainment district, on the north shore of Lake Ontario.<br /><br />

Royal Ontario Museum

Address: 100 Queens Park Toronto

Admission: General Admission: C$17 (adults), C$14 (children aged 4 - 14). Other concessions are available. Open daily, from 10am to 5.30pm (until 8.30pm on Friday)

Telephone: (416) 586 5549

The pride of this large and varied museum is the golden mosaic ceiling inside the main entrance to the building in Queen's Park, Toronto. The ceiling is adorned with patterns and symbols representing cultures from around the world throughout the ages, and is made from cut squares of imported Venetian glass. The museum consists of three buildings housing 200,000 square feet (18,581 sq m) of galleries and exhibitions. The more than 40 galleries showcase art, archaeology and science exhibits. Among the most popular are dinosaurs, galleries of Chinese Art, a bat cave, a gem and gold room, exhibits about Ancient Egypt and Nubia, and the Samuel European Galleries.<br /><br />

Toronto Zoo

Address: Meadowvale Road, Scarborough Toronto

Admission: May to October: C$28 (adults), C$18 (kids aged 3 - 12). November to April: C$23 (adults), C$14 (kids aged 3 - 12). Other concessions are available Open daily, from 9.30am to 4.30pm (November to December); 9.30am to 4.30pm on weekdays and 6pm on weekends and holidays (2 September to October); 9am to 7pm (May to 1 September)

Telephone: (416) 392 5900

The Toronto Zoo covers 710 acres (287 hectares) and is divided into 'zoogeographic' regions. It features four major tropical indoor pavilions and several smaller indoor viewing areas, plus numerous outdoor exhibits with more than six miles (10km) of walking trails. The zoo houses more than 5,000 animals representing more than 500 different species. Favourites include hippo, lemurs, otters, gorillas, bears, Giant Pandas, snow leopards, lions, penguins and cheetah. This world-class zoo attracts well over a million visitors every year and should delight the whole family. There are numerous snack bars and gift kiosks scattered throughout the grounds.<br /><br />

Niagara Falls

Address: Toronto

Admission: Admission tickets vary depending on which attractions are visited. See website for details Different attractions have different opening hours and seasons. Check website for details

Straddling the Canadian-United States border and situated between the province of Ontario and the US state of New York, the awesome Niagara Falls attracts about 12 million tourists a year. It makes a spectacular day's outing from Toronto. The Niagara River has been flowing for about 12,000 years but the eroded escarpment over which the falls flow today is much older, having been formed during the ice age. The river plunges over a cliff of dolostone and shale to make it the second largest waterfall on earth, after Victoria Falls in southern Africa. Apart from appreciating the mighty torrent of the falls itself, perhaps from a spray-filled boat tour, there is plenty more to see and do on the Niagara peninsula, including indulging in some wine-tasting at one of the local wineries; visiting the exotic butterfly conservatory; marvelling at the floral clock in the Niagara Parks Greenhouse; visiting the Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum; or playing a round of golf on one of the 34 courses that dot the peninsula.<br /><br />

Distillery Historic District

Address: Mill Street Toronto

The brick-paved streets of the pedestrianised village have been designated a National Heritage Site and are said to contain the finest collection of Victorian era industrial architecture in North America. The historic Distillery District, spread across 13 acres (5 hectares) in downtown Toronto, is a development dedicated entirely to arts, culture and entertainment with its plethora of art galleries, restaurants, bars and live music venues. Founded in 1832, the Gooderham and Worts Distillery became the largest distillery in the British Empire until it ceased operations in 1990 after 153 years of production, and was opened in 2003 as the pedestrian-only village it is today. It is also a popular film location and its numerous festivals and special events attract thousands of people every month.<br /><br />

Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art

Address: 952 Queen Street West Toronto

Admission: Free. Donations welcome. Open Tuesday to Sunday, from 11am to 6pm. Closed on Mondays

Telephone: (416) 395 0067

Formerly the Art Gallery of North York, the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art opened its doors in 1999 keen to display modern Canadian art that addresses current Canadian narratives and global issues. Situated in trendy downtown Toronto, Mocca boasts a permanent collection of about 400 artworks by 140 different Canadian artists, despite its small size. With most works created since 1985, Mocca offers great insight into contemporary Canadian society. A country once renowned for its loose immigration laws, Canada is home to a mix of cultures, which makes for a stimulating art world. Look out for group exhibitions with international artists and the annual Mocca Award in Contemporary Art.<br /><br />

Toronto Islands

Address: Toronto Island Ferry Docks, foot of Bay Street and Queens Quay Toronto

A chain of small Lake Ontario islands just offshore from the city, the Toronto Islands were created from a series of continually moving sandbars connected to the mainland by a frail peninsula, which finally disintegrated after a major storm in 1858. Only a short ferry ride from the mainland, the Toronto Islands provide a peaceful green refuge from the hubbub of the city and afford attractive panoramic views of downtown Toronto. Hire a bike or relax on the beach, take the kids for a day at Centreville Amusement Park or have a languid picnic in one of the many designated leafy areas.<br /><br />

Gardiner Museum of Ceramics

Address: 111 Queens Park Toronto

Admission: C$15 (adults); free for children under 18 years. Other concessions available. Monday to Thursday from 10am to 6pm; Friday from 10am to 9pm; Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 5pm

Telephone: (416) 586 8080

Housed in an attractive building across from the Royal Ontario Museum, the Gardiner Museum of Ceramics is one of the city's finest examples of modernist architecture. Giving visitors a glimpse into a universal art form that has spanned centuries, the Gardiner Museum exhibits more than 3,000 historical and contemporary ceramic pieces. With earthenware of all different shapes and sizes from the ancient Americas, China, Japan, the Italian Renaissance and more, a tour through the museum will shape visitors' understanding of the development of the ceramic process. On Friday evenings visitors can try their hand at sculpting and wheel throwing in the open clay studio or attend free films and seminars.<br /><br />

Kensington Market

Address: Area bordered by Spadina Avenue, Dundas Street, Bathurst Street and College Street Toronto

Admission: Open seven days a week. Most opening hours are from 11am to 7pm, although fresh produce stalls usually open earlier, and restaurants usually close later

A National Historic Site, Kensington Market embodies Toronto's multicultural society. Founded in the early twentieth century by eastern European Jewish immigrants and Italians, the area was renowned for its open-air market, reminiscent of those found in Europe. Home to immigrants from the Caribbean, China, East Africa and Vietnam War veterans, Kensington Market is an infusion of world cultures, all of which have left an imprint in the music, shops and restaurants of the area. A hybrid of cheap eclectic clothing retailers, fresh produce stores, cheese merchants, fishmongers, cafés and general bric-a-brac stores, the Kensington Market area offers a rambunctious downtown atmosphere. The most prominent streets are Augusta Avenue and Kensington Avenue.<br /><br />

Harbourfront Centre

Address: 235 Queens Way Toronto

With an idyllic setting right beside the lake, the Harbourfront Centre is the communal heart of the city, where locals gather on weekends for some gallery hopping, shopping, biking and concerts. Used as an industrial docklands for decades the abandoned warehouses and disintegrating factories have been transformed into a treasured recreational and cultural public space. Stroll along the waterside promenade, indulge in theatrical performances and browse craft boutiques or head to Queen's Quay Centre for some superb shopping. Year round events at this urban playground include film, dance, theatre, music, children's events and marine events.<br /><br />

Hockey Hall of Fame

Address: 30 Yonge Street, Brookfield Place Toronto

Admission: C$18 (adults), C$12 (youths aged 4 - 13), free for children under 3. Other concessions are available. Hours vary slightly according to the season and day, but are generally from 9.30am or 10am, to 5pm or 6pm.

Telephone: (416) 360 7765

Any avid hockey fan must take a turn at Toronto's Hockey Hall of Fame, an ode to hockey's greatest players and most prized teams. A shrine to Canada's national sport, visitors can learn about the history of the game through memorabilia from every era, hockey artefacts from around the world, interactive exhibits and images of great moments in hockey history. Marvel at Terry Sawchuck's goalie gear, Newsy Lalonde's skates and the stick used by Max Bentley. The Stanley Cup never fails to delight visitors and most fun is had trying a hand at shooting or goalkeeping in the interactive displays. You won't be disappointed.<br /><br />

Paramount Canadas Wonderland

Address: 9580 Jane Street, Vaughan Toronto

Admission: General, single day ticket admission costs C$63 (without tax), but various deals and packages are available online. Opening times vary according to season - check the official website for details.

Telephone: (905) 832 8131

Boasting more than 200 attractions including 65 exhilarating rides, Splash Works and a huge variety of roller coasters, Paramount Canada's Wonderland is Canada's favourite theme park. Kids will enjoy the fastest and biggest roller coaster, the Behemoth as well as carousels, train rides and Canada's only flying roller coaster, the Time Warp. Plenty of shopping and dining options ensure that nobody will go hungry or go home empty handed. This park is a must for a great day out with the family, with a variety of rides and amusements to suit all age groups.<br /><br />

High Park

Address: 1873 Bloor Street West Toronto

High Park is Toronto's largest park and features sporting, cultural and educational facilities, gardens, greenhouses, walking trails, playgrounds and a zoo. A great place for a stroll or a family picnic, High Park also features two children's playgrounds, a communal swimming pool which is manned by lifeguards, and plenty of open space to tire the little ones out, making it a great family attraction in Toronto. There are a couple of eateries in the park providing meals and snacks for those who haven't brought picnics.<br /><br />

Jungle Cat World Wildlife Park

Address: 3667 Concession Road 6, Orono Toronto

Admission: C$15 (adults), C$10 (teens and seniors), C$7.50 (children) Open daily, from 10am to 5pm

Telephone: (905) 983 5016

Just 45 minutes east of Toronto on Highway 115, Jungle Cat World Wildlife Park is one of Ontario's most popular tourist attractions. The Park is home to a diverse collection of mammals, such as wolves, skunks, lemurs and chimpanzees - though it is the collection of big cats that truly makes the park special. When it opened in 1983, the purpose of the Park was primarily recreational; however, in latter days, Jungle Cat World has taken on a more pronounced environmental education role. Housing rare and endangered cats, such as snow leopards and Siberian tigers, the park runs a variety of fun, kid-friendly programs, designed to further the ends of wildlife conservancy, by educating visitors about the dire need to protect the lives and habitats of the magnificent animals on display. Be sure not to miss the Park's Feeding Tour, which occurs at 1.30pm daily.<br /><br />

Toronto Pride

Where: Unity takes place at the National Trade Center; the Pride Parade follows a route down Yonge Street; the Dyke March route is north on Church to Bloor, west on Bloor to Yonge, south on Yonge to Wood and east on Wood to the South Stage. Other eve,Toronto

When: 22 - 24 July 2018

Toronto Pride is the third largest gay and lesbian celebration in the world, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors in the last week of June to participate in hundreds of events. The Pride week has a different theme each year which sets the tone for the hundreds of activities and events on the programme, culminating in the massive pride parade with its floats and performers, and the 'Dyke March'. The main event of the week is 'Unity', a non-stop all-night dance party featuring spectacular stage shows, billed as one of the best parties in the northern hemisphere.<br /><br />

Contact Photography Festival

Where: Various galleries, museums, art centres and other public places in Toronto,Toronto

When: 1 - 31 May 2018

Taking photography far beyond the realms of the snapshot, CONTACT is the most important annual photographic event in the Americas, highlighting the enduring significance of photography in modern life and celebrating talent and innovation in the art form. The Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival now features more than 1,500 photographers and artists at about 175 different venues in Toronto, attracting crowds of nearly two million people, making CONTACT the largest photography event in the world. Some of the exhibitions are public installations, which decorate the urban spaces wonderfully.<br /><br />

Toronto Jazz Festival

Where: Numerous locations in downtown; main stage at Nathan Phillips Square,Toronto

When: 22 June - 1 July 2018

No self-respecting Canadian city can be without its annual jazz festival, and Toronto offers one of the best in North America. The 10-day TD Toronto Jazz Festival attracts jazz celebrities from all over the world, and now attracts more than 500,000 spectators, many of whom visit annually for the event. There are about 1,500 musicians featured in the festival, at something like 40 locations in the city. The hub of the jazz festival is Nathan Phillips Square in the heart of downtown Toronto, which is a good place to start for those wanting information on what's showing. Check out the official website listed below for more information.<br /><br />

Toronto Taste

Where: ,Toronto

When: 3 June 2018

Toronto Taste is a celebration of savoury cuisine, fine wines and stunning waterfront scenery. The annual fundraising event brings together about 70 top chefs and 30 of Ontario's premium vintners and beverage companies to provide an evening of gourmet food and drink. Toronto Taste is the single largest fundraising event supporting Second Harvest, a registered charity collecting perishable food that would otherwise go to waste and redistributes it to community organizations that feed hungry people in Toronto. The festival tends to raise money for something like 1.3 million meals for needy people, which makes Toronto Taste not only lots of yummy fun but also a seriously good cause.<br /><br />

Toronto International Film Festival

Where: Various,Toronto

When: 6 - 16 September 2018

Toronto's famous film festival is the largest film festival open to the general public. Unlike Sundance and Cannes which see a number of independent features and world cinema, the Toronto International Film Festival has the glamour of Hollywood coated all over it, and is considered by many filmmakers and studio bosses to be a successful launching platform to begin the crazy award season that eventually climaxes with the Academy Awards in March. The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) screens nearly 400 films at about 34 venues in downtown Toronto, attracting audiences amounting to something like 400,000 people, of whom about 4,000 are industry professionals. For a full programme check out the official website listed below.<br /><br />

Toronto Fringe Theatre Festival

Where: ,Toronto

When: 4 July - 15 July 2018

Toronto's Fringe Festival continues to be one of North America's leading theatre experiences. Throughout the city thousands of artists perform a variety of comedy, cabaret, music, poetry, drama and the classics to their adoring crowds. What sets the Toronto Fringe Festival apart is the fact that the plays are not selected by judges of any kind, but by a lottery process which gives all entrants an equal chance to perform. This ensures a huge variety of performances, and the festival consistently leads to the discovery of new and wonderful artists and plays. For more information check out the official website listed below.<br /><br />

Lai Wah Heen

Address: Metropolitan Hotel, 108 Chestnut Street (Downtown) Toronto

Food Type: Chinese

The huge menu features the finest traditional and modern Cantonese dishes within the sophisticated setting of the Metropolitan Hotel. The menu offers a large variety of shark's fin and abalone dishes, as well as some of the best dim sum in the city, and delicious meat and noodle dishes. Service is attentive and food elegantly served. Daily lunch and dinner.<br /><br />


Address: 318 Wellington Street West Toronto

Food Type: Modern Eclectic

Senses is a combination of bakery, gourmet food retail outlet and fine dining restaurant that makes dining here an experience for the senses. The upstairs restaurant is delicately stylish and tastefully furnished with luxurious seating, excellent service and superb cuisine. The displays of smoked salmon and caviar in the emporium below prepare the taste buds for starters such as the goat's cheese empanada, or main dishes like the leek cannelloni stuffed with ground lamb, spinach and feta. Dinner Wednesday to Sunday; bar and bistro open daily.<br /><br />

North 44

Address: 2537 Yonge Street (Uptown) Toronto

Food Type: Modern Eclectic

Named after Toronto's latitude, North 44 has been one of the city's most genteel eating places for many years and is an experience in pampering. The artistic interior bathes diners in a warm glow, the food is superb and the service flawless. The seasonal menu is influenced by Mediterranean, American and Asian flavours and might include pepper and sesame crusted tuna, lamb shank or stuffed quail, as well as a few exciting pastas and pizzas. Desserts such as the lemon meringue mille-feuille are the best in town. Reservations essential. Closed Sunday. Dinner only.<br /><br />

360 Revolving Restaurant

Address: CN Tower, 301 Front Street West (Downtown) Toronto

Food Type: International

Located in one of the world's tallest free-standing structures, the restaurant at the top of the CN Tower has floor-to ceiling windows and revolves slowly so that every part of this breath-taking view can be fully appreciated while dining in style. The food is not as high-flying as the location, but the experience is certainly a memorable one. The highlight of the dessert list is the chocolate version of the CN Tower. Reservations essential.<br /><br />

Bangkok Garden

Address: 18 Elm Street, Toronto Toronto

Food Type: Thai

Established 25 years ago, the Bangkok Garden was one of the first Thai restaurants in Toronto with essential ingredients being delivered fresh from Bangkok to ensure authenticity. The lemon seafood soup is a great starter while the red beef curry, toasted cashew chicken, and Three Pagodas curry are all delicious. Open Monday to Friday for lunch and dinner. Saturdays dinner only, closed Sundays.<br /><br />


Address: 54th Floor, Toronto Dominion Bank Tower, 66 Wellington St. Toronto

Food Type: International

This trendy eatery is a must for anyone looking to impress, whether it be a business dinner or a romantic evening out. The minimalist décor, imaginative and inventive menu, and flawless execution will leave diners coming back for more. Flagship dishes include the seared Bluefin Tuna with broccoli hash, kumquat caramel and dandelion as well as the bacon wrapped Monkfish with smoked ham hock, white cabbage and porcini. Open for lunch and dinner from Monday to Friday. Open Saturday and Sunday for private events.<br /><br />

Toronto has a very trendy nightlife, offering bars, lounges, clubs and live music venues. The city's multicultural and cosmopolitan vibe extends into its nightlife, with a variety of entertainment options in various areas of the city. Toronto's nightlife buzzes on weekends, but the city is big and energetic enough that you'll find a party any night of the week if you know where to look.<br /><br /> Provincial law requires venues to serve food as well as alcohol, so many pubs and bars in Toronto are as much restaurants as they are drinking holes. Little Italy has a number of trattorias that double as bars, while Greektown has its own ethnic flair and party atmosphere. Bars and pubs close around 2am. Dance clubs stay open till dawn, with late-night buses picking up after-hours commuters when the subway shuts down. Clubs come and go fairly quickly in Toronto, so check out local nightlife guides like the free weekly Now for the hottest spots.<br /><br /> The legal drinking age in Ontario is 19, which is well below the 21-year-old limit in the neighbouring USA, but is strictly enforced at most venues. Dress codes tend to be relaxed, but many will refuse entry for people wearing blue jeans or trainers.<br /><br />
Welcome to Canada's shopping capital! Toronto's shopping experience is like no other, combining the best of international brands with incredible local talent.<br /><br /> The most famous arcade is the Eaton Centre, which has everything under one roof including brand name stores, restaurants and various entertainment options. It's fun, but hardly an experience worth travelling all the way to Toronto to have. Vaughan Mills is another outlet option, but you are far better off seeking out some of the local stores that are unique to the city. If you like haute couture look out for Canadian labels such as Lida Baday, Ross Mayer, Crystal Siemens and Linda Lundstrom.<br /><br /> St Lawrence Market has an amazing array of local arts and crafts, plus excellent food to keep up your energy levels. Kensington Market is the place to go for vintage clothing and other eccentric paraphernalia; and the Heritage Antique Market has an amazing selection of vintage items if you can catch it while you're in town.<br /><br /> Queen St West is an essential stroll for the serious shopper. You'll find the best that young and trendy Toronto has to offer. Past Bathurst Street you'll come across small, independent art galleries where discerning buyers can pick up a souvenir that just may grow in value. Yorkville, along Bloor Street, is the most exclusive shopping district, home to the boutiques and jewellers originating in Milan, Paris and London.<br /><br /> Hunting for souvenirs? Toronto does suggest some obvious choices like maple syrup, and gifts emblazoned with Mounties or maple leafs, while an alternate choice would be native American art, dream catchers or moccasins.<br /><br />
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