It’s been years since I’ve been to Toronto, Mike had never been to Ontario, and this was Ben’s first visit to Canada. It was an easy, fun few days on our way out of North America and a cheap flight to Iceland as we made our way to the Faroe Islands, the first brand-new stop on our around-the-world adventure. Join us in the T.O.!
These are our top 11 things to do in Toronto, Ontario, Canada:
1. Take in the waterfront. Toronto borders the edge of Lake Ontario, and you can enjoy 28.5 miles (46 km) of it up close. The waterfront area offers paved paths for walking, biking, or rollerblading, which is a very popular off-season activity for Canadian hockey players who want to stay in skating shape. You’ll also find beaches and benches for enjoying the sunshine along with playgrounds, snack stands, and plenty of friendly dogs out for a stroll.
2. Ride the streetcar. San Francisco isn’t the only North American city with a famous cable car system. Toronto’s streetcars are an affordable way to make your trip across town – just $3 CAD (approximately $2.25 USD) per person for adults. You can pay with exact change as you board the streetcar, and be sure to get a transfer pass so you can switch to other streetcar routes or to buses that will complete your journey without having to pay an extra fare. Find a full Toronto streetcar map here.
3. Enjoy international cuisine. The food scene in Toronto is wonderfully diverse. Within two blocks of our Airbnb, we had a Spanish tapas restaurant, a Polish bakery, a sushi restaurant, a pizza pub, and a Lebanese shawarma stand. We enjoyed savory potstickers at Asian Legend in Chinatown, spicy wings at Java House, and grilled lamb burgers at King Rustic. And the fresh fruit and breads available at any 24-hour Rabba Fine Foods corner market were perfect for breakfast each morning.
4. Get a Tim Horton’s double double. Speaking of breakfast, no Canadian morning would be complete without coffee from Tim Horton’s. The level of reverence the country’s residents have for this chain borders on worship, and the Tim Horton’s double double – a coffee with two creams and two sugars – is the quintessential breakfast beverage.
5. Explore the arts scene. Art is everywhere in Toronto, from the Royal Ontario Museum to Graffiti Alley, an area off Queen Street West that runs from Spadina Avenue to Portland Street. There are statues, murals, and other installations all over town that can turn an afternoon stroll a fun “spot the art” scavenger hunt. A great place to start is the aforementioned Java House pub, whose patio is situated at one end of Graffiti Alley.
6. Have some art and culture with your cocktails. Enjoy art and cocktails? Have them together every Friday evening at Royal Ontario Museum, when the galleries are transformed into a colorful nightclub complete with live music and beautiful people during Friday Night Live.
7. Take in a game. Toronto is home to baseball’s Blue Jays, hockey’s Maple Leafs, and the Toronto Football Club among other teams, and the whole town seems to vibrate with a different energy on game days. Check the schedules to see when the teams are playing at their local stadiums and join thousands of Canadians cheering on their favorite home team.
8. Drink in a brewery tour. If you’re a beer lover, check out the brewery tours offered by Steam Whistle, Amsterdam Brewing Co., and Mill St. Brewery. They’re all located downtown and within easy walking and streetcar distance from one another.
9. Visit a park or garden. When the weather is nice, you’ll find thousands of Torontonians enjoying the city’s many public parks and gardens. One of our favorites is the Trinity Bellwoods Park. You can also visit the Toronto Botanical Garden for an organic farmers’ market every Thursday throughout the year along with free summer garden and ravine tours (check the schedule). Allan Gardens features an indoor botanical garden with six greenhouses that are perfect for visiting during inclement weather, and a floral tribute to the composer of “The Maple Leaf Forever” can be found at the Alexander Muir Memorial Gardens.
10. Munch your way through the market. Foodies will love Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market, where there’s row after row of fine food available for connoisseurs. Visit Tuesday through Friday, when crowds are lighter and it’s easier to work your way through the stalls of gourmet produce, cheeses, meats, seafood, chocolate, baked goods, and more.
11. Take a train to your plane when you leave. Save some money as you head out of town by taking the Union Pearson Express (UP Express) from downtown Toronto to the international airport. It’s just $12.35 CAD (approximately $9.50 USD) per person, and trains depart every 15 minutes. Traveling with three or more people? You’ll want to stick to Uber, which is less expensive for larger groups.
Love Toronto? Leave a comment and tell us what we should experience on our next visit!