17/06/2024

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25 Unmissable Things To Do In Toronto, Canada

14 min read
25 Unmissable Things To Do In Toronto, Canada

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Toronto is a city that captivates travelers with its vibrant energy and diverse culture. It has so much to offer, from mesmerizing examples of modern architecture, to world class museums, to a delectable culinary scene – needless to say, there’s plenty of things to do in Toronto.

Whether you’re a sports enthusiast, music lover, or nature seeker, Toronto offers something for everyone.

But if you’re not sure what to do in Toronto on your visit, then you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we’ve shared our favorite attractions, plus advice on where to eat, sleep, drink, shop and explore.

Is Toronto, Canada Worth Visiting?

neon sign that says Toronto in front of buildings lit up at night

Toronto is a special city in the world – it not only embraces the fact that 49% of its residents were born outside of Canada, but also turns multiculturalism into the face of Toronto.

It is a mecca of delicious food from all over the world, amazing shopping, and has a theatre district which rivals that of Broadway; it even hosts one of the best film festivals in the whole world.

When you visit Toronto, you are sure to get a cultural experience! So if you love meeting new people and engaging in a world cultures, then Toronto is definitely worth visiting.

Cool Things to Do in Toronto

Whether you’re looking for some beautiful nature spots or you want a thrill-seeking adventure, these are the best attractions in Toronto!

1. Check Out The Bata Shoe Museum

 The outside of the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto during the day.
Bata Shoe Museum

Are you, or a special lady in your life a shoe-a-holic?

The Bata Shoe Museum is every woman’s dream museum – showing off the history of shoes from the days of the Chinese binding their feet, to displaying famous shoes from history and pop culture.

Just a short walk west on Bloor Street from Yorkville, the Bata shoe museum has one semi-permanent exhibit and three changing exhibits that showcase more than 1000 shoes from over 4500 years of history!

2. Relax On Toronto’s Only Clothing Optional-Beach

Wanna take it all off? Literally. Want to strip down to your birthday suit? There’s one place in the city that you can do this and not get arrested for indecent exposure.

Toronto’s only clothing optional-beach sits a short ferry ride from Harbour front to Hanlan’s Point.

Being one of two clothing-optional beaches in the entire COUNTRY (the other being in British Columbia), the beach is a very popular hotspot in the summer months!

3. Take The Kids to Riverdale Farm

geese at Riverdale Farm Toronto

Visiting Toronto with the family? Do not miss Riverdale Farm – an example of a rural Ontario farm from 1880-1920.

You can visit with the farm animals or even chat with the farmers while they do their everyday chores.

Admission is free and it’s open every single day of the year!

4. Visit CN Tower

CN Tower Toronto rising into the sky

No trip to Toronto would be complete without a visit to the CN Tower.

You get an unparalleled view of the city, if you’re hungry (and have a bit of money to spend) you can dine at the revolving restaurant 360.

There are four observation decks at CN Tower, including one with a glass floor – this is one unique way to see the city skyline!

If you want to add a bit of thrill-seeking to your visit, check out the EdgeWalk – which has you walking around the circumference of the roof of the main pod 356m/1168ft above the ground!

5. Catch a Sports Game

toronot maple leafs score a goal

Additionally, depending what season you visit in, catching a sports game should be in order! Toronto has some of the most avid sports fans in the entire world.

You can attend ice hockey games at the Air Canada Centre and watch the Toronto Maple Leafs between October and April.

When hockey’s finished for the season, there’s always baseball and you can watch the Toronto Blue Jays play at the iconic Rogers Centre from April to October.

6. Kick Back in The Distillery District

buildings in a town
The Distillery District                Credit: Joseph a

The Distillery District is a kick back to the early days of Toronto, complete with original buildings.

Now a hotspot amongst artists and young professionals, this neighbourhood has amazing restaurants and bars and beautiful art galleries and even a few small theatre spaces.

7. Visit The Beaches in Toronto

red Adirondack chair on beach

Most non-Torontonians don’t realize that you can bask on the beach in Toronto, just visit the neighborhood aptly named The Beaches, which has four lakes around Lake Ontario and is about 20 minutes east of downtown.

While it’s not quite the pristine white tropical beaches of Fiji, Toronto’s Beaches neighborhood is a summer hotspot amongst those who like to stick around the city rather than venture out to cottage country.

Both family friendly and complete with great cafes and restaurants, The Beaches is a favorite amongst tourists and locals alike.

8. Eat, Eat, And Eat Some More!

plate of poutine
Delicious poutine

Toronto is home to more than 9000 restaurants – accommodating every type of palate and budget, so you’ll never run out of dining options.

One of my favorite places to eat in the city is Fresh Kitchens – a modern vegan restaurant and made-to-order juice bar with 3 locations around the city. I highly recommend the quinoa crusted onion rings!

Another favorite is Fran’s – a traditional diner where you can get all-day breakfast for an amazing price.

Don’t forget to try some poutine (hot chips, cheese curds and gravy) while you’re in Canada – Smoke’s Poutinerie is a place that knows their niche market and ONLY sell the good stuff – and they even cater to vegetarians and vegans!

9. Eat Amazing Asian Food in Chinatown

peopel walking down street Chinatown toronto

Toronto is known for it’s amazing Chinatown and Asian food. There are hundreds of restaurants that serve up delectable Asian fares some of the best being Dumpling House and Rol San (for amazing dim sum) on Spadina Rd. in the heart of Chinatown.

If you’re looking for some late-night traditional Chinese cuisine, be sure to check out New Ho King – a favourite amongst the University of Toronto students.

And if it’s a quick, cheap meal – you can’t go wrong with Bahn Mi Boys – who serve up Toronto’s best Vietnamese subs. The bonus? Their entire menu is under $8!

10. Engage With The Drinking Culture

Canada is known for having a drinking culture akin to that of Australia, New Zealand and the United States and with this comes no shortage of places to go out in the city and enjoy a beverage.

One of my favorite places to drink is Horseshoe Tavern, one of Toronto’s oldest pubs.

They’ve been serving up cold drinks and live music since 1947, and music legends such as The Rolling Stones, Willie Nelson, and Canada’s own The Tragically Hip have graced the stage.

A sign in front of a brick building

If breweries are more your style, then be sure to check out Steam Whistle Brewing Company – you can take a free tour around one of Toronto’s designated ‘green buildings’ and learn all about their award-winning craft beer that puts a green-friendly spin on their product.

11. Hit The Markets and Shopping Streets

a brick building that hpuses st lawrence market
St Lawrence Market

Want to shop vintage? Check out Kensington Market.

To stay up with all the trends be sure to hit up Queen Street West or one of the biggest mall’s in the city, the Toronto Eaton Centre, and the nearby shopping street, Yonge Street.

Looking to get some designer duds? Look no further than Yorkville and the upscale department store Holt Renfrew.

Also be sure to check out St. Lawrence Market every Saturday – it was hailed as the world’s best food market by National Geographic in April 2012.

Oh and if you’re visiting Toronto in the winter, be sure to check out the Toronto Christmas Market for unique gifts!

12. Enjoy A Festival in Toronto

Fireworks display in Toronto view from the Beaches
Festivals in Toronto

I may be biased, but I truly believe the Toronto International Film Festival, which goes on for 10 days at the beginning of September, is one of the best times of year in the city.

The city has such an amazing energy and everyone is excited about the hundreds of celebrities that make it into town to promote their films.

Mid-July to be beginning of August is commonly associated with Toronto’s Caribbean Carnival, formerly known as Caribana – the world’s largest Caribbean carnival outside of the Caribbean itself, and North America’s largest street festival.

The highlight of the two-week celebration is the parade consists of beautifully costumed dancers, floats and some of the world’s best soca calypso, steelpan and reggae music!

13. Take A Day Trip To Niagara Falls

nagara falls gushing over rock face

No trip to Toronto would be complete without a jaunt over to Niagara 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 try some of the Niagara region’s delicious wines.

14. Visit Centre Island for Skyline Views

Toronto sunset over lake panorama with urban skyline.
Toronto Skyline viewed from Centre Island

To get the perfect view of the Toronto skyline, take the ferry over to Centre Island, my favorite of the Toronto islands.

There’s something very special about seeing the city from the water.

If you’re visiting in the summer, be sure to check out Centreville Amusement Park, which is a fun outdoor amusement park that only opens in the summer.

15. Get Cultured at the Art Gallery of Ontario

displays in corridor Art Gallery of Ontario

The Art Gallery of Ontario has an impressive collection of over 90,000 works of art, including masterpieces by renowned artists like Monet, Van Gogh, and Picasso.

Not only does the AGO showcase world-class art, but it’s also an architectural marvel, with elegant curves and wooden constructions that are sure to amaze you.

Whether you love contemporary installations or classical pieces, there’s something for everyone at the AGO.

16. Catch A Show at Elgin and Winter Garden Theatres

Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre

One of the most beautiful theatres in the world is arguably Toronto’s Elgin and Winter Garden Theatres, which was built in 1914 and was designed to look like a winter garden in bloom.

Not only is the theatre still operating, but its a register National Historic Site, which was restored by the Ontario Heritage Trust in 1981.

If you’re ever looking for things to do in Toronto at night, the theatre is a great place to catch an opera, ballet or theatrical performance.

17. Check Out The Hockey Hall of Fame

stanley cup, hockey hall of fame

The Hockey Hall of Fame has an extensive collection of hockey memorabilia, including the iconic Stanley Cup, and offers a compelte and immersive opportunity to learn about the rich history of the sport.

The Great Hall, NHL Zone, and TSN Theatre provide interactive and engaging experiences that bring the game to life.

18. Visit the Royal Ontario Museum, Canada’s Largest Museum (ROM)

dinosaur on display at Royal Ontario Museum

As one of the largest museums in Canada, The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is the perfect place to visit if you love art, culture, and natural history.

With its vast collection of over 13 million artifacts and specimens, the ROM is a place where you could easily spend an entire day and not see it all.

From towering dinosaur skeletons to contemporary paintings, the museum’s exhibits are diverse and captivating.

19. Take The Kids to Toronto Zoo

parrots at Toronto Zoo

If you’re looking for fun things to do in Toronto with kids, then a visit to Toronto Zoo is a must!

With over 5,000 animals from around the world, this sprawling zoo is a haven for animal lovers and conservation enthusiasts alike.

From menacing polar bears to endangered tigers, the Toronto Zoo showcases a vast array of species in naturalistic habitats that mimic their native environments.

Not only does the zoo provide a delightful opportunity to observe and learn about wildlife, but it also plays a vital role in global conservation efforts.

20. Admire Graffiti Alley Street Art

mural on wall Graffiti Alley toronto

Graffiti Alley showcases a stunning collection of murals created by talented artists, where you will be captivated by the diverse range of styles and subjects depicted on the walls.

Graffiti Alley is a celebration of artistic expression and an important part of Toronto’s cultural landscape.

Its location in the hip Queen Street neighborhood means you can combine it with a shopping spree.

21. Stroll Along Toronto Waterfront

Toronto Waterfront with skyrises in distance

One of the best free things to do in Toronto is simply walk along the waterfront.

As you stroll along the shores, you’ll be greeted by stunning views of Lake Ontario, gentle breezes, and a sense of tranquility that can only be found by the water’s edge.

22. Explore Fort York National Historic Site

Fort York National Historic Site with visitors on April 27, 2013 in Toronto, Canada. The fort was built over 200 years ago by the British to defend the settlement against newly independent United States.

Step back in time and explore the rich history of Toronto by visiting Fort York National Historic Site.

This 43-acre archeological park holds the stories of British soldiers, First Nations warriors, and Upper Canadian militiamen who stood together in a pivotal moment in history.

The preserved fortifications allow visitors to discover the remnants of an early 19th-century military stronghold.

23. Step Into A Fairytale at Casa Loma

the turrets of Casa Loma

You wouldn’t expect a Gothic Revival castle in the middle of Toronto, but here we are! This This majestic castle, nestled atop a hill, is a true architectural marvel that allows you to step into the enchanting life of Sir Henry Pellatt, the castle’s original owner.

Built in 1911-1914 by architect E. J. Lennox, the castle is a true work of opulence and grandeur.

Be enchanted by the exquisite craftsmanship and intricate detailing that make it a living testament to an era of luxury and refinement.

From the stunning gardens to secret passageways, every corner of Casa Loma holds a story waiting to be discovered.

24. Have a Picnic At High Park

gardens at High Park Toronto

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and park a picnic, then head to the natural beauty of High Park in Toronto.

With its vast hiking trails, serene gardens, and picturesque lake, this park offers a peaceful respite from urban life.

Take a leisurely stroll or bike ride along the scenic paths, explore the charming zoo, and then kick back and relax in one of the picnic areas.

The park’s famous for its fragrant cherry blossoms, which bloom in the early Spring season.

25. Visit City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square

Nathan Phillips Square with Toronto sign and dancing fountain

No trip to Toronto would be complete without getting a photo of the iconic Toronto sign located in Nathan Phillips Square.

It’s the forecourt of City Hall, an architectural marvel in the city, and is also a bustling meeting space where locals gather and hang out.

Best Time to Visit Toronto

This may be a bit biased, but I truly believe that early autumn is the best time to visit Toronto and the surrounding areas. The air is no longer muggy and humid, but it’s still warm enough that you can walk around with a light jacket or sweater.

Not to mention the beautiful colours of the autumn leaves make it a photographer’s delight.

Getting To and Around Toronto

Domestic airline travel in Canada sucks. It really does. Since Canada’s landmass is the 2nd largest in the world, air travel is unavoidable, unless you are doing a Great Canadian road trip.

Air Canada is a member of the Star Alliance, so if you’re interested in the points, I’d recommend them – although the service is hit and miss.

If you’re traveling around Eastern Canada and into the northeastern United States, Porter is a great new airline. Be’ aware that it’s not cheap. If service and overall experience is what you’re looking for, they may be your best bet.

If you’re looking to do a certain train-trip – there’s only one option: ViaRail. They’re expensive, the service is pretty standard, but the trains come equipped with free WiFi.

In terms of budget travel, MegaBus is probably your best option when traveling along the Toronto-Montreal corridor and into the northeastern United States.

They claim to be eco-friendly and have free wifi on board, and if you book far enough in advance, you can get a ticket for $1!

A close up of a sign

Admittedly, the public transport is NOT at the level it ought to be at, especially if Toronto wants to consider itself on par with some of the other major cities of the world.

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) has a basic underground subway system and above ground streetcars, as well as buses in the areas outside of the downtown core.

Many, however, opt to walk. The city is laid out in a fairly easy to understand grid complete with beautiful parks and interesting landmarks to see.

Just make note that the city is quite large! If weather isn’t completely up to par, there is the PATH – a maze of underground walkways that cover a large distance of the city.

Be warned – these subterranean hallways aren’t the easiest to navigate, but if you have the time, it’s all part of the adventure.

Where to Stay in Toronto

Toronto sunset over lake panorama with urban skyline.

Toronto is a big city, but for tourists visiting Toronto, one of the best neighborhoods for to stay in is Downtown Yonge. Located in the heart of the city, it offers a bustling atmosphere with plenty of shops, restaurants, and entertainment.

Another trendy and vibrant area that’s popular to stay in is Queen West. Known as one of the coolest neighborhoods in the world, it is home to art galleries, hip cafes, and fashionable boutiques.

Yorkville would also be a good area to stay in if you love a glamorous vibe and high-end shopping.

To be central to the main attractions, consider Downtown Toronto.

  • When it comes to finding budget hotels, Planet Traveler is being touted as Canada’s greenest hostel, and it sits right in the middle of eclectic Kensington Market.
  • One King West + Residence is fairly central and close to Toronto’s Union Station transit hub, you will get to experience luxury at a fraction of the price.
  • Hotel Le Germaine may set you back a pretty penny, but rest assured, you will have one of the best sleeps of your life. I still have dreams of sleeping in that bed!

For more places to stay in Toronto choose from the largest range of hotels, apartments, and guesthouses using the map below

Final Thoughts On Things To Do In Toronto

Toronto is a city that offers something for everyone. Whether you’re looking to be entertained in the Entertainment District or you want to hit up the city’s beaches, there’s something for everyone.

We hope this guide helped you plan your trip to Toronto and gave you some inspiration for what to do there.

Tours in Toronto

More Canada Travel Tips

Planning to visit other parts of Canada? Then don’t miss these other travel guides on Canada…

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Do you have any tips on things to do in Toronto? Please share in the comments section below.

Things to do in Toronto, Canada - where to eat, sleep, drink, shop, explore and so much more!

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