Toronto stands on the shores of Lake Ontario and is Canada's largest and most cosmopolitan city. Toronto is dazzling and dynamic, with a core of soaring skyscrapers surrounded by a vibrant metropolis of art, culture and commerce, all fronted by a lively and imposing waterfront.
Toronto makes a perfect city break destination for families, friends and groups. The city of culture invites all travellers to experience Toronto's wonderful lakeside setting, buzzing entertainment and endless shopping opportunities at the world’s largest underground shopping complex.
Toronto City & Adventure Breaks: Toronto offers a perfect base for exploring Lake Ontario's unique shoreline including Niagara Falls, located less than two hours drive away on the border with the United States. For the adventurous there's plenty of tours to keep you occupied, including guided adventures into Ontario's fascinating wilderness, you can even experience the likes of bears, beavers and moose in their natural habitats. There's lot's of activities to choose from and it's all within reach of Ontario's bustling and captivating capital.
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Visiting Toronto: You can fly into Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) direct from London in under eight hours. Toronto has all the ingredients for a captivating city break or as part of a multi-centre itinerary or part of a grand tour of Canada.
There are lots of tourist attractions to explore and enjoy, so if it's your first visit to Toronto plan your sightseeing itinerary carefully. For sightseeing tips and information on what to see and do, check out the Flight4 visitors guide below.
Best time of year to visit Toronto:
Toronto's high season is June to September when temperatures range from 65F/18C to 82F/28C (summer evenings can feel cool). Mid summer in the city is hot and busy with June through early September seeing the highest number of tourists. Mid-summer months are the most popular, with mid-year festivals, music and cultural events making it the most expensive time to visit.
Some of the the best times to visit Toronto are late April through May and September through October when the city feels less steamy. The rich autumn colors of Fall are world renowned, and at this time of year the air feels fresh and the crowds are less.
Toronto's off season is from mid November through to April when the city turns chilly. Winter in Toronto is attractive for many reasons, and the city has a wealth of indoor and wintersport activities, including outdoor skating at Toronto City Hall. Winter is a great opportunity for budget travelers, with lower hotel room rates, plus cheaper prices for sightseeing trips and tourist attractions. Low season temperatures range from a high of 36F/2C with lows around 17F/-8C.
Places to Visit in Toronto:
CN Tower: Start your sightseeing adventure with a buzz, take a ride to the top of the CN Tower. The Tower was built in 1976 and is an award winning engineering wonder. The tower is one of the worlds highest free standing structures, and has 11 high speed glass-fronted elevators pinned to the sides that rise to a height of 1,815ft (553m).
At the top you have a 360 degree view over Toronto and on a clear day you can see Niagara Falls. The tower has both indoor and outdoor observation decks and at the 1,150ft (351m) observation level there's a revolving restaurant, which rotates once every 72 minutes allowing stunning views over the city.
Observation platforms include the LookOut Level with floor-to-ceiling panoramic Window Walls, there's also the world famous and scary Glass Floor and an Outdoor SkyTerrace and SkyPod. If your feeling brave try the thrilling EdgeWalk, the World’s highest outdoor walk that takes you around the edge of the tower, 116 stories above street level, (safety harness and a hard hat are included).
The Harbourfront Centre: The Harbourfront is a recreational and cultural public space that houses the heart and sprit of Toronto. The area is full of transformed factories and warehouses and is now brimming with galleries, shops, craft boutiques, trendy cafes, theatrical performances, marine events, concerts and lots more.
Shopping: Toronto is a shoppers paradise, Eaton square is the main shopping centre with over 350 top department stores, restaurants and cinemas. Another world of shopping awaits you underground.
Toronto's underground city is called the PATH and provides more than 4 million square feet of retail space with over 1,200 shops. The Path consists of 27 tunnels running some 6 miles, these tunnels connect the city's office blocks and major hotels and provide direct underground access to miles of shops, boutiques, fountains, cinemas with plenty of cafes and bars to rest your feet.
For high-end boutiques, art galleries and design studios head for fashionable Yorkville, especially around Bloor Street's 'Mink Mile' the area that's often compared to NYC's Fifth Ave. Top Tip: Look out for beautiful victorian architecture homes and gardens off the main streets. For specialty stores visit the Queen's Quay terminal at Toronto's harbourfront were you'll also find great Lakeside dining.
Kensington Market: Kensington Market is one of Toronto's oldest neighbourhoods, the area has a bohemian atmosphere that attracts artists and tourists to its market stalls, indie shops and vintage boutiques.
The Market is a great area to wander around, it's home to trendy bars, cafes and hip restaurants, you'll also find specialty grocers, bakeries, cheese merchants and bric-a-brac stores. The market promotes Toronto's multicultural society with its infusion of world cultures and goods.
Ripley's Aquarium of Canada: Ripley's Aquarium is conveniently located at the base of the CN Tower. The aquarium is home to 20,000 aquatic animals and features North America’s longest underwater viewing tunnel that runs through more than 5.7 million litres of water. The aquarium provides daily dive shows and allows you to get up close to stingrays and sharks.
The Distillery District: The Distillery District is alive with culture and has become one of Toronto's hottest tourist attractions, so be prepared to stay a while! The Distillery District consists of a sizable traffic-free area full of cobblestone streets and restored 19th century industrial buildings, that once housed a large whiskey distillery.
The whole area has been tastefully transformed into rows of trendy indie and international style restaurants, bars, stylish gift shops, plus jewelry and fashion boutiques. Art lovers will find amazing outdoor sculptures and art galleries showcasing some of Canada's premier artists, plus several theatres with performances in dance, music and stage.
Top Tip: Stop off and relax at one of the many independent coffee shops or order a pick-me-up if you prefer your coffee on the go. Call into Balzac's Coffee Roasters, a grand Parisian style cafe set in an 1895 pump house with exposed-brick interior, and serves great coffee and croissant. Location: 1 Trinity Street, The Distillery District.
St. Lawrence Market: St. Lawrence Market is a two century old working farmers market and is one of Toronto's most famous landmarks and most visited tourist attraction. The Market consists of three buildings that have served as Toronto’s city hall, civic centre and marketplace throughout the history of the city.
The South Market building is the most visited with its many restaurants and specialty food vendors, merchants and artisans offering everything from local mustard and pickles to fresh and specialty cooked meats, lobster, pasta and freshly baked bread.
You don't have to buy anything, you can just wander the Market aisles and take in the unique and lively atmosphere, including the sights, sounds and smells of a fully functioning 200-year old market tradition that's impossible to replicate, St. Lawrence is a wonderful experience and a highly recommended tourist attraction.
Top Tips: Save some room for a freshly-made hot breakfast or lunch, try the classic smoked salmon and cream cheese bagle from St. UrbanBagels, or better still roam the market's aisles until you find 'Paddingtons' Bacon Sandwich stall, for probably the best bacon sandwich in all Ontario. Also check out the walking tour of St. Lawrence Market and learn about its fascinating 200-year history, plus check out the St Lawrence Market Art Gallery and Antique Market.
What's on in Toronto: Many people visit Toronto to experience the city's many cultural, entertainment and festival events such as the Toronto International Film Festival (September), the Toronto Jazz Festival (Jun/Jly), Pride Week (June) and the Canadian Music Week festival (June).
Toronto Public Transport Services:
Local Public Transport is provided by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) and includes subway, streetcar and bus services around the city and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Public transport services are reliable, safe and easy to use and operate extensive routes throughout the city and feed most of Toronto's major tourist attractions. To find the best route and transport type for your journey, check out the TTC route planner.
Toronto's Subway: Toronto’s subway system is made up of 113 stations across 6 lines (latest figures include new stations and lines opening in 2022/23) and operate from 6am to 1:30am Monday-Saturday and from 8am to 1:30am on Sundays, with a frequency of 2-5 minutes depending on time of day. Although Toronto's subway network is relatively extensive you may find Streetcar services provide better access to some downtown tourist attractions.
Toronto's Bus Network: Toronto’s has an extensive bus network with over bus 140 routes providing access to nearly every part of the city. Bus frequency on main routes is every couple of minutes and services operate from 6am to 1am Monday-Saturday and 8am to to 1am Sundays.
Toronto's Streetcar Network: Streetcars (trams) provide the best mode of transport for Toronto's downtown areas. There's 14 streetcar routes, services are easy to use and they are frequent. Streetcars provide a faster service compared to buses, as they have fewer stops and often operate a more direct route. Streetcars are slightly roomier inside and they provide a smoother ride experience.
Toronto's Taxis: Taxis are reasonably priced with standard metered fares. Taxi's are readily available and can be hailed from the kerb or you can pick one up at tourist attractions or from major hotels. Taxi drivers are usually helpful, (make sure the meter is set and working at the start of your journey). Tips are customary with a 10-15% being the average rate.
Buying and paying for tickets: Buying and paying for TTC travel tickets is easy. The most convenient way to travel on Toronto's public transport network is to buy and use a Presto Card. The Presto Card is a pre-paid smart card that allows for pay-as-you-go travel on subway, bus and streetcar networks. Presto Cards can be bought from retail stores, vending machines at subway stations or customer service outlets.
The fare for the journey is deducted from the card and you simply top-up the card with credit when it's running low, top-up's can be done at Self-Serve Reload Machines located at TTC subway stations. You can buy Presto Cards online but you have to wait several days for delivery and you will need to activate it. To use your Presto Card simply tap your Presto Card or Presto Ticket on the card reader each time you board a bus, streetcar or on entry to a subway station. Top Tip: Also available are single day passes allowing all day travel at a fixed rate, this pass can be added to your Presto Card and is ideal if you plan on using the TTC network regularly for sightseeing.
Individual travel tickets for each journey can also be purchased from ticket machines, these are called Presto Tickets. More information on Presto Cards and the benefits of registering for an online Presto account can be found here. Top Tips: You can not buy travel tickets from bus or streetcar operators, you must have a valid form of payment ready before you board the vehicle. Children are 0 to 12 years of age travel free of charge.
10 Quick Facts about Toronto:
(1). Toronto is ranked as one of the greenest cities in the world.
(2). Toronto is the 5th largest city in North America, it's home to over 5 million people (inside the Greater Toronto Area) and is one of the most multicultural communities on the planet.
(3). Cuisine is taken very serious in Toronto with visitors coming from far a wide to experience the city's multicultural culinary delights. Toronto has more than 7,000 restaurants... you may have to stay a while!
(4). Toronto is also home to one of the world's largest film festivals, the Toronto International Film Festival.
(5). Toronto welcomes over 40 million visitors annually .
(6). Toronto is the third largest city for English theatre, just behind London and New York.
(7). Toronto's underground shopping mall The PATH, is the largest continuous mall in North America, with over 1200 shops.
(8). Approximately half of Toronto's population were born outside of Canada.
(9). Toronto's official motto is "Diversity Our Strength."
(10). Toronto was rated as one of the world's most livable cities by Economist magazine.
Toronto Dining & Nightlife: There are over 7,000 restaurants in Toronto, with trattorias, bistros and ethnic eating houses being in good supply, and reflects Toronto's multi-cultural diversity. In the summer most restaurants open-up an outdoor patio space, and it becomes customary to eat outside under the stars.
Toronto has a great theatre district and is fast building a name as a major centre for the performing arts. Top Tip: Bars, pubs and clubs are a plenty and cater for every taste. Torontonians are very sociable and generally enjoy discussing the city's cultural and entertainment offerings, so ask around for advice on the best pubs & clubs that match your taste and music scene.
Toronto Airport (YYZ). Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) is located 16 miles (27km) northwest of downtown Toronto.
Airport Transport and Shuttle Services: The most convenient transit from Toronto airport to the city centre is by Rail Link. Union Pearson Express (UP Express) connects the airport direct to Union Station in the heart of downtown Toronto. The train service is fast, reliable and speeds you along in under 25 minutes. Departures are every 15 minutes and trains run between 05.30 hrs to 01.00 (1am).
Other options include bus transit services to and from the airport into Toronto city and surrounding areas, bus services also drop off at major downtown hotels, Taxis are readily available from outside the arrivals hall and are not overly expensive.
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