Eco-friendly travel guide to Toronto advises how to be a responsible tourist. Learn how to explore the attractions in a sustainable way and how to respect the local people and culture. Make your trip green by supporting locally owned hotels, organic restaurants and other businesses. Read more on how to protect the environment by making conscientious choices and how to travel green in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
- Air quality: 4 / 5
- Exploring by foot: 5 / 5
- Exploring by bicycle: 5 / 5
- Public transportation: 4.1 / 5
- Parks: 5 / 5
- Outdoor activities: 4 / 5
- Locals' English level: 5 / 5
- Safety: 4 / 5
- Accommodation: US$30 - $1,600
- Budget per day: US$110 - $2,000
- 1 Responsible Travel
- 2 Air Quality and Pollution
- 3 Respect the Culture
- 4 Top 10 Places to Visit
- 5 Explore
- 6 Eat
- 7 Drink
- 8 Activities
- 9 Accommodation
- 10 How to Get There
- 11 Moving Around
- 12 Sustainable Shopping
- 13 Recycling
- 14 Work and Study Abroad
- 15 See Also
Over the years, Toronto has been fortunate to have benefited from pretty good city planning as a large city with no complications. With new skyscrapers popping up constantly, Toronto is a fast-growing city and it has enjoyed good refinement while it still doesn't lose its authenticity. Managing to be both culturally urban and cosmopolitan, Toronto is one of those special places in Canada one would love to visit and experience some of what it has to offer. Toronto is no doubt a unique destination for travelers from different parts of the globe and visitors can enjoy eating their way through their ever-evolving food scene, window shopping around downtown, or strolling alongside the Ontario River as they take a walk down the tree-lined streets.
There's more to the eye than an amazing skyline in Canada's biggest city; from the topnotch public transportation system and bustling streets to the downtown dotted with skyscrapers, Toronto is truly as cosmopolitan as it comes. Culture? It's got more and lots more you could think of. All within the city's limits, you'll find Chinatown, Koreatown, Little Italy, Greektown, and this is an authentication of the over 140 different languages spoken by the 200 ethnic groups that it houses. At least half of the city's population is born outside of the city and this is one of what makes Toronto one of the world's most culturally diverse cities. It's all fun and interesting to know all these things about Toronto but here are a few tips that can help you travel responsibly in the city;
- Learn how to navigate the TTC. A couple of people tend to find the city's public transit to be a bit hard to grasp but it's actually not, you just need to understand how it works and you'll be fine. The Toronto Transit Commission runs the public transit solutions in the city and you can make use of its two main subway lines; one runs east-west and the other runs north-south. Before you head out, it's advisable that you consult the schedule if you'll be taking some of the streetcars which run 24 hours. And, you can as well use the Metro which operates till about 1:30 am.
- TTC is prone to delays. To arrive at your destination on time, it's advisable that you leave extra early to give yourself enough time because of the city's planning and incessant construction. When traveling by public transit in Toronto, a commonly accepted excuse is the phrase ‘TTC was delayed’, which the locals are familiar with and as well use in justifying their lateness.
- Take the train from the airport. If you’re going anywhere near downtown, the train is always the way to go even if you can expense car rides. For just about $12 CAD within 25 minutes travel in a clean, sleek train, you can get to Union Station downtown from the airport via the UP -- train or the new Union Pearson. Pearson International Airport (YYZ) is a very long way from the city center and taking a car is not usually a wise decision to make.
- Traffic can be quite awful. The most effective and reliable means of transport in Toronto is walking. Walking through the city will set you free from delays but then, you can as well make use of the public transit and skip the idea of renting a car especially if you're heading into downtown or going out on a Friday night because lines of cars will make your heart beats faster than usual and mind you, there are often constructions in the city which you'll have to deal with as well.
- Be open to embracing new languages and cultures. Toronto is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world and in this city, you'll meet several people speaking different languages from almost all the countries in the globe when you take a simple stroll out. A large number of the residents in Toronto were born outside of Canada and there are over 230 nationalities represented in this city. If you're a lover of languages, you'll love it here, and you can as well use this as an opportunity to pick up new languages. But, make sure you don't make a mockery of people's linguistic components, be courteous, and respectful.
- Toronto has "weird" drinking laws which you'll have to abide by. Unlike most other modern western cities around the world, you can only purchase hard alcohol at government-run LCBO stories. More so, in this city, bars close at 2 am but even before the time reaches, they would have already started sending people away. When it comes to drinking, Toronto is more like a mild opposite of Las Vegas for its laws regarding drinking are not straightforward but somewhat weird. In addition, take note that drinking in public is allowed in some of the major parks but even so, you're still expected to act smartly and responsibly about it. Nevertheless, purchasing alcohol and wines in Toronto is not that hard; hit up some grocery stores, The Beer Store, or the LCBO to get your beers and you can as well get Ontario-made wines at some of the kiosks in the city.
- Buy a City Pass for attractions. A better way to experience the top attractions in the city is by purchasing the City Pass for Toronto which gives you access to visit five attractions in Toronto. With this card; from the first day of use, you're given the chance to see everything within 9 days and it doesn't categorically state that you have to see all the attractions it covers in the space of 24 to 72 hours as it is common with most other city cards. Paying for individual tickets at each attraction would cost you more and this is why you're encouraged to use the card to visit all these places to help you save money on sightseeing. Some of the attractions this pass gives you access to include;
- Ontario Science Centre/the Toronto Zoo
- Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
- The Royal Ontario Museum
- Casa Loma
- The CN Tower
Air Quality and Pollution
While there's still more to do to curb emissions in Toronto, the air quality in Toronto is improving consistently, and this is corroborated by the latest trends in levels of the five most common air pollutants. In the past years, air pollution had taken a huge toll on the city with an increment in the number of people hospitalized and a recorded a rise in premature deaths. Toronto is on a path to healthier air and this is good to know for eco-friendly visitors who'll be visiting the city anytime soon. However, it's still safe to say that some parts of the city seem to have the cleanest air quality compared to other areas in the city and these places include;
- Toronto North
- Toronto West
- Toronto East
- Toronto Downtown
Speaking of the city's climatic condition, it's pretty cool and chill. Toronto is often partly cloudy year-round, especially during the winters which are freezing, dry, and windy, but the summers are comfortable. Toronto is usually cold and this can be related to the fact that the city's weather is heavily influenced by the polar jet stream.
Respect the Culture
Toronto is a melting pot of different cultures and it's one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. Considering the plenty of cultures in the city, it's quite overwhelming to pinpoint a particular general culture in the city since there are many cultural values upheld by each culture. Whilst cultures are rife, Canadians are known for their warm reception, and a good way to start respecting the city's culture is by reciprocating this nice and warm attitude to people around you. The ever-increasing immigrant population gives rise to the diverse residents in the city and this is why you'll hear a language of the Philippines, Tagalog, Punjabi, Cantonese, and Mandarin amidst many others, even though the two official languages in the city are English and French. This, however, is to apprise you of the need to respect people's individual beliefs and values since Toronto brims and glisters with diversity.
Top 10 Places to Visit
Famed for its modern-day skyscrapers, restored Victorian buildings, and large Chinatown, Toronto is a vibrant city, and it's as well popular for its professional sports teams which include hockey’s Maple Leafs and baseball’s Blue Jays. There's a wide array of summer and winter outdoor activities, a smorgasbord of dining options, great shopping offers, and world-class museums breathing in this city. Toronto offers plenty of things to see and do for visitors and locals alike as it lives up to its prestige as the capital of Ontario province and Canada's largest city accommodating over 2.6 million people. If you would love to be out, here are some of the top places you can visit in Toronto and don't forget that you can use your City Pass to explore some of them at a cheaper fee;
- The CN Tower: It was once the tallest freestanding structure in the world and it was built between 1972 and 1976. For fabulous views over the city and Lake Ontario, you can choose to take a trip up to one of the observation areas or restaurants or perhaps, simply appreciate the building from the ground. It can be seen from almost everywhere in the city and this Canadian icon towers above the downtown, making it the most impossible attraction to miss in Toronto. It's one of the must-see attractions in the city and this 553-meter is Toronto's famous landmark.
- The Royal Ontario Museum: It has a wide collection of artifacts from Africa, the Middle East, and other countries, and it's famous for housing the largest collection of Chinese architectural exhibits outside of China. You can come here to increase your knowledge of the past and present with its several hands-on and interactive exhibits. From biodiversity and textiles to prehistoric peoples and dinosaurs, it has a massive range of exhibits as it blends world cultures with natural history. With the variety of exhibitions it holds, it claims to be one of Toronto’s favorite museums.
- Casa Loma: The construction of this magnificent complex is a yielded collective effort of three hundred people who worked three years to make a man's dream realistic. It has an elevator, a hunting lodge, lovely gardens, a library, and secret passageways. Back then when it was built, it was the largest house in Toronto, and it has 98 rooms. The wealthy man; Casa Loma, made his dream of living in a castle come true with the construction of this castle on a hill in the early 20th century. It's not just a huge castle, it's a landmark in the city you won't want to miss.
- Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada: Every two hours, there are live shows starring the animals. It engages in teaching its visitors more about marine life with its over 100 interactive exhibits. Here, you can see sharks, stingrays, and other sea life up close. This aquarium is filled with almost 6 million liters of water and this will tell you that the tank is not your ordinary home fish tank. It boasts 16,000 aquatic animals all swimming in one tank and it's one of the most popular attractions in Toronto.
- The Distillery District: Throughout the year, it organizes different several events which include music festivals and art shows. It has entertainment venues, art galleries, and it's bustling with over 80 eateries, boutiques, and retail shops. It's considered to be one of the hottest spots in Canada, it centers around restored buildings, and it's set in the historic district just a short walk from downtown. Those who seek to experience the charm of Victorian Toronto will love it here.
- Hockey Hall of Fame: Here, you can become a play-by-play broadcaster or project yourself playing against the professionals with the state-of-the-art interactive multi-media exhibits. Explaining history through artifacts and film, it features the greatest players in this sport of hockey and it's home to the prestigious Stanley Cup. Visitors who love hockey will find this place intriguing and it's worthy to point out that Toronto is a ice hockey country and it has been one since 1917, which also means that most of its residents are hockey fanatics too.
- Toronto Eaton Centre: It is the most popular attraction in Toronto and one of the most popular attractions in Canada. It receives weekly visitors of about one million and it also houses offices. This huge complex is right in Toronto’s city center and it boasts over 235 stores and restaurants. From fast food to ethnic cuisine, you can please yourself to the many restaurants and take a break there to get yourself replenished if hunger starts saying hi. It's the premier shopping mall in Toronto and this is where people shop till they drop.
- High Park: It has tennis courts, baseball diamonds, and an outdoor swimming pool - all available for those who want to do more beyond walking the trails and enjoy more activities. It offers a very nice view from the observation deck at Hillside Gardens and it has a waterfront since it is on Grenadier Pond. Amidst its plentiful amenities, it features a zoo, gardens, a playground for children, and hiking trails. It's the largest public park in Toronto and it's open to all who love the outdoors.
- Toronto Islands: Famous for hosting annual arts and rock music festivals, it's completed with antique carousel, miniature railway, and it's a 1900s style amusement park for children. You can chill at the Centerville which is located on the largest island, Centre. From Frisbee golf and biking to kayaking and swimming, there are recreational opportunities available for visitors here. They are the only islands in this part of Lake Ontario and they're situated a ferry ride away from Toronto proper.
- Toronto Zoo: Lying on the Rouge River about 40 kilometers northeast of the city center, the Tundra Trek; the Gorilla Rainforest, which features the Great Barrier Reef and polar bears are some of its major highlights. It has divisions in several sections and each represents a major region of the globe. You'll find orangutans, penguins, giraffes, tigers, lions, hippos, pygmy, and many more at this zoo. With approximately 5,000 animals, it boasts an outstanding and diverse collection. A splash pad offers fun in the sun during the summer months and the Discovery Zone is a popular area with families.
There are tons of things to do in Toronto. Regardless of the season you visit, you can always have fun and feel real good exploring both outdoors and indoors fun. You can wander along the beautiful waterfront and enjoy the beaches and parks in summer and as well see the connected attractions, entertainment, and shopping by exploring the extensive network of underground walkways as you head indoors during the winter. The city's public transit is available for you to use in covering longer distances and with all being good, most of the top attractions in the city are within walking distance of one another, and the city center is relatively easy to navigate.
Toronto still has more for you; with all set in incredibly restored buildings, there's alfresco dining and an array of unique shops and restaurants featured at the famous historic Distillery District plus fine dining experience and latest musicals featured at the vibrant Entertainment District. There's no shortage of things to do in Toronto and if you want to explore more beyond the city's limits, Niagara Falls is just a short drive away, and it's a very beautiful place you would love to see. From the offshore Toronto Islands and world-famous CN Tower to galleries and fine attractions, Toronto boasts a dynamic mix of tourist attractions and being a diverse city, the largest city in Canada, and the capital of Ontario, it offers way too much for visitors and locals to explore!
There are biking and hiking trails, outdoor theatre, ice rinks, conservatories, gardens, sports fields, playgrounds, public artwork, and beaches featured at some of the fabulous parks in Toronto. These parks have an amazing atmosphere with plenty of space to just lie in the grass. There are over 1,500 parks in Toronto and they cover about 8,000 hectares - no wonder Toronto is often referred to as a city within a park.
- Withrow Park: It becomes the perfect summer every August with series of performances and fun galore. From May to October every Saturday, it's home to a farmer’s market. When the weather’s fine, picnics, pumpkin parades, are hosted by the Friends of Withrow Park and in the winter, there are caroling parties and skating for people to enjoy. The park is home to a wading pool, children’s play areas, a dog park, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, a sports field, and baseball diamonds. It's a whopping eight hectares; a weekend must for the neighbors, and a hidden gem for newcomers. It's south of Danforth Avenue and it's right between Carlaw and Logan in Riverdale.
- Brick Works Park: It features the delicious Café Belong, retail shops, regular events schedule, and a year-round weekend farmer’s market. It's an award-winning community environmental center and it's directly north of the fabulous Evergreen Brick Works. It evolved to a nature sanctuary from a quarry site and it's home to many species, steep cliff faces, forest habitats, wildflower meadows, and wetlands. It's one of the most valued natural environment parks in the city and it showcases the city's immense contributions to healthy and diverse ecosystems. Brick Works Park is situated in the Don Valley.
- High Park: It has a mini-zoo, picnic areas, greenhouses, restaurants, playgrounds, dog park, beautiful lakefront, sports facilities, hiking trails, and cherry blossoms. It has an incredible concentration of rare plant species, it houses a massive number of options for nature lovers, and it's the largest public park in Toronto.
Toronto thrives with lots of attractions available for all to explore. Whether you're living in Toronto or in the midst of a getaway, Toronto is loaded up with fun and fascinating activities, and national parks are available in and around the city to check out;
- Rouge National Urban Park: Offering northern joys of fishing, swimming, canoeing, camping, and hiking, it's just a stone throw from downtown and it's the outdoorsy city person’s dream. It's loved by many and famous for being Canada’s first national urban park and there are guided outings and events hosted by Parks Canada here. This park is regarded to be one of Toronto’s best-kept secrets.
- Toronto Island Park: The opportunities for fun here are massive and endless! With follow-up relaxation on a licensed patio, there are bike and boat rentals for visitors to enjoy. It offers plenty to do from pedestrian and cyclist trails and Far Enough Farm to the Franklin Children’s Garden and Centreville Amusements. It has awesome options for spring or summer dates and it's family-friendly. The island provides a parkland paradise and you'll feel immersed in over 600 acres of beauty on Toronto Island. It's just a short ferry trip away. It's roughly 5 km in length and it's a gathering of 15 islands associated with pathways and extensions. It's 13 minutes ship ride away from downtown Toronto, it's situated in Lake Ontario, and it's an amazing national park in the Toronto area.
- Thousand Islands National Park: Richly filled with fauna, you can be lucky to spot turtles and other uncommon wild animals here. You can see yourself crossing the entire river if you jump from island to island and you can as well enjoy soaking yourself to take to the water for most of the places in these parks are accessible only by boat. The beautiful stone carvings on the mountains here are stunning. The river is home to 21 legitimate islands and islets and, surely, you’ll fall in love with the beauty of this park irrespective of the fact that it may be the smallest national park in Canada.
There’s a beach to suit your needs in this city of Toronto; whether you just want to relax by the water, kayak, do some canoeing, play beach volleyball, or swim. Toronto is home to several stretches of sand and here are some of the nice beaches you'll find around;
- Woodbine Beach: Offering a bathing station with showers, water bottle filling station change rooms, and a patio, it as well features beach volleyball courts, outdoor fitness equipment, playground, Donald D. Summerville Outdoor Olympic Pool, Martin Goodman trails, and offers access to the Ashbridges Bay. It has a wide, sandy waterfront ideal for swimming and you can have some serious fun in the sun with its three kilometers of shoreline. It's a popular east end stretch of sand and it's situated next to Kew-Balmy Beach.
- Ward’s Island Beach: With a short walk from the beach, you can get to the Island Cafe and the Rectory Café - especially on days when you've had enough sand and sun. It has a disc golf course nearby, beach volleyball fans can have some fun games with the volleyball net, and swimmers can enjoy swimming in the water which is mostly calm and shallow. This beach tends to be a bit quieter because it's a more residential area and it's set away from most of the action of other parts of the island. On the southeastern shore of Toronto Island Park, you can find this scenic beach and get there with a short ferry ride from downtown Toronto.
- Rouge Beach: Within Rough National Urban Park, you'll find ample campsites; should you feel like passing the night for some extended beach time. Some of its facilities include an outdoor volleyball court, washrooms, change rooms, and a bike trail. On the Rouge River, you can fish or canoe. The marshes at Rouge Beach are good for wildlife viewing and this justifies that there's more it offers beyond swimming and sunbathing. This beach is a place you can trust if you seek a place where you can escape from the city's hustle and bustle. It's at the east end of Lawrence Avenue and situated at the mouth of the Rouge River.
- Marie Curtis Beach Park: It has a wading pool and a playground for the younger ones. There's an off-leash dog area, picnic spots, and visitors can also make use of walking trails, aside from its swimming opportunities. It's at the farthest southwest corner of Toronto and it's a great place to chill, relax, and unwind for west end beach-goers.
It's almost impossible to talk about landmarks in Toronto without talking about CN Tower. It's a signature icon of Toronto's skyline and it has an excellent view of the city. On an annual basis, it receives over two million international visitors as it's a perfect representation of Toronto's skyline. It's the world's ninth tallest free-standing historical attraction and it offers an experience you shouldn't miss out on.
Spadina Museum is another popular landmark in Toronto that's worth checking out. The tours here are exceptional and they'll enrich your knowledge more. The museum itself is beautiful and it has a sunroom that is often used for a small, intimate wedding. You can enjoy the serene gardens or learn some of Toronto's history here. It's one of the traditional museums in the city, Children under five years enjoy free admission here, and the guide here is astonishingly informative, professional, and theatrical plus the modern styles of the 1860s through the 1930s are represented by its elegant architecture, decor, and art.
There are still lots of nice landmarks around the city and you could also probably check out the Gooderham Building if you don't mind. The building is the focal point of one of Toronto's most iconic vistas. It's popular for the mural on its back wall, its narrow wedge shape, and it's a historic office. People who desire to see other beautiful perspectives of the city come here and it's a special spot for photographers, Torontonians, and tourists. Its downstairs houses the Flatiron & Firkin pub and the building now serves as office space.
Toronto is a hotbed of culture and here are some of the finest museums you'll find in the city;
- The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO): It was designed by Frank Gehry and it experienced a major expansion in 2008. It has also grown to be an architectural gem which means that it's not all that's inside it alone that counts. At this museum, anything you lay your eyes on is sure to inspire you as its collection spans close to 95,000 works. It's one of the largest art museums in North America and it's a must-see in Toronto.
- Bata Shoe Museum: If learning about the role of footwear in society throughout history pumps some excitement in you, do well to drop by here one of these days. Here, you'll be opportune to see the evolution of footwear and you'll gain more one-of-a-kind insight and experience about what you put on your feet. It showcases over 4,500 years of history with its fine floors and collection that comprises over 13,000 pieces. There are thousands of shoes and related artifacts on display at this museum that focuses on the history of footwear. Undoubtedly, it's a unique museum.
- The Textile Museum of Canada (TMC): Keeping things simply fresh and making all worthwhile for continuous visitation by visitors is something it does well with the guest curators and touring exhibitions it hosts and that's not all, it also rotates exhibitions throughout the year. If you care to get apprised of the cultural and societal significance of textiles and as well have a grasp of its history, here's where you should be. Featuring all from quilts and carpets to garments, ceremonial clothes, and fabrics, it has a nice permanent collection. It's as well home to thousands of artifacts that cover 2,000 years of textiles from 200 regions of the world. The permanent collection here spans almost 2,000 years and it's a one-of-a-kind museum.
- Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCA): Although the first floor is always free and open to the public, there's a price to pay if you desire to explore the entire space. It features the work of both Canadian and internationally-renowned artists in its three phases of exhibitions. It has smaller program spaces and two main exhibition floors encompassed in its 55,000 square feet of gallery space between five floors. It used to be known as MOCCA with the additional "C" standing for "Canadian" before its name was changed to MOCA which it's now officially referred to.
In the whole of Canada generally, Poutine is considered to be the most popular dish and while Toronto doesn't have plenty of dishes with high popularity, its delicious Poutine which consists of gravy, cheese curds, and fries still maintains its popularity. Maple Syrup and Butter Tarts are the other popular food in the city. Toronto has authentic cuisine from most of the cultural and ethnic groups in the world as it's one of the most multicultural cities in the world. It's regarded to be one of North America's top food cities and it's not just home to Little Italy but Little Portugal, Little Iran, a Greektown, Koreatown, and Chinatown.
There are independent coffee shops and Eastern European eateries at the Roncesvalles Village and you can enjoy top-notch Indian and Middle Eastern fare at the Bazaar neighborhood. Good food isn't hard to come by in this city, irrespective of whenever you visit, or no matter which area of town you choose to visit. The Kensington Market and St. Lawrence Market are the two major hotspots for food in Toronto. St. Lawrence especially offers residents and locals like a sumptuous mix of international dishes and Canadian classics and this doesn't erase the fact that there are tons of awesome restaurants you'll find all over the city from Danforth Avenue and Around King and Bathurst Street to Spadina Avenue, Little Italy, and Roncesvalles.
Traditional Local Restaurants
There's no shortage of traditional local restaurants in Toronto and here are some of the nice ones you'll find around:
- Chinese Traditional Buns
- Sorento Restaurant - Italian & Mediterranean Cuisine
- Pho Tien Thanh
- Nami Japanese Restaurant
- Karahi Point North York
- Miku Toronto
Vegetarian and Vegan
Toronto is known for being a culinary powerhouse with barbecued fake meats, plant-based fried chicken, delicious vegan pizzas, and many more dishes at its several incredible vegan and vegetarian restaurants.
- Apiecalypse Now Pizza and Snack Bar: Offering a daily selection of vegan donuts and pizza, it's a vegan pizzeria and snack food bar. It's the second outlet of the owner and it was opened in the year 2015.
- Tori's Bakeshop - The Beach: Savory pizza pockets, sandwiches, and daily soup are some of its savory items. Espresso drinks are made with soymilk and there are baked treats offered at this organic and gluten-free vegan bakery.
- Good Grains: Most of its items are gluten-free and many are nut-free. Customers can take home its frozen items and there are hot and cold mains, salads, freshly prepared soups, and many more served at this all-vegan, internationally-themed healthy restaurant.
- Bloomer's: The kitchen closes at 3 pm and it has seating inside. Grain bowls, poutine, and several kinds of sandwiches are some of what it offers on its expanded menu. Donuts, pies, cupcakes, cookies, and unbutter tarts are some of the variety of vegan baked goods you can enjoy here. It started its operation a couple of recent years ago and this brick-and-mortar bakery cafe is operated by a vegan baking company.
- Fresh on Front: It has several branches in Toronto and some of its items include matcha latte, soymilk, green goddess brown rice bowl, vegan burger, falafel salad, poutine, and tempeh reuben sandwich. There's an array of weekend brunch, soup of the day, bowls, burgers, wraps, multi-layered salads, and starters offered on its menu. It's a natural food restaurant.
Showcasing the validation that the best eats aren’t just found behind restaurant doors, the food trucks and food festivals throughout the city have experienced immense growth and enjoyed reception from many, despite the fact that they've had their share of bureaucratic controversy over the years. The street food scene in Toronto is thriving.
Food trucks are situated in different parts of the city and they offer way beyond street meat. The roaming Smoke’s Poutinerie truck has three in-house locations where you can enjoy cheese curds, an artery-clogging concoction of fries, and a minimum of fifteen varieties of poutine. It's a good spot to check out if you crave something quintessentially Canadian. During the day and at night, check out many street corners in the downtown area, and you'll find lots of hot dog vendors there. Downtown is where you'll find quite a number of food trucks and some of the hotspots in the area are Roundhouse Park by the Rogers Centre and Yonge and Bloor. Some of the best street food shops you'll find in Toronto include;
- Fidel Gastros
- Churros Ricos Churros
- Hot Bunzz Street Cuizine
- Kanto by Tita Flips
- Feed it Forward
- Gushi Japanese Street Food
- The Eggman
Through the sampling of delicious cuisines, the food fest in the city is geared towards celebrating and highlighting the cultural diversity in the city. TO Food Fest, the Panamerican Food Fest, Caribana, and Taste of Asia during the last weekend of June are some of the summer festivals that feature Toronto's best street food. More so, all the best and most beloved street food in Toronto are gathered all in one spot during the Toronto Food Truck Festival and there are as well other locations around the Greater Toronto Area where you can have a taste of this festival if you miss the Toronto edition.
The largest street festival in Canada which welcomes about 1.65 million attendees every year is the Greek-themed Taste of the Danforth and it features delicious pop-up-style food vendors. There are neighborhood-specific festivals you'll find in Toronto throughout the summer and fall and there are still a couple of other festivals such as the Toronto Ukrainian Festival in Bloor West Village and the Taste of the Kingsway which is situated in Toronto's west end.
One of the things about the locals in this city is their love for coffee. Cafes are a very common occurrence around the city and Canadians generally are known for their love for coffee which seems to show that there's no other country that comes close to Canada in terms of drinking coffee. Toronto also has a strong coffee culture and the city is littered with an array of coffee shops, and if you'll be going out for a caffeine fix, a classic Canadian brand we'll recommend you try out is Tim Hortons.
In addition, Toronto has a strong bar/pub/club culture as well. As it's a huge cosmopolitan city, the locals here love to bar hop for pints and food, and places like Ossington and the Entertainment District in particular are where you'll meet people who crave a blissful night of dancing and good drinks.
In accordance with Canadian standards, the tap water in Toronto is safe to drink. Nevertheless, there are still a few bothering issues surrounding the city's tap water and this is the tendency of it smelling and tasting terrible due to the chlorine. While this doesn't pose any danger whatsoever, water filtration is recommended for those who will be drinking from home as this will ensure protection against under-regulated potential contaminants, extinguish bad smell, and eliminate bad taste.
Quick Fact — The introduction of chlorine to tap water to kill viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens was first made by Toronto.
Toronto tap water comes exclusively from Lake Ontario.
Switching to healthy, sustainable food choices has been made easy with the plenty of organic cafes in the city;
- Cafe Belong: Diners can enjoy its free shuttle pick-up just north of Broadview subway station. It prioritizes sourcing the highest quality ingredients and its menus change seasonally. Before you indulge in a fully organic meal here, you can choose to get yourself apprised with a thing or two about sustainable harvesting techniques. Within its four walls, it encourages community and good food, and it offers Canada’s first large eco-conscious space.
- The Beet Organic Cafe: It supports local farmers, uses biodegradable packaging, it has a sustainable interior design, and offers weekend brunch. Its menu is around 70%+ vegetarian/vegan and it's vegan and wheat-free labeled. A homeopathic doctor and a certified nutritionist are the brains behind its designed menu and you can enjoy being served meat, vegan options here.
- Farm’r Eatery and Catering: You can watch the chefs at the food prep station as you relax at the bright, industrial space with a cold brew if you have time to spare on your lunch hour. Customers are at the liberty to select their main and two sides, with gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan available. Ontario suppliers sourced and carefully selected the organic food served at this farm-to-table eatery situated right beside St. Lawrence Market. It's the premier restaurant in the city offering a reusable take-out container program and it's a leader in sustainable practices.
The Toronto beer scene is booming — all thanks to these breweries. Beer lovers in Toronto will be glad to hear that on a monthly basis, there are new breweries opening up and this is a proof of the serious craft beer boom the city is experiencing. The plentiful craft breweries are open to you to go catch a taste of flight of beer as you grab a seat, or perhaps take some beer home to enjoy on your own and savor the flavor, creativity, and serious variety of these brews. Whether you’re into stouts, pilsners, lagers, IPAs, or all in between, Toronto's breweries have got you covered.
- Bellwoods Brewery: With melon notes, refreshing citrus, and low bitterness, the highly-drinkable Jutsu which is made of a blend of two different yeasts is worth trying out. This American pale ale is the best here and you should try out if you're here. This brewery uses wild yeast and bacteria with its focus on farmhouse ale in recent years. Offering all from hoppy, fruity pale ales to imperial stouts for its lovingly handcrafted beers, it has grown into an empire with bottle shops, retail stores, and breweries. Since it started its operation in 2012, it's been using fairy lights, chic pub food, and killer beer to entice the Ossington hipsters. It's 12 minutes from downtown.
- Tiny Halo Brewery: Here, you can get an idea of what you’re drinking for all the beer recipes are listed on the site - a unique twist. Committed to doing more to create beers you might not find anywhere else, this brewery has unique flavor combinations that makes it gather love from beer lovers. Beer-drinking city dwellers do crowd this brewery for its creative beers. The owners of this brewery are Callum Hay and Eric Portelance and you can get more aside from beers here as there are a few snacks, like soft pretzels and scones available to be munched. This brewery is tucked away on Wallace Ave.
- Blood Brothers: With the aim that visitors can sip beers overlooking the nearby park, they swing open the garage door, and in the summer, the taproom itself is a prime spot to hang out. You can try out its Blood in Public or the farmhouse ale aged in Chardonnay barrels; the Abattoir. Brewed with pineapples, mangoes, and carrots, the Paradise Lost is a sour ale that's also worth a try and you can always enjoy its North-Eastern styles of IPA and the Shumei IPA blends West Coast on its beer menus. This brewery is run by a pair of brothers and it began its operation since 2015.
There are lots of things to do outdoors in Toronto. In the spirit of all that is good and fun, here are some of the rejuvenating activities you can indulge in outdoors in Toronto;
- Edge Walk at the CN Tower
- Go to an Outdoor Movie Screening
- Open Roof Festival
- Christie Pits Film Festival
- Toronto Outdoor Picture Show.
- Attend a Music Festival
- Go on a wine tour
- Go GO-KARTING
- 401 Mini-Indy
- Canada’s Wonderland
- Bike through Toronto Island
- Go Kayaking/Canoeing
- Harbourfront Canoe & Kayak Centre
- Check Out Kensington Market Pedestrian Sunday
- Check Out a Petting Zoo
- Riverdale Park
- High Park petting zoo
- Pingles Farm Market
- Forsythe Family Farms
- Lionel’s Farm
Even during the winter, the fun never stops as tons of fun outdoor activities await you;
- Enjoy Midnight Skating at Harbourfront
- Snowshoe Across the Winter Terrain
- Take In Some Ice Sculptures
- Take a Ride With a Fat-Tyre Bike
- Visit a Winter Farmers' Market
- Hike Along a Snowy Trail
- Take a Toboggan Ride
- Do some major ice climbing
Yoga and Retreats
Get ready for a yoga adventure of a lifetime as you reserve yourself a spot on a yoga retreat in Toronto. Immersing yourself in yoga practices has been made easy with the plenty of retreat centers and yoga opportunities teeming in different parts of the city. Toronto itself is a perfect place for your next yoga retreat as it's a dynamic and exciting city blessed with places like Laya Spa and Yoga, Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre, and Toronto Island Yoga Centre you can hit up for some nice yoga to clear your mind and ease your stress.
Accommodation options are rife in Toronto and you should be able to find a hotel that suits your needs irrespective of what your accommodation budget looks like. Ritz-Carleton Toronto, Shangri-La Hotel Toronto, and Fairmont Royal York Restaurant some of the several high-end hotels you'll find in downtown. More so, in the city's east and west end areas, there are tons of mid-range and boutique hotels you can select from and even downtown still has a good share of these hotels too. Queen West is another good area you can as well make your home base. Home to the famous chic Thompson Hotel with a rooftop pool, it's also famed for hosting the Drake Hotel which is pretty awesome for couples and solo travelers, and the area itself is bustling with live music venues, shops, restaurants, and bars.
Chelsea Hotel Toronto is one of the fine green hotels you'll find in Toronto. With the goal of upholding its corporate social and sustainability responsibility, it partners with numerous organizations like Eco Resource Management, Inc., and EarthCheck. Guests are to use water-saving showerheads and low-flow toilets as their quota of partaking in its green initiative and it dubs itself as an eco-friendly accommodation.
Pantages Hotel Toronto Centre is another nice green hotel you'll find in Toronto. It reaches out to the community, manages solid and hazardous waste properly, reduces its energy consumption, and conserves water. Through various measures, it has expressed its commitment to contributing to the environment and it's a part of the Silver Hotel Group.
Hostels and Guest Houses
Some of the nice hostels and guest houses in Toronto include;
- Toronto Travellers Home
- The Only Backpacker's Inn
- The Parkdale Hostellerie
- The Planet Traveler Hostel
- Chinatown Travellers Home
- Kensington College Backpackers Hostel
- Two Peas Variety
- Home in downtown
Securing an apartment in Toronto is actually not a big deal but if you want to be convenient going around the city, it's advisable to stay close to a Subway or Street Car stop and fairly central in Toronto. There are also Airbnb rentals, cheap hostels, and mid-range hotels in the city and there are lots of apartments you'll find on Airbnb and Booking.com too.
Toronto is a multicultural city and you're likely to find a host for couchsurfing.
In Toronto, you can enjoy camping at some of these places;
- Hideaway Park
- Rouge National Urban Park
- R.V. Burgess Park
- Olympia Park
- DiscoveryLand Camp Toronto Office
- Cherry Beach Clarke Beach Park
How to Get There
Getting into Toronto is in no way complicated. If you have the option of taking the train – you can use the GO regional Ontario train or the ViaRail. You can as well take the bus or drive in. However, there’s a good chance that you will be flying in if you'll be visiting the city from far away and you can choose to fly into either Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport or Pearson International Airport which are the city's two main airports often used by passengers.
As earlier noted, there are two major international airports serving Toronto.
- Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) is roughly 30-minutes by car from downtown and it's the busiest and largest airport in Canada. However, you can always make use of a few tips to travel from the airport but before that, do well to leave extra time for security lines and traffic.
- Take TTC public transportation. Although it requires multiple transfers, it's still your cheapest option.
- Use the UP Express for a 25-minute train ride to Union Station.
- Hail a taxi, limousine, or rideshare service.
- Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ) is the other airport serving the city and it's less busier compared to Toronto Pearson. From this airport, you can;
- Hail a taxi, limousine, and rideshare service
- Hop on the TTC 511 Bathurst streetcar or the 509 Harbourfront.
- Take the complimentary express shuttle bus from Union Station.
- Walk the pedestrian tunnel from the foot of Bathurst Street.
- Go for the world’s shortest ferry ride.
Ontario Northland, New York Trailways, Coach Canada, and Greyhound are served by the Metro Toronto Coach Terminal also known as Bay Street Terminal which is the main bus terminal in Toronto and it functions for intercity coach travel purpose.
There's as well commuter transit network in the Greater Toronto Area operated by GO Transit.
Regarded as one of the grandest, most impressive train stations in North America, the Union Station in Toronto is where all scheduled passenger trains in Toronto run in and out of.
Hitchhiking in Ontario is illegal on all 400 series highways.
Close-by visitors can travel by car to the city using the major highways such as the 427, the 400, the 401, the 404, and the QEW that lead into Toronto.
Operating extensive routes throughout the city and suburbs with its three modes; bus, streetcar, and subway, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) which is the city's public transportation system is the best way to get around Toronto. Nevertheless, even though TTC is quite efficient, it has the tendency of getting overcrowded, and this is one of its downsides. On the other hand, you can still enjoy unlimited rides on all three forms of public transport with a day or week passes, and this is to tell you that to travel on this TTC, you'll need a pass or a token.
One of the interesting things about Toronto is that it's quite walkable. All the things that catch your attention such as sports venues, waterfront, museums, and Downtown are within a walking distance of one another. Truthfully, it's only when you desire to get out and explore the suburbs that the need for a car will beckon to you but on a normal day when the weather is pretty supportive, walking is ideal. Although walking in the city is safe, you might also want to take precautions because you might even get a fine for jaywalking. So, do well to follow the pedestrian signals and whenever you're crossing the roads, watch out for bikes and streetcars. If you'll be walking at night, be careful of the areas you're in. But the chances are high that there will be some other people around and you'll feel safer if you stick to Ossington, Queen Street, or the Entertainment District.
Bicycling is an enjoyable activity in Toronto and with all made good already, the Toronto Bike Share offers an opportunity for people to travel around the city with its public bikes that are available for hire.
There's a possibility of renting an electronic vehicle at one of the car rentals you'll find around.
Toronto has buses and streetcars that are serving the public. Some of the streetcar lines have dedicated lanes to make them faster but still, during rush-hours, these buses and streetcars are liable to get caught in the notorious traffic in the city.
Tram, Train and Subway
GO Transit connects Toronto to its surrounding areas via its trains which are large and comfortable and it charges fares by distance.
Eco-friendly stores are plentiful in Toronto and if you like ethical, sustainable, fair and eco-friendly shopping, you can hit up any of these places to shop sustainably;
- Chartreuse Style
- Logan & Finley
- Brave Soles
Toronto’s culinary scene is booming and you're indeed in luck whether you crave street food, veggies, cheese, or fish.
- St. Lawrence Market
- Dufferin Grove Farmers Market
- Leslieville Farmers Market
- Evergreen Brick Works
- The Stop's Farmers Market at Artscape Wychwood Barns
Whether you're looking for handcrafted jewelry, antiques, home décor, vintage goods, electronics, housewares, or clothing, shopping at flea markets does give some thrill, and these flea markets have their respective style and flair.
- Dr. Flea’s Flea Market
- Leslieville Flea
- Merchant’s Flea Market.
- Downsview Park Merchants Market
- Parkdale Flea
- Toronto Weston Flea Market
Second Hand Stores
Thrift stores in Toronto offer budget-friendly stuff and they're less curated than vintage clothing shops, their pricier counterparts.
- Double Take
- Just Thrift
- Lori's Locker
- Pegasus Thrift Store
- Designer Fragrances Depot
- St. John’s Thrift Store
- National Thrift
Ethical fashion shops are rife in Toronto and some of the nice ones you'll find around are;
- Frank and Oak
- Coal Miner’s Daughter
- H Project at Holt Renfrew
- Birds of North America
Through Toronto's blue bin program, the city manages about 180,000 tonnes of recyclables every year and some of what it accepts in its blue bin include;
- Foam polystyrene
- Soft, stretchy plastics
The City of Toronto offers garbage and recycling pick-ups every other week and residents can as well dispose their waste at the drop-off depots.
Work and Study Abroad
Toronto has always been a hotspot for work and study abroad and it's one of the factors that did facilitate it to be the multicultural city it is today.
The exchange Student program is quite common in some of the higher institutions of learning in the city.
While au pair may not be that widespread in Toronto, there are still possibilities for au pairs looking for opportunities in Toronto.
Volunteering opportunities abound in Toronto and some of the organizations you can volunteer for in the city include;
- The Daily Bread Food Bank
- Friendly Neighbour Hotline
- Kids Help Phone
- Grocery Hero
- PPE for HCPs Toronto