Your Trip to Toronto: The Complete Guide

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Toronto as a city is comparable to U.S. counterparts, like Chicago or New York in that all are big, lively, and multicultural with lots to offer visitors. Toronto is Canada's largest city and the country's financial centre. Although not the national capital, Toronto is the Ontario provincial capital and probably the best-known city in Canada, in large part due to the Toronto International Film Festival and its popularity as a theatre destination.

Toronto is a city with a rich heritage but has grown to include diverse, ethnic regions that thrive in the heart of the city. The contrasting patchwork of neighbourhoods, from Little Italy to funky and eclectic Kensington, is one of Toronto's most compelling traits. 

Location

Toronto is in the south-central part of the province of Ontario, sitting at the tip of Lake Ontario, the most eastern of the Great Lakes. Toronto's latitude is in fact just north of that of northern California.

  • Toronto is about a two and half hour drive north of Buffalo.
  • Toronto is about a eight to nine hour drive northeast of Chicago.
  • Toronto is about a six hour drive west of Montreal.

Getting There

By Air:

    By Train:

    • VIA Rail and AMTRAK (station TWO) go to Toronto's Union Station in downtown Toronto

    By Bus:

    Toronto Weather & Climate / When to Visit

    Toronto has four distinct seasons, with the height of summer being muggy and hot and winter months cold and snowy. Springtime is warm and lovely and fall is also popular due to comfortable temperatures and spectacular fall foliage.

    Summer is by far the busiest time for Toronto tourism, drawing thousands of people to enjoy the city when it's warm and festival season is in full swing. But with the heat and hoopla come with higher travel and accommodation rates. As with any big city, if you have flexibility with your dates, you can find great deals (like in November or early June). 

    Be sure to check the Canadian holidays calendar to see if your travel time coincides with a holiday in Canada. 

    Top Things to Do in Toronto

    From museums to waterfront activities and of course the CN Tower, Toronto has a wide range of activities and attractions for visitors:

    Include some free things to do in Toronto and keep the budget in check.

    Where to Stay in Toronto

    Toronto has a wide range of hotels to suit any budget. Be sure you know where your hotel is exactly because the city is large and spread out with a mediocre public transportation system. 

    Right downtown, which is where most of the major attractions are has dozens of hotels, from luxury to budget. And of course Airbnb and HomeAway are excellent vacation rental options. 

    Looking for luxury in Toronto? See the Top 10 Luxury Hotels in Toronto. On the other end of the spectrum are Toronto's Top Cheap Hotels.

    Where to Eat and Drink in Toronto

    Toronto has every type of cuisine for every price range, from high-end to outdoor tofu-dog stands.

    Multicultural offerings are easy to find and cuisines may be clustered by neighbourhood, such as Little Italy, Greek Town, Little Korea, to name just a few. 

    Restaurants with table service will add a 15% tax to your bill and a tip is expected on top of that. One handy way to remember how much to leave is at least "tip the tax."

    If you're looking for some lively evening action, the Entertainment District is a part of Toronto jammed with 20 somethings and bars but this combination can get rowdy and even violent as the evening goes on.

    One classic Toronto experience is to dine at the CN Tower's revolving restaurant over a thousand feet over the city. A reservation at 360 Restaurant gets you past the often long line up to get into Toronto's most popular attraction. 

    Shopping in Toronto

    Toronto has great shopping, from Queen Street vintage cool to Yorkville chic. Depending on exchange rates, you may find Toronto shopping a bargain, but don't forget about the 15% sales tax.

    The Hudson's Bay Company, Canada's oldest department store that encompasses a large part of the country's history, and the massive Eaton Centre anchor the shopping downtown but there are plenty of other interesting, international places to shop. 

    Toronto Events & Festivals

    • The Toronto International Film Festival has become one the premiere film festivals in the world and takes place in Toronto every September.
    • The Toronto Santa Claus Parade is the longest running children's parade and one of the overall largest parades in the world.
    • Caribana is a bright, tasty, colorful festival that celebrates Caribbean culture each summer.
    • The Toronto Gay Pride Parade is part of a weeklong festival that celebrates Toronto's Queer Communities.