Toronto Travel Guide

Toronto is Canada's biggest city and the most popular to visit.

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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. 

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    Jeffrey Coolidge / Getty Images

    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.
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    Toronto Attractions

    Toronto's CN Tower
    Keith Binns / Getty Images

    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.

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    Photo © Ritz-Carlton, 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.

    Other good hotel options include:

    • Grand Hotel & Suites is great value.
    • Delta Chelsea is a good choice for a wide range of travellers, from families to business people.
    • The Hilton Hotel Toronto is consistent with the high standards of the Hilton brand.
    • Toronto Airport Hotels
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    Streetscape and people on terrace, Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario
    Jean Heguy / Getty Images

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

    Because the culinary landscape is always changing, be sure to check out TripAdvisor or local publication Toronto Life for the most up to date recommendations. 

    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. 

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    Interior of Eaton Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Klaus Lang / Getty Images

    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. 

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    Toronto Events & Festivals

    Caribana Concert at Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto Ontario
    Alan Marsh / Getty Images
    • 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.
    • See a complete rundown of Toronto Calendar of Events.
  • 07 of 10

    Toronto Weather & Climate / When to Visit

    Photo courtesy Hanif Bayat Movahed

    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. 

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    Getting to Toronto

    Photo © Banko Photographic Ltd. / Design Pics / Getty Images

    By Air:

    By Train:

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

    By Bus:

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    Driving Directions

    Highway to Toronto
    Gwyn Photography / Getty Images

    Several highways, including 2, 401, 407 and the Queen Elizabeth Way, link surrounding cities to Toronto.

    The nearest Canada-U.S. border crossings are at Niagara Falls, Fort Erie and Windsor.

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    Close up of a Canadian Loonie
    Brian Hillier / Getty Images

    Visiting Toronto doesn't have to be expensive. In fact, even if you have oodles of money to spend when you visit Toronto, some of the most enjoyable things to do are free or almost free.