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Things To Do In Toronto, Ontario – A Complete Travel Guide

Tags: toronto
things to do toronto islands

Toronto is the biggest city in Canada and one of my favourite cities to spend time in. There are countless amazing things to do in Toronto, Ontario. It’s a city built around it’s countless ethnic neighbourhoods. A diverse city where you can find dancing, skating, biking, stand up paddleboarding, cruising the great lakes, or sampling the best food and drink in Canada. With such a large population, a superb metro system, Toronto is a great destination to spend a handful of days exploring. Though nobody will hold anything against you if you decide to explore for longer.

  • Budget things to do in Toronto
  • Free things to do in Toronto
  • Attractions in Toronto
  • Best food in Toronto
  • Drink in Toronto
  • Live Music in Toronto
  • Get Outside in Toronto
  • Hotels in Toronto
  • Hostels in Toronto

Budget Things To Do In Toronto

Explore the Islands

Escape the concrete jungle and head for a walk. Toronto Island Trail is a great option for a day of walking, biking, or just exploring the sights. Dogs are allowed on the trail but they have to be leashed. The islands around Toronto are the ancient leftovers from a sandbar that projects into Lake Ontario. According to historical records, a storm in the 1850’s severed the sandbar and caused the Eastern Gap east of Ward’s Island. Take the public ferries, and remember to snap some photos. There’s some great downtown views from the ferry, as well as the islands. The ferry runs about $7 to get to the islands, and is free to come back.

things to do toronto ontario cn tower

CN Tower

While it might be stretching the term “Budget Friendly”, if you’re after an amazing view you might find the $36 adult fee well worth it. The CN Tower can be a bit touristy, and the lines can get a bit unreal during the summer. If you’re short on time, I’d recommend skipping it. But if you’re after an amazing view, a glass floor, or potentially hanging off the side of it with the very creepy EdgeWalk ($226/ticket) it might be for you. CN Tower also has a restaurant at the top with great views.

501 Queen Streetcar

The longest streetcar line in North America, spanning a whopping 25km. This line is rated #1 trolley ride by National Georgraphic. The perfect way to kill a few hours and explore some of the different neighbourhoods in Toronto. Buy an unlimited day pass for $11.50, otherwise it’s $3.00 per ride.

Cheap Comedy

There are a ton of great comedy joints in Toronto. If you’re looking to keep things budget friendly, watch for the $5 shows. Consider checking out Chuckle Co. and Laugh Sabbath (Weds & Thurs) at Comedy Bar. It’s mostly up and comers and amateurs, but grab a beer and you’ll be surprised how often you’re slapping your knee.

Free things to do in Toronto

st lawurence market

Browse the St Lawrence Market

Pickup some local delicacies, or just browse the vendors for pastrami, cheese, and all sorts of tasty things. If you’re hunting for organic veg and other things, you should have some luck finding what you need here. Whether you need groceries or not it’s a great place to browse through for an hour. And it’s right near the Hockey Hall of Fame, so you might be able to squeeze it in as well.

Art Gallery of Ontario

Free on Wedsnesday After 6pm

Take in a quick tour of the exhibits at the Art Gallery of Ontario on Wednesday nights and save a bit of money. Can’t beat the price, and the works they get can be pretty wild, whether you’re into the art scene ornot.

Cherry Blossoms in High Park

Do you have dreams of Tokyo? Capture some sweet instagrams of Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) in High Park during Spring. If you’re stealthy enough you might even be able to pull off a Hanami (Drinking Picnic) in the park. Just be sure to pour your sake into water bottles. Kanpai! The park is beautiful year round but most popular during cherry blossom season.

Rush Lane / Graffiti Alley

Almost a kilometre of graffiti and street art, totally free. On a warm summer day you might see someone working on a piece. Hop off from the 501 Queen Streetcar (way above) and check it out.

bata-shoe-museum

Free Days at Bata Shoe Museum

You know shoes right? Those things you wear on your feet. Well Toronto has one of the most strange but interesting museums that focus on just that. Shoes. Different styles from all over the world. They show you a bit of the history of humanity through the items we wear on our feet. From balet shoes, to astronaut boots, to mucklucks, sneakers, Air Jordans, and more. If you don’t see any free days coming up on their website, pay the admission. It’s worth it in my opinion if you’re into human civilization and shoes.

Watch The Skaters

If you’re into skateboarding, or just like seeing people do things on a piece of wood that boggle your mind, head down to the skatepark at Dundas and Bathurst. You’ll catch a pack of skaters hitting ledges and rails. You might even catch bigger names warming up there before hitting the streets.

Humber River Path To The Lake

One of the comments I’ve heard from backpackers in Toronto is that they have a tough time with the lack of parks downtown. There is greenery, you just have to know where to look. Take the 79B bus from Runnymede Station all the way up to Eglington. Head into the Humber River Path just southeast of the big intersection and you’ll have about 2 hours of biking away from cars, and away from crowds. The path is paved all the way there

Attractions in Toronto

NHL Hockey game

While tickets can be on the higher end for some travellers, if you’ve never seen a pro hockey game you should. While the Toronto Maple Leafs might be the butt of a lot of jokes, especially from neighbouring Montreal. It’s a great chance to drink some expensive beer, potentially see a scrap on ice, and watch the fastest sport created.
toronto blue jays things to do

MLB Baseball Game

Up until recently many people would have told you to skip the Blue Jays. However, they had a pretty decent season the last couple of years, and the city has began getting behind the Jays again. Which means loud cheers, hot dogs, and a chill day. Make sure you bring sunscreen, ball games are long and the sun loves to cook people in the stands.
things to do toronto

Visit Canada’s Wonderland

If you’re into rides, and the whole fair experience, a trip to Canada’s Wonderland should be added to your list. It’s a great option for kids, though can be a bit expensive if you’re planning on doing all of the rides, plus food. Worth a half day at most but it’s a good option on a warm(ish) day.
things to do regina science centre

Ontario Science Center

A great option for the kids, the Ontario Science Center is one of the biggest in Canada. They have day camps as well, so if you’re keen to ditch your kids, there’s an option! Or if you’re more of the hands-on parent there are a ton of science exhibits to check out.
toronto things to do niagara falls

Niagara Falls

While it’s about an hour and a half drive from Toronto, and can be a bit touristy. And by a bit, I mean very. But it’s a sight to be seen, so if you’re into water falls, it’s worth a day trip. There are tours and bus trips as well which you can book from Toronto. If you’re in a hostel talk to reception and they can set you up with one. If you’re looking for a spook, consider checking out some of the “haunted destinations”. For more information on those check out: Haunted Canada: the Scariest Places North of the Niagara

Browse the St Lawrence Market

Pickup some local delicacies, or just browse the vendors for pastrami, cheese, and all sorts of tasty things. If you’re hunting for organic veg and other things, you should have some luck finding what you need here. Whether you need groceries or not it’s a great place to browse through for an hour. And it’s right near the Hockey Hall of Fame, so you might be able to squeeze it in as well.
toronto rom

Visit the ROM – Royal Ontario Museum

While the museum is amazing and houses some of world famous Canadian art pieces. Personally I just went because the building looks like something out of a sci-fi movie. It’s one of the most unique buildings I’ve ever explored. The arts great too, but man, those ceilings and walkways are mind boggling.
Segway Ontario Distillery District

Segway Tours

One of my favourite tours in Toronto is the Segway Tours in the Distillery Market. You learn about the history of the Distillery Market and Toronto in general, all while cruising like a big dork on a segway. During my tour we got to stop at a little local chocolate maker, sampled some drinks, and got to practice our steering on a Segway.
kensington market

Kensington Market

Kengington Market is a people watcher’s neighbourhood. It’s loud, it’s weird, it’s quirky. There’s a ton of small restaurants, a few patios, cafes, dispensaries, and street markets. On the last Sunday of every month in the summer and fall the street shuts down for cars. Pedestrian days are definitely worth checking out.

Stanley Cup in Hockey Hall of Fame

Hockey Hall of Fame

Whether you’re a hockey fan or just curious about Canada’s biggest fascination, the Hockey Hall of Fame will give you the low down on the greatest players, the greatest teams, and if you plan your trip out right you might even get to see the Stanley Cup.

things to do toronto festival

Check out a Toronto Festival

When bands tour in Canada they almost always include Toronto on their tour list. On top of that, Toronto has a ton of festivals going on. Taste of Asia, a superb intro to Asian cuisine. Head to Toronto Fringe, which includes comedy, one act plays, and indie theatre. Head Pedestrian Sundays at Kensington Market during the summer months when cars are booted out and are replaced with vendors, street food, performers, music, art fair, and more. Don’t forget to check out Taste of Toronto, and Afrofest. If you’re a beer lover, check out Toronto’s Festival of Beer, or the Hart House Craft Beer Festival.

If you’re into EDM check out Veld Music Festival. There are way too many to name, but chances are if you visit the Tourism Toronto website you’ll find a detailed list of what’s going on when. Needless to say you won’t have a hard time finding one while you’re in Toronto.

Best food in Toronto

hogtown toronto

Eat Pork Because Hogtown

One of the nicknames for Toronto is “Hogtown”, which comes from the old days when there were pig processing plants all over the city. If you’re a meat-eater and lover of all things pork there are countless great restaurants in Toronto with tasty pork dishes.

Pop into the St Lawrence Market and grab a Peameal Bacon Sandwich from Carousel Bakery Ltd. Or grab a delicious Porchetta sandwich from Porchetta & Co. Don’t forget about Hogtown Smoke for BBQ or Pig Out BBQ for tasty ribs and brisket.

Pizza at Mangia et Bevi

Sort of a hidden gem in Toronto, you might walk by it if you’re not looking for it. Mangia et Bevi is located on Ontario St, between King & Adelaide. They do a beautiful pizza. The kind you’ll be talking about for a few days and wondering how long until it’s socially appropriate to go back for more.

Drink in Toronto

One of the perks of being in a city with a good public transit system is the ability to have a day beer, a desert drink, or just to cut loose and sample the local craft breweries without having to worry about your car. Hop on a street car or take the subway to your next destination and enjoy the fun that can be had in Toronto.
brewery tour

Steam Whistle Brewery Tour

Steam Whistle produces some tasty craft ales, and their tour allows for a personal “How it’s made” episode, specific to their brewing process. It’s a great way to learn about beer. The tour is only about 30 minutes but ends in their sampling room where you can hang out and what’s on tap.

toronto microbrew things to do

Visit Toronto Microbreweries

Toronto has a bunch of awesome local microbreweries that highlight the skills of Canadian craft brewers. Visit Brandit Brewery, a hip open concept space. Don’t forget to try their beer-battered cheese curds. After finishing up there make the trek to Bellwoods Brewery, one of the most popular microbreweries in toronto. Wait times can be long so it’s best to do this after you’ve had one or two before hand. If waiting sounds hellish, head to Indie Ale House, which serves a tasty IPA, and a great little pub menu.

Shout outs to Blood Brothers Brewing, Junction Craft Brewing, Left Field Brewery, Henderson Brewing Company, Halo Brewery, and Mill Street Brewery.

Pub Trivia Night

With so many pubs spread out around downtown Toronto, you’re never far from a good game of pub trivia. Redditor /u/atomicbolt designed the simple map you see above showcase which pubs in Toronto are hosting trivia each night of the week. It’s a few years old so you may want to confirm before locking in plans. I hear great things about the Seinfeld Trivia and Simpsons Trivia, but show up at least 1.5 hours early to ensure you get a table.

Visit Pubs With Great Beer Selection

If you’re like me, you try to find the places that serve local and international microbrews. Toronto is filled with these types of pubs. Check out Smokeless Joes, C’est What, Sin & Redemption, Bier Markt, and Bar Volo. Expect to pay a bit more for the fancy beers and imports, but the extra couple bucks here and there is worth it for getting to try some unique beer.

Distillery District

This historical part of Toronto has transformed over the decades and now is hometo several nice restaurants, galleries, as well as some tasty beer samples at Mill St. Brewery. A great place to catch the sunset or for a post-dinner walk.

things to do saint john new brunswick

Live Music in Toronto

Head for a night out and catch some live music, whether you’re after jazz, hip hop, or just some trendy indie band. Toronto is one of the most popular stops on any bands tour. You can catch shows any night of the week, making it an awesome city for music lovers.

Horseshoe Tavern

Check out the Horseshoe Tavern. A local legend of a dive music bar that’s had some of the most famous musicians have performed in. They’ve been shaking the walls for over 60 years. Bring shoes, it’s a small joint and your bound to get stepped on a bit, but it’ll be fun!

Cameron House

Or if you’re into country/bluegrass/folk tunes head to Cameron House. Located on Queen West and Cameron, just a block west of Spadina ave. Visit on Thursday Nights around 6pm, when a fellow named Corin Raymond does two sets. Great musicians, superb atmosphere. Definitely a great thing to do in Toronto.

Lee’s Palace

Hosting bands like Nirvana, the Smashing Pumpkins, and Oasis, this Annex live music venue is still one of the most popular places to catch a show in Toronto.

Dakota Tavern

This country bar is a teleportation device. Walk through the doors and the city melts away. You might find a little extra hustle in those dancing boots as you watch bands and singer songwriters let it all out on stage.

Massey Hall

A legendary venue, known for it’s amazing acoustics. Massey Hall is meant for larger shows, so if sitting and watching music sounds a little too slow for how much energy you have you might want to try one of the others above. They host some amazing bands though. Quality wise it’s second to none.

Get Outdoors in Toronto

Head north for Algonquin

Get out of town and drive north to Algonquin Provincial Park. This massive park has some amazing lakes, perfect for paddling a canoe. Campgrounds, and cottages are also available for rent. There’s also a hostel just outside of the park, making it a great gateway to exploring the park.

Paddleboard Toronto

Try your hand at SUP, or Stand Up Paddleboarding. There are a couple of companies that provide rentals on the Toronto Islands. They also provide lessons if you’re totally new, as well as SUP Yoga, and eco tours. It’s a gentle workout and perfect option on a warm summer day.

Explore the Islands

Escape the concrete jungle and head for a walk. Toronto Island Trail is a great option for a day of walking, biking, or just exploring the sights. Dogs are allowed on the trail but they have to be leashed. The islands around Toronto are the ancient leftovers from a sandbar that projects into Lake Ontario. According to historical records, a storm in the 1850’s severed the sandbar and caused the Eastern Gap east of Ward’s Island. Take the public ferries, and remember to snap some photos. There’s some great downtown views from the ferry, as well as the islands.

Scarborough Bluffs Park

The Bluffs are a great stop if you’re looking for some superb views of Lake Ontario. While the trails are on the easier side, there is quite a bit of uneven terrain,so be sure you’re wearing good shoes. The cherry on top is the sandy beaches at the end of the trails. A great place to relax after working up a sweat!

Lynde Shores Conservation Area

Easy trails with a high chance of spotting wildlife and countless bird species. Paved trails makes this a great spot for parents with wheelchairs, or anyone on wheels. During the summer you’ll find swans all over the trails and hanging out in the water. Just be careful around them, they can be grumpy birds despite being beautiful.

pei charlottetown beaches things to do

Find a Toronto Beach

When Toronto gets hot in the summer, it can be difficult to deal with. Muggy days and changing tshirts twice daily becomes the norm. Escape the heat and visit some nearby Toronto Beaches and find some water, or at the very least a plot of sand to catch some sun.

Visit Bluffers Beach, located at the foot of the Scarborough Bluffs. Nearby hiking trails are a good option if sitting around sounds boring. Head to the Islands and ivsit Centre Island Beach. Superb views of the city skyline. This beach also has bike rentals nearby.

Check out Cherry Beach, Gibraltar Point Beach, Hanlan’s Point Beach (Nude beach! Watch out!)! Or head to Kew-Balmy Beach, Marie Curtis Park Beach, or Sugar Beach. Note that Sugar beach isn’t a swimming beach, but a good place to flex your muscles and get a tan.

Hotels in Toronto

toronto-loves-honeybees-fairmont-royal-york-4

Fairmont Royal York

If you’re going to splurge, consider spending a night or two in the Fairmont Royal York. I’ve had the pleasure of staying here on two separate occasions, and both times were unforgettable. Just be warned it’s the type of place that every hotel afterwards will feel like a total dump with people that hate you. Fairmont Royal York has some of the most professional and friendly customer service, and their central location makes it the perfect place to stay to explore the city.

Marriott Downtown Eaton Centre Hotel

Only about a half kilometer from the downtown core, the Marriott is another great higher end option for hotels in Toronto. It’s nearby a ton of great attractions including the Eaton Centre, City Hall, and is only a stones throw from the Financial District, making it a great stop if you have business to do inthe area.

Old Mill Inn

Looking for something more boutique? Make a reservation at the Old Mill Inn. Friendly staff, art covered walls, and a beautiful little hotel make this a great place to setup as home base for a while. Situation in between Pearson International and Downtown.

The Drake Hotel

If you want to live and breathe Toronto, consider a stay at the Drake Hotel. Home to an amazing lounge, the famous Sky Yard rooftop patio, a cafe serving fresh coffee and scones. Or head to Room 222 for hosting any type of private event you might need. Don’t leave without checking out the underground, where you’re sure to find the next big up and coming star. Besides entertainment and ammenities, the hotel is beautiful and a great option.

AirBNB in Toronto

Downtown Toronto hotels are notorious for being expensive. If you want to be centrally located consider booking online with an AirBNB. Use my link for $40 off your first booking. You’ll find a ton of choices in some of the most interesting neighbourhoods as well as in the downtown. Watch for good ratings, and book! You’ll save some serious dough!

Hostels in Toronto

HI Toronto Hostel

The newly painted HI Toronto Hostel provides a high quality hostel experience in Toronto. With 10 Bed, 8 Bed, 6 Bed, and 4 bed dorms, you’ll find your very own bunk to call your own. Private rooms are also available, should you be traveling with a partner. HI Toronto Hostel also has it’s very own Bar & Cafe downstairs below the hostel. THey serve cheap beer, coffe, and occasionally host live music.

I’ve stayed in this hostel several times. They’re clean, friendly, and have all the amenities you need to enjoy your stay in Toronto. Hostels are without a doubt one of the best places to meet new people.

Planet-Traveler-Building

Planet Traveler Hostel

Eco friendly tourists will rejoice in the Planet Traveler Hostel. This sustainable hostel is a little further out of the way than HI Hostel but provides some of the best rooftop views of the the Toronto Skyline. Free Breakfast is included in your stay. The great thing about Planet Traveler, besides their fun taste in decor, is dorm rooms aren’t ever massive like in other hostels. Bathrooms are clean, internet is fast. They’re a great choice!

The Only Inn

A funky trip of a hostel nearby subway and accessible to all of the fun. Located on the outskirts of Greektown with several cafes and restaurants nearby. The entire city is within about a half hour ride. The Only Cafe, located downstairs, has over 200 beers from all over the world. It’s a great place to meet people from all over the world.

What would you say are the best things to do in Toronto, Ontario? Comment Below!

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This post first appeared on I Backpack Canada | A Backpackers Guide To Canada, please read the originial post: here

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Things To Do In Toronto, Ontario – A Complete Travel Guide

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