Cosmopolitan in culture and lively in spirit, Toronto has all the elements of a great city, from flourishing arts and culture to fantastic museums and world-class cuisine to wide open spaces.
An enviable perch on the shores of Lake Ontario, a vibrant waterfront, a skyscraper-studded cityscape and vast green spaces… Canada's largest city packs a punch at a first impression. But dig deeper under the big, bold metropolis persona, and you will be surprised by Toronto's small-town vibe, a charming intimacy so rare to find. The city is a melting pot of more than 250 cultures speaking more than 180 languages, and this free-spirited creativity is well represented in its cosmopolitan cuisine and thriving arts scene.
Start your discovery at the birthplace of Toronto, the Fort York National Historic Site. Wander around the 43 acres of battlefields from the War of 1812, where British troops defended the city from US invaders. If you time it well, you can witness the ritual of cannon firing, which occurs twice daily. Past to present is a short walk that takes you to the top of the famous CN Tower. Take in the 360° birds' eye view of the city, then throw caution to the winds and stroll the outdoor circumference of the Tower's central pod with the EdgeWalk, suspended 356 metres (1168 feet) above ground level.
Next is the Harbourfront Centre, the 4-hectare (10-acre) lakeshore entertainment complex featuring live music, dance shows, contemporary art exhibitions and community events. Nearby, at the Natrel Pond, you can paddle a boat during summer or ice skate in winter. A short walk of 10 minutes will take you past the man-made Sugar Beach to the historic Distillery District. Encounter brick-paved pedestrian streets of Victorian-era Canada, and tour the ensemble of breweries and distilleries, including the Spirit of York Distillery and the Mill St. Brew Pub.
Lose yourself in the colourful signage and wafting aromas of Chinatown's bustling streets on your way to Kensington Market, known for its quirky art and vintage stores. Gourmands should bookmark St. Lawrence Market, the culinary hub of the city, where over 120 food vendors showcase tempting wares. Don't forget to sample the peameal bacon sandwich at Carousel Bakery and the bagels at St. Urbain Bagel. Other Toronto basics to add to your neighbourhood crawl are the street art of Graffiti Alley, outdoor cafes of Little Italy and street performers of Yonge-Dundas Square. Head out on the serene Rosedale Ravine Trail for a tryst with nature. Indulge your love for wildlife with sightings of red-tailed hawks and beavers.
Should live theatre interest you, consider reserving an evening for a performance at Roy Thompson Hall, Princess of Wales Theatre, or the TIFF Bell Lightbox of Entertainment District. Later, as you call it a day in Canada's capital of creativity and diversity, remind yourself to acknowledge that Toronto is indeed one of the most liveable places on the planet.
Eaton Centre: Over 250 stores and eateries are housed in this massive multi-level indoor shopping mall. Stock up on fashion staples, footwear and accessories from Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and Canada's flagship H&M store. Book and music lovers can browse for gems at Indigo Books, the country's famous book and record shop.
Queen Street West: One of Toronto's most loved shopping precincts is known for local designer wear and artisanal stores. Fashionably Yours Designer Consignment (for bags) and Coal Miners Daughter (for Canadian designer wear) are two pitstops for your bucket list.
The Hudson's Bay Company: The flagship store of Canada's oldest department store located in a historical building on Queen Street is a shopping destination in itself. Choose from an array of apparel, beauty products and home accessories spread over eight floors. Women will love the 1,100 square metre (12,000-square-foot) shoe department. Remember to pick up an iconic HBC point blanket from the HBC Stripes shop.
Bloor-Yorkville: If you are looking for haute couture, this fashionable district will be right up your alley. Besides high street shopping labels like the Banana Republic and H&M, be prepared for the lure of snazzy storefronts of exclusive brands like Michael Kors, Stella McCartney, Louis Vuitton and Prada.
Yorkdale: An upscale retail destination with stylish hallways and 8-metre-high (27-foot) ceilings makes an ideal setting for shopaholics and window-shoppers. Browse in Canada's first Apple store, or splurge on favourites like Michael Kors, Tiffany & Co. and more.
Museums & the Arts
Ripley's Aquarium of Canada: Plan to spend a few hours in an aquatic hub, home to over 20,000 marine creatures worldwide. Learn about the ecosystems of Canada's water bodies and surrounding seas. The highlight of the aquarium is the underwater gallery, where you can observe jellyfish and stingrays gliding around.
The Art Gallery of Ontario: Go for an impressive collection of 13 million objects spanning culture, natural history, art, sculpture and photographs, ranging from classic masterpieces to quirky and contemporary. The Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirrored Room is unmissable.
Royal Ontario Museum: The sight of a glass and steel building bursting from an original heritage structure is fascinating. Museum buffs will be hooked to displays of 13 million artefacts in the 40 permanent galleries, including South Asian and Egyptian treasures.
Aga Khan Museum: A modernistic building nestled in a 6.9-hectare (17-acre) park is a nod to Muslim communities' artistic and scientific achievements, spanning a wide area from China to the Iberian Peninsula. Paintings, textiles, ceramics, glassworks and manuscripts make up a permanent collection of over 1,000 objects.
Bata Shoe Museum: This unique museum dedicated to footwear and calceology has over 13,000 shoes and related objects. Four impressive galleries display a wide range from Chinese foot shoes to ancient Egyptian sandals and functional clogs to chic stilettos. Don't miss the celebrity section with John Lennon's boots, Queen Victoria's slippers, Elton John's platform boots, and the Dalai Lama's flip-flops.
Hockey: Air Canada Centre, home to the Toronto Maple Leafs, the country's famous National Hockey League, is one of the landmark venues in the city. Get pulled into the vortex of excitement during a live match. Fans of the game should also bookmark the prestigious Hockey Hall of Fame, occupying a vast area of 6,000 square metres (65,000 square feet). Gawp at memorabilia, records, statistics, and trophies. Scan vintage photos of players, teams and historic sports events.
Baseball: Fans of the sport can make time to visit the historic club of the Blue Jays, the Rogers Centre, where the team plays home matches. The arena is a spectacle with happy crowds watching field action with beer, hot dogs, nachos, pretzels and other north American baseball staples. Join in the fun.
Football: Treat yourself to the thrill of a high-energy Canadian football game with the Toronto Argonauts, one of the oldest Toronto professional sports teams. The site to root for is the BMO Field in Toronto's Exhibition Centre.
Restaurants & Bars
Scaramouche: This Torontonian favourite for celebrations and special occasions ranks high on the list of fine diners in town. Book a table for refined French cuisine, artfully presented with a topping of dazzling views. Locals rave about the fresh ingredients and impeccable cooking techniques bursting with flavours. Order the Ontario AAA beef or the Quebec suckling pig.
Sushi Masaki Saito: This is Toronto's temple of exquisitely crafted Edomae Sushi with fresh raw fish and aged fish. Sit back and delve into the delicate tastes of gourmet cuisine complemented by a great list of rare and sparkling sakes imported from Japan.
Joni Restaurant: Located in Park Hyatt Hotel at Yorkville, this is another excellent restaurant when you are in the mood for haute cuisine. Choose from a well-curated menu of international fare, which includes exciting options like the Ontario lamb made two ways, a sweet potato appetizer with miso and the beef tartare with fermented turnip.
Avelo Restaurant: An intimate, plant-based restaurant that will delight vegetarians and carnivores alike, this gem housed in a classic Toronto Victorian townhouse has a rotating menu. Expect surprises like dairy-free or nut-free cheeses. Recommendations include sautéed root vegetables in vegan béarnaise and mushroom ravioli in a creamy truffled cauliflower sauce.
Canoe Restaurant and Bar: Gape at Toronto's glittering skyline beyond the horizon while you dig into the adventurous and delicious celebration of flavours at this eatery. The Quebec foie gras with rhubarb, pink peppercorn, and sumac meringue and the tea-smoked duck breast served with duck liver mousse, parsnip, and poached Niagara pear, are outstanding.
Woo your significant other with a romantic interlude in the skies of Toronto by private helicopter at twilight. Soaring 610 metres (2,000 feet) up in the air at 200 kilometres per hour, get an eagle-eye perspective of the skyscrapers. Be dazzled by the sweeping views of the lake and the twinkling lights of a city on the move. Sweet indulgence!
Canada’s mustard-making tradition is legendary, and so is the signature sweet and smokey sensation of Kozlick’s Mustard. The same family has made the mustard in small batches using an original recipe since 1948. 36 unique varieties include Horseradish, Green Peppercorn and Clobbered Cranberry. Health freaks will be pleased to know that all products are crafted with 100% Canadian mustard seed, without preservatives and gluten.
If the idea of glassy lakes, lush forests, riverside cottages and waterfront adventures strikes a chord, look no further than Muskoka. Dive headlong into prime Canadian wilderness at Algonquin Provincial Park with moose spotting, canoeing, horseback riding, hiking or snowshoeing. Embark on hiking trails to see the fall colours. Take wine and craft brewery tours. If you’re visiting in the fall, catch the cranberry harvest celebrations and partake in The Cranberry Plunge, where you can stand waist-deep in a tub full of cranberries.
Devote an evening to one of the oldest jazz and blues bars in Toronto, The Rex, a local musical institution with a legacy dating back to the 1980s. Look up the weekly calendar of events to find a show of your choice. The bar has been known to host world-class musicians like Wynton Marsalis and Harry Connick Jr. Prep to be enthralled with fine impromptu performances.
Toronto is the most populous city in Canada. It’s also the capital of the province of Ontario. The city attracts a great number of corporate and tourist guests. The city offers visitors a huge and varied collection of luxury hotels.
Travelling from the Pearson Toronto Airport to downtown Toronto takes about 20 minutes by taxi. While navigating your way within the city, it is recommended to use public transportation, i.e., subways, buses and streetcars, and cabs are also readily available. Avoid hiring a car, especially if you plan to stay close to the city centre. Exploring neighbourhoods on foot is a breeze.
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