Toronto, one of the most popular urban cities in North America is a hub for business, arts, and culture. This metropolitan city has a charm and charisma of its own. I travelled here during April and the sun had just started burning a little brighter than it does in winter. I love spring and Toronto definitely lights up as summer starts to roll in. There are a ton of activities to do in and around the city and there won’t be a moment to spare.
If you are staying in Mississauga, Brampton or any neighbouring city, the transportation is really convenient. There are buses and trains that drop you right in the heart of downtown Toronto. There are underground trains that connect the entire city internally as well. I would suggest walking when in the city, to get a feel for the local culture.
When I was in the city, the snow hadn’t melted yet and the weather was still really cold. So the most important tip would be to make sure you carry proper jackets to keep you warm depending on when you are travelling. Make sure to get the proper currency (CAD) before you travel. The exchange rate at the airport is a little unfair. There are a couple of places in downtown Toronto where you will get a really good rate. Carry water as it is easy to forget to hydrate. Wear comfortable footwear and expect to walk around a lot. Book your tickets to CN tower and other tourist attractions online to save time and money.
Things to do in Toronto:
- CN Tower:
The CN tower is one of the most popular tourist spots in downtown Toronto. At 550m, it is the tallest free-standing structure in the Northern Hemisphere. You get a 360-degree panoramic view of the city and if you are lucky, you may even get to see the Niagara Falls. A part of the floor on the viewing deck is glass and you can see 500m directly below the deck. This is a really cool yet terrifying experience. You can also go to the rotating restaurant on the upper deck for a nice meal with a spectacular view.
- St Lawrence Market:
It is one of the largest markets in Canada. You get a variety of fresh produce here. Think of this place as a farmer’s market of sorts. You can load up on local food here. The entrance to the market is free.
- Distillery District:
Located to the east of St.Lawrence Market is the Distillery District. During the 1800s, it was the largest whiskey producer in the world. It is worth taking a walk around here. The Victorian architecture and ambience of the place will enrich your senses. Grab a cup of fresh brew or local hot chocolate and get the feel of a hug in a cup. There are a ton of classy restaurants and boutiques here to satiate the Miranda Priestly in you.
The district is also home to wonderful modern architecture to promote love and peace.
- Yonge-Dundas Square:
At the intersection of Yonge St and Dundas St lies the heart of downtown Toronto. Since it is one of the main tourist attractions, the streets are always buzzing with people. The financial district is close by so the intersection gets very active with tourists and locals. You can compare the busy streets here with Time Square in New York or the Piccadilly Square in London.
The Path is the underground walkway and shopping area connecting all major towers in downtown Toronto. It is the largest underground shopping complex in the world. If it’s too hot or cold outside, you can spend some time here window shopping or buy souvenirs for your friends back home. The path also is the central bus and train terminal so if you live outside the city, you can catch your ride from here.
- Spending the day at the beach and going to the Toronto Islands:
Walking on the beach or on the boardwalk by Lake Ontario is great ways to spend an evening during summer. You can take a boat to the Toronto islands to see the skyline of the city after sunset.
- Niagara Falls:
If you have seen The Niagara Falls from Buffalo, NY you are just fooling yourself. The view from the friendly neighbours is the view to see. It is incomparable and I now understand why it is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The beauty of the falls is indescribable. The velocity with which the water was gushing surely took my breath away.
Niagara Falls is located about 130kms or 80mi from Toronto and should take about 1 1/2 hour to reach. The falls itself is the main tourist attraction and you can spend hours here just looking at the gallons of water flowing at the same speed while contemplating your entire existence. The other things you can do here:
1) Take a “Behind the falls” tour.
2) Hike along the Niagara River.
3) Gamble! $$$
4) Maid of the Mist: Boat tour of the Falls.
I don’t recommend the Skylon Tower. You get a similar view from up there and you can do something else in that time instead.
There are a ton of hotels if you want to stay the night and the town has a pretty good night life with tons of local bars as well.
If you have a time crunch like I did, a few hours here should be enough (Although you can never get enough of the falls!)