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Toronto


Discovering Toronto

With its iconic skyscraper skyline, Toronto can easily give you that fast-moving metropolitan vibe. But the city is so much more than glass and steel. Nestled in the wild nature of the Canadian east coast, Toronto was once a wilderness frontier. Today it is a multicultural melting pot offering something for every taste bud and every wallet.

A Day in Toronto

Start your Toronto adventure by visiting CN Tower with its magnificent 360° views. Expensive and touristy, it might be the most visited sight in Toronto. Neighborhood spotting from the top of the tower is a spectacular way of getting an overview of the city. Get there early to avoid the worst queues.

When you are ready to move on from the crowds, hop on your bike or use Toronto's public transport. Visit The Distillery District for a cup of coffee at the Balzac’s. The coffee is great, but the interior itself is worth a visit. Stroll through the neighborhood. Get tempted by the heavenly pastries at Brick Street Bakery or pop into the Corkin Gallery for a little drizzle of art.

Head back to St. Lawrence Market, Toronto's largest indoor market, for a quick bite. Shop local produce or grab lunch from one of the many small eateries.

Make your way to Kensington Market. Don't cheat yourself of a walk through Chinatown. You might stumble upon an authentic dim sum restaurant or a perfect place to eat pho later.

Kensington Market is both a tourist and a local darling. It's easy to see why.

This vibrant neighborhood is a mecca of quirky shops, small restaurants, and vendors.

Use the afternoon strolling through the colorful streets. Eat ice cream at Boho Gelato. Have an afternoon snack at 214 Augusta, a Latin American food corridor turned hot spot? End your Kensington Market adventure by relaxing in the nearby Bellevue Park.

When dinner time approaches, you will not run out of amazing options. Perhaps you will return to the sizzling pots of Chinatown. Try the dumplings at Mother’s or the hot pot at Sichuan Ren. You might be in the mood for European cuisine. The Zitto Zitto Taverna in Little Italy will carry you to Sicily in one bite. The perfectly cooked pasta at Giovanni’s will have you dreaming of seconds. Grab a nightcap at Bar Raval nearby before you head home. The choices are many and you will not go to bed hungry.

Getting There

By Plane

Fly into Toronto Pearson International Airport from almost anywhere in the world. The airport has easy access to Toronto and offers a great variety of transportation to and from downtown. 

If you don't mind a little hassle, you can use the Toronto Public Transit system (TTC) for only CA$3 one way. There is no direct link, but a myriad of busses are waiting to take you to the subway. Not ideal if you carry a lot of luggage.

If 75 min. of transportation or more doesn't sound appealing, you can use The Union Pearson Express. It will get you downtown in just 25 minutes, costing CA$12.35 one way.

A 30 minutes taxi ride will easily cost you around CA$50-CA$70.

Whether you wish to travel budget-friendly or start your stay with a bit of luxury, getting to downtown Toronto is (mostly) as easy as apple pie.

Not flying in? Don't worry, you can travel to Toronto by train, coach or even car.

By Train 

Both Amtrak and VIA Rail Canada run through Union Station train station, linking Toronto to the rest of Canada and Central North America. Traveling across the border, Amtrak offers The Maple Leaf Route running from New York to Toronto. The journey takes around 12 hours and will take you through beautiful landscapes and quaint country towns. Traveling interstate, try the VIA Rail Canada’s The Great Western Route running from Vancouver in the west to Toronto in the east with several stops across the country. The full journey will take 4 nights offering luxury sleeping cabins, a dining car, and breathtaking views

By Bus 

From the Union Station Bus Terminal, you can catch intercity busses, as well as coaches connecting Toronto to the rest of Canada. Bus lines such as the Coach Canada Megabus or the Ontario Northland provide links between the larger cities like Montreal and Ottawa.  The Greyhound busses to Buffalo or New York, USA also depart from the Union Station Bus Terminal. The cross-border lines are temporarily closed due to travel restrictions but will run again when the borders between the USA and Canada reopen. Busses and coaches in Canada are in general reliable and comfortable.

By Car 

Reaching Toronto by car is also a possibility. The highways till and from the city are generally well maintained and fairly easy to navigate. Like in many other large cities, highways and roads are in general quite busy. Be aware that parking spots downtown can be both expensive and difficult to come by. Bring cash for parking.

Getting Around

Toronto Public Transit system, TTC

The easiest way to get around is by public transportation. Using the subway is by far the quickest, but it only runs two lines. Streetcars and buses, on the other hand, will get you anywhere in Toronto. 

Single rides on the TTC will cost you CA$3.25.  A day- and week pass with unlimited rides cost CA$12.50 and CA$ 43,75 respectively.

Bike Share Toronto 

The neighborhoods of Toronto can easily be explored by bike leaving you with even more freedom to stop and go whenever you wish. Find one of the nearly 3,000 bikes provided by Bike Share Toronto and explore the city like a Torontonian. A day pass costs CA$7.

Ridesharing

Many neighborhoods are also walkable. Bring your best walking shoes. Ridesharing services like Uber or Lyft are also available, but not much cheaper. Bear in mind, Toronto traffic can be dreadful.

When to Visit

The winters in Toronto are freezing cold. The daily temperature in January is -1.3°C (30°F). However, the temperatures can be much lower or higher. As a bonus, the streets are less packed and flights are cheaper.

Summers are hot and humid. Temperatures can be anywhere between 20°C and 35°C (68°F to 95°F). Smog days occur as well as brief and heavy downpours. In the summer months, you will share the city with the summer holiday crowds.

Fall or spring provides great weather for exploring. In the spring the masses have yet to invade the streets and the parks are blooming. By autumn, the hordes have left the city. The leaves are changing colors and the days are still warm.

Where to Stay

Toronto has a large variety of accommodations. Large hotel chains like the Radisson Blu or the Hilton will provide you with luxury and downtown locations.

Toronto is also scattered with little gems. Stay at The Annex Hotel, a homey boutique hotel. The Rex Hotel and Jazz Bar might add that extra jazz to your stay.

If you are on a tight budget, guesthouses or even hostels are an option. Victoria's Mansion Guesthouse is just a short walk from the subway. The Parkdale Hostellerie will provide you with affordable accommodation, without losing charm.

Looking for authentic Toronto? Renting a room or an apartment through Airbnb will let you live like a local. Usually with a cheaper price tag too. Look at Leslieville or around West Queen West for hip locations.

Whether you wish to indulge in luxury, sleep tight in an affordable bed or cook in your own kitchen, Toronto has it all.

What to Bring Home

Toronto is a retail paradise. For the vintage lover, Kensington Market and Dundas West are perfect for a shopping spree. The foodie will enjoy getting lost at the weekly farmers' market at St. Lawrence Market. Buy a bottle of local maple syrup for your Sunday pancakes. What is more Canadian than a beer from one of the many microbreweries? Visit the Collective Arts Brewing with its one-of-a-kind artsy cans. The Godspeed Brewery offers a great eating experience as well as a wide range of different canned beers to take home. The Distillery District, with its many small shops, boutiques, and galleries, is a great shopping destination too. A candle from family-owned Yummi in the Distillery District or a bottle of whiskey from the Spirit of York Distillery makes perfect souvenirs.

Budget

On a limited budget? Visiting Toronto can cost as little as 70CA$ per person per day. Choosing budget-friendly accommodation like hostels or Airbnb a little further from downtown. Using your two feet, renting a bike, and using the TTC only when necessary. Going to the beach and visiting free attractions. Eating cheap in places like Koreatown or cooking at home will help keep the costs down.

A mid-range budget at around 200CA$ per person per day can include eating out more as well as the occasional drink. Visiting a museum or two, or maybe the CN tower. Stay in an Airbnb closer to downtown or a small boutique hotel.

A more extravagant budget of 350CA$ or more per person per day will allow room for staying at a luxury hotel with that perfect close-to-everything location. Visit all the paid attractions you wish. You can eat out every night. Drink what you like, when you like. Grab a taxi or an Uber when it's time to head home. Splurging in Toronto is not rocket science.

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