Toronto is a multicultural metropolis par excellence. An unswervingly forward-looking city, its very essence lies in its diversity: its population includes 200 ethnicities speaking around 140 different languages. It’s a place of multiple districts, which sit nonchalantly cheek-by-jowl. If you take the tram down one street alone (Bathurst), you’ll pass Koreatown, Little Italy, Little Portugal, the self-proclaimed bohemian enclave of Kensington Market and the more moneyed but still self-consciously hip quarter of West Queen West.
Elsewhere, you’ll find the shimmering skyscrapers of a cut-and-thrust financial district, a street almost entirely dedicated to Canada’s history and art (‘Museum Row’), a thriving university quarter, and a sweeping waterfront overlooking the great sea-like expanse of Lake Ontario.
The instantly identifiable needle and orb of the CN Tower (once the world’s tallest free-standing structure, until Dubai’s Burj Khalifa stole its thunder) lords it over the city’s skyline.
At its summit lie observation decks and a 360-degree revolving restaurant. The restaurant offers, arguably, a serener viewing experience of Toronto’s cityscape (a full rotation lasts 72 minutes), and all meals include admission to the observation decks.
You gain the best view of the tower’s exterior from the water. Short small-boat cruises of Toronto Harbour depart regularly and provide good views of the city’s other flagship buildings.
You’ll see the low, egg-like bulge of the Rogers Centre, the home stadium for the Toronto Blue Jays. Amid a spate of luxury condos lie older offerings, notably the industrial bulk of the Redpath Sugar Refinery (founded in 1854).
You’ll get equally good skyline views from Toronto Islands — long, jaggedy streaks of parkland a 15-minute ferry ride offshore.
Here, you can take a cycling tour around the islands’ gardens, plush summer residences, bridges and bird-rich nature reserves. Even though Toronto isn’t a particularly frenetic-feeling city, the islands can still make for a pleasant escape from the downtown hubbub.
Away from the waterfront, almost slap-bang in the heart of the city and bordering Chinatown, stands Kensington Market. It’s less market as such, more a tight-knit community anchored around a grid of pedestrian-only streets with low-lying buildings. Here, anything goes.
It’s a rewarding place to explore (and even better when steered by a passionate local guide-cum-resident), full of flower-child whimsy and nonconformist spirit.
Prayer flags, graffiti, brightly painted façades, murals and bicycles zone into view everywhere you turn. Artfully shabby Victorian townhouses rub shoulders with what seems like a zillion thriving small businesses, including several fusion food joints (such as Hungarian-Thai and Jamaican-Italian).
To the south of downtown, close to the waterfront, you’ll find a market in the more traditional sense. Like the fusion-food pioneers of Kensington Market it’s doing its bit to cement Toronto’s reputation as a gastronomic powerhouse.
St Lawrence Market is a cavernous Victorian red-brick hall housing more than 100 independent food vendors. Their stalls contain everything from fine homemade mustards to Portuguese spit-roast meats.
Continue east from St Lawrence Market and you come to the Distillery District. It preserves a 19th-century whiskey-distilling complex and other miscellaneous industrial buildings, transformed into a cluster of alfresco bars, boutiques, restaurants, galleries and performance spaces.
Torontonians have really taken the place to their heart. At weekends, the streets and patios are thronged with locals.
Looking farther afield, Toronto affords easy access to Niagara Falls. You can visit in a day or stay overnight.
Best time to visit Toronto
You can visit Toronto year-round, but the city is probably at its finest between June and September. Be aware, though, that temperatures can soar in the summer, just as they plummet in winter.
Suggested itineraries featuring Toronto
Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel in Toronto, and they showcase routes we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.
Map of Toronto
Places & hotels on the map
Places near Toronto
- Niagara-on-the-Lake 51 kilometers away
- Niagara Falls 68 kilometers away
- Port Severn 131 kilometers away
- Gravenhurst 140 kilometers away
- Haliburton 170 kilometers away
- Prince Edward County 177 kilometers away
- Huntsville 187 kilometers away
- Goderich and Lake Huron 188 kilometers away
- Bruce Peninsula & Fathom Five National Marine Park 245 kilometers away
- Algonquin Provincial Park 249 kilometers away
- Tobermory 254 kilometers away
- Killarney Provincial Park 316 kilometers away
- Manitoulin Island 328 kilometers away
- Pelee Island 340 kilometers away
- Ottawa 353 kilometers away
- Laurentian Mountains 470 kilometers away
- Mont Tremblant 470 kilometers away
Accommodation choices for Toronto
We’ve selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Toronto. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.
Ideas for experiencing Toronto
Our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know the places that could feature in your trip. These activities reflect some of the experiences they've most enjoyed while visiting Toronto, and which use the best local guides.