If you are planning a trip to Toronto and want to know all those places you shouldn’t miss, you don’t have to worry. We have put together the most complete list of things to see in Toronto so you don’t miss a thing.
Toronto, the capital of the state of Ontario, is the most populous and multicultural city in Canada. Located at the foot of Lake Ontario, it has more than four million people from over one hundred different ethnic groups. The financial and commercial centre of Canada, Toronto is famous, among many other things, for its CN Tower or its proximity to the beautiful Niagara Falls.
Get ready, there are so many things to see in Toronto that you’d better come loaded with energy!
- Climbing the CN Tower
- Visit the Art Gallery of Ontario
- Stroll through St. Lawrence Market
- Visit Casa Loma
- Dundas Square and Eaton Centre
- Approaching the Toronto Islands
- Getting lost in Chinatown
- Take a walk in the Distillery District
- Discover the surprises hidden in the Royal Ontario Museum
- Take a trip to the incredible Niagara Falls
Climbing the CN Tower
Let’s start with the important stuff: if there’s one thing to do in Toronto, it’s unquestionably to climb to the top of its most famous landmark, the CN Tower. With more than two million visitors each year, this 553-meter-high, free-standing broadcast tower is the fifth tallest in the world and undoubtedly features the most pictures to be taken in Toronto.
You don’t have to miss its viewpoint, located at 342 metres high: the views are wonderful and, with a bit of luck, you’ll even be able to see the skyline of Rochester, a city in the USA. It’s also on this floor that you’ll find the Outdoor Observation Platform and one of the tower’s greatest attractions: its glass floor. If you manage to overcome vertigo, take a deep breath and stand on it. Looking down and seeing the emptiness under your feet is one of those experiences you will never forget.
If you feel like completing your visit in the most fascinating way, cheer up and have a drink at its revolving restaurant located 351 meters above sea level. In 72 minutes you will have rotated the 360 degrees enjoying the perfect panoramic view.
Visit the Art Gallery of Ontario
Because we know that a little bit of art never hurts, we’ve included a visit to one of the country’s top galleries on our list of things to do in Toronto.
Founded in 1900, the Art Gallery of Ontario houses one of the most comprehensive collections of art in the country. From works by European artists such as Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Picasso, to a complete example of Canadian art that also includes, of course, works by the Group of Seven, a small group of painters formed in 1920 who, led by artist Tom Thomson, revolutionized Canadian style with colorful impressionist painting.
In addition, we can enjoy an extensive selection of Inuit art -the third largest in the world- and the largest collection of sculptures by Henry Moore. A must if you spend a few days sightseeing in Toronto.
Stroll through St. Lawrence Market
If there’s one place that preserves the essence of the most traditional Toronto, it’s St. Lawrence Market, a long-established marketplace where you can take your pulse from the city’s daily life. The large, exposed brick industrial building that houses what’s considered one of the best markets in the world is home to grocery stores run by families who’ve been there all their lives.
Entering the aisles filled with stalls of fresh vegetables, fruit, meat and fish is a great experience to have in Toronto. The northern part of the market is home to the famous Saturday Farmers Market, an event that’s been held since 1803 and attracts producers from all over Southern Ontario who are determined to showcase their seasonal produce. On Sundays, however, it’s the antique dealers’ turn. Plans are more than a must among the things to do in Toronto.
Visit Casa Loma
Sightseeing in Toronto undoubtedly means stopping at a magical place: Casa Loma is an unusual early 20th-century building designed by E.J. Lennox, who also designed the city hall. And we say unusual for one very clear reason: despite being a relatively new building, its style is inspired by the Gothic.
Although contemplating the exterior of this enormous castle is already an incredible experience, going into it and visiting some of its more than 90 rooms can help us get an idea of what it must have been like to live here in the past. Now a museum, its history holds many curiosities.
For example? This project was a tribute to Sir Henry Pelatt, one of the most influential Canadian industrialists of the early 20th century, who made his fortune with a hydroelectric station he built using the power of Niagara Falls, another must-see in Toronto.
One more fact? Here’s what: building this immense castle took a total of three and a half million Canadian dollars, although it was never finished due to the bankruptcy of Sir Henry Pelatt’s company.
Dundas Square and Eaton Centre
Whatever you do, whatever path you take, sooner or later you will come across Dundas Square, which could be considered the heart of the city. This large square is full of posters and giant LED screens advertising all kinds of brands. It’s a meeting point for locals and visiting it will be one of the things to do in Toronto.
Dundas Square is located in the heart of the financial district, at the intersection of Yonge Street and Dundas Street, where numerous public events such as film screenings and concerts are held each year.
On one side of the square is the main entrance to the Eaton Centre, a huge shopping center with approximately 330 stores and more than one million visitors per week.
When winter arrives and the temperatures drop, one of the things you can do in Toronto to fight the cold is to walk around its galleries and enjoy a day of shopping without having to step on the street. There are two subway stops in its underground floors, making it easy to escape from the outside world.
Approaching the Toronto Islands
Opposite the centre, in Lake Ontario, the so-called Toronto Islands are scattered: three islands linked by footbridges on which we can forget about all means of transport for the duration of our visit.
And what is the most striking thing about this tour? Here we leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind us to enjoy outdoor activities and the nature around us. On the easternmost island, called Ward’s, there is a residential area full of parks. If you want to enjoy yourself with the little ones in the house, the choice is clear: on the central island there is the Centreville children’s amusement park.
But if, on the contrary, we are looking for a more relaxed kind of tourism and enjoy a good swim in the lake, we will have to go to Hanlan’s Point Island, where we will lie down on the fine white sand of its beaches. A perfect place to see in Toronto to relax and forget about the worldly noise.
Although it may sound incredible, from one end of the island to the other it only takes half an hour to walk. On clear days you can even see the silhouette of the CN Tower. One of the things to do in Toronto that couldn’t be left off our list.
Getting lost in Chinatown
We head for the streets of Dundas Street West and Spadina Avenue: we are ready to enter one of the largest Chinatowns in North America. Just the smell and sounds of this area will make you feel like you’ve traveled to Asia.
According to historical documents, the first citizen of Toronto of Chinese origin was Mr. Sam Ching, owner of a laundry that opened in 1878. It’s clear that this was just the beginning: today more than 250,000 people make up this Chinese community, mostly concentrated in the neighbourhood known as Chinatown. How could we not include this in our list of things to see in Toronto?
There have been several waves of Chinese immigration arriving here throughout its history. The first of these came from different parts of the United States in the late 19th century for a variety of reasons, from racial conflict to economic problems. The last, however, took place in the 1990s with Chinese arriving from Hong Kong.
The mixture of cultures that can be seen in Chinatown, where stands with typical Chinese products are the protagonists, is so fascinating that it will not be out of place to spend several hours walking its streets. We’re sure you’ll love this experience in Toronto.
Take a walk in the Distillery District
It is clear to us that sightseeing in Toronto cannot be limited to visiting museums or monuments. That’s why we’ve decided to dedicate part of our time to enjoying ourselves, and what better way to do so than by heading to the Distillery District, an old area of industrial buildings that, after being renovated in 2003, is home to a multitude of businesses and studios where creativity and design are the protagonists?
It was the idea of a group of visionary developers who had it clear: there were many Victorian buildings in the city that were part of the old Gooderham & Worts distillery whose potential was incredible for developing new projects. They decided to get down to work, renovate their 47 buildings by fusing old materials with 21st century technology, and make them what they are today – a place where young entrepreneurs, artists, craftsmen and restorers all come together.
A visit to the Distillery District could not be missing among our proposals of things to do in Toronto.
What would you say if we told you that Toronto is home to the largest natural history museum in Canada? Yes, this is where the Royal Ontario Museum is located, a huge building founded in 1912 that houses the most incredible collection of applied arts, natural sciences and archaeology. How could it not be among the things to do in Toronto?
Walking through its countless galleries is like stepping into the dinosaur room, one of the museum’s most popular rooms, where you can see large prehistoric skeletons.
You should also visit the room dedicated to Asian art, where you’ll find samples of Chinese and Japanese sculpture and architecture. In the galleries dedicated to African art we can transport ourselves mentally to Egypt while admiring funeral masks or mummies. As we can see, a whole trip around the world without leaving the same space!
Take a trip to the incredible Niagara Falls
We left the last of our proposals to make in Toronto the great jewel; the star plan: we rent a car and go straight to enjoy one of the great wonders of nature. We set out for Niagara Falls!
Although we can hear its intense roar from miles away, we can never imagine the great spectacle that awaits us: the immense curtain of water that falls from a cliff at 57 meters high is simply indescribable. Dense clouds of water spray will welcome us to this enclave that functions as a natural border between Canada and the United States.
The falls are actually two different ones. Goat Island divides the river into two parallel channels and this means that on one side are the Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side and on the other side of the border and somewhat smaller, the American Falls.
One thing that we must not miss is to get on the mythical boat Maid of the Mist and live the experience of approaching the foot of the falls through the water. The raincoat, however, will be indispensable! One company also offers helicopter flights to get a different perspective of Niagara Falls, in this case from the sky.
In the surroundings there are numerous businesses related to leisure: restaurants, pubs, museums, casinos, recreation centers… If we want to extend the day, there will be no problem in choosing from an endless number of options.
Planning a getaway to Toronto, Canada? You might also be interested in these other posts:
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15 great excuses for visiting Canada’s natural parks
What to see in Vancouver: 10 must-see places
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The most beautiful waterfalls in the world