Toronto is the largest city in Canada living up to the name “Canada’s downtown”. It is in the top 5 entertainment cities in the world as well as a gastronomical superpower. With over 180 languages and dialects spoken, Toronto is the North American multicultural centre; anyone can find their spot in the open minds of Torontonians.
GUEST POST BY ROMI R.
Plan your trip to Toronto
1. Best time to visit Toronto
2. A few facts about Toronto
3. Top things to do in Toronto
3.1. Start your day at Union Station
3.2. Have breakfast at St. Lawrence Market
3.3. Explore the Distillery District
3.4. Live on The Edge on CN Tower
3.5. Have lunch in Kensington Market
3.6. Check out Queen Street West
3.7. Shop at Eaton Centre and Bloor Street
3.8. Watch the sunset at the Harbourfront
3.9. Party in the Fashion District
4. Where to stay in Toronto
5. Day trips from Toronto
6. Extra tips for visiting Toronto
Best time to visit Toronto
Toronto can be an all year round destination. From Christmas markets in the winter to one of the world’s biggest Pride parades in the summer. However, winter temperatures can drop to -30. On the contrary, summers go up to 50 degrees! The best time to go is in September and October when the city puts on it’s colourful fall coat but still sits in the 20 degree weather sweet spot or April and May – when you can catch the cherry blossom season and the city takes on a pink aura! Fall and spring allow you to sightsee while the city is still not overcrowded with tourists, traffic and extreme weather conditions.
A few facts about Toronto
Toronto is Canada’s most populated city with 25 % of the entire country’s population settling in or around the city. You will find over 8000 restaurants with more opening daily, making Toronto to be every foodie’s dream destination. If you consider yourself a food lover, Toronto Market and Food Tour is exactly what you should look for by coming to this marvelous city!
Parks comprise almost 20% of the city’s total area! Yes, if you want a place for a picnic or a place where you can just take a nice walk or sit and enjoy a breath of fresh air, you won’t have to look far.
Toronto holds the Guinness world record for the longest street in the world, Yonge Street, that stretches for 1896 km!
The city is also known as an “artist mecca”, with over 20 000 artists residing in it as well as 25% of all Hollywood movies filmed in it. Toronto’s film industry brings in approx. 1.5B USD each year.
I’ve already covered the 180 or so languages and dialects spoken here, but did you know that about a half of the city’s population was born outside of Canada?
Top things to do in Toronto
With so many restaurants, museums, sights and sounds it can be overwhelming to try and see everything. Follow this guide and you’ll get the best of Toronto in one day!
TIP: Check out the best tours Toronto has to offer!
Start your day at Union Station
Pearson airport express train will take you straight to Toronto’s busiest subway station – Union Station. This place has around 300,000 people passing on a standard business day, which makes it the busiest station in Canada, and it’s the perfect start to experience the vibrant lifestyle of the city. The station’s history goes back all the way to 1858, but it was recently renovated, with parts of it being opened as recently as January 2019. Certainly worth exploring a little.
Have breakfast at St. Lawrence Market
A short 10 min walk on Front Street will take you to the St. Lawrence Market, named World’s Best Food Market by National Geographic in 2012.
With over 100 vendors, you can find anything from traditional Jewish “bagels” to Ukrainian perogies, local cheeses, or the Canadian peameal bacon sandwich. After you have breakfast have a coffee or a drink in the Great Hall and complete your visit with a walking tour to hear about the Markets 200-year-old history.
You can’t get a much better start to your one day in Toronto than this.
Explore the Distillery District
Continue walking on Front Street for 15 minutes and reach the historical Distillery District. The area is the best-preserved collection of Victorian Architecture in North America. It is the home to over 40 heritage buildings and courtyards, boutiques and artisan shops and a popular walking destination. You can shop, eat, explore or wake up your inner photographer here and meet people from all over the world.
Live on The Edge on CN Tower
Take the bus on Front Street or walk up to King Street and take the 504 streetcar that will get you near the CN (Canadian National) tower, before the night crowds. Built in 1976 as a satellite tower, it held the record for the World’s Tallest Building and Freestanding Structure until 2007.
You can choose to take the glass elevator to the observation deck, lie down on the glass floor or test your limits and walk outside on the towers edge around the circumference of the roof! The first of its kind in North America, The Edge Walk makes for a once-in-a-lifetime thrilling experience!
Have lunch in Kensington Market
Hop on the Spadina Streetcar that will take you through the hectic Chinatown all the way to Toronto’s most vibrant neighborhood – Kensington Market. It’s a bohemian neighbourhood populated with artists and packed with affordable cafes and restaurants. Since Canada’s Marijuana legalisation in 2018, you can find a variety of dispensaries and indulge in the local past time before choosing one of the restaurants. You can find Chinese, Portuguese or Colombian cuisine here. Looking to try something different? Try Rasta Pasta – a Jamaican Italian fusion!
Visit Casa Loma
After a nice lunch, hop on a bus and go and visit Casa Loma. Built in 1914, this is the only authentic castle on the whole continent, and it has so much to offer. Inside, there are various exhibits you can check out, from vintage cars to an exhibit dedicated to Girl Guides who have a long history with this place. But that’s not all because there are even thematic escape rooms here! So, a bit of history, a whole lot of fun, and this stop is bound to be an important part of your one day in Toronto.
Enter the Royal Ontario Museum
After Casa Loma, you should make room in your itinerary for the Royal Ontario Museum, also known as ROM. This is, without a doubt, one of the best museums in Canada, and the collection of artifacts you can see here reaches every corner of the world. There is art, there is culture, and there is natural history, plus the building itself is quite beautiful and interesting – a modern wing called the Crystal was added to a traditional older building. Very much worth a visit!
Check out Queen Street West
Voted one of the coolest neighbourhoods by Vogue magazine and just a 5 min walk down from Kensington is the trendy Queen Street. The street stretches throughout the city but walk east from Bathurst Street and check out the cool shops like The Condom Shack or have a photo session in the Graffiti Alley. You can shop on the local “TSOQ” (The Store On Queen) for a fresh new look or have a drink at “Bowine Sex Club” (not an actual sex club) – the alternative live music haven downstairs and a relaxing tiki rooftop patio upstairs!
Shop at Eaton Centre and Bloor Street
Take the 501 East to Queen and Yonge and explore the largest Toronto mall on the longest street in the world. You can find clothes, shoes, jewelry at all price ranges here but if you want to indulge in some luxury shopping take the Yonge street and walk over Yonge-Dundas square for some street entertainment all the way up to Bloor Street and check out the stores like Holt Renfrew, Davids, Tiffany, Prada, Louis Vuitton, and Hermes for some luxury items.
Watch the sunset at the Harbourfront
Use your last hours to treat all your senses. Hop on the Yonge-University subway back to Union station and walk down to Harbourfront. It is the lakefront neighbourhood overlooking Toronto Islands and Lake Ontario. The views are spectacular and the air is fresh! You can try a local craft beer at Amsterdam Brewery, have a nice dinner or just hang out at Sugar Beach – an urban park beach with live music and festivals. Interested in a planned tour? Try one of the many boat tours. For an added romantic touch take the sunset cruise!
Party in the Fashion District
Still have time left? Take the 510 streetcar up to Fashion District and enjoy a night out. The name derives from the early 20th century when the area was a textile centre. Today, the old factories and warehouses house a variety of clubs and bars, and The Beverley Hotel is a great place from which to visit them all. Want to laugh the night away? Try Second City – a comedy club that gave the world comedians like Mike Myers and Martin Short. Feeling like a drink with a twist? Have one at SpiN nightclub – a martini bar with ping pong tables. Still not enough? Walk out on King St W and just close your eyes, wherever you point you will find a lounge, bar or club to go to!
Where to stay in Toronto
One day in Toronto may not be much, but do try and make the most of it because this city really deserves it. Booking the right hotel can do wonders for your itinerary and save you a whole lot of time you can then use for sightseeing. Depending on when your flight is, you may want to book a room in a hotel near Toronto Pearson International Airport, but if you’re not in a hurry, book a room in the city center right in the middle of it all. To help you enjoy your stay as much as possible, we’ve hand-picked the best hotels in town.
TIP: Find the best accommodation deals in Toronto!
The Omni King Edward Hotel
37 King Street East, M5C 1E9 Toronto, Canada
The original luxury hotel, built in 1903, this establishment has a royal feel to every moment of your stay. While consolidating present day solace and polish, The Omni King Edward Hotel still has the castle like loftiness. Marble washrooms and custom vintage sheets combined with its central location by St. Lawrence market make for a extraordinary stay in Toronto!
The Beverley Hotel
335 Queen Street West, M5V 2A4 Toronto, Canada
Encompassed by shops and eateries, The Beverley Hotel is set on stylish Queen Street West in Toronto. This boutique lodging offers rooms with a moderate stylistic theme and free WiFi. A bar, eatery, rooftop bar, and retail shop are on site so you can relax and enjoy views of the city at any time.
The Novotel Toronto Centre
45 The Esplanade, M5E 1W2 Toronto, Canada
Including an indoor pool, hot tub and spa, the Novotel Toronto Center is situated inside a 10-minute stroll of Toronto Union Station and Air Canada Center. Visitors can appreciate the on-location eatery and free WiFi access all through the property. The Toronto Center Novotel is a 4-minute stroll from the Hockey Hall of Fame. The CN Tower is under 1.5 km away.
HI Toronto Hostel
76 Church Street, M5C 2G1 Toronto, Canada
Situated in Central Toronto and just strides from the neighborhood metro stops HI Toronto Hostel offers roomy shared and private rooms. The on-location bar, The Cavern, includes live bands most evenings of the week make for a fun filled stay in downtown Toronto.
Day trips from Toronto
Desert the Toronto noise for the striking magnificence of Niagara Falls. Begin with a drive through Niagara’s wine district on the way to the falls. Journey up Niagara River for a spectacular view of the great Horseshoe Falls and afterward head down to the Whirlpool Rapids perception deck. After a long day of sightseeing you’ll want a glass of wine. Luckily, one of the many Niagara wineries is there to quench your thirst.
Elora George National Park
Take an hour bus ride up to The Elora Gorge. A prominent vacation spot situated at the western edge of Elora, Ontario, Canada. As the Elora Gorge Conservation Area, it is one of the numerous preservation regions claimed by the Grand River Conservation Authority. Spend the day hiking, swimming, tubing or just enjoying the sights and sounds of untouched nature.
Take the ferry or a taxi boat from Harbourfront to the Centre Toronto Island and spend the day at the Island Zoo, at the beach or sipping beer in one of the many restaurants located around the island. If you’re feeling like going down to your birthday suit take the ferry or a water taxi to Hanlan’s Point drop off and then bike or walk to the beach. (about a 20 min walk). The South end of Hanlan’s Beach is clothing optional!
Extra tips for visiting Toronto
- Buy a TTC Day Pass – instead of spending 3.25 CAD per trip, buy a day pass that allows you to travel all through the city on buses, streetcars and the subway. There are group and family options available as well. You can buy the pass at every Subway Station within the City of Toronto.
- Plan your visit around one of the city’s festivals – September brings Toronto Film Festival and the hottest Hollywood stars flood the city for a week. You can check out one of the films as well. The same month has Nuit Blanche – an all night art installation and performance festival. Bars are open later and the city is packed until early morning the next day.
- Use the bike share program – Toronto loves cyclists! There are public bikes you will find docked all around the city. You can rent them by hour, day or even a week. Just pick one up and drop it off wherever you see another station.
PIN FOR LATER!
If you have any other propositions for this One Day in Toronto Itinerary, feel free to share them in the comments below!
Make sure you have everything you need
What to pack for your next trip?
Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully.
Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times.
Check our travel checklist guide for 2021 to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and travel to your next destination in style and with maximum comfort.
Romi is a llama coach from Split, Croatia. This sounds made up but it’s true. She lived in Toronto, Canada for about ten years, give or take, but she wasn’t working with llamas. She was working in PR, restaurants, daycares, one yoga clothing store. She doesn't know how she got that job as she has never done yoga at that point. She taught English in Colombia and Vietnam. Traveled the world for two years. Then she got into writing. Actually, she was always writing, but then someone paid her to write. Then more people paid because they saw she was making them money. Then it became a thing she does for a living. And here we are now. Specializing in travel, real estate, and digital nomad guides, familiar with SEO, and always ready to learn something new so she can branch out and take over the world.
Love this post about Toronto! You mentioned all the best things. As a Torontonian, I’m pleased 🙂
Thank you very much!
Thank you fro compiling so informative and helpful information here. This may be more helpful for the newbies who want to travel to spend their holidays with family. A nice collection of images as well as stuff you have provided here for us. Very informative and helpful information and tips you have written here for the people who really love to travel. These tips will be helpful to manage the traveling gears in manners to avoid the massive suitcases and especially manage camera on traveling safely.
Thanks for visiting and exploring my city. I really appreciate that you went for boating. Next time I recommed you to hire a party boat from chartered4 and go for boating to spend quality and unforgettable time.