Celebrated for its multiculturalism, Toronto Canada is an eclectic mix of cultures, languages and flavors. It’s a city that lures travelers for a taste of Canada and the world.
If you’re flying into Toronto, there are two Airports to choose from. Lester B. Pearson International (YYZ) is located about 40 minutes from downtown, and is the city’s main airport operating both international and domestic flights. Billy Bishop Airport (YTZ) is located on Toronto Island just minutes from downtown; it is a small airport that recently started operating flights to eastern Canada and northeastern USA.
Where to Stay:
If you’re looking to stay downtown but don’t want to splurge on a fancy hotel, try one of the many hostels that cater to backpackers. Global Village Backpackers is one of the popular ones, and you can always find a crowd of mingling travelers right on the doorstep.
However, if money is no obstacle, head straight to the Fairmont Royal York Hotel, where the regal décor will have you feeling like royalty. This hotel’s guest list has included world leaders and movie stars. You never know whom you might run into!
Where to Eat:
Paramount has gained quite the reputation and for good reason! Their take on Middle-Eastern cuisine is simply delicious, with people lining up for their shawarmas and tropical juices.
The Red Room is popular among university students. Dimly lit with stringed lights, this budget friendly menu boasts a wide array of world inspired meals, including: pad Thai, Italian pastas, and brie and avocado sandwiches.
The Sultan’s Tent offers Toronto’s best Moroccan dining experience. You will enjoy a four-course meal in an intimate silk-draped alcove, while belly-dancers pull you up to dance. At $40 this is quite the treat. (Performances are in the evenings.)
How to Get Around:
If you’re going to be exploring the various parts of the city, and I trust you are, I would recommend getting a day-pass on the TTC. For $10, you will have all day access to buses, subways and streetcars, giving you the freedom to roam the city.
The Main Attractions:
The CN Tower is Toronto’s iconic monument. Stretching 553.3 meters in the sky, the CN Tower is the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere. If jumping on the tower’s glass floor doesn’t quite give you the adrenaline rush you’re after, you can take part in the newly introduced Edge Walk. This new feature allows you to walk along the exterior of the tower’s main pod, safely harnessed, of course. For a sparkling view of the city, I’d recommend ascending the tower at night.
The galleries of the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) will take you back in time from the dinosaur roaming days to the dark Middle Ages, from Egypt’s pharaohs to ancient Greek civilizations. Adult admission to the ROM is $24, but on Wednesdays admission is free between 3:30 and 5:30.
The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) houses European paintings, contemporary installations, photographs, prints and drawings. Adult admission is $19.50, or $11 with valid student ID.
For the sports enthusiast, no trip would be complete without a visit to the Hockey Hall of Fame, where you can touch the Stanley Cup and check out hockey memorabilia.
Audrey’s Favorite Spots:
Kensington Market is the hippie part of town. This area offers outdoor cafes, bars with live music, vintage stores, open-air markets, and some of the best street art in the city.
With its red brick buildings and pedestrian streets, the Distillery District will transport you back to the Victorian era. Stop by the Mill St. Brewery for their organic lagers and fruit beers, or swing by Balzac’s for the perfect cup of coffee with a décor to match.
Located on the shores of Lake Ontario, Toronto’s Harbourfront is the perfect place for a stroll. This is also the departure point for boat tours and canoe/kayak rentals.
Toronto Island is a great place to spend the day. Rent a bicycle, sunbathe at the beach, or pack a picnic basket to enjoy in the gardens. The ferry docks are located on Bay St. and Queen’s Quay. An adult return ticket will cost you $6.50, and the ferry runs every 30 minutes.
Audrey Bergner graduated from York University with a BA in Humanities and German Studies. Though currently based in Toronto, she can often be found travelling through some remote region of the world. You can follow her adventures at http://thatbackpacker.wordpress.com/