Itching to see Canada – and making your way specifically to Toronto?
Our guest blogger, a Canadian herself, gives Contiki some insider tips on tackling Toronto, in 24 hours – and she breaks it down based on your interests! Check it out!
Guest blog post by Roop Gill, Contiki traveler
I love traveling to new cities, countries and continents. I love getting on a plane and waving the Toronto skyline good-bye (for a while). I love exploring cultures, foods and festivals that my city doesn’t offer.
That being said, I totally love Toronto, my hometown, and would recommend everyone to visit it at least once for a whirlwind of culture, food, music, art and activities. When I meet people in other countries and they ask me about my city, I always say, “Toronto has something to offer to everybody, regardless of their tastes and preferences.”
And I am not kidding.
So, just to prove my point and give aspiring travelers an idea of which neighborhood they should be heading to (because trust me, you will get overwhelmed) I have drafted suggested itineraries suited for different personalities.
Congratulations fashionistas and shopaholics: you are in the fashion capital of Canada! Have breakfast at a restaurant on Yonge Street while the Eaton Centre mall opens up. Check out this famous mall before it gets over crowded. Walk west on Queen Street to hit the Fashion District of Queen West. From designer outlets to unique boutiques, you can satisfy all of your shopping needs here. Stick around this neighborhood and walk south one block to enjoy lunch at one-of-a-kind restaurants in the King West neighborhood. Drop your bags off at the hotel and then head over to Yorkville for some high-end shopping (or window shopping and gawking) before having dinner at one of the several happening restaurants in Toronto.
As of last year, CN Tower launched a new service that has all adventure lovers talking: the CN Tower Edge Walk. You can walk the circumference of the top of Toronto’s tallest building at a height of 356 meters and check out Toronto from a unique location. The only catch: you have to be visiting Toronto in the Spring or Summer. If you are around for Winter, no worries! You can find a small hill in one of the parks in the suburbs and try tobogganing, or rent skates at a rink and glide on the ice. And if you really want to get your heart pumping, get yourselves tickets to watch a Toronto Maple Leafs game and cheer your heart out.
If you are a lover of art, you wouldn’t want to leave Toronto. Rent bicycles for the day or a few hours to explore the city and all of its indie culture. Check out the Art Gallery of Ontario for mainstream stuff or head to small galleries in the west end for underground Toronto art. While biking through Kensington market, check out the urban art in form of graffiti, murals and architecture. This is also the perfect place to taste some exotic foods (especially if you are vegetarian). Head down to the Harbourfront to check out the Power Plant Contemporary Art gallery. After sundown you can either catch a musical at the Princess of Wales Theatre or an opera at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, or enjoy a live band near Kensington, or chill out at the Drake Hotel, home of the indie party scene.
Do you love to immerse yourself in the history of the cities you visit? If yes, then Toronto will be a treat for you! Start your day at Casa Loma, Canada’s famous historic romantic mansion complete with 98 rooms to explore and enjoy. While making your way back to the downtown core, stop by the Royal Ontario Museum to check out exhibits from around the world. One of the things Canadians are extremely passionate about is hockey. So if you truly want to get a feel for Canadian history, you must stop by at the Hockey Hall of Fame, located on Front Street. For dinner, don’t just expect a meal, or even a show, expect a whole experience when you go to Medieval Times. Become a Lord or a Lady and dine in medieval style while watching an animated drama on horses unfold in front of your eyes.
Ring in the late hours of the night at Toronto’s Historic Distillery District by enjoying the cobblestone streets and mouth-watering beers brewed in-house.
If you want to get your drink on in legendary Contiki style and party into the late hours of the night, you’ll never be out of options in Toronto. Here are a few ways to spend time from dusk to dawn in T-dot. Grab your favorite beer from anywhere in the world at Bier Markt (beer market). Walk a few blocks north and you’ll end up in the entertainment district. Choose to go to a bumping club or groovy bar depending on weather you like to dance or not. If singing is more of your thing then you need to make your way to Korea Town where you can karaoke your heart out. PS: Don’t forget to grab a late night poutine or burrito.
Traveling to Toronto with your significant other and want to frolic around the city holding hands? Here are some places you should visit. Pack a picnic and catch a ferry to Toronto Island if you are visiting in the summer. Take a walk or rent bikes, buy something from the vendors, relax on the beach: there are tonnes of options to pass time on the island. If it’s the middle of winter, rent skates either at the Harbourfront Centre or Nathan Phillips Square and skate around holding hands. When it is time for your romantic dinner, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Choose from a cozy restaurant in Little Italy or a fancy spot in Yorkville. Finish your meal and your night with some delicious deserts from Moroco chocolates in Yorkville.
You can spend one day in Toronto and feel like you went around the world just as you walk across different blocks. Start your morning with some pancakes in Kensington Market. This is the most diverse neighborhood in North America. Explore the cheese stores, handmade crafts and jewellery shops, visit authentic Jamaican fish vendors or just try different tapas. When the walking tires you out, go to Chinatown for the cheapest, but the most delicious, lunch you’ll find in Toronto. Pick a favorite culture or food and visit that area. Your choices? Korea town, Little India, Greek town, Little Italy to name a few.
I don’t mention the iconic CN Tower with all these suggested itineraries because it’s just understood that you will visit the great Canadian landmark. When you can spot one building from all parts of Toronto, it’s hard to resist the urge of checking it out.
So hopefully, we’ll see you in Toronto soon! Happy travels.
Roop is a Canadian journalist and a blogger with a passion for seeing the world and a preference of doing so with Contiki. You can read about her other adventures and check out her travel photos on her blog, roopgill.com.