Visit Toronto, Pronto!

Did you know that “The 6ix” is Drake’s nickname for his hometown of Toronto, Canada? It refers to the last number of the megacity’s main phone area code (416). Toronto is a sparkling city on the banks of Lake Ontario, home to an array of award-winning restaurants, quirky art-house bars and a handful of museums depicting Ontario’s rich history. From annual festivals (including the Pride Festival) to regular sporting events (Go Maple Leafs!), there’s plenty to see and do for everybody.

Before Toronto earned its name, it was a small fishing village called Teiaiagon populated by First Nations for more than 11,000 years. From the 17th Century, Europeans began exploring and settling the area and it became the site of a French trading post known as Teiaiagon.

The Royal Ontario Museum is a real gem!

When the British put a fort in the areas, they named it (confusingly) ‘York’ and it became known colloquially as ‘Little York’ so it wasn’t confused with New York. It wasn’t until 1834 that the town regained the name ‘Toronto’ which was the previous name for the fort. Today, the city is a melting pot of cultures, the largest city in Canada and the fourth largest in North America. Toronto is completely different than nearby Montreal.

Here’s a Pro Tip: The currency used is the Canadian Dollar. About two Canadian Dollar is equal to one British Pound, though the rate regularly fluctuates.

Most travellers touch down at Toronto Pearson Airport, located 30km west of the city. From the airport, the most affordable way to reach downtown Toronto is by public bus. There’s plenty of bus routes available, and one-way fares start as little as £2.50. If you’re not in a rush and willing to spend 75 minutes with multiple stops, this is an affordable option.

The fastest way to reach downtown Toronto, and my preferred mode of transport, is by taking the Union Pearson Express trains, which depart every 30-minutes and whisk you off to Union Station for approximately £7. Of course, taxis are readily available and cost around £45 one-way.

There’s so much to CN do in Toronto!

Here’s Another Pro Tip: Remember that tipping in Canada is custom. 15% is a good tip amount, though if you’re travelling in a group of six or more, that should be increased to 18%. Tipping is largely expected at restaurants but taxis also expect a 10% tip.  

Toronto is a megacity and so has lots of things to do. It also has a little extra flair thanks to its proximity to nearby areas of outstanding beauty, including the Toronto Islands and Niagara Falls. Check out my must-see attractions:

  • Royal Ontario Museum – Covering art, culture and natural history, the Royal Ontario Museum is the perfect attraction for the culturally minded. The museum is one of the largest in America and boasts thousands of exhibits. 
  • Casa Loma – Casa Loma is a gothic house dating back to the 1900s. The house and gardens have been used as a location in many movies, thanks to the unique revival architecture. I recommend booking a guided tour of the castle to admire the period furnishings. 

Do you know some players are ‘Enforcers’? Just checking!

 

  • CN Tower – The CN Tower was once the world’s tallest manmade structure until 2009 when the Burj Khalifa in Dubai stole its title. Today the tower is home to an aquarium, a 360 restaurant and a knee-trembling skywalk experience.
  • Art Gallery of Ontario – Step inside the Art Gallery of Ontario and be wowed by the almost 95,000 works of art on display. It’s unlikely you’ll even make a dent in the collection, but I’d suggest dedicating several hours to this distinguished museum.
  • St. Lawrence Market – With more than 120 vendors and 200 years of history, this market is a foodie’s paradise. National Geographic even voted the St. Lawrence Market one of the best food markets in the world.
  • Steam Whistle Brewery – Take a tour of Canada’s premium beer brewery fondly called the Cathedral of Beer. After a tour around the brewery, enjoy a tasting ‘flight’ in the taproom or  in the tradition European style beer garden.
  • Toronto Islands – The Toronto Islands are a small chain of islands found on the northern side of Lake Ontario. Take the 15-minute ferry from the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal and spend the day hiking, biking or canoeing your way around the network of islands.

Toronto has restaurants to suit every budget and every taste. To help you decide where to eat, check out my favourites:

  • The Chase – This rooftop restaurant is one of Toronto’s most popular fine-dining options. Make your way to the terrace and expect a refined evening sampling the likes of carrot-infused butter scallops while enjoying views over the city.
  • Porchetta & Co – There’s plenty of restaurants serving poutine in Toronto, but Porchetta & Co have quite the reputation for their mozzarella topped fries. The gravy is made from roasted porchetta drippings!
  • Richmond Station – I highly recommend heading to Richmond Station and ordering one of their spectacular charcuterie boards. Ask for extra cheese and enjoy!

I love poutine this in my mouth!

Toronto is known for its theatres, sporting events and exciting nightlife. Here are my favourite places for a fun evening:

  • Bar Raval – Sweeping Mahogany ceilings and seating spilling out onto the patio, Bar Raval is bustling with travellers and residents. Try The Velvet Thunder cocktail, you won’t regret it!
  • Ed Mirvish Theatre – This downtown theatre is the talk of Toronto and dates back to the 1920s. Once the largest of its kind in Canada, the Mirvish theatre produces several musicals and plays throughout the year. Toronto’s theatres rival Broadway in New York City for variety and quality of production!

There woud be no point to the Toronto skyline without the CN Tower!

  • Scotiabank Arena – The Scotiabank Arena is home of the Maple Leafs ice-hockey team. Whether you consider yourself a sports fan or not, the atmosphere is addictive. The stadium is multi-purpose, so if you visit in the late springtime, you might catch a Raptors NBA Basketball game.

Downtown Toronto is one of my favourite districts to stay in the city. It’s central, and you’re bound to be within walking distance of some of Toronto’s best restaurants and nightspots. Check out my favourite downtown hotels below:

  • Shangri-La Hotel Toronto – The Shangri-La Hotel in Toronto stands out from the skyline as one of the city’s tallest buildings! Inside, you can enjoy all the Shangri-La luxuries, including spacious suites, a Hammam Spa, and pool facilities.
  • The Ivy at Verity – The Ivy is arguably the best boutique hotel in Toronto. Bold, I know, but the quirky decor, downtown location and the fact that there are only four rooms available all combine to make the Ivy quite special.
  • Fairmont Royal York – The Fairmont Royal York is an affordable downtown hotel with flair. The hotel dates back to 1929 and still boasts some original features, including lavish ballrooms and hand-carved coffered ceilings.

Toronto is a great place for a visit because it has all of the cultural, sports and outdoor attractions that anyone could want. I love Toronto and always look forward to my next visit!

Love,

Isabella

+1
Isabella’s Checklist

What to See: Royal Ontario Museum, Casa Loma, CN Tower (https://www.rom.on.ca,

http://www.casaloma.ca/,

https://www.cntower.ca/en-ca/home.html)

Where to Stay: Shangri-La Hotel Toronto, The Ivy at Verity, Fairmont Royal York /(https://www.shangri-la.com/en/toronto/shangrila/,

https://www.theivyatverity.com/,

https://www.fairmont.com/royal-york-toronto)

Where to Party: Bar Raval, Ed Mirvish Theater, Scotiabank Arena (https://www.thisisbarraval.com/, https://www.mirvish.com/shows,

https://www.scotiabankarena.com/)

Where to Eat: The Chase, Porchetta & Co, Richmond Station (https://www.thechasetoronto.com/,

https://porchettaco.com/,

https://richmondstation.ca/

Where to Shop: Stroll down Queen Street West to appreciate Toronto’s burgeoning fashion industry.

Toronto won’t ‘Leaf’ my heart!
Isabella’s Checklist

What to See: Royal Ontario Museum, Casa Loma, CN Tower (https://www.rom.on.ca,

http://www.casaloma.ca/,

https://www.cntower.ca/en-ca/home.html)

Where to Stay: Shangri-La Hotel Toronto, The Ivy at Verity, Fairmont Royal York /(https://www.shangri-la.com/en/toronto/shangrila/,

https://www.theivyatverity.com/,

https://www.fairmont.com/royal-york-toronto)

Where to Party: Bar Raval, Ed Mirvish Theater, Scotiabank Arena (https://www.thisisbarraval.com/, https://www.mirvish.com/shows,

https://www.scotiabankarena.com/)

Where to Eat: The Chase, Porchetta & Co, Richmond Station (https://www.thechasetoronto.com/,

https://porchettaco.com/,

https://richmondstation.ca/

Where to Shop: Stroll down Queen Street West to appreciate Toronto’s burgeoning fashion industry.

Toronto won’t ‘Leaf’ my heart!

8 Comments to “Visit Toronto, Pronto!”

  1. I’ve been to Toronto a couple of times on business trips. Would love to return on a leisure visit to check out your recommendations..

    0
    kmf at 4:33 pm
    1. Thank you for your comment! Toronto is wonderful, I am sure you will love it as a holiday destination 🙂

      Love,
      Isabella and Katie

      0
      Katie L at 8:38 am
  2. Aw love seeing my hometown featured as a travel destination! Definitely a cool spot to visit. Would also add that Toronto has great Asian food since its residents are so diverse. Grabbing a bite in Chinatown and shopping in Kensington Market are must do’s!

    0
    Riana Ang-Canning at 7:29 pm
    1. What a wonderful place to call home 🙂 I appreciate your recommendations, they are fabulous! I will be sure to add them. Thank you!

      Love,
      Isabella and Katie

      0
      Katie L at 8:42 am
  3. I hadn’t realized Toronto was named “Little York” at one point. Seems like a good idea that they changed it. I’d love to visit the Steam Whistle Brewery and search for goodies at the St. Lawrence Market!

    0
    Becky Exploring at 6:53 am
  4. Great tips Isabella. We were supposed to be heading to Toronto last year but…. When we do get around to it we will definitely be using this great guide. Thank you

    0
    ROSS at 8:37 pm
    1. Sorry you missed your trip, Ross. Fingers crossed you can go this year! You are so very welcome for the guide, bon voyage!

      Love,
      Isabella and Katie

      0
      Katie L at 9:32 am
  5. St Lawrence Market sounds like my kind of market all that food thanks for the great insight to Toronto

    0
    Chalk and cheese travels at 3:32 pm

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