Authored by Lauren Marinigh
Many people visit Toronto and automatically flock to popular tourist destinations like the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario, or make their priorities a ride to the top of the CN tower, and a visit the Eaton Centre for some shopping. These visitors usually end their sightseeing there, and without further exploration leave with the impression that Toronto was nothing special.
Well I’m here to break the news – if you’ve departed Toronto believing the city is nothing special, you haven’t yet discovered what the city is all about. You failed to actually travel here. Your loss!
The following attractions and locations are bound to make you fall in love with Toronto, the top destinations within the city that tourists should be squeezing into their visit for a real taste of what Toronto is all about.
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Toronto’s Best Kept Secrets: Best Places to Visit in Toronto
Located in Toronto’s East and easily accessible by public transportation or by foot from the city centre, the Distillery District is lined with fabulous restaurants, cafes and shops, all housed in heritage buildings along pedestrian-only streets.
Cobblestone streets and beautiful historic architecture combines with unique shops and restaurants to make the Distillery District one of the cutest places to spend part of your day.
Those visiting over Christmas are in for a treat – this is the location of Toronto’s most popular Christmas Market, running for roughly a month in the lead up to Christmas Day.
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Corktown Cottage is set in central Toronto and is within a 10-minute walk of Distillery District. It also provides free Wi-Fi and a garden.
Elites Suites – One Bedroom Townhouse Condo
Elites Suites – One Bedroom Townhouse Condo is situated in Toronto and features free Wi-Fi. This property is set in the heart of the city.
One of the most unique sites in the city of Toronto, Kensington Market is located close to the downtown core and is lined with unique boutique shops, cafes and markets that you won’t find anywhere else in the city.
Several vintage and craft shops line the streets of Kensington Market, and diverse restaurants and stores sell everything from baked goods, spices and cheese, to specialty grocers selling those hard-to-find items too.
This is one of the most artsy neighborhoods in the city, and every corner will surprise you with something you’ve never seen before.
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Toronto Travellers Home
Located in the heart of Toronto, Toronto Travellers Home is within an easy walk of The Grange and Spadina Avenue. Those staying at the property can also enjoy complimentary Wi-Fi access during their stay.
Kensington Market House
Kensington Market House is situated in Toronto and is within a short walk of nearby landmarks, including the Anshei Minsk. It is conveniently located in the city centre.
This comfortable hostel in Toronto offers complimentary wireless internet, as well as a concierge and bicycle rental. It is conveniently located in the city centre.
Vogue ranked this area as the second coolest neighborhood in the world, next to Tokyo’s Shimokitazawa. And if a reference from Vogue doesn’t rank as a good enough reason to visit, then I don’t know what will!
Queen West is a trendy neighborhood lined with cool bars, restaurants, and stores. Known as Toronto’s Fashion District with an extensive assortment of clothing, shoe and fabric stores, Queen West is the perfect spot to channel your inner shopaholic.
But even if you’re not looking to shop, the nightlife, bars and patios will be sure to satisfy just about anyone’s needs.
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Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel
A 10-minute walk from Toronto Coach Terminal, the hotel has a accessible location, making it an ideal place to stay while visiting Toronto. It is ideally situated in the city centre.
Conveniently situated, Hilton Toronto allows for easy access to Toronto’s best sightseeing areas. It features complimentary wireless internet, a fitness centre and a swimming pool, and is within walking distance of Queen Street West.
Hyatt Regency Toronto
Featuring a popular location, Hyatt Regency Toronto commands views of Lake Ontario and Toronto, and is a 10-minute walk from from CN Tower. This modern hotel is set in the heart of the city.
Often forgotten by visitors from out of town though easily one of the best escapes from the city center, Toronto Island has something to offer everyone, from an amusement park for the kids, to great beaches, kayaking, paddle boarding and biking.
This ultimate outdoor retreat is also home to one of the best views of the city, so if you’re looking for a photo opp which is unique, rest assured this will wipe the floor of every other tourist snap you’ve seen. It cost only $7 CDN for a return ferry ticket to the island and you can bring your own alcohol and food.
Top Tip: You can set off on a cruise and explore Toronto Harbour and the Toronto Islands archipelago! The view of the Toronto skyline from the boat is breathtaking. You can book in here!
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Westin Harbour Castle
Strategically located in the middle of the city, this 4-star hotel makes for an excellent base in Toronto. Featuring views of Toronto Islands and Lake Ontario, it also offers a multitude of amenities, including a Jacuzzi, a sauna and outdoor tennis courts.
EG Suites – Stunning Condo
EG Suites – Stunning Condo provides a comfortable setting while in Toronto. This hotel is set in the heart of the city.
Diamond Suites Toronto
Diamond Suites Toronto is set in Toronto and is within a short walk of nearby attractions, including Rogers Centre and CN Tower. It is conveniently situated in the city centre.
University of Toronto (U of T)
Don’t think touring university grounds when visiting a city like Toronto sounds silly – the University of Toronto St. George (Downtown) campus is one that shouldn’t be missed.
This university was established in 1827, and due to its old age and the gorgeous architectural marvels surrounded by green space and interlocking courtyards, it is worth a visit to walk around the grounds. Another fantastic choice of location for those looking for unique photo opportunities that not too many Toronto tourists take.
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Holiday Inn Toronto Bloor Yorkville
Strategically located in the middle of the city, this 3-star hotel makes for an excellent base in Toronto. It has complimentary wireless internet, a bar and is a stone’s throw from the Bata Shoe Museum.
InterContinental Hotel Yorkville Toronto
InterContinental Hotel Yorkville Toronto offers contemporary accommodation in Toronto and is within a 20-minute walk of Dupont Station. It features a golf course, a beauty centre, a sauna and an indoor pool.
University of Toronto Wilson Hall Residence
Centrally situated, University of Toronto Wilson Hall Residence allows for easy access to Toronto’s main sightseeing areas. It also offers complimentary Wi-Fi.
Originally a home to a financier, Casa Loma is now converted into a Toronto museum and landmark. It was built in 1914 and now is a gorgeous place to pay a visit to when in Toronto.
Casa Loma is less than an hour walk, or short subway ride to get too. This landmark is a site to see, even if you decide not go inside and explore the over 90 rooms in this castle, but if you do, you’ll get a great view of the city from just about every set of windows.
Entry to Casa Loma is included in the Toronto CityPass which we highly recommend purchasing for your time in Toronto. This is a 5-in-1 pass which gives you access to the best attractions in the city and is valid for 9 days, giving you plenty of time to visit each attraction at your leisure. As well as offering great value, the pass also saves time by including fast-track tickets for priority entry.
Toronto is ranked as one of the most multicultural cities in the world with over half of its population born outside of Canada!
Due to the diversity of the city, cultural neighborhoods are dotted all throughout, making great shops, markets and restaurants that are unique to each culture easy to find, and making Toronto neighborhoods fairly fabulous to explore. One minute you’re in the downtown core, and in an artsy neighborhood or wandering through Chinatown the next.
There is a little bit of everything in Toronto, and to visit without reserving some time to explore these culturally rich neighborhoods would be a shame. Be sure to make time for a visit to Chinatown, Little India, Greektown, and Little Italy while there.
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Photo Credits: Cover photo and Pinterest designs by paul bica. In order of appearance: James Westby, Ryan, Jacob Allen-Jordan, Don Gunn, John Vetterli, Lauren Marinigh, The City of Toronto, InSapphoWeTrust.