Things to Do in Toronto: The 17 Best Places to Visit (All Highlights)
You’re planning to visit Toronto during your next trip and you’re looking for the best things to do?
You’re at the right place!
With its skyscrapers, trendy neighborhoods, massive shopping center, its mini Times Square, and Chinatown, Toronto is often compared to its American cousin, New York.
And of course, let’s not forget the world famous Niagara Falls located nearby!
In order to help you plan your stay, I have prepared this guide of the 17 best things to do in Toronto, with all points of interest and must-see attractions.
In addition to my list of things to do and activities, I will also give you optimized itineraries to visit Toronto in 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 days as well as my selection of the best accommodations depending on your budget.
So, what are the best things to do in Toronto? Where to stay?
- Things to Do in Toronto: The 17 Best Places to Visit (All Highlights)
- Visiting Toronto: All must-see attractions
- 1. CN Tower
- 2. The Royal Ontario Museum or ROM
- 3. The Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
- 4. Historic Distillery District
- 5. St Lawrence Market in Toronto
- 6. The Art Gallery of Ontario
- 7. Kensington Market
- 8. Chinatown
- 9. Casa Loma
- 10. The Toronto Islands
- 11. High Park
- 12. Eaton Centre and Dundas Square
- 13. Ontario Science Centre
- 14. Other museums to visit in Toronto
- 15. Fort York
- 16. Other cool activities in Toronto
- Best things to do around Toronto
- How many days to visit Toronto?
- One day in Toronto
- 2 days in Toronto
- 3 days in Toronto
- 4 or 5 days in Toronto
- Where to stay in Toronto
- Where to eat in Toronto
- Getting to Toronto
- My thoughts on Toronto
- City Pass Toronto
- Tourist Map of Toronto
- You’re traveling in Canada? These articles will help you!
- Visiting Toronto: All must-see attractions
Visiting Toronto: All must-see attractions
1. CN Tower
CN Tower is Toronto’s main tourist attraction. Scaling it remains the best way to grab a first-hand impression of the city!
Your first step will see you riding the glass elevator, whisking you up to a height of 346 meters in a mere 58 seconds.
This gives you access to a breathtaking panorama of the city. Brace yourself for a little thrill as you walk on the transparent glass floor.
If you haven’t had your fill, you can climb even higher, up to the second platform named SkyPod, but it’s an extra charge (so watch the type of ticket you buy). The second tier lies 33 floors above the first and offers an even more unobstructed view.
Finally, for the bravest souls, the CN Tower features a unique thrill – the EdgeWalk. With just a harness for safety, you can step out onto the exterior ledge that’s 1.5 meters wide. A truly breathtaking experience. However, given the steep price, be sure you won’t chicken out beforehand!
If you fancy it, you can also dine at the CN Tower. The restaurant is situated on a platform that rotates throughout the meal, ensuring you don’t miss a bit of Toronto’s night view. A fantastic idea for a couple’s activity in Toronto!
The CN Tower being the essential tourist spot in Toronto, you’d better book your tickets in advance on the official website.
2. The Royal Ontario Museum or ROM
This is the second must-visit spot in Toronto.
The Royal Ontario Museum is famed for its very peculiar architecture, which has sparked some controversy. It comprises an old stone facade into which is embedded the new glass and aluminum structure, resembling a crystal.
Pretty unique, but it’ll make it hard for you to miss it! The ROM is Canada‘s largest museum.
Inside, you’ll find rooms devoted to world cultures and natural history. The history of Canada’s First Nations is particularly well articulated. The Chinese and Japanese art collection is also worth a peek.
The pièce de résistance, for me, is undoubtedly the jaw-dropping dinosaur exhibit with an extraordinary collection of dinosaur fossils and artifacts. This museum is a must-do on a trip to Toronto, sure to charm both kids and adults.
Given the museum’s vastness, I’d recommend you to devote at least 3 hours to it. No need to fret about the explanations because they are provided in multiple languages. You’ll have no trouble understanding the fascinating details! And that’s a bonus point!
Entry is included in the Toronto City Pass.
Now you know what to do in Toronto when it rains!
3. The Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
Best things to do in Toronto with family
After the dinosaurs and to stick with the animals, I suggest you take your kids to visit Ripley’s Aquarium. The entrance is also included in the Toronto City Pass.
With more than 16,000 creatures, it’s the largest aquarium in Canada. Through various galleries, you can admire numerous species of fresh and saltwater creatures.
You’ll also get to travel through the longest underwater tunnel in North America on a conveyor belt and admire sharks and octopuses just above your head.
Pools are also set up to let you touch horseshoe crabs, sharks, and rays.
While I’m not particularly fond of aquariums myself, I must admit that this one is exceptionally well done and offers a delightful and playful experience for children. Plan at least 1h30 for the visit.
The information for the visit can be found on the official Ripley’s Aquarium website.
4. Historic Distillery District
The Distillery District is a historic neighbourhood in Toronto, located right in the heart of Old Toronto. It is home to several red brick buildings, typical of the city.
Originally, the buildings belonged to one of the largest distilleries in the world, Gooderham and Worts.
Today the district has been rehabilitated into a pedestrian zone. You’ll find a multitude of trendy cafes, restaurants, quirky little shops and art galleries.
Of course, the tradition of the distillery is still very much alive and you can therefore try several types of local beers. The district is therefore the ideal place to go in Toronto for a drink and to taste local products.
During the Christmas period, the Distillery lights up and houses the Christmas market. A magical place not to be missed during your stay in Toronto.
5. St Lawrence Market in Toronto
No matter the city you visit, you’ll always find a market to taste local products. And Toronto is no exception with the St. Lawrence market.
More than 200 years old, this indoor market is an authentic food market where you can find good fruits and vegetables as well as cheeses, bread and of course maple syrup. You can also eat on site if you wish.
Guided tours are also organized to learn more about its history and they of course include tastings. You can book yours by clicking on the button below:
If you’re interested in exploring the market, you’ll be glad to know that it has its own official website. Just keep in mind that it’s closed on Mondays (the market itself, not the website 😋 ).
6. The Art Gallery of Ontario
The second museum to visit in Toronto after the Royal Museum is the Art Gallery, also known as AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario).
The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) boasts an impressive collection of over 90,000 artefacts, making it one of North America’s most remarkable museums.
It presents a collection of very eclectic works ranging from Canadian to European art. All forms of art are also represented: photography, painting, sculpture or even graphic arts.
The museum also hosts many high-quality temporary exhibitions.
To buy your skip-the-line ticket for the “AGO” in Toronto, click on the green button below:
7. Kensington Market
Kensington Market is one of the most popular and oldest neighborhoods to explore in Toronto.
This hippy, bohemian, chilled-out, and vintage neighborhood (well, a bit of everything really) is a super cool place to roam around. Here you’ll find plenty of thrift stores, boutiques selling goods from all around the world and even organic, vegetarian, and vegan restaurants.
Street art enthusiasts will also be in for a treat with the abundance of graffiti adorning the walls.
To admire this art, the most well-known spot is Graffiti Alley, just a ten-minute walk from Kensington Market. If you’re lucky, you might even catch some artists in action.
Right next to Kensington, you’ll find another vibrant and cosmopolitan neighborhood, Chinatown. It stretches from Spadina Avenue to Dundas West.
It’s the best place in Toronto to find exotic products and fruits and vegetables at unbeatable prices.
It’s also renowned for its excellent restaurants. Noodles, dumplings, chicken soup, and other Chinese delights await you.
9. Casa Loma
For an unusual and quite unique Toronto experience, head to Casa Loma, a true medieval-style castle.
Casa Loma, or “house on the hill,” has overlooked Toronto since 1914. A wealthy industrialist built it for the astronomical sum of 3.5 million dollars at the time. Sadly, his enjoyment was cut short because of his bankruptcy.
You can visit Casa Loma, and admission is actually included in the City Pass. Audio guides are available in multiple languages.
The view from the top of Casa Loma’s turrets is one of Toronto’s most beautiful. You’ll also get to explore the castle’s 100 rooms, including a massive library.
To top it all off, Casa Loma has a magnificently maintained 2-hectare garden with flower beds, sculptures, and fountains. It’s the perfect place for a leisurely stroll.
If you don’t have a City Pass, you can purchase your Casa Loma admission ticket (including an audio guide) by clicking on this green button:
10. The Toronto Islands
If you want to get away from the urban hustle and bustle and enjoy a relaxing moment, I recommend heading to the Toronto Islands.
They’re easily accessible by a quick 10-minute ferry ride from Queens Quay. There are about fifteen islands connected by bridges or accessible only by boat. The three largest ones are Centre Island, Algonquin Island, and Ward’s Island.
The ferry ride offers an unforgettable panorama of Toronto’s skyline, the CN Tower, and other tourist attractions in Toronto. If you take the return trip at night, it’s even more beautiful as everything is illuminated.
On the islands, you can fully immerse yourself in tranquility as cars are not allowed. The best way to get around is by renting a bike, so I recommend renting one for the day or half-day.
There are also bike tours of the islands available (including ferry transportation from Toronto). You’ll find all the info you need here:
Along the coast, you’ll find gorgeous beaches for picnicking and swimming. Inland, you can admire the numerous 1920s vacation homes and their lovely English gardens.
If you’d like, you can also take a boat tour around the islands. You can book this Toronto cruise directly below:
You can find all the information about getting to the islands and the activities to do there on this website.
11. High Park
No visit to Toronto would be complete without a visit to High Park, the city’s green lung.
This massive 160-hectare park is the perfect place to take a beautiful walk and relax on a bench after the city’s hustle and bustle.
And if you’re tired of walking, there’s a small train that goes around the park, a fun activity to do with kids in Toronto. They can also have a blast in the playgrounds and see the animals at the park’s free zoo.
Don’t forget to bring your picnic!
12. Eaton Centre and Dundas Square
If you’re wondering where to go shopping in Toronto, it’s at the Eaton Centre that you’ll find it all.
The Eaton Centre is Toronto’s largest shopping mall. On multiple levels, you’ll find all the American brands (Abercrombie, American Eagle Outfitters, etc.) with nearly 300 stores, bars, and restaurants. Naturally, it’s a very popular place.
In the basement, an enormous food court awaits you if you’re feeling peckish. The hardest part will be deciding what to eat!
To make sure you don’t miss any of your favorite shops and fully indulge your credit card, check out the Eaton Centre’s website with the directory of all the stores.
13. Ontario Science Centre
Still wondering what to do in Toronto?
Since admission to the Ontario Science Centre is also included in the City Pass, it would be a shame to miss out during your stay in Toronto.
The museum covers topics such as nature, geology, science, music, and astronomy in a fun and interactive way.
You can, for example, touch many objects and conduct experiments in the Science Gallery or play the piano in a fountain, because why not? Children won’t be left out with an entire section of the museum dedicated to them.
If you want to learn more about access, prices, and hours of the Science Centre, check out the official website.
14. Other museums to visit in Toronto
In addition to the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto offers a variety of other museums to explore:
- The Bata Shoe Museum (admission tickets available here!) on the history of shoes. It features an impressive collection of shoes from around the world.
- Little Canada, which reproduces all of Canada’s most famous sites and monuments in miniature scale: Niagara Falls, the CN Tower, Quebec…
- The MOCA – Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto
- The Aga Khan Museum on Islamic arts and culture
- The Textile Museum of Canada
- The MZTV Museum on the history of television
- The Gardiner Museum on ceramic art
- The Hockey Hall of Fame for hockey fans.
15. Fort York
Continuing my Toronto guide with Fort York, one of the city’s few historic sites.
Built in 1793, it was designed to shield the harbor from enemy invasion during wartime. It was home to several military facilities, including a stone gunpowder store and wooden barracks.
Today, you can visit many of the original buildings and the brand new visitor center, which features an exhibition on the history of the Fort.
If you’re into history, it’s a must-see spot in Toronto.
16. Other cool activities in Toronto
I also suggest making the most of your Toronto visit by trying out one or more activities.
To get all the information and make your reservations, just click on the orange links:
- A hop-on-hop-off bus tour with 20 stops in the city. Your ticket also includes a free harbor cruise (available only from June to October).
- A harbor cruise with lunch, brunch, or dinner included to enjoy a fantastic meal while admiring the view of Toronto’s skyscrapers.
- A private guided walking tour with a local – Customize your itinerary and choose the duration: from 2 to 8 hours.
- A helicopter flight over Toronto
- A guided bike tour of downtown Toronto
- A night tour themed on ghosts
- A beer-themed guided tour including stops at pubs in the St. Lawrence market and Distillery districts + tasting.
Best things to do around Toronto
By now, you should know what to visit in Toronto.
So, it’s time to go and explore the surroundings of Toronto with my selection of the most beautiful places to see nearby.
17. Niagara Falls
It’s about a 1.5-hour drive from Toronto where you’ll find one of the iconic attractions of any decent Canadian itinerary, and the most famous spot to see near Toronto: the Niagara Falls!
With their impressive and deafening flow, they’re unquestionably one of the must-see in Ontario. You’ll definitely be awed by the grandeur and beauty of the most powerful falls in North America.
The fastest way to get there is to rent a car. Once there, you absolutely must go on a cruise at the foot of the falls.
Given the line, I recommend booking in advance:
You also have the option to fly over the falls in a helicopter. Even if it’s a bit more expensive, it’s an unforgettable experience! And hey, you don’t visit Niagara Falls every day 😄.
Finally, you can also take advantage of your falls visit to do 3 other really cool activities which also allow you to admire them from a different perspective:
- The “Journey Behind The Falls” activity (click here to book your tickets) to get to the viewing platform at the foot of the falls by going through tunnels, 40 meters underground.
- A zip line descent over the Niagara Gorge – Book directly here!
- Take a unique gondola suspended above the rapids of the falls.
How many days to visit Toronto?
I recommend you to spend 3 days in Toronto, especially if you want to include a visit to the Niagara Falls in this eastern Canada trip.
Moreover, if you’ve decided to visit Toronto in high-season, you’ll likely have to queue in front of the monuments, which can quickly shorten the list of things to see.
I can only recommend you to get the City Pass or skip-the-line tickets that I talked about to limit the loss of time.
I’ll explain how to visit Toronto in 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 days below.
One day in Toronto
If you have one day to visit Toronto, here’s a great itinerary to discover the city’s must-see spots:
- Morning spent exploring different city districts: Kensington Market, Chinatown, and the Distillery district
- Lunch break at the St. Lawrence market
- Discovery of Ripley’s Aquarium
- Ascend the CN Tower just before sunset
2 days in Toronto
If you’ve planned to stay in Toronto for 2 days, in addition to the previous itinerary, you’ll also be able to visit:
- Casa Loma to enjoy the view over Toronto from its turrets.
- The Royal Ontario Museum and its collection of dinosaur skeletons.
- Lunch break
- Spend the afternoon discovering the Toronto Islands
3 days in Toronto
3 days in Toronto will allow you to get to know the city a bit more. According to the list in this top 17 of things to do in Toronto, you still have to see:
- The Art Gallery of Ontario
- Fort York
- High Park
- The Science Centre or other museums that tickle your fancy
- Do a bit of shopping at the Eaton Centre
- A harbor cruise with lunch, brunch, or dinner included
- A night tour themed on ghosts
- A helicopter flight over Toronto
Or, for this third day, I highly recommend taking a trip to the world-famous Niagara Falls! If you opt for the organized tour that I introduced earlier, remember to book it in advance:
There’s also a Marineland next to the Niagara Falls, but I don’t recommend it, the park is abandoned and not worth its nearly $50 entrance fee in my opinion!
4 or 5 days in Toronto
If you have 4 or 5 days in Toronto, the best advice I can give you is to take your time. You’ll have the time to visit all the city’s points of interest + Niagara Falls without rushing!
Where to stay in Toronto
It’s not so easy to find a hotel that offers good value for money in Toronto. To help you out, I’ve prepared a list of the best hotels depending on your budget.
One last tip: If the place you’re attracted to is available, book it right away. Demand is very high in the city, and the best accommodations disappear (very) quickly!
- The Clarence Park: This youth hostel is located a 10-minute walk from the CN Tower. Dormitory bed from €35 per night. Strong points: the location, the conviviality, curtains for dormitory beds, modernity. An excellent choice for budget accommodation in Toronto!
- Margie Townhome Suites: This guesthouse is located a 5-minute walk from the Eaton Centre. Cozy and pleasant rooms starting from €110. Strong points: the location, the calm, proximity to the metro.
- The Novotel Toronto Centre: Located right next to St. Lawrence Market. Contemporary and very spacious double rooms starting from €150. Strong points: indoor pool, location, excellent breakfast.
- One King West Hotel and Residence: Nestled in Old Toronto, a mere 5-minute walk from the St. Lawrence Market. This joint boasts modern, spacious and elegant suites, complete with stunning city views, starting from €190, with a breakfast option at €17. Strong points: Prime downtown location, top-notch bedding, and the breathtaking views.
- The Omni King Edward Hotel: For anyone looking to treat themselves during their Toronto escapade. This upscale hotel resides in the financial district, just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the Eaton Centre. Cosy double rooms with tasteful décor start from €300, with breakfast at an extra €23. Strong points: prime location, attentive staff, room décor, and comfort, as well as an excellent breakfast. A perfect choice for a luxury stay in Toronto or a romantic night with your partner!
- Bisha Hotel Toronto: A 5-star hotel just 500m from the CN Tower. This establishment boasts superb rooms designed by none other than star Lenny Kravitz’s designer studio. Starting at a cool €390. Strong points: the infinity pool on the rooftop with views of the CN Tower, the hotel’s excellent restaurants, and an ideal location. The best hotel in Toronto for a luxury stay!
You may have noticed, staying in downtown Toronto isn’t exactly cheap, but that’s to be expected given it’s a bustling Canadian tourist hub.
If you’re looking to save a bit and don’t mind staying a bit further out, hotels near the Toronto Airport (about 17km from downtown) generally offer lower rates.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Doubletree by Hilton Toronto Airport
- Best Western Plus Travel Hotel Toronto Airport
- Courtyard by Marriott Toronto Airport
- Hampton Inn by Hilton Toronto Airport Corporate Centre
Where to eat in Toronto
- Canoe: Located in the heart of the business district, on the 54th floor of a high-rise. It offers a spectacular view of the city. The restaurant serves regional Canadian cuisine and local wines. The dishes are carefully prepared and beautifully presented.
- The Keg: A Canadian restaurant chain with several locations in Toronto. The Keg is a steakhouse that offers a wide variety of excellent quality meats. The service is great, and the décor is nice.
- Sunset Grill: Located on Richmond Street, near the Eaton Centre. This diner is known for its typical Canadian brunch with pancakes, sausages, bacon, etc. It’s also the perfect place to grab a sandwich or a bagel for a quick lunch. The food is high quality, and the portions are generous, enough to keep you going all day. Great value for money.
- Carisma: If you fancy a break from typical Canadian fare, you might want to try Carisma. This Italian restaurant (run by “real” Italians) offers dishes made with fresh and high-quality ingredients. Everything is delicious.
Getting to Toronto
You can get to Toronto directly by plane from France. Most of the flights go straight through.
If you’re coming from Montreal, you can drive to Toronto in around 5 hours 40 minutes.
There’s also an express bus service that links the two cities, taking about 6 hours for around $30.
Finally, you can also reach the city by train. Expect at least a 5-hour journey for the fastest one (though they’re few and far between), with prices starting from $67.
My thoughts on Toronto
I really enjoyed visiting Toronto, a city that skillfully blends an American vibe with its skyscrapers and a deeply ingrained Canadian culture.
The city is super cosmopolitan, and it’s a real treat to soak up various atmospheres throughout the day: hipster in Kensington, local at the St. Lawrence market and in the Distillery District, American at the base of the CN Tower, historic at Fort York, and Asian in Chinatown.
Of course, climbing to the top of the CN Tower is a lasting memory from my Toronto trip, and I was particularly impressed by the Niagara Falls.
City Pass Toronto
The main attractions in Toronto can be quite pricey! To save some bucks, the best option is to grab your Toronto City Pass.
Tourist Map of Toronto
To help you visualize the city a bit better, I’ve created a tourist map of Toronto, with all the best things to do and must-see attractions.
You can display the map’s legend by clicking the button with a small arrow located in the top left corner.
🚗 Rent a car
🗽 Book entrance tickets and guided visits
🏄 Book your sports activities
🚤 Book your rental boat
🌍 Take a travel insurance
🙎 Book a tour
🚅 Book your train tickets
✈️ Book your flight
You’re traveling in Canada? These articles will help you!
Discover all my articles about Canada: All my articles to help you plan your trip to Canada are listed there.
- 20 Best Things to do in Canada
- 20 Best Things to do in Quebec – All best places to visit in the French-speaking province!
- Itinerary: One week in Canada: The perfect itinerary to visit Canada in 6, 7 or 8 days!
- Itinerary: 10 days in Canada: All my best tips for organizing your 10-day trip to Canada
- Itinerary: 2 weeks in Canada: How to visit Western Canada in 15 days.
- Itinerary: 3 weeks in Canada: My epic itinerary to visit Western and Eastern Canada in 21 days
- Itinerary: 1 month in Canada: How to visit Eastern Canada in a month!
- Itinerary: One week in Quebec: How to visit Quebec in 6, 7 or 8 days, with all my best tips!
- Itinerary: 10 days in Quebec: An amazing 10-day itinerary in Quebec
- Itinerary: 2 weeks in Quebec: All my best tips to visit Quebec in 14, 15 or 16 days
- Itinerary: 3 weeks in Quebec: the perfect 3-week road trip in Quebec!
- Road trip in Canada: The best itineraries for 7, 10, 15, 21 days and 1 month
- Road trip in Quebec: The best itineraries for 7, 10, 15 and 21 days
- Calgary: Top 11 things to do during your visit
- Montreal: 33 best things to see and do
- Ottawa: 15 epic places to visit
- Quebec City: Top 17 things to do and see
- Toronto: The 17 things to do during your stay
- Vancouver: Top 25 places to visit and activities
- Toronto in 3 days – The perfect itinerary to visit the city in 72 hours!