We British love a bit of history and the elegant stately homes and castles that remind us of the glory days and a simpler time. But once you have visited a dazzling cosmopolitan like Toronto, you may be seduced by the energy, beauty, and convenience that comes with its young age and modern outlook.
Imagery taken by: Scarlett Leung
Take off from London on an eight-hour direct flight to Toronto Pearson International Airport. Downtown is less than an hour away by car or public transport.
Don’t forget to apply for your Electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA) before setting off, and make room in your suitcase for maple syrup, ice wine, and other wonderful Canadian exports.
Ready to uncover the gems of this amazing second city in Canada? Join us as we introduce five things that will make you fall in love with Toronto.
PAST AND PRESENT
Founded in 1834, the city of Toronto is considerably younger than many major cities across the globe. It is also named the world’s most youth-friendly city in a 2013 research jointly conducted by Youthful Cities and the Financial Times, as if we need more proof that living in Canada’s liberal and creatively vibrant city is not a bad way to spend your 20s.
But remnants of its colonial history have found a way to co-exist with modern life in harmony and are just as inviting to locals and tourists as its shopping malls and trendy bars.
The Roundhouse Park turns a former railway roundhouse into an entertainment complex, dining spot, and a museum that celebrates the city’s old public transportation. The city hall stands out with a modern and striking design, a stark contrast to the 119-year-old, redbrick city hall on the other side of Bay Street.
Make your way to the east side of downtown to find more traces of old Toronto. The city’s first post office is a small museum that remain a fully functioning post office, where you can practise your penmanship with a feather quill.
Keep heading east to the Distillery District, where the old and the new co-create a brand new kind of liveliness and romance, elevating Toronto’s rich culture to new heights. Hip restaurants, boutique shops, and art galleries adorn the interior of structures that once housed the breweries. Lucky tourists may even catch an outdoor performance on a warm summer day.
255 Bremner Blvd, Toronto, ON M5V 3M9
Toronto City Hall
100 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
Toronto Old City Hall
60 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5H 2M3
Toronto’s First Post Office
260 Adelaide St E, Toronto, ON M5A 1N1
The Distillery District
Between Parliament Street and Cherry Street
It is no secret the food of Toronto benefits from its highly multicultural population, but this should not be the reason to overlook some brilliant Canadian eateries.
Grab a coffee at Second Cup before having an alfresco lunch in St Lawrence Market. BeaverTails is a must-try local sweet treat while you enjoy street performances at Harbourfront. The smoked ribs and buttermilk cheddar cornbread in Amsterdam BrewHouse are to die for, but you will be spoiled for choices in Old Town and wish you could spend the entire holiday just to explore the burgeoning food scene in Toronto.
To sample authentic world food for a bargain, head to China Town and the nearby Kensington Market, instantly recognisable by its funky graffiti, where gems like Wanda’s Pie In The Sky and Blackbird Baking Co. will leave you wanting more. Head further west for Koreatown on Bloor Street West, Little Italy on College Street, and Little Portugal on Dundas Street West.
St Lawrence Market
93 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5E 1C3
Bordered by College Street, Spadina Avenue, Dundas Street West, and Bathurst Street Queen’s Park metro station
Concerts, circus, comedy shows… take your pick of evening entertainment in the cities lively theatre district with over 100 theatres, halls, and clubs – most notably the elegant Ed Mirvish Theatre – that light up the city every night with world-class acts and their electrifying performances.
Besides having the third largest English language theatre centre in the world after London’s West End and New York’s Broadway, this beautiful city has gained a reputation and status in the film industry in the last 20 years that is comparable to Cannes.
The annual Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is where art house and mainstream films get the red carpet treatment. Open to public, the festival’s major prize is the People’s Choice Award which is known to generate Oscar buzz due to past winners at both awards, such as the British films The King’s Speech and Slumdog Millionaire.
If big lights and grand shows aren’t your thing, don’t worry – the city has just as much to offer. There is an array of museums for different social and historical subjects, though you may be more impressed by some of their unique architecture. The Royal Ontario Museum boasts a collection of 13 million artefacts from South Asia to Africa. For a taste of modern art, check out the Art Gallery of Ontario or Bata Shoe Museum. Casa Loma is unmissable with its stately and European exterior, while the nearby Spadina Museum will transport you to a bygone era.
TIFF Bell Lightbox
350 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V 3X5
Royal Ontario Museum
100 Queens Park, Toronto, ON M5S 2C6
Art Gallery of Ontario
317 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M5T 1G4
Bata Shoe Museum
327 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M5S 1W7
1 Austin Terrace, Toronto, ON M5R 1X8
285 Spadina Rd, Toronto, ON M5R 2V5
Don’t be fooled by the skyscrapers and underground shopping complex (PATH) in downtown. They showcase the impressive development of the city in recent years, but they do not define its inhabitants.
Take a break from sightseeing in this sprawling city at St James Park or many others dotted around downtown. Make the most of its stylish urban seating and watch the world goes by
To fully soak in the breathtaking beauty and size of Lake Ontario, hop on a ferry at the pier next to Harbour Square Park to reach the Toronto Islands. Be prepared to enter a world of adventures and possibilities, as you step foot onto this special place that enchants both residents and tourists.
Rent a bike or kayak to see the islands by navigating every bend and bridge. Lose yourself in one of the three sandy beaches (clothing is optional for one of these!). If you’re travelling as a family, the Centreville Amusement Park, tennis courts, and picnic spots may be just what you need on a lazy summer day.
As the sun begins to set across the city skyline, take a seat at a lookout point and you will be mesmerised by the view of a gently lit downtown with the mighty CN Tower shooting straight for the stars.
Worth a mention is the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, next door to CN Tower. It’s interactive, it’s informative, and its stingray feeding show – or stingray experience if you’re feeling brave – is a treat for children and adults.
Take the ferry from Harbourfront
301 Front St W, Toronto, ON M5V 2T6
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
288 Bremner Blvd, Toronto, ON M5V 3L9
Hockey is Canada’s national sport, so that’s one good reason to watch the Toronto Maple Leafs play in a national league game in the Scotiabank Arena. The formerly Air Canada Centre is also home to Toronto Raptors of the NBA. The basketball season runs from every October to June.
A 15-minute walk from the arena is the Rogers Centre, the Toronto Blue Jays’ home stadium which can hold 50,000 baseball spectators under its dome. Chart-topping artists such as the Rolling Stones and Madonna also graced the stage here.
Scotiabank Arena (formerly Air Canada Centre)
40 Bay St, Toronto, ON M5J 2X2
1 Blue Jays Way, Toronto, ON M5V 1J1
Hockey Hall of Fame
30 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M5E 1X8
Have you visited Toronto? What would you recommend to see? Let us know below and share your images with us on Social Media: #CotswoldAllure