The Do’s and Don’ts of Touristing in Toronto

By Olivia Bucherer-Ezer, University of Toronto, Canada

**subjective of course**

Whether you’re heading out to Toronto in September, perhaps along with a family member or are expecting visitors throughout the year, here are some top tips to give you the most fulfilling experience of the big T-city. 

CN tower 

  • views of the city 
  • Can splash a little extra on a 3 course meal

The CN tower is THE Toronto tourist attraction… for reasons I don’t know. While I did succumb to the $50 ticket, leaving it to my last week when I was completely skint, it was a nice experience. Given you go on a nice sunny day, you get an uninterrupted view of Toronto, neighbouring cities such as Mississauga, and because Southern Canada is genuinely pancake flat, it’s a pretty striking view! While I wouldn’t scream and shout about this, it’s quite a nice thing to do with family perhaps, maybe even indulge in the 3 course meal which only adds another $15 (or so) onto the ticket. A lot of my friends didn’t go up the CN tower and are not broken souls because of it so definitely go if you fancy but don’t feel like you have to just because it’s glaring down at you!!

why does it suddenly look quite underwhelming …

Toronto island 

  • 10 minute boat trip from the city 
  • Walk and swim spots

I could not recommend Toronto islands ENOUGH! Aaahhhh! They genuinely became my second home during the sunnier months. Take some bikes across on the 8 minute boat ride (costs $7 return) and cycle around the island. There are a few boat journeys that drop you off at different areas of the island, one of which is a theme park, however, I’d recommend Ward Island. Even though the locals might look at you a bit funny, there’s a gorgeous little beach where Lake Ontario looks too inviting to refuse a cheeky dip (it is allowed don’t worry). Take a little picnic with friends or go to one of the cafes dotted around. Best in summer heat but honestly still beautiful on a crisp wintery day!! 

Niagra falls 

  • Waterfalls with tours available 

Another one of Toronto’s ‘must do’s’ (and yes, I agree, I think the falls are something worth visiting)! It’s only an hours drive or a 2 hour train journey and well worth it. Even though I didn’t do it over the past year, I came to Toronto when I was about 7 and absolutely LOVED it, you wear these sweet little waterproof jackets that do absolutely nothing to protect you from getting drenched. It’s a good laugh and the waterfall is very striking. 

St Lawrence market 

  • Fresh Food market 
  • Something for everyone 

St Lawrence market is a 200 year old authentic food market located on the East side of the city. Consisting of 120 vendors, the market is a great to stop off for a browse or bite to eat because there’s guaranteed to be something for everyone… unless you’re a ridiculously picky eater. I took my parents here and, as a very foody family, they absolutely loved it.

Ossington street 

  • Trendy stretch of restaurants and bars 

Another spot my parents LOVED and revisited a few times in the short week they came to visit was Ossington high street located on the west side of the city. This was also a big hit amongst my friends and I as its packed full of delicious restaurants and small trendy bars. You will be surrounded by all those oat-milk late and contact-wine drinkers but because they’re Canadian, they’re bearable to be around!! I actually used to work on Ossington at a restaurant called ‘Manita’ which I couldn’t recommend more… even though I was let go for asking for too many holidays off. None-the-less, they serve some of the best food I’ve had in Toronto. If you’re on that strip, pop into Haifa as well for a couple cocktails or small-plate-picky-bits, my friend worked here and the vibes are immaculate. 

my work in all its glory

AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario)

  • The Province’s gallery showcasing an extensive selection of artwork 

If you find yourself twiddling your toes on a rainy day, which actually isn’t all thatttt much in Toronto, then head to the AGO. You won’t possibly be able to make your way around the entire gallery there’s so much on display. Little hack: sign up for a yearly student membership (completely free) to skip having to book tickets each time. I went a few times throughout the year and it never gets old and my friend who came to visit loveddd it.  

Distillery district 

  • Regarded as one of Canadas premiere arts, culture and entertainment destinations  

Now the distillery district get’s me a little bit confused. Sometimes you go and its absolutely buzzing (around Christmas time was always a great vibe with markets and stalls) but sometimes its completely dead (i.e typical when I brought my parents and there was only a pigeon in sight). As it’s very far east of the city, its definitely worth checking if there’s something happening before heading down otherwise you’ll be feeling a little lost. 

High park 

  • Huge recreational and natural park.

High park is a spot I wished I’d gone to but just never made it. You can walk from the West side of Town about 40 minutes or just jump on a streetcar and it feels like you’ve left the city behind… so I’ve heard at least. Definitely worth taking a picnic or just taking a stroll if you fancy a little nature break. 

Riverdale Park East 

  • Nice sunset view of the city 

Riverdale Park East is like the Toronto version of parliament hill in London. As soon as the sun begins to set on a clear day, the hill slowly fills with groups of friends and family. Grab a takeaway pizza from up the road and bring along a picnic blanket and watch the city turn amber in the evening sun. A very picturesque and wholesome activity to do with someone or even on your own! 

Classically, I’m sure I’ll think of some more suggestions as soon as I’ve posted this blog but hopefully there’s something useful in this ! 

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