Start off you first day in Toronto with a trip to the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), which is one of the largest museums in North America. The modern building with it’s impressive architecture covers art, natural history, world culture and everything in between, and they always have interesting exhibitions and events on. They are engaged in the community with learning and educating, and every Friday night they host Friday Night Live with different themes, food vendors and DJ’s.
Top 3 Highlights: Gallery of Chinese Architecture, Gallery of Canada: First Peoples, Gallery of Korea.
General Admission is $17
Getting hungry? Well you won’t have to go far to find Creme Brasserie, a fancy, but casual Italian restaurant with great service and food. Try the the fried Calamari seasoned to perfection, or the Pork Belly which will leave you wanting to come back over and over again.
Next stop today is the Bata Shoe Museum, yeah, you heard right – a shoe museum! It’s the only shoe museum in North America and they have an impressive collection of over 13,000 modern, rare and traditional shoes from around the world. The visit will leave you fascinated with shoes and the story they are able to tell. They change their exhibitions regularly so this museum is worth a visit if you go back to Toronto another time.
General Admission is $14
Now it’s time to put your own shoes to work and walk through the impressive university campus down to the famous Kensington Market. A vibrant and diverse neighbourhood with market style streets where you can find quirky shops, bars and restaurant, galleries and groceries.
Are you filled with butterflies from the high altitude or is it hunger that’s rumbling around in your stomach right now? If it’s hunger then Richmond Station is the place to go. This funky restaurant is run by Canada’s Top Chef winner Carl Heinrich (2012) and when you get a taste of what they serve, you can understand why he made it to the top! Prices are good and they have a menu that changes with the season. If you’re a real foodie, let them recommend what to eat and what to drink – after all, they are the experts!
Today it’s time to explore Toronto on the bike and have a picnic on Toronto Island. Book your bike with Sweet Pete’s in advance online at one of their Bloor Street locations and pick it up at 11 am on the day you’re going (alternatively if you want a longer, scenic bike ride you can rent a bike from their Brick Works Location). They have hybrid bikes that are light, easy and very comfortable to ride. They offer all day rental at a decent price and they have great passion and knowledge about biking in Toronto (and surrounding areas), so don’t be scared to ask for any tips.
After you get your bike out on the road make you way over to Caplansky’s and pick up some picnic food for later on. They have a big selection of sandwiches, salads and cold and warm small dishes; they make a pretty nice potato salad and their Beef Kreplach is amazing! Don’t forget some dessert and drinks, and a backpack to carry it all in.
It’s time to make you way out to the island. Bike down to the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal and catch the ferry to Hanlan’s Point on the west side of Toronto Island. From there you can bike over to Hanlan’s Point Beach (clothing optional) and relax for a bit before making your way over to the historic and mysterious Gibraltar Point Lighthouse; don’t forget to look out for ghosts!
After lunch it’s time to explore the neighbourhood on the Algonquin Island. Bike your way around the small island and admire all the beautiful houses with their colourful gardens. Don’t forget to wave at people as you’re passing them.
Day three starts with a visit to the impressive Casa Loma meaning “House on the Hill”. Once Canada’s largest private residence, this unique architectural building in Toronto today attracts more then 350,000 visitors every year. It’s been the back drop to many movie productions like Cocktail, X-Men and Chicago, just to mention a few. The castle’s interior has some amazing hand-made details on everything from furniture, lighting, construction, windows and doors that are very easy to appreciate.
Top 3 Highlights: Vintage Car Exhibition, The Conservatory and the Underground Tunnel featuring old, historic photos from Toronto.
General Admission is $25 and includes a self-guided audio tour
Tip: Casa Loma has Canada’s only theatrical escape game, The Casa Loma Escape Series, and you can be in on the fun. More info about the game and bookings can be found here.
Good to Know
How To Get There
Flying: There are two airports serving Toronto; Toronto Pearson International Airport which is the biggest and most busiest and Billy Bishop which is closest to downtown Toronto and less busy. Billy Bishop serves only Air Porter and Air Canada (international and domestic), and offers free shuttles for everyone going downtown to Union Station. Pearson International serves major airlines coming in from most continents around the world in addition to domestic flights. Getting from Pearson International into Toronto is easy with GO Transit and TTC, learn more here.
Bus: You can easily get to Toronto with direct and connecting buses from most places in Canada and American cities like New York, Boston, Chicago and more. The best bus companies to use are Greyhound and Megabus. If booked early in advance you can get tickets starting at only $10!
Train: An alternative to the bus is the more comfortable, but pricier; VIA Rail Canada. They have 19 train routes across Canada stretching from Halifax in the east to Prince Rupert and Vancouver out west, and Windsor in the south to Churchill which is their most northerly stop.
All the subway (metro) lines, buses and streetcars (trams) are served by the Toronto Transit Commission, more know as the TTC. The transit system is really easy to understand and runs 24/7, but it is unfortunately quite expensive and not very flexible regarding their weekly and monthly passes if staying for a longer period of time. The weekly passes ($42.45) are good for unlimited travel from Monday through to Sunday. Meaning, if you come on a Wednesday you can’t buy a weekly pass as they stop selling those for that week on Tuesdays, hence you have to buy a day pass ($12) for the rest of the week or tokens (3 token = 3 rides for $8.70).
The same goes for a monthly pass ($141.50), it runs from the 1st of every month and is sold up until mid-month, meaning if you come after the 15th you have to buy a weekly pass for the next two weeks until you can buy a monthly pass for the following month. If you end up using token, don’t forget to get a transfer slip so you can jump on a continuing journey, for example getting of the last subway to take the bus further to your destination. Transfers can be obtained from the bus/streetcar drivers and inside subway station you depart at (red box usually easily visible) after paying your fare. More info about subway lines and bus routes can be found here.
A good alternative to the public transport system is Bike Share Toronto where a 24hr period cost $7 and 72hrs costs $15. Currently there are 80 stations around Toronto where you can get out a bike and return it, but it’s planned an add-on of a 120 new stations throughout the summer, so access will only be easier over time. The system is easy to use: you can either pay online or at the bike station, you can take as many trips as you want for free (within the period you have payed for) as long as the trips are within 30 minutes. If you ride longer than that the price will increase rapidly, but it is really easy to stay within the 30 minute limit as there are so many stations around the downtown area so this shouldn’t be a problem. If you want to ride for longer, all you have to do is park the bike and get out a new one at the same station.
Where To Stay
Also Worth A Visit
Canada’s Wonderland – Fun packed amusement park
Toronto Eaton Centre – Great shopping
Evergreen Brick Works – Markets, history and events
St. Lawrence Market – Farmer’s market
Edward’s Gardens – More then just a botanical garden
Air Canada Centre – Entertainment and sports
The Beaches – A neighbourhood with beach fun
Aga Khan Museum – Museum of Iranian and Islamic art and Muslim culture
Princess of Wales Theatre – A 2000-seats theatre showcasing leading productions
Food Trucks – A whole world to choose from
Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival (April – May)
Craft Beer Festival (June)
Toronto Food Truck Festival (July)
Toronto Burlesque Festival (July)
Toronto Caribbean Carnival (July)
Importfest – Celebrates automobile culture (August)
Food Truck Frenzy (August)
Fan Expo – Comics, anime and sci-fi (September)
Ashkenaz Festival – Jewish music and culture (September)
Want to see more awesome photos from Toronto? Then click HERE ⬅