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From fine dining to fantastic cityscapes: The best things to do in Toronto

Follow along as we discover what makes Toronto the most visited city in Canada. | By Joanna Tweedy | December 21, 2022

Toronto — Canada’s largest metropolis — is a diverse, energetic city that woos tourists with a vast spectrum of experiences. The museums, art and fine dining are among the most impressive in North America, and the outdoor adventures can’t be beat. From beaches to green spaces and everywhere in between, here's how to make the most of your next Toronto vacation.

  • Toronto high: Head to the top of the iconic CN Tower for a jaw-dropping panoramic view

  • Pucker up: Try your luck against a virtual goalie at the Hockey Hall of Fame

  • Window shop: Yorkville is home to couture stores, spas and upscale eateries galore

Seek out Toronto’s best views

Soaring skywards from the heart of Toronto’s Entertainment District, the Canadian National Tower (CN Tower) is often at the top of visitors’ lists when they arrive in the city. Since it first opened in 1976, this 1,814-foot (553-meter) spike has been uncontested as keeper of Toronto’s most spectacular views.

The CN Tower’s floor-to-ceiling windows and glass floor highlight the 114-story-high panorama, and on a clear day, you can spot Niagara Falls and New York state. For a view with some added daredevilry, book tickets for EdgeWalk, which lets (harnessed) thrill seekers circle hands-free around a 5-foot (1.5-meter) platform on the outer rim of the tower’s Observation Level. Other beautiful Toronto views are more easily available from the parks in the city’s outer fringes. Our favorite is Riverdale Park East, right on the border of downtown Toronto. Venture up the slope close to the aptly named Broadview Avenue — perhaps with a picnic — and enjoy a stellar vista of the city below.

Make for the museums

Nestled between the bright lights of the city is a raft of museums that hold their own among the world’s best. Don’t miss the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto, both of which count an impressive array of works by indigenous, Canadian and global artists.

The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) deserves its reputation as one of North America’s finest museums with art, culture and natural history celebrated inside its unique walls. One of the city’s most recognizable buildings, the ROM is a marriage of old and new, with architect Daniel Libeskind’s sharp-edged glass vision fused onto the historic honey-colored brick building that dates back to 1912.

Take a break from traditional museums and head to Casa Loma, a stunning Gothic-style castle with expansive estate gardens located in midtown. Special exhibits and breathtaking architecture make this heritage landmark one of Toronto’s top attractions.

Get outdoors

Toronto's proximity to Lake Ontario means visitors don’t have to wander too far to experience the great outdoors. The city’s outskirts boast wooded trails for mini hikes (Rouge National Urban Park is a great place to start), 1,500 parks and, of course, Lake Ontario itself. Not to be missed – and only around two hours away – Niagara Falls awaits in all its natural splendor.

Toronto Island Park, a string of 15 connected islets lies just 15 minutes by ferry from downtown. The park offers a chance to rent bikes, kayaks or boats, bird watch, lounge on the beaches or let loose at Centreville amusement park in the summer months. Don’t miss Gibraltar Point, a lighthouse built in 1808, and if you’re feeling brave, ask a local about its spooky history.

Dine from a global menu

Toronto's diversity makes for a vibrant dining scene with different neighborhoods — including Little India, Greektown and Koreatown — serving up authentic cuisine from around the world. Brunch remains a Toronto passion, so be sure to head to fashionable Queen Street for a trendy take on it.

For the freshest take-outs, head to St. Lawrence Market, which has been feeding Torontonians since 1803. Try a sugar-dusted cinnamon bun from Ali’s Fresh Baked or enjoy fish and chips at Buster’s Sea Cove.

There's also a thriving tavern scene in Toronto, with cool bars promising local, micro-brewed ales and live music. Feel like treating yourself? Book a table (a few weeks in advance!) at the two-Michelin-starred Sushi Masaki Saito.

Shop like a local

Vintage, designer or artisanal retail — Toronto doesn’t disappoint. Located downtown, CF Toronto Eaton Centre is a glass-roofed shopping mecca with everything from couture to more affordable high street brands. If only designer fashion will do, head to Yorkville, an upmarket neighborhood brimming with swish shops, spas and fine-dining restaurants.

Find vintage stores either at Queen West or Kensington Market, home to independent shops like Courage My Love, which has been selling vintage attire, antiques and jewelry since the mid-1970s.

In a city as diverse and culturally vibrant as Toronto, there is no end in sight to the adventures that await your arrival. Sample the various flavors the city has to offer and be transported to a world of discovery and delight around every corner.

Joanna Tweedy is an award-winning travel writer and editor who lives in London.

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