Toronto, or The Six as Drake would say, felt a bit like a mini New York, only friendlier! My favourite thing about Canada in general is how nice the people are and Toronto doesn’t fall short. This city is full of amazing restaurants, alot of greenery, and of course, is the gateway to visit the famous Niagara Falls. We spent a week here: wandering the streets, taking in all the street art, going on a few days trips and dancing the night away with new friends at a local bar. There’s so many parts of Toronto to see and I feel like I only saw the tip of the iceberg so am keen to head back one day.
Feel The Love at Kensington Market
One of my favourite places in all of Toronto was actually Kensington Market and is great if you like a more bohemian and eclectic vibe. It is very arty with street art everywhere, plenty of food places and is great if you’re vegan, there is a green space too called Bellevue Square Park and there was an impromptu music performance when we were there too and everything is locally owned so it was super refreshing to not see any brand names.
Wander Around the Art Gallery of Ontario
Just down the road from Kensington Market is the Art Gallery of Ontario, aka AGO, with many modern art paintings, photography and sculptures as well as running exhibitions. I specifically came here as they had a Yayoi Kusama exhibition on at the time and it was amazing. You could honestly spend hours wandering around and marvelling at the art.
Experience Old and New at The Distillery District
There are so many parts of Toronto that feel quite arty and different and The Distillery District is another one of these. This was the home of a distillery previously but has been renovated into a pedestrian area with plenty of shops, bars and yummy restaurants – we ate in El Catrin Destileria and it was so good, we came back and ate here twice! The Distillery District is a cool mix between Victorian architecture and modern life with alot going on.
Eat Classic Canadian Food
Of course, Canada is know for the classic food poutine and it’s a crime to come here and not get some! We went to Smoke’s Poutine which is a chain across the country to get out cheesey chips with gravy fix and it was mouth-watering. Also, throughout Canada, you will see Tim Hortons, which is just a fast food restaurant but fun to try! We had a classic burger meal (they were selling Beyond Meat when we were there but I think they’ve stopped now) and some Timbits, which are basically donut holes, and they were soooo good and super cheap. Apparently their coffee is pretty good too.
To pick up any other Canadian treats, we headed to St Lawrence Market where I tried a butter tart and a nainaimo bar which were lovely sweet treats. Lastly, at the harbour front, I tried a beavertail from… BeaverTail which is essentially a big, flat doughnut with toppings and is delicious if you have a sweet tooth.
Climb the CN Tower
The infamous CN Tower became even more well known from Drake’s album cover on ‘Views’ so of course, we had to follow in his footsteps and go to the top. To be honest, I’m not too fussed to go up towers in cities as often, the tower you are in is what you want as part of the view but it is still pretty fun and the CN Tower also has a glass floor at one spot which is quite exhilarating to walk over.
Become a Shopaholic
If you want to have a shopping day, the place to go is Toronto Eaton Centre which is a huge shopping mall in the centre. This is just down the street from Yonge-Dundas Square which reminded me of a small Times Square in New York or Piccadilly Circus in London. Queen Street West is a really nice street to stroll down with lots of independent shops or check out is Yorkville is you want more upscale, designer shops.
Day Trip to Niagara
You can’t go to Toronto and not do a day trip to Niagara Falls! We booked our tour really last minute and I can’t actually remember who we booked with but we were taken, of course, to Niagara Falls but also some whirlpools, to try ice wine, see the worlds smallest chapel and a flower clock which was all pretty cool and a nice way to break up the day! When at the Falls, we also paid to do the boat trip up to the waterfall which I would HIGHLY recommend. Put your little red poncho on (red for Canada and the American side are in blue) and get up close and personal to the waterfall itself – but be prepared to get sprayed! I was amazed by how much mist comes off from the waterfall.
Sail Over to Centre Island
On our last day, we got a boat over the lake to Centre Island – there are several islands you can visit but Centre Island is the most popular. The Island is essentially a big park with gardens and a beach. We rented a quad-cycle and had an hour cycling around which was really fun to do! From Centre Island, there are also plenty of spots to have a nice view of the Toronto skyline with the CN Tower in the back.
One thing I really wanted to do in Toronto but didn’t get a chance to was to see the Maple Leafs play an Ice Hockey game which I think would be really fun!
Where To Stay
Whilst in Toronto, we stayed in 2 places in our one week there. The first was a hostel and the 2nd was an airbnb for a few nights of luxury. First, we stayed at Planet Traveller Hostel and it was incredible, probably the best hostel I’ve ever stayed in and it has actually won awards! It’s right by Kensington Market, has a rooftop with fab views across Toronto and they put on nightly events – we had a free BBQ one night and made loads of friends at one of the drinks. The second place we stayed was an airbnb called The Brock, a little bit further out of town in a really nice neighbourhood. The hosts were lovely and provided us with a list of things to do and the room itself was gorgeous – I would highly recommend both places.