As the fourth largest city in North America behind Mexico City, New York and LA, among Toronto’s ever-expanding tall sea of condominiums are vibrant, hip neighbourhoods with cool eateries, art galleries, theatres and music venues. There’s no end to on-location activities, whether you’d rather visit farmers’ markets, luxury stores or museums.

Sights and attractions

Sights and attractions in Toronto

No tourist should miss the CN Tower. Canada’s National Tower, which defines the Toronto skyline at 553.33 metres tall, has views that are literally breathtaking, the world’s highest glass-floored elevator and the extreme EdgeWalk – a full circle hands-free walk on a 1.5-metre-wide ledge around its main pod. Elsewhere, the Distillery Historic District is one of the largest and best-preserved collections of Victorian Industrial architecture in North America and the backdrop to over 1,700 films. This atmospheric 1832 locale consists of dozens of historic buildings linked by brick-paved streets – now home to popular restaurants, a distillery district and microbrewery, a sake producer and a swathe of other unique shops and venues.

Art and culture

Art and culture in Toronto

A host of recently gussied up museums, galleries and performance spaces gives art lovers many places to go here, from the stunning Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts – home to the world-class Canadian Opera Company and the National Ballet of Canada – to the graceful Frank Gehry-designed Art Gallery of Ontario. Along the Bloor Street Cultural Corridor are the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), the Royal Conservatory of Music, which holds superb concerts, and two of the world’s great speciality museums: the Gardiner Museum of ceramic art and the Bata Shoe Museum. Known locally as ‘Broadway North’, the Toronto Theatre District is the third largest English-speaking theatre centre in the world, while yearly events like September’s Toronto International Film Festival – the largest public film festival in the world – draw discerning international audiences.

Food and drink

Food and drink in Toronto

Toronto’s restaurant scene is sizzling as talented young guns and seasoned celebrity chefs open an ever-expanding repertory of eateries. In the action-packed entertainment district around King Street West, spots such as Rodney’s Oyster House, Jacobs & Co. Steakhouse, Byblos (Middle Eastern), Susur Lee’s Luckee (upscale dim sum) and his Fring’s (comfort party food), Momofuku, Nota Bene and Buca pack people in nightly for good food and fun. In Yorkville, Kasa Moto serves contemporary Japanese in a sophisticated setting, Hazelton Hotel’s One is upscale Canadian, Buca Yorkville has high end Italian seafood and Café Boulud in the Four Seasons Hotel is a classic French bistro. In the west end, Ossington Street is one trendy eatery after another; try Borealia for historical Canadian recipes, Omaw for Acadian inspired dishes and Mamakas Taverna for authentic Aegean. Tasting menus that make you weak at the knees but not the wallet are best found at ALO and Parcae (but book ahead).

Shopping

Shopping in Toronto

The Bloor-Yorkville area is the home of high-end retail, with all the big international designer names plus Canadian retail icons Harry Rosen, Holt Renfrew (the department store for Toronto’s upper crust) and William Ashley China. Canada’s premiere shopping district enhanced its look in 2011 with the Bloor Street Transformation Project, a $20-million beautification project. Hazelton Lanes Shopping Centre at the corner of Avenue Road and Yorkville is undergoing its own transformation, but remains a destination for smart, exclusive brands. If modern design is your thing, you might want to walk the first stretch along King Street East from Jarvis to Parliament Street. Here, you’ll find the city’s best modern design showrooms and pass innovative Canadian furniture and design shops such as Klaus (Nienkämper) and EQ3.

Unique to Toronto

Unique to Toronto in Toronto

Toronto’s walkable ravine network winds its way through the heart of the city and is a hidden gem most visitors miss. The pathways through woodlands, by flowing streams and nature’s wild flora are a haven for both wildlife and humans alike. People bike, walk their dogs, jog and hike the ravine pathways. Pick up a brochure on self-guided Discovery Walks and take the one that covers the central ravines, Belt Line and gardens. It’s a marvellous 11km, three-hour hike that starts at the Eglinton West subway station and goes through the Mount Pleasant Cemetery and the Don Valley (or Evergreen) Brick Works – a former quarry and brick plant converted into a year-round community environmental centre. Named one of the top ten geo-tourism destinations in the world by National Geographic, it has an organic farmers market, an excellent on-site restaurant and a lovely green space with boardwalks, ponds and wildflower meadows.

Day trip

Day trip in Toronto

Just about every first-time visitor to Toronto adds on a trip to Niagara Falls to see the Horseshoe Falls, one of the world’s most famous natural landmarks, with a colossal 600,000+ gallons of water crashing down per second. On the way there, wine and nature lovers should get off the main QEW highway to enjoy The Niagara Wine Route, which starts about an hour’s drive from Toronto. It meanders along 40km of rural roads from Grimsby to picturesque Niagara-on-the-Lake a pretty half-hour drive from the falls. The Niagara Peninsula is one of Canada’s most acclaimed grape growing and winery regions, offering tasting rooms, highly acclaimed restaurants and activities such as biking, theatre, music or golf among the vineyards.

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