Cosmopolitan is the byword for Toronto, a city with more than two million residents who speak more than 140 languages. From Little India to multiple Chinatowns to Little Iran, the city is home to a remarkably diverse variety of ethnic cultures, making it a fascinating city to explore.
REASONS TO GO:
Though it has long been associated more with business than leisure, Toronto buzzes with a vibrant foodie-focused restaurant scene, high-end and vintage shops, and music festivals all year long. Take the ferry to the nearby Toronto Islands for a tranquil escape, and then return to the thriving metropolis at the heart of Canada’s booming urban development.
WHEN TO GO:
- Kensington Market: One of the city’s most iconic neighborhoods and shopping districts, the eclectic and sprawling Kensington Market has everything from Jewish pastries to vintage clothing just west of the downtown core.
- The Waterfront and Toronto Islands: You might not associate Toronto with beachfront life, but every spring and summer, locals reach for their towels and make tracks for the boardwalk on the east end of the city. Catch a ferry to the car-less Toronto Islands for a serene nature walk.
- Kid-friendly Destinations: From panoramic views at the CN Tower to LEGOLAND Discovery Centre and Ontario Science Centre, Toronto offers countless thrills for curious kids. Check out what’s on with the HarbourKIDS program at the Harbourfront Centre, too.
- Music Festivals: Toronto’s global mix of cultures has contributed to its standing as one of the world’s best spots for new and notable music. Favorite festivals include the Digital Dreams Festival, the Beaches International Jazz Festival and the classical Toronto Summer Music Festival.
- West Queen West and Old Town: Scenesters know that Toronto is Canada’s boomtown for up-and-coming everything. Glamorous art galleries, boutique shops and restaurants call West Queen West home, while Old Town houses the immense St. Lawrence Market.
- Nose to Tail Cuisine: Whether you’re a charcuterie fanatic or a smoked meats connoisseur, Toronto is a must-visit for food enthusiasts. From horse carpaccio to foie gras, Toronto offers a huge menu focused on artisanal, local dining experiences.
Toronto has a reputation for chilly winter weather from December through April, but winter also brings some of the city’s best festivals. Toronto WinterCity Festival is the highlight, heralding a citywide celebration with ice-skating shows and a variety of mostly outdoor performances in January and February.
Though the city hums with festival fervor all year long, most tourists descend on Toronto from late spring through early fall. Check out the Hot Docs documentary film festival in April, or bring the family for the Santa Claus Parade in November.
June through August, the city’s most lively parties get going with Pride Week in June, Canada Day on July 1 and Caribana—Canada’s answer to Carnival—every July.
Traffic is tricky, gas is expensive and parking nets the city CAD$50 million in ticket revenues every year. It’s best to get to your destination by using the weather-proof PATH walkways, taking the underground or “Riding the Rocket”—Toronto’s transportation system of subways, buses and streetcars.