Visiting Canada for the first time? Be sure to spend time on your trip discovering some of the best things to do in Toronto. As the largest city in Canada, Toronto offers a diverse range of historical & cultural sites to explore.
The top tourist attractions in Toronto cover the gamut of travellers’ interests. Exploring Downtown Toronto and beyond, a wide array of points of interest await. You’ll stumble into world-class museums, shopping districts, historic sites, and parks. For the kids, you’ll uncover Canada’s biggest zoo, science centre, and amusement park.
Not sure what to do in Toronto, Canada? Plan out where to go in Toronto with this guide to the best places to visit in Toronto.
Top tourist attractions in Toronto
Standing over 550 metres tall, the CN Tower is the most recognizable of the top Toronto points of interest. Built in 1973, it’s still one of the tallest towers in the world. At times, it can almost seem impossible to go more than a few blocks in Toronto without seeing this gargantuan iconic landmark!
Visiting the CN Tower is one of the best things to do in Toronto for various reasons. The tower is near the southern edge downtown, making it a great place to start if you’ve only got one day in Toronto. It’s also steps away from Toronto’s most-visited commercial districts. Near the tower, hundreds of shops, restaurants, bars, and malls are at your grasp.
Along with convenient access to shopping and dining, visiting the CN Tower is where to go in Toronto for the best view of the city. The observation tower gives you a panoramic viewpoint of Toronto’s skyline.
Feeling extra adventurous? Test your resolve with a walk on the Glass Floor. At this top Toronto attraction, you’ll feel as if you’re suspended 342 metres above the ground.
Even more insane is the CN Tower’s EdgeWalk. On the Edgewalk, you’ll walk around the tower’s pod along a 5-foot-wide ledge at the 356-metre level. (Don’t worry: You’re tethered in!)
Once you’ve tested your fear of heights, there’s a slew of other family-friendly attractions & things to do in the CN Tower area. Spend time spotting amazing sea creatures at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada. Or catch a Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre—or as it will forever be known to many Canadians, the Skydome.
A trip to the Distillery District has quickly become one of the best things to do in Toronto for travellers. The old neighbourhood is a unique destination in this modern city.
The Distillery District is jacked-up with an abundance of Victorian-style architecture. Along its brick-lined streets, you’ll stumble upon many indie restaurants & small boutiques. In the pedestrian-only neighbourhood, you’ll have no problem wandering around and exploring.
In the winter, the Distillery District turns into a winter wonderland. The streets are home to one of the best Christmas markets in Canada.
Year-round, the Distillery District is home to many hip dining establishments, coffee shops, and art galleries.
While exploring the area, visit Arta Gallery to view a rotating collection of contemporary art exhibits. If you’re interested in abstract visual art, head over to Corkin Gallery.
The top points of interest in Toronto include various filming locations. You may even recognize some of them from your favourite movies and television shows.
One of the most iconic locations is Casa Loma, a mansion that resembles a small castle. The home was built in 1914 in Gothic Revival architecture style.
Casa Loma is located on the top of a hill overlooking the city. From the upper windows of the castle, you can see the skyline of Toronto.
The castle is now a museum. It’s open to the public for most of the year. Take the self-guided tour to see Casa Loma’s interior and get a better view of the city.
Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)
You’ll find some of the top things to see in Toronto inside the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). The ROM is the largest museum in Canada, containing over six million items and 40 different galleries.
The diverse collection covers natural history, world culture, and contemporary art. In one section of the museum, you can scope out dinosaur bones; in another, world-famous paintings. It’s quite the ride!
With its immense size and scope, visiting the museum can easily turn into an all-day excursion.
Get a map of the museum when you enter or risk getting lost in the labyrinth of corridors and galleries. If you want to beat the crowds, try to arrive early in the day or in the middle of the afternoon.
High Park belongs on any list of the top tourist attractions in Toronto as it offers a variety of things to do. You can spend a few hours walking the trails and enjoying the scenery. The park also has a zoo, playground, gardens, and various facilities.
The zoo isn’t very large, mainly containing farm animals and a few exotic species. You’ll see bison, sheep, cattle, peacocks, reindeer, and emus. If you’re travelling to Toronto with kids, make sure to stop at the llama pen for feeding and petting.
Along with the zoo, the park has acres of gardens, including a landscaped ornamental garden area. The garden has a fairy-tale atmosphere. It shows off large trees and a colourful array of flowers and foliage. In the springtime, the park comes alive with cherry blossoms and fills with locals who often picnic under the beautiful pink blooms.
CF Toronto Eaton Centre
If your Toronto travel plans include shopping, start at the CF Toronto Eaton Centre. Not only is Eaton Centre one of the largest shopping malls in Toronto, but it’s also connected to a variety of other Toronto attractions. From the mall, you can get to Toronto City Hall and some of the city centre’s other main shopping centres.
Eaton Centre also links to Toronto’s PATH, an underground walkway covering over 30 kilometres. The PATH connects the business district with dozens of nearby shopping and entertainment venues.
You could spend much of the day visiting many of the top tourist attractions in Toronto without stepping outside or onto a major street. (And it’s not a bad thing if you happen to be visiting Toronto in winter.)
When you’re trying to decide what to do in Toronto at the end of the day, visit Yonge-Dundas Square. This large public square is lined with skyscrapers covered in neon lights and multi-storey billboards. It’s the nucleus of downtown Toronto.
At night, the billboards transform the square into Toronto’s version of Times Square. As you walk through the centre of the square, watch out for the array of fountains spread across the main walkway.
Yonge-Dundas Square is also one of the best places to visit in Toronto to get your shopping fix. In & around the square, you’ll find a wide range of shops catering to every interest. Browse the area for electronics, clothing, art, and more. It’s also surrounded by several other landmarks, including Eaton Centre and the CityTV Building.
Yorkville is a popular Toronto sightseeing destination. The area in the northern part of downtown is known for its collection of high-end shops.
The upscale neighbourhood is home to the Mink Mile, a stretch of road containing many top brands. It’s become one of Canada’s most expensive streets and the third most expensive retail space in the world.
While the shops may be too costly for some travellers, it’s still a great place to stroll and window shop.
Yorkville tends to be a little quieter compared to other parts of Toronto. You’ll enjoy getting a break from the crowds in the downtown area further south. Browse the luxury shops and stop at one of the coffee shops to relax or warm up in winter.
Ontario Science Centre
Visiting Toronto with kids? The Ontario Science Centre is a must-visit. It’s one of the most famous museums in Canada and the top family-friendly attractions in Toronto.
This innovative science & technology museum has been operating for over 50 years. It features several hundred engaging & interactive exhibits strewn across its eight exhibition halls.
At the Ontario Science Centre, you can scope out galaxies in the Space Hall planetarium. You’ll discover the intricacies of the human body at AstraZeneca Human Edge. And you can explore Ontario’s natural habitats at the Cohon Family Nature Escape.
The Ontario Science Centre is open year-round, seven days a week.
Located 10 minutes by ferry from Toronto’s harbourfront, the Toronto Islands are a wonderful escape from the city. The Lake Ontario island chain consists of the three main islands—Centre, Ward’s, and Algonquin. Visiting the islands, you’ll meander across a series of interconnected paths & boardwalks. They sweep alongside parks, summer cottages, and sandy beaches.
The most renowned of the Toronto Islands, particularly with families, is Centre Island. The island is home to one of the top-rated kid-friendly attractions in Toronto, Centreville. This small amusement park features a handful of fun things to do for kids. Highlights include a petting zoo, pony rides, swan boats, and about 30 rides.
For escaping the bulk of the islands’ crowds, head to Ward’s Island or Algonquin Island. Here, you’ll find quaint old summer cottages and picturesque English gardens.
If letting it “all hang out” is on your Toronto travel agenda, escape to Hanlan’s Point. It’s one of only a small handful of clothing-optional beaches in Ontario.
Regular ferries to the islands depart from Queen’s Quay at Bay Street.
Hockey Hall of Fame
If you’re visiting Canada for the first time (or are from here), visiting the Hockey Hall of Fame is almost a rite of passage. Toronto is arguably the world’s most crazed hockey city. (Montrealers feel free to argue this one.) There’s no better place to host hockey’s Holy Grail than in Ontario’s capital city.
The immense 65,000 square foot Hockey Hall of Fame isn’t a run-of-the-mill sporting museum. The museum hosts the world’s most impressive collection of hockey artifacts and memorabilia. The HHOF is also an exciting, immersive experience that’s a hit with kids and parents alike.
You’ll love the interactive exhibits at the HHOF. Start testing your skills at the NHLPA Game Time rink, where you can be the goalie or shooter—or both. At the TSN Broadcast Zone play-by-play press booth, try your hand at hosting your own hockey broadcast. (And discover that it’s much more difficult than it looks!)
Oh, and let’s not forget the main reason for visiting the Hockey Hall of Fame: Catching a glimpse of the Stanley Cup. For most of the year, the museum is home to hockey’s most prized possession. (Or a replica when it’s out & about in celebration.) Don’t miss the chance to pad your Canada travel experience with an Instagrammable selfie with the world-famous Stanley Cup.
The HHOF is located at the corner of Yonge Street and Front Street at Brookfield Place.
Featuring over 5,000 animals and 450 species, the Toronto Zoo is one of Toronto’s must-see attractions. It’s a perfect outing for families travelling with younger children.
The award-winning Toronto Zoo is the largest zoo in Canada. It’s split up into several zoogeographic regions that represent nearly every corner of the earth. Habitats include Indo-Malaya, Africa, the Americas, Australasia, Eurasia, Canadian Domain and the Tundra.
One of the most popular areas in the Toronto Zoo is the indoor African Rainforest Pavilion. The habitat is home to its recently-born Western lowland gorilla. Elsewhere, you’ll catch glimpses of species as wide-ranging as giraffes to polar bears to lemurs.
Due to the new social distancing regulations, you’ll need to pre-book your Toronto Zoo experience in advance on their website.
Art Gallery of Ontario
For art lovers and culture seekers, visiting the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) is one of the best things to do in Toronto. The AGO is one of the most renowned art museums in North America.
The AGO is home to a whopping collection of more than 100,000 artworks. They span everything from classic European paintings to edgy modern art. The collection covers well-known local, Canadian, and international artists.
Among the highlights at the Art Gallery of Ontario are the Canadian First Nations exhibits. They feature paintings, photos, and sculptures from some of Canada’s emerging Inuit, Métis, and Indigenous artists. Also on display at the gallery are several works from Canada’s famous Group of Seven landscape painters.
Located west of Spadina between Dundas and College, Kensington Market is one of the most exciting places to go in Toronto. The area is even one of the top street markets in North America.
Elegant Victorian houses flank the warren of streets & alleyways. The neighbourhood was once one of Toronto’s most predominant Jewish quarters. The current market dates back to the 1920s when families would hit the streets to peddle their wares to neighbours.
Today, Kensington Market is one of Toronto’s most diverse corners. As you wander about the market, you’ll encounter shops with goods from every corner of the planet. Among the regions represented are Europe, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and Asia.
St. Lawrence Market
Located in Old Town Toronto, St. Lawrence Market is the city’s premier destination for foodies. The market is iconic enough to score a spot on National Geographic’s list of the world’s best food markets. It’s been a fixture in the Toronto food scene for over two centuries.
The spacious St. Lawrence Market sprawls across two buildings: North Market & South Market.
In the South Market, you’ll roam among restaurants and food vendors. Their dishes circumnavigate the entire gamut of world cuisines. The building also hosts the Market Gallery. The gallery features a series of rotating exhibits that accent Toronto’s art & culture scene. Aspiring chefs can also perfect their cooking skills here. The market offers a variety of culinary classes.
If you happen to visit Toronto on a Saturday, set your sights on the North Market. Every Saturday, farmers from around the GTA set up shop to sell their fresh produce, meats, and cheese to Torontonians. It’s always a lively atmosphere with plenty of fresh food on offer!
No visit to Toronto is complete without a stroll or a night out on the town in the Entertainment District. Centred around King Street West, the district takes up a large chunk of Toronto’s bustling downtown.
Along the trendy main street, you’ll find a smattering of bars & restaurants. You’ll also spot several performing venues that form Toronto’s theatre district. The most popular include Roy Thomson Hall and the Princess of Wales Theatre.
Every September, King Street West hosts the world-famous Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). The film festivals centres around the TIFF Bell Lightbox at the corner of King and John Street. Hang out here to rub elbows with your favourite celebrities as they descend upon Ontario’s capital to promote their latest films.
If shopping is more your thing, head up to Queen Street West. Long considered one of Toronto’s coolest hangout spots, the street is home to a wide array of hip boutique shops. The stores sell everything from vintage clothing to vinyl records.
Queen West is also home to several legendary Toronto live music venues. Check the schedule and catch a show at The Rex Hotel Jazz and Blues Bar, Cameron House, or the Horseshoe Tavern.
Toronto is famous for its cultural diversity, and one of the best places to see it in action is in Chinatown. Centred around the corner of Spadina and Dundas West, Chinatown is a small Asian enclave within Ontario’s capital.
Toronto’s Chinatown is chock-loaded with authentic Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai and Japanese restaurants. You’ll also spot plenty of bustling food markets and electronics shops.
You’ll find delectable dim sum, bubble tea, or Peking duck any day of the year. The most colourful time to visit Toronto’s Chinatown, though, is during Chinese New Year. During the festivities, the area bursts into a cavalcade of festivities.
Where to stay in Toronto for sightseeing
As the largest city in Canada, figuring out where to stay in Toronto can be a challenge. To check out the top points of interest in Toronto, the best areas to stay in Toronto are those in & around the downtown core. The best neighbourhoods include the Entertainment District, Yorkville, and West Queen West. Here are a few great hotels to start your accommodations search.
- Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel is a stone’s throw away from Nathan Phillips Square. This 4-star hotel offers large elegant rooms in a fantastic central Queen Street location.
- Marriott Downtown at CF Toronto Eaton Centre sits close to Yonge-Dundas Square. This mid-range hotel is a great choice for travellers looking to tackle Toronto’s restaurant & shopping scene. There’s a great outdoor pool here if you happen to be visiting Toronto in the dead heat of summer.
- Four Seasons Hotel Toronto at Yorkville is hands down one of the best luxury hotels in Toronto. This 5-star hotel charms guests with everything from its skyline views to its legendary customer service.