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Toronto

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Toronto is Canada's largest city, with a metropolitan population of more than 5 million people. It is the capital of the province of Ontario, Canada's second largest but most populous province.

The Toronto Rogers Centre and CN Tower, as seen from the harborThe Toronto Rogers Centre and CN Tower, as seen from the harbor
The Toronto Rogers Centre and CN Tower, as seen from the harbor

toronto Travel Guide :

Toronto

Districts

  • Downtown
    • Downtown -- The downtown core is the economic powerhouse of Toronto, although it lacks the cultural appeal of the outlying districts.
    • Chinatown -- One of North America's largest Chinese districts
    • The Annex -- A food and shopping mecca, this district is well known by Torontonians as one of the friendliest neighborhoods
    • Kensington Market -- This district is bohemian and cosmopolitan, where cultures from all over the world mix and also home to a number of vintage clothing stores
    • Clubland/Theater District -- Home of entertainment and party people alike.
    • Church/Wellesley -- Toronto's Queer district.
    • Yonge Street -- Ample shopping and activity along this heavily visited main district.
    • Fashion District/Queen St. W
    • Greektown -- Located on Danforth Avenue from Broadview to Jones, "The Danforth" is a delightful place to spend a summer afternoon shopping, especially if you like Greek food. Very popular with locals.
    • Cabbagetown - Located along Parliament Street, this was once where the highly affluent members of the city lived.
  • Midtown
  • North York
  • West Toronto/Etobicoke
  • East End
Toronto

Understand

In the late 1990s the city of Toronto was amalgamated with several surrounding cities and boroughs - Scarborough, North York, Etobicoke, York, and East York - to form a new city of Toronto. This is also known as Metropolitan Toronto or "the 416" after its area code (although now there are some new minor area codes, the overwhelming number of phone numbers in the new City are "1-416...") and has a population of over 3.2 million people. Fully half of these were born in some country other than Canada - a fact obvious to any visitor immediately, as the city has many vibrant bustling neighborhoods with street signs in several languages. In fact, Toronto has a higher percentage of immigrants (52% of the population) than any other city in the world.

There are also several suburbs surrounding Toronto, such as Mississauga, Brampton, Richmond Hill, Markham, and Pickering. Collectively, these suburbs are called the Greater Toronto Area (or GTA). They are also known as "the 905" after their area code, although technically this code is also used in both Hamilton and the Niagara Region, stretching to the border in Niagara Falls. The entire area including Toronto is known as the "Golden Horseshoe" and has a population of over 8 million people.

Toronto

Get in

Toronto

By Bus

Greyhound (http://www.greyhound.ca) provides transportation from most major Northeast cities, Ontario Northland (http://www.webusit.com) provides service from the northern parts of Ontario and Coach Canada (http://www.coachcanada.com) links Montreal and Toronto. GO Transit (http://www.gotransit.ca) provides buses from outlying Toronto areas. Greyhound, Coach Canada and Ontario Northland buses stop at Toronto Coach Terminal, which is a short walk to the St. Patrick subway station of the Toronto Transit Commission.

Toronto

By Air

Pearson International Airport is situated about 45 minutes by car from the downtown core and is serviced by most major international carriers.

Getting downtown from the Airport

Several options exist to make your way downtown from the airport:

  • A quick, convenient way to get to downtown Toronto is by the Airport Express (http://www.torontoairportexpress.com). The bus picks up at all 3 terminals and stop at several major hotels in the downtown core. A round trip cost $26.75CDN. Travel times to and from the airport vary due to traffic conditions.
  • The TTC (http://www.ttc.ca) (Toronto public transit) have a few bus services that run to and from Pearson. The best TTC option is the 192 Airport rocket that runs between Kipling Station on the Bloor-Danforth Subway, in the west end of the city, and Pearson Airport. Kipling Station is the western most subway stop on the Bloor-Danforth line and it takes between 30-45 minutes to reach downtown. One way adult fare on the TTC is $2.50CDN

Toronto's City Centre Airport (TCCA) handles much less traffic. It offers short-haul flights to neighbouring Canadian and American cities. The airport is located on the Toronto Islands and is connected to the mainland by a very short free ferry ride.

Toronto

By Train

Toronto is situated along a primary VIA Rail (http://www.viarail.ca/) corridor. Trains travel both east towards Montreal and westwards towards Western Ontario.

Express service exists between Toronto and Montreal. The only stop in between is Montreal Airport. It is a very nice service with beautifully painted carriages. Remember to ask for student fares if you have an ISIC card.

The Canadian service operated by VIA (not daily) goes past Western Ontario, across the praries, all the way to Vancouver.

Daily Maple Leaf service goes to New York and is operated by Amtrak. One schedule uses a train all the way through. Other schedules use a bus from Toronto to Buffalo.

Toronto

By Car

Major highways leading into Toronto are the QEW, the 404, the 401, the 400, and the 427. Toronto is in the enviable position of being the largest city in Canada, so it's relatively easy to find a sign pointing you in the right direction. Be advised that traffic on incoming highways can be extremely heavy.

Toronto

Get around

Toronto has a well maintained and effective public transportation system, the TTC (http://www.ttc.ca), and you can get pretty well anywhere you want in the main part of the city with the subway / streetcars / buses. Current fares are $2.50 (discounted to $2 if you buy 5 or more tickets or tokens at a time). A day-pass, which allows unlimited travel on the TTC, is available for $8. It allows unlimited* one-day travel after 9:30 a.m. until 5:30 a.m. the next morning. On Saturday and Sunday, and statutory holidays, up to 6 people can travel with the pass, from start of service until 5:30 a.m. the next morning:

  • 2 adults alone, or with up to 4 Children/Youths (Youth = *19 years of age or under).
  • 1 adult alone, or with up to 5 Children/Youths (Youth = *19 years of age or under).

A weekly pass was introduced in September, 2005, for $30 a week. It lasts from 6am Monday morning to 6am the following Monday. At this time the monthly and weekly passes were made transferable, allowing owners to transfer the pass to another person at the end of their trip.

There are three primary subway lines:

  • The Bloor line runs east-west along Bloor/Danforth Street
  • The Yonge/University line runs in a U formation, travelling North-South along Yonge Street, and North-South along University, Bathurst and Spadina street.
  • The Sheppard line Runs in a West-East direction along Sheppard from the Sheppard station on the east side of the Yonge line.

Other TTC services are provided by buses, streetcars, the Scarborough "Light Rapid Transit" line, and Wheel-Trans vans (for people with disabilities).

In the Missisauga region, the Missisauga Transit Commission has buses to take you around (The TTC does not generally travel in the Missisauga area). Prices are similar to prices for the TTC.

Taxis are plentiful and safe, but not cheap. As with most big cities, driving a car downtown can be annoying; parking is often hard to find and expensive, and traffic along certain streets can make vehicle travel slower than mass transit.

If you need to get out of the city, the GO Trains (http://www.gotransit.ca) (commuter trains) go out to the outlying areas.

Toronto

By Bike

In recent years the "core" central area has become quite bike friendly. The city government has installed many new bike only lanes that span major east-west or north-south corridors. It takes a reasonably pro-bike position and a bike-map is available on the City Web site (http://www.toronto.ca/cycling/map/index.htm). Doughnut shaped bike lock racks have been installed on many sidewalks, usually in front of shops, restaurants or major points of interest.

By far one of the nicest bike paths is the east-west route that hugs lake Ontario, spanning the city from Etobicoke to the eastern ends of the city. Take care, this path while busy is also enjoyed by pedestrians and rollerbladers who are not a speedy as the typical biker. Biking is fairly common on major routes without bike paths too, such as Yonge Street, King and Queen Streets and Dundas and College. Beware of parked cars - often accidents are not caused by moving cars, but rather by careless drivers or passengers who unexpectedly open their drivers side door. However, by and large Toronto is about as safe for bikers than most European cities, and certainly safer than most US cities with their much reduced density of bikers. Here, at least you are expected. Also be cautious of street car tracks as bike wheels can be easily caught and cause a spill. The city is general pretty safe and in the centre of the city mainly flat which makes it ideal to bike, while dodging busy public transit, traffic jams or taxi fares or the severe parking fees and scarce spaces, and most of all SEE the city. And it is fast: door to door, in all of downtown Toronto bike beats car every time.

A special treat for bikers of all levels is a tour out to the Leslie Spit lighthouse and bird sanctuaries (no cars!) east of the islands (bring a picnic); as well, the island ferries transport bikes at no extra charge (again, no cars on the islands) and this is just the best way to get around by far.

Biking in the winter months is only enjoyable with proper equipment for regular bikers though, it does get cold, it can be quite windy, and the Canadian attitude to clearing snow on the street can be, shall we say, relaxed.

Toronto

See

Toronto has great tours available. These tours are very affordable ($25-$35) and offer pick up and drop-off from most hotels.

http://www.torontotours.ca/

http://www.kingtours.ca/

http://www.etours.to/

http://www.shopdinetour.com/

Sites to See


Toronto has several major league sports teams:

  • The Toronto Blue Jays (http://www.bluejays.com), Major League Baseball, play at the Rogers Centre (formerly "SkyDome")
  • The Toronto Maple Leafs (http://www.mapleleafs.com), National Hockey League, play at the Air Canada Centre
  • The Toronto Raptors (http://www.nba.com/raptors/), National Basketball Association, play at the Air Canada Centre
  • The Toronto Argonauts (http://argonauts.ca/), Canadian Football League, play at the Rogers Centre
  • The Toronto Rock (http://www.torontorock.com/), National Lacrosse League, play at the Air Canada Centre

Toronto has a great theatre scene for every taste and budget. Check out the big theatres on King Street and Yonge Street for the big splashy (and pricey) shows, such as the former runs of: Chicago, The Lion King, Les Miz, Cats, etc. Small theatres in the Annex and elsewhere offer smaller productions that range from original Canadian works, avant-garde, experimental theatre, small budget musicals to British murder mysteries.

Toronto is served by a number of free weekly newspapers, which can be good sources of information on dining, cinema, theatre, music and other events and local news. Look out for the free-papers in boxes on street corners and in racks stores and restaurants.

See district pages for more information

Toronto

Do

  • The Lakefront, in the downtown core offers biking and walking trails, with an excellent view of the Toronto skyline.
  • The Distillery District (http://www.thedistillerydistrict.com) - the former Gooderham & Worts distillery lands have been rejuvenated into a pedestrian-only village dedicated to the arts and entertainment. It has fantastic restaurants, festivals, and art galleries.
  • Toronto has some excellent beaches in the east end that offer typical beach activities.
  • The much-acclaimed CN Tower costs just $20CN (Budget) or $28CN to go up. It's the world's tallest free-standing structure and attracts large amounts of tourist, best times are weekdays in the morning.
  • The Ontario Science Center allows you to explore science (mainly aimed towards children ~8-14) in a fun and exciting way.
  • There are also many excellent museums:
  • Royal Ontario Museum is home to many permanent and temporary exhibits.
  • Art Gallery of Ontario is home to many famous pieces of art ranging from very recent to artwork hundreds of years old. Artists from Monet to Warhol are represented here and the AGO has one of the largest collections of Henry Moore scupltures in the world.

See district pages for more information

  • Camp Miniyowe (http://www.miniyowe.com/) is a camp with various programs for different ages.
Toronto

Buy

Toronto has ample opportunities for shopping, and nearly any section of the city has unique places to shop and find deals:

  • Yonge Street is the longest continuous street in the world. It runs from the edge of the Lake right to just shy of Thunder Bay (on the far shore of Lake Superior). The in-town end is a touristy-shopping district with many restaurants, souvenir and gift shops etc.
  • Located a short walk west of the Eaton Centre (http://www.torontoeatoncentre.com/) is the city's fashion district along Queen St. West, an area usually bustling with local hipsters looking for the latest looks in a variety of trendy stores.
  • Kensington Market, around College and Spadina, has hundreds of stores. Most of them are food vendors, but there are a number of used clothing shops as well.
  • Pacific Mall at Steeles and Kennedy in Markham, 1 (http://www.pacificmalltoronto.com/en/). The largest Chinese indoor mall in North America.
  • Chinatown, centered at Dundas St. and Spadina, is one of North America's largest Chinatowns with many stores geared towards tourists. It is a good place to pick up souvenirs though it is important to pay attention to the quality of the items.

-- See district pages for more information --

Toronto

Eat

Toronto is generally considered to be one of North America's top food cities. It has the same variety as New York or San Francisco, many places are open much later, and the compact and safe downtown keeps them closer together. The immigrants make them authentic, and the Canadian dollar makes them cheaper. It is easy to eat out in Toronto and have a superb meal for cheap.

Toronto

Farmer's Markets

Surrounded by the extensive fertile farmlands of Southern Ontario, Toronto has an abundance of farmer's markets - one is happening, in season, almost every day. Several markets are year round, while others are seasonal, generally running from May to October.

Since 1901, the St. Lawrence Market has brought the freshest foods into the city for Torontonians and visitors alike. Located at Jarvis and Front, the St. Lawrence Market stretches over 2 buildings, the 'North Market' and the 'South Market' - and often over the section of Front street between them! The North Market is home to a Farmer's Market, open Saturdays during the summer. It features fresh vegetables in season, preserves, spices and herbs, and direct from the source foods, such as honey direct from the beekeeper or maple syrup from the people who tapped and boiled it. The South Market has over 50 specialty vendors, with a large seafood section, a dozen butchers, several bakeries, and three very extensive cheese shops. In the basement, there is also a specialty area for handcrafters, and an extensive foodcourt, with merchants often cooking food that they bought fresh that morning from upstairs. The South Market is open year round, Tues-Thurs 8 a.m.-6 p.m., Fridays 8 a.m.-7 p.m., Saturdays 5 a.m.-5 p.m.

  • Riverdale Farm (http://www.city.toronto.on.ca/parks/riverdalefarm.htm)

The farm, located at 201 Winchester Street (three blocks east of Parliament Street), is a year-round, producing farm owned by the City of Toronto as part of its extensive park system. It is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm. The Friends of Riverdale Farm (http://www.friendsofriverdalefarm.com/) operate an onsite store and restaurant, Shop at the Farm and Farm Kitchen, in Simpson House (daily, 10 am to 4 pm), and a weekly Farmer's Market (Tuesdays, May 10 - Oct. 25, 2005, from 3:30 - 7 pm). The farm is open daily for tours, education, and more. Riverdale farm is a working farm, with barns and outdoor paddocks, and animals of all types. In an attempt to provide education about farming, the staff is approachable, and will discuss chores as they go through the daily tasks of keeping a farm running. Tours are available, or you can wander the 7.5 acres freely.

Other farmer's markets in Toronto:

  • City Hall, Nathan Phillips Square, 100 Queen St. W. - Wednesdays, June 1 - Oct. 5, 2005, 10 am - 2:30 pm, (exception June 29 due to Jazz Festival)
  • East York Civic Centre, 850 Coxwell Avenue - Tuesdays, May 24 - Oct. 25, 2005, 9 am - 2 pm
  • Etobicoke Civic Centre, 399 The West Mall - Saturdays, June 4 - Oct.29, 2005, 8 am to 2 pm
  • North York Civic Centre, Mel Lastman Square, 5100 Yonge Street - Thursdays, June 16 - Oct. 20, 2005, 8 am - 2 pm
  • Scarborough Civic Centre, Albert Campbell Square, 150 Borough Dr. - Fridays, June 3 - Oct. 14, 2005, noon - 5 pm
  • The Dufferin Grove Farmer's Market (http://www.dufferinpark.ca/market/market.html), 875 Dufferin Street (across from the Dufferin Mall) - Thursdays, Year round (outdoors around the rinkhouse in summer and in the rinkhouse in winter), 3:30 - 7 pm
Toronto

Vegetarian Food

See the district pages for more details.

  • Le Commensal in Downtown
  • Fresh by Juice for Life (http://www.juiceforlife.com/) in The Annex - 521 Bloor Street West, 416-531-2635, and in two locations on Queen West, 336 Queen Street West, 416-599-4442, and 894 Queen Street West, 416-913-2720
  • Fressen (http://www.fressenrestaurant.com/) on Queen West - 478 Queen Street West, 416-506-5127
  • Hey Good Cooking The Annex 238 Dupont St. (near Spadina Road and Spadina subway station) 416-929-9140
Toronto

Interesting Food Districts

  • A small section of Baldwin Street (east of Spadina, north of Dundas) has many small outdoor cafes ideal for summer lunches.
Toronto

Cafés

  • Bulldog Coffee (http://www.bulldogtoronto.com/home.htm) 89 Granby St. This place serves the best espresso and espresso based drinks in Toronto. One of the owner/baristas regularly wins competitions for his latté art. Open 7 AM - 7 PM daily.
  • The Red Tea Box (http://www.google.com/maps?q=red+box&ll=43.646492,-79.408176&spn=0.016521,0.028049&near=Toronto,+ON,+Canada&cid=43723057,-79392486,8111562863609797653&num=2&start=0&hl=en) 696 Queen Street W. Excellent teas, good food, cozy atmosphere, and decadent desserts that look too good too eat. Not cheap, but very good. Only open for lunch. 416 203 8882.
Toronto

Drink

The majority of Nightlife in Toronto is centered around the appropriately named Clubland, and in the fashion district on Queen Street West. Nearly anywhere is packed to the brim with pubs, bars, but none so much as Adelaide and Queen Street in those districts.


Hipper more art and music oriented crowds tend to gravitate towards Parkdale (Queen West past Bellwoods Park). The hipsters hangout out and comment on their outfits (and sometimes the art) in a wide array of bars, galleries and clubs that dot the area. Of particular note are: the Stones Place (mostly Indie and sometimes gay crowds), The Social (a mixed bag really) and the Drake and it's poor cousin Gladstone Hotels. However note many smaller venues / bars are in the area. Additionally these same folks also frequent the Annex / Kensington Market Area of the city at night for club nights, casual drinks and art / music events. One of the main "corsos" of the city is Little Italy: College Street, between Bathurst and Ossington flows over with music, sidewalk cafes and excellent food and a crowd that enjoys the summer heat and the offerings.

  • The Green Room (http://www.google.com/maps?q=green-room&ll=43.665947,-79.407442&spn=0.016515,0.028049&near=Toronto,+ON,+Canada&cid=43723057,-79392486,18301307254712616340&num=10&start=0) 296 Brunswick Ave. This cozy, funky bar is hidden in an alley just off of Bloor. It has affordable prices and a beautiful courtyard garden when the weather is warm. Open Noon until 2 AM daily. 416 929 3253.
Toronto

Sleep

Most hotels and hostels are situated directly outside of the downtown core. Prices for rooms generally range from $150+ for a standard hotel, $60-80 for a motel, and $20-40 for a bed in a hostel.

Toronto

Budget

Kensington Castle, 2 (http://www.kencastle.com). Currently closed for relocation. One of the most highly rated and affordable hostels in Toronto, set in the heart of Kensington Market.

Toronto

Mid-range

An interesting alternative to standard hotel-chain fare is the newly renovated, turn-of-the century GladstoneHotel (http://www.gladstonehotel.com/), on Queen Street. It has a number of truly unique, artist designed rooms. Rates from $150.


Toronto

Bed & Breakfasts

Another popular alternative for over nighters are Bed and Breakfasts. There are hundreds in Toronto and many of them are in the downtown core. Prices range from $60 to several hundred dollars depending on the house and amenities offered. The Toronto Townhouse (http://www.toronto-townhouse.com/) , are Toronto Tourism award winners and still is one of the better ones. They have 2 homes - one in Cabbagetown and the other in the Bloor Annex area.

Toronto

Learn

George Brown College is known for its business and culinary faculties which are located right behind its St. James Campus which is located downtown. Its other campus, Casa Loma Campus, is obviously located near Casa Loma.


Toronto, like other Canadian cities, is home to dozens of English as a Second Language (ESL) Schools. International students often prefer to study in Toronto because of its safety, proximity to other tourist destinations and favourable exchange rates and visa policies.


The University of Toronto is spread out all over the city of Toronto, including the Missisauga campus, the Downtown campus, and others. It offers many programs including engineering with science programs that are even more extensive than that of Harvard University (USA).


Toronto is home to two other universities. York University, the third largest in Canada, is located on the northern border of the city. Ryerson University is located in the heart of the downtown core.

Toronto

Contact

For emergency, dial 911 (you can dial it at the pay phone without putting in any coin).

Local call at the pay phone costs 25 cents each. It is not metered, so you can talk as long as you want. However, due to the popularity of mobile phones, pay phone booths are disappearing at an alarming rate.

Toronto has two area codes: 416 and 647. These area codes overlap. That is, they are both associated with the same geographic area. The suburban areas outside of the city also have two overlapping area codes, 905 and 289. As a result, Toronto has 10-digit local dialing. You must always dial the area code as part of the number you are trying to reach.

Toronto is a city with many internet cafés, especially on Yonge Street around Bloor and Bloor Street between Spadina and Bathurst. It's not hard to find a place to call home and the costs are relatively low, from $3 for 30 minutes. However, currently internet cafés are opening and closing in T.O. at an astounding rate so on repeat visits to the city you may find that the one you used last time has disappeared. For a guide to some of them, see YYZTech's internet cafe reviews (http://www.yyztech.ca/all_internet_cafe_reviews.php/).

Toronto

Stay safe

Toronto is the safest city of any large metropolis in North America, even more safe than other Canadian cities such as Vancouver and Montréal. This is a remarkable feat despite Toronto's huge downtown cores and suburban areas sprawling every year.

For instance, the homicide rate for Toronto is 1.3 per 100,000 people (1999; Statistics Canada), compared to Atlanta (34.5), Boston (5.5) New York City (9.1), Vancouver (2.8) and Washington, DC (45.5). For robbery rates, Toronto also ranks low, with 115.1 robberies per 100,000 people, compared to Dallas (583.7), Los Angeles (397.9), Montréal (193.9), New York City (490.6) and Washington, DC (670.6).

Toronto

Get out

Toronto is a great starting point for exploring southern Ontario. The Niagara Region, including Niagara Falls and Niagara on the Lake, is less than an hour's drive from Toronto towards the United States border at the Falls. The Waterloo region to the west has colleges and culture, and Muskoka, to the north and The Kawarthas to the east of Toronto, is cottage country, with country inns, hundreds of lakes and rivers, camping, fishing/hunting, provincial parks, and a wealth of year-round outdoor activities.



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