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Toronto Travel Guide

 
Introducing the city of Toronto

Toronto is large, vibrant, multi-cultural with a renowned food scene, urban yet eco-friendly, culturally thriving with urban pleasures and plenty of parks that provide green spaces throughout the city.

It is Canada’s largest city and has a friendly population which makes the city easy to like. It’s a great place for dining, shopping, relaxing and exploring its many attractions including Toronto Islands, CN Tower, the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario.

The seasons also play an important role in the lives of locals.

The weather changes are dramatic. Windy April is hardly a spring that the locals head out to enjoy. July however is a lively month, though humid, with overflowing patios, packed pubs and parks filled with locals who enjoy the warm weather along the lake shore late into the night.

While the red maples of October lend the city a festive air, though locals don’t particularly look forward to the winter. The peak of winter in February sees the city covered in inhospitable snow, and locals taking the underground pathways, or hiding in cozy pubs and coffee shops.

That is, if they’re not enjoying a game of hockey.

 

 

 

Plan Your Trip: Getting in and Around

Getting in

  • By plane: There are several airports that cater to international and regional travelers in the Toronto region.

The two terminals of the Toronto Pearson International Airport service most major international flight carriers. From the airport, the downtown is reachable with a 30 to 50 minute drive. The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) and the Pacific Western Airport Express provide express bus services to downtown locations from the airport. GO Transit provides buses from the airport to destinations outside of the Toronto downtown.

For regional flights, ‘Island Airport’ or the Billy Bishop Toronto City Center Airport provides services to several cities of eastern Canada and the northeast US. Another airport for regional travel is the Hamilton International Airport, which is located 80 km from the Toronto Downtown and is particularly convenient for visits to the Niagara Falls.

A combination of services by the Hamilton Street Railway and the GO commuter bus can take passengers to the core downtown of Toronto.

The Buffalo-Niagara International Airport provides low-cost flight services between Toronto and the United States. It is possible to take a 3-hour Megabus ride from the airport to downtown. Travelers can also hire a car at the airport if they want to drive.

  • By bus: There are plenty of intercity buses run by Greyhound, New York Trailways, Coach Canada, Shuttle, Ontario Northland, Megabus and Greyhound Quicklink. Of these, Greyhound provides links between New York City and Toronto with Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo on the way.

 
The service also provides bus links to Chicago with the cities of Detroit, Windsor and London on the way. Coach Canada provides links to Montreal, New York City, Kingston and Buffalo.

  • By train: Toronto’s impressive Union Station is one of the main hubs of VIA Rail, which provides intercity train travel in Canada. The principal VIA Rail lines include Corridor (to Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa and other stations in between) and Maple Leaf (run jointly with Amtrak to New York City with Buffalo and Albany on the way).
    The Canadian rail route operates a few weekly trains to Vancouver. Ontario Northland is a subsidized service to Cochrane, Ontario.
    GO Transit also operates several commuter train services from Union Station to locations around the Greater Toronto Area.
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    Getting Around

    Distances in Toronto are large, and a combination of efficient and clean subway rail, streetcar, buses and intercity trains can take you around the downtown area and even the Greater Toronto Area without a car.

    There are a few caveats against driving – the expensive downtown parking garages and the rush hours between 7 am and 10 am, and in the evening between 4 pm and 7 pm, when the highways backup on a regular basis.

    • By Subway and LRT: The subway is the fastest and most efficient way to get around the city as well as to get to more far-flung neighborhoods. With monthly, weekly and day passes, passengers can avail of many discounts on the three subway and one RT lines. Streetcar: Toronto’s streetcar system is one of the few remaining ones in North America. They can offer tourists a unique transit experience, though waiting times can be high. 
       
      Streetcars are available through the Financial District, Chinatown, Downtown, Little Italy, Kensington Market, the Queen West shopping district and the Theater District for the convenience of tourists. Note that you should only board streetcars when the traffic has stopped next to them.

     

  • By GO Transit: GO Transit’s system of buses and regional trains provide transport between the city and the surrounding areas. Trains are comfortable and large. Discounted fares are available from GO transit stations.
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  • By Taxi: There are plenty of taxis you can flag down, but they can be expensive. Taxis are a good mode of travel in places not near subway lines.
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  • By Bike: Toronto is not a particularly bike-friendly city, with many bike-paths being removed. However that doesn’t deter cyclists from hitting the road along with automobiles.
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  • By Ferry: You can visit the Toronto islands with a pleasant fifteen-minute ferry ride from the piers of Queen’s Quay and Bay Street in the downtown core. This ride offers some of the most picturesque views of the skyline of the city.
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    Orientate Yourself

    A good start to your Toronto holiday can be to get on the streetcar and tour the galleries, boutiques and restaurants of West Queen West. And for a bird’s eye view over the city, the 553 m high iconic CN Tower’s glass elevator to the top and revolving restaurant can be a great place to catch spectacular sunsets.

     


     

     

    Things to See & Do

    There are too many things to do in Toronto for a single visit. The Art Gallery of Ontario is Canada’s largest art gallery which is a must-visit for art aficionados. For history buffs, the Royal Ontario Museum is a great place to delve into historic exhibits.

    Walking in Toronto’s eclectic neighborhoods starting at Downtown, signing up for Discovery Walks, and exploring the green, park-filled areas of North York, Garrison Creek, Belt line and Humber River can be very pleasant. Walking and biking trails abound in the Harbourfront and Lakefront districts of Downtown.

    Art and culture vultures can head to the pedestrian-only Distillery District for its festivals, art galleries and restaurants. Beach lovers can head to the three main sections of beach that lie along Lake Ontario in the Beaches neighborhood.

    Chinatown, Little India, Koreatown and Little Italy provide a look at the way Toronto’s many ethnic populations live and offer plenty of excellent eateries and coffee shops. The Toronto Islands offer leafy green alternatives to urban sprawl, where visitors can bike, walk, enjoy a picnic or simply relax.
     

    Shopping & Dining

    Tourists to Toronto will enjoy wine from Niagara wineries, and plenty of local and international fare in new and old bistros, burger joints and fusion restaurants. Yorkville, the University District and Chinatown are among some of the most interesting districts to enjoy food in.

    There are also several farmer’s markets in the area, and the two most popular of these are the St Lawrence Market and Riverdale Farm.

    Shopping can be done in almost every district, but the best places to shop are at Yonge Street, Bloor Street, Yorkville, Kensington Market, Chinatown, Pacific Mall, Scarborough and the underground PATH system.
     

    Nightlife & Entertainment

    Like most big cities, Toronto has plenty of touring musicals and hit shows at the Four Seasons Center for Performing Arts and the Roy Thomson Hall. Independent troops also perform at the Factory Theatre, the Canadian Stage, Soulpepper and the Shaw Festival
     


     
    Post by Angella Grey, the marketing manager at The Vacation Rentals Experts – an online and offline digital marketing strategy that creates marketing solutions for vacation rentals, holiday homes and brands.

    Joint us on twitter, follow our LinkedIn company page to learn more and get great tips on market strategy and solutions for your holiday properties.

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