With one of the most iconic skylines in the world, Toronto is a sprawling metropolis boasting one of the largest and most multicultural populations in North America. From world-class museums to unique attractions, there’s plenty to do and see when you’re visiting Canada’s largest city. Here are 10 of the must-see attractions in Toronto.
For more than 30 years, the CN Tower carried the title of the tallest freestanding structure in the world and, in 1995, was declared one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. The striking, pointed tower dominates the city’s skyline, welcoming more than 1.5 million visitors per year to experience a panoramic bird’s-eye view of Toronto, dine at the rotating 360 Restaurant or to step outside onto EdgeWalk, where you can hang, hands-free, 1,168 feet above the city.
Royal Ontario Museum
The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is Canada’s largest museum, with more than 40 galleries containing collections and artifacts showcasing world culture, art and natural history. Just outside Toronto’s ritzy Yorkville neighborhood, the original building opened in 1914 and nearly 100 years later, the now iconic Lee-Chin Crystal by Daniel Libeskind has given the museum a new life and a contemporary wing.
Don’t miss ROM Summer Fridays, where you can experience this popular place with live music, drinks and dancing beneath dinosaur bones.
Art Gallery of Ontario
Next to Toronto’s Chinatown, the Art Gallery of Ontario is a hot spot for cultural exploration. Considered one of the most distinguished art museums In North America, the venue’s collection spans more than 90,000 works of art, from historical Canadian pieces and old European masters to contemporary exhibits and more than 70,000 photographic works.
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
Opened in 2013, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is a 135,000-square-foot, family-friendly attraction mere steps from the CN Tower and Rogers Centre. The aquarium immerses you in a world of 16,000 aquatic animals with North America’s longest underwater viewing tunnel and hundreds of interactive exhibits and daily shows. It’s a favorite for tots and Instagrammers.
Just north of the downtown core, Casa Loma is a heritage landmark that looks more like the home to a fairy tale princess than a former financier. Inspired by his European travels, Sir Henry Pellatt built Casa Loma in 1914 as his dream Gothic Revival castle.
Today, Toronto’s “Majestic Castle” welcomes you to enjoy its decorated suites, secret passages and gorgeous gardens. Throughout the year, the venue also hosts plenty of public events, from Mother’s Day afternoon tea and a Halloween haunted house to jazz and live music in the garden during the summer months.
Hockey Hall of Fame
If ice hockey is Canada’s national sport, then that makes the Hockey Hall of Fame a national mecca. In the heart of the city’s financial district and across from Union Station, this action-packed museum is where you can learn about the greatest players of the game, explore the largest collection of hockey memorabilia in the world and get up close and personal with the Stanley Cup. Interact with life-size animations of today’s hockey greats, like Sidney Crosby, or discover more about the history of the sport.
St. Lawrence Market
Situated on the same block as it was in 1803, St. Lawrence Market was the first year-round farmers market in Toronto — and it continues to be one of the best. Teeming with hundreds of vendors, including fishmongers, butchers and specialty cheese merchants, this historic street shop is like no other. On Saturday mornings, peruse the farmers market to find the latest local goods from the region, and visit on Sundays to find more than 80 antique dealers selling their wares.
Formerly the site of a world-renowned whiskey distillery, this lively district has been revamped into a pedestrian-friendly destination reminiscent of Europe’s cobblestone streets or New York City’s SoHo. Today, the buildings have been restored and redeveloped into an array of modern galleries, trendy restaurants, one-of-a-kind shops and more. All year long you’ll find live music, street performances and film festivals highlighting some of Canada’s top talent.
While large museums and galleries are sure to impress, Toronto’s true culture can be found in its diverse neighborhoods. There’s Little Italy on College Street, the best place to catch a soccer game (if you’re cheering for Italy, of course); the Danforth is where to go for all things Greek; Little India over on Gerrard Street is the spot for hard-to-find groceries and excellent dosa.
When you’re downtown, be sure to check out Toronto’s sprawling Chinatown, one of the largest in North America, for tastes and goods from varying Chinese provinces. Steps away, take a walk through the eclectic Kensington Market, a vibrant neighborhood with street-side shops and an urban, laid-back, artsy vibe.
Harbourfront and Toronto Island
At the edge of Lake Ontario, Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre offers celebrations and cultural events throughout the year along the waterfront, such as contemporary dance showcases and stand-up performances.
From here, you can hop on a short 13-minute ferry to explore the Toronto Islands: 15 interconnected islands just south of the downtown core with unbeatable views of the city skyline. There are plenty of activities to enjoy here: beaches, cycling, kayaking, picnicking, a children’s amusement park and more.