Choosing the route of our trip we decided to start from Canada. Why? It’s very simple – nature in Canada is beautiful, the people friendly and the city is an amazing cultural mix. The official world’s most diverse city is Toronto, and because of that we started here our adventure.
“Multi-culti” that works
According to research by various institutions 50% of the population of Toronto have been born outside of Canada. An incredible mix of skin colors, languages and cultures can be seen almost everywhere Toronto. All clearly conspicuous, but at the same time the mix is not dominated by one nationality.
Of course there are places in the city, where some cultures are more dominant, such as Little Italy or Chinatown, that we visited. But even here the mixing of cultures still occurs. In the Italian pizzeria in Little Italy the waiter looked to us like a person of Hispanic origin, and as we found during the interview – he was really from China. Mix, mix, mix …. that’s really interesting to see 😉
Our list of the top attractions in Toronto
We spent 5 days in Toronto. That’s quite some time but at the same time might not be enough time to see all the interesting things in the city. However, in order not to describe everything we did and see, we decided to make a list of the top 5 things that we most liked.
1. CN Tower and panorama of the city
CN Tower is the icon of Toronto. Measuring 553 meters tower was the tallest free-standing structure until 2010 from 1976 when it was built. You can see it almost all the time while strolling through the city center – it just flashes between skyscrapers. When you stand at the base of the tower and look up to its top all you can say is “Woooow… that’s tall…”.
One might say “it’s just a tower” but it’s actually impressive. We especially enjoyed the panoramic view of Toronto from the CN Tower. During the day the city extends far beyond the horizon. After sunset, when all the buildings are illuminated, the view is simply magical.
2. Downtown panorama from Toronto Islands on Lake Ontario
If you’re walking around downtown Toronto it takes just 30 minutes to see the city from a totally different perspective. It’s the time of the ferry cruise from Jack Layton Terminal at the Port of Toronto (20 minutes walk from the CN Tower) to the only islands in the western part of Lake Ontario.
Toronto Islands are very popular place for rest and recreation in Toronto. In addition to sandy beaches, water sports equipment rental and many clubs you can find here lots of walking and cycling routes (the closest bike rentals are located in the port and on the Central Island). Children will also not be bored here – there’s a lot of attractions for the whole family, including miniature town with miniature railway, a variety of boats floating in the canals of the island or even a mini golf course.
It is worth to sail to the islands even just for the sensational view of Toronto. The view is amazing both by day and by night.
There’s many very tall buildings in Toronto. Most of them are located in the downtown. Their interesting shapes, specific forms of the facade and night illumination makes walking between them an interesting experience. In addition, next to scyscrapers you can often see other houses in the style of “Annex” – it was the most popular style of building houses in the late XIX century in Canada.
4. Royal Ontario Museum
It is the most famous museum in Toronto and the second most tourist visited museum in Canada. The Royal Ontario Museum houses exhibitions of world culture and natural history.
While walking through several floors of the museum, one can see sculptures from the Byzantine Asian temples or palaces, as well as large collections of fossils and impressive dinosaurs skeletons, minerals and taxidermied animals or the exhibitions on design and the visual arts.
5. Zoo in Toronto
It is the largest zoo in Canada. Thematically, it was divided into seven different parts of: Indo-Malaysia, Australia, Africa, America, Canada, Tundra and Eurasia. Currently more than 5,000 animals of 450 different species live in the zoo, which makes the zoo in Toronto’s most diverse zoo in the world.
To see all the animals in every part of the zoo almost an entire day of sightseeing is required (assuming moderate or fast pace).
Honorable mentions, not necessarily worth a visit 😉
Quite frankly – there are also places in Toronto that we went to see, but weren’t too much impressed. We decided to mention them, but if we were to visit Toronto again – we would definitely pass on seeing those: Casa Loma (it was covered by the CityPASS we bought, so it would be a waste not to see it) and Little Italy, Portugal Village and Chinatown. Except for the flags and writings/signs in different languages, we didn’t feel anything special or characteristic in those places – neither Italy nor Portugal, nor Asia. Maybe it was already after tourist season in these neighborhoods…? 😉
- Throughout Canada, if it’s not clearly marked, all prices in shops, bars, restaurants, museums etc. are net prices and there will be a tax added to them. Why is that? Because in every province there are different tax rates, e.g. Ontario has 13%, 5% is in Alberta, and Nova Scotia has 15%.
- If you would like to visit some very interesting places in Toronto (and not only) we strongly recommend the CityPASS. It is a set of 5 tickets to the most famous attractions in Toronto – CN Tower, Casa Loma, Zoo, Royal Ontario Museum and Ontario Science Centre. What are the benefits? First of all – it saves 45% of the ticket price, if you’d bought tickets separately. Secondly, you can skip the ticket lines (in the case the CN Tower entry – it can save sometimes up to an hour in high season). The list of cities where you can use the CityPASS (along with the prices) can be found at: www.citypass.com
- Ferry from the port of Toronto to the islands costs CAD 7.25 per return ticket (about 5.5 USD). Timetable and prices can be found here.
- When using the Toronto public transport you pay for one ride. Ticket (so-called ‘token’) costs 3 CAD (or CAD 2.80 if bought in a bulk – 2 USD per token). One thing to remember is that during a transfer between subway and bus or changing bus, you must obtain a transfer ticket (available in the machines near subway exit or from the bus driver).
- Easy and fairly inexpensive way to get around Canada is carpooling (sharing a ride and gas cost) – some pages with offers are: www.kijiji.ca, www.kangaride.com or www.carpoolworld.com. Other ways of travelling (and much more expensive) are a train (www.viarail.ca or www.gotransit.com) or bus (www.ca.megabus.com or www.greyhound.ca).