Is Toronto Worth Visiting in 2023? (From a Local)

Wondering if Toronto is worth visiting? Look no further. Toronto is the largest city in Canada, and known for being the most multicultural city in the world.

I was born in Toronto, and I’ve lived either in or near Toronto my whole life. Having lived in Toronto solo, visited countless times with kids, with friends, and gone on some romantic weekend getaways in Toronto, I can give you a full picture of what Toronto has to offer, and why Toronto is worth a visit.

Is Toronto Worth Visiting?

So, is Toronto worth visiting? I would say yes, it is definitely worth a visit while you’re in Canada. Here are the main reasons I think Toronto is worth your time, in summer or winter.

  • It’s the most multicultural city in the world. Multiculturalism is common worldwide, but I’ve never seen another city do it like Toronto.
  • Despite being the largest city in Canada, Toronto is statistically safer than many Canadian cities that are much smaller (such as Vancouver , Thunder Bay and even Ottawa in some respects)
  • Aside from the distinct, unique neighbourhoods, Toronto also has a lot of attractions and things to do, whether you’re with kids, travelling solo, with friends or on a romantic getaway.
OCAD Toronto

Additionally, Toronto is great for foodies – there’s such a variety of restaurants whether you’re looking for ethnic fusion, vegan options, hole in the wall restaurants, or high-end dining options.

So, now that you know that I, as a local, think Toronto is worth visiting – let’s dive in to the best things to do in Toronto.

Is Toronto Worth Visiting? 19 Amazing Things To Do in Toronto

Here are the things to do in Toronto that make visiting Canada’s largest city worth it

1. Stroll through the Victorian neighbourhood

The Distillery District is a glimpse into Toronto in the 1800s, and is the only remaining neighbourhood in the city from that time. It has cobbled alleys, historic buildings and its contained within city walls. The best part? Its completely car-free. We’re lucky to still have this gem in the city, with the condos and urbanization that have occurred around it.

Distillery District Toronto

Inside the Distillery District, you can find restaurants, pubs, cafés, bakeries and shopping. Check out Bergo Designs for unique gifts and gadgets, and stop at Mill Street Brewery for a bite to eat -you won’t be disappointed!

To get to the Distillery District, you can take the TTC to Union station, board the 504 King street East streetcar, and then ride it to the Distillery Loop.

2. Shop at the St. Lawrence Market

The St. Lawrence Market is a historical 2-storey market in the heart of Toronto. The building was once a city hall and a jail, before evolving into a food market. Both floors have mostly food items. The top floor (ground level) is all food -meats, cheeses, nuts, fresh produce, and some eateries. The basement floor has a lot of food as well, but you can also find some souvenir shops on the basement level as well.

In the summertime, there is outdoor seating for you to enjoy drinks, snacks and food that you purchased from vendors in the market. Its also right beside Berzcy Park, which is a park with dog-statue fountains.

Berczy park Toronto
Berczy Park, Toronto (near the St. Lawrence Market)

3. Stand on the glass floor at the CN Tower

The CN Tower is one of the highlights of Toronto. I remember as a child, teachers proudly teaching us in school how it was the tallest free-standing structure in the world. It no longer is, but its still up there (no pun intended) – the CN Tower is the 10th tallest free stand structure in the world at 1,815 feet.

The glass floor allows you to look all the way down to the ground. There’s a restaurant, and gift shop. If you’re eating a the restaurant, you don’t need to pay for entrance to the CN Tower.

CN Tower

Good to Know: The glass floor observation deck at the CN Tower has quite a few closures throughout June 2023 as they are doing some construction. Check their website to make sure it’ll be open on the day you plan to visit!

Feeling extra brave? Try out the Edgewalk, which allows you to walk around the edge of the CN Tower hanging backwards secured by a bungee cord.

4. Watch Sea Creatures at Ripley’s Aquarium

Ripley’s is right beside the CN Tower, so if you’re into aquariums or visiting with kids, then its worth it to do them both together. You can grab a Sea the Sky pass to pay for both of them combined for a deal.

Ripley's Aquarium of Toronto

The Toronto Ripley’s is obviously popular with kids, but its a nice outing for adults too. In fact, I celebrated my 30th birthday by coming here with friends. The aquarium is open until 11pm some nights, allowing you to visit at quieter times.

The coolest attraction inside Ripley’s is the transparent underwater tunnel that makes you feel like you’re walking through the ocean.

Pro Tip: Here are some places to eat near the CN Tower and Ripley’s

5. Visit the Royal Ontario Museum

When someone asks me ‘is Toronto worth visiting?’ , the Royal Ontario Museum (commonly known as the “Rom” in Ontario) is one of the first attractions that coms to my mind. Its the largest museum in Canada, and one of the top 10 in North America. There are artifacts and exhibits showcasing different cultures and civilizations throughout history.

Royal Ontario Museum

The ROM is a fascinating place to walk through, learn new things and be amazed at human history, creations and early societies. Its suitable for groups of adults, and families with kids. There is an interactive small children section for young kids, and intriguing exhibits for adults to get lost in, learning about the wonders of history.

Give yourself at least two hours to explore the ROM, as there are multiple exhibits on three different floors.

6. Take in the Kensington Market

The Kensington Market is a bohemian neighbourhood in downtown Toronto that has a lot of hole in the wall restaurants, cafés, unique stores and markets. What I like about the Kensington Market is that it isn’t set up to be a tourist attraction – its just a neighbourhood. It is popular for tourists to take a walk through because of how unique it is.

Kensington Market

I’d recommend grabbing a bite to eat while you’re in this neighbourhood – there’s a variety of places to grab food from, both sit down and take out. The Kensington Market is especially popular with students, artists. Its very colourful, with lots of street art. Its family friendly, and makes for a nice day out for anyone exploring Toronto.

Pro Tip: Drop by Bunner’s Bakery for a sweet treat!

7. Get a panoramic view of the Toronto city skyline.

Photographers like to chase that skyline photo. One of the most popular ways to get a photo of the Toronto skyline is to take the ferry from the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal to Centre Island. There are also several water taxis at Pier 6 that will take you across the lake for around $13 each way.

Toronto city skyline

On Centre Island, there isn’t much. There are parks and green space, picnic tables and trails for walking through the landscaped grounds. There’s an amusement park called Centreville open in the summer, and a sandy beach also popular in the summertime.

Pro Tip: To get a great view of the Toronto skyline, you could also go on a tour like this one that gives you a harbour cruise to see the skyline, the CN Tower, and the St. Lawrence Market

8. Step into History at the Bata Shoe Museum

The Bata Shoe Museum is my favourite museum in Toronto. Its all shoes. Shoes from cultures across the world, and in history, going back to ancient civilizations. You can tell a surprising amount about a culture’s lifestyle and values through their shoes, which isn’t something I ever realized before coming here.

Bata Shoe Museum Toronto

The Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto is also the largest exhibit of shoes in the world, so its very unique and not something you’ll find anywhere else.

9. Explore Toronto’s Castle

Yes, Toronto has a castle you can visit and tour around. Casa Loma was built in the early 1900s, by Sir William Henry, as a gift to his wife. Sir William had to pause construction of his castle during WWI and after that, couldn’t keep up with the payments so the city seized the property. Its now a popular tourist attraction, and an upscale venue for weddings and events.

Casa Loma Toronto

Casa Loma makes for a nice visit for solo travellers, couples or families with kids. It is often used for special events at Halloween and Christmas, and also as a venue for weddings. One of the coolest features you can visit at Casaloma is an elevator that takes you to the basement to the “Dragon’s Den.”

10. Stroll through Chinatown Toronto

Chinatown is one of Toronto’s oldest neighbourhoods, established in the late 1800s. You can find authentic, mouthwatering Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese and other Asian restaurants, Chinese bakeries, dim sum, and produce markets in Chinatown.

Chinatown Toronto

There is also some colourful street art in Chinatown; you can see a lot of it on the way if you walk to or from the Kensington Market from here, or vice versa.

Pro Tip: Toronto’s Chinatown is within walking distance of the Kensington Market, so its worth it to hit them both in an afternoon.

11. Get Thrills at Canada’s Wonderland

Canada’s Wonderland is the largest amusement park in the country. It also has some record-breaking rollercoasters, such as the Leviathon and Beheomoth. Canada’s Wonderland is a fun day out with friends or a romantic partner, but it has a lot for small children too. There’s a Kidzville, entirely dedicated to young kids under 5.

Canada's Wonderland

It’s not just a summer thing, either. Canada’s Wonderland does a Halloween Haunt, and Winterfest throughout December. The only months its truly closed are January through April.

12. Soak up cultures from around the world

Being the most multicultural city in the world, there’s no better place to indulge in different world cultures all in one place. Between cultural neighbourhoods, festivals and events, there are many ways to soak up cultures from around the world and feel like a true global citizen. Here are some of the best ways to do that in Toronto.

  • Check out cultural celebrations and events happening at Nathan Phillips Square, Dundas Square and the Harbourfront, there are many festivals and fairs dedicated to different cultures.
  • Visit Little India, Greektown, Koreatown, Little Italy, Little Ukraine, Chinatown and J-Town (Japan Town) and so many more! You can feel like you travelled the world while just staying in Toronto.

13. Get a photo in front of the famous Toronto sign

Every city has a name sign now, but the cool thing about Toronto’s is that its located right in what we calld Nathan Phillip’s Square. The building behind it is the old city hall.

Nathan Phillips square

In the winter, there the area in front of the sign turns into a skating rink and you can skate there, as well as a holiday market during the month of December. In my opinion, this alone makes Toronto one of the best places to visit in Ontario in winter.

14. Spend hours at the Science Centre

The Science Centre in Toronto is a place to learn about all things science -biology, space, human societies, inventions, the living earth. Its fascinating and suitable for all age groups.

The Science Centre is large, and you could literally spend hours walking around, learning different things. One of my favourite parts is the Space area.

The Science Centre is located in northeast Toronto, and it has its own subway stop. There’s also plenty of parking on-site.

15. Walk through Dundas Square and the Eaton’s Centre

Dundas Square is like the Time Square of Toronto. There are big screens, its busy, there are broadway shows, malls, lots of restaurants and shopping. The environment may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but its worth checking out.

Dundas Square Toronto

The Eaton Centre is the largest mall in Canada, with over 200 stores.

16. Explore the The Toronto Roundhouse

The Roundhouse in Toronto is a historical district where the old locomotives used to be stored. They have some old trains sitting there, and you can climb and take photos in them, and admire the view of the CN Tower from them. This is another small way, besides the Distillery District, of getting a glimpse into Toronto’s Victorian history.

toronto roundhouse

The Toronto Roundhouse is right across from the CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium and as I mentioned – surrounded by restaurants, so you should be able to make a nice outing out of this too.

16. Get pictures and a drink at the Gooderham Building

The Gooderham Building is a historic office building in Toronto that is triangle shaped. Its also known as the “Flatiron” building, because of its shape. Its a beautiful building to walk past and get pictures of, as it stands out as very unique from other buildings in the area.

Downtown Toronto

There is a pub in the basement of the Flatiron building where you can get drinks or some good foods. The Flatiron building is a short, 2-minute walk from the St. Lawrence Market.

17. Visit the Hockey Hall of Fame

For those that don’t know, hockey is big in Canada. It’s been played in Canada since the early 1900s, and considered to be Canada’s National Sport. The Hockey Hall of Fame, set in a historic building downtown, is a tribute to Canada’s hockey history and achievements in hockey.

Hockey Hall of Fame Toronto

The Hockey Hall of Fame is like a museum with artifacts, important dates and information. You’ll love this especially if you’re interested in hockey, or have kids who play hockey.

18. See 50-year old TVs at the Television Museum

MZTV Museum of Television in east Toronto has 10,000+ items focusing on the history and technology of television. You will see the rarest and most valuable TV artifacts, some which are several decades old.

With modern day conveniences, we often forget what technology must have been like in the not-too-distant past, and its fascinating to observe what it was like for our parents/grandparents.

You could spend a good 1-2 hours at the Museum of Television. There’s an app which gives additional information about the exhibits and is available in different languages.

An adult ticket is only $10 and kids 12 and under are free of charge (great opportunity to show ’em what it used to be.) The TV Museum is located in Liberty Village, which near the Budweiser Stage just east of Toronto. Public parking is available.

19. Get tricked at the Museum of Illusions

The Museum of Illusion has logic games, optical illusions that will leave you perplexed, a vortex tunnel, and lots of halograms that you can take selfies in front of. If you’re looking for a place to trick your senses and tease your brain, then this is the place! The Museum of Illusions is a new attraction in Toronto that just opened in 2018.

You should buy your tickets on their website in advance for the date and time you wish to visit.

20. Learn about Wildlife at the Toronto Zoo

The Toronto Zoo is a quite extensive zoo, with 10 km worth of walking trails and representing animals, reptiles and birds from seven different continents. The Toronto Zoo is known for hosting school groups for field trips.

If you like zoos, you will enjoy and likely learn a lot at the Toronto Zoo. As someone who’s not a huge fan of zoos in general, I have to admit that the animals at the Toronto Zoo do seem well-cared for.

Bob cat at Jungle Cat world

The Toronto Zoo is located in the outskirts of east Toronto; its accessible by the subway system followed by a bus. If you’re looking for a smaller zoo, you could consider Jungle Cat World, which is just extra 45 minutes of driving from Toronto.

How to Get Around Toronto

It’s so easy to get from the airport to downtown. You can just take the train. From the airport, it will get you right downtown in just 25 minutes, inexpensively.

Union Station in Toronto

Once you’re in Toronto, its very easy to get around the city using the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission.) It includes the subway, and streetcars. You can buy a pass for the days you’ll be here, or buy single tickets only. Uber is also widely used in Toronto.

Epic Places to Stay in Toronto

I’ve stayed in hotels all over the city, and know the neighbourhoods and the ease of getting around well. Here are some of my recommendations, according to budget.

The best area to stay in Toronto is near Union Station, because its within walking distance of a majority of the attractions, and you can use Union Station to get anywhere that isn’t just a short walk away. Hotels near Union Station are usually on the high end, however. If you’re looking for a variety of budgets in Toronto accommodations, then here are my suggestions:

Downtown Toronto
  • Budget: Samusun Toronto Right on Augusta avenue, where the Kensington Market is located. Steps away from lots of attractions. Choose between dorms or private rooms. Free breakfast, too.
  • Mid-Range: 25 Richmond Street Condo Very well located for a great price and highly rated
  • Luxury: Radisson Blu Downtown Toronto Steps away from the CN Tower, Ripley’s, Scotiabank Arena, the Toronto Roundhouse and other attractions.

Day Trips from Toronto

If you want to get outside the city and see more ‘natural beauty,’ there are a lot of day trips within a few hours of Toronto.

Niagara Falls
  • Niagara Falls. You definitely can’t go to Toronto without visiting Niagara Falls. You can drive there in just over an hour, take the train, or try this day trip from Toronto.
  • Niagara on the Lake. Niagara on the Lake is a small town near Niagara Falls. Its popular for couples or groups of friends. It has a quaint downtown with boutiques and restaurants, and lots of wineries.
  • Algonquin Park, or Forks of the Credit. One of the most popular places to spend time in nature outside the city. Algonquin in the fall is especially breathtaking, because of the colours. Algonquin is a 3-hour drive from Toronto, but there are great places to stay overnight nearby.
  • Muskoka. Muskoka is considered “cottage country”, and is full of natural beauty – lakes, the Canadian shield rock formations. And if you’re looking for something really unique to do, there’s Screaming Heads.
  • Bruce Peninsula. Considered to be the scuba diving capital of Canada, Tobermory is known for its clear turquoise blue water, and shipwrecks. You could also take a ferry to Manitoulin Island. There is a tour that heads to Tobermory from Toronto.

Fun fact: Did you know that Toronto Island has its own airport? You can fly to Northern Ontario cities such as Thunder Bay, (near Kakabeka Falls and other natural beauty ) in less than 2 hours.

Is Toronto Worth Visiting? Final Thoughts

So – is Toronto worth visiting? I believe it is. I think there’s a lot to appreciate in Toronto; a lot to do, for all ages and interests. And although its by far the priciest, I also believe that its one of the best places to live in Ontario as well.

Is Toronto the prettiest city in Canada? No, I’d say the prettiest city in Canada is undoubtedly Quebec City. While Ontario and Toronto don’t have the same natural beauty as famous touristy places like Quebec City or Banff, there is still a lot to offer in the area. Toronto has a large, cosmopolitan feel and so much uniqueness that I think it should be on your itinerary during a trip to Canada, or if you’re in the area.

In conclusion, to the question – “Is Toronto worth visiting?”, I would say absolutely. If you’re going to be in Ontario, then I think it’s worth it to carve out at least 2-3 days to spend in its capital, Toronto.