Whether it’s a layover at Pearson or just a short break, try to maximize the opportunity if you only have one day to spend in Toronto. Being a dynamic metropolis with a core of soaring skyscrapers and many green spaces, clearly there are plenty of things to do. Seeing everything in this Ontario city in a single day is impossible, so you need to make a plan and stick to it. Here’s how you can make the most of a jam-packed one-day trip to Toronto.
One Day in Toronto: How to Make the Most of It
How to Get Around
The first thing to do when you leave Pearson is to decide how you want to get around in Canada’s largest city. Here are a few options.
Book an Airport Limo
One of the preferred methods of transportation for travellers and businesspeople arriving in Toronto is to hire an airport limousine. It is not only comfortable but also convenient. Your chauffeurs are well-trained, familiar with the city’s routes and can help you reach your destination with ease, especially if you are a first-time visitor.
If you are looking for an inexpensive option, public transit is your best bet. The Toronto Transit Commission, also known as the TTC, is an easy way of getting around the city. Until November 30, you can buy a TTC Day Pass for $13 from any subway station and take streetcars, buses or the subway.
Cabs and Bikes
Another option is to get around via taxi or Uber. Simple. Or, for the adventurous, Toronto has a bike share program.
What to Do in Toronto
Once you have decided on your preferred mode of transport, you can go ahead with the most exciting part of the trip: seeing all the best places Toronto has to offer. Here are a few suggestions.
1) Brunch on West Queen West
Start your one-day tour with a delicious and wholesome brunch in one of the coolest neighbourhoods in the country, West Queen West. From fluffy pancakes to mouth-watering Eggs Benedict, you can find all varieties of tasty items on the menu. Sisters & Co. and Cafe Neon are just a couple of the restaurants you can visit.
Note: Since you have only one day, booking accommodations is optional. If you don’t have much luggage, you can carry your bags with you or book a hotel room for one night.
2) Visit the Iconic CN Tower
Once you are fuelled up, kickstart your tour with a popular tourist destination. If you have never visited Toronto but have seen pictures of this vibrant city, most likely featured the CN Tower. Located right in the middle of the Entertainment District in the heart of downtown, Toronto’s most iconic landmark is a 553.3 m-high concrete communications and observation tower. It held the record for the world’s tallest free-standing structure from 1975–2007 and was the world’s tallest tower until 2009. If you are interested in seeing Toronto from up high, take the elevator to the viewing platform for a 360-degree view. Here’s the map.
2) Get Entertained at Ripley’s Aquarium
Since you don’t have a lot of time, covering the spots close by is a good idea. After leaving the CN Tower, you can visit Ripley’s Aquarium, a great pick especially if you are travelling with children. This is Canada’s largest indoor aquarium with over 16,000 aquatic animals, nine galleries, more than 100 interactive displays and three touch exhibits featuring rays, sharks and horseshoe crabs. You kids will love this place.
3) Head to Graffiti Alley
If you are looking for the perfect spot to capture Toronto’s vibe for your Instagram, Graffiti Alley is the go-to place. Filled with colourful murals and, natch, graffiti, it is hands down home to some of the city’s most iconic street art and obviously the perfect spot to grab your Instagram shot. This eye-catching alley is a 20-minute walk from the CN Tower.
4) Shop Like a Pro at Kensington Market
You will reach your next stop by heading west along Dundas and north on Augusta. Kensington Market is a distinctive multicultural neighbourhood full of charm and diversity. You can shop to your heart’s content as there are many vintage clothing stores, herbal shops, restaurants and cafés. By the time you reach the market, you might feel hungry. So, how about trying some palatable cuisines from around the world and then continuing your trip? Kensington Market won’t disappoint.
5) Take a Tour of the Distillery District
Cab it east on Adelaide to reach the historical Distillery District. Opened in 2003, this commercial and residential district has numerous cafés, restaurants and shops. You can grab a quick bite here or pack some for the rest of the journey. This area has the best-preserved collection of Victorian Architecture in North America as it is home to 40 heritage buildings, courtyards, boutiques and artisan shops. This is the ideal stop to explore the traditional beauty of Toronto and wake up your inner photographer.
6) Explore the Eaton Centre and Bloor Street
Head towards Yonge Street and you will find the largest Toronto mall, the Eaton Centre, on one of the longest streets in the world. Clothes, jewelry, shoes – you can find everything at all price ranges. If you want some luxury shopping, walk up Yonge to Bloor Street’s “Mink Mile” to shop at stores like Louis Vuitton, Tiffany and Hermes.
7) Watch the Sunset at the Harbourfront
Your trip to Toronto will be incomplete if you don’t admire the beauty of a sunset near Lake Ontario. Hop on the Yonge-University subway to Union Station and walk down to Harbourfront. This neighbourhood on the northern shore of Lake Ontario overlooks Toronto Island and offers spectacular views and fresh air. Let the mesmerising sunset sink in with some beer from Amsterdam Brewery’s BrewHouse. End your trip with a nice dinner and hang out at Sugar Beach if you have time left before heading back to the airport. Book an airport limo or take a cab depending on the timing of your flight.
Toronto is the city that will keep you wanting more. A one-day tour is not enough to get the essence of this fabulous city. There are so many things to see, so many cuisines to try and so many adventures to have. Next time, plan to take a little more time to explore Toronto.