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Toronto City Guide

Make the most of your stay with downtown accommodations, dinner at Alo, a trip to the scenic Scarborough Bluffs and more.

Where to Stay  /  Where to Eat and Drink  /  What to Do  /  How to Get Around

Where to Stay

Shangri La Hotel Toronto

Photo: Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts

Shangri-La Hotel

For those soaker tubs

From the skylit swimming pool to the supremely comfortable rooms, this hotel lives up to its name as an Eden in the heart of downtown Toronto. Book a suite, and gaze out at the skyline from a soaker enclosed in tub-to-ceiling glass. Chef David Chang’s three-storey Momofuku empire is right next door; the helpful concierge can alert you when your table at the noodle bar is ready.

188 University Ave., Toronto, 647-788-8888,

Thompson Toronto

For a celebrity-endorsed hotel

This see-and-be-seen hotel is known for its rooftop lounge, with its panoramic skyline views and the seasonal 40-foot infinity pool. If you’re craving upscale comfort food with a twist, the downstairs Thompson Diner is open until 3 a.m.; try the popular truffled mac and cheese. No wonder it’s the go-to spot for visiting hip-hop and hoop stars.

550 Wellington St. W., Toronto, 416-640-7778,

The Beverley Hotel

The Beverley Hotel

For a downtown business stay

You could walk right by this sleek boutique hotel – a well-kept secret among in-the-know business travellers, who love its location on the border of Toronto’s central financial district, with shopping and nightlife to the west. Rooms run simple and chic and are pleasantly affordable. They’re not huge, but no matter; grab a drink on the rooftop patio for a change of scenery.

335 Queen St. W., Toronto, 416-493-2786,

The Hazelton Hotel

The Hazelton Hotel

For a mindful stay

Nestled in trendy Yorkville, this Yabu Pushelberg-designed property shines the spotlight on the connection between mind, body and soul. The hotel’s exclusive “Meditation and Rejuvenation” experience allows guests to enjoy in-room meditation sessions led by Reiki Master and lululemon ambassador Tara Good, healthy meals created by celebrity chef and Canada’s Best New Restaurants winner Mark McEwan and a relaxing Swiss Valmont facial treatment that uses plant extracts and glacial spring water.

118 Yorkville Ave., Toronto, 416-963-6300,

Cosmopolitan Toronto Centre Hotel and Spa

For the downtown vista

Located in the Financial District, the Cosmopolitan offers premium suites with stunning views of the city, courtesy of floor-to-ceiling windows and wraparound balconies. SpaZen features treatments for the body and mind; create a custom experience with add-ons, like a hot stone ritual or energizing scalp massage.

8 Colborne St., Toronto, 416-350-2000,

Gladstone Hotel Toronto

Gladstone Hotel

For the eclectic design

Housed in a restored Victorian hotel, the Gladstone is a hotspot for creative types. No two of the hotel’s 37 rooms are alike – each one is designed by local artists and architects, resulting in a mosaic of styles and tastes. We recommend the Skygazer room, which highlights a sprawling wall treatment of hundreds of white plastered household items: light bulbs, toothbrushes and headphones.

1214 Queen St. W., Toronto, 647-792-5957,

The Drake Hotel

For the hip factor

Located on Queen Street West, the Drake is Toronto’s hipster hotel, complete with a sushi and raw bar, café, lounge, private dining room and underground club. One of the city’s best patios, the rooftop is open year-round and serves up creative cocktails such as the Reykjavik Shake, which includes vodka, coffee, ancho chili and almond.

1150 Queen St. W., Toronto, 866.DRAKE.TO,

Four Seasons Hotel

Photo: Four Seasons Hotel

Four Seasons Hotel

To rub elbows with Hollywood stars

The Four Seasons brand began in Toronto in 1961, and in 2012 the city got a new hotel worthy of jet setters, foodies and film fest attendees. Swim laps to an underwater soundtrack at the spa, and once you’ve worked up an appetite, dine from a choice of four themed menus at Café Boulud, featuring the most extravagant rotisserie in the city.

60 Yorkville Ave., Toronto, 416-964-0411,

Where to Eat and Drink

Alo Toronto

Photo: Rush Jagoe


For fine dining

Chef Patrick Kriss combines seasonal, Canadian ingredients with French technique to create his tasting menus. Book a seat in the dining room or at the chef’s table and try dishes like steelhead trout with crème fraiche or Quebec foie gras with sunchokes, hedgehog mushroom and chicken jus. Reservations can be hard to come by, so plan ahead. Named one of Canada’s Best New Restaurants in 2016 by Air Canada enRoute magazine.

163 Spadina Ave, 3rd floor, Toronto, 416-260-2222,


For the relaxed Italian nosh

Chef Craig Harding is part of a wave of young chefs paying tribute to their grandmothers’ old-world cooking, but with all due respect to Harding’s grandma, this isn’t cucina della nonna. It’s youthful, sophisticated and at its best when relaxed – more like an Italian on vacation. The frequently changing menu features a few constants; the housemade spaghetti all’amatriciana is simple perfection.

832 Dundas St. W., Toronto, 416-364-4785,

Bang Bang Icecream Toronto

Bang Bang Icecream

For the DIY ice cream sandwiches

On summer days, the lineup at this Trinity-Bellwoods ice cream shop snakes out the door and up the block. Build your ice cream sandwich with a seemingly endless amount of ice-cream-and-cookie combinations, including gluten-free and vegan options.

93 Ossington Ave, Toronto, 647-348-1900,

Bar Raval

For the tapas and pintxos

Authenticity is key at chef Grant Van Gameren’s Spanish tapas bar, named one of Canada’s Best New Restaurants in 2015 by Air Canada enRoute, where a mostly-standing-room set-up means rubbing elbows (and maybe sharing a round of spicy shishito peppers) with fellow diners. The menu is a mix of deceptively simple snacks and seafood offerings. Who knew jamón and bread could be so exceptional?

505 College St., Toronto, 647-344-8001,

Rosen's Cinnamon Buns Toronto

Photo: Ryan Szulc

Rosen’s Cinnamon Buns

For the totally-worth-it sugar coma

Cinnamon buns are Toronto’s reigning desserts, thanks in large part to food writer-turned-bun baroness Amy Rosen. The buns, made with all natural ingredients including an organic cream glaze, result in a sublime cinnamon roll.

825 College St., Toronto, 416-534-2856,

Sam James Coffee Bar

For the java jolt

Since upping the city’s coffee game in 2009, SJCB now has five locations, including one in the financial district and another across from Trinity-Bellwoods Park. Each location serves coffee and espresso made with beans from Sam James’ roasting company, Cut Coffee. You’ll regret it later if you leave without a bag of beans to bring home.

297 Harbord St.; 150 King St. W.; 917 Queen St. W.; 15 Toronto St; 157 Bloor St. W. (seasonal), Toronto,

Bar Buca Toronto

Photo: John Cullen

Bar Buca

For the two-tier misto platter

The drinks card takes up twice the acreage of the food menu at this all-day Italian café-bar, but make no mistake: This is a place to come and eat well. You can drop in for espresso with dulce de leche from 7 a.m., but by night the room fills with diners reaching to pluck small fried goodies from the two-tier gran fritto misto platter. If you’re dining solo, grab a seat at the bar.

75 Portland St., Toronto, 416-599-2822,

Bacchus Roti Shop

For the best island flavour on the go

There’s a longstanding rivalry between this neighbourhood institution and nearby Ali’s Roti West Indian. Both are great, but a wider-than-typical range of roti options – from Guyanese style chicken curry in turmeric sauce to shrimp, squash and cheese – and a liquor license give Bacchus the edge. Snack on a double and a pint of local draft beer while you wait for your takeout.

1376 Queen Street W., Toronto, 416-532-8191

What to Do

Evergreen Brick Works Toronto

Photo: Kristin Foster

Evergreen Brick Works

For the green space

A former quarry and industrial site gets a second life as a dynamic, multiuse public space showcasing first-rate green design and technology. Lace up your sneakers and walk or run the surrounding trails for one of the best views of the Toronto skyline; then pop into the seasonal weekly farmers’ market for fresh produce and baked goods. In the colder months, an old factory building is transformed into an open air skating rink.

550 Bayview Ave #300, Toronto, 416-596-1495,

Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada

For a family-friendly afternoon

Spend a few hours with the 16,000 sea and fresh water specimens at Canada’s largest indoor aquarium located next door to the CN Tower. There’s plenty of interactive, kid-friendly programming, including the chance to touch a shark or swim with stingrays. Don’t leave without snapping the requisite silhouette-against-neon-seascape pic.

288 Bremner Blvd, Toronto, 647-351-3474,

Soulpepper Theatre Toronto

Photo: Tom Arban

Soulpepper Theatre

For a cultural excursion

Some of Canada’s most talented actors take the stage at Soulpepper’s flagship theatre in Toronto’s historic Distillery District. The theatre champions challenging contemporary works, along with classics by Neil Simon and Arthur Miller. Don’t miss standing-ovation-worthy hot chocolate at nearby Soma Chocolatemaker before or after the show.

50 Tank House Lane, Toronto, 416-866-8666,

The Garrison

For the late-night dance parties

Most nights feature a special DJ or musical act and dance parties are the norm on weekends. Choose from artist-specific theme nights (think David Bowie tribute), genre nights (Motown, Brit pop, reggae, 1990s jams) and performances by buzzy bands with cool credentials. Stay all night and dance among the crowd of twentysomethings or make it one of many stops: Dundas West is chockablock with watering holes, from sawdust pubs to chic cocktail lounges.

1197 Dundas W., Toronto, 416-519-9439,

Scarborough Bluffs

Scarborough Bluffs Park

For nature just outside the city

Both a geological wonder and a great way to pass an afternoon, the Bluffs are a natural paradise minutes from the city. Start at the top to take in no-filter-required views of the shoreline; then make your way down to bike trails and parks. Bluffer’s Park offers beach access, so bring a swimsuit – and sturdy shoes for the trek back up.

Bluffer’s Park: 1 Brimley Rd. S., Scarborough, 416-392-2489 Scarborough Bluffs Park: 61 Under Cliff Dr, Scarborough, 416-392-2489

St. Lawrence Market

For the savoury stalls

Housed in a grand brick hall on bustling Front Street, this award-winning market offers superlative local and international fare. Try the Carousel Bakery’s famous peameal bacon sandwich – an experience in itself – then browse stalls devoted to cheese, coffee, even mustard. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

93 Front St. E., Toronto, 416-392-7219,

Royal Ontario Museum Toronto

Photo: Sam Javanouh

Royal Ontario Museum

For the educational factor

Among Canada’s most outstanding museums, the ROM is home to more than six million objects. The impressive collection of dinosaur bones housed in the crystal addition is a family favourite, as is the spooky (but educational) Bat Cave. Check the website for info on Friday Night Live parties.

100 Queen’s Park, Toronto, 416-586-8000,

How to Get Around

Getting from the Airport

Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)
The UP Express rail links travellers from Toronto Pearson International Airport to the heart of the city at Union Station in just 25 minutes. (Trains leave four times an hour and cost $12, one way.) A taxi will get you downtown for a flat rate of around $60, and takes about 45 minutes, depending on traffic.

Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ)
Located on Toronto Islands, this airport is minutes from downtown. Take the six-minute walk through the pedestrian tunnel that connects the airport with the mainland or enjoy city views from the ferry, which departs every fifteen minutes. There’s a taxi stand outside the mainland entrance and a free a shuttle bus that goes between the airport and a drop-off point across the street from Union Station every fifteen minutes. For a true Toronto experience, hop on the 511 Bathurst or 509 Lakeshore streetcar.

Public Transportation

Regular fare is $3.25 and the subway system will generally get you within walking distance of anywhere centrally located. Maps and schedules are available online.


Taxis are easily hailed anywhere in the city and abound in the downtown core. If you’re on a strict timeline, though, be sure to call in advance. Base rate is $4. Uber and UberX are also available.

416 Taxicab: 416-829-4222
Beck Taxi: 416-751-5555
City Taxi: 416-740-2222


With 200 stations all over the city, Toronto Bike Share is a fun and environmentally friendly way to get from point A to point B. Rentals are $7 a day (or $15 for 3 days), which covers rides of 30 minutes or less.