Planning a solo trip to Toronto? Here’s everything you need to know for your visit:
- Largest city in Canada and 5th in North America by population: ~2.8 million residents
- Financial, business, retail, advertising, pharmaceutical and fashion capital of Canada
- One of the most diverse cities in the world (50% of residents are foreign born)
- Nicknames: TO, T-Dot, Hogtown, “Centre of the Universe” (joke among Canadians)
- Currency: Canadian Dollar (CAD)
- Spoken languages: predominantly English
- Best time to visit: from May to October (winters can be very cold)
- Arriving via airport: public transport is $3.00 (directions), the express train to downtown (Union Station) is $27.50 one way, and a taxi is ~$50-60.
WHERE TO STAY
- Best Toronto hostel for solo travelers: The Only Backpacker’s Inn. A good hostel with modern facilities and welcoming staff. Located steps away from Greektown (one of the best neighbourhoods), and close to the TTC Bloor Line (subway) for exploring the rest of the city. On-site lounge for socializing, and a big kitchen for cooking your own meals. As good as it gets in Toronto on a budget – just make sure to book ahead!
- Hotels: anywhere in the Downtown core – bordered by Bloor St. on the north, Bathurst St. on the west, and Church St. on the east.
- If possible, somewhere within a few blocks of a TTC (subway) station.
- Wondering where to book an Airbnb or hostel? Look around the Queen & Spadina area for affordable accommodation that’s still close to “everything.” King St. (West of Spadina) if you’d like to be with the cool crowd.
- The TTC is the city’s public transport agency (link to official site). Consisting of bus, light rail, streetcar and subway routes, the TTC is a great way to get around downtown. Single rides cost $3.25, and include transfers within a 2 hour window. All-day and multi-day tickets are also available at any TTC subway station.
- Taxis can be called at 416-829-4222 or 416-751-5555 (Beck taxi). Fares start at around $4.50, with an additional $1.75 for every kilometer. Many residents prefer Uber or Lyft to regular taxis (faster service, better rates, cleaner cars).
- Bike Share Toronto is downtown Toronto’s main bike sharing service, with stations spread throughout.
- Drinking age is 19, last call is 2 AM.
- Great selection of bars and restaurants: College St., between Bathurst and Ossington (Little Italy).
- Hipster scene: bars along Ossington Avenue, between Queen and Dundas.
- Trendy scene: lounges/clubs on King St. West, between Spadina and Bathurst. Dress to impress, and prepare to drop some cash.
- Relaxed bars to stop for a drink (any time of day): The Only Cafe, Ronnie’s Local 069, Pour Boy, The Gem Bar & Grill, and Bellwoods Brewery.
UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT
- CN Tower (world’s tallest free standing structure). Great views of the city and the lake on a clear day. High cost of admission – only worth it if the visibility is really good.
- Prince Edward Viaduct, an arch bridge famous for connecting historic East and West Toronto. Start at Yonge & Bloor and walk east – you’ll cross the bridge and soon end up in Greektown (great food!)
- The Distillery District, a collection of Victorian-era architecture and streets preserved from the late 19th century. Lots of cute gift stores and restaurants – popular with locals too. Check out Mill St. Organic if you’re into beer.
- The Royal Ontario Museum, Canada’s largest museum of natural history. Alternatively, check out the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario) – free on Wednesdays between 6-9 PM.
- Pro tip: Casa Loma is not really a castle, it’s overpriced, and it’s out of the way. Can be skipped!
- Curious about Niagara Falls? If you’re willing to commit a full day (including getting there and back), it’s doable. Cheapest way to get there and back is on the infamous “Chinatown bus” (Safeway Tours).
- Check out the shops and cafes along Queen Street West – perhaps the most “hipster” neighbourhood in Canada.
- Walk through the packed and vibrant streets of Kensington Market. When you’ve had enough, stop by for a tea or coffee at Moonbean Coffee Company.
- Explore the downtown campus of the University of Toronto – Canada’s answer to the Ivy League institutions.
- Walk from Downtown to Korea Town on Bloor Street West
- Nice day? Head to High Park – giant park, combines well with walks through Little Italy / Little Portugal (good food there).
- Have some time to kill? Take a quick ferry from downtown to Toronto Island – a relaxing place to walk / bike, and get the best skyline views of the city.
- Downtown Toronto contains many unique neighborhoods, each offering a unique flavour. Just walking a few blocks in any direction will take you to a completely new area, with its own ethnic foods and attractions. The city hosts many festivals every year – check the official City of Toronto Event Schedule page to see what’s on!
- While Canadians are known to be polite and cordial, Torontonians are sometimes considered cold. This is the business city, and people are in a hurry.
- Canadians are very politically correct, and may take offence at overly xenophobic or sexist comments.
- If you’re looking to try any of the Michelin-starred places in Toronto, make sure you reserve way, way in advance!
- Toronto is home to some of the world’s best Cantonese cuisine: do not pass up to eat great dim sum (a lot of the best chefs from Southern China have moved here). Popular options include: Dim Sum King ($), Moon Palace ($$), and Lai Wah Heen ($$$$).
- Great restaurants that locals love in Toronto: The Stockyards Smokehouse (best burger), Bar Isabel ($$$$ – Spanish), Mengrai Thai ($$), House on Parliament ($$ – gastropub), Enoteca Sociale ($$ – proper Italian food), Khao San Road ($$ – Thai), Sansotei Ramen (multiple locations), La Palette ($$$ – French), ND Sushi & Grill (great sushi on a budget).
- Where to find good cheap eats: Koreatown (Bloor St. West), cafes on Queen St. (west of Spadina), Chinese and Viet restaurants in Chinatown (up and down Spadina), and small restaurants in the Kensington Market. For amazing affordable burgers, check out The Burger’s Priest ($ – multiple locations).
- St. Lawrence Market (closed Sunday/Monday) – one of the more interesting places to get good cheap lunch in Toronto, located on the way from CN Tower to Distillery District. Lots of different options, and delicious sandwiches.
- Dangerous areas: While Toronto is one of the safest cities in the world, parts of downtown have been getting more dangerous in recent years. While it’s unlikely that anything will happen, do stick to well-lit areas and busy streets if walking alone at night. As a general rule, East of Yonge St. is seedier than West of Yonge St. (especially at night).
Recommended trip duration: 2-3 days