A Comprehensive Travel Guide to Toronto
Welcome to the city of Toronto! This comprehensive guide is your one-stop solution for all things amazing in Toronto! We'll look at great places to eat, incredible things to see on a student budget, places to visit for perfect photo opportunities, fun things to do year round and the most iconic landmarks around the city!
Top 5 Cheap Eats
- Alan’s Pastry Shop: Let’s start off with patty lovers, of the Jamaican nature. 2 patties + 2 cocoa bread + 1 bottle of water. All for less than $4! It goes without saying that they’re delicious.
Location: Peanut Plaza (3030 Don Mills Rd), Greater Toronto Area
- The Stone Pizza: Each slice ranges from $3 - $3.50 and flavors go far and beyond the regular pepperoni slice. They also deliver during the summer for those of you who want to remain seated in your comfortable backyard patio.
Location: 281 Scarborough Rd, Greater Toronto Area
- Moo Frites: These twice-fried, Belgian style, frites are perfect for fry connoisseurs. Priced at a frugal $1.25, you can judge these crispy delights for yourself. Fried twice!
Location: Kensington Market, Toronto
- Chris Jerk: Authentic Caribbean food. Their go-to curry chicken goes for $10.10 including tax. It’s not as cheap as the other alternatives but that’s because there is nothing cheap about this meal. They use quality meats and chefs that prepare the food to perfection.
Location: 2570 Birchmount Rd, Greater Toronto Area
- Bacon Nation: With an aptly created slogan “Go Pig or Go Home”, the Bacon Nation food truck is a Canadian treasure on wheels. They also found a home on 170 Spadina Ave!
Location: Various locations across Toronto
Top 5 Tapas Destinations for the Thirsty Traveller
- Me Va Me Express: This Mediterranean joint is not a tapas, but it’s on this list because the menu items, such as baba ganoush and chicken shawarma wraps, are paired so well with beer. Let’s go back to that baba ganoush. We dare you to find one better anywhere else. Yes, this is officially a challenge.
Location: 860 York Mills Rd, Greater Toronto Area
- Kingyo Izakaya: You may have heard of Guu Izakaya. The loud staff, tight seating arrangements, and lots and lots of drinks. Think of Kingyo as Guu’s reserved cousin. The atmosphere here is much more laid back. Think of it as fine tapas dining. Instead of beer being enjoyed with extremely flavorful food, by loud celebration, Kingyo’s clientele sip on sake and truly experience the subtleties of their food.
Location: 51B Winchester St., Greater Toronto Area
- El Furniture Warehouse: This place is, how they say, popping. Industrial (yet cozy) interior design, 90’s music that the whole restaurant chimes in to sing along with, and each lunch size dish goes for $4.99. Win. Win. Win!
Location: 410 Bloor St, Toronto
- Lee: Lee is a bit pricey but with menu items like the fall off the bone duck confit, you’re guaranteed to have an exceptional tapas experience.
Location: 601 King St. W, Toronto
- Origin: Origin Restaurant & Bar has a delicious appetizer menu that can be paired with their artisanal drinks. It’s a must-go for this summer.
Location: 107 King St, E. Greater Toronto Area
Top 5 Trending Cultural Cuisines
- Bar Buca: Italian food has been and always will be a trendy cuisine. Bar Buca’s twist to their dishes keep the rich flavors of Italian food but also incorporates a rustic fusion with their smoked bone marrow and prosciutto cotto with sweet peas, saffron, and pistachio.
Location: Portland St.
- Makkal Chon: Outside of Korea town, Makkal Chon is a great representation of authentic Korean cuisine. Restaurants in Korea town specialize a particular aspect of Korean cuisine in order to differentiate themselves from the many Korean restaurants in the area. Makkal Chon’s menu, however, consists of all the core essential dishes and they make them very well!
Location: 1979 Lawrence Ave E., Greater Toronto Area
- Copacabana: This Brazilian rodizio (steak house) is a paradise for BBQ enthusiasts. Each and every piece of meat is prepared to perfection. TO PERFECTION! Place a slice of lamb into your mouth and just let it melt away.
Location: 230 Adelaide St., W., Toronto
- La Carnita: Mexican food is the highlight of this summer. With the rise of Chipotle and similar burrito joints popping up all over the city, the exposure of Mexican cuisine has grown tremendously. With mouth-watering, sample sized dishes, La Carnita will give you a mucho excelente Mexican experiencia!
Location: 501 College St., Toronto
- Sushi Kaji: A second to none, Cultural Japanese Experience. With only 30 seats, the master sushi chef prepares sashimi that can only be described as mind blowing. Their fish is freshly transported exclusively from Tokyo bay to Toronto to ensure quality.
Top 5 Places for Photo Opportunities
- Art Gallery of Ontario: The gallery became an architectural photo opportunity after its $254 million renovation designed by the internationally renowned, and somewhat controversial, Frank Gehry.
Location: 317 Dundas St., W., Toronto
- Old Town Toronto: We included this entire district of Toronto due to the beauty of all the architecture in the area. Toronto has many buildings that are beautiful in their own way. Some have a sexy, modern, design, and others have the historical look perfectly preserved. Old Town Toronto buildings are the latter and they are all situated in the same area such as the St. Lawrence Market, Gooderham Building, and St. James Cathedral, to name a few. Old Town Toronto is also happens to be the city’s birthplace!
Location: Begins at Front St. & Church St., Toronto
- Dundas Square: This is our version of New York’s Times Square. The Square is a snapshot representation of Toronto where you can take snapshots! It is situated beside Toronto’s iconic shopping mall (The Eaton Center) and one of the most multicultural universities in Toronto, Ryerson University. Occasionally, there are staged performances put on for people who pass by to enjoy, free of charge.
Location: Yonge & Dundas, Toronto
- Riverdale Park East: This is a two for one destination. It’s a serene park that is situated a little out of the city that gives you a perfect skyline view of it. From this perspective, Toronto looks like a giant forest filled with buildings popping out of it!
Location: 550 Broadview Ave., Toronto
- Union Station: With over 250,000 people passing through, union station is the beating heart of Toronto. Its beauty lives in the architecture as well the people that pass through. Most people are in a rush passing through but if you take some time to look around, it’s a really magnificent place.
Location: 65 Front St., W., Toronto
Top Dessert Locations
- Bobbette and Belle: Those who crave everything European should visit this place. From the café setting to cakes and macaroons, this place has it all and they do it well.
Location: 3347 Yonge St., Toronto
- SOMA Chocolatemaker: For chocolate lovers, SOMA chocolates are a great place to satisfy your sweet tooth. Each cocoa bean they use to make their delicate confections are inspected carefully for quality. Then each bean is selected to be a part of SOMA’s truffles, gelatos, cookies… You get the point.
Location: 55 Mill St, Toronto
- Arz Fine Foods: This Middle Eastern grocery store doubles as one of Toronto’s best Mediterranean bakery. Try the rich, crunchy, and creamy kunafeh or the traditional yet equally delicious, baklava. These desserts are perfect for potlucks or dinner gatherings.
Location: 1909 Lawrence Ave. E., Greater Toronto Area
- Hong Kong Island Bakery: Don’t let its modest location fool you. This is one Chinese bakery you MUST visit. It’s sometimes difficult to distinguish between Chinese buns. They look very similar to one another but it’s the delicious filling that varies. Though relatively simple to make, the Hong Kong Island Bakery uses a simple process and takes it to the next level.
Top Free Things to do During Summer
- High Park: For about 2 weeks in spring, the Cherry Blossoms at High Park attracts thousands of visitors and locals alike. It’s a great place to take photos and for long walks with your significant other. Though not during the summer, it definitely makes this list.
Location: 1873 Bloor St. W, Toronto
- Doors Open Toronto: The origin of this wonderful program began in France, 1984. For a limited time, Toronto opens significant heritage sites across the city to the public, for free. This is a great opportunity to check out Toronto’s unused subway stations and other architecturally beautiful locations. It’s free but it costs money to run it, so please make a donation to keep this amazing program running.
- Beach Bum: The summer is soon upon us and if you’re bum belongs on a beach then Woodbine or Sugar beach is what you’re looking for. Woodbine beach is Toronto’s main beach. If you’re active, Woodbine beach has over 90 volleyball courts to keep you and your friends moving. There’s also Boardwalk Pub that serves up all the regular pub food and a swimming pool nearby. If lounging is more your speed then head over to Sugar beach. This beach is covered in pink umbrellas which you can use to read that book you’ve been meaning to read.
Location: Woodbine Beach 1675 Lakeshore Blvd, Sugar Beach 25 Dockside Dr.
- Don Valley Bike Trail: The Don Valley runs 32 km through many parks and conservation areas, along the Don Valley Parkway highway. Along this scenic path there’s a bike trail that allows you to enjoy most of the 32 km!
Location: 32km from Oak Ridges Moraine to Lake Ontario
- The National Canadian Exhibition: The Canadian National Exhibition is Toronto’s summer sendoff celebration. The Exhibition is filled with carnival games, rides, quirky objects to buy, and a whole lot more. It’s free to enter the grounds but you have to pay for the activities you decide to take part in.
Location: 210 Princes’ Blvd, Toronto
Top Iconic City Destinations
- CN Tower: Forever known as the symbol of Toronto, the CN Tower is Toronto’s icon. Though it’s no longer the world’s tallest free standing structure, the CN Tower is still a must-do to see the city in its entirety. To take it one step further, you can walk along the outside of the CN Tower with Edge Walk, attached to cables of course.
Location: 301 Front St. W., Toronto
- Centre Island: Centre Island is another classic destination. You get a great view of the city skyline and there are things to do on the island itself. The islands of Toronto can be accessed through a ferry you can take from the ferry port near Union Station.
Location: Queens Quay (foot of Bay St.), Toronto
- AGO/ROM: The Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario are the most prominent locations to view historical, scientific, or artistic objects within the city. Both buildings have gone through recent renovations that has made them more beautiful than ever.
Location: AGO (317 Dundas St. W, Toronto), ROM (100 Queens Park, Toronto)
- Rogers Centre: Previously known as the ‘Sky Dome’, the Rogers Centre is a multi-purpose stadium with a roof that opens up to the blue skies on nice days. The great people at The Rogers Centre recently began playing live games on their jumbo screen TV located on the exterior wall of the building. Now fans don’t have to pay to feel like they’re a part of the game being played only meters away from where they are standing! What a wonderful idea.
Location: 1 Blue Jays Way, Toronto
Toronto Transit Systems
TTC: The Toronto Transit Commission is the main method of transportation within the city of Toronto. It is the third most used transit system in North America, after New York Transit Authority and Mexico City Metro. A single fare costs $3.00 but if you get 3 or more it is $2.80. You can also get the weekly pass ($40.75) or monthly pass ($141.50 or $112.00 for post-secondary students) but the monthly pass isn’t worth it unless you travel a LOT. You can purchase all tickets and passes at a local subway station. Also, the TTC has begun using the PRESTO card. This card is a reloadable card that saves the hassle of carrying individual tickets. Not all subway stations and buses accept PRESTO but they will by July 2015.
GO: Unlike the TTC, the GO Transit fares depends on how far you need to go. Similar to TTC, Go Transit uses the PRESTO card and rewards passengers with discounts the more you use it. Just remember that the rewards expire by the end of each month and the more you ride the better it is. Check out their website for easy directions to purchase your next GO Transit ticket.
VIVA: VIVA covers a vast area that includes but is not limited to the Greater Toronto Area. It is so large that their transit has marked zones on the map to differentiate different areas. If you were to commute from one zone to another then you would have to pay a bit extra because you entered a new zone. Student tickets for 1 zone is $4.00/each, 2 zones for $5.00, and the monthly pass is $99.00 for 1 zone and $144.00 for 1 zones.