The largest city in Canada, Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario. The city is often described as Canada’s answer to New York, as “Hogtown” is a cultural and metropolitan hub with some of the country's best food, shopping, and tourist attractions.
Canada has two official languages, French and English, with English as the predominant language spoken in Toronto. Discover what to do and where to stay in Toronto with this handy Toronto travel guide, and learn why we include “Hogtown” among our destination spotlight cities.
The Canadian dollar is the official currency of Toronto. Canadians affectionately call their $1.00 and $2.00 coins the “loonie” and “toonie.” The Canadian dollar’s exchange rate with the American dollar fluctuates but typically trades around $0.73 on the US dollar. Most businesses accept debit and credit cards, and ATMs are commonplace.
Toronto Time Zone
Toronto’s time zone is Eastern Standard Time, so there is no time difference between Toronto and New York City.
When to Visit Toronto
Late spring and early fall are the best times to visit Toronto. Both periods allow you to avoid the rush of tourism, the extreme cold of the Toronto winter, and hot, humid summer conditions.
The cheapest time to visit Toronto is winter, although you’ll have fewer outdoor activities. Summer is the peak tourist season and the most expensive time to visit the city.
Several airports serve Toronto. The Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) is ideal for international travelers and connects to the city center by private shuttles, taxis, and the UP Express train. An alternative is the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ), which offers fewer international flights but fewer crowds.
Things to do in Toronto
Toronto is a cosmopolitan city and an excellent destination for first-time international travelers. In addition to popular tourist spots like the CN Tower, the Royal Ontario Museum, and the Toronto Zoo, check out some of the city’s less crowded attractions:
- Bamboo Garden — Take a break from the busy city streets at the University of Toronto’s indoor bamboo garden.
- Casa Loma — Eccentric millionaire Henry Pellatt drove himself to bankruptcy building this massive 98-room castle.
- Gadabout Village — Go antique shopping at this eclectic store, which regularly provides props for Toronto’s thriving film industry.
- Redway Road Staircase — Climb a 200-step hidden staircase once used as an emergency exit for a sewage treatment plant and now hidden in a forested area just off Toronto’s busy streets.
- Scarborough Bluffs — The chalk-white cliffs of Lake Ontario offer exceptional views for hikers.
- See Toronto from the Air — Several heli-tour companies offer sightseeing tours of the city and surrounding area.
- The Monkey’s Paw — Bibliophiles will love this rare book store, which houses the Biblio-Mat, a vending machine that presents you with a random vintage book when you insert a $5.00 token.
How to get around Toronto
Public transport is the cheapest way to see the sights in Toronto. Buses and streetcars run on major routes every thirty minutes during the day, or you can use the subway. Use the city ferry system to visit Lake Ontario's three main Toronto islands.
Taxis, Uber, and other ride-hailing services are all available, and you can rent bicycles to explore the waterfront and other parts of the city during the warmer months. If you rent a bike, be aware that Toronto traffic can get extremely congested, so bike carefully.
Where and what to eat in Toronto
Toronto is a foodie’s paradise, and you may want to choose where to stay in Toronto depending on your menu preferences. The City includes several cultural neighborhoods like Greek Town and Little Italy, all filled with corresponding restaurants. Kensington Market features a dizzying selection of food. Guided food tours of the market allow you to dodge the long lines at the most popular eateries.
Sampling Canadian cuisine is one of the best things to do in Toronto. The city’s unofficial food is the peameal bacon sandwich. You can find them all over the city, but the original is from the Carousel Bakery. Be sure to have a plate of poutine or a slice of sliced meat tourtière pie.