If you’ve never been, Toronto is like Canada’s New York City—only there are WAY fewer people, WAY fewer celebrities and WAY less traffic. Though there is a Broadway, sort of. It’s a great Canadian city that I had a chance to visit, so here’s my Toronto Travel guide.
Toronto Travel Guide
Toronto is the capital city of the Canadian province of Ontario, boasting a population of over 2.8 million people and a whole host of other cool things like the CN Tower, soaring skyscrapers and beautiful waterfront property.
Save for being inside the Toronto Pearson International Airport, I had never been to Toronto before, but I had my opportunity on a business trip a while back and got a chance to extend my stay by 48-hours so I could spend a little time exploring the city.
What to do in Toronto
There are a ton of things to do on a solo vacation in Toronto. If you’re familiar with this blog, chances are you know that I’m a big museum, arts and history fan.
So my choices are definitely in that realm. That said, whatever kind of traveller you are, there is something in Toronto for you. If you’re looking for things to do, here are my picks on the Toronto travel guide.
The Royal Ontario Museum
Museums are the pinnacle of my vacation destination (unless we’re talking anything Disney) and the Royal Ontario Museum is no exception. I spent an entire afternoon there being photobombed by dinosaur skeletons, statues and animals (OK, fine, I was taking selfies).
For $23 CAD, the Royal Ontario Museum is a steal of a deal and a great way to spend an afternoon. They have over 30 galleries that you can pursue—while I was there I was lucky enough to catch an exhibit on Vikings which I loved, seriously I even brought home a cool necklace that I love.
Beyond the Viking exhibit, I really enjoyed the dinosaur exhibit. Seriously, looking at dinosaur bones is a great way to spend a few hours. And they’re totally photogenic!
Plus there are even free admission days, so check out their website to find out when that is!
See a show on Broadway
While it’s not New York BROADWAY, Toronto does have a pretty active arts community, including a ton of Broadway shows that you can check out.
While I was there, I got a chance to see Annie at the Bathurst Street Theatre, which was a beautiful old church-turned-theatre. For a first time live musical guest, it was awesome!
If you’re a big Broadway fan, the Toronto version might not impress you much but I had a thoroughly good time. I picked up tickets for around $30 CAD and while my seats weren’t amazing, I had an awesome time!
Take a walk downtown
If you’re up for a little walking tour, definitely consider exploring Toronto’s downtown area. I spend hours just wandering the streets and even managed to spend a little time lurking a film set.
Seriously, I saw them film a bit of the The Hummingbird Project. Sadly, Alexander Skarsgard was nowhere to be seen.
Other things to do in Toronto
Not into anything that I did on my trip? Here are a few other awesome things that you could do:
- Check out the Hop On Hop Off Bus for a quick guide around the city!
- Sports fans should definitely check out the Hockey Hall of Fame.
- Up for a little dinner and knights? Check out Medieval Times.
- Take a food tour at Kensington Market.
And if you have a little extra time, check out the Niagara Falls Day Tour!
Where to Stay in Toronto
Chelsea Hotel, Toronto—Unfortunately, I’m not rich. So I couldn’t extend my stay at the Adelaide Hotel where I had been staying during the week because I didn’t have $800 to pony up for the next two nights. Which was a real bummer, because in comparison the Chelsea sucks.
I upgraded my room to the Club Room the night that I got there because I thought what the hell, it’s a vacation the night that I got there. The upgrade cost me $50 CAD total, so it wasn’t a terrible expense.
Now, I don’t know what I would have gotten in a normal room, but the club room wasn’t anything amazing. It had a king-size bed, which was nice, and a balcony which was also a bonus, but besides that it wasn’t anything special.
One of the bonuses about the Club Rooms is you get access to the private lounge which is supposed to be a quiet room where you can work, grab a snack and enjoy the quiet—but it’s right next to the pool filled with screaming kids and the snacks were sub-par at best.
All-in-all, the Chelsea was OK. I’d give it a 3 out of 5, but it was reasonably priced (around $100 CAD a night) and in a generally walkable area. The weekend I stayed was busy and the elevators were slow but I didn’t have a bad experience. Overall, I would recommend it.
A few other places you can stay in the downtown Toronto area:
- Bond Place Hotel Toronto ~$150 CAD per night
- Grand Hotel And Suites ~$160 CAD per night
- The Strathcona Hotel ~$175 CAD per night
- Madison Manor Boutique Hotel ~$180 CAD per night
Where to eat in Toronto
Toronto has some great eats. Whether you’re looking for a breakfast joint, a scrumptious pasta sauce or something a bit different—there’s something in here for everyone. Here are the ones I tried out:
No Toronto travel guide is fit without a great breakfast place. I had breakfast at the Sunset Grill, it was AMAZING. Seriously! Not only did I eat there during the weekend, but I had breakfast there every day that week since it was a few blocks from my hotel.
They had this delicious breakfast poutine called the Sunset Breakfast Poutine, which according to their website (and my memory agrees) is a combination of fried, peameal style bacon, sautéed onion and cheddar cheese, topped with Hollandaise sauce. YUM.
I also ordered a side of fresh fruit and a glass of freshly squeezed lemonade. I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT. You can find it at Yonge St. & Richmond St. W.
I’m an Italian food fanatic, basically anything pasta is my absolute favourite. So when someone suggested I check out Terroni on Adelaide Street, I jumped at the chance, dressed up and took myself up for a fancy dinner. I went for the Tagliatelle alla Bolognese, which was bloody delicious and would put it high on places to eat on my Toronto travel guide.
Not only des Terroni serve great food but it’s in a beautiful historic building. Formerly, it was the York County Court House from 1852 to 1900. I ate at the upstairs bar, which was beautiful albeit a bit compact.
A word of warning, this place get super busy. I would plan to wait a while or if you can book a table (though honestly, I’m not sure if they take reservations).
Right by the Royal Ontario Museum is the Museum Tavern which is a typical American-style taproom with bar food.
There’s not a lot to share about the place, it has a typical bar vibe and some pretty great food. I had fish and chips when I was there, it was quite delish! If you’re in and around the Museum area I would recommend checking it out.
Old Spaghetti Factory
Don’t judge, but if I have a chance to, I eat at the Spaghetti Factory of every city I’m in. What can I say, I’m a fan!
No, it’s not the best food in the world (not even I will agree with that), but it’s cheap, comfortable and for whatever reason, I simply love the familiarity. I’m a creature of habit.
There isn’t much to report about the Old Spaghetti Factory in Toronto, it’s the same as everywhere else but I enjoyed it like I normally do. If you’re wondering, I went with the spicy bolognese spaghetti.
Other great places to eat in Toronto
How to get around Toronto
I try to take walkable vacations—that way I get a chance to really explore a city. There’s a ton of things you miss while you’re driving around in a car, but if you’re hoofing it, you’ve got a chance to really see it!
That said, occasionally there are sights you might want to see, and if that’s the case Toronto has a great transit system that includes a subway, streetcars and buses.
You can take a good ol’ fashioned cab. They also have access to rideshare systems, including Uber and Lyft. Or you can rent a bike through Bike Share Toronto or Lime offers bikes and electric scooters.
Toronto Solo Trip Budget
My Toronto trip budget is kind of a cheat. Since I went to Toronto for work, my flights and much of my transportation was paid for. To be fair, I didn’t include any of my expenses for the week that I was there, simply focusing on the weekend that I spend travelling on my own!
With that in mind, here’s an overview of my Toronto Trip Budget:
For context, my solo Toronto trip took place over a year ago and was in early December.