Canada is full of international flavor, from Vancouver’s authentic Asian cuisine to Quebec City’s Old World French feel. And even in Toronto, a city more often recognized as a financial center than a cultural one, about half of the 2.7 million residents were born outside of Canada, making it one of the most multicultural cities in the world.
I have vague memories of Toronto from my eighth grade class trip many years ago to compete in a chorus concert and attend a performance of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. From the windows of our crowded charter bus, Toronto seemed like any other non-descript North American city.
For Toronto week, our writers proved me seriously wrong. After you stand on the glass floor of the CN Tower and tour the Hockey Hall of Fame (both recommended by Charles Rawlings-Way in this week's "Top 10 Toronto hotspots"), explore beyond the downtown area. Toronto's cultural heart lies in its compact neighbourhoods. An easy walk (there is also a four-line subway system for farther destinations) will take you from India to Italy, with a stop in Malta on the way.
If you have a few days to meander, "Toronto's hip new neighbourhood: West Queen West" offers a day-long itinerary for exploring the city's newest art and design district. "A perfect day in Toronto" includes dining in Baldwin Village, complete with Italian sidewalk cafes, and exploring Kensington Market, a gritty, bohemian place with eclectic shops and cafes. And when you want to tackle the city's culinary breadth, "Toronto as a world map" breaks down the dining and dancing scene of four international neighbourhoods. For an especially worldly experience, plan your trip to coincide with Diwali, the annual festival of lights which takes place on a rotating date in October and November.
With such an international feel, Toronto is surprisingly close. The city is only an hour drive away for about five million Canadians and within a 90-minute flight for 60 percent of Americans. But with more than 140 languages and dialects spoken, you can make it a vacation to any destination you like.
Experience a world of cultures in one week:
Monday: Lonely Planet's top 10 Toronto hotspots
Tuesday: Toronto's hip new neighbourhood: West Queen West
Wednesday: A perfect day in Toronto
Thursday: Toronto as a world map
Friday: Kensington Market: A loveable hodgepodge