Characterised by a mish-mash of ethnic communities, Canada’s biggest city can lay claim to world-class museums and gastronomy, North America’s tallest tower and year-round festivals and cultural events.
The star of Toronto’s skyline since 1976, the CN Tower is primarily a radio and
TV tower, but it has a sideline in transporting visitors up to the skies. A
glass elevator whizzes up to a lofty observation deck, where there’s a wallet-busting
revolving restaurant (301 Front St West; admission from £6).
A 10-acre cultural complex on the
redeveloped waterfront, the Harbourfront
Centre includes an alfresco concert stage and guerilla gardening spaces.
Its Power Plant gallery displays contemporary Canadian art (231 Queen’s Quay
West; gallery admission £4).
Built by the British in 1793, Fort York
represents something akin to a birthplace for Toronto. There’s a handful of
buildings, all restored after US troops destroyed much of the fortress in the
19th century (250 Fort York Blvd; admission £5).
Ontario Museum has been expanded in recent years, with a crystal-shaped
structure making for a controversial new centre piece. Collections include
dinosaur fossils and Egyptian mummies (100 Queen’s Pk; admission £10).
Toronto’s 12-acre Distillery District sees
clusters of galleries, design shops, coffee houses and restaurants springing phoenix-like
from a 19th-century distillery. In summer, its red-brick streets play host to
jazz concerts and food events (55 Mill St).
More than a dozen types of beer
are brewed at Mill Street Brew Pub,
an artisan microbrewery in the Distillery District. Order a sample platter so
you can try everything from pale ale to organic lager. Typical pub food, such
as burgers and sandwiches, is in on hand to provide ballast (55 Mill St; beers
Something of a local institution,
the Queen Mother Café is much-loved
for its cosy wooden-booth seating and an accomplished pan-Asian menu. It also
does a fine line in Canadian comfort food, with steaks and burgers in support (208
Queen St West; lunch mains from £7).
Counter service meets haute
cuisine at the Gilead Café in East
Toronto, with an ambitious menu scribbled up daily on its chalkboard. The
kitchen serves up the likes of poutine – fries with cheese curds, braised beef
and gravy (4 Gilead Pl; lunch mains from £7).
A sleek destination diner
situated in downtown Toronto, Bymark has a
creative kitchen that mixes and matches local ingredients in some unlikely
combinations – such as wild truffles, quail and soft-shell crab (66 Wellington
St West; from £17).
Sixty Steakhouse serves up a formidable range of steaks and seafood in an
opulent Baroque dining room. For those who can’t choose between field or ocean,
there’s a ‘surf and turf’ option. Book ahead (60 Harbour St; mains from £35).
Amis Bed & Breakfast is a 19th-century townhouse with colourful rooms
decorated by the Parisian owner’s artwork. In the finest French tradition,
gourmet vegetarian breakfasts include omelettes and croissants, and the leafy
decking area round the back makes a pleasant place to relax (31 Granby St; from
Au Petit Paris Bed & Breakfast
occupies an exquisite Victorian bay-and-gable building in East Toronto, with
some skylit guestrooms looking out onto the garden. Breakfasting on the roof
patio is a good way to start the day (3 Selby St; from £80).
A 1900-era hotel with a grand
red-brick façade, The Hotel
Victoria is one of Toronto’s best downtown hotels and has benefited from a
refurbishment in recent times. The stately marble lobby harks back to
turn-of-the century glamour, while its comfy rooms have hardwood floors and
contemporary décor (56 Yonge St; from £90).
The century-old, recently
revamped Drake Hotel is a bohemian
favourite. Idiosyncratic rooms feature vintage furniture, rugs and bare-brick
walls. There’s a rooftop patio and a basement bar that regularly hosts live
music (1150 Queen St West; from £120).
One of Toronto’s longest serving
hotels, The Gladstone Hotel has
37 individually designed rooms, with themes ranging from Canadian forests to
motorbikes. One floor is dedicated to exhibitions, and local sourcing applies
to everything from the food to the bathroom products (1214 Queen St West; from
The Toronto Transit Commission operates the
subway, tram and bus networks. Single fares (£2), day passes (£7) and weekly
passes (£24) are available. Trams tend to be slower than subway services, but
they do stop every block or two.
Toronto has heavy snowfall in winter
and hot, humid summers. July marks the Toronto
Fringe Festival while the Toronto International
Film Festival takes place in September.
Air Canada flies from Heathrow to Toronto Pearson International airport (from
£410), while Air Transat
flies from Glasgow and Manchester (from £400). Airport Express operates a bus
service connecting Pearson International to downtown Toronto (returns £25).