I have been to Toronto several times for business, but I have done my fun part too — after all, it is so easy to combine the two in Canada's largest liberal hub. Here business, fun, history, and culture are entwined and located either at the same district or at the neighboring one.
It is definitely the most important and the most known city in Canada, like New York City in the States. I would say that Toronto is starting to look more and more like a copy of Big Apple. After all, it is the largest city in the country, and its population grows like greased lightning. In other words, the city traffic is horrible, and getting there by car can be a challenge as well.
Even though Canada is only 150 years-old country, they do have some old buildings from 17th and 18th centuries. In general, Toronto city center looks like a business part of a European city. If you like modern cities with their vibrant Fleur — you will like Toronto; but even in this case, 2-3 days over there would be probably enough to see all the sights. You might stay a week in Toronto area if you plan some trips to the Ontario wineries and to Niagara Falls, though.
The most popular sight of Toronto is probably the CN Tower. Till 2007 Toronto skyline was the highest building in the world.
If we speak of Toronto and Canada, in general, we cannot avoid the Hockey topic. Toronto and it's Hockey Hall of Fame is a mecca for all hockey fans and players. That's where you can take a picture with the Stanley Cup and buy some expensive hockey souvenirs.
One of the most visited spots in Toronto is the Distillery District. It used to be the Factory district once, so the place can still boast Victorian Industrial Architecture. These days, it is a historical and cultural center with small boutiques, great restaurants, and a chocolate factory.
Speaking of restaurants and bars, I liked the El Catrin restaurant, a Mexican top rated Restaurant. The food and design of the main dining room are truly striking. In the Mill Street Brew Pub, you can get a pint of exclusive organic beer and an impressive looking eggplant parm sandwich.
The Harbourfront Centre is a great area to go any time of the year. This 40-hectare facility features concerts and all kind of shows every weekend and many weeknights throughout the year. The Canadian government has turned this wonderful area by the water into the main entertainment center of Toronto.
As for museums, it is probably worth seeing the Art Gallery of Ontario; they have some good works, even though the museum is only 100-years-old. It is the biggest museum of Canada, which contains a great collection of French Impressionists' works.
If you take a trip to Toronto, you should take the 1000 islands tour and, of course, a tour to Niagara Falls.
Niagara Falls is a pretty small fun place with Casinos and a couple of streets filled with bars and restaurants. I enjoyed the Hard Rock Cafe in Niagara, they had pretty good live music and a decent collection of guitars/outfits of rock musicians on display. Niagra Falls offers a lot of tourist activities to consider; I personally would recommend you to take the cruise to get near the Falls; the Journey Behind the Falls was not bad, either. The rest of activities are not so impressive, and the zip line ''over the falls'' is very short, stops too far from the Waterfall and isn't worth the money and waiting in lines.
Nevertheless, Niagara Fall is a stunning natural wonder, and definitely a must-see if you go to Toronto.
Still, the question remains — is Toronto worth the trouble or should you spend your money somewhere else? After all, it's the developed country we are talking about, so the trip will not exactly be a budget one — especially if you are coming from afar.
All in all, Toronto is a great place for people who:
- live for hockey;
- would like to see a concert of their dreams - the choice of performers at the Harbourfront Centre is enormous;
- are fascinated by how much dedicated people can achieve in just 150 years if they set their minds to it;
- want to visit a city where the 'world peace' principle stopped being an abstraction and see with their own two eyes how different cultures and nations can peacefully co-exist together;
- are simply looking for a non-standard destination and prefer city hassle to relaxing sandy beaches.
If by now you are determined to go, my advice would be:
- Go there in Summer or early Fall. After all, Canada has a very cold climate.
- Do not expect too much. The city is new, and there are not so many sights worth seeing. The place is mostly about the atmosphere and the impression it creates, not about the actual sights.
- Take a trip to Niagara Falls and stay there for a couple of days.