Toronto aka ‘The Six’ is Canada’s most thriving and cultural city, making it also the most happening city. With big city vibes, but also relaxed island vibes, there’s so much to do and see, whether you’re a foodie, nature lover, culture enthusiast, or nightlife seeker. This ultimate guide will will help you make the most of your Toronto adventure and give you the best places on where to stay, what to do and where to eat in the city.
Where to stay
The Hotel X is Toronto’s uber lux and modern hotel and is right on the waterfront, which means beautiful views of the lake. The hotel amenities are so many that it’s actually a full on mini resort, stocked with a rooftop pool, tennis courts, squash courts, a screening room, a massive fitness centre, a Guerlain spa, 2 restaurants and 2 cafes and all the room luxuries you deserve.
Canada’s very first. The Ace Hotel chain has finally graced Canada with its presence and in the downtown heart of Toronto nonetheless. Keeping in true Ace Hotel fashion, the hotel is just that – minimalistic and fashionable. With all the artistic and cultural elements you it’s famous for, the new-ish hotel is conveniently located so you can walk everywhere. The food + drink options are a must-try as well, with a suspended bar called The Lobby, a moody subterranean dining room called Alder, by star Toronto chef Patrick Kriss (creator of Alo Food Group) and a cozy cocktail bar called Evangeline, with skyline city views.
1 Hotel Toronto
Formerly the vibey hotspot, the Thompson Hotel, the space’s new tenant is not only vibey, but is also focused sustainability and cleaning up our planet. The luxury lifestyle hotel brand inspired by nature, 1 Hotel Toronto has cultivated the best of sustainable design and architecture in a chic 70s fashion, with extraordinary comfort and an unrivaled level of service. They also have a dedication to health and wellness with fitness classes and organic cuisine at their 1 Kitchen restaurant. Don’t miss: the rooftop bar and pool.
The Bisha Hotel might be famous for its KŌST rooftop restaurant with unparalleled views of the CN Tower, but it’s the hotel that really rocks. Every inch is some remarkable and picturesque backdrop like a lobby with black marble and draped velvet, contemporary art and suites that were even designed by Lenny Kravitz (yes, THE Lenny Kravitz). Also situated right on King Street West, in the heart of the restaurant and club district, so you can easily crawl back after a night out.
The Drake Hotel
This one goes out to the creatives and artsy types. Fitting in perfectly to its neighbourhood of Queen Street West, the Drake Hotel is an institution of the area, covered in eclectic and modern art. The red brick apartment building turned boutique hotel maintains the apartment vibes, so you can feel comfy and cozy, just like at home. The hotel is also a go-to for events with DJs spinning on the rooftop and live bands in the Drake Underground basement club. For food? There’s little bit of everything with a lounge, cafe and rooftop terrace to choose from.
Fairmont Royal York Hotel
At almost 100 years old, the Fairmont Royal York still isn’t Toronto’s oldest hotel, but it’s old af. The block long hotel is one of the busiest hotels due to its location across from Union Station and close proximity to conferences and the Toronto International Film Festival events. A favourite among celebs and business travelers, the hotel spans 1,329 rooms and 18 floors, so there’s always a space for you. The hotel for a facelift a few years ago and has modernized processes and decor, while maintaining a historical feel.
Radisson Blu Toronto Downtown
If you’re visiting in the summer, it’s hard to beat the Radisson Blu Hotel, which is right on the lake. The main attraction? The aesthetically pleasing large rooftop pool with views of the CN Tower on one side and the lake and island on the other. The hotel is also pet-friendly and easily walkable along the waterfront and to downtown.
Four Seasons Hotel Toronto
The Four Seasons is located in Toronto’s boujee neighbourhood, Yorkville, so you know you can expect only the best. The luxury hotel is elegant, chic and contemporary, yet still warm and inviting. It has one of the largest spas in Toronto, indoor pool and a highly instagrammable and one of the best French bistros in the city, Café Boulud. Fun fact: Did you know the Four Seasons was founded in Toronto with the first being a Cali-style motor hotel in a rando downtown spot? It’s since been demolished, but the history remains.
What to do
For a real quick day trip and escape from the city, take a ferry to the Toronto Islands. We suggest the Pirate Taxis or Tiki Taxis for some music and entertainment. Stroll through the parks, rent a bike, paddleboard, or just chill on the beach. Capture those ‘Island Vibes’ moments.
Stackt Market is North America’s largest market made entirely out of shipping containers. The market is an ever-evolving cultural marketplace with a mix of shops, a microbrewery, restaurants and bars, community programming and events and killer city views with great shots of the CN Tower.
Yorkville is Toronto’s high fashion shopping neighbourhood. From boutique shops to luxury brands, fine dining to cute cafes, upscale hotels and new architecture blended with the Victorian, it’s worth a wander around.
St. Lawrence Market
St. Lawrence Market is Toronto’s most famous, bustling market for the rows upon rows of kiosks with fresh fish, butchers, cheeses, spices, cafes and to-go foods. The massive space is perfect for grabbing high quality groceries or even just strolling on a Sunday morning. Fun fact: The turn-of-the-century brick building with a cast-iron ceiling was inspired by London’s St. Pancras train station.
If you’re into thrift shopping and vintage finds, Kensington Market is your jam. Hunt for unique threads, funky accessories, band teas, organic foods, Jamaican patties, while listening to the buskers and dancing in the street.
Wander around the Distillery District, a historic area filled with cobblestone streets, art galleries, craft breweries and some seriously cool shops.
Queen Street is a shopping paradise. From clothing boutiques to indie shops and gift shops, you’ll find the latest trends and discover your unique style. You can also get amazing quality coffees and boutique cafes and restaurants to pop in for a snack.
The Raptors are Toronto’s darlings so if you’re wanting to see the true spirit of the T-Dot, check out a game. You’ll soon be a die-hard because the energy is contagious.
The lake-front area of Toronto is a must whether it’s summer or winter. With the pink umbrellas at Sugar Beach, the art and events at The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, to walk through the Toronto Music Garden, a pathway to walk along the water, tons of festivals at any time of year and a skating rink in winter with Friday night DJs.
Where to eat
Pai Northern Thai Kitchen
Thai treasures in an urban jungle
Pai captures the essence of Thailand’s culinary traditions with a modern twist. Step inside and be transported to the vibrant streets of Bangkok, where the aromas of lemongrass and Thai basil waft through the air. With its tropical-inspired decor and charming patio, Pai is the perfect spot to experience the flavors of Thailand right in the heart of the city.
For those seeking an upscale dining experience with a bit of kink, Marbl sets the stage for a memorable, social evening with a fusion between contemporary and timeless elegance. Conveniently located in the heart of King Street, this culinary gem is a haven for both foodies and socialites. Must tries: Chinois Prawns and Marbl Burger (one of the best).
A Mediterranean Oasis
Escape to the Mediterranean without leaving the city at Byblos. The restaurant really showcases the rich flavors of the region and has also created a truly inviting atmosphere that feels relaxed. The menu is like a work of art from the dips like the Muhammara to the Lamb Shoulder where you can make mini pitas with all the fixings.
An Italian affair to remember
Yorkville’s newest Italian addition has the city talking. The Michelin-rated, minimalist candle-lit space takes inspiration from Italy’s Liguarian region on the coastline – the land of fish, pesto and focaccia. Osteria Giulia’s approach to design is also their approach to food – simple, suave and beautiful.
Where steak meets luxury
This swanky hotspot isn’t just any restaurant; it’s THE spot where classic elegance meets cool. Indulge in the epitome of culinary luxury at Toronto’s Harbour 60 restaurant. Nestled along the picturesque waterfront, this iconic steakhouse is renowned for its impeccable service, opulent ambiance, and mouthwatering prime cuts of steak. Discover the rich history and contemporary elegance that make Harbour 60 a must-visit destination for food connoisseurs and lovers of fine dining.
Ristorante Sotto Sotto
Timeless romance in the heart of the city
Sotto Sotto brings a contemporary touch to traditional Italian fare, with an intimate atmosphere and authentic dishes, this charming restaurant is perfect for a romantic summer night out. From their luscious risottos to their mouthwatering seafood, every dish at Sotto Sotto is a testament to their commitment to Italian culinary excellence.
An elevated culinary journey
Alo is the epitome of culinary excellence that combines exquisite French-inspired cuisine with impeccable service and an elegant ambiance. Dive into a gastronomic journey that showcases seasonal ingredients and innovative flavors, making Alo a must-visit destination for food enthusiasts and connoisseurs alike.
Chubby’s Jamaican Kitchen
Island vibes in the city
The warmness of the Caribbean isn’t lost in the cold, it’s hidden right in the heart of Toronto. Chubby’s Jamaican brings the heat in more ways than one. The vibrant ambiance and the elevated, yet unpretentious Jamaican menu are all fire. The curry goat, oxtail stew and of course jerk chicken are all popular menu items that have the perfect amount of spice and the cocktails will make you feel like you’re on the beach somewhere tropical.
Coffee Oysters Champagne / A Toi
A pink dream with a secret
You can probably guess what they serve at Coffee Oysters Champagne.. that’s right, really good coffee, oysters and the largest selection of bubbles in Toronto. While’s it’s a great starter spot, it’s its dirty little secret that’s a must-see. Ask to see the ‘champagne room’ and you’ll get taken through a hall of bubbles and through a door that will take you into a 1920’s Parisian lobby bar.
An architectural delight
A piece of Barcelona in Toronto, Bar Raval’s immaculate Gaudi-esque interior is the big draw. The tapas and pintxo bar is the perfect place for a date with its moody vibes and bar full of Spanish wines and cocktails. The menu is small plate-sharing so you can try a bunch of different flavours. Just be ready to wait for a table in true Spanish style as they don’t take resos.
Back to basics brunch
School Restaurant is consistently voted best brunch spot in Toronto, and no, you don’t actually have to go back to school. The industrial space that was converted into a hipster eatery has people flocking every weekend for giant, fluffy pancake stacks, Krispy Krunch French Toast and breakfast poutines. They have 2 patios, so it’s the perfect summer spot, but in the winter, the cozy interior with an edgy decor plays Saved By The Bell on the TVs for an added hint of nostalgia.
Banh Mi Boys
Banh Mi Boys are redefining the traditional Vietnamese banh mi sandwich like the culinary artists they are. They masterfully combine the rich, aromatic flavors of Vietnamese cuisine with a contemporary twist. Sink your teeth into succulent, slow-cooked meats like five-spice pork belly or Korean-inspired kalbi, all lovingly nestled within the freshest baguettes.
For the days you need to make those tough decisions.. sushi or burrito? Rolltation is solving that problem with sushi burritos. Genius. But seriously, Rolltation is some fire, quick take out for poke, salad bowls or sushi burritos and the portions are massive.
Allwyn’s is renowned for its authentic Caribbean fare, from flaky, savory patties bursting with jerk chicken or curried vegetables to hearty, flavorful rotis that are nothing short of a masterpiece. But it’s not just the food that keeps patrons coming back; it’s the warm and welcoming atmosphere that feels like a home away from home.
Smoke’s Poutinerie is like embarking on a poutine pilgrimage like no other. With a menu that reads like a poutine lover’s dream, they serve up steaming hot, crispy fries smothered in rich, gooey cheese curds and a variety of mouthwatering toppings from the Classic or go wild with Perogie, Bacon Cheeseburger or a Veggie Deluxe. Your taste buds will thank you, and you’ll quickly see why it’s a pop-culture icon in the city’s culinary scene.
North of Brooklyn Pizzeria
You know that when Barstool Sports’ Dave Portnoy gives an 8.4 and a “great, great, GREAT, pizza” rating, it’s great, great, GREAT pizza. No cap. North of Brooklyn Pizzeria now has a few different locations around the city, with the OG being in Queen West, so you can pick it up or order it conveniently anywhere in downtown.
One of the quickest and most delicious ways to get your food as fuel. Impact Kitchen is a 100% gluten-free kitchen with minimally processed, nutrient dense, real food with keto, vegan, paleo and dairy-free options for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner.
Kupfert and Kim
Eating the rainbow never tasted (or felt) so good. Kupfert and Kim is a chain of vegan and gluten-free, healthy fast food spots, but vegan or not, their meals slap. Each dish is packed with all your macros and even more flavour so even meat eaters will be delighted.
El Trompo is like walking into a taco bar in Mexico City, except you’re in Kensington Market. The tacos are authentic, the vibes are warm and the guac is big. They also have brunch, if you’re looking for some huevos rancheros and a michelada to start your day.
Getting around in Toronto is a breeze, thanks to the city’s efficient public transportation system and pedestrian-friendly streets.
The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) offers an extensive network of buses, streetcars, and subways that connect all corners of the city.
To explore the downtown core, you can easily walk or rent a bike from one of the many bike-sharing stations.
Additionally, rideshare services and taxis are readily available for more personalized travel experiences.
For those wanting to venture beyond the city limits, GO Transit provides commuter trains and buses to neighboring regions. Toronto’s diverse neighborhoods and attractions are easily accessible, making it a vibrant and accessible city to navigate for both locals and visitors.