26 Must-See Attractions in Toronto

Toronto is packed with fun and quirky things to do on your trip
Toronto is packed with fun and quirky things to do on your trip | © Istvan Kadar Photography/ Getty Images
Tom Smith

What do a pair of Elton John’s high heels, a Gothic castle and the world’s largest hydraulophone have in common? They all feature on this list of the top attractions in Toronto, Canada.

Some attractions in Toronto – such as the skyline-busting CN Tower, the turrets of the Casa Loma and the thunderous Niagara Falls down the road – stand out like Drake in the front row of the Scotiabank Arena. However, others – like the merchants of St Lawrence Market, the boutiques of the Distillery District and the murals of Kensington Market – take a little more discovery. Culture Trip has done the hard work for you by rounding up the top attractions in Toronto you need to add to your itinerary.

1. CN Tower

Architectural Landmark

CN Tower, Toronto, Canada
Tim Gouw / Unsplash
Leaving Toronto without scaling the city’s most iconic landmark would be like visiting Paris and not bothering to see the Eiffel Tower. This tour provides a unique perspective from the pointy end of the CN Tower, thanks to the stomach-churning glass floor that stares overs the Toronto streets 1,122 feet (342 meters) below, as well as the LookOut level and al fresco SkyTerrace gazing out over Canada’s biggest city. It departs at 9am daily from Nicholby’s souvenir shop on Front Street West for 150 Canadian dollars ($116.93).

2. Museum of Illusions


If you’re expecting your stock-standard hall of mirrors and a couple of shrinking hallways, prepare for a shock. Toronto’s Museum of Illusions is a very contemporary take on the old fairground funhouse – a minimalist space that opened in 2018 with an Instagram front of mind. Found on Front Street East with tickets starting at 23.50 Canadian dollars ($17.93), the museum feels more like an art gallery than some cheesy carnival attraction, with each piece explaining the visual trickery at play as well as a marker pointing out the perfect selfie spot.

3. Hockey Hall of Fame


If hockey is a religion in Canada, then this is the cathedral where the faithful come to worship. Occupying Brookfield Place’s historic Bank of Montreal building in the heart of downtown, the Hall of Fame boasts the world’s largest collection of hockey artefacts, including the original Stanley Cup locked away in the bank vault. However, you don’t need to be a hockey nerd to enjoy the replica NHL dressing room or the interactive games – and at 20 Canadian dollars ($15.59), admission is a bargain.

4. Distillery District


Distillery District, Old Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
Michael Kristensen / Unsplash
Once home to the largest whiskey producer in the British Empire, the cobbled alleyways of Toronto’s Distillery District provide a perfectly preserved time capsule of Victorian-era industrial architecture. This wonderland of red-brick warehouses can be difficult to navigate for a first-timer, so leave it to an expert guide. On this one-hour tour for 23.73 Canadian dollars ($18.42), you’ll stroll through the indie eateries, boutiques, bars, galleries and theaters that make the Distillery District one of The Six’s coolest cultural precincts. You’ll also get to sample some local craft beer and chocolate at the end. Yum.

5. Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)

Building, Museum, Park

More than 13 million artworks, cultural objects and natural history specimens live under the ROM’s jagged, ultra-modern roof overlooking Queen’s Park in the city’s north; on a busy day, it feels like there’s almost the same number of visitors who’ve crowded in to see them. Luckily, you can grab a skip-the-line ticket for only 26 Canadian dollars ($18.97) and access an exclusive express entry point, giving you more time to check out the world’s largest fossil collection, a colossal assortment of dinosaur skeletons and the biggest exhibition of Chinese architectural artefacts outside China.

6. Bata Shoe Museum


While a museum dedicated to shoes might sound about as exciting as a trip to a cardboard box factory, the Bata Shoe Museum is one of the quirkiest, coolest and most compelling collections in all of Canada. Sitting just down the block from the ROM in a building shaped like a shoebox, this museum steps (get it?) through the 4,500-year history of footwear, from indigenous boots worn in the Arctic to snappy sliver platforms donned by Elton John. At 14 Canadian dollars ($10.89), it’s also one of the most affordable attractions in Toronto.

7. Toronto Islands and Centreville


Toronto Islands, Toronto, Canada
Austin Laser / Unsplash
Not all of Toronto’s big-ticket items lie on terra firma, as you’ll find out on the one-hour cruise of the harbor. Departing from Queen’s Quay Terminal – south of the city center – the tour takes in the lagoons of the Toronto Islands, the nude beach at Hanlan’s Point, the glamorous Island Yacht Club and the serene wildlife sanctuary, not to mention the panoramic vista across the water back towards The Six’s soaring skyline. The Centreville Amusement Park on Centre Island is a great stop for the kids, too.

8. St Lawrence Market

Building, Market

An icon of the Old Town district since the early 1800s, St Lawrence Market earned the title of the world’s top food market from National Geographic in 2012. And to taste the best of the 120 merchants that converge on this grand old marketplace, you need a little expert advice. Join your guide on a stroll through a smorgasbord of St Lawrence’s most mouthwatering delicacies, sinking your teeth into everything from Indian candy and Ukrainian pierogi to Toronto’s legendary peameal bacon. Mmmmm, bacon.

9. Kensington Market


Kensington Market, Toronto, Canada
Scott Webb / Unsplash
Kensington is a very different kind of market to St Lawrence – it’s not really a market at all. Named after the so-called Jewish market that sprung up around the neighborhood’s two synagogues in the early 20th century, Kensington Market is a shining example of Toronto’s famous multiculturalism. Follow your nose, and you’ll sniff aromas wafting out of eateries belonging to every corner of the globe, as well as the vintage stores, specialty coffee shops, avant-garde galleries and the blanket of graffiti that have all moved in with the hipsters in recent years.

10. Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO)

Art Gallery, Museum

A couple of blocks east of the graffiti that plasters Kensington Market lies Toronto’s most revered collection of art, housing almost 100,000 pieces covering everything from the Renaissance and Inuit items to contemporary creations and Canadian classics like Tom Thomson and the fabled Group of Seven. However, the AGO’s biggest work of art is the building itself, a dancing glass masterpiece by acclaimed local architect Frank Gehry. Tickets start at 30 Canadian dollars ($21.89).

11. Niagara Falls

Natural Feature

Kalen Emsley / Unsplash
Niagara Falls might be a 90-minute drive around Lake Ontario from Toronto, but you’d be crazy to leave this awe-inspiring explosion of water off your itinerary. Enter the splash zone on a Hornblower cruise, and zoom up the Skylon Tower on a yellow bug escalator for an aerial vista. Then plunge 150ft (46m) through the tunnels of the Journey Behind the Falls attraction to feel the thunder up close. For even more spectacular views, hop into an Airbus H130 for a 12-minute journey you’ll remember for the rest of your life. This light engine helicopter ride swoops down the Niagara River from the whirlpool area to Rainbow Bridge and then follows the curve of the Horseshoe Falls as more than 3,000 tons of water cascade over the edge every second.

12. Toronto Eaton Centre

Shopping Mall

A mall wouldn’t normally appear on a Culture Trip list of must-visit attractions, but the Eaton Centre isn’t your average mall. Attracting around 50 million visitors each year, this Toronto institution is the busiest mall in the whole of North America – even busier than Minnesota’s gargantuan Mall of America. Located in the middle of downtown, the Eaton Centre boasts more than 250 retailers – more than enough to give any shopaholic their retail fix in The Six.

13. High Park


Fall colours on display in Toronto’s High Park.
Pete Nuij / Unsplash
High Park represents more than just the lungs of Toronto – it’s also home to swimming pools, kids’ playgrounds, an off-leash dog park, pristine forest, walking trails, picnic areas, tennis courts, immaculately curated gardens, the tranquil Grenadier Pond and even a zoo. Filling 400 acres (162 hectares) east of the city center, High Park sparkles each spring when the cherry trees blossom, as well as every summer when the much loved Shakespeare in the Park performances pack out the amphitheater.

14. Fort York National Historic Site

Building, Distillery

Fort York is an even further leap back to the 18th century, where British and Canadian troops set up camp to protect Toronto – then known as York – from the United States. US troops did plenty of damage during the War of 1812, but luckily for history buffs, Fort York is now protected as a registered archaeological site.

15. Breweries

Gastropub, Pub, Wine Bar, Restaurant, Beer

It seems like Toronto and craft beer have become synonymous lately – and thank goodness. No longer a city reliant on mass market beer brands, there are new breweries seemingly every month. Most breweries in the city offer guided tours and tastings, some of which, like Steam Whistle, even have their own patio for lazy summer pints. Be sure to check out the beer-wine hybrids at Burdock Brewery, as well as Henderson Brewing, which runs guided tastings every Tuesday for CAD$25. Recommended by Kaitlyn McInnis.

Ontario Science Centre

Why is the sky blue? How does dry ice work? And what on earth is a hydraulophone? The answers to these pressing scientific questions can be found at the Ontario Science Centre, about 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) northeast of downtown. Opening its doors a couple of weeks after the Moon Landing in 1969, this interactive museum is a must for children (and the young at heart) thanks to live science demonstrations, climbing walls, a world-class planetarium, arcade games, a simulated rainforest and Toronto’s only IMAX Dome theatre. Admission is 22 Canadian dollars ($16.05) for adults and 13 dollars ($9.49) for kids.

Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada

With ferocious tiger sharks, slippery eels, entrancing jellyfish and 450 other species of exotic marine life populating the country’s largest indoor aquarium, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada attracts huge crowds. While long queues snake around the block in the shadow of the CN Tower, you can skip the line with this ticket for 45 Canadian dollars ($32.83). It’s delivered straight to your smartphone, and the price includes animal feedings and talks. Under the sea, hassle-free.

Casa Loma

Rarely has a name failed to capture the majesty of a place quite like Casa Loma, which means “Hill House” in Spanish. A more accurate title would’ve been “The ostentatious Gothic castle plonked in the middle of Toronto,” which only begins to describe the grandeur of this 18th-century masterpiece just north of the bohemian Annex neighborhood. The palace of Sir Henry Pellatt eventually bankrupted the electricity tsar in the 1920s, although Casa Loma is a lot kinder on the wallets of visitors than the man who built it – you can step inside every day for just 40 Canadian dollars ($29.18).

Black Creek Pioneer Village

If the Distillery District is a time capsule to 19th-century industrial Toronto, this open-air heritage museum is a snapshot of rural life in that same era. About 19mi (30km) north of the city center and an even longer trip back in time, Black Creek Pioneer Village recreates life in 1867 with restored homes, stores, farms, churches and schools, plus a dedicated crew of costumed villagers. At 18 Canadian dollars ($13.13) for adults and 11 dollars ($8.03) for children, it’s the cheapest ticket to a time machine.

The Beaches

After a few days of exploring the city, escape to The Beaches, an east-end Toronto neighborhood that feels more like a small town than a subsection of the city, with a considerably long stretch of waterfront and surprisingly sandy beaches. Think of it as Toronto’s answer to Coney Island. Expect a sandy city coastline and neighboring shops and restaurants on Queen Street East. Note that Woodbine Beach is one of the largest, most popular beaches in the neighborhood and is Blue Flag certified, which means it’s safe for swimming. Recommended by Kaitlyn McInnis.

Rouge National Urban Park

Rouge National Urban Park, which straddles Scarborough and neighboring Markham and Pickering, is a lush collection of natural, cultural and agricultural landscapes, including some of the last remaining working farms in Toronto, great hiking trails, and some of Canada’s oldest known Indigenous sites. Recommended by Kaitlyn McInnis.

Port Credit

Mississauga’s “Village on the Lake” is one of the most picturesque points in the GTA – and well worth the trip. Accessible by the GO train from downtown Toronto, expect world-class dining (and drinking) options, unique shops and entertainment venues, all set right next to Missisauga’s lakefront and the Port Credit Lighthouse. Recommended by Kaitlyn McInnis.

Scarborough Bluffs and Bluffer’s Park

Arguably one of the most striking sites in all of Toronto, the Scarborough Bluffs span about 15 kilometers (9 miles) along the Lake Ontario shoreline. At its highest point, the towering escarpment rises 90 meters (300 feet) above the water and has become a popular destination for photographers and nature buffs. If you want to visit the natural wonder, take Bluffer’s Park bus that runs between Kennedy Station and Bluffer’s Park Beach. Recommended by Kaitlyn McInnis.

iFly Toronto

If you’ve always wanted to go skydiving but, well, don’t have the guts to actually get strapped up and jump out of an airplane, look no further than iFly Toronto. The indoor skydiving venue gives visitors a taste of the thrill without the risk, by simulating what it feels like to be free-falling through the sky. Children ages four and up are welcome, and tickets start at CAD$79.99 per person. Recommended by Kaitlyn McInnis.

Toronto Botanical Garden

After a few days of being consumed by the bustle of the city, a trip to the tranquil Toronto Botanical Garden will be well deserved. The TBG is just under four acres and features 17 themed “city-sized gardens,” including a wildflower meadow, native trees, and more local and international flora. Recommended by Kaitlyn McInnis.

Canada’s Wonderland

No summer is complete without a visit to Canada’s Wonderland. Located in Vaughan, just outside of Toronto, this amusement park has 70 rides, including the legendary Behemoth and Vortex coasters, as well as a fun and refreshing 20-acre Splash Works water park. For kids, there’s Planet Snoopy and KidZville, offering a series of brand-new, kid-friendly themed rides. Recommended by Kaitlyn McInnis.

This is an updated version of an article originally created by Emily Paskevics.

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