After a few days in this amazing city, we came up with this guide about Toronto do’s & don’ts. Actually, Toronto couldn’t have been less welcoming the day we arrived, a huge ice storm greeted us. But we soon learn to deal with it and this didn’t stop us from exploring the city.
TORONTO DO’S & DON’TS
WHAT TO DO
BRUNCH IN TORONTO RIGHT NOW
You can find so many places to give yourself a nice treat on the weekends. Brunch is a must. Whether you celebrate with maple syrup pancakes or pouched eggs, poutine, burger or a sandwich there are thousands of fantastic places to choose in this city. We picked Aunties and Uncles among the others and we were much more than satisfied. It is a lovely little brunch spot that looks like an antique market shop located near College street. The food is fresh and delicious and was the perfect place to celebrate Agnese’s birthday. Due to its popularity, you may have to wait 30/40 min. before you get a seat, but trust us it’s worth it!
GO TO CHINA-TORONTO TOWN
Located along Dundas Street and Spadina Avenue the Chinatown in Toronto is one of the largest Chinatowns in North America. In this area, you can easily shop for electronics and clothes but you will be surprised by the huge variety of authentic Asian restaurants. From Chinese to Thai or Vietnamese you can try them all. If you are looking for fresh veggies or some fruit we definitely recommend Kay Wei Supermarket. The store is located in Spadina 253-259, this should give you an idea about the size of the food store. Go and check by yourself, you will be amazed by the variety of the food they offer.
GET LOST IN KENSINGTON MARKET
Kensington Market is one of the most unique and multicultural neighborhoods in Toronto. This area is a maze of narrow streets surrounded by colorful Victorian houses. Here you can find many vintage clothing shops among grocery stores and vibrant restaurants and cafes. Our favorite is Rasta-Pasta, a Jamaican/Italian fusion fast food. On Sunday, during the summer, the streets are shut down to motorists and the neighborhood become the perfect stage for musician and artists. A visit to Kensington Market is like a small trip around the World.
VISIT ST. LAWRENCE MARKET: THE FOOD MECCA
Probably not the cheapest market in town but definitely the most characteristic. Located at the corner of Front and Jarvis street, St. Lawrence Market is the largest indoor market in Toronto. The place offers two floors of grocers, food stores and restaurants; here you can find local products, freshly baked goods, specialty cheese, and international foods. Definitely worth a visit.
WE PREFER QUEEN RATHER THEN KING
A few years ago Vogue voted Queen Street one of the world’s coolest neighborhoods. Probably the reason why is because there is so much to discover in Queen-street, from local brands to antique stores, galleries, trendy bars, hip resto-lounges, and even a unique graffiti alley. So while Queen street is considered one of the most eclectic streets in Toronto, King Street is a popular nightlife destination. Fancy restaurants and clubs are located in this central avenue, so if you are looking for five stars expensive food and shops you may disagree with us but… you know we are not fancy at all so that’s why we prefer the Queen. Grlz rule!
FREE WALKING TOURS ARE THE BEST
If you already read our article about Sevilla you should know that we are free walking tour super fan. Toronto doesn’t have thousands of years of history (compared to any European cities) and that’s probably not the reason why you go there, instead you are probably visiting the city to experience the vibrant diversity and that is what this walking tour delivers.
ACT LIKE A TOURIST, GO TO NIAGARA FALLS
It may sound very touristy but if you are in Toronto you have to go to Niagara Falls. We have been to Iceland so we have seen so many waterfalls and it is hard to impress us. What makes Canadian Niagara waterfalls so unique is the speed and the huge volume of water that rush over the falls. Anyway, there is the possibility to avoid all the touristic places by just ignore all the attractions or simply staying away from Clifton Hill street. You can easily organize the trip by yourself, there are regular buses from Toronto downtown.
HAVE A SWEET ZIP OF ICEWINE
You probably wouldn’t expect that from a cold country like Canada, but Ontario is recognized as producing some of the world’s finest Icewine.
If you are wondering what Icewine is, well… it is a wine made from grapes that have been left to freeze naturally on the vine. Thanks to this process what you will drink is an intensely flavored wine, also called “dessert wine”. In the Pillitteri winery, we had the chance to taste both red and white, if you have to pick one, definitely go with the red.
“D” STAND FOR DISTILLERY DISTRICT
Located east of downtown, the Distillery District is a neighborhood housed within heritage buildings of the former Gooderham and Worts Distillery. Reopened to the public in 2003 it shortly become one of the Toronto’s centers for arts, culture, food, and entertainment. This national historic site includes 44 heritage buildings and numerous brick-lined courtyards, it contains numerous cafés, restaurants, and shops. After having a snack or a drink get lost in one of the vintage boutiques. You can spend hours in there!
WHAT YOU SHOULDN’T DO
AVOID THE PATH
Did you know that Toronto is two cities in one!? Well…the Path is considered the largest underground shopping complex in the world.
In contrast to the city we all know the Path is not based on a grid system, that is why most of the Torontonians hate that, it is so easy to get lost. This pedestrian walkway network is mostly populated by business-day commuters who work in the financial district, having a coffee break. Don’t even try to find a way out of this maze, a quick look is more than enough.
THE CN TOWER IS MORE INTERESTING FROM BELOW
As any local will tell you, ascending to the CN tower can be avoided. We took this advice and we skipped it. The main reason why is because the ticket is very expensive ($35) and during a foggy day (very common) the visibility is very limited. Despite this the CN tower is definitely one of the country’s top touristic point of interest, it attracts over 1.5 million visitors a year. Did we mention the queue?!
DON’T PRETEND TO BE CANADIAN
If you come from Europe and you want to visit Canada to be prepared for any kind of weather. We experienced an ice storm and all the layers of clothes we were wearing weren’t enough. Canadian people instead are perfectly comfortable running in the ice with regular shoes, biking through the city with 10cm of snow and also forgetting to wear socks when it is -5°. So if you are not used to this type of weather bring enough clothes and waterproof winter boots.
DON’T UNDERESTIMATE WALKING DISTANCE
Canada is a huge country and so Toronto is a huge city too. If you decide to stroll around downtown is definitely a great idea, you will get the best out of it. Walking around allows you to experience the cultural diversity that this city offers, but going from A to B it may take a little while 🙂
SUPERMARKETS ARE NOT MADE FOR BUYING FOOD
Don’t get us wrong, supermarkets in Toronto sell food like everywhere else in the world, but if you want to grocery shopping like a local go to a market. By law, Toronto has to have at least one market open per day so pick your favorite and go there!