What do Keanu Reeves, Jim Carrey, and Drake have in common? These celebrities were born or raised in Toronto, the Queen City of Canada. Being the most populous city and the provincial capital of Ontario, just how do you spend 1 day in Toronto?
From its iconic landmark to parks and museums, Toronto is a huge city and our 1 day in Toronto gives you the must-visit highlights that can be completed within a day.
And, if you plan to extend your trip to Toronto, you can explore Niagara Falls and Dundas Peak as part of a day from Toronto. The choice is yours.
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Where is Toronto?
Toronto has Lake Ontario to its south, Etobicoke Creek, Eglinton Avenue, and Highway 427 to its west. Although the city is on gentle and flat hills, it has a steady elevation from the lake. The prominent geographical feature of Toronto is the shoreline of Lake Iroquois.
The shoreline of Lake Iroquois was formed during the last glacial period. The shoreline merges with Lake Ontario at the Scarborough Bluffs promontory. This city has a continental climate with spring and autumn being the shorter seasons.
Toronto is also an international center for business, finance, media, publishing, telecommunications, and film production and is also one of Canada’s leading tourism destinations with 27.5 million visitors visiting the city annually.
Toronto’s history began 12,500 years ago when the Iroquoian people moved into the area after the withdrawal of the last ice sheet. By the 1st BC, at least 500 people were living along the Don, Humber, and Rouge rivers of Toronto.
It was the First Nations communities that developed trails and water routes between the lakes. The Toronto Passage trail was a major portage route that linked Lake Ontario with Lake Simcoe and the Great Northern Lakes.
By the 1660s, the Europeans were active within Toronto, and by the 18th century, Toronto was a crucial French fur trading post. During the Seven Years’ War, Canada was part of Britain. By 1793, Toronto has renamed York with John Graves Simcoe being named the Duke of York.
By 1841, Toronto had its first gas street lamps with over 100 installed just in time for Charles Dickens’ visit to the city. As the city’s population increased, rail networks were built and by 1833, its first post office was built.
Toronto was incorporated as a city in 1834 and the City of Toronto moved to the City Hall building. The Amalgamation of Toronto saw its six constituencies merged into a single entity known as the City of Toronto.
Today, Toronto is recognized as one of the most multicultural and cosmopolitan cities and home to the Toronto International Film Festival. The city is also home to various food festivals that reflect its ethnic diversity.
Foreign nationals are required to obtain a visa before entry into Canada. Citizens from the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Mexico have visa-free access to Canada.
An Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) is an entry requirement that is linked to the applicant’s passport and must be completed online by the citizens of visa-exempt foreign nationals before entering Canada.
Alternatively, you can apply for a Canadian Visa using iVisa where you would need to fill out an online application. Once completed, you will receive the documents via email. Finally, present the document provided together with your passport and you are in! It’s that easy!
How do you get around Toronto?
As the largest city in Canada, getting around Toronto can be challenging. Its public transportation options include the subway, streetcars, buses, taxis, and ferries. An easier way to get around is by purchasing a PRESTO card which is an easy-to-use reloadable card and eliminates the need for tickets, tokens, and cash.
Getting around by car is not an ideal option in Toronto. Although the neighborhoods are easy to navigate, the traffic is horrendous, especially during rush hours. You would need an International Driving Permit to drive in Toronto unless you have a US driver’s license.
Buses and Streetcars
Buses and streetcars are one of the best ways to get around Toronto. The bus service operates from 6 am on weekdays and 8 am on weekends. Regular city buses run at an interval of 10 minutes with buses picking up and dropping off passengers at designated stops.
The streetcars run 24 hours a day and are excruciatingly slow at intervals of 30 minutes. The main east-west route runs from St Clair Avenue and College, Dundas, Queen, and King Street while the north-south route is along Bathurst Street and Spadina Avenue.
The TTC website has the complete route, timetables, and maps for buses, streetcars, and the subway system.
Subway & trains
The second best way and fastest way to get around the city is through the subway. The Green Line and Yellow Line are the two main subway lines. While the Yellow Line runs from north-south, the Green Line runs east-west.
All subway stations have Designated Waiting Areas which are monitored by cameras with trains running every few minutes from 6 am onwards on weekdays.
Ferries & water taxis
Ferries are the only way to get to the Toronto Islands, a chain of 15 small islands in Lake Ontario. Toronto Island Park is a popular tourist and recreation destination. To access these islands, book your ticket online at the Toronto Island Ferry website.
Tiki Taxi is another way to get to the islands. These water taxis are custom-built themed boats made from reclaimed wood and decorated with bamboo and synthetic thatched roofs. Its main dock is at Spadina and Queen’s Quay.
While it is easy to hail a taxi in downtown Toronto, its fares tend to add up quickly with the base rate starting at $4.25 with a customary 15% to 20% tip added. Alternatively, just Lyft a ride to your destination.
Within neighborhoods, it is easier to walk. From the pedestrian-friendly Distillery District to Old Town, walking takes on a personal journey as you watch daily life unfold.
The other famous walkable districts include The Annex, West Queen West, Dundas West, Yorkville, and the Entertainment District with Ripley’s Aquarium at the base of CN Tower.
The main airport that serves the city of Toronto is the Pearson International Airport. The airport is about 20 minutes from Downtown Toronto and easily connects to the city via the Union Pearson Express Train Transfer. Or, if you prefer a private ride, choose a one-way private transfer to Toronto from the airport to your accommodation.
What is there to do in Toronto for 24 hours?
The first of our 1 day in Toronto is the CN Tower or the Canadian National Tower which was built on former railway lands. The tower is an icon of Toronto and was the world’s tallest free-standing structure for 32 years until it was surpassed by the Burj Khalifa.
Why is CN Tower famous?
CN Tower is famous for being an iconic landmark and was once the tallest freestanding building in the world. The building serves its purpose as a transmission tower for radio, cell, and television signals.
Can the CN Tower withstand an earthquake?
Yes, the CN Tower can withstand an earthquake of 8.5 on the Richter scale. The tower can also withstand winds of up to 260 miles an hour. Interestingly, the tower is also struck by lightning about 75 times a year.
What is the best time to visit CN Tower?
The best time to visit CN Tower is either in the morning before 11 am or at 5 pm. The crowd picks up by noon and during sunset hours. The main observation area and the SkyPod are open from 9 am to 9 pm while the EdgeWalk is open from 10 am to 5.30 pm.
How much is the entrance fee to CN Tower?
The Timed General Admission costs $43 for an adult while it is $30 for seniors. Youths enter for $30 while children between the ages of 3 to 5 years enter for $14.
Entry to the SkyPod combined with the Timed General Admission costs $53 for adults and $40 for seniors and youths. Children between the ages of 3 to 5 years enter for $24 per child.
Royal Ontario Museum
The second of our 1 day in Toronto is Royal Ontario Museum. The museum is about 2 miles from CN Tower or a 40-minute walk. This museum is the largest in Canada and one of the largest in North America.
The building’s original design is a combination of Italianate and Neo-Romanesque with decorative brackets, arched windows, and cornices. The latest addition to the building is the “Crystal” whose glass and aluminum structures do not touch the sides of the existing building.
How much does it cost to get into the Royal Ontario Museum?
The General Admission ticket for an adult costs $23 and $14 for children. You can get the Skip-The-Line General Admission Ticket and the Special Exhibits Ticket which gives you access to the bilingual multi-media kiosks, free Wifi, and a map of the museum.
How long does it take to walk through Royal Ontario Museum?
It takes about 3 to 4 hours to walk through the Royal Ontario Museum. The five original galleries were in the fields of archaeology, geology, mineralogy, paleontology, and zoology.
There are two interactive galleries which are the CIBC Discovery Gallery and the Patrick and Barbara Keenan Family Gallery of Hands-On Biodiversity. The Patricia Harris Gallery of Costumes and Textiles holds 200 artifacts with pieces ranging from 1st BC to the present day.
The third of our 1 day in Toronto is Casa Loma. This Gothic-style castle is about 1.7 miles or an easy 35-minute walk from the Royal Ontario Museum. Casa Loma was the residence of Sir Henry Pellatt who built it at an elevation of 140 meters above Lake Ontario.
When it was built, it was the largest private residence in Canada as it had 98 rooms and an oven large enough to cook an ox. Oak Room is the most decorated room in the house and is used for formal occasions.
The garage and carriage room features a vintage car exhibit with cars from the 1900s. The Girl Guides exhibit is on the second floor of the mansion. It was Lady Pellatt who used to invite the Girls Guide to her home since 1913.
How much does it cost to go to Casa Loma in Toronto?
You can get a Skip-the-Line Entry Ticket and walk through all floors. Step back in time as you dive through the history of the castle and learn about Toronto’s darker days in the “Dark Days of Toronto” exhibit.
What was filmed at Casa Loma?
The movie that was filmed in Casa Loma was X-Men, Strange Brew, Chicago, The Tuxedo, Crimson Peak, Shadowhunters, and Mortal Instruments: The City of Bones are just some of the movies that used Casa Loma as a filming location.
Can you take pictures in Casa Loma?
Yes, you can pictures of the interior and exterior of Casa Loma as there are no restrictions on photography within the castle grounds. For professional photo shoots, a permit is required and is subject to operational requirements.
Marilyn Monroe Towers
The fourth of our 1 day in Toronto is the Marilyn Monroe Towers or its official name, Absolute Condominium. This residential twin-tower skyscraper condominium shares a similar design to the Turning Torso building in Sweden.
Why is it called the Marilyn Monroe Tower?
It is called the Marilyn Monroe Tower because of its curvaceous hourglass design is like Marilyn Monroe. The building was voted one of the sexiest buildings in the world because of its shape.
Where are the Marilyn Monroe Towers located?
The Marilyn Monroe Towers are located off Hurontario Street and Burnhamthorpe Road, opposite Square One Shopping Center, southwest of Ontario.
The fifth of our 1 day in Toronto is High Park. This recreational park is about 12 miles from Absolute Condominium. The park has sporting facilities, a zoo, educational facilities, gardens, and playgrounds.
The park is a hive of activity from late April to early May when the Japanese cherry blossoms bloom. These trees were gifted from the citizens of Tokyo. A plaque marks the spot where the trees were first planted. A total of more than 2,000 trees were donated to the citizens of Toronto
How long are the cherry blossoms in High Park?
The Sakura cherry blossoms bloom only lasts for a week with peak bloom happening during late April to early May. As this season attracts thousands of visitors, the area around the park becomes a vehicle-free zone.
How much does it cost to go to High Park?
It’s free. There is no admission cost to enter High Park as it is managed by the city of Toronto. Some attractions within the park are the Canadian Stage Amphitheatre, Colborne Lodge, High Park Animal Density, High Park Nature Centre, Public Art and Sculptures, and trackless train service.
Aga Khan Museum
The sixth of our 1 day in Toronto is at the Aga Khan Museum. The museum is about 15 miles or a 27-minute drive from High Park. This museum presents an overview of the Muslim civilization’s artistic, intellectual, and scientific contributions of the Muslim community.
Aga Khan Museum was designed as an interpretation of an Islamic courtyard, the Charbaag which is the four-gardens of Paradise concept mentioned in the Quran. In 2018, the museum was recognized as one of the best in Toronto.
What can you see at the Aga Khan Museum?
The museum has about 1,200 artifacts such as ceramics, metalworks, and paintings covering all periods of Islamic history. Its prized possession is the earliest known copy of the Canon of Medicine by Avicenna.
Can you take photos at Aga Khan Museum?
Yes, you can take photos inside and outside the Aga Khan museum. Flash photography, selfie sticks, and tripods are not allowed within the galleries. A permit is required for professional photography shots.
The seventh and last of our 1 day in Toronto is Distillery District. This district is about 7 miles or a 15-minute drive from the Aga Khan Museum. Distillery District is a residential and commercial district that is home to many cafes, restaurants, and shops.
The traditional brick-paved streets are restricted to cyclists and pedestrians. The widest street is Trinity Street which acts as a public square. There are several large sculptures with the major landmark being the chimney stack above the Boiler House complex.
Why is it called Distillery District?
It is called Distillery District as it once housed the Gooderham and Worts Distillery which once provided over US 2 million gallons of whisky for the export market. These Victorian Industrial buildings are a National Historic Site of Canada as it has more than 40 heritage buildings within 10 streets.
Is it free to go to Distillery District?
Yes, Distillery District is free to walk as no entrance fee is charged. Join a 30-minute Distillery Segway Tour or take the Distillery District Historic Walking Tour where you explore the best preserved Victorian Industrial architecture with a visit to the Mill Street Brewery.
Day Trip: Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls is the perfect place for a day trip if you plan to have more than 1 day in Toronto. These are a group of three waterfalls that spans the borders between Ontario in Canada and New York in the United States.
These iconic falls are a popular tourist attraction both day and night. The manicured gardens of Queen Victoria’s Park have platforms with views of the American, Horseshoe, and the Bridal Veil falls.
Is Niagara Falls better during the day or night?
Niagara Falls are best viewed day and night. During the day, marvel at the beauty of the falls with the highest flow rate in North America. On the Canadian side, floodlights illuminate the falls over several hours.
Can you swim down Niagara Falls?
No, you can’t swim down Niagara Falls as the currents are class 5 rapids which make it dangerous for swimming.
How much does it cost to get into Niagara Falls?
Entrance to the Niagara Falls State Park is always FREE. You would need to pay for the Journey Behind The Falls Entry Ticket and the Skylon Tower Observation Deck Ticket. For the adventurous, try the Zipline To The Falls.
Take the Canadian and American Deluxe Day Tour or the Canadian Side Day Trip with a trip on the Maid of the Mist. For a magical night view of Niagara Falls, join the Niagara Falls Night Tour with Boat Ride on Hornblower’s “Voyage to the Falls” cruise.
What are the best places to stay in Toronto?
These are some of our best places to stay in Toronto. From staying at Yorkville to Downtown Toronto, we have curated the best hotels to make the best of your 1 day in Toronto stay.
Our first choice stays for 1 day in Toronto is the Four Seasons Hotel. This 259-room hotel is in the vibrant Yorkville neighborhood. With floor-to-ceiling windows, guests can enjoy Toronto’s city views.
All guest rooms come with free WiFi, a Nespresso machine, a large in-room safe that can fit a laptop, and thick terry bathrobes. Guests loved the excellent location, comfortable rooms, and welcoming staff.
Our second choice stays for 1 day in Toronto is the Park Hyatt. This 219-room is a historic hotel that was once the Park Plaza Hotel. Some attractions within walking distance are the Queen’s Park, the Royal Ontario Museum, and the Bata Shoe Museum.
All rooms have a Nespresso machine, hair dryer, handheld steamer, mini bar, and a laptop-sized in-room safety box. Guests loved the helpful and courteous staff, the beautifully renovated rooms, and the excellent location.
Our third choice stays for 1 day in Toronto is the Fairmont Royal York. This 1,363-room historic hotel is located in the Financial District in Downtown Toronto. Ontario Terrace was the first hotel built on this site.
The attractions within walking distance are the CN Tower, the Hockey Hall of Fame, and Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada. Guests loved that the hotel was conveniently located near the train and metro station. Guests also loved the clean rooms, convenient location, friendly and accommodating staff, and excellent breakfast options.
Our fourth choice stays for 1 day in Toronto is the Hazelton Hotel. This 62-room hotel evokes the grandeur of 1940s Hollywood glamour. With spacious marble bathrooms and French doors that open to balconies, there is a little bit of European flare at this hotel.
Some nearby attractions, all within walking distance are the Royal Ontario Museum, the Bata Shoe Museum, and Queen’s Park. Guests loved the amazing location, the superb staff, and the clean, large, and modern rooms.
Guests also loved the gym and spa facilities and the beautifully appointed interiors and the abundance of restaurants and bars within walking distance from the hotel.
Our fifth and last choice stays for 1 day in Toronto is Hotel X Toronto by Library Hotel Collection. This 404-room hotel is in Downtown Toronto and is on the historic Exhibition Grounds and features stunning city and lake skylines.
The hotel is on the shores of Lake Ontario and the elegantly designed rooms come with free WiFi, a minibar, a work desk, and a luxurious bathroom. The suites come with turndown service and late check-out.
Guests loved the friendly and exceptional staff, quick check-in, clean rooms, and convenient location. Reviewers also loved the swimming pool and the comfortable beds.
Frequently Asked Questions on Toronto
Toronto is famous for being the most multicultural and cosmopolitan city in the world and is the center for international business, arts, sports, and home to the iconic CN Tower. The city is also known for its high-rise buildings and skyscrapers.
The 6 cities in Toronto are Old Toronto, East York, Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough, and York. The amalgamation formed the City of Toronto in 1998. Once unified, the City of Toronto became the fifth most populous city in North America, behind Mexico City, New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
No, you do not need to rent a car in Toronto because the city’s public transportation is excellent. Instead of renting a car to Niagara Falls, take a private tour instead or you can combine a visit to Niagara Falls with a private winery tour.
The best time to visit Toronto is during the spring months of April to May when the weather begins warming up. With schools still in session, sunny days, and fewer crowds, check out the Tastemaker Toronto, Toronto Blooms, and the Comicon events.
The second best time to visit Toronto is during the autumn months of September to October when the summer warmth still lingers. The Toronto International Film Festival and the Toronto International Art Fair happen in September and draw large crowds.
Someone who lives in Toronto is called a Torontonian. English and French are the two official languages of Canada with Mandarin and Italian languages being widely spoken as well.
Yes, Toronto is a friendly city, regardless of ethnic and cultural background. The city is also family, pet, and youth-friendly as many things are catered for family fun activities.
Toronto is a multicultural city that celebrates its diversity through food, festivals, and museums. The city has a business-minded and socially progressive vibe to it where sexual diversity and gender identities are celebrated with Pride Toronto, Dyke March, and the Gay Pride event.
According to Travel Safe Abroad, Toronto is the least dangerous city in North America and is one of the few safest cities in the world. Toronto has a low risk for mugging, is safe for female solo travelers, and low risk of natural disasters.
As in any other city, pickpocketing, and scam risks are present. Hence, always be aware of your surroundings, and avoid walking in unsafe areas such as the Church-Yonge Corridor, Scarborough, Regent Park, and Moss Park to name a few.
Yes, Toronto is worth visiting. From its iconic CN Tower to its many parks, museums, and cuisine, here’s why you have to make that trip to Toronto.
1) Skyline. Admire the city’s skyline and Toronto Islands from the observation deck at CN Tower. Or, watch the sunset from Humber Bay, Trillium Park, or Ireland Park. Alternatively, take a private helicopter tour to get a bird’s eye view of the city.
2) Cuisine. Because of its large immigrant population, Toronto’s cuisine is as diverse as its population. Join the 3-hour secret food tour or the Canadian food discovery at St Lawrence Market to tantalize your tastebuds.
3) Walkable. Although the city is large, the Downtown area is walkable. Join the 2-hour Downtown walking tour or the Chinatown and Kensington Market walking tour and soak in the sights, sounds, and flavors of these areas.
4) Day Trips. Niagara Falls is just one of the many places you can go for a day trip from Toronto. Other options include Dundas Peak, Wasaga Beach, Killarney Provincial Park, and Prince Edward Island which was the setting for the classic novel, Anne of Green Gables.
5) Something for everyone. This city is the epitome of having something for everyone. With plenty of parks for nature enthusiasts to the many museums for historic buffs, getting bored or not having anything to do here is impossible.
Toronto is a large city with small-town vibes. With friendly and welcoming people, Toronto is a city that is a home away from home. The city is home to many festivals, street art, shining skyscrapers, and plenty of parks and beaches that can be done within a day.