First visit to Toronto? Whether you're planning to stay in the city for a weekend or a month, it's virtually impossible to see everything that makes Toronto a special place in just one trip. But for an introduction to Canada's largest city, a Toronto newbie might want to spend some time touring some of the city's oldest places to eat, stay and explore. These sites have been drawing both Torontonians and visitors for decades, and their allure will be immediately obvious to any first-time visitor.
Start by staying at one of Toronto's oldest and grandest hotels, the Fairmont Royal York. Opened in 1929 across from downtown's grand train depot, Union Station, the Royal York has hosted the rich and famous, as well as families and business travellers looking to rest their heads in a location that offers easy access to attractions, great restaurants, transit and the city's lakeshore. It's a huge hotel - 1,600 rooms spread over 28 floors. And a walk through its grand lobby is like stepping back in time.
Toronto's grand Fairmont Royal York Hotel — Photo courtesy of Steve Harris
Not far from the hotel, you'll find the ferry docks that will take you to the Toronto Islands. From spring to fall, North America's largest car-free community draws anyone looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Even though it's just a 10-minute boat ride from the heart of downtown Toronto, the Islands feel like a different world. Here's you can enjoy parklands, gardens and beaches. Perfect for a long bike ride, a peaceful walk or just to soak up some sun and nature.
Did you know Toronto is one of the world's most multicultural cities? that diversity is reflected in the city's tremendous restaurant scene, where virtually every culture's cuisine is represented by a great place to dine. For a taste of where the city's booming dining scene started, consider booking a table at Scaramouche. This mid-town restaurant is home to a high-end kitchen, where classic French cuisine is paired with global influences in dishes such as yellow fin tuna sashimi, roasted rack of lamb served with artichokes and rapini, and partridge paired with foie gras. It's expensive, but the kitchen has been a launching pad for many of Toronto's top chefs for more than 30 years.
Sports fans should definitely catch a hockey game while in town. The NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs have been thrilling fans since the league started in 1917, and Torontonians are tireless supporters of their team. The Leafs sell out all their home games each season, so make sure you buy tickets well in advance of any planned visit to Toronto.
Massey Hall is great for live music. — Photo courtesy of fw_gadget
And for first-time visitors to Toronto who think live music is the ideal way to while away an evening, the city holds a ton of surprises. The world's biggest bands put Toronto on their world tour itineraries, and many play at Massey Hall. One of the city's oldest music venues (it's been operating since 1894) is also renowned for its sightlines and acoustics. From low-key pop stars like Sarah McLachlan to rockers like Neil Young, the venue is the perfect space for any kind of music.