10 Toronto Travel Tips You Should Know To Have The Perfect Trip
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Amanda Lawrence
Amanda was born in Northern Ontario and began her travel blogging journey after moving to Ireland in 2016. She likes to write blogs that help others have one-of-a-kind traveling experiences
13th Jul | 6 min read

Table of Contents

    Why Should You Visit Toronto?

    Toronto is a city full of hustle and hard work. It has a pretty tough and cold exterior, but if you dig just a little, you will strike a heart of gold. The city is full of unique artists, music, and a culinary scene that will blow your mind. Toronto is Canada's most multicultural city, and that element is present in every aspect of the city, from the people to the events and even the architecture!

    I moved to Toronto over 10 years ago and have had the pleasure of rediscovering this everchanging city every time I visit.

    These 10 helpful tips will help you enjoy your visit to Toronto and explore like a local! 

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    1. Getting Around Toronto Safely

    Toronto is a vast city, but despite its size, it is relatively easy to get around! The easiest way is by walking or the TTC (public transit). A huge network of buses, street cars, and subway trains move Torontonians around the city daily, and it's easier than ever!

    Head to a subway station, purchase a PRESTO card, load it with money, and tap into the TTC. You can also buy a card from Pearson International airport. Toronto's downtown core is very walkable, so get your daily steps in. Depending on the time of day, it might be worth walking to your destination rather than taking the TTC.

    Read more: 10 Best Day Trips From Toronto

    2. Beware The traffic 

    Toronto is notorious for having bad traffic jams, especially at peak times (8 am-10 am and 4 pm-7 pm). If you are driving in Toronto, there are some strange intersections, and the traffic pattern can be confusing. Remember the road signs as you drive, and take it slow!

    A particularly bad area is Harbourfront, where cars have been known to accidentally drive into the subway tunnel. If you keep your wits about you, everything should be alright! 

    3. Hidden Costs (Tax, Tip Expectations)

    Things aren't always as they seem when shopping in Canada. A harmonized sales tax of 13% is added to goods and services at the register, not on the ticket price. Don't be too surprised if your purchases don't always add up when you go to check out! 

    When dining in Toronto, it is common to tip your server 15-20% of your bill. Any less is often frowned upon unless you were given terrible service. This applies to restaurants, bars, cabs, Ubers, and Lyfts. Tipping at cafes (usually 10-15%) is optional but generally welcomed!

    4. Dress For The Weather

    Toronto experiences pretty hot summers and frigid winters! You might need a winter parka and boots or a light jacket depending on when you go. Here is a quick rundown of Toronto's weather. 

    November-April: Toronto experiences the height of winter during these months. In the shoulder months (November and April), you might not always need a heavy parka, but you will need a warm jacket! Temperatures range from 10°C to -30°C.

    April-May: Toronto has a quick spring! The weather changes from cold to warm in a matter of weeks. During these months you can bring a warm jacket and something lighter just in case. Temperatures range from 5°C to 23°C.

    June-August: Toronto summers are pretty hot, so bring sunscreen and sandals and leave the jackets behind. Temperatures range from 20°C to 32°C

    September-October: Fall is pretty quick in Toronto; as the leaves start to change, so does the weather. Definitely bring a light jacket and warmer shoes! Temperatures range from 0°C to 22°C.

    5. Chat With The Locals

    Torontonians have a horrible reputation for being rude, which I think is flat-out untrue. Although people zipping to work in the Financial District may not give you the time of day, plenty of people wouldn't mind a chat. You can find and hang out with locals in some of their favorite spots, like Kensington Market, Trinity Bellwoods Park, Riverdale Park, Cherry Beach, or Woodbine Beach.

    Don't be afraid to strike up a conversation and ask for their favorite coffee shop. You might just find your favorite too!

    Meet locals in Toronto

    6. Be Polite

    The Canadian stereotype of politeness is also true in Toronto! If you bump into someone, a quick "sorry" will solve your troubles, and remember to say "please" and "thank you" to your server or cashier. 

    7. Purchase Tickets In Advance

    Toronto has some amazing sports and concert venues in addition to world-renowned art galleries and museums! If you are planning on visiting any of these (especially during peak summer months), it's best to buy your tickets in advance.

    Toronto is also well known for having some events and street festivals (usually free) throughout the year, so remember to search for what's happening before you come! Some popular ones are:

    • Salsa on St Clair

    • Taste of Danforth

    • Nuit Blanche

    • Big on Bloor

    • Taste of Asia

    • Ozzfest

    • Carnival

    • Roncesvalles Polish Festival

    8. Don't Just Visit The Tourist Spots

    As tempting as it is to go up the CN Tower or visit Toronto Island (which you should do), don't forget to include some awesome hidden gems (like this secret beach on the east side). The city is made up of small neighborhoods, each with its own vibe. It can be a treat to walk around and discover them! Here are some of my favorites:

    • Greek Town - full of greek restaurants and niche shops 

    • Kensington Market - a vintage shopper's paradise

    • Fashion District/West Queen West - like Queen West but cooler. Lots of 

    • Cabbage Town - one of Toronto's historic districts with shops, restaurants, and beautiful heritage homes

    • The Annex - where all the university students come to hang out.

    • Koreatown - home to the poop cafe and the best Korean food in the city

    • Lower Ossington - lots of underground bars and speakeasies

    9. Keep An Open Mind

    Toronto is number one when it comes to multiculturalism in Canada, and with that comes a wide range of culinary options.

    If you are going to expand your palette, this would be the perfect opportunity. Of course, Toronto has plenty of upscale restaurants and delicious dishes, but the real food scene is in the mom-and-pop Caribbean roti shops and Turkish meze restaurants.

    It's worth doing your research and trying something out of the box. For the most authentic food, head to Scarborough!

    10. Don't Be Afraid To Leave Downtown

    Downtown Toronto does have some fantastic sights to see and plenty to keep you busy. Still, there are lots of other areas in Toronto that can be fun to explore too! Here are some of my favorite neighborhoods outside "the core."

    • The Beaches - a family-friendly neighborhood with some of Toronto's nicest beaches.

    • Scarborough - once upon a time, Scarborough was its own city! Some of the most authentic (and cheap) food can be found here!

    • Yorkdale/Glen Park - home to one of Toronto's most exciting and upscale shopping malls, Yorkdale mall. There are some neat outlet stores down the nearby Orfus road as well!

    • The Junction - Hipsters paradise!

    • Humber Bay Shores - this up-and-coming neighborhood is a beautiful place to walk around on a sunny day.

    • Roncesvalles/ Parkdale - Tons of great food options and unique stores! 

    Follow these handy tips and you should have a wonderful experience visiting Toronto, Canada!

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