Toronto, the capital of Ontario, is the largest city in Canada and also one of the most diverse. It’s home to a dynamic mix of tourist attractions, from museums and galleries to the world famous CN Tower and, just offshore, Toronto Islands. And just a short drive away is Niagara Falls.
Visitors will find no shortage of things to do, from the vibrant Entertainment District, featuring the latest musicals and fine dining, to the historic Distillery District, home to unique shops and restaurants with al fresco dining, all set in incredibly restored buildings.
The city center is relatively easy to navigate, with many of the top attractions within walking distance of each other and a subway system to cover longer distances. If you are visiting Toronto in winter, head indoors to explore the extensive network of underground walkways that connect shopping, entertainment, and attractions. In summer, wander along the beautiful waterfront and enjoy the beaches and parks.
For a complete look at how to spend your time, see our list of top tourist attractions in Toronto.
- CN Tower
Toronto’s famous landmark, the 553-meter CN Tower, is one of the city’s must see attractions and also the most impossible to miss. Towering above the downtown, this Canadian icon can be seen from almost everywhere in the city. You have the option of simply appreciating the building from the ground, or taking a trip up to one of the observation areas or restaurants for fabulous views over the city and Lake Ontario. The CN Tower, built between 1972 and 1976, was once the tallest freestanding structure in the world, but has long since been surpassed.
The highest viewing area on the CN Tower is from the Sky Pod at 447 meters above the city, with views that, on clear days, extend to Niagara Falls and New York State. To get here requires taking two elevators. Below this, at the top of the main elevator is the LookOut level at 346 meters, with floor-to-ceiling windows and the new Glass Floor, which looks down to the original Glass Floor, one floor below, where the Outdoor Sky Terrace is located. As the name suggests, the Glass Floor offers a bird’s-eye view directly down over the city.
For those looking for a little more adventure, or perhaps a lot more adventure, there is the “Edge Walk.” This involves a hands-free walk on a 1.5-meter-wide ledge around the outside edge of the main pod, at an elevation of 365 meters. Participants are attached to a safety harness and rope.
Located at 351 meters is the revolving 360 Restaurant, featuring fine dining and some of the best views from a table anywhere in Toronto. 360 is open for lunch and dinner, and visitors who dine here also receive complimentary access to the LookOut and Glass Floor levels of the tower.
Basing yourself in the city center, preferably near the CN Tower, is the best option for exploring Toronto. For accommodation ideas in this area see our recommended luxury, mid-range, and budget hotels in Toronto.
Address: 301 Front Street West, Toronto, Ontario
Official Site: https://www.cntower.ca/intro.html
- Royal Ontario Museum
The Royal Ontario Museum, known as the ROM, is one of Canada’s premier museums, with an international reputation for excellence. It houses an outstanding collection, which covers natural history, art, and culture from a great variety of periods from all over the world. It is also well-known for featuring exhibitions from across the globe.
A controversial expansion in 2007 saw the addition of the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, a modern wing featuring glass and sharp angles, added on to a very traditional older building. It’s now one of Toronto’s most recognizable buildings.
Address: 100 Queen’s Park, Toronto
Official site: https://www.rom.on.ca/en
- Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
One of Toronto’s newest top attractions is the Ripley’s Aquarium near the base of the CN Tower. This fabulous facility displays all kinds of marine life and is one of the most popular things to do in Toronto for families.
The most impressive feature is the huge underwater tunnel with a moving sidewalk. You can watch the ocean world go by all around you as sharks glide past and sawfish linger on the tunnel roof above. This is a truly serene experience for all ages.
Another unexpected highlight is the jellyfish display, accented with creative lighting. Further on, touch tanks with stingrays and small sharks allow for a hands-on experience. And for the engineering minded, the building’s open concept also allows for a look at the Life Support System and filtration equipment operating the facility.
Address: 288 Bremner Boulevard, Toronto
Official site: https://www.ripleyaquariums.com/canada/
- Rogers Centre
Immediately adjacent to the CN Tower is Rogers Centre, a massive domed sports arena and home to the Toronto Blue Jays (MLB). The unique design includes a retractable roof, which slides back, allowing it to be opened in favorable weather. This mega-structure was completed in 1989 and can accommodate tens of thousands of spectators and is also used as a venue for other major events, including concerts. The center also offers one-hour guided tours with a behind-the-scenes look at the facility.
Attached to Rogers Centre is the Toronto Marriott City Centre Hotel, with rooms that look out over the field. If you are in town to see a game, staying here is an extremely convenient option and a bit of a unique experience.
Address: 1 Blue Jays Way, Toronto
Official site: https://www.mlb.com/bluejays/ballpark
- Art Gallery of Ontario
The renowned Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) is one of the largest museums in North America. The collection of more than 95,000 pieces includes works from around the world, from European masterpieces to contemporary art, but also holds an impressive collection of Canadian Art, including a vast collection of works by the Group of Seven. A series of temporary exhibitions are mounted throughout the year.
The AGO occupies a unique looking building, with a mix of older and modern architecture, on the west side of the city center. Next to the AGO is the hard to miss Ontario College of Art and Design, standing high above the street on stilts designed to look like pencils.
Address: 317 Dundas Street West, Toronto
Official site: http://www.ago.net/