Toronto is the most populous city in Canada and the provincial capital of Ontario. It is located on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. Toronto, with a population of 2.6 million, is at the heart of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) which contains 6.2 million people. The city is the anchor of the Golden Horseshoe region, which wraps around Lake Ontario from Toronto to Niagara Falls and totals over 8.5 million residents, approximately a quarter of Canada's entire population. Toronto is the fourth largest city and fifth largest urban agglomeration in North America. Toronto is sometimes referred to as The New York City of Canada. Because of the general feel of the city resembles that of New York City and Toronto has been a popular destination for immigrants.
Spawned out of post-glacial alluvial deposits and bluffs, the area was populated at different times by Iroquois and later Wyandot (Huron) peoples. The settlement by Europeans started with the French building a seldom occupied fort near today's Exhibition grounds in the mid-1700s, then grew out of a backwoods English trading post established as York in 1793 (reverting to the current name Toronto in 1834). Later in the 19th century, it grew to become the cultural and economic focus of Canada. Owing largely to the country's liberal immigration policies starting in the 1960s, and the region's strong economy, Toronto has, in recent decades, been transformed into one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse cities in the world. More than 80 ethnic communities are represented, and over half of the city's residents were born outside Canada.
When Metropolitan Toronto amalgamated its six internal cities into one in 1998, it created a new "mega-city" known simply as Toronto, now made up of varied and unique neighbourhoods. Covering more than 600 square kilometres, Toronto stretches some 32 kilometres along the shores of Lake Ontario, and includes a dense, urban core surrounded by an inner ring of older suburbs followed by an outer ring of post-war suburbs. The city is laid out on a very straightforward grid pattern and streets rarely deviate from the grid, except in cases where topography interferes such as the indented, curved Don River Valley and to a lesser degree the Humber and Rouge valleys at opposite ends of the city. Some main thoroughfares do intersect the grid at angles. The six Toronto districts are:
Etobicoke Etobicoke is largely composed of industrial factories and suburban homes. The area is home to Sherway Gardens, Woodbine Racetrack, and St George's Golf Course.
York York is formerly a separate city, the second smallest of the six former municipalities, yet it is one of the most ethnically diverse.
East York East York was formerly a semi-autonomous borough within the overall municipality of Metropolitan Toronto. One of East York's claims to fame was that, before the amalgamation, it was Canada's only borough.
North York North York is home to Parc Downsview Park, Canada's first national urban park, Downsview Airport and the North York Performing Arts Centre.
Scarborough Scarborough has characteristics of a suburb of old Toronto, but retains much of its own character and flavour. Because of the topography of the Bluffs, the Rouge Valley, and other creeks and minor tributaries, Scarborough is said to be the greenest and leafiest part of Toronto.
In 1998, the cities of Toronto, Scarborough, North York, Etobicoke, and York and the Borough of East York amalgamated to form the current City of Toronto. This is also known as Metropolitan Toronto or "the 416" after its area code (although now there are some new area codes, the majority of landline phone numbers in the Toronto area are still "416"). The city has a population of over 2.6 million people, of which more than half were born outside Canada: a fact immediately obvious to any visitor, as the city has many vibrant bustling neighbourhoods with street signs in several languages.
Toronto and its surrounding suburbs are collectively known as the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Outlying suburbs are also known as "the 905" after their area code, although technically this code is also used in both Hamilton and the Niagara Region, stretching to the border within Niagara Falls. The entire area including Toronto is known as the "Golden Horseshoe" and has a population of over 8 million people. Distances between cities in the area can be great as it sprawls along, outward and even wraps around the western end of Lake Ontario. Public transit is not always effective enough for a quick or seamless trip and many suburban residents rely on motor vehicles to get around.
A popular urban myth has it that the United Nations rated Toronto as "the most multicultural city in the world." While the UN and its agencies are not in the habit of rating cities, it remains a fact that Canada is a nation of immigrants, and Toronto demonstrates this abundantly. A UN agency lists Toronto as second only to Miami as the city with the most foreign-born residents, but Toronto's residents represent far more cultural and language groups, which is arguably a better measure of multi-culturalism. Most immigrants either pass through Toronto on their way to other parts of the country or stay in Toronto permanently. Many people born abroad consider themselves, and are considered, to be as Canadian as native born Canadians, and asserting or behaving as though otherwise is considered offensive, especially so in Toronto. This contributes to the overall cultural mosaic that is Toronto today. Within Toronto, most ethnic groups will work their way into the fabric of Canadian society but some still retain their distinct ways such as language, dress (if only for special occasions), custom, and food.
As a result of this cultural mosaic, Toronto is home to many ethnic festivals throughout the year. Toronto also boasts several radio stations that broadcast in various languages and at least two multicultural television channels. The City of Toronto officially deals in 16 different languages, while the public transit agency Toronto Transit Commission offers a help line in 70 languages. Even large department stores such as The Bay in downtown Toronto proudly advertise service in nine languages. The lingua franca of Toronto, however, remains English.
Toronto's climate on the whole is on the cool side and variable conditions can be expected. Downtown temperatures average -3.8°C (25°F) in January, but the extreme cold experienced further north typically lasts less than a week at a time. Despite this, come prepared. Winters are still cold and mostly cloudy, at some times snowy and uncomfortably windy and at other times, damp. At times, severe storms can impact flights into and out of the city, as well as slow down transportation and activities in the city for a day or two.
The city experiences warm and humid summers with an average high of 27°C (80°F) and a low of 18°C (65°F) in July/August, with many muggy evenings, but rarely extreme heat. The historical annual average of the temperature exceeding 30°C (86°F) is 12 days, but this number has roughly doubled over the last decade. The sun shines more often than not in the summer, but brief thunderstorms occur from time to time, usually lasting less than an hour and bringing heavy rains.
The best times to visit for the weather are late spring/early summer or early fall, with comfortably cool nights and less crowds. Mid-summer is the peak tourist season, but visitors will find that Toronto's vibrancy extends throughout the winter with outdoor ice rinks and bundled up clubgoers. Air conditioning and heating are standard in Toronto's public buildings.
Toronto Argonauts - Canadian Football League, play at Rogers Centre.
Toronto Blue Jays - Major League Baseball, play at Rogers Centre.
Toronto Maple Leafs - National Hockey League, play at the Air Canada Centre.
Toronto Raptors - National Basketball Association, play at the Air Canada Centre.
Toronto Rock - National Lacrosse League, play at the Air Canada Centre.
Toronto FC - Major League Soccer, play at BMO Field on Exhibition Place grounds.
Toronto Marlies - American Hockey League (Toronto Maple Leafs farm team). Play at the Ricoh Coliseum.
Ontario Blues - Canadian Rugby Championship. Play at Fletcher's Fields.
The Air Canada Centre, 40 Bay St, . Sometimes referred to as "The Hangar".
The Rogers Centre, 1 Blue Jays Way, ). Often referred to by its original "SkyDome" name.
The Buffalo Bills, . The National Football League are under contract to play one regular-season (home) game at the Rogers Centre through to the 2017 season. The contract also calls for one preseason home game in even-numbered years.
Toronto Pearson International Airport (IATA: YYZ)  is about 30-50 driving minutes by car from the downtown core (depending on traffic) and is serviced by most major international carriers. There are two terminals: Terminal 1 hosts all Air Canada flights and a few other international (mostly Star Alliance) carriers while Terminal 3 hosts all other airlines. When traveling from Toronto Pearson (and other major Canadian airports) to the United States, travelers will go through United States immigration and customs preclearance in Toronto, and should leave some extra time to account for this. Toronto Pearson has free WiFi internet access.
There is no direct passenger rail link from the airport ( under construction estimated completion date: early 2015) , but other options do exist for getting downtown from Pearson:
TTC (Toronto Transit Commission), , provides public bus services that run to and from Pearson. The best TTC option is the 192 Airport Rocket that runs every 9-20 minutes between Kipling Station on the Bloor-Danforth subway line (marked green on maps) and Pearson Airport. This will take around 20-25 minutes. Kipling Station is the westernmost subway stop on the Bloor-Danforth line and it takes about 20 minutes to reach the boundry of downtown. One way adult fare on the TTC is $3.00 (or $2.60 if tokens are purchased in multiples of 4 or 7 from an agent or a machine) which includes free transfers to other TTC buses, streetcars, LRT, SRT or the subway. This is valid for 1 trip with no stopovers. Tickets can be purchased from the Bureau de Change in Arrivals. When the subways stop running at around 1:30 AM, the 300A Bloor-Danforth night bus provides service along the subway line and goes directly to the airport.
GO Transit, , provides express buses to locations outside of Toronto's downtown. It operates from the airport to Yorkdale and York Mills subway stations in North York every 30-60 minutes for $4.05. This takes about 35-45 minutes, followed by another 20 minutes on the subway to get downtown (one must pay a separate fare to board the subway; $3.00). GO Transit offers service to/from the airport to Richmond Hill Centre (Yonge & Highway 7). This bus service runs every 60 minutes from about 5AM-1AM daily. The GO Bus Transit service between Square One and the airport no longer operates.
Mississauga Transit Route 107 provides express service between Square One and the airport's LINK train station on Viscount Road on peak time hours. Route 7 provides all day service to Square one bus terminal and Mississauga city center between 5:30- 1:00 am in 20-30 mins frequency.
Pacific Western Airport Express, , operates a quick, convenient, and frequent bus service (every 20 minutes during peak periods and every 30 minutes on the off-peak). It picks up passengers at both terminals, and stops at several major hotels in the downtown core, as well as Union Station and the inter-city bus terminal at Bay and Dundas. As of March 2011, fares are $23.95 one way, $39.95 for round trips. There is a 5% discount for online reservations.
Pre-Arranged Limousine Service, by YYZ Limo at 416-857-9595, Toll-free 1-877-292-9822, offers a pre-arrange Limo Service, where you can reserve a limo in advance. By scheduling a pre-arrange limo service you can avoid long lines at the taxi and limo stands during peak periods and server weather condition. A pre-arranged trip gives you a piece of mind and assurance that there will be someone waiting for you at the airport when you land. Cost for trip from the YYZ to downtown Toronto is $71.50 for Sedan and $101.70 for SUV. Pre-arrange loading spots are post 29 for terminal 3, and Door B for Terminal 1.
Taxis run a flat rate of $47, while airport limousines go slightly higher at $50. Limousines are generally slightly larger (though not stretched) and more comfortable vehicles than taxis. Government approved rates can be found online .
Billy Bishop Toronto City Center Airport, (IATA: YTZ), , (commonly known as "The Island Airport" by locals), handles short-haul regional flights only. Its main tenant is Porter Airlines , a low-cost carrier that operates flights using turboprop planes to many cities in eastern Canada (Halifax, Moncton, Mont Tremblant, Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec City, Sault Ste. Marie, St. John's, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Timmins, Windsor) and the northeast United States (Boston, Burlington, Chicago, Myrtle Beach, New York/Newark, Washington/Dulles). Air Canada  provides service to Montreal. One of the main benefits of flying into this airport is its proximity to the downtown core. Upon landing, you can be downtown within ten minutes.
A free ferry service makes the short crossing. It is just 121 m (397 ft) and the world's shortest regularly-scheduled ferry route. It operates between TCCA and the mainland every 15 minutes, 6:45AM-10:07PM. Don't worry, you don't have to buy tickets or anything, you just look for the line (there are separate pedestrian and car lines) and board when directed to do so. If you are renting a vehicle at YTZ, National and Avis are on the mainland, while Hertz is actually on the island meaning you will get to experience driving on and off the ferry. Once on the mainland, a free shuttle bus connects the terminal with the Fairmont Royal York Hotel, across the street from Union Station.
TTC Streetcars are available a short walk north from the mainland ferry terminal. Route 511 Bathurst provides service north along Bathurst, to Bathurst subway station. Route 509 Harbourfront travels east along the waterfront (Queen's Quay) to Union Station. Both routes end a short distance to the west at Exhibition Place. However, the most convenient connection to TTC Subway and GO Transit services are via the free shuttle to Union Station.
Hamilton International Airport, (IATA: YHM), , located about 80 km from downtown Toronto and Niagara Falls, is served by WestJet and CanJet. This airport is served by the ((Hamilton Street Railway)) from the the Hamilton GO Station (36 Hunter Street East) where you can catch a GO commuter bus to Union Station in downtown Toronto ($9.50 one-way). Buses run every 30 minutes. A taxi from downtown Hamilton to the airport is about $25.
For frugal travellers coming from the United States, Buffalo-Niagara International Airport, (IATA: BUF), , is another option. Flights to Buffalo tend to be significantly cheaper than to Pearson. Megabus, , has varying prices and requires early booking. They run from the Buffalo Airport to Toronto. The trip takes 3 hours, including the border crossing. Rental cars are available at the airport if you prefer to do the drive yourself. Buffalo Airport Limo  offers a flat rate of $175 to downtown Toronto from BUF.
The main bus terminal in Toronto, the Toronto Coach Terminal (also known as Bay Street Terminal or the Metro Toronto Coach Terminal), is used for intercity coach travel and is served by Greyhound, Coach Canada, New York Trailways, and Ontario Northland.
The bus terminal's main entrance is on Bay Street immediately north of Dundas and the terminal's departures building takes up the northern half of the block bounded by Bay Street, Dundas Street, Edward Street, and Elizabeth Street; the arrivals building is located immediately across Elizabeth Street from the departures building. The departures building is connected by the underground PATH walkway system to Dundas subway station on the Yonge line via the Atrium on Bay shopping centre. The terminal is also several blocks east of St Patrick subway station on the University-Spadina line. Unlike Union Station, the bus terminal has lockers in which people may store luggage. The cost is $5 for 24 hours and you must get a token from one of the token machines located next to the lockers. The lockers are located in the hallway connecting the departures building with the arrivals building. Storing items in lockers overnight is not advisable as break-ins are common at night. Certain items too large to fit in a locker may be stored in the information booth at an extra cost.
The bus terminal in Toronto is very poorly designed, forcing passengers to queue in a space that is little more than a shed with walls on two sides, as a result passengers queueing are forced to inhale the diesel exhaust fumes from the coaches as well as endure the cold winters and hot summers. In addition, there are often queues so long for the commuter coaches that they block other coaches from reaching their platforms. Platforms are also poorly marked, and it is not difficult to queue up for the wrong bus. Do not hesitate to ask anyone for help. Most people in the terminal have plenty of experience with it and understand how difficult it is to navigate. Arrive at the terminal at least 30 minutes before your coach is scheduled to depart. You can avoid the hassle of having to purchase tickets at the terminal; it is generally faster to buy tickets online if possible. If you must purchase tickets at the terminal, be wary of peak travel periods, as the line can take up to 20 minutes. But be aware that Greyhound tickets purchased at the terminal can be used at any time (although they may have blackout periods) while tickets purchased online force you to reserve on a certain bus.
Coach Canada buses to Montreal and Greyhound buses to Peterborough and Ottawa also stop at the Scarborough Centre bus station to the east of central Toronto, this station lies on the Scarborough RT mass transit line. Greyhound buses to Kitchener, Guelph, St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, Buffalo, and New York and Coach Canada buses to Buffalo and New York also stop near Union Station, either in front of the York Street entrance to the Royal York Hotel or on University Avenue north of Wellington Street.
Two new, heavily-discounted services between Toronto and New York City now operate from the sidewalk in front of the Royal York Hotel, across the street from Union Station. Both advertise electrical connections at each seat, wi-fi, movies, and more legroom than traditional buses. If purchased far enough in advance, tickets can be found for $1 although in reality, most seats range from $15 to $50.
Megabus, , provides service from New York City, Buffalo, Buffalo-Niagara Airport, Philadelphia, Syracuse and Rochester to the sidewalk in front of the Royal York Hotel. Megabus runs two buses a day from the Royal York, as well as two buses a day from the bus terminal, buses from the bus terminal run to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York, while buses from the Royal York run to Penn Station in New York. Megabus also provides service twice daily from Washington, D.C.
Ne-On, , is a service operated jointly by Greyhound USA and New York Trailways that runs two buses a day from the Royal York Hotel to the New Yorker Hotel in New York.
GO Transit, , runs the commuter transit network in the Greater Toronto Area. Their bus services are designed to supplement their commuter trains, most of which run only during rush hour. When the trains are not running, GO runs buses on the same route. Most GO buses run to the Union Station Bus Terminal, adjacent to Union Railway Station. GO Transit also operates services to bus stations at several subway stations, including: Yorkdale Mall, Finch, York Mills and Scarborough Centre.
All scheduled passenger trains in Toronto run into and out of Union Station, which is located at 65 Front Street, between Bay and York Streets. Opened in 1927, Toronto's Union Station is generally considered to be one of the grandest, most impressive train stations in North America; with an enormous great hall, the ceiling rising to a height equivalent to seven stories. Despite this impressive hall, most of the activity in the station takes place in the underground concourses which link the commuter rail platforms with the subway station. The great hall is still used for purchasing intercity rail tickets with a row of ticket booths and several ticket machines. The train station is served by a subway station with the same name, accessible from the GO concourse. The main intercity concourse is accessed from the great hall, but all commuter rail platforms are accessed from the underground GO Transit concourse, as is the Union Station Bus Terminal across the street. The GO Transit concourse is accessed by taking any one of the three large staircases in the great hall or directly from the subway.
Most intercity rail travel in Canada is provided by VIA Rail, . Union Station is one of VIA Rail's main hubs and connects several of their lines. Railway lines operated by VIA Rail out of Union Station include:
Corridor—This is VIA's busiest line running from Windsor and Sarnia in the southwest to Quebec City in the northeast. Regular trains run from Toronto directly to Montreal, Ottawa, London, Kingston, Windsor, and Sarnia as well as stations in between. The lines between Montreal and Toronto and Ottawa and Toronto are VIA's busiest and most frequent, they also have the largest discounts if booked well in advance. There are two classes of service, business and economy. Business class includes meals and alcoholic beverages.
Maple Leaf—This service is run jointly by VIA and U.S. passenger rail company, Amtrak, . Trains on this line run between Toronto and New York City once a day in each direction stopping at Albany and Buffalo as well as many smaller stations. Trains between Toronto and New York are extremely slow and very expensive, the coach services listed above generally take several hours less and cost several times less than the train. There are also more frequent trains that run on this line from Toronto to Niagara Falls.
The Canadian—Trains on this line run the transcontinental route from Toronto to Vancouver three times a week each way, stopping at a large number of smaller stations on the way. Cities that this train passes through include: Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Jasper and Kamloops. The full journey takes about three days. This is one of the most expensive rail journeys in North America and is many times more expensive than flying. However, Via rail runs 'express deals' 2-3 weeks before travel that can reduce the price on this route by 75 percent. The trains contain both sleeper berths and cabins, as well as reclining economy seating. Three meals per day are cooked in the train's dining car. These are included in sleeper fares and are available for purchase for economy passengers.
Ontario Northland (discontinued as of Sept 2012)—. A Government subsidized passenger rail service into the scarcely populated north of Ontario. They run trains on a single line from Toronto to Cochrane, Ontario six times a week. Most of this line is single track and owned by freight companies, as a result, whenever a freight train passes, the passenger train must move onto a siding and wait for the other train to pass, therefore Ontario Northland trains are generally 1.5-2.5 hours behind schedule at either end of their route.
Commuter train—Services in the Greater Toronto Area are operated exclusively by GO Transit, who run all of their trains from Union Station. Their trains serve mainly the sprawling suburbs around the city and most of the train lines run only during rush hour; at other times of the day, they are replaced by bus services. Most of these buses originate from Union Station Bus Terminal across Bay Street from the railway station; there is an overhead walkway from the GO Train concourse to the bus terminal.
Major highways leading into Toronto are the QEW, the 404, the 401, the 400, and the 427. Toronto is in the enviable position of being the largest city in Canada, so it's relatively easy to find a sign pointing you in the right direction. Be advised that traffic on incoming highways can be extremely heavy. In the downtown core there are many turn restrictions, particularly from main thoroughfares to other main thoroughfares (e.g. Yonge to Dundas Streets).
The main streets in Toronto are laid out in a grid pattern that makes it one of the easiest cities to get around in by car. Getting from point to point anywhere in the city can be achieved with only a few turns. Parking in the downtown core can be expensive and hard to find, but is plentiful and inexpensive or free throughout the rest of the city.
Toronto follows some bylaws related to the transit system that often confuse or surprise visiting drivers:
If a bus is signalling intent to merge into traffic from a stop, you must yield to the bus.
If a streetcar in front of you and travelling in your direction has its doors open, you cannot pass the open doors.
However, if a traffic island (it'll look like a raised median with a transit shelter on top) separates the streetcar from your lane, you may pass with caution.
Occasionally the rightmost travel lane on certain streets (most notably on Bay Street between Front and Bloor Sts.) is reserved from 7AM-7PM for transit vehicles, taxis and bicycles only; you can enter these lanes only to make a right turn at the next cross street. If you do decide to travel as through-traffic in these lanes, you may be liable to a fine (an often hefty one).
Additionally, drivers are advised that Torontonians generally take their obligation to give a wide berth to emergency vehicles quite seriously: if you hear sirens or see lights, pull over to the side of the road safely but quickly.
Toronto is huge, and most roads run for very long distances. Streetcar rail, subway rail, and intercity rail services are clean and efficient but overcrowded, and it's entirely possible to get around Toronto without a car, especially downtown. You may find it quicker and easier to drive, but be aware that traffic congestion is severe at almost any time of day, especially during rush hour. Toronto has plentiful parking garages downtown, most of which can be identified by the prominent green P signs, but they are very expensive, particularly on weekdays.
Toronto has a very large transit system, the third most heavily used in North America (after New York City and Mexico City). It consists of buses, streetcars, subway lines, and the quasi-subway Scarborough Rapid Transit line. Buses and streetcars are prone to get caught in Toronto's notorious traffic during rush-hours, though some streetcar lines have dedicated lanes.
Toronto's long streetcar lines, coupled with more than a decade of service cuts, have resulted in chronic "bunching", where one might wait for thirty minutes at a stop, and then 4 streetcars will arrive bunched together. In contrast to this, the subway system is quite fast and efficient; the subway lines extend well into the suburbs and have spurred a great deal of high-density, high-rise development in far-flung neighbourhoods that would not otherwise have had any large-scale development. A prime example of this is the neighbourhood of North York, filled with high-rise development right on top of three subway stations. As a result, the subway is the easiest, fastest and most efficient way to get around the city.
Cash fare is $3.00 (discounted to $2.70 if you buy several tokens at a time, minimum purchase is 3). Be aware that some token vending machines are out of service, but do not have signs on them to indicate that. It is therefore safer to use manned ticket booths whenever possible.
A day pass is available for $11.00. This pass allows unlimited travel on all TTC services within the City of Toronto, except for Downtown Express buses. For one person, it allows unlimited one-day travel on any day of the week, from the mid-morning (9:30 a.m.) until 5:30 a.m. the next morning. On Saturday and Sunday, and statutory holidays, up to 6 people (maximum 2 adults over 19) can travel with one TTC Day Pass, from the start of daytime service until 5:30 a.m. the next morning. The day pass does not have to be purchased on the day of use.
A weekly pass costs $39.25. It allows unlimited travel from 5:30 a.m. Monday morning, to 5:30 a.m. the following Monday. The weekly pass is transferable, meaning it can be used by more than one person but only one person may be travelling under that pass at any given time.
A monthly pass, termed the Metropass, costs $133.75. This pass is also transferable, with no pass-backs.
Tokens as well as daily and weekly passes are available at subway stations, variety stores and newsstands throughout the city. Most businesses that sell passes and tokens have a TTC sticker on their front door.
There are three subway lines and one Rapid Transit (RT) line:
The Bloor-Danforth line runs east-west along Bloor Street and Danforth Avenue. It meets the Yonge-University line at Bloor-Yonge, St. George, and Spadina stations, and meets the Scarborough RT line at Kennedy station. This line runs through a large number of neighbourhoods, Kennedy Station is on Eglinton in working-class Scarborough and is surrounded by large apartment blocks, it is a major transit hub for TTC buses in Scarborough and also connects with GO Transit commuter trains. The line leaves Scarborough after Warden station and the next nine stations serve a number of densely packed, ethnic neighbourhoods along the Danforth. After Broadview Station, the line crosses the Don River and the following station, Castle Frank, serves the extremely exclusive neighbourhood of Rosedale. After this, the line crosses the Rosedale ravine and enters Downtown Toronto, the next four stations serve the expensive shopping district of Bloor-Yorkville. Following this, the line serves many small ethnic neighbourhoods centred around Bloor Street. Lansdowne and Dundas West stations serve working class neighbourhoods and Dundas West connects with GO Transit commuter trains. The next two stations serve High Park, a large park on the west side of the city and Runnymede and Jane stations serve the pleasant and relatively affluent neighbourhood of Bloor West Village. The next three stations serve the mostly middle class suburb of Etobicoke.
The Yonge-University-Spadina line runs in a U formation, travelling north-south along Yonge Street, bending at Union Station, then travelling north-south along University Avenue, Spadina Avenue, and Allen Road. It meets the Sheppard line at Sheppard-Yonge station and the Bloor-Danforth line at Bloor-Yonge, St. George, and Spadina stations.
The Sheppard line runs in an east-west direction along Sheppard Avenue. It meets the Yonge line at Sheppard-Yonge station and terminates at Don Mills Station in the east.
The Scarborough RT runs from the eastern end of the Bloor-Danforth line at Kennedy Station, through central Scarborough to McCowan Station. As its name suggests, this line serves the mainly working-class suburb of Scarborough. This line's main draw for visitors is that it serves Scarborough Town Centre, one of the city's enormous regional shopping centres, at its Scarborough Centre station; this station is also a major regional transit hub and is served by a large number of TTC buses, several GO Transit commuter buses, and is a stop on Greyhound coach routes to Peterborough, Ottawa, and Coach Canada routes to Montreal and Kingston.
Other TTC services are provided by buses, streetcars, the Scarborough RT line, and Wheel-Trans vans (for people with disabilities). There are also a number of Downtown Express buses that run during rush hour, for which additional fare must be paid.
Toronto is one of the very few cities in North America (and the only city in Canada) to retain its streetcars.
501 runs along Queen Street for most of its route, from the eastern end of the Beaches neighbourhood, through Leslieville, the Financial District, the Queen West shopping district, Parkdale, then along the Queensway and Lake Shore Blvd through Long Branch in Etobicoke to the Long Branch GO Train station.
502 and 503 run from Kingston Road in the Beaches to the Financial District. 502 runs along Queen Street through downtown and 503 (rush hour only) runs along King Street.
504 and 508 run along King Street. 504 runs from Broadview subway station on the Bloor-Danforth line to Dundas West subway station on the Bloor-Danforth line. 508 (rush hour only) runs from King Street and Church Street to Long Branch GO Train station. Both routes pass through the Financial District and the Theatre District.
505 runs along Dundas Street from Broadview subway station to Dundas West subway station. It runs through Chinatown.
509 and 510 run from Union subway station on the Yonge-University-Spadina line in a tunnel under Bay Street to Queen's Quay, they run aboveground on Queen's Quay, through the Harbourfront to Spadina Avenue. The 509 continues on Queen's Quay from Spadina to Exhibition Place. The 510 runs north along Spadina to Spadina subway station on the Bloor-Danforth line, the 510 passes through the Theatre District, the Queen West shopping district, Chinatown, Kensington Market and the Annex. Both 509 and 510 run within their own rights-of-way in the centre lanes of the streets and stop less frequently than regular routes.
511 runs along Bathurst for nearly all of its route, from Exhibition Place to Bathurst subway station on the Bloor-Danforth line.
512 runs along St Clair Avenue from St Clair subway station on the Yonge line to a streetcar loop just past Keele Street. 512 runs within its own right of way in the centre of St. Clair Avenue from Yonge Street to Gunns Loop, just west of Keele Street, passing through St Clair West subway station on the University-Spadina line. This route serves the neighbourhood of Deer Park.
Caution: When getting on and off streetcars, make sure that the traffic is stopped in the lane next to the streetcar. While drivers are required by law to stop behind open streetcar doors, some drivers don't. This does not apply when there is a safety island between you and the traffic lane(s). Also, be aware of pickpockets in crowded rush hour situations. Do not keep your belongings in outside pockets.
All but two (Routes 99 and 171) of the TTC's bus and streetcar routes have a subway station somewhere on the loop, and while many routes will take you into the station and beyond the ticket barrier, some of them (especially downtown) will take you only to the outside of the station. In this case, you can enter the station by presenting a valid transfer. If you don't have one, you need to pay another cash fare.
Transfers are free, but should be obtained at the first vehicle or station you enter on your journey. If your journey starts on a bus or streetcar, ask for one as you pay your fare (simply saying "Transfer, please" to the operator will suffice). If you start at a subway station, look for a red machine just beyond the ticket booth with a digital time clock on its face. Press the gold button and collect your transfer.
A transfer may also be used to pass from a bus or streetcar to another bus or streetcar moving in a perpendicular direction - for example, from a northbound bus to an eastbound streetcar. But in doing so, make sure to transfer at the first intersection possible (i.e. do not get out at an intersection, walk east for a block, and transfer there).
The areas that surround Toronto—Mississauga, Brampton, York Region, Durham Region, Oakville, Burlington, Milton, Hamilton—have their own transit systems. There are no free transfer privileges between the TTC and these other transit systems. To use both the TTC and another system, two fares must usually be paid (though see GTA Pass below). In many places, these networks do overlap, so you can transfer easily. Prices are similar to prices for the TTC. Generally bus services outside Toronto city limits are fairly infrequent, except for a few busy routes (e.g. Mississauga Transit route 1, 19, 26, Brampton 501, 502, 511 or Viva Blue, Purple).
A weekly GTA Pass (Greater Toronto Area Pass) is available for $54. It is valid on the TTC and the transit systems in Mississauga, Brampton, York Region, but not Durham Region or Halton Region. This pass is also transferable, although only one rider may use it at a time. If you are travelling through the fare-zone boundary in York Region with a GTA pass, you will have to pay an additional $1.
The regional transportation agency, 'Metrolinx', operates the PRESTO  farecard system which allow users to pay transit fares throughout the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (with the exception of the TTC, where only select subway stations currently accept the card). Although fares and transfer rules are set individually by each transit operator, using the card generally provides a discount from the cash fare and discounted or free transfers between certain systems. Cards cost $6 and are not refundable, but visitors making significant use of GO Transit, or several GTA transit systems might find some cost savings and convenience over using cash or tickets.
A system of regional trains and buses, GO Transit , connects Toronto to its surrounding areas. The majority of these services, especially trains, are oriented to weekday commuters travelling to and from downtown Toronto. GO Transit charges fares by distance. Trains are large and comfortable, and the vast majority run only during rush hours. The main exception is on the Lakeshore Line between Aldershot and Oshawa, via Union Station, which runs every 30-60 minutes during off peak times. The GO bus network is much more extensive and fills in for trains in the off-peak hours, but beware that buses may get delayed due to traffic congestion. The vast majority of tourist destinations are reachable by TTC, although you might want to use the GO to get to the Zoo, or to the homes of family members or friends in the Greater Toronto Area.
Discounts on the fares for connecting transit services are available under certain conditions, if you are travelling to or from a GO Transit rail station. The GTA Pass is not valid on GO Transit.
NOTE: in many cases, a GO bus will not stop unless the passengers-to-be indicate waiting to be picked up, even if they are standing at a designated stop. Users must flag the bus down, usually just by raising their hand or ticket in the air as the bus approaches. That is because GO stops often share stops with other municipal transit systems.
Also, GO Trains operate on the Proof-of-Payment system; passengers must possess a valid ticket for the entire length of their journey before boarding a train. Tickets cannot be purchased on board, and there are no gates or staff before boarding to ensure you have a fare for a particular train. GO Transit enforcement officers conduct random inspections of tickets, issuing expensive fines to anyone without the correct fare. Enforcement officers have likely heard every possible excuse from passengers who regularly try to avoid paying a fare, and are often unforgiving of any (even legitimate) reason you might give. If using a Presto card on the GO bus or train, be sure to tap your Presto card both at the beginning and end of your trip.
Each GO train runs with a three-person crew. There are two engineers, who are responsible for operations, as well as the Customer Service Ambassador, who is responsible for passenger service (opening/closing doors, making station announcements, answering questions, dealing with emergencies, etc.) The CSA is stationed in the Accessibility car (the 5th car behind the locomotive), and introduces him/herself during his/her opening spiel. If you are unfamiliar with the system, it is recommended that you remain close to them.
Taxis are plentiful and safe, but not cheap. As with most big cities, driving a car downtown can be annoying; parking is often hard to find and expensive, and traffic along certain streets can make vehicle travel slower than mass transit. However, travelling longer distances, when not close to subway lines is often significantly faster by car or taxi.
There are many casual cyclists out all the time and cycling is fast: door to door, in all of downtown Toronto, a bike beats a car or transit nearly every time.
There is a lack of clear understanding about regulations regarding bicycles and as a result, there can be hostility between automobiles and cyclists. Generally speaking, if you are on the road, you are expected to obey the same laws as cars, and you are not allowed to ride on the sidewalk. In reality, cyclists have all sorts of driving styles; expect the unexpected.
The city is predominantly flat, aside from a general climb away from Lake Ontario and the deeply indented, forested Don Valley and Humber River Valley, and post-and-ring locking posts are present throughout the city. There are many bike-only lanes on major roads and threading through various neighbourhoods and parks. The city publishes a cycling map, available on the city website .
BIXI  provides a public bike system with 1,000 bikes available at 80 stations throughout downtown. Subscriptions start at $5 for 24 hours and allow you to use a bike for 30 minutes or less, as much as you like (usage fees apply for trips longer than 30 minutes). BIXI operates 24 hours a day, all year long (but see the warning below about winter biking). Several businesses also offer rentals .
It is a provincial law that cyclists under 18 must wear a helmet, and all riders must have a bike with reflectors and a bell. This tends to only be enforced when the police go on their annual "cycling blitz".
The TTC has taken measures to be welcoming of bicycles. All TTC buses have easy to use bike racks, and bicycles are allowed onto the subway during off-peak hours. This allows you to be able to take your bike almost anywhere in the city.
Beware of parked cars - often accidents are not caused by moving cars, but rather by careless drivers or passengers who unexpectedly open their driver's side door. However, by and large Toronto is about as safe for bikers as most European cities, and certainly safer than most U.S. cities. Here, at least, cyclists are often expected and respected by drivers.
Be cautious of street car tracks as bike wheels can be easily caught and cause a spill.
Although you will certainly see large numbers of locals riding the streets year-round, be warned that biking in the winter months is enjoyable only with proper equipment and reasonable skills; winter weather does get cold, it can be quite windy, and snow removal is often imperfect.
Some recommended cycling routes:
By far one of the most popular bike paths is the Martin Goodman Trail, the east-west route that hugs Lake Ontario, spanning the city from Etobicoke to the eastern ends of the city. This path is also often used by pedestrians and rollerbladers.
The Don River trail system begins at the lake (near Queen and Broadview) and travels very far North and East. During or after heavy rains, avoid lower sections of the trails.
A special treat for bikers of all levels is a tour out to the Leslie Street Spit lighthouse and bird sanctuaries (no cars!). Start at Queen and Leslie and head south.
Though out of the way, the Humber River trail is nicely paved, long, and scenic. It spans from the Martin Goodman Trail to Humber College and links up to several parks in North Toronto.
A visit to Toronto Islands from the ferry docks at the southern end of Bay Street is a great way to spend a bike-friendly, relaxed afternoon by bike. There are no cars to speak of on the Toronto Islands.
As Toronto is a very large city and many areas of the city are inadequately served by the public transit system, the car is the most commonly used method of transportation in the Greater Toronto Area. The road system (except for Highway 407 ETR) suffers from traffic congestion at almost all times of day, 7 days a week, and severe traffic congestion occurs during rush hour (approximately 6:30am-10am and 3pm-8pm Monday-Friday. Even Highway 401, with 9 lanes in each direction (making it the world's second largest freeway, after Katy Freeway in Texas) and bypassing Downtown by almost 8 miles North, can experience some slowing during off-peak hours and is jammed like any other freeway. Stay in the local lanes if you are not familiar with the local-express system. Avoid driving during rush hour, and avoid driving in severe weather. Traffic information is available on Google Maps (maps.google.ca, click on the traffic button), 680 News (radio station, AM 680, every 10 minutes on :01, :11, :21, :31, :41, :51 of each hour) and CP24 (television station). Highway 407 ETR [www.407etr.com] is almost never congested, but is a very expensive toll road, also it is strongly recommended that you rent a transponder if you use this highway regularly due to high video toll charges if you do not have a transponder.
Toronto is a huge city, so all individual listings should be moved to the appropriate district articles, and this section should contain a brief overview. Please help to move listings if you are familiar with this city.
Individual listings can be found in Toronto's district articles
Art Gallery of Ontario, . Tu, Th-Sa 10AM-5:30PM, W 10AM-8:30PM (free admission after 6PM), closed M. The largest art gallery in Canada, recently redesigned by architect Frank Gehry. It has a great Canadian paintings exhibit and the world's largest collection of Henry Moore sculptures. The European paintings exhibit has a few excellent pieces and it has one of the world's most expensive paintings on view (Ruben's The Massacre of the Innocents).Adults $18, seniors $15, students and youth $10, children free. edit
The Royal Ontario Museum
Royal Ontario Museum, 100 Queen's Park, ☎ +1 416 586-8000, . F 10AM-9:30PM, Sa-Th 10AM-5:30PM. One of the better and larger museums in North America. The original building was built in 1910, and is a handsome romanesque revival, with many carvings of people and events and breathtaking original frescoes lining vaulted interior atria. The newer addition is a large deconstructivist crystal, made of steel and glass - the result is a striking, thought-provoking, and polarising juxtaposition of ancient and post-modern styles, an attempt to capture the unique modernity of Toronto's culture. Thousands of artifacts and specimens are featured in over 20 exhibits; including dinosaurs, Ancient China, native Canadians, Canadian furniture, medieval Europe, art deco, ancient Egypt, textiles, middle east, India and Pacific islanders. The world's largest totem pole, which is over 100 years old, is also housed in a place of honour. In October of 2011 the museum drastically reduced admission prices (formerly $24 for adults).Adults $15, Senior/Student $13.50 Friday night half-price. edit
Ontario Science Centre, 770 Don Mills Rd, ☎ +1 888 696-1110, . 10AM-7PM daily. Lots of hands on science exhibits, including a rainforest, a tornado machine, a sound proof tunnel, balance testing machines and more. It also contains Ontario's only Omnimax (full wrap around) movie theatre.Adults $22, Child $13, Senior/Student $16. edit
Bata Shoe Museum, 327 Bloor St W, . M-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. This offbeat museum is devoted to shoes and footwear, and contains Napoleon Bonaparte's socks, and footwear from cultures all over the world.$12 adults, $10 seniors. Pay-what-you-can admission ($5 suggested) Th 5PM-8PM. edit
Canadian National Exhibition (CNE)— Annual agricultural exhibition that is Canada's largest fair and the fifth largest in North America, with an average annual attendance of 1.3 million. Runs mid-August through early September.
The iconic CN Tower
CN Tower— The tallest free standing structure in North America, at over 500 metres tall. There is a glass elevator to the top. The view is incredible and there is a glass floor, which for some is very scary to walk on. There is also a revolving restaurant, which offers spectacular views as the sun sets over the city.
Casa Loma, 1 Austin Terrace (at the corner of Davenport Rd and Spadina Rd), ☎ +1 416 923-1171 (email@example.com, fax: +1 416 923-5734), . 9:30AM-5PM daily May-Oct. Visit Casa Loma and step back in time to a period of European elegance and splendour. The museum is the former home of Canadian financier Sir Henry Pellatt complete with decorated suites, secret passages, a 250 metre long tunnel, towers, stables and beautiful 5-acre estate gardens. A self-guided digital audio tour in 8 languages (English, French, Japanese, German, Italian, Spanish, Mandarin and Korean) is available.$18. edit
Spadina House - A historic mansion dating from the 1860s, the grounds contain a beautiful garden, which is free to walk around in. If you want to view the historic interior, you need to pay.
Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art— Dedicated to ceramics in an exquisite contemporary building right across from the Royal Ontario Museum - from Ancient to Contemporary with an extraordinary European collection.
Hockey Hall of Fame— Dedicated to the history of ice hockey, it is both a museum and a hall of fame. It is housed in the historic Bank of Montreal building and dates from the 1880s.
Black Creek Pioneer Village, 1000 Murray Ross Pkwy (One set of lights east of Jane Street, on the South side of Steeles Avenue (follow the Village signs). TTC: Bus Steeles 60 West route from Finch subway station or Jane 35 route from Jane subway station. YRT: From the York University Terminal, take the Route 10 (Woodbridge) bus or the Route 20 (Jane-Concord) bus to Jane Street & Steeles Avenue. From the Vaughan Mills terminal, take the Route 20 (Jane-Concord) bus to Jane Street & Steeles Avenue.), ☎ +1 416 667-6295, . Historic site in northern part of Toronto, just west of York University and southeast of the Jane and Steeles intersection. It overlooks Black Creek, a tributary of the Humber River. The village is a recreation of life in 19th-century Ontario and consists of over forty historic 19th century buildings, decorated in the style of the 1860s with period furnishings and actors portraying villagers. The village is populated with ducks, horses, sheep and other livestock and is self-explored, although many of the individual sites will have a guide inside to explain details of the structure. A good time to visit is weekdays during the autumn as there are comparatively few visitors.edit
Ontario Place, — A great place to take children in the summer with an Imax theatre inside.
Toronto City Hall at night
Toronto City Hall. Two buildings forming an apparent semi-circle (though in fact from overhead the circle hemispheres can be see to be asymmetrically oblate) overlooking Nathan Phillips square, which has a very popular skating rink in the winter. Architecturally stunning, it is one of those few examples of 1960s-era ultramodernism that manages not to look dated decades down the line. Next door to Old City Hall (currently the court house) which has a more classical architecture. As a side-note, images of Toronto City Hall have played stand-in for many science fiction film and television locales, including consistently being used to represent Star Trek's Federation Headquarters ever since the original Star Trek series.
Toronto Zoo, . A world-class facility, the Toronto Zoo is best accessed by car or GO Transit + TTC bus as a day-trip as it is located at the eastern reaches of the city. The zoo is divided into zones (such as Africa, South America and North America) and features both indoor and outdoor displays. Open daily except for Christmas Day, and worth a visit in both the winter and summer months.
Toronto Aerospace Museum, Parc Downsview Park, 65 Carl Hall Road, ☎ +1 416 638-6078 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +1 416 638-5509), . (open M on public holidays 10AM-4PM). The Toronto Aerospace Museum (TAM) is dedicated to developing an exciting educational, heritage and tourist attraction at Parc Downsview Park. Founded in 1997, the museum lost its lease and is currently looking for another location to house its artifacts. edit
CN Tower as viewed from Rogers Centre.
Rogers Centre, . Rogers Centre, formerly known as SkyDome, is a multi-purpose stadium, situated next to the CN Tower near the shores of Lake Ontario. Originally opened in 1989, it is home to the American League's Toronto Blue Jays, the Canadian Football League's Toronto Argonauts, the site of the annual International Bowl American college football bowl game, and as of 2008, the National Football League's Buffalo Bills' second playing venue in the Bills Toronto Series. While it is primarily a sports venue, it also hosts other large-scale events such as conventions, trade fairs, concerts, funfairs, and monster truck shows. The stadium was renamed "Rogers Centre" following the purchase of the stadium by Rogers Communications in 2005.
The venue was noted for being the first stadium to have a fully-retractable motorized roof, as well as for the 348 room hotel attached to it, with 70 rooms overlooking the field. It is also the most recent North American major-league stadium built to accommodate both football, as well as baseball, although some of the newer baseball parks have been known to host the occasional college football game, such as AT&T Park, Chase Field, and Safeco Field.
Soon after its opening, the stadium became a popular venue for large scale rock concerts and is the largest indoor concert venue in Toronto; it has hosted many international acts including Metallica, Madonna, U2, Depeche Mode, The Rolling Stones, The Three Tenors, Radiohead, Simon & Garfunkel, Garth Brooks, Backstreet Boys, Roger Waters, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Limp Bizkit, Eminem, Janet Jackson, Avril Lavigne, Jonas Brothers and Cher.
The stadium will be the centrepiece of the 2015 Pan American Games as the site of the opening and closing ceremonies.
Panoramic view of Blue Jays game with open roof.
Ripley's Aquarium of Canada, 288 Bremner Boulevard, Toronto, . The aquarium is one of three aquariums owned and operated by Ripley Entertainment. It is located in downtown Toronto, just south of the CN Tower. The aquarium features several aquatic exhibits including a walk-through tank. The aquarium has 5.7-million litres (1.5-million gallons) of marine and freshwater habitats from across the world. The exhibits hold 13,500 exotic sea and freshwater specimens, from more than 450 species.edit
Individual listings can be found in Toronto's district articles
Just walk. Toronto has so many eclectic neighbourhoods that a random walk is fascinating in its own right. You might start in the Downtown area and then try other neighbourhoods around the city. You will also find that Toronto is "the city within a park", with miles and miles of parkland following the streams and rivers that flow through the city. Edwards Gardens and the Toronto Botanical Gardens in the neighbourhood of North York might just be the place to start exploring this natural environment.. Also the City of Toronto has designated various Discovery Walks which highlight both the natural and human history of the region. These can be found with brown circular signs along the route and highlight other regions such as the Belt Line, Garrison Creek and the Humber River as well as the downtown core.
Take a free walking tour with Tour Guys to explore the downtown core, or any of the other specialty tours they offer.
Go on a Toronto Urban Adventures walking tour to experience "Multicultural Kensington Market & Chinatown", or learn about Toronto's history and Canadian beer on a "Beer Makes History Better" tour.
Beaches. Toronto has three main sections of beach along Lake Ontario. The most popular of these is in the aptly-named Beaches neighbourhood. A less popular alternative is the beaches in the western end of the city in the Parkdale neighbourhood; this was once Toronto's Coney Island, with an amusement park and numerous beach-style attractions; however in the 1950s the city built the Gardiner Expressway along the lakeshore, effectively separating the beaches from the city and causing the demolition of the amusement park; over the years attempts have been made to re-energize this area, but the Gardiner remains a major barrier, as well as a source of noise and pollution to keep away would-be beach-goers. On the plus side, the beaches are largely empty most of the time, providing solitude for those who seek it. The third major beach area in the city runs along the south shore of the Toronto Islands. This area is pleasantly secluded, with most of the islands covered with parkland and a small amusement park. Hanlan's Point Beach on the western shore of the islands is the City of Toronto's only officially recognized clothing optional beach, and a popular gay hangout. Despite these options, many Torontonians prefer to leave the city for beach trips; the most popular beaches are those in the Georgian Bay area north of Toronto, Wasaga Beach in particular is very popular during the summer.
The Distillery District, . The former Gooderham & Worts distillery lands have been rejuvenated into a pedestrian-only village dedicated to the arts and entertainment. It has fantastic restaurants, festivals, and art galleries.
The Lakefront and Harbourfront, in the downtown core . Biking and walking trails, with an excellent view of the Toronto skyline. The Harbourfront Centre  is situated right by the lake, and is home to numerous cultural events of which most are free or relatively inexpensive. Take in some of the worlds most critically acclaimed performing arts productions, or enjoy one of the many world festivals that take place every weekend.
The Toronto Islands. A short inexpensive ferry ride from the foot of Bay St. and you leave the bustle of the city behind. Visually, the views of the skyline from the islands is stunning, and for cycling, walking, picnics or just relaxing, the Toronto Islands are hard to beat. There is even a small amusement park for kids, Centreville. On hot summer days, temperatures here will often be about 2-3C less than the mainland providing relief. By mid-summer the water is warm enough to swim at Hanlan's Point or for the more adventurous, a nude beach is located nearby.
Comedy, . World renowned Second City  comedy/improv theatre has a location in Toronto. See great improv and situation comedy performed live with audience participation over dinner and drinks in the heart of the club district of downtown Toronto.
Theatre. Toronto has a great theatre scene for every taste and budget. Check out the big theatres on Yonge Street for the big splashy shows, such as. Small theatres in the Annex and elsewhere offer smaller productions that range from original Canadian works, avant-garde, experimental theatre, small budget musicals to British murder mysteries. A variety of theatre festivals such as the New Ideas, Rhubarb and Fringe festivals are the seed for many commercial success such as The Drowsy Chaperone. Also try to check out the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, the new home of the Canadian Opera Company and the National Ballet of Canada. The Toronto Symphony plays in the recently acoustically renovated Roy Thomson Hall. TO Tix, located in Yonge-Dundas Square, is the best place to get both full-price advance and day-of discounts on shows across Toronto. They also offer theatre and dining packages, partnering Toronto’s theatre, dance and opera companies with local downtown restaurants and cultural attractions.
Film. Toronto has a very important film scene. Every September Toronto hosts the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), one of the most important film festivals in the world. It is also home to a wide variety of independent and cultural important cinemas. The TIFF Lightbox on King street hosts most premiers for the festival but also has year round programming including screenings of independent movies, historically important films, and director and artist talks. Other important venues include the Bloor Hot Docs cinema, which hosts Toronto's international documentary film festival, Hot Docs, every spring. Like the TIFF Lightbox, the Bloor cinema screens films year round that would not be found in most commercial cinemas. Additionally there are historic repertoire cinemas located around the city that screen second run and independent movies. These include The Revue and The Royal in West Toronto and The Fox in East Toronto.
Music. Like many large cities Toronto has a huge and culturally important music scene. There are thousands of venues around the city to see a show, from small intimate bars to large concert halls. Some more well known venues include Lee's Palace (indie rock), The Horseshoe Tavern (harder rock), The Danforth Music Hall (pop and indie), The Dakota Tavern (country and folk), and Massey Hall (established, older acts), among many, many others.
Canada's Wonderland, . A big theme park located in Vaughan, 30 kilometres north of downtown Toronto. It is considered one of North America's premier amusement parks, with more than 200 attractions. The park is open seasonally from May to October.
Little Italy/Portugal Village. Centred at College and Grace, this is the spot to get a sense of the Western Mediterranean. Sit at one of the many coffee shops and watch the world go by on the weekends. A great time to visit is during the men's FIFA World Cup competition (in football / soccer), regardless of where in the World it is actually being held as both communities face off and rivalries reach a fever pitch. Recently the rivalries have begun to infect adjacent communities and it is now getting to the point that the entire city is being draped in a mind numbing variety of flags once every four years.
Pedestrian streets in Koreatown.
Chinatown, is an ethnic enclave in Downtown Toronto with a high concentration of ethnic Chinese residents and businesses extending along Dundas Street West and Spadina Avenue. First developed in the late 19th century, it is now one of the largest Chinatowns in North America and one of several major Chinese-Canadian communities in the Greater Toronto Area.
Little India, on Gerrard Street between Greenwood and Coxwell. If you want to get a sense of Toronto's vibrant South Asian community, this is where you want to be.
Koreatown, is composed of the retail businesses and restaurants along Bloor Street between Christie and Bathurst Streets in the Seaton Village section of The Annex.
Since the early 1990s, a Koreatown has also emerged in North York along Yonge Street between Sheppard Avenue and just north of Steeles Avenue. The area comprises parts of North York, Ontario (Willowdale, Toronto and Newtonbrook) and Thornhill, Ontario (Vaughan, Ontario and Markham, Ontario).
The new Koreatown has many retail stores, Korean grocery stores (some quite large), karaoke bars and family restaurants catering to younger Koreans and those living in the north part of the City of Toronto and York Region. A larger proportion of this neighbourhood are recent immigrants or visa students from South Korea.
Toronto has ample opportunities for shopping, and nearly any section of the city has unique places to shop:
Crowds along Chinatown, on Spadina.
Yonge Street, is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest street in the world. It runs from the edge of the lake to about 1896 km north of the city, and the Yonge subway line runs right under the Street from King Street North to Finch Avenue. You can drive along this street if you want (give up trying to find parking), but the smart way to explore Yonge is on foot, with a subway day pass to whisk you between the spots you want to see.
South of Queen St. to the lake, is mostly the financial district, with very little for tourists. If you want to have a good look at the skyscrapers of the financial district, walk west from the King subway station to the corner of King and Bay. This is the financial heart of the country; Canada's equivalent to New York's Wall Street.
From Queen St. to Bloor St. is the busiest stretch. While some locals will hang out and shop here (mostly younger folks), many of the stores are limited to souvenirs or lower budget shopping. This is a pretty exciting place to be, and most visitors find this part of the city an interesting experience, even if the most refined shopping is found elsewhere.
Interior view of the Toronto Eaton Centre.
Toronto Eaton Centre,  A massive shopping mall on the West side of Yonge between Queen and Dundas Streets, The Eaton Centre is a Toronto landmark. Because of its downtown location and accessibility by subway, the mall tends to have a less-antiseptic feel than more remote suburban centres. This place is generally packed with people, an exciting mix of locals and visitors. The bottom level houses an impressive fountain, which is a nice place to take a rest and make a wish.
Bloor St. If you head West from the corner of Yonge and Bloor, you are in the most upscale of Toronto's shopping districts, Yorkville (see below). While not strictly on Yonge street, this area is easily accessible from the Yonge-Bloor subway station (you can also go to Bay station on the Bloor-Danforth subway line).
Bloor St. to Eglinton. A bit sleepier than other parts of Yonge, and a long walk without too much shopping, but for those who want a proper urban hike (4 km), there's no reason to skip this stretch. The shopping is not as vibrant, but that's not to say there aren't sights to see. Of particular interest is the Mount Pleasant Cemetery, roughly halfway between St. Clair and Davisville subway stations. The subway route between Bloor and Eglinton is interesting as well, as much of it runs outside, and the view out the window of the train is enjoyable, so if it's shopping you want, take the train to Eglinton from Bloor.
Eglinton to Lawrence. This stretch of Yonge is not as well known by tourists, and consequently more popular with locals. Surrounded by upper middle class and wealthier neighbourhoods, this is where you want to go to experience the energy of Yonge street, without the tourist traps. Take the subway to Eglinton station, and walk North. It is a 2 km walk (1.3 miles) from Eglinton to Lawrence, and there are hundreds of stores and restaurants on both sides of the street. If you can handle a 4 km walk, you can walk up to Lawrence on one side of the street, and then cross over and walk back. There's even a half kilometre North of Lawrence that you can cover, for a total of 5 km of continuous shops. Bring comfortable shoes!
Yorkville. The high-end shopping district of Toronto. Once a haven for Toronto's hippie population, it is located just north of Bloor and Bay Streets and is now home to many designer boutiques. During the annual Toronto Film Festival the area is "ground-zero" for celebrity watching.
Shopping along Bloor St in Korea Town.
Located a short walk West of the Eaton Centre is the city's fashion district along Queen Street West, an area usually bustling with locals looking for the latest fashion in a variety of trendy stores. The stretch between University Ave and Spadina tends to be much more mainstream with an ever increasing number of chain stores, but it is still well worth the look. More offbeat choices can be found west of Spadina Ave stretching all the way into Parkdale (at least 2 km/ 1.4 miles). Take the University subway to Osgoode station and walk West.
Kensington Market, (around College and Spadina. Take the Bloor-Danforth subway to Spadina station, and then take the Spadina streetcar South into Chinatown. Kensington Market is one block West of Spadina. You can get off anywhere between College and Dundas streets.). Saturday is a good time to go; some stores are closed on Sunday.. Once a centre of Jewish life but has morphed into the centre of Toronto's bohemian scene. Visitors will be assaulted by sounds and smells unlike anywhere else in the city, as narrow streets bustle with immigrants, punks, and yuppies alike. Stores include surplus shops, coffee houses, small restaurants (including vegetarian), clothing vendors, and record stores. Fish and fruit markets are also present in great numbers, and the area is experiencing a boom of South American food stalls of late. Several weekends throughout the summer are designated "car-free" by the city, but even on the average weekend this is a place to avoid with a car, as pedestrians tend to wander as they please.edit
Pacific Mall, at Steeles and Kennedy in Markham, . The largest Chinese indoor mall in North America, and definitely worth a visit if you are interested in Asian-Canadian culture. Take any 53 bus from Finch subway station (it's a long bus ride!). About 45 minutes from downtown by car, well over an hour by transit. Also located close to Milliken GO station.
Chinatown. Centred at Dundas and Spadina, Toronto's Chinatown is a great way to sample a tiny bit of cities like Hong Kong, without spending the airfare. Vast crowds crush the sidewalks as vendors sell authentic Chinese and Vietnamese food, and not-so-authentic knock-offs. It is one of North America's largest Chinatowns, and with many shops aimed at tourists, it is a good place to pick up some unusual and inexpensive souvenirs. The area is also home to a growing number of Korean and Vietnamese shops and restaurants. Toronto's multicultural mosaic never stops evolving. For a complete tour, travel along Spadina (North/South) starting at College Street in the north or Queen Street in the south.
Yorkdale Shopping Centre,  A shopping centre located in the north of the city, accessible from Yorkdale subway station. This is a full-service, upscale mall with hundreds of stores, a mid-sized movie theatre, and a huge and recently upgraded food court containing everything from fast food to sit-down restaurants to sushi and espresso bars, as well as a glass-enclosed sunlit dining area with sofas and fireplaces and a walk-out, unenclosed balcony. Be advised that because of the quality of the shopping, it is always extremely busy, and is a popular hangout destination for the local youth scenes, ensuring that this is not ideal for a quiet, unhurried shopping excursion. Make use of the subway if possible on weekends, as locals pack the parking areas to capacity.
The 'PATH' System, . Stretches from the Eaton Centre south to Union Station, an underground shopping mall has been created for all the commuters to get from Union Station to their offices and back without ever going outside. In a city of Toronto's summer heat and winter cold, this is essential.
Scarborough. Kennedy Avenue from Lawrence Avenue East to Ellesmere Avenue is a commercial district featuring dozens of independent furniture, electronic, houseware and computer businesses that all share some of the best deals the city has to offer, together with a couple of large electronic chains. It is often very congested on weekends by automobile, and many merchants lack adequate parking, but it is within walking distance of the Scarborough RT and there is bus service from the Kennedy subway station on the Danforth line. This is not really a destination for tourists, and it's quite a drive from the city centre, but if you're in the area, and want to do some discount shopping, there may be something here to suit your needs.
Vaughan Mills, . Big new shopping mall 6 km North of City of Toronto. It includes attractions such as LEGOLAND Discovery Center and Lucky Strike Lanes.
Toronto Hockey Repair and Goalie Heaven, . A world-renowned ice hockey equipment vendor, attracting people from around the world to shop.
Soma Chocolatemaker, . A true gem, Soma is unique to Toronto and a must-visit destination for any chocolate-loving tourist. With only two locations, one factory in the Distillery District at 32 Tank House Lane and one boutique at 443 King W. on the corner of Spadina, they are quite arguably the best chocolate shops in Canada. Soma is one of only a handful (count them on your fingers) of artisanal chocolatemakers in all of North America. While almost all other high quality chocolate confections come from chocolatiers, who buy chocolate couverture (enriched, pre-sweetened chocolate mix) in bulk to make their products, Soma instead purchase small shipments of raw cocoa beans directly from select growers around the world and process these into batches of fresh chocolate on-site. This requires expensive, privately owned equipment and specialised in-house expertise. As a result, their confections such as bars, truffles, gelato, hot chocolate "elixers", and other legitimately unique Soma devices, are extremely superior, as the chocolatemaking processes can be adjusted in tiny batches to suit the nature of the intended end-product. The only downside to this is that, because of the small quantity of chocolate produced in each batch and the extensive time it takes to properly process raw beans into ready-to-confect chocolate (bars and other products are all individually batch-numbered), combined with the 'rolling' monthly nature of their bean shipments from different growers, popular products are known to be unavailable from time to time (though their online menu is regularly updated to reflect this).
Microbrews, (such as Cool beer) can be hard to find outside the GTA. These can be purchased at the brewery, Beer Store, or LCBO.
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Most Canadians don't carry large amounts of cash for everyday use, relying on their credit cards, ATMs and direct debit cards. Personal checks are rarely accepted. Also, many places in Toronto accept US Dollars for small transactions- with a rough 1:1 exchange rate.
Interbank ATM exchange rates usually beat traveller's checks or exchanging foreign currency. Canadian ATM fees are low ($1.50 to $2 per transaction), but your home bank may charge another fee on top of that.
Visa, MasterCard, American Express and JCB cards are widely accepted in Canada. Credit cards can get you cash advances at bank ATMs, generally for a 3% surcharge. Beware: many US-based credit cards now convert foreign charges using highly unfavorable exchange rates and fees.
Always change your money at a recognized bank or financial institution. Some hotels, souvenir shops and tourist offices exchange money, but their rates won't put a smile on your dial.
American Express (905-474-0870, 800-869-3016; www.americanexpress.com/canada) branches in Toronto only function as travel agencies and don't handle financial transactions. Instead, tackle the banks, or try Money Mart (416-920-4146; www.moneymart.ca; Yonge Street Strip, 617 Yonge St; 24hr; Wellesley).
Affiliated with Marlin Travel (www.marlintravel.ca), Thomas Cook (www.thomascook.ca) branches include the following:
Bloor-Yorkville (416-975-9940, 800-267-8891; 1168 Bay St; 9am-5:30pm Mon-Fri; Bloor-Yonge)
Financial District (416-366-1961; 10 King St E; 9am-5pm Mon-Fri; King)
Travelex (www.travelex.com/ca) has branches:
Financial District (416-304-6130; First Canadian Place, Bank of Montréal, 100 King St W; 8am-5pm Mon-Fri)
Pearson International Airport Terminal 3 Arrivals (905-673-7042; 8:30am-midnight)
Pearson International Airport Terminal 3 Departures (905-673-7461; 3:30am-10pm)
Another organization, Calforex Currency Services (290 Queen St West) give good rates for cash, buying and selling GBP, USD, EUR; on substantial sums can be as little as 1% from interbank rates.
Toronto is generally considered to be one of North America's top food cities. As one of the most (if not the single most) multicultural cities in the world, Toronto has authentic cuisine from most of the world's cultural and ethnic groups. It is easy to eat out in Toronto and have a superb meal for cheap, while even the more distant neighbourhoods in the city frequently contain one or more ethnic grocers' with both local stock and freshly imported products and brands from all over the world. Since Toronto is a city of a wide variety of distinct neighbourhoods, there are excellent restaurants scattered across the city. Many of the trendiest and hottest restaurants in Toronto are located outside of the downtown core and visitors should be prepared to travel a short drive or transit trip to visit them.
As a visitor is quickly bound to notice, Torontonians virtually subsist upon coffee and tea, and the city contains an extremely high density of cafés of all types, from affordable franchise locations, to classy bars, to trendy independently owned locales with idiosyncratic brews. An unguided walk through literally any part of the city will take one past many shops selling hot beverages, snacks, and light meals, oftentimes at a rate of several per city block. This makes it exceptionally convenient to fuel a long day of walking, shopping, and sightseeing, as a traveller is certain to be no more than a few minutes travel from a seat, a meal, and a hot drink.
Surrounded by the extensive fertile farmlands of Southern Ontario, Toronto has an abundance of farmer's markets - one is happening, in season, almost every day. Several markets are year round, while others are seasonal, generally running from May to October.
St. Lawrence Market, . Has been bringing the freshest foods into the city for Torontonians and visitors alike since 1901. Located at Jarvis and Front, the St. Lawrence Market stretches over 2 buildings, the 'North Market' and the 'South Market' - and often over the section of Front street between them! The North Market is home to a Farmer's Market, open Saturdays year round. It features fresh vegetables in season, preserves, spices and herbs, and direct from the source foods, such as honey direct from the beekeeper or maple syrup from the people who tapped and boiled it, as well as quality Ontario wines. The South Market has over 50 specialty vendors, with a large seafood section, a dozen butchers, several bakeries, and three very extensive cheese shops. In the basement, there is also a specialty area for handcrafters, and an extensive foodcourt, with merchants often cooking food that they bought fresh that morning from upstairs. The South Market is open year round, Tue-Thu 8AM-6PM, Fri 8AM-7PM, Sat 5AM-5PM.
Riverdale Farm, 201 Winchester Street, (three blocks east of Parliament Street), . A year-round producing farm owned by the City of Toronto as part of its extensive park system, open daily for tours, education, and more 9AM-5PM. The Friends of Riverdale Farm operate an onsite store and restaurant, Shop at the Farm and Farm Kitchen, in Simpson House (daily 10AM-4PM), and a weekly Farmer's Market (Tuesdays, May 10 - Oct. 25, 2005, 3:30PM-7PM. Riverdale farm is a working farm, with barns and outdoor paddocks, and animals of all types. In an attempt to provide education about farming, the staff is approachable, and will discuss chores as they go through the daily tasks of keeping a farm running. Tours are available, or you can wander the 7.5 acres freely.
Other farmer's markets in Toronto:
City Hall, Nathan Phillips Square, 100 Queen Street West. Wednesdays, 1 June-5 October, 10AM-2:30PM (except June 29 due to Jazz Festival).
East York Civic Centre, 850 Coxwell Avenue. Tuesdays, 24 May-25 October, 9AM-2PM.
Etobicoke Civic Centre, 399 The West Mall. Saturdays, 4 June-29 October, 8AM-2PM.
North York Civic Centre, Mel Lastman Square, 5100 Yonge St. Thursdays, 16 June-20 October, 8AM-2PM.
Scarborough Civic Centre, Albert Campbell Square, 150 Borough Drive. Fridays, 3 June-14 October noon-5PM.
The Dufferin Grove Farmer's Market, , 875 Dufferin St. (across from the Dufferin Mall). Thursdays, year round (outdoors around the rinkhouse in summer and in the rinkhouse in winter) 3:30PM-7PM.
Green Barn Market, , 601 Christie St. Saturdays 8AM-12PM (located within the restored Artscape Wychwood Barns).
'Cabbagetown,' is a designated Historic District in the eastern half of the downtown core.
Baldwin Village, small section of Baldwin Street (east of Spadina, north of Dundas) has many small outdoor cafes ideal for summer lunches.
Chinatown, now features many Vietnamese and Thai restaurants.
Hakka Food, is a style of Chinese food that originated in India with the migrant Chinese of Kolkata. Also known as India-Style Chinese food, outside of India and certain Southeast Asian countries, Toronto is the only city in the world to have such a variety of Hakka Restaurants.
King Street between University Avenue and Spadina Avenue has many restaurants appealing to theatre goers.
Queen Street East between Empire and Leslie has a number of casual, trendy restaurants that match the vibe of Leslieville.
College Street to the east of Bathurst has a cheaper set of eclectic restaurants popular with university students from nearby University of Toronto.
Bayview Avenue south of Eglinton, is the location of some of Toronto's best French pastry shops.
Bloor Street to the west of Spadina in the Annex has a similar set of restaurants to College, with a particularly heavy concentration of budget-friendly Japanese restaurants. Most restaurants here tend to be very laid back. Continuing west on Bloor, past Bathurst, one heads into Koreatown which has a number of Korean restaurants.
Yorkville, it's more about being seen than actually eating but there are a few hidden gems, and this area is famous for sightseeing celebrities. Restaurants often charges premium for otherwise mediocre meals. Mere 1 subway stop away from Yorkville, a meal of similar size and quality can be purchased for nearly half the price.
The city's largest newspaper, the Toronto Star, once chose the Downsview Park Flea Market food court as the best in the city. Although it is open only on weekends and rather remote, it offers a variety of authentic food from Afghan to Trinidadian and lacks the chain restaurants that dominate the city's food courts. It is located north of downtown, but is accessible from the Downsview subway station on the Spadina line and shares space with over 400 independent retailers.
Toronto is a huge city, so all individual listings should be moved to the appropriate district articles, and this section should contain a brief overview. Please help to move listings if you are familiar with this city.
Dufflet's, . Cakes to die for--they supply desserts for a number of the city's best restaurants. Limited seating, but taking out a coffee to go and strolling along this interesting stretch of Queen St is ideal in warmer weather. You can also buy customized birthday cakes here.edit
Bulldog Coffee, 89 Granby St, . Espresso and espresso based drinks. One of the owner/baristas regularly wins competitions for his latte art. Daily 7AM-7PM.
The Red Tea Box 696 Queen Street W. Excellent teas, good food, cozy atmosphere, and decadent desserts that look too good too eat. Not cheap, but worth the cost. Open only for lunch. 416 203 8882.
Red Rocket Coffee 401 Logan Ave, . None of this eclectic space-themed café's three locations (401 Logan Ave, 1364 Danforth Ave, 154 Wellesley St E) are difficult to find; look for the red circle with the white rocket inside. Licensed by LLBO, serving wines from Niagara Region, beer from the Mill Street Brewery, and Waupoos cider from Prince Edward County.
Toronto is a huge city, so all individual listings should be moved to the appropriate district articles, and this section should contain a brief overview. Please help to move listings if you are familiar with this city.
Le Commensal, Downtown. Cafeteria style restaurant that even has a small grocery area full of organic, vegan and vegetarian produce. Menu is standard, but the portions are generous and the atmosphere is amiable.
Grasslands (formerly known as Fressen), Queen West. Great reviews of this restaurant by locals, who pack the place for its innovative and tasty vegetarian dishes. The gluten roast (a kind of faux roast-beef) comes recommended and the wine list features organic wines.
Buddha's Vegetarian Food, Bathurst and Dundas; 666 Dundas West. One portion serves at least 2 very hungry people and costs $8. Closed on some Tuesdays.
King's Cafe, 192 Augusta Avenue, Kensington. Excellent vegetarian Chinese food, most entrées under $10. Friendly service and has a vegetarian food store inside the restaurant.
Hibiscus, 238 Augusta Avenue in Kensington. Everything is gluten free. Excellent buckwheat crepes and salad bowls. A meal is about $8.
Urban Herbivore, 64 Oxford St in Kensington. Salad bowls and sandwiches for about $8.
Vegetarian Haven, Baldwin Street, . Staff are friendly and the restaurant is clean and charming, very filling, big portions, outdoor seating a big plus, although some find the food underflavoured.$13.60 for entree and soup. edit
Live Organic Food Bar, The Annex. Freshly squeezed juices accompany complete meals that cost $35. Open Tuesday to Saturday 11AM to 10PM. Brunch Sunday 11AM to 4PM. Closed Monday and holidays.
Simon's Wok, Gerrard & Logan. Vegetarian Chinese cuisine served in communal manner.
Green Earth Vegetarian Cuisine, 385 Broadview Avenue . Don't be fooled by the name - all three locations (others in Ottawa, and Pasadena, California) are vegan. Features vegan versions of international dishes (USA, Italy, Mexico, China, Thailand, Vietnam). TV mounted above counter shows Supreme Master Television. Closed Tuesdays.
The majority of nightlife in Toronto is centred on the appropriately named Clubland and in the fashion district on Queen Street West. Nearly everywhere is packed to the brim with pubs and bars, but none so much as Adelaide and Queen Street in those districts. Clubs tend to operate on Richmond and Adelaide streets (both run east-west, 1 block apart); names change frequently, but the district keeps on going. Four other clubs of note outside this district: The mega club/ultra lounge Muzik Nightclub (by Exhibition Place), The (long-lasting) Phoenix (on Sherbourne), The Government (Toronto's largest club - on the harbour east of Yonge Street) and the Docks (literally operating on part of Toronto's commercial port, but this place has an outstanding view of the city on warm summer nights, and boasts an extensive entertainment complex).
Some of Toronto's newest and hottest nightclubs have opened up in the King Street West / Liberty Village area. This area tends to attract a more mature (25+ years old) crowd; however this comes at a cost as drinks and admission into the venues are typically a bit more expensive here than in Clubland.
Hip art and music oriented crowds tend to gravitate on the West side of the city, in neighbourhoods such as Queen West, Parkdale and the Junction. The hipsters hangout in the wide array of bars, galleries and clubs that dot the area - in particular Stones Place (mostly Indians and sometimes gay crowds),and the Drake and its poor cousin Gladstone Hotels. The same folks also frequent the Annex / Kensington Market Area of the city at night for club nights, casual drinks and art / music events. One of the main "corsos" of the city is Little Italy: College Street, between Bathurst and Ossington flows over with music, sidewalk cafes and excellent food and a crowd that enjoys the summer heat and the offerings. College Street, east of Bathurst, is home to many student hangouts, including Sneaky Dee's which is famous among locals for its nachos. The legal minimum drinking age is 19.
Toronto is also home to a number of microbreweries. These include Mill Street, Steam Whistle Pilsner, Cool, Amsterdam, Great Lakes, Junction Craft Brewing, Indie Ale House and Bellwoods Brewery. The breweries offer free samples and some have restaurants and/or are brewpubs. Although a tour of the Steam Whistle Brewery costs $10, it includes a gift.
Toronto is a huge city, so all individual listings should be moved to the appropriate district articles, and this section should contain a brief overview. Please help to move listings if you are familiar with this city.
Individual listings can be found in Toronto's district articles
Most hotels and hostels are situated directly outside the downtown core. Prices for rooms generally range from $150+ for a standard hotel, $60-80 for a motel, and $20-40 for a bed in a hostel.
Toronto has several youth hostels, including ones in the downtown area. The top hostel in Toronto is the Clarence Park located at 7 Clarence Square, newly renovated in 2013, awesome vibe and comfortable rooms and the best location in the city. 
Another popular alternative for over nighters are bed & breakfasts, of which Toronto has hundreds, many of them in the downtown core. Prices range from $60 to several hundred dollars depending on the house and amenities offered.
Another popular inexpensive place is Castlegate Inn Toronto Bed and Breakfast because of its proximity to the Spadina subway station and the University of Toronto.
Homestays are an ideal option for mid-term stays of a few months, or for newcomers who need a few months of accommodation while searching for a place to rent. Homestays are very popular for ESL students, often coming from South Korea, Japan, China, and Brazil. It's estimated that there are hundreds of homestays in Toronto, usually in the price range of $750 to $900 per month, and including home-cooked meals. Payments are typically made in cash. Homestays are often listed in online indexes, presented in a manner much like selecting a hotel.
International students often prefer to study in Toronto because of its safety, proximity to other tourist destinations, and favourable exchange rates and visa policies. However, despite its status as the largest city in the country and Canada's economic centre, it is surprisingly under-served by universities. This lack of post-secondary education has led to the development of major universities in the mid-sized cities that surround Toronto: the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, the University of Guelph in Guelph, Brock University in St. Catharines and Trent University in Peterborough. The universities in Toronto remain some of the best in the country:
The University of Toronto, . Canada's largest university, is spread out all over the city (including the main downtown campus, an East-end Scarborough campus, and University of Toronto at Mississauga (UTM) in the neighbouring city of Mississauga). This university is consistently rated among the top three in the country and is part of the "Canadian Ivy League." Due to its size, the University of Toronto's downtown campus, known as the St George campus, after the street that runs through it, has its own "sphere of influence," turning the surrounding neighbourhoods into miniature college towns, with plenty of bars, restaurants, bookshops, grocery stores and cheap take-out joints.
York University, . The third largest university in Canada, is on the northern border of the city, though the original Glendon College campus at Bayview and Lawrence is still in existence. Its location is the main drawback to this university; while it is located within the bounds of the city itself, it nevertheless functions as a commuter school for all intents and purposes as the vast majority of attending students either travel southwards from outer regions or northwards from deeper in the city. There is a regular bus - route 106 - that connects Downsview subway station on the northern end of the Yonge-University-Spadina line to the bus loop at the centre of the campus. More conveniently there is a regular express bus - route 196 - that takes 'bus only' lanes for quick access to Downsview Subway station. Construction is currently underway to expand the YUS subway line north beyond Downsview Station and ultimately up into the neighbouring city of Vaughan, and by 2015 York University will have a dedicated subway station centrally located in the mid-campus Commons.
Ryerson University, . In the heart of the downtown core. It was once a polytechnic, but is now Toronto's third university. The university is particularly well known for its school of management, as well as its journalism program. Its campus is centred on the Kerr Hall, which forms a square around a central quad, it fills the block bounded by Gould, Gerrard, Victoria and Church streets. Ryerson also has buildings throughout this section of the city, including the Ted Rogers School of Management, at Bay and Dundas streets.
Ontario College of Art and Design, Queen Street West and Spadina.
Seneca College, . Canada's largest college is spread out over the city with over 16 campuses of varying sizes.
George Brown College, . Two campuses: St. James (downtown) and Casa Loma (midtown).
Humber College, . Two campuses: Lakeshore and North.
Toronto, like other Canadian cities, also has dozens of English as a Second Language (ESL) schools. The largest association of private English and French language schools is the Canadian Association of Private Language Schools .
For an emergency, dial 911 (you can dial it at the pay phone without inserting any coins).
Local calls from a pay phone cost 50 cents and are not metered, so you can talk as long as you want. Due to the popularity of mobile phones, street pay phones have slowly disappeared. However, most of the large public facilities still offer ample pay phones and they are usually located between the inner and outer doors at the entrances in shopping malls.
Further, many public facilities (such as shopping malls) now offer phones providing free local calls, and are funded by advertisements run on colour LCD screens. Watch for large, wall-mounted ovals in high-traffic areas.
As a visitor, it's also possible to purchase a pay-as-you-go SIM card for your GSM phone. There is no shortage of mobile phone shops and visiting 3-4 different shops should give you an idea of what's available.
Toronto has two area codes: 416 and 647. These area codes overlap. That is, they are both associated with the same geographic area. The suburban areas outside of the city also have two overlapping area codes, 905 and 289. As a result, Toronto has 10-digit local dialling. You must always dial the area code as part of the number you are trying to reach.
International calling cards are widely available in convenience stores and offer reasonable rates.
Toronto is a city with many internet cafés, especially on Yonge Street around Bloor, and also on Bloor Street between Spadina and Bathurst. It's not hard to find a place to call home and the costs range from $3 for 30 minutes. The widespread availability of high-speed internet access means that internet cafes are largely becoming a thing of the past, so on repeat visits to the city, you may find that the one you used last time has disappeared. Most major hotels offer high-speed internet in their rooms and in their business centres. Most coffee shops, and some food courts and restaurants in the downtown core offer wireless internet (some free, some not).
Cogeco operates a public WiFi network called One Zone that covers six square kilometres in the downtown core. Rates are $4.99 for one hour, $9.99 for a day, or $24.99 for a month.
Free internet access is available on computers at Toronto Public Library branches, and the Toronto Reference Library also provides free wireless access on the first two floors.
Unlike in much the rest of the English speaking world, the 2007 Recession was not as devastating to the newspaper business in Canada as it was to many other venerable organs such as The New York Times or the Times of London. While business and readership have declined notably, the signature papers of Canadian record have not shown the same sudden catastrophic losses, and newspapers in Toronto are stocked in most places, with paper advertising still considered a "must buy" for some companies.
Papers such as the following are still considered to be standby sources of the day-to-day news, regularly breaking substantive stories first with highly respected pieces of investigative journalism, and purchasing a paper for a dollar (or two for the weekend editions) in order to read the day's events does not carry the same old-fashioned air it does elsewhere, especially in the States:
The Toronto Star, a major daily newspaper, covering local, national, and world news. Generally the most widely read by Torontonians and within the Greater Toronto Area, and available almost literally everywhere as a result. Strongly identified with the city itself and its culture.
The Toronto Sun, a tabloid-style newspaper, covering local, national, and world news. Tends toward sensationalism in reporting, and features the "Sunshine Girl" pin-ups. Styles itself as a populist voice.
The Globe and Mail, a national daily, published in Toronto, with ties to Bay Street banks. Well-respected like The Star, though with less focus on metropolitan Toronto and more on national affairs, its relative popularity is lesser inside the city than outside.
The National Post, a national daily, also published in Toronto and often more right-leaning than The Globe and Mail. Its conservative position is even more stark when compared against The Star, and it is noticeably less popular in the city.
Metro, a free daily, with brief articles covering local, national, and world news, distributed on the street and in subway stations.
24hrs, a free daily, with brief articles covering local, national, and world news, distributed on the street and in subway stations.
Free weekly newspapers, distributed from boxes on street corners and in racks in stores and restaurants can be good sources of information on cinema, dining, music, theatre, and other events and local news:
Depending on where you go in Toronto, you will be able to find locally printed newspapers in a variety of languages. For example, in Chinatown, you will find Chinese newspapers. In "Little Italy", you'll find Italian newspapers. You'll also find newspapers in Spanish, Portuguese, Persian, Arabic, Tagalog, Greek and more.
Other alternative weeklies include the popular Xtra!, which reports for Toronto's large and active LGBT community.
Toronto is remarkably safe and the streets are vibrant with pedestrians and bicyclists, even in most neighbourhoods at night. If you use common sense, you should have no trouble at all.
The overall violent crime rate in Canada, and particularly in Toronto, is much lower than that found in major cities in the United States and below the average of other large Canadian cities to the west. Over the last decade, there have been an average of fewer than 70 homicides per year in the city, a rate of fewer than three per 100,000. Organized gang violence occurs but has been very sporadic since a noticeable rise mid-last decade. Petty crime is generally not a large-scale problem in Toronto, but as always, keep vigilant with your possessions and avoid keeping valuables in outer pockets. Car and bike theft are comparable to other large North American cities and many stolen automobiles wind up being exported overseas.
Some neighbourhoods are known in the media and on the street as being more dangerous, but police statistics evaluate crime in a given area based occurrences per 10,000 residents, not including incoming non-resident traffic. The Bay Street financial downtown core actually experiences the highest rate of assault and drug crimes using these parameters, but this has not been well publicized by local or national media. Higher than average crime (compared with the city overall) does occur in certain neigbourhooods. These include:
Areas in the old city (close to or downtown): Regent Park, parts of Parkdale, St. James Town, Cabbagetown and Moss Park, Alexandra Park, Danforth East. Former Inner Boroughs: Crescent Town, Pakview-O'Connor, Flemingdon Park, Weston-Mount Dennis and Lambton.
Outer areas in North York: Jane & Finch ("Jane Corridor"), Lawrence Heights, Westminster-Branson, the Peanut (Don Mills/Sheppard).
Etobicoke: Rexdale/Jamestown Cresent and Long Branch.
Scarborough: Malvern, Kingston & Galloway, Steeles-L'Amoreaux, Dorset Park, and Eglinton East-Kennedy Park.
Parts of Toronto have a visible homeless population, many of whom will ask you for money. This can be a bit startling for newcomers from outside North America. You do not need to give them money and can simply say "no, thank you," or ignore them. They nearly always leave you alone. There have been occasional occurrences of aggressive homeless people, with one resulting in a fatality. If a person becomes aggressive, move away quickly and alert a police officer.
Be careful when getting off the streetcars and look always to your right before leaving the car. Although vehicles are supposed to stop when the streetcar doors open, some motorists and cyclists will ignore this and keep going.
Avoid river/creek banks or bridge underpasses during periods of excessive rain, during/after heavy thundershowers or melting snow. Recent flooding can soften soil and cause it to suddenly collapse into the water under any weight.
Occasionally, Toronto will be hit with a severe winter storm accompanied by significant snowfall (quite often mixed with freezing rain, ice, or sleet). Avoid driving during and immediately after the storms if at all possible. This is especially true for those unfamiliar with winter driving and controlling a car in a skid. Take public transit, walk, or stay inside.
Buffalo — Gorgeous early 20th Century architecture including some Frank Lloyd Wright work and excellent museums are just a 1.5 hour drive from Toronto. There are also a number of outlet malls near there.
The Niagara Escarpment — A world biosphere, protected by UN mandate running from the Niagara Falls west to Hamilton then northward to Georgian Bay. It is covered by forest with high cliff views along the Bruce Trail bordering the western edge of the Greater Toronto Area, at its closest point about is about an 1/2 hour drive from the western end of Toronto.
Waterloo Region — This area 1 to 1.5 hours west of Toronto has large university campuses, rolling farm hills and Mennonite culture.
Stratford — This cute town 2 hours west of Toronto is host to the world-renowned Stratford Shakespeare Festival (April-November).
Muskoka, Georgian Bay and The Kawarthas — All in the range of 1.5-2 hours north are cottage country areas with more rocky and hilly terrain speckled with hundreds of lakes and waterways. The Muskokas and the Kawarthas are known for their country inns, cottages, spas/resorts, provincial parks, and a wealth of outdoor activities including camping, fishing/hunting, snowmobiling, nature viewing, and hiking set amongst natural beauty. The Georgian Bay area is where the hilly terrain and cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment meet its shores, the area has renonwed ski facilites frequently blasted with high snowfall amounts but beaches Wasaga Beach, wineries and golfing are the choices in summer.
Many people visit these regions in fall to experience some of the best fall-colour leaves anywhere in the world.
There are also several golden sand beaches along the clean fresh waters of the Great Lakes that are ideal for hot summer days. Popular beach destinations within 1.5 - 2.5 hours of Toronto include Wasaga, Sauble Beach,Sibbald Point Provincial Park, Sandbanks, Grand Bend, Long Point, and Turkey Point.
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!