Toronto is one of Canada’s major cities and must-visit destinations. Toronto is located in the province of Ontario and offers visitors a fantastic collection of attractions, delicious cuisine; and it also acts as a great base to explore more of what Canada has to offer. If you are thinking about going on a Toronto holiday in the future, this guide for first-time visitors will be the perfect preparation.

Fast facts for first time visitors

Time difference: Toronto is five hours behind the UK
Currency: Canadian dollar
Airport: Toronto Pearson International Airport
Province: Ontario
Average summer temperature: 21°C
Average winter temperature: -3°C

READ ALSO: Frequently Asked Questions About Toronto

Things to do in Toronto for first time visitors

  • Climb the CN Tower
  • Catch an ice-hockey game
  • Experience Toronto’s brunch culture
  • Browse the St Lawrence Market
  • Road trip to Niagara Falls
  • Explore the Distillery District

Climb the CN Tower

CN Tower Edge Walk
The Edgewalk at the CN Tower, Photocredit Kevin Arnold, Copyright Destination Ontario

Those visiting Toronto for the first time must head to the iconic CN Tower. One of the world’s most famous buildings, the CN Tower soars above the Toronto skyline at 1,185 feet high, making it the tallest freestanding structure in the western hemisphere.

The views from its observation deck are breathtaking, as are the scenes from its spectacular 360 Restaurant, where you can enjoy one of the best meals in the city while enjoying this panoramic backdrop. Those seeking an extra thrill can even try the high-octane Edge Walk, an experience that allows visitors to walk along the side of the tower, 116 stories above the city floor.

Sarah, from the travel blog, Travels of Sarah Fay, has visited the CN Tower herself and shares the following about its awesome restaurant: “The restaurant was beautiful with awesome views. We ate after the Edge Walk and were able to watch the sunset from high above the city of Toronto; breathtaking. This was the pinnacle of our trip. Notably, the restaurant has the highest wine cellar in the world according to the Guinness Book of Records.”

READ ALSO: What’s Toronto famous for?

Catch an ice-hockey game

Ice hokey game
Scotiabank Arena, Photocredit Destination Toronto

Few things scream Canada more than ice hockey, and those visiting Toronto for the first time should look to take in a game, especially if they have never done so before. Ice hockey is incredibly exciting, fast-paced, and atmospheric.

Toronto is the perfect place to enjoy the sport as the Toronto Maple Leafs play in the NHL – the biggest ice hockey league in the world. You can catch a game at the Scotiabank Arena in downtown Toronto so consider booking some tickets ahead of your trip.

Browse the St Lawrence Market

St Lawrence Market
St Lawrence Market, Copyright Destination Toronto

Foodies should definitely consider stopping by St Lawrence Market, a historic market complex in Toronto famous for its culinary vendors. This important Toronto landmark has a history dating back two centuries and sees hundreds of vendors selling everything from fresh pasta and fish to fruit and artisanal bread.

There is also a collection of fantastic restaurants and bakeries if you want to enjoy a bite to eat after exploring the market. St Lawrence Market is one of the best places to visit in Toronto, even if you don’t buy anything.

Experience Toronto’s brunch culture

Toronto has a rich and eclectic culture which certainly manifests in its amazing food scene. While there is an abundance of top restaurants to consider, Toronto is most known for its brunch culture. Brunch is a big deal in Toronto, and there is an endless array of spots to enjoy this most beloved of Toronto meals yourself.

You might have to wait for a table in certain spots, especially on weekend mornings, but it will be worth it to immerse yourself in the culture of the locals. Mildred’s Temple Kitchen and Lady Marmalade are two popular spots to try, and if you want to try another Canadian hallmark, head out for a coffee at a Tim Hortons.

Road trip to Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls helicopter
Niagara Falls helicopter, Copyrights: Destination Ontario, Mike Reyno

Niagara Falls is one of the most spectacular attractions in the entire world, but did you know that it’s incredibly easy to visit from Toronto? Just a 90-minute drive away and simple to get to with a car hire from Toronto, those visiting Toronto should definitely make sure to add a day trip to Niagara Falls to their itinerary.

The Canadian side of the falls is known as the most impressive and features some staggering experiences to help you enjoy this awesome feat of nature. From cruises up to the falls themselves and helicopter trips above to secret passages that take you right behind the falls, there’s plenty to keep you occupied. When you add in top restaurants with epic views of the falls, Niagara Falls is easily one of the best places to visit in Canada for the first time.

READ ALSO: The best day trips from Toronto

Explore the Distillery District

One of the most picturesque parts of Toronto is the Distillery District, featuring cobblestone streets and old factory buildings. The Distillery District is one of Canada’s National Historic Sites, so it’s worth a visit for the history alone.

However, the Distillery District has plenty more to offer than cobblestones and history; it’s also the place to be for a few hours of leisure, thanks to its collection of restaurants, cafes, bars, and shops, all housed within the old distillery buildings.

The Distillery District will make an even better first-time impression during the festive season. As Jessica from the blog, Diary of a Toronto Girl explains: “While the Distillery District is fun to visit all year round, it’s definitely the liveliest during the winter season.

“The Toronto Christmas Market (now known as the Distillery Winter Village) happens every November through December, and the Toronto Light Festival happens every January through March. They also have some fun art installations around the neighbourhood throughout the year!”

The best time to visit Toronto

Cherry Blossoms Toronto
Cherry blossoms in Toronto during Spring

Fortunately, there is no wrong time to visit Toronto, with plenty to enjoy at all times of the year. It all depends on the type of experience you want. For example, summer is perfect for outdoor activities, and the winter is great for festive fun.

What is the weather like in Toronto?

In the summer, the average temperature is 21°C, with an average high between 24°C and 26°C. As a result, the weather is very pleasant for a Toronto city break or taking a day trip to Niagara Falls.

However, winter is also a great time to visit, with the city turning into a winter wonderland full of festivity, ice skating, and lights. It does get rather cold at this time of year, with temperatures getting down to an average of -3°C and as low as -7°C, but with a hat and scarf, you can enjoy all the delights of winter, especially at Christmas and New Year.

The best area to stay in Toronto for the first time

Westin Harbour Castle Hotel
Westin Harbour Castle Hotel, Photocredit Destination Toronto

Toronto is home to lots of lovely neighbourhoods and exciting districts. However, the best areas to stay in Toronto for the first time tend to be locations like Downtown, Harbourfront, Midtown, Yorkville, West Queen West, and Chinatown. All of these areas offer plenty for tourists, such as attractions and helpful amenities.

Some fantastic hotels are located across the city, including options close to the airport, so convenience when arriving in Toronto is never a concern. No matter if you are looking for family-friendly hotels or romantic suites for a couple, there are plenty of choices. Look at some of the best Toronto holidays here and see what’s available.

READ ALSO: A guide to Toronto’s neighbourhoods

More iconic attractions in Toronto to visit:

  • Royal Ontario Museum
  • Ripley’s Aquarium
  • Casa Loma
  • Eaton Centre
  • Toronto sign at Nathan Phillips Square
  • Toronto Islands ferry

Is Toronto worth visiting?

Toronto is one of Canada’s most exciting and important cities and is worth visiting. With its top attractions such as the CN Tower, St Lawrence Market, and fascinating museums, along with its world-renowned food scene, it’s the perfect destination to experience Canada for the first time or enjoy a different part of the country for yet another trip.

When you also add the fact that Toronto Pearson Airport is the best option for those wanting to visit Niagara Falls, it makes all the sense in the world to combine a trip to the city with an excursion to Niagara, or vice versa.

If you want to visit Toronto for the first time, we at Canadian Affair are the Canada travel experts and would love to put together the perfect holiday package for you, including flights to Toronto and anything else you desire. Get in touch today for a tailor-made package.

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