Think of Coca Cola vs Pepsi or McDonald’s vs Burger King, the debate over whether Vancouver or Toronto is better is a question as old as time. The debate has raged amongst Canadians and people who have visited both cities for years.
Here at Canadian Affair, we love both cities and think you should try to visit both by booking a car rental in Canada, but if you only have time to visit one during your Canadian holidays you will need to make a decision.
This guide compares Toronto and Vancouver and looks at everything from the climate to the food scene so you can pick which city you want to visit.
With more than 3,000 kilometres between them, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Vancouver and Toronto experience dramatically different weather.
Toronto experiences cold winters and warm summers and on average gets around 31.5 inches of rainfall per year, according to Climates To Travel.
Winter in Toronto runs from late November to mid-March and is cold with an average temperature of around -5.5°C in January. The weather can sometimes get above 0°C, but snowfalls are common occurrences. Spring arrives from mid-March to May and whilst it is still cold at the beginning of the season, in May the weather becomes mild. The summer (June to August) is very warm as temperatures can reach or even exceed 30°C and during the autumn months (September to mid-November) you can enjoy many sunny days with temperatures sometimes reaching 25°C in September before temperatures start to decrease as the season ends.
With its location on the west coast, Vancouver is one of only a handful of places where the temperature remains above freezing even during the winter months. Climates To Travel data also states that there is quite a lot of rainfall in Vancouver with the city on average receiving 47 inches per year, whilst the northern suburbs of the city receives 63 inches.
December to February are the winter months in Vancouver and compared to the rest of Canada, the winters are mild with temperatures ranging from 6°C to 8°C and the city experiencing frequent rain. It does occasionally snow during the winter, but it generally doesn’t last long as mild currents blow in from the ocean. Spring (March to May) starts off cool and rainy, but it becomes very sunny and mild towards the end of the season. June to August is when summer arrives in Vancouver and although the temperatures are cooler (maximum temperatures of 20°C to 23°C) than in Toronto, the periods of good weather tend to last longer than in the rest of Canada. The autumn months in Vancouver (from September to November) start off pleasant and mild, but in October the weather begins to get colder and in November it is a very rainy month.
READ MORE: Canadian weather
The food scene
As you’d expect from two of Canada’s largest cities, both Toronto and Vancouver are home to world-famous dining scenes. Find out more below.
One way to get an insight into the culture of a place is through its food and by eating out in Toronto you’ll get a sense of just how diverse the capital of Ontario is. Toronto boasts world-famous restaurants and cafes, and it has become one of the top foodie destinations in Canada.
Jessica, the travel blogger behind Diary of a Toronto Girl, talks about how good the food scene is in the city. She said: “Toronto is definitely a city worth visiting just for the restaurants and great food. Being the multicultural hub it is, Toronto has some of the best and most diverse cuisine in all of Canada.
“Walking along a small stretch of Queen Street West alone, you’ll be able to come across an Indian restaurant, a Japanese restaurant, and a Mexican restaurant all at once! Whatever you’re craving, you’ll probably be able to find at least a few spots here in Toronto.”
Food to try in Toronto:
•Peameal bacon on a bun
READ MORE: Eat like a local in Toronto
Vancouver is a city that prides itself on its cuisine and for good reason as any Vancouverite will tell you about their famed seafood and iconic street food. It is the diversity that makes the city such a popular destination for foodies as you can eat your way around the globe in one day if you are visiting Vancouver.
The city is home to food markets, restaurants and cafes that sell any type of cuisine you can think of as if you fancy some Asian-fused dishes then you should head to Chinatown, the famed Gastown is a great place to visit for cutting-edge gastronomic experiences and there are plenty of steakhouses to choose from. In fact, with so many different types of food on offer in the city, the variety could be the biggest problem you face during your break in Vancouver.
Leslie Rossi, a Vancouverite who is the blogger behind A Life Well Consumed, says something she loves to do during the summer is to visit the farmer’s markets in Vancouver.
“I love hitting up a farmer’s market on a weekend and buying some seasonal veg or fruit. Even alcohol or baked goods. Curtis and I usually go to the one in Kits and end our time grabbing lunch at the food trucks.”
Food to try in Vancouver:
•Home-grown vegetables and fruits from the Farmers Markets
•Dishes from Vancouver’s famous food trucks
READ MORE: A foodie’s guide to Vancouver
As you’d expect, both cities boast a range of fascinating attractions and here are some of the best ones you can visit in Toronto and Vancouver.
If you’ve booked flights to Toronto, then you just have to visit the CN Tower during your visit. The CN Tower is the crown jewel of Toronto’s skyline and it was once the world’s tallest freestanding structure, standing at 553.33 metres high. It is still one of the most iconic buildings in the world and is a must-visit when you are in Toronto.
Although it is an impressive structure where you can get stunning views of the city, you can also try the CN Tower EdgeWalk – the highest hands-free tethered walk in the world. If you are 13 and above, you can step onto a ledge of the main pod and get one of the biggest thrills in Toronto.
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is one of the largest indoor aquariums in North America and here you can see lots of marine and freshwater habitats that are home to some of the oceans most incredible animals.
If you are visiting the aquarium with your family, then there are play areas, animal encounters and informative talks about the inhabitants of the aquarium that you can enjoy.
Day Trip to Niagara Falls
If you are staying in Toronto, you have to spend a day at Niagara Falls as the stunning natural attraction is just an hour’s drive away. You may have seen these stunning waterfalls on TV, but it doesn’t compare to seeing them in person and whilst you are there you can enjoy a range of activities. From the Voyage to the Falls boat tour and journeying behind the waterfalls to exploring the town or going on a helicopter ride, there is so much to do.
Travel blogger Elisabeth, who runs the Sidetracked Travel blog, says you should definitely visit Niagara Falls: “An iconic landmark of both the USA and Canada, Niagara Falls should be on every traveller’s bucket list. The thundering roar of the gigantic waterfalls (Niagara Falls is actually comprised of three falls: Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls) and the mist hovering over the water is sure to leave an impression on anyone who visits these immense natural wonders.”
Other attractions to visit in Toronto
•Royal Ontario Museum
•Art Gallery of Ontario
Stanley Park is larger than New York City’s Central Park and is home to beaches, attractions like a water park and miniature railway and a seawall which is perfect for cycling or walking. You can easily get to the park from the centre of Vancouver, and it is a great place to stop off and enjoy some lunch.
Alicia from the Go Live Explore travel blog, recommends visiting Stanley Park. She said: “Run, walk, or cycle around Stanley Park and take in the gorgeous forest and mountain views. Watch out for Raccoons too! You can do the full route around the seawall or cut through the forest and check out the pretty lakes.”
Granville Island is one neighbourhood that you just have to visit as it is colourful and vibrant. You can travel to the island on an Aquabus or via the Granville Bridge, but whatever method of transport you take you won’t regret it!
There are huge markets where you can pick up local produce, you can visit the art galleries or enjoy a lively restaurant scene.
Grouse Mountain might be famous for being a popular ski and snowboarding destination in the winter, but it is a great place to visit at any time of the year. In the summer you can enjoy lots of hikes to the top of the mountain and enjoy some stunning views of Vancouver.
You can also visit the Refuge for Endangered Wildlife, visit the mountaintop theatre and enjoy a ride on the aerial tramway.
Other attractions to visit in Vancouver
•Museum of Anthropology
•VanDusen Botanical Garden
READ MORE: Top attractions & things to do in Vancouver
Read on to find out what wildlife you can see in and around these two cities.
Despite being such a large city, there are lots of wildlife and animals you can see in Toronto, and we’ve listed some below:
Vancouver is home to lots of different wildlife and below we’ve listed some of the animals you can see:
•On whale watching tours from Vancouver, you can see Orcas (Killer Whales) and Humpback Whales
•Around 500 species of birds
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If you’re an avid sports fan and would like to tie in your city break with a trip to one of the sports teams, then below you can find out the teams which are based in Toronto and Vancouver.
•Toronto Raptors (Basketball)
•Toronto Maple Leafs (Ice Hockey)
•Toronto FC (Soccer)
•Toronto Blue Jays (Baseball)
•Toronto Wolfpack (Rugby League)
•Toronto Rock (Lacrosse)
•Vancouver Canucks (Ice Hockey)
•Vancouver Whitecaps FC (Soccer)
•Vancouver Canadians (Baseball Minor League)
READ MORE: A guide to Canada’s sports teams
As you will see there are lots of amazing things about both Toronto and Vancouver and while we recommend you visit both cities, if you can’t, this guide can be used to help you decide which city you’d like to visit first. For more articles like this, check out the blog section of our website.