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Toronto Travel Guide

About Toronto

Toronto, a huge, loveable city spread across the shores of Lake Ontario, is Canada at its most cultured.

More sophisticated than Vancouver and more cosmopolitan than Ottawa, Toronto’s tower-dominated skyline and bar-lined downtown districts are eclectic, open and peppered with different flavours. After all, this is one of the most multicultural cities on the planet.

Just as visitors to the US are surprised that Washington, rather than New York, is the country’s capital, Toronto’s second-city status seems something of a miscasting. It stands as Canada’s biggest metropolis, and has all the energy, verve and electricity you’d expect of a capital.

Undoubtedly the city’s most iconic landmark is the vertigo-inducing CN Tower, one of the world's tallest manmade structures at 351m (1,151 ft), thrusting skyward over the city centre. The superb Art Gallery of Ontario, designed by Frank Gehry, also deserves special mention.

Just as emblematic of the city, however, is its quirky patchwork of outlying neighbourhoods, primed with markets, coffee shops, galleries and vintage stores. You’ll often find an independent streak to the city.

Canada being Canada, a trip here can assume a very different character in summer as opposed to winter. For obvious reasons, the warmer months are the most natural time to visit – festivals are in full flow and attractions such as Toronto Islands (perfect for cycling and picnics) are at their most appealing. Come in winter, though, and you’ll get an authentic taste of how the city lives when the cold comes.

Culture and sport loom large. Torontonians often say that the latest play will sell out nearly as quickly as a big hockey match – and they aren’t always joking. The Entertainment District has a theatre calendar packed with dance, musicals, plays and opera. And thanks to the diversity of the city’s inhabitants (some 140 languages are spoken), eating well is a given. As for a further boon: the Niagara Falls are a mere two hours away.

Key facts

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Featured Hotels


Hazelton Hotel

Since opening in 2007, the Hazelton in the ritzy Yorkville district has drawn a steady stream of actors and hipsters, many attracted by its proximity to luxury boutiques and Toronto International Film Festival events. Amenities include a lap pool, fitness centre, spa, private screening room and 24-hour room service.

The Westin Harbour Castle

This is a mammoth 38-storey, twin-towered hotel with 977 rooms that looks straight out onto Lake Ontario. As well as boasting spectacular views, the Harbour Castle features 70,000 square foot of meeting space, tennis courts, an indoor pool, whirlpool and giant windows throughout. The rooms are exceptionally comfortable and well equipped.

Fairmont Royal York Hotel

The tallest building in the British Empire when it opened in 1929, the massive Royal York even now is a prominent feature of Toronto's Lake Ontario skyline. Amenities include a business centre, indoor lap pool, 24-hour fitness centre, spa and children's wading pool.

The Strathcona

A popular budget hotel, The Strathcona is located directly across from the city's main railway hub, Union Station. Aiming itself at the budget business traveller, it provides corporate rooms with Wi-Fi access and has a full service meeting room and 24-hour business centre. All rooms are en suite.

The Gladstone Hotel

Built in 1889, The Gladstone is the oldest continuously operating hotel in Toronto and is now one of the city's most exciting, with artist-designed rooms and exhibition spaces. Guests have instant access to the Toronto art scene - either by going outside to enjoy the city's art and design neighbourhood, or simply by enjoying the paintings in their rooms.

Eaton Chelsea

Canada's largest hotel, the glass-clad, sky-high Eaton Chelsea tries to cater for everybody within its 1,590 guest rooms. For families, there are Nintendo games, a bottomless cookie jar and kids' discounts in the restaurants. While for business travellers, there is a dedicated floor of rooms equipped with cordless speaker telephones, faxes, well-stocked desks and back-friendly chairs.