Toronto goes by many nicknames, from Hogtown as a nod to the city’s swine processing history to the abbreviated TO (for Toronto, Ontario). Whatever you decide to call it, you’re sure to love it. There are so many sites, attractions, museums, and activities for you to explore in this amazing city that you will be hard pressed to see them all in one day. Here’s a Toronto must-see list to fully appreciate what the area has to offer.

Arrive in Toronto

When you visit the city, you’re likely to fly through Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ), Canada’s largest and busiest airport. With more than 456,000 flights per year, this airport ferries more than 46 million passengers annually. Interestingly, Canada’s population is only 36 million, which means the Toronto airport is typically the first thing international visitors see during their visit to North America.

One of the reasons that Toronto Pearson is so busy is because of its central location. It’s only a few miles from the United States border, attracting American travelers and visitors bound for New York. It is also built within Ontario’s Golden Horseshoe, making it an easy place to get to for many Canadians.

Getting from the airport to downtown will typically take 75 minutes through public transit (about $3), or you can take the Union Pearson Express train, which leaves every 15 minutes and takes 25 minutes to get downtown (for about $24). It will typically take you about 30 minutes by car.

While you’re likely to use Toronto Pearson, you could also find yourself flying into or out of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport on Toronto Island. This is Canada’s ninth busiest airport and a port for 2.5 million travelers each year. Visitors can reach the mainland in less than six minutes through a tunnel walkway. There is a free shuttle bus to Union Station that leaves every 15 minutes and a taxi will take about 10 minutes to get to downtown Toronto. Whichever airport you fly into, you’re sure to have many options to get to the city center.

Casa Loma
Casa Loma in Midtown Toronto.

Tour Casa Loma and Wander the Gardens

Sir Henry Pellatt was inspired in his travels across Europe to create the “House on the Hill” or Casa Loma, also known as Toronto’s Camelot. Starting in 1911, this majestic castle took three years and $3.5 million to build. The castle is filled with artwork created across Canada and abroad, and Pellatt decorated his home to accommodate the numerous societal parties and gatherings that he held at the time.

Unfortunately, Pellatt’s love of Toronto’s Camelot wasn’t sustainable, and his goals for expansion drove him into debt. At the time, he owed the Home Bank of Canada $1.7 million ($20 million in today’s currency). To pay his debts, he was forced to auction his art and possessions and move out of the castle. Today, visitors can wander the grounds and gardens, taking in the majesty of this Canadian Gatsby’s design.

Tickets to Casa Loma typically cost $25 for adults and include entrance to the first floor, second-floor bedrooms, third-floor towers, and lower-level tunnel to the stables. You can also tour the outside gardens. Visitors can feel like royalty and get a glimpse into what life was like in the early 1900s.

Wander the City’s Iconic Museums

If you enjoy the art and mystery of Casa Loma, then you have to visit the Art Gallery of Ontario after. Their collection has more than 90,000 works of art, making it one of the most prominent art museums in North America. In 2002, Ken Thompson donated 2,000 pieces of Canadian and European art, which led to renovations that were completed in 2008. The stunning glass facade invites guests in and gives them a preview of what they’re about to see when they enter. Before you go, check to see what temporary exhibits are on display. You might be able to see some of Georgia O’Keeffe’s works or a sculpture by Anthony Caro.

Royal Ontario Museum
Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.

If natural history is more your style, then you shouldn’t miss the Royal Ontario Museum. Since 1914, this building has been the pride of Toronto and a must-see for any visitor. In the years after it opened, so many collectors and curators have tried to fit their pieces into the building that they had to expand it to create more room. In 1933, additional wings were opened, and every decade since, new generations have continued to grow this structure either physically or in its use to the city. By visiting the museum today, you’re helping this generation continue to study science and culture and share their findings with the world.

Grab Lunch in the City’s Famous Eateries

While many locals will debate which restaurants in the area are the best, there are a few places to try for lunch that will wow your taste buds and even bring you back for dinner. Doma is one of them. This restaurant is a French-inspired Korean restaurant located in the heart of Little Italy. Their dishes are made with authentic Korean ingredients and the menu changes every month, so check before you go to find out what’s on.

Also in Little Italy is PG Clucks, which has some of the best fried chicken sandwiches in the area. In fact, it’s the closest thing you can get to Nashville hot chicken outside of Tennessee. The biggest challenge when visiting this restaurant is deciding what sides to get, as you’ll struggle to choose between their coleslaw, potato salad, and macaroni. For a snack, grab some fried pickles or cheese balls for the road.

If you’re looking for something light, check out Crepe It Up on Church Street. Start your day with a great breakfast crepe, and then you can return for lunch and dinner to try some of their other savory concoctions. Before you go, enjoy a dessert crepe to satisfy your sweet tooth before setting off to see more of the city. Not only are their crepes delicious, they’re also fun. Try a Roxbury with Nutella, marshmallows, and bananas or a Hellboy with spicy salami, hot peppers, Havarti cheese and tomato pesto.

Make Animal Friends at the Zoo or Aquarium

In the afternoon, embrace your inner animal lover with a visit to the Toronto zoo or aquarium. It’s hard to do both of these activities on the same day, so you might have to choose between land animals and sea life so you can spend enough time enjoying these exhibits.

Canada’s premier Toronto Zoo is the best place to go if you want to treat yourself to the wondrous, natural surroundings of more than 5,000 animals and over 460 species. As you walk through the zoo, you will experience a variety of different climates and regions — some that don’t feel like Canada at all. Check out elephants and giraffes in the African Savanna or stop by the Australasia exhibit to meet Wallabies and Kangaroos. Don’t worry, there are also plenty of Canadian animals — such as moose, bison, and elk — for you to meet face-to-face. If you have any questions, ask a keeper nearby and they’ll be happy to tell you about this native wildlife.

Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada typically sells timed tickets during the peak season, so you may want to order yours ahead of time so you don’t have to wait to go in. The aquarium typically takes two to three hours to walk through, depending on how long you stay at each exhibit. Believe it or not, there are more than 16,000 aquatic animals in this aquarium and 5.7 million liters of water. The aquarists work to create hands-on activities throughout the aquarium, so guests can pet rays, touch horseshoe crabs, and feel anemones at 100 different interaction points throughout. This makes it an educational and exciting way to spend an afternoon. From harmless sharks to colorful reef fish, you’re sure to be captivated by the ocean life on display.

Rogers Centre
Rogers Centre in Downtown Toronto.

Pick Up Tickets for a Sporting Event

As you plan out your afternoon, check to see which sports teams are in town and playing. Rolling Stone Magazine believes Toronto is next in line to become one of the great sports cities in North America. The Toronto Raptors NBA team has attracted fans such as Drake to its sidelines and has given LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Milwaukee Bucks a run for their money during the NBA Conference Finals in recent years. They continue to prove that underdogs shouldn’t be counted out and every year feels like it could be “their year.”

Toronto is also home to the Blue Jays for major league baseball fans and the Toronto Football Club which competes in the Major League Soccer Eastern Conference. The Blue Jays play in one of the most competitive divisions in the league, so you can root for the home team while they face baseball giants such as the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees.

Of course, you can’t talk about sports in Toronto without mentioning Hockey. The Toronto Maple Leafs regularly make it to the Stanley Cup Playoffs each year but lost in the first round in 2017 against the Washington Capitals. This keeps the season interesting as fans are always pushing the players to give it their all and make it to the end. You haven’t seen Canada until you’ve caught a hockey game in the Great White North.

The Maple Leafs aren’t the only reason to catch a hockey game in Toronto. The city is home to the Hockey Hall of Fame, which has documented the history and lore of this great sport since 1943. The Hockey Hall of Fame that you can visit today was opened in 1993 and cost $27 million to build. Many believe the investment was well worth it: during the first year alone, 500,000 visitors stopped into the new building, far exceeding the 320,000 projected visitors. Even today, the museum and exhibit hall draws hockey fans from all over who want to catch a glimpse of their favorite iconic memorabilia.

CN Tower
CN Tower and Toronto Skyline at night.

Visit the CN Tower and Grab a Late Dinner

After the game, end your day in Toronto with a visit to the CN Tower, which is typically open until 10:30 p.m. The CN Tower was classified as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1995, sharing the distinction with the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the Panama Canal, and the Empire State Building, just to name a few others. While the tower serves as a Canadian telecommunications hub, it also attracts visitors from all over the country and the world, to marvel at its size and breathtaking views.

For example, the tower shines blue and white on April 26 for International Guide Dogs Day and changes to green during the last week in May for Ontario Trails Week. Check the calendar before you visit to see what’s being honored each night.

You can visit the two observation levels between 9 a.m. and 10:30 p.m., including the LookOut Level at 346m (1,136 feet), and the SkyPod at 447m (1,465 feet). If you’re feeling brave, you can test your nerve by walking across the Glass Floor and catching a view 342m (1,122 feet) straight down. While some of the smaller cafes close around 6 p.m., the 360 Restaurant stays open until 10:15 p.m., giving visitors the opportunity to dine while overlooking Toronto’s city lights and evening glam.

Toronto is a great way to get introduced to Canada and a wonderful city for art lovers, sports fans, and foodies. If you’re ready to start your Canada dream vacation, check out Godotrip.com and start planning your perfect day. You may discover that the more time you spend in Toronto, the more there is to see, and the longer you’re going to want to stay.