Toronto is the vibrant, multicultural, and welcoming city on Lake Ontario’s shore that Peter Ustinov once described as “New York City run by the Swiss.”
Arriving in Toronto
Toronto’s Pearson International Airport is the second busiest international gateway in North America. Flights from Star Alliance carriers and Emirates land at T1, while SkyTeam, OneWorld, and other airlines use T3. International visitors will require either a visa or an electronic travel authorization (eTA), and www.canada.ca can advise on which and how to apply. If you arrive at T3, customs can be speeded up by using a Primary Inspection Kiosk to scan your documents. Downloading an eDeclaration app in advance will further reduce time at this point.
Traveling to the city
Downtown is 15 miles (25 kilometers) away and can be easily reached by taxi in 30 minutes. Licensed taxis and limos offer a flat-rate service — expect to pay CAD $50-60 — and ridesharing apps UberX and Lyft also operate from the airport. Catching a bus can take time and involve transfers, so the best public transport option is the Union Pearson Express train. It departs every 15 minutes, takes 25 minutes to reach downtown, and costs less than $13. If you wish to drive, all of the major car rental companies have a presence at the airport.
Taxis are plentiful downtown and, while they are meant to accept credit cards, some still insist on cash only. As you’d expect, Uber has a strong presence. The Toronto Transit Commission is an easy-to-use mix of subways, buses, and streetcars. If you intend on making multiple journeys across the network over a few days, get a PRESTO card and top up accordingly. An electronic day pass can be purchased on the TTCconnect app and scanned from your phone. Finally, Toronto is a lovely city to explore on foot when the weather is good.
Where to stay
- The Hilton Toronto is brilliantly located and, despite having 600 rooms, remains cozy and boutique-like.
- Recently renovated, Fairmont Royal York provides a stunning mix of old and new in the heart of the city.
- The vibrant Intercontinental Toronto Yorkville is in the city’s culture corridor, close to shops, restaurants, and galleries.
- Large rooms and an indoor walkway to the Eaton Centre shopping mall make the Marriot Downtown at CF Toronto Eaton Centre a popular choice.
- Close to the CN Tower, the Hyatt Regency Toronto is a great place to relax. It has an extensive health club with outdoor pool and sauna.
Best places to eat
- Le Swan is a French diner, mixing bistro classics and diner standards. Perfect for night owls, they bring out the fondue pots after 11 p.m.
- White marble and leather create a sumptuous setting, but it’s the elaborate tasting menu that catches the eye at Don Alfonso.
- Kojin mashes Asian influences with Colombian staples and truly excellent meat from the grill.
- A stunning octagonal room and menu featuring filet mignon and Dover sole mean there’s nowhere better to enjoy classic dishes than Arthur’s Restaurant.
- A notable new arrival, Giulietta serves wood-fired pizzas, fresh pasta, and a memorable crudité plate with a bagna cauda dip.
Where to meet friends and colleagues for drinks
- With its ever-changing backdrop of contemporary art, the bar at The Drake Hotel is a fashionable place to meet.
- Pretty Ugly is a memorable venue stuffed with taxidermy birds. It offers a good selection of nonalcoholic cocktails.
- Voted Canada’s top bar in 2018, Bar Raval’s Gaudi-esque mahogany wood panels and convivial atmosphere bring a touch of Spain to Toronto.
- A thatched bar and tropical tunes make the new Shameful Tiki Bar an escapist and fun location for a relaxed evening.
- For a sophisticated and well-lit venue in which to conduct business, head to the bar at Alo.
Free time in Toronto? Five things to see and do
- Step into the Bata Shoe Museum. Shaped like a shoebox, the building houses 12,500 pairs of shoes – some dating back 4,500 years.
- Explore Casa Loma, a majestic 98-room castle built by a 19th-century millionaire.
- Take in a show at the botanically themed Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre — the world’s last operating double-decker theater.
- Join an exhilarating EdgeWalk around the top of the CN Tower – attached to a harness, of course.
- Marvel at the whimsical Berczy Park Dog Fountain, featuring life-size sculptures of 27 different dog breeds (and one cat). 35 Wellington Street East.