48 hours in Toronto


By Linda Barnard, Toronto based film and travel writer

Photography by Thomas Kurmeier/Getty Images

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July 2017

Vibrant, multicultural Toronto is Canada’s arts and entertainment capital, dubbed ‘The 6’ by its famous son, rapper Drake. Buzzing with festivals and activities inspired by its global citizens and an energetic food scene, residents are justifiably proud of urban neighbourhoods and a glittering waterfront skyline. Local film and travel writer Linda Barnard let us in on the best places to eat, sleep and visit in her home city.

Day one

Settle in

Staying downtown puts you close to the action, as well as streetcar and subway stops. The circa-1900 Omni King Edward Hotel combines historic charms with a modern stay. Le Germain Hotel Toronto has an upscale, boutique vibe and an Entertainment District address, while The Westin Harbour Castle puts you at the edge of Lake Ontario for impressive views.

The really adventurous can strap in for an EdgeWalk around the outside of the CN Tower’s main pod at 1,168 feet. Nothing but lake and city views – and plenty of fresh air

17:30 – Museum view

Pop up to the second-floor Museum House Tavern on Bloor Street to sip barrel-aged cocktails at the bar and eat what’s arguably Toronto’s best burger: the prime beef double cheeseburger (with fries, of course) while enjoying fantastic views of architect Daniel Libeskind’s dramatic Royal Ontario Museum entry, the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal.

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  • Rest your head at Le Germain Hotel.

    Tee total

    Le Germain not only has a top-notch roof terrace – ideal for a quiet tipple – but also offers a putting green during the summer months.

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  • Test your courage at EdgeWalk, CN Tower.

    Head for heights

    A stroll around the EdgeWalk takes place on the roof of the tower’s restaurant 356 metres in the air. Fly from London to Toronto from:

    Flights to Toronto
  • Enjoy the salubrious dinner offerings at La Banane © Rick O’Brien.

    Bowie at La Banane

    La Banane open everyday of the week from 18.00-00.00. Try the psychedelic Ziggy Stardust Disco Egg for dessert.£449 pp

    Discover Toronto

19:00 – Bloor stroll

Walk off your meal by wandering Bloor St. E. to window-shop (or drop some series cash) at top-name designer stores. Luxury retailer Holt Renfrew Centre will tempt you before heading a block north into Yorkville to peruse shops and boutiques.

Day two

08:00 – Fall for Niagara

It may seem strange to get to Toronto and then head out of town but with Niagara Falls and the Niagara region’s excellent wineries so close, you may want to include the experience by taking a day tour, coming back for dinner.

If staying in the city is your preference, take the 506 Carlton streetcar along College St. west to Boom Breakfast & Co for Smokey & the Bandit eggs and a Pino Colado smoothie. Bonus: the streetcar ride passes through the Little Italy neighbourhood grab a TTC day pass to save money on fares.

09:30 – Up, up and away

It takes 58 seconds in a glass-fronted elevator to get 1,136 feet above Toronto at the CN Tower and the SkyPod observation platform is 33 storeys above that. The really adventurous can strap in for an EdgeWalk around the outside of the Tower’s main pod at 1,168 feet. Nothing but lake and city views – and plenty of fresh air.

11:30 – Fish eye

Go from air to sea at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada, near the base of the CN Tower. Lunch nearby at Real Sports Bar and Grill at the Air Canada Centre’s Maple Leaf Square, where fans of Toronto Maple Leafs’ hockey and Toronto Raptors’ basketball converge. Pick up team gear at Real Sports Apparel at Gate 1, Air Canada Centre.

15:00 – To market, to market

Take a three-hour guided walking tour of Kensington Market, a multicultural neighbourhood and home to successive waves of immigrants, all of whom have left their mark here. Eat your way around this foodie paradise – tip: get there ahead of your tour to score vintage finds. Bungalow and Exile are top stops for unique clothing and accessories.

  • Feast your eyes and your palate on Bar Raval’s extensive vermouth and sherry menu  © Jonathan Friedman/PARTISANS.

    Taxi tips

    Finding it tricky to choose a spot for dinner? Ask a Toronto cab driver, they’re renowned for knowing the best and newest haunts. Book flights to Toronto, plus a three night hotel stay from:£449 pp

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18:30 – Spanish sip

Inspired by Barcelona, tiny and gorgeous Bar Raval in Little Italy is a must-visit with excellent cocktails and tapas. Neighbourhood stalwart Café Diplomatico, known as “the Dip” is a great place to people watch.

20:00 – Disco dining

Excellent French dining room La Banane has an impressive raw bar and a cheeky chocolate truffle-stuffed Ziggy Stardust Disco Egg for dessert. Nearby Doma draws rave reviews for its modern Korean fare.

22:00 – Rock on

Hear up-and-coming bands or established names at The Horsehoe Tavern. This historic Queen West bar and temple of Canadian music history opened in 1947.

Day three

  • Tuck into the uova rossa at Bar Buca © Chuck Ortiz.

    More than brunch

    As well as brunch, Bar Buca is also open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and opens between 16.00 and 19.00 for aperitivo.

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  • Stop by the city’s expansive Nathan Phillips Square © Getty.

    Get your skates on

    Each winter, the square hosts a large outdoor ice rink for skaters of all ages and abilities to enjoy the festive atmosphere.

    Fly to Toronto
  • Feast your eyes on masterpieces at the Art Gallery of Toronto © Tourism Toronto.

    Islands of art

    Toronto Island is known for its artistic communities, as well as a place for recreation. The best part? The Toronto Islands are completely car-free.

    Experience the real Toronto

10:00 – Get your brunch on

You’re almost an official Torontonian, which means Sunday brunch. Bar Buca’s hearty Italian breakfasts will set you up for your last day in town. Try the uova rossa – duck yolk, bay scallop, crisp potato and pine nuts.

11:00 – For art’s sake

The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) has an impressive Canadian collection and international masterpieces housed in a Frank Gehry-designed space. The second floor Galleria Italia’s airy espresso bar is a quiet spot for coffee and a sweet.

13:30 – Farewell lunch

FRANK Restaurant off the AGO lobby never disappoints so makes for the ideal last meal on your trip. Stop for an Instagram-worthy cotton candy coffee a few blocks down at Taiwanese-inspired Light Cafe on Baldwin Street's restaurant row, then wander back to your hotel via Nathan Phillips Square and futuristic City Hall for a selfie with the colourful TORONTO sign.

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