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Toronto is the most populous city in Canada and the provincial capital of Ontario. It is located on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. The city is the anchor of the Golden Horseshoe region, which wraps around Lake Ontario from Toronto to Niagara Falls. Toronto is the fourth largest city and fifth largest urban agglomeration in North America.
The best times to visit for the weather are late spring/early summer or early fall, with comfortably cool nights and less crowds. Mid-summer is the peak tourist season, but visitors will find that Toronto's vibrancy extends throughout the winter with outdoor ice rinks and bundled up clubgoers. Air conditioning and heating are standard in Toronto's public buildings.
Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) is located 28km (17 miles) northwest of downtown and is served by most major airlines. This is Canada’s largest and busiest airport and is the main hub for Air Canada and WestJet. There are two terminals: Terminal 1 hosts Air Canada and other Star Alliance airlines, while Terminal 3 hosts SkyTeam and Oneworld alliance airlines, along with WestJet, Air Transat, and other unaffiliated airlines. Free WiFi internet access is available throughout both terminals.
There is a free Terminal LINK monorail that runs 24/7 which connects you to Terminal 1, Terminal 3 (incl. the Sheraton Gateway Hotel), and Viscount Station (incl. the Value Park garage, Value Park lot, and the ALT hotel). In Terminal 1, it is located on level 5 of the parking garage. In Terminal 3, it is located in the pedestrian bridge.
The main bus terminal in Toronto, the Toronto Coach Terminal (also known as Bay Street Terminal or the Metro Toronto Coach Terminal), is used for intercity coach travel and is served by Greyhound, Coach Canada, New York Trailways, and Ontario Northland.
All scheduled passenger trains in Toronto run into and out of unnion Station, which is located at 65 Front Street, between Bay and York Streets.
What to do
Just walk. Toronto has so many eclectic neighbourhoods that a random walk is fascinating in its own right. You might start in the Downtown area and then try other neighbourhoods around the city. You will also find that Toronto is "the city within a park". Edwards Gardens and the Toronto Botanical Gardens in the neighbourhood of North York might just be the place to start exploring this natural environment.
Try Lokafy which connects you with a local who is passionate about exploring the hidden gems in and around the city. It's just like having a friend show you around the city.
Go on a Toronto Urban Adventures walking tour to experience "Multicultural Kensington Market & Chinatown", or learn about Toronto's history and Canadian beer on a "Beer Makes History Better" tour.
Beaches. Toronto has three main sections of beach along Lake Ontario. The most popular of these is in the aptly-named Beaches neighbourhood.
The Distillery District. The former Gooderham & Worts distillery lands have been rejuvenated into a pedestrian-only village dedicated to the arts and entertainment. It has fantastic restaurants, festivals, and art galleries.
The Lakefront and Harbourfront, in the downtown core . Biking and walking trails, with an excellent view of the Toronto skyline. The Harbourfront Centre is situated right by the lake, and is home to numerous cultural events of which most are free or relatively inexpensive.
The Toronto Islands. A short inexpensive ferry ride from the foot of Bay St. and you leave the bustle of the city behind. Visually, the views of the skyline from the islands is stunning, and for cycling, walking, picnics or just relaxing, the Toronto Islands are hard to beat.
Film. Toronto has a very important film scene. Every September Toronto hosts the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), one of the most important film festivals in the world.
Music. Like many large cities Toronto has a huge and culturally important music scene. There are thousands of venues around the city to see a show, from small intimate bars to large concert halls.
Canada's Wonderland. A big theme park located in Vaughan, 30 kilometres north of downtown Toronto. It is considered one of North America's premier amusement parks, with more than 200 attractions. The park is open seasonally from May to October.
Chinatown, is an ethnic enclave in Downtown Toronto with a high concentration of ethnic Chinese residents and businesses extending along Dundas Street West and Spadina Avenue. First developed in the late 19th century, it is now one of the largest Chinatowns in North America and one of several major Chinese-Canadian communities in the Greater Toronto Area.
Little India, on Gerrard Street between Greenwood and Coxwell. If you want to get a sense of Toronto's vibrant South Asian community, this is where you want to be.
Toronto has ample opportunities for shopping, and nearly any section of the city has unique places to shop:
Yonge Street, is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest street in the world. It runs from the edge of the lake to about 1896 km north of the city.
South of Queen St. to the lake, is mostly the financial district, with very little for tourists. If you want to have a good look at the skyscrapers of the financial district, walk west from the King subway station to the corner of King and Bay.
From Queen St. to Bloor St. is the busiest stretch. This is a pretty exciting place to be, and most visitors find this part of the city an interesting experience, even if the most refined shopping is found elsewhere.
Toronto Eaton Centre, A massive shopping mall on the West side of Yonge between Queen and Dundas Streets, The Eaton Centre is a Toronto landmark. Because of its downtown location and accessibility by subway, the mall tends to have a less-antiseptic feel than more remote suburban centres.
Yorkville. The high-end shopping district of Toronto. Once a haven for Toronto's hippie population, it is located just north of Bloor and Bay Streets and is now home to many designer boutiques. During the annual Toronto Film Festival the area is "ground-zero" for celebrity watching.
Kensington Market. Take the Bloor-Danforth subway to Spadina station, and then take the Spadina streetcar South into Chinatown. Kensington Market is one block West of Spadina.
Pacific Mall, at Steeles and Kennedy in Markham. The largest Chinese indoor mall in North America, and definitely worth a visit if you are interested in Asian-Canadian culture.
Chinatown. Centred at Dundas and Spadina, Toronto's Chinatown is a great way to sample a tiny bit of cities like Hong Kong, without spending the airfare.
Yorkdale Shopping Centre, A shopping centre located in the north of the city, accessible from Yorkdale subway station.
The 'PATH' System. Stretches from the Eaton Centre south to unnion Station, an underground shopping mall has been created for all the commuters to get from unnion Station to their offices and back without ever going outside.
Scarborough. Kennedy Avenue from Lawrence Avenue East to Ellesmere Avenue is a commercial district featuring dozens of independent furniture, electronic, houseware and computer businesses that all share some of the best deals the city has to offer, together with a couple of large electronic chains.
Vaughan Mills. Big new shopping mall 6 km North of City of Toronto. It includes attractions such as LEGOLAND Discovery Center and Lucky Strike Lanes.
Toronto Hockey Repair and Goalie Heaven. A world-renowned ice hockey equipment vendor, attracting people from around the world to shop.
Toronto is remarkably safe and the streets are vibrant with pedestrians and bicyclists, even in most neighbourhoods at night. If you use common sense, you should have no trouble at all.
The overall violent crime rate in Canada, and particularly in Toronto, is much lower than that found in major cities in the United States and below the average of other large Canadian cities to the west. Over the last decade, there have been an average of fewer than 70 homicides per year in the city, a rate of fewer than three per 100,000. Organized gang violence occurs but has been very sporadic since a noticeable rise mid-last decade. Petty crime is generally not a large-scale problem in Toronto, but as always, keep vigilant with your possessions and avoid keeping valuables in outer pockets. Car and bike theft are comparable to other large North American cities and many stolen automobiles wind up being exported overseas.