Posted - 25th August 2018
Right, I don’t even know how to explain how much we LOVE Canada. We dream about moving there every single day, and we are trying our best to make it there some day. We spent a whole two weeks travelling around Ontario and Quebec, just to see how we felt about Canada and if we can really picture us living there. Conclusion: YES YES YES, we felt like we fit right in, and already (strangely) felt like home already. We started our long trip in Toronto (our favourite city), so here’s our guide to staying a weekend in Toronto.
Day 1 (more like half a day) – Toronto Downtown
We landed in Toronto around midday, so we already lost half a day sadly! So we tried to make our way to the hotel as fast as possible, so that we can start discovering the city. Our hotel was in quite a central location (around Toronto University), so we were very lucky, and felt safe as well, being around University students.
We went in November, so it was vey cold in Canada already which we really needed to get used to! We put all our layers on, and headed on out to explore the Downtown area. As we were there so close to Christmas, we didn’t even know, but we actually landed in Toronto on the day that they turned on all the Christmas lights around Toronto City hall.
It was so nice to be part of this experience! So many local people all joined in to see the concert that was on as well as the stunning tree. We felt part of the Toronto gang. We decided to not search for a restaurant for dinner but instead, get some delicious snacks from the food vans that were around./ We HAD to try poutine of course! Traditionally Canadian and all, and it was actually so delicious. It’s French fries, topped with cheese curds and gravy! Who even came up with that combination?
Once our bellies were full, we were warmed up, we stayed at the City Hall, and just watched the locals ice skate on the rink just in front of the colourful TORONTO sign. We were too scared to join in, because we didn’t think we were that good. But even people watching was great!
Tip: What we loved about Canada is that in each and every city there is an ice rink, and if you have your own ice skates, you can just go on the rink and ice skate! We just thought that was a brilliant idea, and wish more countries did that. We even saw some businessmen in suits ice skating on their lunch break.
The jet lag was hitting in, so after a few hours in Downtown, we made our way back to the hotel for a nice and cosy sleep. But first, we had to take another photo by a Christmas tree 🙂
Day 2 – Niagara Falls day trip
The amazing thing about Toronto, is that it is actually super close to Niagara Falls. It was on our bucket list for so long, so we couldn’t wait to go, and that’s why, on our second day in Canada, we went there!!
It’s only a 2 hour bus ride from Downtown Toronto to Niagara Falls with the Greyhound bus. So it’s super simple, easy and CHEAP to get there. And most importantly, this allows you to just go to Niagara Falls for a day trip, so it’s perfect!
Tip: We travelled around Canada with Greyhound and we were left so satisfied and happy, and it really didn’t cost us much.
If you’d like to read about our full itinerary at Niagara Falls, go over to our A day in: Niagara Falls blog.
Day 3 – Distillery District | Air Canada Centre | CN Tower | Graffiti Alley | Baldwin Village | Yonge-Dundas Square
On our third day we decided to walk around Toronto as much as we could, to really see the city for what it is. We started our day with the Distillery District. It’s a pedestrian only area, with lots of nice little boutiques, shops, cafes and bars. When we were there, that was where the Christmas Market of Toronto was set, so it was lovely.
This used to be a large whiskey distillery, so the buildings are very original with 19th Century architecture, surrounded by little cobblestone roads. Just felt so different from Toronto city Centre.
We passed by many fun statues, and Sam’s most favourite shop: the Sports Centre. They had lots of American football merchandise, as well as ice hockey merch of course!! Especially for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
We then made our way towards the CN Tower. It’s such a tall building, that it can lead you towards it, even without using a map! We passed by the famous St. Lawrence Market. The building itself was stunning, and we so wanted to go inside, but sadly it was closed when we were there… That’s one for next time!!
So our aim was to reach the CN Tower, but on our way we wanted to stop over at as many places as possible. So we went a bit off route, and passed by the Air Canada building, and posed next to some ice hockey statues 🙂 And we felt so Canadian, that we even decided to finally get some Maple Leafs merchandise. So now, when we do finally move to Canada, we will just have to support the Toronto team, it’s a match made in heaven!
We also passed by the Gooderham Building, and I just had to mention this on our blog, because it’s just so architecturally special. It reminded me of the Flat Iron building in NYC.
Then, we FINALLY made it to the CN tower. And when you stand at the bottom of it, looking up, you realise how tall it actually is!
Fun Fact: Did you know that this tower is 553.3 meters high, and was the world’s tallest tower until 2009 when the Burj Khalifa overtook it? That’s pretty tall!!
On the top of the tower, there is a beautiful observatory and restaurants. But this is probably our BEST TIP: if you want to visit the tower, you have to pay to get up and there’s large queues, BUT you also get to go to the observatory if you have dinner at the CN tower restaurant!
So that is exactly what we did. We booked a table online for lunch time (because the menu is much cheaper during lunch and we want to see Toronto in the daylight), we didn’t have to wait in any queues at all, took the lift all the way up (for free), and had lunch with the most STUNNING and sunny view! ALSO, the coolest thing about the restaurant is that it actually spins very slowly!! So the one hour you’re there for the food, you get to see the entire view of Toronto, just from your seat. How genius is that??
Once we finished our most delicious lunch (the portions were big too!), we made our way to the observatory part of the tower.
The observatory has a room with the history of the tower, which was very interesting, as well as a GLASS floor! Yeah, GLASS. We felt very gutsy walking over it, was so much fun!
We then walked around the city a bit more. We wanted to see an area where people actually lived, and not just the business centre. So we made our way towards Graffiti Alley. I must say, the alley did look a bit dodgy, but the Graffiti was really original and very pretty.
We walked walked along Queen Street back towards Downtown. I really liked this street, it just felt like a bit of home! It had lots of little shops, and cafes and restaurants, and just felt quaint and cosy. We looked around the Baldwin Village area, to see what the houses were like there, and just felt like we were in the country side than a large city, would be nice to have a house there, so close to the city centre, yet with a rural feeling.
We saw so many little cute squirrels around that area. We’ve never seen black squirrels ever before, and they were just everywhere there, was so cute. After this long and tiring walk, we finally made it to the hustle and bustle of Toronto, Yonge-Dundas Square.
We decided to pop into the big shopping centre right there called the CF Toronto Eaton Centre. It was huge, with so many different kind of shops. Now, our most favourite quirky thing about Toronto is that it has an entire city underground and inside many tunnels and it’s called the PATH. You will see many signs for it wherever you walk inside, like inside the University, inside the shopping mall, inside Air Canada Centre.
It’s so cool that in the coldest months, you can literally walk from the north of the city, all the way south to the train station, just through these tunnels. It means that there is no traffic, it’s nice and warm, there are many shops and cafes on the way, it’s just perfect! At no point did we think that it looked dodgy or dangerous!! Only problem is that you really need to look up the map of the PATH as it’s not as straight forward as you think.
In the evening, it was a MUST that we found the best sports bar, so that Sam could watch the Ravens play. We found Real Sports Bar & Grill which looked just like what we were looking for. It was our first time in a proper sports bar, so we enjoyed the atmosphere, the thousands of screens and the drinks 🙂
Day 4 – Toronto to Ottawa
Our stay in Toronto was coming to an end sadly, and we were on our way to the capital Ottawa by bus. For a final stop in Toronto, we decided to pop by Toronto City Hall before our bus departure. Lucky for us, and by surprise, it was the day that the Argonauts (Toronto’s Football Team) were coming back into town after winning the Canadian Cup!! The city was beaming, there were loads of locals coming to see them, cheerleaders everywhere, and we actually got to see the players up close! Was so much fun.
We then made our way to Ottawa. We spent another week in Canada, so if you want to read about our next few steps, head to our Blogs page! We hope that our experience in Toronto inspired you to travel to Canada, we’re definitely going back to explore more!!
Xoxo Ani and Sam