If you want to visit Toronto’s landmarks, I high recommend Toronto CityPASS. It has 5 most popular tourist attractions: CN Tower, Casa Loma, Ripley’s Aquarium, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto Zoo or Ontario Science Centre. This blog is a step by step tour guide perfect for first-time visitors. It shows my ideal version of Toronto CityPass 3 day itinerary.
All you need to do is to print out this blog or have it on your phone, I guarantee you would not get lost in the city.
For the Toronto CityPASS, you could buy it online in advance or buy on the spot at any of 5 attractions.
I have lived in Toronto for many years and I have been to all 5 attractions many times and I really like them. I do think the value for the CityPASS is pretty good. There is just one catch: it must be used in 9 consecutive days starting with the first day of use. So you have to visit all 5 attractions in 9 days or less.
My in-laws are coming to Toronto for 3 weeks in the summer. Neither of my husband and I has time to take them around, so I came up with this guide to help them explore this city.
- Day 1: Harbourfront (CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium)
- Day 2: Downtown Continued (Casa Loma, Royal Ontario Museum)
- Day 3: Toronto Zoo or Ontario Science Centre
Day 1: Harbourfront (CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium)
“Harbourfront is a neighborhood on the northern shore of Lake Ontario within the downtown core of the city of Toronto.”
You could get a very nice view of Lake Ontario and I highly recommend to take a walk along the lake.
Take Subway to Union Station
Toronto metro system is pretty simple compared to other big cities.
For the metro map, it could be found here: https://www.ttc.ca/Subway/interactive_map/interactive_map.jsp.
Union Station is the busiest Canadian station. It is a stop for all subway, bus, and rail. There is no way you are going to miss this stop because there is a super sharp turn when getting to this station.
Walk to CN Tower
There is an only 7-minute walk from Union Station to CN tower.
Toronto CityPASS Stop #1: CN Tower
For this attraction, you could use your Toronto CityPASS.
Address: 301 Front St W, Toronto, ON M5V 2T6
Recommend Length: 1 hour
CN Tower is world’s tallest free-standing structure for 32 years from 1975–2007 and was the world’s tallest tower until 2009. The view is spectacular on the top. There is glass floor to look down what is beneath you.
Toronto CityPASS Stop #2: Ripley’s Aquarium
Ripley’s Aquarium is right beside the CN Tower, you could not miss it.
Address: 288 Bremner Blvd, Toronto, ON M5V 3L9
Recommend Length: 2 hour
This attraction is definitely interesting, especially for kids. When I visited this place, it gives me an out-of-world experience. I saw fishes and sharks swimming above me.
You are currently at Toronto downtown core so there are so many places you could decide to have lunch. You could dine at a fancy restaurant in the financial district or just eat a hot dog from the street. Here are some of my recommendations:
Recommendation #1: Canyon Creek Chophouse Front Street
Address: 156 Front St W, Toronto, ON M5J 2L7
This is not just a steakhouse, it has a lot of variety and the lunch special value there was pretty good.
Recommendation #2: Miku Toronto for Weekday Lunch Special
Address: 10 Bay St #105, Toronto, ON M5J 2R8
Miku Toronto is an expensive sushi place. It probably has the best tasting sushi as well. I recommend it for a weekday lunch special. It requires reservations.
I wrote a blog post about my winterlicious experience: http://travelerto.com/food/miku-toronto/.
Recommendation #3: Food Court in RBC WaterPark Place on WEEKDAY ONLY
Address: 88 Queens Quay W, Toronto, ON M5J 0B8, 2nd Floor
If you want to have cheap food, I would recommend the food court on the 2nd floor in RBC WaterPark Place. However, the food court is only opened during the weekday and it gets very busy during the 12-1.
Recommendation #4: Food Court in Canadian Broadcasting Centre on WEEKDAY ONLY
Address: 250 Front Street West; Toronto, Ontario; M5V 3G5, basement
Here is another food court around the area. It is in the basement of CBC.
Recommendation #5: Chipotle Mexican Grill
Address: 123 Front St W #103, Toronto, ON M5J 2M2
If you want to have a cheap eat Mexican food, here is a good place.
Recommendation #6: Amsterdam BrewHouse
Address: 245 Queens Quay W, Toronto, ON M5J 2K9
If you want a glass of beer and a nice view of Lake Ontario, I highly recommend this restaurant. However, it does get very busy during summertime, especially weekends.
Option 1: Toronto Island Park / Centre Island (Summertime Only)
Length: at least 3 hours
To get to the island, you need to take a ferry from Jack Layton Ferry Terminal. However, the ferry is only open to the public during summertime. For schedule, check the website: https://www.toronto.ca/explore-enjoy/parks-gardens-beaches/toronto-island-park/all-ferry-schedules/.
It also gets very busy during the summer weekends so I would advise you to buy tickets online in advance: https://secure.toronto.ca/FerryTicketOnline/tickets/index.jsp.
For more information about the island, visit http://www.torontoisland.com/index.php.
Walk to Jack Layton Ferry Terminal
Address: 9 Queens Quay W, Toronto, ON M5J 2H3
There are 3 ferries: Ward’s Island, Centre Island and Hanlan’s Point. However, there are just 3 different points on the same island. You could take any of them, depends on which one come to first. This island is not big, according to Google Map, it would take 1 hour to walk from end to end.
I would recommend you to take around the whole island because it is such a paradise. You could bring swimsuit during the summer. There are many beaches on the island and even a clothing-optional beach on the round west side.
Option 2: Waterfront -> St. Lawrence Market (Closed Sunday and Monday) -> Distillery District
This option would give a route into some cultural aspects of Toronto.
Tip 1: If you choose this option, I would recommend having lunch or an afternoon snack at St. Lawrence Market.
Tip 2: I don’t recommend this option during Christmas times on weekend (from the end of October to Christmas). Distillery District hosts annual Christmas market and this place would be super packed during the weekend. It also charges tickets to come in. However, I do recommend it during weekdays.
Take a Walk Along Harbourfront
Just walk towards the lake and you should be able to find many parks aroune Lake Ontario.
Address: 339 Queens Quay W, Toronto, ON M5V
HTO park is an urban beach beside the lake. You could use this address as a reference. Just walk towards the east of the park should bring you to next attraction.
St. Lawrence Market
Address: 93 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5E 1C3
Hours: 8 AM – 6 PM Tuesday to Saturday. It is closed Sunday and Mondy. However, the antique market is open on Sunday on North building.
St. Lawrence Market is an indoor farmer’s market. It sells nuts, local groceries, yogurt, meat, wine, fishes…
I would recommend trying some food here.
Address: the intersection of Mill St. and Parliament St.
It is about 15 minutes walk from St. Lawrence Market.
The Distillery District is a pedestrian-only block that used to be a large distillery during the 19th century. Now it is a just a hipster and artsy place. It has many interesting sculptures and many nice restaurants.
What I like in Distillery District:
Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie
Address: 35 Tank House Lane, Toronto, ON M5A 3C4
I usually order an almond danish in boulangerie of this place. You could check out my review: http://travelerto.com/food/cluny-bistro/.
Take Streetcar or Walk Towards Union Station and Go Home
No matter what option you choose, you need to get back to Union Station if you need to take the subway.
What a day!
If you still have energy at the end, here is one more site you could visit:
Toronto City Hall
Address: 100 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
Toronto City Hall has the TORONTO site that you could take pictures with.
From here, you could take the subway from Queen Station.
Day 2: Downtown Continued (Casa Loma, Royal Ontario Museum)
Day 2 would be continued at downtown.
Take Subway to Dupont Station
Toronto CityPASS Stop #3: Casa Loma
Address: 1 Austin Terrace, Toronto, ON M5R 1X8
Length: 3 hours
This place is only 9 minutes away from the station.
Casa Loma used to be the private residence of Sir Henry Mill Pellatt, who used to be one of the richest men in Canada. However, later in his life, around Great Depression era, he had near-bankruptcy and was forced to left his castle due to high property tax.
I have been to Casa Loma many times. It gives me a peek into what luxury life looks like.
Must see: the tunnel to Hunting Lodge and Stables
Recommendation #1: Sushi on Bloor
Address: 525 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M5S 1Y4
This is a neighborhood sushi place. It has good lunch specials.
Recommendation #2: Koreatown
Address: Around the intersection of Bathurst and Bloor
If you want some very authentic Korean food, you could make a detour to visit Koreatown in Toronto.
You could go to any Korean restaurant in this area and it would be cheap and good.
If you like some sweet desserts, I would recommend to check out:
Address: 656 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6G 1K9
This place is famous for its walnut cakes.
Recommendation #3: Magic Noodle
Address: 93 Harbord St, Toronto, ON M5S 1G4
If you want some Chinese-style ramen, I would recommend this noodle house near the University of Toronto.
University of Toronto
The University of Toronto is about 30 minutes walk from Casa Loma.
You could subway from Dupont station to St. George station.
I know my in-laws would want to take pictures with Norman Bethune’s sculpture. It is on the way to Royal Ontario Museum anyway.
The university campus is pretty big; however, there is only a couple place worthy to take pictures with.
Picture Spot #1: University of Toronto King’s College Circle
Address: 31 King’s College Cir, Toronto, ON M5S 1A1
This is the drop-off stop for all the tour buses.
Picture Spot #2: Norman Bethune’s Sculpture
Location: Queen’s Park Crescent W. just north of College
Toronto CityPass Stop #4: Royal Ontario Museum
Address: 100 Queens Park, Toronto, ON M5S 2C6
Length: 2 hours
This is the largest museum in Canada. It has unique architecture and it would require at least 2 hours here. It closes at 5:30 every day, so be sure to arrive here before 3.
Window Shopping in Yorkville
Yorkville is the “rich” neighborhood of Toronto. Just walk along the Bloor street to the east until you see a Louis Vuitton store.
There are stores like Hermes, Chanel, Burberry, and a chain-store Holt Renfrew in this area. It does feel like a small town in European.
Go Home from Museum/Bay/Bloor Station
This is the downtown core area of Toronto, so there are many subway stations around this area. This concludes the day 2 of my ideal itinerary.
Day 3: Toronto Zoo or Ontario Science Centre
Finally, it comes to the last day. Unlike the previous 2 days with a packed schedule, this day is pretty relaxing. It just has 1 place to visit. There is only one attraction left on your CityPASS, you have to choose between the Toronto Zoo or the Ontario Science Centre.
Both the Toronto Zoo and Ontario Science Centre are far away from the subway line. So if you don’t have a car, I would recommend the Ontario Science Centre since it is close to a bus stop. For Toronto Zoo, it is around 20 minutes walk from the nearest bus stop. Nevertheless, if you have a car and like hiking, I would recommend Toronto Zoo. Rouge National Urban Park is right beside the Toronto Zoo.
Address: 2000 Meadowvale Rd, Toronto, ON M1B 5K7
Ontario Science Centre
Address: 770 Don Mills Rd, North York, ON M3C 1T3
If you want to save on parking, you could park at:
Rouge National Urban Park Visitor Center (Zoo Road Welcome Area).
Address: 1749 Meadowvale Rd, Scarborough, ON M1B 5W8
Like downtown of any major cities, parking is hard to find and expensive. I would recommend using the subway to get around in downtown.
If you are going to hit more than 4 stops for a day, I would recommend using Metro Day Pass: https://www.ttc.ca/Fares_and_passes/Passes/Day_Pass/index.jsp for that day. You could get it at any subway station booth. For most of the attraction, you could get there by subway except Toronto Zoo.