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Toronto is a vibrant metropolis overflowing with iconic landmarks, fun adventures, and a diverse culture. From dawn till dusk, you will find a never-ending list of things to do, from visiting the Hockey Hall of Fame to having a drink at Canada’s best cocktail bar – there is never a dull moment!
If you only have 1 day to spend in Toronto it can be hard to narrow down what to see in such a short amount of time. So as a Canadian who has been here countless times, I have created this one-day itinerary full of the best Toronto tours, restaurants, and experiences!
Whether you’re quickly passing through, here on a 1-day layover, or a local seeking to rediscover your city, this guide is designed to make every moment count. So, fasten your seatbelt, lace up your walking shoes, and get ready for a fun 24-hour journey through Toronto!
There is no better way to start your big day in Toronto than by fueling up at Lady Marmalade for breakfast. It’s such a cute breakfast spot, with food that tastes even better than it looks – and it looks good!
We think this is the best place in the entire city for brunch … especially if you’re an Eggs Benny fan! They offer 7 different types of delicious Eggs Benedict, from mango to pulled pork! You can wash it down with a coffee or even a mimosa if you’d like – it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, right?
Lady Marmalade is located close to downtown Toronto. They serve breakfast and lunch all day every day from 8:30 am to 3 pm. Prices are pretty average for a specialty brunch spot ranging from $14- $22 CAD for a plate.
It’s a very popular spot and unfortunately, they don’t take reservations. We recommend showing up around 10 minutes before they open so you can get seated right away. This way you can have your breakfast nice and early and still have time to explore the rest of Toronto!
Morning – Hockey Hall of Fame
Once your belly is full, you can head on over to the Hockey Hall of Fame! Let’s be honest, it wouldn’t be a trip to Canada if you didn’t do something hockey-related, right?
It’s a lot of fun for hockey fans, and if you’re not a fan you’ll still have a good time. I’m not big into hockey but I really enjoyed looking at all the hockey memorabilia from around the world! They even have the current and original Stanley Cup on display, which was donated by Lord Stanley of Preston over 130 years ago. You can take a picture with the current Stanley Cup for free, or pay $10 CAD for a professional photo, which makes a great trip souvenir!
But that’s not all, there are also a ton of exhibits and fun interactive activities the whole family will love such as NHLPA Game Time, a model rink where you can take on animated versions of NHL’s greatest stars! Or you can test your sports anchor skills in front of the camera at the TSN Broadcast Zone.
Another super cool exhibit was the to-scale replica of the famous Montreal Canadiensdressing room. And I liked the 22-minute film in the TSN theatre called Stanley’s Game Seven in 3D. There is honestly so much to see, that we wrote an entire post all about the Hockey Hall of Fame!
The Hockey Hall of Fame is located in the heart of downtown Toronto, about a 10-minute drive from Lady Marmalade. If you aren’t renting a car, you can always use Uber, which is super popular in Toronto. To get here you’ll enter the street-level entrance to Brookfield Place, then follow the signs to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
It is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm (except for Christmas and New Year’s Day). Costs are quite affordable as well at just $25 CAD for ages 14+, $15 CAD for ages 4-13, $20 CAD for seniors over 65, and free for kiddos 3 and under!
We recommend booking your tickets in advance with Viator because it allows you to skip long ticket lines when you get there. It also allows free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance, so there is no need to worry if your plans change!
Next, you can head on over to the CN Tower, the most iconic building in Toronto! It is also located in downtown Toronto and is only a quick 5-minute drive or 15-minute walk away from the Hockey Hall of Fame.
The CN Tower is Toronto’s most prominent and tallest structure and is a must-visit when you’re in the city. Soaring at a height of 553 meters (1,814 feet), it is the tallest building in Canada and the highest structure in North America, narrowly beating the One World Trade Center in New York City by 7 meters (23 feet).
The CN Tower offers breathtaking views of the entire city, with the primary observation deck located 346 meters (1,136 feet) off the ground! Additionally, there’s the Glass Floor deck, providing a unique perspective as you gaze down at the city below. While stepping or sitting on the glass floor may induce some nervousness, rest assured that it is entirely safe! General admission for the main observation deck costs $43 CAD and you must reserve a time slot in advance.
For only $10 CAD more, you can head up to the SkyPod observation deck, which is 33 stories higher than the main observation deck! It is actually the highest observation platform in the entire Western Hemisphere!
And for those who want to get their adrenaline running, you can do the EdgeWalk, where you will walk along the outside of the building 116 stories up (harnessed in of course)! It’s the world’s highest hands-free walk and is sure to be an experience you’ll never forget. Edgewalk operates from the spring to the fall every year and costs $199 – $225 CAD per person aged 13 and up.
There is also a restaurant on the CN Tower that offers incredible panoramic views of the city. It’s called 360 Restaurant, because it rotates around once every 72 minutes, allowing you to enjoy the changing view as you eat! It is open every day from 11:30 am – 2:30 pm for lunch and 4:30 pm – 9:15 pm for dinner. Please note they do have a minimum spend requirement of $75 CAD per person, but that includes the cost of admission to the main observation deck.
Lunch – St. Lawrence Market/Distillery District
If you don’t wind up getting lunch at the 360 Restaurant in the CN Tower, we highly recommend making your way over to either the St. Lawrence Market or the Distillery District to enjoy a meal and a drink. Both of these places are in downtown Toronto and are within walking distance of each other, so if you have the time we think you should explore both!
St. Lawrence Market is the oldest (and in my opinion the best) local market in downtown Toronto! This indoor market dates back to 1803 but has been renovated many times since making it into the lively market it is today.
It offers everything from gourmet cheeses to artisan jewelry and delicious food vendors! Our favorite is St. Lawrence Pizza and Pasta, where you can get mouthwatering pizza by the slice. Or if you’re craving fresh seafood, make sure to stop by the popular Buster’s Sea Cove – so good it has people lining up around the corner!
If you’re a cheese lover (who isn’t?!) then don’t miss the Olympic Cheese Mart, home to over 600 different types of cheese. And if you love to cook, make sure to stop by Domino Foods, a niche cooking store that offers specialty ingredients that can be hard to find anywhere else.
The St. Lawrence Market is open every day except Monday, but the hours differ a bit depending on the day of the week. It’s best to check online before you go.
We absolutely love taking a stroll around this lively and vibrant market! It is a great example of the friendly atmosphere you’ll find all over Toronto which is why we think it deserves a visit on your one day in Toronto itinerary!
Toronto’s Distillery District was once a hub for whiskey production, but in the late 20th century it became run down. However, it was revitalized and now 47 of the historic Victorian buildings have been developed into restaurants, boutiques, cafes, and art studios, making it the trendy area it is today!
Most of the Distillary District is closed off to cars making it a lovely place to walk around and admire the Victorian architecture and watch some street performers before grabbing a bite to eat at one of the many local restaurants!
One of our favorite places is BOKU Japanese Eats + Drinks, which serves incredible ramen and neat cocktails. I ordered an Old Fashion Cocktail and it was served in a teapot – so cute! If you’re a vodka or gin fan, I recommend going to the Spirit of York Distillery – which is actually the only real distillery in the Distillery District! You can even go on a self-guided tour of the distillery and sample 3 spirits here for $15 CAD.
Feeling like a craft beer? Swing by Mill Street Brewpub (you might spot Daniel there!). If sweets are your thing, indulge in a delicious craft ice cream at Scooped (my personal favorite!), or savor a pastry and coffee at the charming Brick Street Bakery.
Honestly, there are so many cool spots here, that it’s tough to decide where to begin. So to get some more guidance on where to go and to learn some history about the area, we recommend doing this 1-hour walking tour. It starts at 11:30 am and 3:30 pm most days and only costs $25 CAD per person. It’s a great way to make the most out of your time here, but it does sell out quickly so be sure to secure your spot in advance here.
Once you’re all fueled up from lunch, make your way over to Casa Loma (about 20 minutes by car). Casa Loma looks like an impressive Gothic Revival Castle from the outside, but on the inside, it’s been transformed into a museum full of interactive and interesting exhibits for all ages!
Inside the castle, it’s like you’ve stepped back in time as you wander around and look at the vintage decor. You can also check out the exhibits, from the Backstage Celebrity Gallery to the Dark Side of Toronto, where you learn about Toronto’s darker side during the days of prohibition, The Great Toronto Fire, and much more!
Another educational exhibit is the WWII Intelligence exhibit, where you learn how this castle was a secret agent training school and can even see a spy suitcase radio on display! The Antique Car Collection is another exhibit that car enthusiasts will love. We had a great time checking out the cars and taking a bunch of pictures!
Plus, there are many specialty exhibits that change often, so even if you have been to Casa Loma before, I’m sure you’ll have a great time coming back again for another visit! Admission is $40 CAD for adults, $35 CAD for seniors and teens, and $25 CAD for 4 to 13-year-olds. The castle is open from 9:30 am to 5 pm daily. You can purchase your tickets in advance here.
When we went to Casa Loma, we actually visited as part of a guided tour of Toronto. We found this was a great option to not only experience Casa Loma, but also a bunch of Toronto’s other highlights in one day!
With only 1 day in Toronto, it can feel a bit overwhelming sometimes trying to plan your day to fit in everything that you want to do. That’s why a tour is a great option! This tour is about 6 hours long and makes sure you see all of the best places Toronto has to offer in a short amount of time.
It visits many of the stops we’ve mentioned so far such as the the CN Tower, Distillery District, St. Lawrence Market, and Casa Loma. On top of that, we also went to Chinatown, the Harbourfront, and Kensington Market just to name a few. It was also so nice having a guide to teach us about the city and its history as we went along.
Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:
Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.
For a unique and memorable activity to add to your Toronto itinerary, you can go for a sunset sail! Head to the harbourfront, and hop on this sailing tour to get unbeatable views of the Toronto skyline while floating on Lake Ontario.
You’ll get to explore Toronto’s coast for 2 hours while relaxing on deck with a cocktail in hand. And the crew is so amazing, even letting you take the helm if you’d like! With only 12 people on board, it feels very intimate and social without being overcrowded.
The tour only runs during the summer from mid-May to October and only on select days, so make sure to check the schedule here to see if the dates line up for the time you’re in Toronto. The departure times also vary depending on the month you book to align with the changing sunset times. If a sunset sail doesn’t work for you, there is also an option to go for an earlier departure in the afternoon, but you would have to skip one of the other activities on this itinerary to fit it in.
The sailing experience costs $189 CAD per passenger and makes for a perfect activity to do with a partner, friends, or family. Seeing Toronto from the water offers a unique perspective on this gorgeous city. So if you’re ready to set sail, book this sailing adventure here!
Dinner – Little Italy
Having explored many of Toronto’s iconic activities all day, we are sure you’ll be starving by the time dinner rolls around. We recommend heading to a new area of the city to get a taste of just how diverse the culture of Toronto is – and there is no better place to do that than Little Italy!
Little Italy is a vibrant neighborhood in Toronto set around the main College Street strip. Since Daniel’s family is Italian, we can’t resist going here to indulge in authentic Italian cuisine. It’s such a quaint and trendy area of the city, and we enjoy walking around and taking in the Italian vibes!
For a nice, sophisticated evening meal we suggest Sotto Voce Pasta and Wine Bar. I’m a sucker for their potato gnocchi in a white wine sauce – yum! It’s a great spot in any season, feeling cozy inside during the winter and enjoying the patio during Toronto’s summer months.
If you are looking for a budget-friendly dinner option, we recommend heading to Il Gatto for some delicious authentic Italian pizza. And if you’re craving affordable pasta, then Trattoria Taverniti is the place for you! Make sure to reserve a spot here in advance as it can get really busy.
After dinner, you can catch a show at the old-style movie theater, The Royal. Or walk down the Italian Walk of Fame along College Street, to honor the 25+ Italians who have made significant contributions to the world across many different fields. Or head to a fancy cocktail bar for a nightcap or two (more on this in the next section!).
Night – Go for cocktails
After your busy day exploring Toronto, there is no better way to end it than by relaxing with a fancy cocktail in hand! Some of the bars below are located in Little Italy, making it easy for you to walk over after dinner. The others may require a quick taxi or Uber ride over, but hey, you only have one day in Toronto, might as well make the most of it right?
Bar Pompette (Our favorite)
Bar Pompette is conveniently located in Little Italy and is also our favorite cocktail bar! Offering a chic French atmosphere and cocktails made with authentic French ingredients, this bar feels like you are sitting in a Parisian café. When you get here, you won’t be surprised as to why they are named one of the Top 50 Bars in North America, and one of the best bars in Canada.
You can snack on some shared plates from their sister restaurant, Pompette (which is equally as great), and if you’re lucky enough, you may be there on one of the live jazz nights! Make sure to check their Facebook page here for any upcoming events. The bar is open until 1 am Sunday – Thursday and until 2 am on the weekend. Believe us when we say that this bar deserves a spot on your one-day Toronto itinerary!
If Bar Pompette is too busy, or you want to try out a few different cocktail bars, head on over to Bar Raval which is also located in Little Italy. As soon as you walk in, you’ll be wowed by the gorgeous wooden decor! We had so much fun here sipping on cocktails and cracking jokes with the hilarious staff.
They also serve some delicious tapas that pair well with craft cocktails. I really enjoyed the “Palomita”, a twist on the classic Paloma cocktail. And if mocktails are what you’re after, they have a great selection of those as well. It’s open daily from 11 am to 1 am, and would be a perfect way to end off your great day in Toronto!
Civil Liberties (Canada’s No. 1)
Civil Liberties is located just outside of Little Italy, but is worth going to because it was rated the Best Bar in Canada! It is a small speakeasy that serves unique prohibition-era cocktails. And the craziest part? They don’t have a menu, so the bartenders will whip up a specialty creation for you based on your preferences!
There is no sign on the front of this bar, instead, you must look for the large pineapple symbol signifying you’re at the right place. Please note that they don’t accept reservations and are open every day from 6 pm to 2 am. It’s a busy place, and you may have to wait a bit for a seat, but we think it’s well worth the wait!
BarChef is located on Queen Street West, another quick drive from Little Italy. This is the place to go for super unique and quirky cocktails. Some are served in plant pots while others are inside of giant shells! This makes for such a memorable experience – offering many great “Insta” photo opportunities!
The menu is always changing to reflect the time of year as the mixologists use seasonal herbs and ingredients. The prices definitely reflect this upscale establishment as a cocktail can set you back anywhere from $20 – $55 CAD per drink. We think it’s worth it to experience this one-of-a-kind cocktail bar and treat yourself! It’s open from 5 pm – 2 pm and will certainly be somewhere you’ll want to visit again when you return to Toronto one day!
Eat great food! – With so many different cultures and restaurants, Toronto is a foodie heaven! Miku Toronto is considered the best sushi restaurant in the city with a big outdoor patio and a happy hour (3-4 pm) with great discounts. Food tours in Toronto are also top-north and we enjoyed this walking food tour to help us try a variety of tasty dishes from butter tarts to pierogies to maple syrup and the chance to explore the iconic St. Lawrence Market.
Visit the Toronto Islands – These are 15 different islands all connected with bridges and walkways. They are full of beaches, cycling paths, and even an amusement park! You can explore on your own after catching a Toronto ferry or you can hop on this specific evening bike ride to see the Toronto skyline at sunset and enjoy dessert at a Toronto Island cafe.
Go on a bike tour – Biking is a great way to explore Toronto’s fantastic outdoor areas as well as the trendiest neighborhoods and historic sights. You can easily get around and see a lot of the city in a short amount of time. Plus, there are manyfun bike tours to choose from to suit your interests and needs. Our favorite was this guided bike tour downtown!
Watch a hockey game – Hockey is HUGE all over Canada, so taking in an NHL game while you’re here is sure to be a fun night. While I’m a diehard Oilers fan, the Toronto Maple Leafs are the home team here and the atmosphere is a lot of fun. Tickets range from $150 – $350 CAD and you can buy tickets on Viator.
Where to Stay in Toronto
Let’s face it, Toronto is a huge city with practically endless options when it comes to hotels. But, not all hotels are created equal – you want to ensure you book a place with an amazing location and even better amenities, which narrows down your choices.
Luckily, I’ve done the work for you and handpicked some of the best places to stay in the city. The below hotels all have an ideal central location as well as everything you need to have a comfortable stay!
Fairmont Royal York Hotel (Luxury Stay – $$$)
The Fairmont Royal York Hotel is one of the most luxurious hotels in Toronto. With its historic ballroom, beautiful rooms, and a gorgeous skylit indoor pool, you’ll have to force yourself to leave and explore the city! But once you do, you’re steps from Union Station, so getting around via public transport is really easy. It also means that you can take the train from the airport directly to the hotel!
The Hockey Hall of Fame is two blocks away, and you’re also about a 20-minute walk from both the waterfront and the Distillery District. Rooms usually start from around $500 – $600 CAD per night and you can check availability and book the Fairmont Royal York online here!
The SoHo Hotel (Moderately-priced Boutique Hotel – $$)
The SoHo Hotel is an excellent choice for anybody looking for a centrally located hotel that is just stunning. This hotel is located only a short walk from attractions like the CN Tower, and it also has plenty of nice facilities including a lap pool and fitness center. Oh, and did I mention the rooms have heated bathroom floors?!
One King West Hotel and Residences (Moderately-priced Full Apartments – $$)
If you’re looking for a home away from home, then One King West Hotel and Residences might be the best choice for you. Although a hotel, this property features fully self-contained apartments complete with a kitchen. This is perfect if you like to cook some of your own meals. On top of that, the location is ideal and you’ll also find a fitness center and onsite bar and restaurant.
You don’t have to spend a small fortune to stay in Toronto. If you’re on a tighter budget, Town Inn Suites Hotel is the best choice for you. Starting from only $170 CAD per night (in the low season), this centrally located hotel is tastefully decorated and features plenty of amenities. Rooms also feature a kitchenette, which comes in very handy. You can check prices and secure your room online here.
Samesun Toronto (Budget Hostel – $)
The Samesun Toronto is the perfect choice for backpackers or solo travelers wanting to meet others. The hostel has a great location as well as communal spaces (including a huge kitchen) where you can relax. They offer both dorm beds as well as budget private rooms, but bathrooms are all shared.
You can grab a dorm bed for less than $100 CAD per night during peak season. You can book the Samesun Toronto online on either Booking.com or Hostelworld.
One of the best ways to experience Canada is by hitting the road. Some of the best things to do and attractions are located in remote areas between destinations. For that reason, we highly recommend getting your own wheels!
Rent a car – To simply rent a vehicle, search on Discover Cars where they compare tons of different rental companies near you. This way you can easily compare prices, features, policies, and more!
Rent a campervan or motorhome – Motorhome Republic is great for finding a motorhome or campervan to rent in Canada. With your own home on wheels, you can camp in beautiful places and save money on accommodation!
Don’t get Caught without Travel Insurance!
We never travel without travel insurance! We’ve had a few instances during our travels when one of us has ended up in the hospital, and travel insurance has saved us thousands of dollars over the years!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance, we both have policies with them whenever we travel.
They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!)The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!) While most travel insurance companies left people stranded, SafetyWing fully reimbursed us for our last-minute, pricey flights!
Exploring Canada’s largest city in one day can be a challenging feat! There are so many things to do and see, but I hope this post helped you plan your day in Toronto and make the most out of your short time here!
For more travel tips and ideas, check out our other blogs about Canada and the USA. Or leave us a comment or question below!