Toronto is an incredible place to visit. There are always so many things happening all year round that there is never a shortage of things to do. While it can be an expensive city to be in, travellers (and locals) should know that there are many different ways to experience all that Toronto has to offer. The city can be enjoyed whether you are working with little to no budget or you have an unlimited budget.
Here are three different ways to experience Toronto with a low budget, an average budget, and a high budget.
Toronto on a Budget
Toronto has so many different options if you are traveling on a tight budget. The first thing you can do is to visit the city at the right time of the year. While there are a lot of activities happening in the summer, it is also when prices are highest. A great time to visit (if you can swing it) would be in the fall – you will also encounter less crowds!
Start off your trip by getting to know the city with a free guided walking tour from Tour Guys. They run tours in multiple cities, and their free tours are quite popular. A few interesting ones to check out for sure are the Graffiti Tour – Queen Street W, Old Town History Tour, and the Toronto Ghost Tour. If you prefer to go at your own pace, the City of Toronto has put together a series of free downloadable maps and guides for Toronto Discovery Tours. While there are a few that focus on the city, it’s history, and the architecture, you will also find other tours that take you out into nature and the many ravines that are both in and surrounding the city.
Toronto is on the water, and there are a lot of things happening both along the shores as well as on Toronto Centre Island. A quick ferry ride away, Centre Island has beaches, parks, bike paths, and even an amusement part for the kids. Attractions are open May through October, but for under $9.00 per person (for the ferry) you can pack a picnic and spend the whole day exploring. If you prefer to stay within the city but you want to get outside, be sure to check out the The Beaches in East Toronto, Scarborough Bluffs, and Harbourfront Centre. With boardwalks, parks, trails, and beaches, there is a lot to do. Harbourfront Centre even has programming throughout the year featuring amazing art installations and various festivals and entertainment – with many free options.
If you want to take in some of what the city has to offer culturally, there are a number of museums that offer free entry on various nights of the week. The ROM features over 20 exhibits and offers 3rd Tuesday Nights Free. The AGO has free admission on Wednesday nights so you can visit one of the biggest museums in Canada. If you are under 25, admission is always free! Toronto also has a thriving live, local music scene. If major concert tickets are out of the budget, check out local spots like Cameron House, Horseshoe Tavern, and The Rex Hotel Jazz & Blues Bar – so many legendary live music venues to choose from, these are only a few. And they all have either no cover or low cover options, so be sure to check out who is playing.
Toronto has a few other unique things going for it. For one it is a sports city and you can catch a Blue Jays game for under $15 during the regular season (if you are OK with sitting a bit higher up!). There are also a lot of television programs taped live here. Why not get free tickets to be part of a Live Audience? You can take in shows like The Marilyn Denis Show, Cityline, The Social, and comedy show Because News– all for free!
Toronto average budget vacation
If you are somewhere in the middle of a tight budget and uber indulgent, it becomes all about prioritizing what you want to spend money on and then saving money elsewhere. It can be fun to pick your handful of splurges – maybe it’s a unique fine dining experience or an exclusive, private tour. Keep in mind that there are also some great opportunities to spend money in the city without breaking the bank.
When it comes to dining in Toronto, one way to try some of the best food without spending luxury prices is to visit the city during Winterlicious or Summerlicious. With over 200 of Toronto’s best restaurants offering fixed menus at reduced pricing for lunch and dinner, it’s a culinary exploration of everything Toronto has to offer. Make a reservation to ensure you don’t miss out because spots fill up fast.
There are certain experiences in Toronto that are a huge part of the city. Ride up to the top of the CN Tower in the glass elevator and peer down at the ground through the glass observation floor. Standing at 553 meters high, you will be high above the rest of the city in this iconic piece of the city’s skyline. Nearby, explore the underwater world at Ripley’s Aquarium. There are over 100 interactive displays and activities in this incredible attraction – including North America’s longest underwater viewing tunnel. This experience is not just for the kids.
Toronto also has some great shopping. Eaton Centre is one of the most well-known malls in Canada, with over 250 retailers and restaurants. For something a little more eclectic, check out Kensington Market. This local neighbourhood has its own charm and personality and features loads of local, unique shops, boutiques, coffee shops, and eateries.
While these are a couple of suggestions, remember to take your pick and balance everything out with the low budget and luxury experiences.
Luxury Toronto Vacation
If budget is your last concern when it comes to travelling, then Toronto is a great place to be. The city does extravagant very well – and much of it, your feet don’t even have to touch the ground.
To start, take in the big city picture by getting a bird’s eye view from a helicopter tour of the city. At 2,000 feet, you get a unique perspective of the city. A little lower down, and a little more daring, ride to the top of the CN Tower and take a walk outside. CN Tower’s Edge Walk happens to be the highest full circle hands-free walk in the world. Plus you get bragging rights when you dangle over your edge of one of the tallest structures in the world only balancing on your toes.
Keep the adventure rolling when you swim with the sharks at Ripley’s Aquarium. While Ripley’s Aquarium is already up close and personal, this exclusive 30-minute guided experience is only available two days per week. For something water-related, but much less adventurous, charter a private luxury yacht. A great way to spend a day in the sun or an evening of romance.
If you would rather exercise your credit cards, a shopping spree in Canada’s most expensive retail experience. Yorkville has tons of luxury brands for you to get lost in for the day. Stop in at Versace, Hermes, Christian Louboutin, Chanel, or Prada. Sip champagne and see where the day takes you.
Cap off your evening with an indulgent fine dining experience. Toronto is home to some of the best culinary experiences in the world. Two must-visit restaurants in the city are Canoe and Sushi Masaki Saito. Canoe is known as one of Canada’s best restaurants – and it comes with gorgeous panoramic views of the city from the 54th floor of the TD Bank Tower. Sushi Masaki Saito is a completely different experience. Seating only seven people each night for a set menu, this is the first Canadian Michelin-star restaurant. In both cases, make sure you make reservations in advance.
For a change of scenery, fly to Niagara-on-the-Lake for the day (or overnight) in a private plane. Take a winery tour – or two, experience fine dining in the region paired with local vintages, and return back to the city to settle into your hotel for the evening.
Whatever your budget, Toronto has a lot to offer. It’s the personality and character that makes Toronto Toronto. How you choose to experience it is completely up to you!