Need some help with your weekend in Toronto? I visited one October and had a fab Toronto weekend. Let me take you through our itinerary for some inspiration for yours.
Toronto is one of the most diverse and multicultural cities in North America, nevermind Canada. With many neighbourhoods to explore, it’s an excellent destination for a short weekend trip – whether you’re looking for culture or fun, or like us, both!
We wanted to see as much of Toronto in a weekend as possible on our recent trip. We’d just come from a wonderful few days in Montreal, and were due to go to Niagara Falls next, but while we were in Toronto, we wanted to see and do all the best things!
Your Weekend in Toronto
How do you want to spend your weekend in Toronto, Canada? Do you want to be closer to nature or try extreme activities? How about taking beautiful pictures of the place’s famous natural and manmade landmarks?
The city is buzzing with so much to do, it can feel overwhelming when you’re trying to plan what to do in Toronto for a weekend. If you’re looking for some great ideas on how best use your weekend in Toronto, here’s our Toronto itinerary, with a few improvements from the benefit of hindsight.
Which area to stay in Toronto
We decided to stay in the Entertainment District in Downtown for our weekend in Toronto. The area turned out to be a great choice. We had lots of great restaurants near us, and we were pretty centrally located for the rest of what we wanted to see in Toronto too.
We stayed at the Sonder Slate which I’d fully recommend for its location and convenience but when we stayed in October 2021 they were doing huge building works next door, which were very noisy. Maybe wait till 2023!
From here it was easy to walk to some of the stops, and you could pick up the Toronto subway, streetcar and bus fairly easily here too.
We arrived into Toronto Central Station from the 5-hour train from Montreal. We were ready to explore the city, but first, we needed to get rid of our bags, and eat. It was only a 20-minute walk through the park from the station to the Sonder Slate, so we went for that option.
Day one of a weekend in Toronto
Here’s the map of where you’ll cover on day one of your Toronto weekend trip.
Where to go first for Toronto fun
After dropping our bags at our hotel we were so, so hungry so picked up a wrap from Ravi Soups on the same street. It turned out to be huge and Ben had a great soup and sandwich too. If you want a quickie lunch in a highly rated place with friendly service, I’d definitely recommend it. We had the place to ourselves.
So, having eaten, we were ready to go and explore what to do in Toronto for a weekend.
Graffiti Alley in Toronto
First stop, Kensington Market, via Graffiti Alley. It was a few minutes walk north from our hotel.
This is where you’ll find Toronto’s legal art scene, with some insanely creative pieces adorning the walls. Apparently this is a hot spot for Toronto city scenes in movies, and for fashion shoots too. You’ll see the Instagrammers having a fab time here!
Graffiti Alley is a wonderful open-air gallery encapsulating the vibrancy and diversity of Toronto in just a small area.
Once you’ve finished wandering the three blocks, you can keep walking north to Kensington Market and you’ll see a few more great pieces along the way
Kensington Market in Toronto
Kensington Market reminded me a bit of Camden Market in London, or the Haight-Ashbury area of San Francisco. It was cool! We passed hippy shops, unique clothes stores, Caribbean restaurants and cool little bars. It’s a great place to pick up some Canadian souvenirs. Absolutely shattered though, we sat at the HandleBar for a few hours, to rest our tired feet and minds.
If you have a whole weekend in Toronto, I’d definitely recommend taking some time out to just be, rather than rushing about every minute. Really enjoyed it in there!
Chinatown in Toronto
After chilling at Kensington Market, or sitting in the bars, you can walk back to your hotel through Chinatown in Toronto. As one of the most multicultural cities in the world, Toronto’s Chinese food game is strong. The toughest decision would be which restaurant to choose.
Or, you could jump on a tram from here and explore the rest of the city. It’s a bit of a hub for public transport.
We chose to walk back to our hotel, through Chinatown but never actually committing to anywhere until we got to a Japanese Steakhouse as we walked through Downtown Toronto. The Holy Cow Japanese Steakhouse came highly recommended, and there was a lot of choice in there. Ben enjoyed his Wagyu beef delight. Unfortunately I just had a pudding as I was feeling pregnancy nauseous, but that was nice too!
See what’s on at the theatre
The Mirvish Theatre is just round the corner from your hotel, if you stay at the Sonder Slate. We managed to get last minute tickets to see ‘Blindness’ there for about $20 CAD. I’d read this Pulitzer Prize winning book before, and so was intrigued as to how it transferred to this experience. In fact, this is probably one of the books I’ve read that’s had the biggest effect on me. It’s basically about what would happen if the world went blind, and the carnage that would ensue. They’d made it a light and sound show, which was so well done we couldn’t stop talking about it afterwards.
But, that’s gone now. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Room are on over the next few months.
You could also check The Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre as they’re not too far away either.
There are so many weekend events in Toronto, and weekdays, you’ll find something for your evenings in the listings!
More evening fun in Toronto
There are lots of bars in Downtown Toronto, of course. If you’re wondering what to do in Toronto for a weekend in the evening, then they’re a great place to start.
To be honest, with me being pregnant, and having spent the previous 18 months not doing much thanks to COVID. We were exhausted, and went back to our hotel to rest and sleep. So glad it was only a ten-minute walk round the corner!
Find out more about visiting Canada at explore-canada.co.uk.
And check the latest entry rules and vaccine requirements on the Government of Canada website.
Day two of a weekend in Toronto
Here’s the map of where you’ll cover on day two of your Toronto weekend trip.
We didn’t love Dundas Square. It’s basically the centre of the shopping area, and neither of us are shoppers so it didn’t have that wow factor for us. If you love a shop though, it could be a haven for you. And it’s always interesting to see the centre of a city, right?
If your Toronto weekend is in winter, this is a good place to come for the underground cities.
We actually visited Dundas Square after the Toronto Islands, but geographically, it makes a lot more sense to head up there beforehand.
Instead of shopping we went to the Hendriks Restaurant for some food. The Reuben Sandwich and fries were everything I needed in that moment. Gotta keep that energy up!
We decided today was the day to go and explore the Toronto Islands, just a 13-minute ferry ride from downtown Toronto.
The weather was predicted to be better than it was, but we still enjoyed the trip out. You can check the Toronto Island Park ferry times here, but make sure you’re at the right spot. We weren’t.
Turns out we could pay a bit extra to go out on a private ferry, and then come back for free on the public one. All good.
You can walk the length of the Toronto Islands, it’d take around four hours, and they’re all connected by bridges. You could also hire a bike, or even a kayak to have a look around.
We decided to have a wander, go and see the sandy beaches, the flowers and the waterways, and then make our way back. You could spend anything from an hour to a whole day on the Toronto Islands. They’re very pretty, and a welcome solace from the city, too.
We got the ferry back over, hopped on the bus near the ferry port, and went to see Dundas Square.
If you have a weekend in Toronto I’d definitely recommend you go to Ripley’s Aquarium. It’s definitely a good rainy day activity for Toronto, as it’s the number one thing to do in Toronto according to Trip Advisor.
Honestly, it was amazing. We saw so many creatures – the Stingrays were my favourite. They had a huge tank with them all swimming around, it was magical just to sit and watch. There were also all kinds of sharks, fishies, the anemones were cool too, and of course, the jellyfish were impressive to see.
Standing on the moving walkway, surrounded by marine life, just totally made the entrance fee worth it. If you’re in Toronto with family, they’ll learn a lot about marine creatures in this adventurous place in the heart of Toronto, Canada. A trip to Ripley’s Aquarium can be a great educational one, and provide a great bonding opportunity with your children, teaching them about the water world.
A weekend trip to Toronto wouldn’t be complete without a trip up the CN Tower. This is where you’ll get the most incredible views over Toronto, and it’s a great place to get your bearings.
“The CN Tower held the record of tallest freestanding structure on land for over 30 years. After Burj Khalifa had been formally recognised by the Guinness World Records as the world’s tallest freestanding structure, Guinness re-certified CN Tower as the world’s tallest freestanding tower.”
As you can see from my wonderful pregnany posing, the views are just incredible. That particular viewpoint is over to the Toronto Islands. With it being a circular tower, it’s 360 views all round.
You can also choose to dine at the restaurant at the top, which rotates, or you can do some sort of walk where you lean of the edge – not for me!
We stayed up there over an hour with a hot chocolate and the sun setting on the view.
It’s definitely worth getting your tickets in advance for this.
Steam Whistle Brewery
What to do in Toronto for a weekend? Visit the local brewery of course?
The Steam Whistle Brewery is just over the way from the CN Tower and Ripleys (which are next to each other). Here you can look at the old trains, and enjoy a pint from the brewery which is all done on site.
It all feels a bit mad in among the skyscrapers, but it’s a great spot to sit out, enjoy the music and have some food and drink. It was warm enough for us to do all three at the start of October.
Again, if you stay at the Sonder Slate, you can just walk home from here too. Told you it was a great location!
Day three of a weekend in Toronto
Here’s the map of where you’ll cover on day three of your Toronto weekend trip.
What a Bagel for breakfast
We started the day at What a Bagel, and what a treat it was. Just look at the size of my breakfast!
A weekend trip to Toronto should revolve around food, really. But as I’ve mentioned a few times, I was pregnant and my usual healthy appetite was diminished. In fact, it was actually difficult to eat in the evenings. Made up for it with this beast though.
Much Toronto fun revolves around food and drink and I threw myself in here!
We got an Uber up to Casa Loma from What a Bagel as it was only a few dollars between us, and we wanted the easiest option!
Casa Loma is an impressive 98-room castle that once belonged to a rich financier (Sir Henry Mill Pellatt) who had it built in 1914, but is now owned by the city. It’s one of the most popular tourist spots in Toronto. Sir Henry had gained immense wealth from founding the Toronto Electric Light Company in 1883 and everything was going well for him until 1911 when he decided to build this castle.
In short, it bankrupted him. Eventually he had to sell up for a fraction of what he paid, and move out.
“It cost nearly 2 million man-hours and $3.5 million to build, including a whopping $50,000 a year for 40 live-in staff and $250,000 just to put the names of his horses in 18-carat gold — and that’s all in 1911 dollars.”
It’s all there for us to see now though, and has been used in numerous films, TV and music videos over the years.
Look at all that wine in the cellar!
It was the start of October for our visit, so the Halloween display was in full swing. We got to walk through the belly of the castle, with scary decorations and sound effects to creep us out. Definitely recommend heading up for that if ever you’re in Toronto for Autumn.
Royal Ontario Museum
The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) has over 5 million artefacts from around the world. You could spend days in here and still not see everything.
“With more than 6,000,000 items and 40 galleries, the museum’s diverse collections of world culture and natural history contribute to its international reputation. The museum contains a collection of dinosaurs, minerals and meteorites; Canadian, and European historical artefacts; as well as African, Near Eastern, and East Asian art. It houses the world’s largest collection of fossils from the Burgess Shale with more than 150,000 specimens. The museum also contains an extensive collection of design and fine art, including clothing, interior, and product design, especially Art Deco.”– ROYAL ONTARIO MUSEUM
We especially liked the dinosaur exhibition, with so many to see, replicas made from real dinosaur bones and replicas, and so much information on display too.
St Lawrence Market and the Distillery District
After the ROM Museum on your weekend in Toronto, it’s time to go and see the St Lawrence Market and the Distillery District.
We spent so much time at the ROM that unfortunately we didn’t have time for this, but I did go last time I was visiting Toronto, so I didn’t want to miss it out from this Toronto weekend itinerary.
St Lawrence Market is a great place to eat, both on location, and to pick up something to cook at home if you’re in an Airbnb for example. You can do some great food tours around this Farmer’s Market – which could be a great idea if you want to learn more about the history and the market’s place in Toronto culture today.
Just a km away and you’ll find the super cool Distillery District. This area is filled with cool shops, great bars and top places to eat. It’s the perfect spot for a food-filled afternoon. Expect theatres, galleries, and artists and to come away inspired!
Sushi for dinner
Right next to our hotel was the The Haam sushi bar, well, pretty much underneath the hotel in fact. The food there was fantastic. Don’t know why we went anywhere else!
They gave us complimentary gyozas, the sushi was amazing, and the service and vibe was just what I’d want from a restaurant. We had a great last evening in there on our weekend in Toronto, and then could just venture upstairs for sleep!
More great things to do on a weekend in Toronto
There’s so much to do on a weekend trip to Toronto. If any of the Toronto activities above don’t take your fancy, then how about you swap them out with one of these alternative things to do in Toronto instead?
Nathan Phillips Square
Nathan Phillips Square is a vibrant, active space in the heart of Toronto. There are lots of special, seasonal events here. In winter you can go ice skating, at New Year you can join in the celebrations, and at Christmas it’s a special place to be. You can also find great Canadian festivals and markets here year round.
Trinity Bellwoods Park
Trinity Bellwoods Park is a public park that makes for a great spot if you’ve rented bikes in Toronto. There’s also a volleyball court, large playground, and children’s outdoor wading pool. You can also find an ice skating rink here – so Canadian!
Teenagers and young kids will have a great time. If you want to exercise or mingle with locals who run with their dogs, visiting this beautiful and spacious park is highly recommended. Just don’t forget to wear sun protection, including SPF lotion and a suitable outfit for the day.
Day trip to Niagara Falls
If you want to get out of Toronto, then you can take a day trip to Niagara Falls. If you join an organised Niagara Falls tour from Toronto, you’ll leave early and come back late but it takes the hassle out of driving. Being on tour allows you to enjoy taking selfies and photos of the magnificent falls. Or, you can hire a car and road trip it yourself. Niagara Falls is incredible – we actually went for two days, but more on that later!
Ontario wine country
Fancy discovering the best wines in Canada?
Head south from your weekend in Toronto and you can visit Ontario’s wine country, in fact, this is on the way to Niagara Falls. There are some great vineyards here, all waiting to give you the Ontario wine experience.
Science Centre Canada
The Science Centre is a family-friendly tourist attraction. It provides great entertainment and education in one trip. Whether you’re travelling with a baby or teenagers, there’s something for all family members to enjoy.
The interactive Science Centre Canada makes for a great few hours out. It’s a few miles from the city but apparently well worth the effort with so many displays to see. There are live demonstrations, an IMAX theatre and loads of seasonal events and exhibitions throughout the year.
What to do in Toronto for a weekend
Toronto Islands, Kensington Market, Queen Street West, Leslieville and Little Italy are just a few of the many great destinations for visitors to explore on a weekend in Toronto. I hope I’ve given you a few ideas and some inspiration for what to do on your Toronto weekend trip.
Toronto is a major metropolitan city. Whether you’re looking to eat, drink, see the sights or just enjoy nature with your family in tow – there’s always an event happening or place to explore if you know where to look!