Toronto. While the city lacks the charm of Montreal and Vancouver, it’s still a nice city to visit with many markets here, wonderful art museums, and delicious Asian food. Although Toronto has a higher cost of living than most other Canadian cities, there are many free and low-cost activities here that can make this an affordable place to visit. This is a great metropolis with friendly locals, funky bars, and tons of activities. I wouldn’t spend weeks here, but days? Definitely.
Hostel prices – Dorm rooms begin at 25 CAD and private rooms start around 65 CAD.
Budget hotel prices – You can expect to spend an average of 85 CAD a night for a single and around 120 CAD for a double. If you book your stay in the fall and springtime, prices tend to be cheaper.
Average cost of food – If you are going to cook your own food, expect to pay between 65-100 CAD per week. Eating out will cost you an average of 19-24 CAD for an entree and drink, though at nicer restaurants it will be at least 32 CAD. Cheap, on the go meals cost around 9 CAD. The super cheap eats are hot dogs which cost about 4 CAD depending on your sausage preference.
Transportation – Fare for public transportation is 3 CAD for adults and 2 CAD for students. A day pass is available for 11 CAD and a weekly pass 40.75 CAD for adults, 33 CAD for students. Taking the shuttle from the airport will cost you 28 CAD, with a 5% discount if you buy online, or a 2 CAD student discount. Buy a return ticket to save money. To save even more, take the regular city transit bus, which will take much longer.
Money Saving Tips
Free activities – With plenty of free museums and beaches to choose from in every part of the city, you can see the sights easily without spending a lot of money. The local tourism office will have a list for you.
Get a City Pass – Tourists can purchase a City Pass for 60-115 CAD that includes admission to the ROM, CN Tower, Casa Loma, Ontario Science Centre, and the zoo. If you plan to do all of these things, you’ll save a lot of money with this pass.
Take a free tour – The Heritage Toronto Walks are free and are offered from May-October each year. They’re a wonderful way to learn about the city, and you don’t have to make reservations.
Top Things to See and Do in Toronto
Visit the CN Tower – This iconic 1,800 ft. tower is a fixture of the skyline. You can head up to the top to get panoramic views of the city, shopping, and 360 degree dining in its (expensive) restaurant.
Hockey Hall of Fame – Canadians take two things seriously: hockey and hockey. Hockey is life. Dedicated to the history of their favorite sport, it is both a museum and a hall of fame.
Spend the day at the beach – The beaches near Lake Ontario are a relaxing way to spend the day during the summer. You can stroll along the boardwalk, eat at one of the many restaurants, or rent a boat and head out on the lake.
The Harborfront Center – This area is a great spot to visit during the warm summer months. There is often free admission to Toronto festivals and music concerts.
Kensington Market – This free market is best to visit on Sunday mornings. They often have free concerts too.
Bike the Don Valley – These trails are perfect for any outdoors’ traveler. They aren’t far from the city, and trails range from easy to very hard.
The Art Gallery of Ontario – Known as the AGO, it houses thousands of pieces worth of art. It’s one of the biggest museums in Canada, and admission is free on Wednesday nights.
St. Lawrence Market and Gallery – This market has endless rows of local treats to taste and buy. Go inside the building to take a look at the gallery. Admission to both is free.
Toronto Island Park – Spend an inexpensive day at Toronto Island Park and enjoy the beach, play volleyball, and dip your feet in its wading pool. Also here is the Gibraltar Lighthouse which has a museum that highlights the history and myths of the area.
Royal Ontario Museum – This museum holds thousands of artifacts, and specimens, which are featured in over 20 exhibits, including Dinosaurs, Ancient China, Native Canadians, Canadian Furniture, Medieval Europe, Art Deco, Ancient Egypt, Textiles, Middle East, India, and Pacific Islanders. The world’s largest totem pole, which is over 100 years old, is also housed in a place of honor.
Ontario Science Center – Lots of hands-on science exhibits, including a rain forest, a tornado machine, sound proof tunnel, balance testing machines, and more. It also contains Ontario’s only Omnimax movie theater.
Eat Chinese food – Chinatown in Toronto is gigantic and still retains a lot of the authenticity that’s missing in many other Chinatowns around the world. Definitely visit here and eat a few meals—they are delicious and super cheap. This is also the best place to get Asian fruit that is not normally found in local supermarkets.
Casa Loma – This is the former estate of Sir Henry Mill Pellatt, an entrepreneur and romantic. Touring this real life ‘medieval’ castle is awesome. There are four levels to check out through a self-guided multimedia tour.
Canada’s Wonderland – Filled with rides, coasters, food, games, shops, theatres, a water park, and live shows, this summer attraction is loads of fun. Tickets start at 42 CAD for a 1 day pass, and you can save money by buying online in advance.
Ontario Place – This is a very large entertainment complex, some of which is even built out over Lake Ontario. With an amphitheater for concerts, water park features, and the Atlantis venue, you’ll find plenty to do.
Word on the Street – Every September, usually around the 24th, Queen’s Park is host to Canada’s largest annual, outdoor book and magazine festival. You can browse through hundreds of books, magazines, and literacy exhibitor booths.
Winterlicious – Every year during Toronto’s WinterCity festival, several restaurants offer special menus of high-end meals at a majorly reduced price. This event is great because it allows many the opportunity to try gourmet foods that are usually expensive. Plates range from 10-40 CAD, and are typically multi-course dinners.