In this Destination Guide you will find information for :
♦Currency: Canadian Dollar (CAD) ($)
♦Zone: Various GMT
♦Phone Code: +1
♦Best time to visit: May to October
♦Must eat: Maple syrup
♦Must drink: Ice Wine
♦Don't miss: Niagara Falls Tour
♦Number of times visited: 4
Getting there and transportation: Canada is a very accessible country when travelling from anywhere in the world thanks to important air links which link the country to every continent on the planet. Getting there by air is the simplest and easiest way, but if you are coming from the USA you might find driving a good alternative or travel by coach or train. Specially with cities closer to the boarder which offer frequent connections and services between the two countries.
When flying to Canada the primarily airline is Air Canada and it's sister airline Air Canada Rouge. You can fly direct to Canada from the main capitals in Europe . It's also well connected to other continents including South America and Asia offering links as far as Japan, China, Australia, Chile or Peru with direct flights. Alternatively you can reach Canada's main cities via one transit stop with multiple airlines options.
Most airlines will fly into Toronto or Vancouver, the two top destinations in Canada, but you can find direct links to Montreal, Quebec, Edmonton, Calgary or St John's. Also it's worth to note that other airlines offer good fares and connections in a more budget style. These airlines are Air Transat and West Jet.
Once in the country transportation is reliable and modern. Roads in Canada are developed and count with good infrastructures. However the distances to travel from one city to another can take days by road. Therefore travelling by air is also the best option when visiting. Again the budget airlines offer the best prices (West jet or Air Transat) but you can also find others like Porter Airlines based in Toronto City Airport or Air North when travelling to the remote northern areas in the country.
Each city has a very advanced and comprehensive public transport network which is easy to use, and in some cases it's free of charge in the city centre (for example Calgary). The main cities have integrated transport systems including metro, trains, trams and busses. Please refer to each city for more detailed information.
When visiting Canada's smaller communities or towns, it's a good idea to rent a car as these areas lack of frequent transport links. However some remote areas can only be reached by plane, the northern Canadian territories as a main example during the Winter months.
Weather and temperature: Canada is located at a high latitude which makes it comparable with weather factors as similar to the Scandinavian countries in Europe. Summer's can be pleasantly warm with plenty or sunshine, ideal for outdoor activities and sports of all kinds. However Winter's can be harsh with temperatures reaching below 0 in most cities. Abundant snow fall and icy winds are also quite common, specially the further north you travel. Temperatures in the north can plummet to -15C for most of January and part of February. The best time to visit Canada is mid spring to the end of the autumn. (May to November). Temperatures are pleasant to visit and walking outside during these months.
In addition, take into account that rainfalls are very frequent in Canada and therefore it's a very green country with beautiful scenery. Taking water proof gear and umbrellas is recommended even when travelling in the summer or visiting forests and doing adventure activities or eco-tourism.
For more detailed weather information check each city below.
Food and drink: Canada has a wide variety of tastes to satisfy every background, thanks to its large multicultural population, from the classical monster-sized burger and fries, a juicy rare steak, freshly caught seafood or Oriental stir-fry, Canada has a large offering. Food might be comparable to that of it's neighbour, USA, with big portions and plenty of meat's on the menu. However in Quebec area, the French influence is very noticeable. Depending where you go you can find distinct specialities. Look for German-style cuisine in southwestern Ontario, Ukrainian dishes on the Prairies and Asian foods in Vancouver.
Therefore the typical food you can taste in Canada can range differently, depending on the area and cultural influence. The most popular dishes and food are:
Fresh seafood such as mussels, salmon, lobster, prawns, crab and scallops. Steak (the central plains produce first-class beef). Game (try venison, elk, bison or caribou). Poutine (fries smothered in cheese curds and gravy). Maple syrup (often liberally doused on pancakes or French toast). Nanaimo bar (super sweet chocolatey biscuit bar layered with vanilla or custard buttercream and topped with chocolate). Montreal smoked meat (cured beef usually piled high in a sandwich accompanied by mustard). BC roll (British Columbian speciality sushi-roll made with rice, seaweed, grilled salmon and cucumber).
As for drinks, Canada has large wine-producing areas like the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia and the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario. A particular speciality is Ice wine, a dessert wine made from grapes that have frozen on the vine. Canada is home to numerous microbreweries, producing a variety of ales (complete with imaginative names and eye-catching labels).
Transportation: Toronto has two major airports, the main international gateway to the city is Toronto Pearson Airport (YYZ). When arriving by plane, the easiest way to get to the downtown is by bus. You can get the Toronto transport Comision (TTC) Bus service 192 to Kikling Station, trip takes 25minutes. Other bus lines are 52A to Lawrence west station taking 90 minutes. IF you travel by night you can busses 300A or 332 which operate from 1.30am to 5am and take 45minutes to reach Yonge Street.
The second airport is the Billy Bishop Airport (YTZ) located within the downtown itself, on an artificial island at the foot of Bathurst Street. To get from the airport to the city you can actually walk, but if you are staying further away, it's advisable to get the free shuttle bus which leaves you close to Union Station, the stop is located outside the Royal York Hotel’s western entrance on York Street. If you walk from the airport there is a free ferry every 15 minutes which leaves you at Bathurst street. You can also walk under a 850 feet long tunnel taking 6 minutes which was opened in 2015.
It's also popular to arrive to Toronto by coach from many other states or international services from the USA. The bus station is located at 610 Bay St.
Once in the city, Toronto is well connected by metro, busses, trams, trains and ferry services. The centre of the city is Union Station where metro and train lines combine. Below you will find the maps of the city with the transport squematics.
Weather and temperature: Toronto is well worth visiting year round, though you will find plenty of more reasons to go in summer or spring. Winter's are hard with temperatures falling below 0C in most of January, with snow and strong winds. Summer's (June to September) are the best time to visit the city a with warm climate, but still pleasant to walk around and even at night you would only need a light jacket or jumper.
What to see and do?: Toronto is a dynamic metropolis with a core of soaring skyscrapers, all flanked by the iconic CN Tower, which acts as number one attraction to the city and visible from miles away. Toronto also has many green spaces, from the orderly oval of Queen’s Park to 400-acre High Park, together with its trails, sports facilities and zoo. The city is full of interesting activities, both outdoor and indoors. Weather it's culture, art or scenery you're looking for, Toronto will not disappoint!
The main things to see and do in the city are:
Tip: The best views of Toronto are from Centre Island. To get there you need to go by Ferry, they depart daily and with frequent times you can just show up and buy the ticket at the window. The Jack Layton Ferry Terminal is located at the foot of Bay Street at Queens Quay, just west of the Westin Harbour Castle hotel. Services run till late in the evening but make sure you check the times as they can be less frequent in the winter. Fares are about $7.5 return per adult. The best time to go is during the late afternoon to catch the view of the city during sun set and then stay until it's completely dark and see the city illuminated by night. It's a fantastic scene to watch and the pictures are unique, with the Ontario Lake acting as reflection of the light. To get to the best spots you need to walk towards the right as you get off the Ferry at Centre island. If you go to Ward's island then need to pass the park in the centre of the island and walk for about 20 minutes. The natural park reserve is also impressive as you walk in Centre Island so you will need at least 2.5 hours for the whole activity. Observe the red circles below on the map for the best spots for photography and views.
Suggestion, visit Niagara Falls: This natural display of water falls is unique in the world and it attracts thousands of visitors every day. To get there is best to organise a tour unless you renting a car. The tour's are well organised from Toronto, with multiple tour companies operating every day of the year. The trip can be reserved online and tailored to your dates and times. Alternatively you can organise it from the main tourist information centre in the downtown. The tours pick up from major hotels or pick up points and take you not only to the Niagara Falls but to other interesting sights along the way. The trip usually takes 2 hours from Toronto, with stops, most likely to be made in a winery and the picturesque town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, renowned for resembling houses of the Victorian style, where it's popular to buy maple leaf syrup and any kind of products related to it, including souvenirs.
When you get to the Falls, you will ride the "Maid of the Mist" boats which will take you into the falls. You will understand why it's called like this when you are at on the boat! Afterwards you have free time to have lunch in the town of Niagara and spend more money on the shops and entertainment stores nearby. Tours usually pick you up at 7am and bring you back to Toronto downtown by 5pm, traffic allowing. Check at the Ontario Travel Information Centre to arrange your visits, located at 65 Front St W. (Tours around $40-50 per person, without lunch).
Accommodation: Toronto is a highly demanded city when it comes to finding places to stay. Either for short stays or wishing to stay longer you will find accommodation is at a premium in the downtown. Therefore if you are on a budget we recommend looking for hotels or hostels away from the centre but within good reach of public transport. Chinatown is a popular area to stay with prices per night being much more affordable. Alternatively Airbnb for private stays and hosting.
Recommended duration: Staying in Toronto offers the traveller with a wide variety of choices to see and do, plus tours to other areas of the state, like the Niagara Falls for example. On a first visit you should not underestimate the size of the city, because although Toronto can be seen quick in two days, it offers a lot more than meets the eye. A more practical 3 to 4 nights stay would be enough to see the main sights plus do a tour to the Falls.