Need to make the most of your one day in Toronto? We have the perfect Toronto Itinerary for you, written by ‘once upon a time local, who wants to go back’!
Toronto is the shining star of Canada’s urban players. This city is filled with multi-cultural corners to skyrise downtown buildings, tons of work opportunities (yes it is competitive and the fittest one survives!), a lot of art and history, and an amazing infrastructure which makes it quite accessible to other cities in North America and the world.
So here is what you must explore on a one day Toronto itinerary.
One Day in Toronto Itinerary
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Arriving in Toronto Canada
Toronto is located in the Canadian province of Ontario. It is one of the largest and most populated cities in Canada. If you are flying into Toronto, you will arrive at the Toronto Pearson International Airport, located in Mississauga.
- Toronto Transit Centre also known as TTC operates and manages public transportation network of buses and Light Rail Trains in the city
- Public Transport: You can get to Toronto city center or downtown via LRT/subway station from the airport. You can buy a TTC Day pass for the day (or two) to get to your hotel and then to sightseeing attractions. Cost: $3 CAD. Time: 75 minutes
- Union Pearson Express: This is a fast transit line, connecting Pearson to the Union Station in downtown. Cost: $24 CAD. Time: 25 minutes
- Private transfer from the airport to your hotel is also an option. Cost: $60 CAD. Time: 30 minutes
Commuting within Toronto/GTA
To maximize your time in Toronto, we highly recommend staying in a downtown hotel. You can easily walk to various attractions from there.
If you have to stay away (from the downtown area), ensure you buy a TTC day pass to save money on commute. Transit Passes can be purchased in various denominations from one day to 2-day weekend pass and monthly passes. You will be able to buy passes or single tokens from various subway stations including the Union Station.
Start your day in downtown Toronto
As you only have a day in Toronto, it is wise to stick to the city’s highlights – the downtown area and nearby. Toronto Downtown is easily connected by LRT (light rail transit), buses, and taxis to reach.
Once you reach downtown head to Eggspectation for a yummy breakfast of eggs, and coffee. You can get down at either Nathan Phillips Square or Toronto Eaton Centre, and then walk to Eggspectation.
Nathan Phillips Square
Nathan Phillips Square and the colorful image of “TORONTO” is quite popular. It is a large urban square in the downtown area, and is the lobby or forecourt to the new Toronto City Hall.
Don’t forget to snap a photo here! Tons of annual activities from New Year celebrations, to Remembrance Day, Christmas, and more are hosted at the square and attended by Torontonians and visitors.
This square is located at the intersection of Queen Street West and Bay Street. And from here most of the day’s itinerary activities are within walkable distance, through the urban jungle.
Check out Eaton Centre
I love visiting big shiny malls and the Eaton Centre is super fabulous! If you are a shopper, you will love it here, and can spend an entire day. However it may not be wise if you only have ONE day in Toronto.
But feel free to drop by, window shop (or shop) a little, grab a cup of coffee (Tim Hortons may be), and then continue on exploring!
For fashionistas: You can also shop at Yorkdale Shopping Mall (Dufferin St) or head to the Yonge street (near Yonge-Dundas square) at 10 Dundas Street. This is a lovely spot to hang out in the evening with live entertainment and glittering lights, shops, and eateries!
As you wander through Downtown Toronto, you will find sky rise buildings – housing corporations, law firms and the stock exchange offices. This is the Financial District – the heart of Canada’s finance and banking industries!
Very elegantly, this area is lined with tons of cozy cafes, restaurants and luxury Toronto hotels and condos!
Explore St Lawrence Market
Up next on the itinerary is St Lawrence Market. This is a large public market building, where you can buy local souvenirs or try some local produce and delicacies.
Some of the popular items to try out here are Potato Pancakes and Peameal Sandwiches! Grab a bite before exploring more attractions.
Lawrence Market is only open five days a week. From Tuesday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Saturday from 5:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. It is closed on Sundays and Mondays.
The Hockey Hall of Fame
The famed Hockey Hall of Fame is located just a few minutes away from the St. Lawrence Market.
The Hockey Hall of Fame is an ice hockey museum, which is dedicated to the history of ice hockey. It also has exhibits about players, teams of the National Hockey League, their records, memorabilia, and trophies, including the Stanley Cup.
For hockey lovers, you can spend an entire day. At the quickest, you can visit the museum in 1.50- 2 hours. It has an entry fee of $20 CAD for adults, and the tickets are valid for the entire day.
Visit the Art Gallery Ontario
Swanky building, the Art Gallery Ontario is a must visit for all art lovers. The gallery boasts of over 90000 exhibits, and is one of the finest museums in the whole of North America. It is located on Dundas Street West, and can be accessed via LRT or just walk down from St Lawrence Market or the Hockey Hall of Fame.
AGO has an entry fee of $25 CAD. Learn more about their opening hours here
We highly recommend visiting the museum, even if it’s from the outside (if you are short on time), as it’s super stunning to look at. We are sure you won’t be disappointed.
Royal Ontario Museum
Located just 5 minutes away from the AGO is another stunning museum complex – the Royal Ontario Museum. It is an art, culture, and natural history museum, and is considered to be one of the largest and the most visited museums in Canada.
Visit ROM to see life-size dinosaurs, mysterious mummies, gems, and other treasures on display. The entry fee to ROM is $23 CAD for adults.
Kensington Market is a quirky, trendy, and colorful neighborhood in Toronto. We actually reached the market by accident and were impressed with the bohemian decor on stores, cafes, and marketplaces.
The Market is home to a wide array of specialty grocers, fish stalls, bakeries and cheese shops.
If you are a travel photographer, this is your spot for capturing the hustle-bustle of the city (after the stunning harbourfront skyline, of course).
Enjoy an EdgeWalk at the CN Tower
The CN Tower beautifully adorns the Toronto Skyline. Even before I visited Canada, I knew I had to come here. The CN Tower is one of the tallest buildings in the city, it held the record for the world’s tallest free-standing structure for 32 years until 2007.
I was super excited as this was my first time experiencing such stunning views from 446.5 m (1,464.9 ft) high, and walking on the glass floor. I am not very comfortable with heights, but I did it anyway. Compared to this my experience at the Calgary Tower was super easy.
CN Tower was built to serve the Toronto area, as a prime telecommunications tower. Today it is an iconic landmark to the city, and also offers a signature ‘EdgeWalk’ Experience, where you or participants can walk the top of the exposed 356m-high CN Tower.
Cost of EdgeWalk Experience is $195 CDN + tax ticket price, and it also includes access to other attractions inside the tower.
CN Tower also has a stunning revolving restaurant. Although a bit pricey it is perfect for any celebrations, big or small!
Soak in sunset views at Toronto’s HarbourFront
Toronto HarbourFront is one of my favorite spots to hang out in the city. You also can soak in those stunning blue waters from the viewing floor of the CN Tower. And once you have explored the tower, it’s time for a walk or a segway tour to enjoy the harbourfront.
Toronto Harbourfront is bustling with activities, especially during summer months. There are walking trails and galleries nearby. If you have additional time, you can take a ferry from here to the Toronto Islands for exploring Centreville and nearby beaches.
This neighbourhood looks really nice and lovely in the evening. It is also a photographer’s delight to capture the sun go down on the Toronto Skyline! Don’t miss this!
Chill out at the Distillery District Toronto
After spending some time at the Harbourfront, head over to the Distillery District.
The Distillery District is a unique and quaint spot in Toronto. The district is set in a 19th-century building where a whiskey distillery was once housed.
You will find pretty cobblestone streets, and there are cozy bars, restaurants, and boutiques nearby. We highly recommend taking a guided food tour in the evening, that way you can explore the Distillery District and learn about its history, and also finish the day with dinner.
The District has tons of things that you can do – from art and crafts to culinary delights, music, and entertainment. If you are visiting Toronto in the winter, be sure to visit the district for the popular Toronto Christmas Market.
More than a day in Toronto?
Now we have to include more of our favorite spots in Toronto, after all, it was our home for 2 years, and we enjoyed exploring and eating out almost every day in the city. So here are some of the must-do activities in Toronto, if you have additional time
Casa Loma aka Spanish Hill is a stylish Gothic Revival castle in the city. It used to be a residence for a wealthy businessmen/financier Sir Henry Pellatt.
Casa Loma complex consists of the main residence/mansion, wonderful gardens, a cellar, and stables. There are many rooms located inside the building, which are open for visitors to explore like the home office, bedrooms, living room, etc.
There is a museum on-site as well, and there are special decorations set up for Christmas every festive season.
There is an entry fee for Casa Loma, which is $30 CAD for adults. Although a little pricey, we enjoyed our time exploring such a Gothic castle in Toronto. The gardens are lovely and make for amazing photo backdrops.
Ontario Science Centre
The Ontario Science Centre is a premier science museum in Toronto, showcasing hundreds of interactive and passive permanent exhibits, from geology, astronomical sciences, human anatomy, communication, and other artifacts of science.
Day Trip to the Niagara Falls
The stunning Niagara Falls should be on everyone’s bucket list. These iconic waterfalls were historically formed by the Wisconsin Glacier thousands of years ago, and the meltwater filled up the basins to create the mighty Great Lakes.
These waterfalls can be witnessed from the US side as well as from Canada. You can get a glimpse of America from the viewing platforms in Canada.
It is easy to embark on a day trip from Toronto to Niagara Falls (Canadian side or US both). It takes about 1.50 hours (one way) to reach the waterfalls from Toronto by car. You can also opt for a day tour or use public transportation to explore Niagara Falls.
There are tons of things to do at the Falls. Some of our favorite things include
- Viewing those stunning waterfalls
- Embarking on a Maid of the Mist boat tour, and see/feel the waterfalls up close and personal
- Hang out at the Entertainment District, eat, go bowling
- Stroll the gardens located at the Niagara Falls site
- See the stunning colors/ light show in the evening. This is an amazing experience where you can see dazzling lights on the waterfalls at night.
- Soaking in views from the Niagara Skylon Tower. It is an observation tower that overlooks both the American Falls New York, and the Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side of the Niagara River
Niagara On the Lake
Located only 20 minutes away from the Niagara Falls, is the wonderful town of Niagara On the Lake. The town is filled with flower beds, quaint 19th century buildings and wineries!
You can embark on a wine tour on Niagara On the Lake.
Toronto Centre Island
Toronto Centre Island is a lovely getaway located just minutes away from downtown. You can take a ferry ride from the HarbourFront to Centre Island.
Centre Island is one of the three primary Toronto Islands. It is located in between Ward’s Island on the east and Hanlan’s Point on the west. The Centreville Amusement Park is a popular tourist spot in Centre Island.
There are biking paths and a nice beach where you can hang out. The Island also has a petting zoo, which you can access for free.
We love going on voyageur canoes to chase sunsets, and at the Centre Island you can too!
Danforth is the lively Greektown in Toronto. This neighborhood has a ton of international culinary cafes, and bars, especially of Greek flavors and pastry shops. Every year in August, there is a food festival, called the Taste of the Danforth, where you can relish delicious food, and swing to live music and dancing.
The Danforth neighborhood is also home to many green spaces including the Riverdale Park, Withrow Park, and the East Lynn Park. They are perfect for a leisurely stroll or a morning jog. The Chester Lookout point is a nice spot to take in the city views and the greenery around.
Peterborough is a city located on the Otonabee River, about 1.50 hours away from Toronto. It is a perfect day trip getaway option where you can enjoy small town vibes, and go on a liftlock cruise.
The Peterborough Lift Lock is a boat lift located on the Trent Canal, and it has been existing for decades. You can enjoy a tour of the lock’s dual lifts, and see the highest hydraulic boat lifts in action.
Need more ideas? Read our post on top road trips to take from Toronto!
Sightseeing Map: Toronto One Day Itinerary
We have included a Toronto attractions map for you. The magenta spots are for the exact one day itinerary listed here, and the blue spots are additional activities to consider.
Additional Tips: Visiting Toronto for a day
Here are some important tips for preparing for your trip to Toronto
Travelers with valid USA and the EU passport can visit Toronto without a tourist visa for a set period of time. However, all travelers are required to complete an Electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA) before boarding their flights to Canada, including Australian passport holders.
- For USA Passport holders: A valid U.S. passport, passport card, or NEXUS card is required when crossing the border + eTA
- EU Passport holders: All European Union nationals are considered visa-exempt for stays up to six months. Valid passport required + eTA
- Indian Passport holders: Travelers visiting on an Indian Passport (without a permanent resident card) must apply for a tourist visa from the country of residence, and prior to arrival.
Best time to visit Toronto Ontario
Toronto experiences all 4 seasons – spring, summer, fall and winter. So here is how each season looks like
- Spring (March to May): Spring is a nice time to be in Toronto. The weather starts to get warmer, and you can relax in parks and see flowers blooming in the city. In early spring, carry a waterproof jacket with you.
- Summer (June to August): Summers are warm and busy in Toronto. It is a great time to visit for outdoor activities, concerts, and events. However, it is peak season so expect hotels to be expensive and attractions (and public transportation) busy and crowded.
- Fall (September to November): Fall is our favorite time to be in Toronto, especially with all stunning orange-y vibes and Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Being an off-season, you will find hotels at relatively cheaper rates, and attractions will be less busy as the school year begins in September. Closer to November, expect the winter to kick-start with cooler temperatures and the start of Christmas markets across the city.
- Winter (December to February): Toronto winters are similar to most places in eastern Canada, and east coast USA like New York. So pack warm clothes during your trip. There will be snow, windchill and temperatures can drop down to -16 degree celsius or lower.
We hope you enjoyed this jam packed one day in Toronto Itinerary. Have fun in this wonderful city!