- Lakeside skyscrapers
- City life
- Shopping, showtime and sporting superstars
Officially recognised as having four distinct districts, Canada’s largest city is bubbling with vibrant new quarters.
As well as a sporting and entertainment calendar to rival most international capitals, the best thing is that everyone here is just so darned friendly. Get sophisticated shopping kicks in Hazelton Lanes, then steal a dose of culture from Midtown’s many world-class art museums. For more cutting-edge discoveries head west to the burgeoning Art & Design District, or swerve east and stroll the cobbled Distillery District for bygone-era charm. For fresh-air and a taste of outdoor living, head south and hit the shores of the lake. Then to put this mighty town in perspective hit the top of the CN Tower for an altitude-defying bird’s eye view of a place Peter Ustinov once described as 'New York, run by the Swiss.'
Even if you're not a baseball aficionado, it's fun to catch the Toronto Blue Jays in action at the Rogers Centre (www.bluejays.com; +1 416 341 1111) between April and September. And if it starts to rain – that only adds to the experience – as it means they close the domed roof which is quite a sight. Next door to the CN Tower, you may want to tick that tourist must-do at the same time.
- Taxis are abundant and easy to flag down. You can pay by credit card.
- Tipping culture
- Just like on the other side of the border it is customary to tip 15 per cent minimum. It is nice to tip staff in hotels; carry a handful of loonies and toonies ($1 or $2 coins).
- Packing tips
- Winter: Your thermals and woollies. Summer: Take light clothing but also some years and rainy-weather essentials just in case.
- Recommended reads
- In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje portrays Toronto in the 20s and 30s; the same characters resurface in The English Patient. Margaret Attwood’s Life Before Man or The Blind Assassin which takes place in a small town near Toronto in the 19th century. Many of Alice Munro’s short stories are set around Toronto, including the recent collection, Runaway.
- This is a town with a sophisticated palate and eclectic tastes. Whether you’re a carnivore who craves Modern Canadian care of a Yukon caribou steak or an 8-ounce burger with brie, or you’re a health-conscious vegetarian with a hankering for Asian fusion, there’s eaterie here for all.
- The Canadian Dollar (CAD$).
- Time zone
- GMT -5 hours.
- Dialling codes
- Canada is +1; Toronto is 416.
- Do go/don't go
- This is a country with four seasons, so choose your favourite and you can be pretty sure its most stereotyped characteristics will apply: snow in winter, sun in summer and pretty autumn colours in October. Peak tourist season starts on Victoria Day (Monday before 25 May) and ends on Labour Day (first Monday in September).
Don't go home without...
Graze the food samples at St Lawrence Market, which in the 19th century was the city hall. The perfect place to pick up foodie souvenirs (maple syrup might transport better than bacon) and to pause for delicious fish and chips.