O Canada: 15 Must-See Places for a First-timer in Toronto (Part 1 of 2)

2 months ago, I took a break from work to visit my family in Canada. It was a very nice trip since it’s long and visiting my family means i get a chance to taste my mother’s home cooked food (e.g sinaing na tulingan, tambakol, crispy pata and the list goes on). Also, during my trip the weather is starting to cool down so I could really go visit some places. This time, I travelled alone and since I already got used to travelling with Ralph, I got so worried I’ll get lost everywhere. He was my human google map. Let’s just say finding directions isn’t my forte but nevertheless I couldn’t wait to explore! Good thing, I equipped my phone with a data plan (from Freedom telecoms) so  I could use google map all the time. I think it’s about $50 for a 10gb plan.

So 3 weeks before my flight, I did my research, visited tripadvisor for tips, read blogs etc. so that I can come up with the best and doable itinerary. I was in Toronto for 3 weeks so I had plenty of time to explore. I mean I had a total of 24 hour flight (long layover sucks) from Dubai-Paris-Toronto so I better make the most out of it. And yes I gained 5 kilos because of this trip.

I’ve put together a list of my favourite must-see places for a first-timer in Toronto. 

Make sure your hashtag game is strong, cos you’re gonna take loads of pictures (it took me 2 months to finish post processing all my photos!). This is why this post is long overdue.

1. CN Tower

Arguably Toronto’s most famous landmark. It’s super cloudy when I visited the iconic CN Tower but that didn’t stop me from taking some aerial shots and some good selfies. The lighting here is super good. hehe. Depending on the weather, you can catch a good bird’s-eye view from one of their observation decks. Also, the elevators can bring you at the top in under a minute.

But what really is the purpose of the CN tower? Apparently, when Toronto’s skyline began to grow amidst a construction boom, television and radio transmission towers were having trouble broadcasting. The CN Tower allowed transmissions to pass with ease. “CN” originally referred to Canadian National, the railway company that built the tower.

2. Niagara Falls

I am completely aware that Niagara Falls isn’t located in Toronto but since it’s just a 3 hr bus or train ride away from Toronto, why not pay a visit to one of the most majestic places on earth?

Me and my family travelled to Niagara by GO Transit (train) which you can conveniently find at Union Station.

Once there, you should definitely try the Hornblower Voyage to the Falls tour! It was such an experience! I’m telling you, the falls are simply breath taking and super worth it!

There are so much to do in Niagara aside from the falls. We had so much fun visiting the amusement area where you could see galleries, museums and even casinos.

3. Toronto Subway

For me, a Toronto trip wouldn’t be complete without ever trying or ever been in the subway.  I mean it’s a chance for you to experience what the ‘locals’ do everyday plus i think it’s fun just observing people inside the train and you’ll never know what you’re gonna get.

Oftentimes during my trip, I always find drunk people on the subway saying oddly stuff like their political  or religous views which I find hilarious and interesting in a way. Btw, since it’s underground you won’t be able to have internet connection most of the time so I like how people just read newspapers and books inside the subway unlike in Dubai where literally everyone is just glued on their mobile phones while in the Metro (Dubai Train). I find the ads interesting too. There was one time that I saw an ad for a strippers for hire. 😀

4. Casa Loma

Canada’s majestic castle and Toronto’s premier historic attraction. I think I spent a good 4 hours just exploring Casa Loma alone. It’s super beautiful inside that I took more than 400 photos. It’s my first time to go inside a castle so it was a really nice experience. Casa Loma, Spanish for “Hill House,” is a definite must see in your Toronto itinerary. Admission is $25 for adults and totally worth it in my own opinion. So many surprises inside! I was even able to go to the secret tunnel! I don’t even know how but I just did. There are so many things inside. I think I should dedicate a single post just for Casa Loma.

Here are some of my favorite photos of Casa Loma:

5. Graffiti Alley

Explore the vibrant street arts of Toronto at Graffiti Alley. One of the things I love about Toronto is that wherever I go (literally wherever) you would find street art. I’m talking about enormous murals. It’s just astonishing.

This is because they have  StreetARToronto (StART) which is a pro-active program that treats streets as vital public space and aims to develop, support, and increase awareness of street art and its indispensable role in generating social and economic benefits, adding beauty and character to Toronto’s communities, and counteracting the negative effects of graffiti vandalism.

Many says that Toronto is one of the best street art cities on earth. I’ve even spotted some of Banksy’s works while strolling at downtown.

6. The Vog Vault

On of the coolest things you can probably do in Toronto is visiting The Vog Vault. It’s every instagrammer’s favourite instagrammable spot. Once inside, you’ll realize fighting the earth’s natural forces is actually a real piece of cake.

Don’t forget to tag them! #VogVault and @Fluevog

7. Toronto Public Library (Reference Library)

Even though I have a love and hate relationship with books, I love libraries. When I was in the university, you can often find me at the main library. Not because i like studying or reading but because i love staying there because it’s so peaceful and it’s my form of escape from the hectic world. 

I only had one chance to visit the reference library in Toronto which I deeply regret but nevertheless I am quite fascinated by the interior and the fact that people inside are so diverse and you can definitely tell that the library is for everyone. I had some pretty good and interesting conversations from different strangers while I was there. I was amazed. They killed the introvert in me.

Their staff is friendly and helpful too. It’s definitely a must visit in Toronto most especially on a rainy day! And btw, The Weeknd’s new music video “Secrets” was filmed here.

8. Art Gallery of Ontario

It was part of my itinerary to visit a museum or a gallery in  Toronto but I could only do one since I’m on a budget. I was really really torn between Art Gallery of Ontario and Royal Ontario Museum. Reading online didnt help as they’re really incomparable. In the end I just did a toss coin and AGO won.

The good thing is AGO didn’t disappoint. I visited the gallery with my brother, cousin and 3 year old nephew. It was an interesting experience.

Harry Potter feels

Fascinated by how intricate this miniature skulls are.

I am in love with the interior of the gallery itself especially the spiral staircase. Also, how can you not be fascinated with the works of Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Renoir, and Rubens? You have to alot a good 4 hours to be able to enjoy each floor of the gallery. After a tiring day at the gallery, you can help yourself with some good sushi nearby. There found loads of sushi places near the area.

Since this list is too long I broke it down into 2 post.  You can read Part 2 of this list here. If you’re too lazy to read it now, open it in new tab and bookmark it ASAP so you won’t forget. 😀

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