Toronto - the capital of Canada's Ontario province - is a major urban hotspot that attracts visitors from all around the globe to be immersed in its stunning skyline and energetic culture and attractions that truly leave nothing to be desired from an incredible city escape. With soaring skyscrapers, bustling shopping centres and markets, colorful nightlife, a wicked arts and sports scene, indulgent local and international cuisine, and a whole host of natural and cultural marvels, Toronto really leaves no stone unturned.

THETRAVEL VIDEO OF THE DAY

It's genuinely impossible to take in what Toronto has to offer and get a true feel for the place in a mere weekend, however, to help travelers get the most out of their short stay, this extensive guide will showcase the most popular (and some lesser known!) attractions and things to do during a quick jaunt in this vibrant, energetic metropolis full of fun and flavor - including how to get around, where to stay, and the most unique places to let the hair down and enjoy a good ol' drink (or ten).

Accommodation

Downtown Toronto - also called 'Central Toronto' - is the most convenient place to stay for a weekend city retreat. Staying right in the city's heart within throwing distance of all the popular attractions will cut down travel times, which is important for those who're only there for a quick weekend.

Accommodation ranges from budget-friendly hostels and homestays to trendy world-class hotels, and many are all situated in the city's cool center (perfect for those with minimal time to spare). There are more hotels than there are hostels, though the small handful that do exist are very affordable and superb to stay at.

Transportation

Visitors to this exquisite city can walk through most of it quite easily. At a gentle pace, it's possible to stroll to most parts of the city within 20 minutes, which is handy when short on time. But for those that haven't packed their hiking shoes, transport is frequent, reliable, convenient, and affordable.

The TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) operates all public transport within the city, which includes subways, streetcars, and paratransit services - so there's no lack of options for getting around. Plus, it's the cheapest transportation available, so visitors conveniently have more to spend on attractions than on self-logistics.

Subway

Toronto's subway system is the quickest transportation service, however, it doesn't run everywhere around the city.

Bus

Buses in Toronto aren't the fastest way to move around, however, they do serve more routes than the subway, which is more convenient for those who want to be dropped off closer to certain attractions.

Streetcar

Streetcars, which are a little bit like a tram, operate on most of the roads in the city and are frequent and plentiful. They're not the most convenient way to get around though because they're much slower. But hopping on one is definitely a fun experience, and is a superb way to take in the sights whilst en route to the next attraction on the itinerary.

Taxis And Uber Cabs

Taxis and Ubers abound in Toronto and are pretty much everywhere. Whilst they're a more comfortable and private way to travel, they're not the most affordable. Taxis and Ubers are significantly more expensive than all other forms of transport, but that's to be expected with such a level of privacy and convenience. Furthermore, Uber users can save tons of money by ordering a ride through the app instead of flagging one down on the street.

Related: It's Not Only NYC: Toronto Has A Hidden (And Not So Hidden) Underground Network, Too

Shopping, Food, And Drink

Toronto's food scene is irresistible, with no lack of restaurants, cafes, bars, and food markets serving up both local and international delights - and catering to all budgets. Visitors who intend to eat their way around the city need a sizeable stomach to do so because there is simply so much on offer, but for those who want to give it a go, the following hunger havens will definitely impress foodies with the biggest appetites.

And, since many of these hungry-heavens are buzzing markets selling not just food, but also clothes, toys, trinkets, and souvenirs, visitors can lose themselves in the double delight of shopping whilst eating and drinking.

St. Lawrence Market

This is the one and only place to be for foodies in Toronto, where some of the best food in the city can be had. There are Canadian cooking classes on offer, guided food tours, as well as an insane variety of both local Canadian cuisine and international treats to tempt the tongue. There's seemingly no end to variety, with sumptuous local tastes to indulge, in addition to plenty of Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Italian, French, Greek, and so many more global delicacies.

If the restaurants aren't enough to get the tummy rumbling, then the virtually endless stalls of coffees, desserts, bagels, sandwiches, spices, meats, fish, seafood, and cheeses will get the drool dripping. There's also a real farmer's market every Saturday from 5 am to 3 pm.

It's not just eats abounding here either - market-goers can even find antiques, arts and crafts, souvenirs, and flowers too. Overall, first-time Toronto tourists should not miss this market, not only because it's home to some of the most delicious foods in the city, but also because it's great for getting an authentic feel for the place and the people. Note that opening hours are weekdays from 8 am to 6 pm and Saturdays from 5 am to 5 pm, with closure on Sundays and Mondays.

Kensington Market

After visiting St. Lawrence Market on a Saturday, it's time to check out Kensington Market on Sunday, which has a completely different vibe and is yet another fantastic food and shopping hive for those who want to eat and drink their way through Toronto. Kensington Market is located in a beautiful boho neighborhood with gorgeous Instagram-worthy Victorian houses and is very popular thanks to its quirky stalls and food shops that have hungry guests foaming at the mouth.

Interestingly, the site became a registered National Historic Site in 2006 and is full of observable history and cultures from the get-go. The delectable cuisine here is as excellent as it is diverse, with no lack of nations serving up their most flavorful delights in this beaming multi-cultural section of the city. Visitors can savor everything from the sweetest desserts and hot drinks to the most authentic Canadian, Portuguese, Chinese, and Jewish dishes whilst soaking up the fascinating urban scenery.

Distillery District

The name gives it away as the one of Toronto's top tier spots for booze, food and shopping, which are the three ingredients for the ultimate city day out. Toronto's historical Distillery District is only about 15 minutes on foot from St. Lawrence Market, which makes it easy to visit on the same day.

Here, visitors can marvel at the stunning 1800s Victorian industrial architecture that remains magnificently preserved today, which adds to the contagious magic of this photography-worthy hub whilst taking a tipsy stroll through the shops, cafes, galleries, and bars after sampling some of the refreshing beers, wines and cocktails on offer.

And, for travelers who happen to stay during the festive season, the whole 13-acre area is transformed into a magical Christmas market featuring fantastically fun festivities, like enormous Christmas trees, arts and crafts, mulled wines, and the most indulgent holiday treats.

Rooftop Bars

As a mind-blowing city, it's no surprise that Toronto has no shortage of rooftop bars. Anyone who doesn't at least visit one is guaranteed to miss out. There are a few, however, easily one of best and most famous (aside from the world-famous CN tower explained later in this guide) is the Thompson Hotel Rooftop bar, which boasts truly unbelievable vistas of the city's panoramic skyline. The bar is open to all, but only those guests lucky enough to stay at the hotel have access to the rooftop's mind-boggling infinity pool - a luxe city break really doesn't get any more elite than that.

From shopping centers and lush parks to city squares and monuments, Toronto has it all. For those looking for lovely outdoor spaces, there are parks, busy squares, and fascinating graffiti art streets perfect for photographers. And let's not forget sports - when in Toronto, seeing a game of ice hockey is a must, as well as checking out the hockey museum. Plus, there are even attractions for lovers of the arts, like extraordinary theatres and concert halls.

Yonge-Dundas Square

It seems every city has its bustling square - Tokyo has Shibuya, and New York has Times Square - and Toronto's gives even the most famous a run for their money. Yonge-Dundas Square is one of the city's most popular public squares and is home to superb shopping, food, and entertainment sector. Visitors will delight in checking out Toronto Eaton Center - a remarkable Milan-inspired shopping center boasting lots of tremendous stores selling all manners of goods.

Nathan Philipps Square

Within walking distance of Yonge-Dundas Square is Nathan Phillips Square - a kaleidoscopic urban hotspot with tons on offer, including shops, restaurants and bars, and even public and seasonal events, weekly farmer's markets, art displays, and concerts. There's also the fascinating Peace Garden, which serves as a memorial to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and is an eye-opening monument that city-goers should definitely take the time to visit.

One of the square's major and most photographed attractions is the Toronto Sign, which is a must for any visitor keen on taking photos for their Instagram feed. In front of the sign is a pool of water which makes for some interesting photo opportunities, and in winter, it becomes an ice skating rink.

CN Tower

As one of seven wonders of the modern world, the CN Tower at around 550 meters in height is undoubtedly one of the city's most iconic structures. The staggering tower functions as a communications and observation tower prime for soaking up the city's most unbeatable views. It also boasts a few restaurants that afford diners with a bit more cash to splash absolute divine views across the entire city whilst savoring some of its finest dishes.

The best panoramas are certainly at night with all the bright lights and colors illuminating the skies, however, get to the observation deck at dusk with a cocktail to be rewarded with breathtaking sunset views before the unparalleled nighttime vistas kick in.

From the observation deck to the glass floor and sky pod, it's not just about watching the horizon from above in this glorious tower drink in hand, for there are other life-changing experiences to be had here. For the extremely daring keen to try something totally out-of-this-world, there's the exhilarating edge walk. Not for the faint-hearted, this sanity-defying feat involves being strapped in a harness and walking along the tower's outside edge for some of the best and most liberating views of Toronto.

Related: How To Visit Toronto's Massive CN Tower With Its Commanding Views

High Park

This is Toronto’s largest public park and is one of the best spaces to enjoy people-watching and a good dose of fresh air in this mighty metropolis. Aside from lazing on a bench, relaxing on a picnic blanket, or enjoying lunch at the lakefront, there are also some great hiking trails and a host of outdoor activities to tempt visitors.

There are basketball and soccer games in the sports fields and don't forget the camera since there's even a mini zoo with buffalo and llamas. Other notable parks worthy to visit include Oriole Park for its sports and children's attractions, Trinity Bellwoods also for its sporting facilities and kids' activities, Sherbourne Common for its pretty waterfront, and Sunnybrook Park for its bird-watching and cycling trails.

Dufferin Grove Park

Located just south of Bloor Street West and Dufferin Street, the 5.3 hectares that are Dufferin Grove Park are perfect for soaking up nature. There are loads of varied areas for things to do here, including a unique reflexology footpath, a wading pool, a playground, a skate park, sandcastle-building spots, and a multi-purpose sports field with basketball courts, and even wood ovens for those that fancy some cooking in between games.

Casa Loma

The striking Casa Loma is a castle that was built in the early 1900s and now serves as a museum open to the public. The entrance fee is around 30 Canadian dollars, and it's open every day from 9:30 am to 5 pm except for Christmas Day. Its outside alone features untold charm and beauty before visitors even enter, and forgetting a camera when heading to this picturesque place would be heart-breaking.

The Royal Ontario Museum

Passing up a visit to the Royal Ontario Museum would be a sin for any art or history fanatic, which is Canada's biggest museum and also one of the largest in North America. This exquisite building famed for its futuristic architecture is home to a wealth of beautiful and fascinating artifacts, costumes, textiles, paintings, and sculptures from all across the world - most of which date back as far as ancient times.

Graffiti Alley

Just north of Richmond Street between Portland Street and Spadina Avenue (and about 15 minutes on foot from Kensington Market) is the famous Graffiti Alley, which has become popular with photographers in the area thanks to its vibrant display of murals created by talented street artists. Graffiti art was legalized in 2011, and since then, street art has become a common sighting in Toronto.

The Air Canada Center (ACC)

This is the place to be for travelers who want to watch some of Canada's legendary ice hockey matches. Occasionally there are live music performances and other sports games here too, but it's ice hockey that Toronto is truly famous for. Home of the Toronto Raptors basketball team, the Toronto Maple Leafs ice hockey team, and the Toronto Rock lacrosse team, the ACC offers an authentic and energetic opportunity to see the city's sports teams in all their glory. In particular, for a real game of ice hockey, be sure to visit in season between October and April.

The Hockey Hall Of Fame

Whether a seasoned hockey fan or a complete newbie, the Hockey Hall of Fame fulfills all hockey cravings. This ice hockey museum situated near St. Lawrence Market hosts an impressive display of trophies and jerseys, as well as the Stanley Cup and so much more to tickle the fancies of any ice hockey buff.

Music And Theatre

Finally, for the more artistic souls visiting Toronto who are looking for some good live music, a play, or other stage entertainment, there are plentiful opportunities that strike the hearts of the most discerning lovers of live entertainment.

The Roy Thompson Hall

Amazingly, this majestic hall is run by a non-profit organization fuelled by donations and volunteers. Hosting both famous and up-coming musicians and artists, this magnificent establishment offers all manners of entertainment - from orchestras and famed bands and singers to stand-up comedians.

Meridian Hall

Meridian Hall is one of the city's largest, and hosts diverse entertainment shows including ballet, jazz concerts, stand-up comedy, dancing, and live music.

Ed Mirvish Productions And Theatres

This is Canada's biggest and most established theatre company that invites all to enjoy musicals, theatrical shows, and plays, all of which are fantastic opportunities to get dressed up and have a fancy night out. Here, customers are left speechless by one of the most authentic theatre experiences in the city, which can be preceded or followed by an upmarket dinner at nearby restaurants.

Overall, there's an impossible abundance of diversity in Toronto that is equally impossible to experience all in one weekend. However, everything featured in this guide is a very good representation of what this jaw-dropping city has on offer that is so utterly enticing to every kind of traveler. With so much going in in this mesmerizing metropolis of arts, cuisine, culture, shopping, and beauty, travelers might just have to visit Toronto more than once to truly experience what makes it such a world-famous city escapade, and a beckoning tourist magnet.

Next: 10 Best Hidden Gem Restaurants In Toronto