Canada’s largest city enjoys a superb lakeside location while boasting great cultural institutions and an ethnic harmony that is an example to the world.
Day 1: Natural Toronto
Take some time to explore Toronto on and around Lake Ontario, starting with the regenerated Harbourfront. Where else would you find a spot like Spadina Quay, protected wetlands in the shadow of skyscrapers? The skyline, by the way, including the enormous CN Tower, looks even more impressive from the water. And the nearby islands are a fascinating world unto themselves, with largely car-free communities and nature reserves like Tommy Thompson Park, where you can easily forget that you’re still in North America’s fifth largest city. When the weather allows, yachting, fishing and fine swimming beaches make the lake a hive of activity.
Day 2: Cultural Toronto
But of course for at least half the year you’ll be looking for indoor diversions. You’re in luck! Still at Harbourside, visit Toronto’s version of London’s Tate Modern, a contemporary gallery in a converted power station. The nearby Distillery District now produces great exhibitions, performances and meals rather than whiskey. 401 Richmond is yet another thoughtful renovation, a whole gallery precinct inside a reconditioned warehouse. Down the road, the huge Art Gallery of Ontario has recent additions designed by local boy Frank Gehry, while the Toronto Dominion Gallery of Inuit Art has compelling works by indigenous Canadians. At night, take in a show at the modern Four Season Centre or Roy Thomson Hall, or the beautifully restored vaudeville theater Elgin & Winter Garden.
Day 3: Multicultural Toronto
Torontonians are justly proud of their city’s diversity. Bringing new life to some of Toronto’s oldest districts, every nation it seems has been transplanted and miniaturized: there’s Little Italy, Little Greece and Little India, not forgetting the importance of Chinatown in a city where one in ten citizens has Chinese roots. Near Harbourfront, Little Portugal brings color to the grayest winters, while the Indian Bazaar is a trip to the sights, sounds and smells of the subcontinent. All of these groups contribute to the astonishing quality and variety of Toronto's cuisine.