2 Day Toronto Itinerary: How To Spend a Weekend in Toronto
Spending a weekend in Toronto? This Toronto itinerary will show you some of the best places to visit and eat in Toronto in 2 to 3 days.
Toronto is a city that I’ve always wanted to visit. After moving to New York, Toronto became such a great weekend destination that I went twice in 2 years.
Whether you’re a foodie, history buff, art enthusiast, or nature lover, Toronto offers something for everyone. With a plethora of attractions, museums, parks, and neighborhoods to explore, a weekend in Toronto can be packed with unforgettable experiences.
This blog will show you some of the best things to do in Toronto if you are just spending a weekend or two days here. From the iconic CN Tower to the trendy Kensington Market, you’ll get to experience the city’s diversity and unique charm.I will also answer your most pressing questions on Toronto in this Toronto itinerary.
- How to get to Toronto
- How to get around Toronto
- What to see and do in Toronto
- What to eat in Toronto
- Where to stay in Toronto
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Where is Toronto?
Toronto is located in the province of Ontario in the south east of Canada. It is situated on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario and it is the largest city in Canada by population.
How to get to Toronto?
Toronto is well-connected and easily accessible by various modes of transportation. Depending on where you are traveling from, you can reach Toronto by air, by train, by bus or by car.
Flying to Toronto – best airports to fly into
There are 2 major airports in Toronto, Pearson International Airport (YYZ) and Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ).
Pearson International Airport is the large international airport in Toronto. It is about 26km (16 miles) from downtown Toronto.
Taking a taxi or Uber from Pearson International Airport takes about 30 to 60 minutes depending on traffic and it costs about 50-60 USD per trip
Union Pearson Express is an express train that connects Pearson International Airport to Union Station in downtown Toronto. The train takes 25 minutes to downtown every 15 minutes.
Billy Bishop Airport is a small regional airport on the Toronto Islands near downtown Toronto. In general most flights are on Porter airline and they are coming from the east coast of Canada and the US. Occasionally there are some Air Canada flights from Ottawa and Montreal that fly to Billy Bishop.
If you have a choice, it’s better to fly to Billy Bishop since it is right at downtown Toronto, so you save time and money on transportation into the city. You can literally walk to downtown Toronto from Billy Bishop Airport.
Taking the Train to Toronto
Toronto Union Station is the main train station in Toronto.
- Western Canada
- Scenic Adventure Routes
- Ontario and Quebec
- Atlantic Canada
Only Western Canada route and Ontario and Quebec route have trains that stop by Toronto.
Taking the bus to Toronto
There are long distance buses from various cities of the US and Canada to Toronto.
Driving to Toronto
Depending on where you live, you can certainly drive to Toronto. Some of the most popular cities to do a roadtrip to Toronto include:
- Ottawa: 4.5 hours to Toronto
- Montreal: 5.5 hours to Toronto
- Detroit: <4 hours to Toronto
- Cleveland: 4.5 hours to Toronto
- Buffalo, NY: 1.5 hours to Toronto
Anything longer than that you should probably consider flying.
How to Get Around Toronto?
Toronto is a large city but it’s pretty easy to get around with a combination of public transportation, walking, and Uber. You can certainly drive in Toronto and most locals do drive, but for the purpose of this Toronto weekend itinerary, I suggest you utilize some of the methods of transportation below.
Toronto Subway, buses and Streetcar
The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) operates a network of subway lines, buses and Streetcar throughout Toronto.
There are a total of 4 subway lines with 2 major lines:
- The yellow line (Line 1 Yonge – University) route runs north to south (then comes back up north)
- The Green line (Line 2 Bloor – Danforth) runs east to west
- The blue and the pink lines are smaller regional lines.
Walking is a great way to explore Toronto.
If you are mostly staying in downtown Toronto and touristy area, it is possible to walk from place to place, especially in the Old Toronto area.
Ride Share Services in Toronto
Both Uber and Lyft can be used in Toronto, or you can do the old fashion way and get a taxi.
If you are planning to visit Toronto Islands then you will need to take a ferry.
Detailed Weekend in Toronto Itinerary
Friday: Arrival to Toronto
If You Arrive in Toronto in the morning: Niagara Falls
If you arrive in Toronto in the morning, I suggest you spend at least half a day at Niagara Falls.
Niagara Falls is about 1.5 hour drive from Pearson International Airport and the view does not disappoint. In my opinion, the view of Niagara Falls from the Canadian side is much better than the view of Niagara Falls from the US side.
After you return from Niagara Falls (or if you are landing at night), grab a bite from downtown Toronto or Queen Street depending on where you stay. More information on where to eat and where to stay in Toronto later in this blog post.
Saturday Toronto Highlights: Food Market, Distillery District, Toronto Sign, CN Tower
Morning: St. Lawrence Market (closed Sunday and Monday)
Day: Distillery District, Yonge-Dundas Square, Toronto Sign (optional: Sugar Beach, Polson Pier Skyline)
Evening: CN Tower, Thompson Hotel Rooftop Bar
St. Lawrence Market
Saturday Hours: 5am to 5pm (Weekdays 8am to 6pm)
Closed Sundays & Mondays
St. Lawrence Market is one of the top things you should do when spending a weekend in Toronto. Why do I suggest adding St. Lawrence Market to your Toronto itinerary?
Personally I think it has some of the most tasty food in Toronto as well as fresh produce and cheese shops. St. Lawrence Market is a 2 story food hall that have different vendors such as bagels, sandwiches, coffee, dessert, etc.
The Gooderham Building, also known as the Flatiron Building, is a historical office building located very close to St. Lawrence Market. Perhaps one of the most photographed buildings in Toronto, the Gooderham Building has an important heritage value in Toronto.
This iconic building was designed to follow the layout of the streets (hence merging Wellington and Front Street) and was the most expensive office building at the time.
Sugar Beach (Optional)
Beach in a city? What? Yup, Toronto has a waterfront “beach” not too far from St. Lawrence Market. Located across from Redpath Sugar Refinery, Sugar beach is a man made park on a pier open to the public (but there is no water access and you cannot swim or wade in Lake Ontario).
Before the park was built in 2010, this area used to be a parking lot in a former industrial area but now residents can relax on the beach or play in the sand or watch the sunset. If you have time on a nice day then take a walk there for photos, otherwise feel free to skip.
If you are looking for a place with food, beer, shopping, and Christmas market, then the Distillery District is the place to add onto your weekend in Toronto itinerary.
Located about a 15 minute walk from St. Lawrence Market in east downtown Toronto, the Distillery District is a pedestrian-only historical district that one must visit during a trip in Toronto.
The Distillery historical district is a 13 acres entertainment district that has amazingly preserved 1800s Victorian industrial architecture. It’s fun to just walk around and take in the sight in the Distillery District but there are a lot of galleries, shops, coffee shop, and bars as well as some instagrammable spots.
If you are spending a weekend in Toronto during the holiday season, the Distillery District transforms into a traditional Christmas market with mulled wine, arts and craft and a giant Christmas tree. From Tuesday to Friday, there is free admission to the Christmas market but on Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday, there is a $6.00 admission fee to check out the Christmas market in the Distillery District.
Every major city seems to have a popular square and Toronto is no exception. Yonge-Dundas Square is a public square in Toronto that attracts numerous tourists and locals. Many events are hosted at Yonge-Dundas Square and it is also at the center of an entertainment and shopping district.
Toronto Eaton Centre, a beautiful shopping center modeled after a galleria in Milan, is next to Yonge-Dundas Square. You may not actually spend too much time at the square itself but it’s nice to check out all the stores and shopping center surrounding Yonge-Dundas Square. It is also within walking distance to the famous Toronto sign.
Toronto Sign & Nathan Phillips Square
The Toronto Sign is actually one of the top things on my “what things to see in Toronto list” and I have to admit I was not disappointed after seeing it in real life.
The Toronto Sign was installed at Nathan Phillips Square in 2015 and has been there every since. The sign have different colors and apparently the colorful sides are covered in a changeable vinyl wrap so the signs can have different designs.
There is usually water in front of the Toronto Sign but in the winter the city turns it into an ice skating rink instead! When I went in early November they had just drained all the water but before putting the ice rink up.
Besides the Toronto Sign, Nathan Phillips Square is a very vibrant urban plaza with public events, concerts, art displays, weekly farmer’s market, winter festival of lights, etc.
It is also the finishing point of the annual Toronto Marathon that takes place in October. Nathan Phillips Square also has the Peace Garden, a memorial to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
The CN Tower is probably the most recognizable architecture in Toronto and for good reasons. About 550m high, the CN Tower is a communication and observation tower in downtown Toronto but there are also 3 restaurants in the tower. Every New Years Eve the CN Tower hosts a New Year’s Eve Party that requires tickets in advance and tickets are generally sold out by early December.
Even though the CN Tower is more of a tourist attraction than anything, I still recommend visiting the observation deck at dusk for a beautiful sunset and seeing the stunning night views of Toronto after it gets dark.
Toronto has no shortage of rooftop bars and if you are spending a weekend in Toronto in the summer, a rooftop bar is a must!
One of the most well known rooftop bars in Toronto is the Harriet’s Rooftop in the new 1 Hotel Toronto. , which features an infinity pool with an awesome view of Toronto skyline.
Another popular Toronto rooftop bar is The Porch, located above the Rock ‘n’ Horse Saloon with a stunning view of the CN Tower in a much more casual environment compare to the Thomson Hotel. However reviews of the food is mediocre since it’s mostly bar food.
Sunday Toronto Highlights: Kensington Market, Graffiti Alley, Castle, Museum
Morning: Kensington Market
Day: Queen Street, Graffiti Alley, Casa Loma
Afternoon: Royal Ontario Museum & High End shopping in Yorkville
If you can’t tell already, I have a thing with food markets. Since St. Lawrence Market is closed on Sundays, it’s time to check out Kensington Market.
Kensington Market is in downtown Toronto in a bohemian neighborhood with tons of small cafes, shops and Victorian homes. When you walk around the Kensington Market area, you can feel the different vibe compare to St. Lawrence Market and the Distillery District. Different vibe but still cool and yummy nevertheless.
Prior to my visit, I had done a lot of research on the best food to eat at Kensington Market and the two most noteworthy ones I tried were the Jamaican Jerk Chicken at Rasta Pasta as well as the fish tacos from Seven Lives. Both places can get pretty crowded so I suggest going a bit earlier.
There are also a few cute coffee shops and dessert cafes in Kensington Market such as Little Pebbles (Japanese dessert), Moon Beach Coffee Company, and Jimmy ‘s Coffee. But really, there are so many cafes and brunch spots in Kensington Market that if you are walking around the area, just hop into a popular one.
The Graffiti Alley in Toronto is literally an alley with street arts located north of Richmond St between Portland St and Spadina Ave. About a 15 minute walk from Kensington Market, Graffiti Alley has become one of the most popular tourist spots in Toronto and one of the best collections of murals in Toronto.
Shopping and Eating on Queen Street
Set in one of the trendiest neighborhoods in Toronto, Queen Street has everything that one would want: restaurants, bars, shops, art galleries, etc. Located near Graffiti Alley, Queen Street is perhaps one of the most popular places for both locals and tourists in Toronto. There are hundreds if not thousands of stores, bars and boutiques on Queen Street and you can literally spend a day on Queen Street if you wanted to.
Slightly north of Queen St down Spadina Ave is the Toronto Chinatown. There are many restaurants and milk tea shops in China town as well as the Chinatown Centre, where you would get on the Safeway Tour bus to Niagara Falls. While I personally didn’t find anything in particular to “see” in Chinatown, it was nice to find some good Chinese hot pot restaurants and bubble tea shops while I was there.
Did you know that there is a castle in Toronto? I was quite surprised when I first found out about it during a weekend trip to Toronto this time.
Constructed in the early 1900s, Casa Loma was the private residence of a financier but now a museum in midtown Toronto. Casa Loma is open to the public for visit as well as for private events. In order to tour the grounds of the castle as well as the interior of Casa Loma, there is an entrance fee of CAD 30.
Casa Loma is a bit out of the way compare to the rest of the spots I mentioned so far. You can take the metro to Dupont Station then walk up the stairs (110 steps) to Casa Loma or take a uber. Therefore if you are interested in visiting Casa Loma, I highly recommend blocking out some time on your weekend Toronto itinerary to include travel time.
Royal Ontario Museum
If you are an art or history lover, then you will have to visit the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto during your weekend in Toronto.
The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is one of the largest museums in North America and the largest museum in Canada. ROM houses sculptures, artifacts, textiles & costumes, and paintings from all over the world dating back to the ancient times.
The Royal Ontario Museum is not only famous for its collections and exhibitions but also its futuristic architecture.
Yorkville Village (Optional)
Near the Royal Ontario Museum is Yorkville, a posh and charming neighborhood in Toronto. There are luxury condo, four star hotels, restaurants, and fancy boutiques in Yorkville. If you want to do some high end (window) shopping or simply look at nice houses, then take a walk around Yorkville after your visit to the ROM.
Other Things to Do in Toronto If You Have More Than 2 Days
On my Toronto weekend itinerary above, I listed some of the most famous things you may want to check out.
However, a weekend in Toronto is quite short and you won’t be able to see everything Toronto has to offer. There are a few more things you can check out depending on your interest.
If you are a photographer or photography enthusiast and want a nice shot of the Toronto skyline, you can stop by Polson Pier.
Polson Pier is in the industrial port Lands along the shores of Toronto Harbour. There is a bar there and there are sometimes events held there but if you want a place for a quick skyline shot then this is an option for you.
Where to Eat During Your 2 Days in Toronto
Toronto has so many options and diversity when it comes to food. I’m not going to pretend to be a food expert since I only spent a weekend in Toronto, but I want to list a few places that I really enjoyed during my trip.
Where to Stay in Toronto
Toronto is a vibrant city with tons of things to do and to eat but each neighborhood also has its distinct culture and landmarks. I will list a few areas you can consider staying while in Toronto for the weekend.
Both times I was in Toronto I stayed in downtown Toronto and Harbour front.
Final Thoughts on Spending a Weekend in Toronto
I personally would recommend spend at least 3-4 days in Toronto to see all the highlights or make multiple trips if you live close by like in Montreal or in New York!
Summer is a great time to visit Toronto because of the warm weather and longer days but spring and fall can be amazing also. In terms of transportation I mostly just walked or took Uber around, but there are definitely options of public transportation in Toronto.
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