Toronto has everything you want in a big town. On top of all the rousing live entertainment, including three major sports teams, its top-notch food comes in the shape of world famous markets and celebrity chef restaurants. Cool cultural highlights range from the Frank Gehry-designed Art Gallery of Ontario to the city’s centuries-old neighbourhoods. Whether you’re looking for some fine dining or to become properly cultured, Canada’s largest city is a first rate destination and a place you can easily get used to.
Museums and attractions
The historic Distillery District (www.thedistillerydistrict.com) is an up-and-coming part of town that is rapidly being gentrified. Over the past decade the area has been transformed into a busy neighbourhood filled with restaurants, boutiques and coffee shops. Architecturally charming, it’s a popular location for many Hollywood productions and has been a movie set for the likes of Cinderella Man and X-Men. If you’re short on time, book a Segway tour for a quick and easy way to sightsee the best of the area.
Just west of there sits the St. Lawrence Market (www.stlawrencemarket.com). Home to traders for more than 200 years, the space was Toronto’s first significant public market. In keeping with the rich heritage that surrounds it, the iconic space is currently home to a select 120 retailers selling some of the tastiest and most unique food in the city.
Set aside some time to visit the stunning new Aga Khan Museum (www.agakhanmuseum.org), which hosts an inspiring collection of Muslim art and relics from different civilisations across the centuries. With an active performing arts scene in the auditorium, this modern space is a vibrant spot which has a purpose to foster a greater understanding of Islamic societies.
The world’s tallest free-standing structure for more than 30 years, the CN Tower remains a must-see when visiting. Boasting 360-degree views of Toronto, a vertigo-inducing glass lookout floor and a rotating restaurant, it’s both a perfect romantic spot or a great outing for the family, depending on your needs.
Where to eat
Anyone looking for a good bite to eat won’t be disappointed. Toronto’s dining scene has expanded exponentially with the addition of trendy eateries, regional farm-to-table fare and just about every cuisine you can imagine – a result of Canada’s increasingly multicultural and diverse population.
For a unique twist on Asian gastronomy straight outta New York City, visit one of David Chang’s famous Momofuku restaurants (www.momofuku.com) or its sister bakery, the Milk Bar (www.milkbarstore.com). Munch on offerings such as ramen and the region’s local, salty-sweet pie.
Canada’s coolest metropolis is also home to celebrity chef Susur Lee, who has various restaurants dotted around the city. His most recent is Fring’s (www.fringsrestaurant.com), a headline-grabbing venture with Canadian hip-hop artist Drake, which serves up a range of globally inspired dishes and fun drinks. Or, you could always head to one of Lee’s most well-known eateries, Luckee (www.luckeerestaurant.com), for upscale Chinese cuisine that never disappoints.
From quintessential Canadian shops to big-name American department stores moving into Canada – including the much-anticipated Saks Fifth Avenue – Toronto is a true shopping paradise. Make a pit stop at iconic department store Hudson’s Bay (www.thebay.com) for signature striped wool blankets, toques (the Canadian beanie) and everything in between.
If retro is more your thing, head to Kensington Market (www.kensington-market.ca) and you’ll find numerous vintage and second hand shops. Ideal for those who love a little bit of thrifting. Alternatively, stroll along Queen’s Street West for a more boutique shopping experience, where you can browse through stores or drink coffee in one of the many cafés in the area.
Where to stay
Renowned for being the largest hotel in Canada, with more than 1,500 guest rooms, the Chelsea Hotel (www.chelseatoronto.com) is conveniently situated in the heart of downtown Toronto between shopping spot Bloor Street and Toronto’s central business district. An easy walk from many of the hottest shopping areas and restaurants in the city, the Chelsea Hotel is a great spot to suit all your travel needs, especially those with families. Rooms start from around Dhs750 per night.
How to get there
Air Canada offers direct flights from Dubai to Toronto from around Dhs4,615. Visit www.aircanada.com for more.