Introducing Toronto

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Toronto is one of the world's most culturally diverse cities, and proudly so. You'll hear more than 140 languages and dialects spoken on the streets in this "City of Neighborhoods." Toronto boasts a few Chinatowns, a Greek Town, Little Italy (and a Corso Italia), a Koreatown and a Little Portugal, to name a few. It's the most populous city in Canada (more than 5 million in the Greater Toronto Area) and the province of Ontario’s economic engine. With an abundance of green spaces, a lakeside waterfront, global eats, and a treasure trove of things to experience, BuffaloTrip’s Toronto travel guide shows exactly what makes the city special.

Cultured and cosmopolitan, Toronto nevertheless manages to remain relaxed, livable, and fun all at the same time. Canada's center of the arts and media has plenty of pleasant tree-lined streets in Yorkville for window-shopping and wandering; a host of independent galleries in West Queen West with edgy works; big-name music festivals year-round; and an adventurous, constantly evolving food scene. Toronto’s impressive sights may be what pull you in, but its vibrant neighborhoods, artistic happenings, and friendly locals will make you want to return.

Visit Toronto, and one of the first things you’ll notice, apart from the vibrant cultural mosaic woven into its tapestry, is that the city’s appeal lies in its denizens' friendliness: ask for directions, and you'll be helped. Bump a local by accident, and he’ll likely say "Sorry!" to you first. Along with its highly artistic culture and fascinating museums that proudly display the country’s history, it’s clear that a Toronto trip has something for everyone, and we’ve got the scoop on how to make the most of your vacation to the Great White North.

Canada isn’t known for its hospitable weather, so pay attention to the forecast before scheduling your vacation: The local climate is moderated by Lake Ontario. Spring and autumn see both sunshine and rain; during these seasons, nights tend to be cooler, and the days can only be described as pleasant, if not warm. Although winters are accompanied by frigid temperatures, they do not always bring snow to Toronto, due to the minimizing effect of the lake. There are usually two or three heavy snowfalls each season.

Why Go to Toronto

Toronto is as cosmopolitan as they come. To newcomers, Toronto may seem like just another big city. Downtown is dotted with skyscrapers, the city’s streets are bustling with people on the go and the public transportation system is top-notch. But lift up the hood of Canada’s biggest city and you’ll find there’s more to the eye than an amazing skyline. Toronto is considered one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, with more than half the population born outside of the city. Toronto houses 200 ethnic groups that speak upward of 140 different languages, making this Ontario destination a world all its own. With Greek Town, Little Italy, Koreatown and Chinatown all within city limits, travelers may feel as if they’ve seen more than a couple worlds after a visit to Toronto. Mix that in with Canada's famous hospitality and charm and you’ve got yourself a relaxed big city experience, without skimping on the vibrancy.

Toronto is big in more ways than one. The city is home to one of the tallest freestanding towers in the world, the CN Tower. It is also the site of the world's largest underground shopping mall, PATH, and the place where you'll find the longest street in the world: Yonge Street. But aside from visiting its biggest attractions, Toronto should be experienced like any other big city: sipping a cocktail in a corner restaurant, browsing multicultural shops on quirky neighborhood blocks and hopping on and off the subway for a night on the town.  

What to Eat

It should go without saying that one of the world's most multicultural cities holds the same distinction for its dining scene. There are so many foodie enclaves worth exploring here that you may have to plan another trip or two to sample the city's robust palate. Not only does Toronto have a Little Italy but there's also three Chinatowns, a Koreatown, a Greektown, as well as a Little Iran in North York and Little Portugal about 2 miles west of downtown. What's more, the Bazaar neighborhood serves up some top-notch Indian and Middle Eastern fare, especially at Lahore Tikka House. Roncesvalles Village (also often referred to as Little Poland), is known for its Eastern European eateries and independent coffee shops, not to mention its popular annual Little Poland festival. Luckily, no matter which area of town you choose to visit, locals assure that good food isn't hard to come by in this city.

Those looking for a one-stop-shop should focus their appetites on two locales: the St. Lawrence Market in Old Town and the Kensington Market. The St. Lawrence Market is a big foodie hot spot, not to mention a Torontonian institution that sells a delectable mix of Canadian classics and international dishes. You can't leave without sampling a traditional peameal bacon sandwich at Carousel Bakery, or stopping by the locally beloved Churrascos, a Portuguese stall famous for its chicken. There's also St. Urbain Bagel Bakery, which serves bagels baked in a wood-burning oven, Buster's Sea Cove (get the fish and chips) and Uno Mustachio (try the veal and eggplant parmigiana sandwich).

Kensington Market is a microcosm of Toronto's vast dining scene, to say the least. Take a trip down some of the neighborhood's central thoroughfares and you're sure to find the most unlikely of neighbors. Rasta Pasta, a Jamaican-Italian fusion eatery sits next to Seven Lives, which sells California-style tacos, on Kensington Avenue. One block over, Torito Tapas Bar shares the street with the vegan Urban Herbivore, Wanda's Pie in the Sky shop and Otto's Berlin Döner, which sells Berlin-style doner kebabs. There's also a variety of Asian fare, including Korean, Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants all within a two block radius of each other near the main Spadina Avenue.

Fine dining isn't a big force in Toronto's dining scene, but that doesn't it's absent from the city's culinary landscape. For fine dining with a side of vistas, head over to Canoe, often regarded as one of Canada's best restaurants. Located on the 54th floor of the TD Bank Tower, Canoe serves a multicourse seafood menu for lunch and dinner. There's also James Beard award-winning chef David Chang's famous Momofuku Noodle Bar restaurant, which serves fine dining-quality fare for a fraction of the price. For more information on Toronto's foodie scene, as well as recommendations, visit the Toronto tourism website.

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