Backpack Toronto: Things to See and Do

Downtown Toronto

Toronto CN Tower
Stay: Most of the city’s hostels are found downtown. Some top rated ones include: Backpackers on Dundas, Clarence Castle and the Canadiana Backpackers Inn.
Visit: Walk to the CN Tower, Hockey Hall of Fame, ROM, AGO, see the Blue Jays, Raptors or the Leafs depending on the season.
Shop: Check out the Eaton Center or if you prefer shopping outside Queen West has many big chains like Club Monaco, Zara and Gap. Chinatown and Kensington Market are great for cheap finds and vintage. Bloor street is for label hounds and designer divas.
Food & Entertainment: The Entertainment district is downtown with the main strip on King West. Check out a musical or grab some dinner all on King or hit a club.  Grab some Indian buffet on Queen Street and stop in at Horseshoe Tavern for a live show. If you want to be seen and spot celebs head up to Yorkville and try Sassafraz, the rooftop patio at Hemmingway’s or the street level patio at One Restaurant.

Toronto West End

Toronto CN Tower from highway
Stay: Although there are mixed reviews you can stay in the West end at Marigold International Travellers Hostel
Visit: The Art & Design district is found in West Queen West and there are plenty of galleries including the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art.

Shop: West Queen West is littered with boutiques, keep walking up Ossington to find vintage shops like I Miss You Vintage or keep heading west into Parkdale Village for local jewellery designers at Made You Look.
Food & Entertainment: Get some fish & chips at Chippys across from Trinity Bellwoods Park or head up Ossington for some of the city’s hottest restaurants, and then dance the night away at Sweaty Bettys. Parkdale Village has a few theme bars like Stones Place; get cheap beer at the Rhino.

Toronto East End

Stay: There are a couple of top rated B&Bs just before you cross the Don River, but if you are looking for hostels you can try the Leslieville Home Hostel.
Visit: Once you cross the DVP there are few touristy sights, but you can see the Ashbridges family home and Riverdale farm. Or visit two of Toronto’s multicultural neighbourhoods, Greektown and Little India. Even grab some groceries at East China Town.
Shop: Check out The Danforth for boutiques like Tabula Rasa and Social Butterfly. Or stay along Queen Street for more boutique shopping from Riverside, Leslieville and the Beach. I recommend Studio We in Leslieville there are 2 locations one for women and one for men.
Food & Entertainment: Try Lynn Crawford’s restaurant Ruby Watch Co and live entertainment at the Opera House, both in Riverside. Have an afternoon beer on the Patios in Leslieville and the Beach or ice cream and gelato from Eds Real Scoop.

This guest post was provided by Jane from is one shopoholic’s guide to shopping in Toronto, neighbourhood by neighbourhood. Check out the neighbourhood shopping guides, store reviews, giveaways and style guides.

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7 Responses to “Backpack Toronto: Things to See and Do”

  1. Vi
    July 3, 2010 at 10:46 am #

    I would add Bluffers Park to the East side list. It is further from CBD, but accessible with public transport + short walk or bike ride
    .-= Vi´s last blog ..Where to see platypus in the wild in Australia =-.

  2. Glenn
    August 25, 2010 at 8:40 pm #

    Corbin, Jane,
    I live one block from the Marigold hostel on Dundas Street West in Toronto. Please do not recommend this place to your readers. It is more of a welfare halfway house than a hostel, and plays host to every seedy aspect of life that a traveller can imagine (NOT in a good way). I have talked to backpackers coming out of there that say they have never seen anything quite as bad. Sorry, true story.

    • Corbin
      August 25, 2010 at 10:05 pm #

      @Glenn – Thanks for the headsup! Unfortunately I’ve come across a few other hostels that have the same situation. This sort of thing happens in other countries too, it’s a shame really. The business suffers, and worse, those new to town or doing legitimate travel are given a skewed view of what that city is like.

    • Sam
      May 12, 2011 at 2:11 pm #

      I agree wholeheartedly with Glenn. I too live a block away from Marigold hostel. Trust me, you DON’T want to stay there. Welfare halfway house is a good description. It’s quite a scary place.

  3. James Greenwood
    January 7, 2011 at 3:21 pm #

    I travelled to Toronto from New York City last month, with 4 other friends. We found that instead of renting a car we just took taxi cab every where and split the cost of the ride. There is a nifty website taxi ride trip calculator . I loved hanging out with friends and seeing the sites in Toronto.

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