One Day in Toronto For First Time Visitors

One Day in Toronto Itinerary

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One day in Toronto is a challenge! To see everything this Ontario city has to offer in a day is impossible, but still a great taster which will have you booking your next trip back! This jam-packed Toronto itinerary includes the top sightseeing attractions and offbeat activities too. Let’s dive in.

As always with our itineraries (hi, we’re Gemma and Craig), there are interchangeable options to help build plans to meet your personal travel preferences.

Toronto in a Day

Morning Itinerary 

Brunch at West Queens

Kick start your morning with brunch in one of the coolest ‘hoods in the world, West Queens West.

Dine at Easy Restaurant for pancakes and eggs Benedict at or at Beast Restaurant for something a little dirtier (biscuit sandwich anyone?)

  • Stay here: The Drake Hotel is the most popular boutique hotel. Hipster decor, a top-rated restaurant and a dance floor for party-goers. Check Booking or TripAdvisor for best rates. 

Graffiti Alley Photography

Once fuelled up, punch Graffiti Alley into your maps app and snap away at this street art corridor of murals and tagging. This is one of the best Instagram spots in Toronto.

Graffiti Alley Toronto street art, profile of woman wearing head dress on wall

Image by my friend German Backpacker


If you like museums, pop into the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) to see dinosaurs, portraits and design. Official skip the line tickets can be bought here. This is one of the top Toronto attractions.

If looking for a coffee/lunch stop, check out Potbelly Sandwich Shop or Over Easy (vegetarian/vegan-friendly). Don’t eat too much, there’s more to come!

Afternoon Itinerary 

If you want to save time, do the Toronto hop on/off bus. The route covers Old Town, St Laurence’s Market, the Distillery District and the price of the ticket includes a summer cruise too. Alternatively, keep reading for things to do in Toronto, Downtown.

St Lawrence Market Toronto

Downtown Toronto

Take the subway to Nathan Philips Square to see the famous 3D Toronto sign and fountain. Be ready to fight off the tourists during summer though!

Spot Toronto City Hall in the background.

During winter, if you can brace the weather, you can skate at Nathan Philips Square’s outdoor rink.

Looking for some retail therapy? Hit the extensive Eaton Centre Shopping Centre. You’ll find popular brands across clothing, makeup and sports gear. There’s a small selection of reasonably-priced takeaway restaurants such as Akashiro by SUSHI Q.

There are tables around the food court for you to enjoy your food.

Entertainment District

Walk 16 minutes to the CN Tower, it’s hard not to spot the Toronto needle in the sky!

If interested in seeing Toronto from up high, enter and take the lift to the viewing platform for 360 degrees views. You are totally safe on the viewing platform of the CN Tower and the views over to Toronto Island really are lovely.

Toronto from CN Tower

St Lawrence Market

Lunchtime! St Lawrence Market is a Toronto must see.  

Every day of the week except Monday, you’ll find vendors selling everything from bread to bacon (the real British stuff!)

Do go with an empty belly to make the most of this foodie experience.

On Sundays, an antique market sets up full of vintage goods like prints, clothes and houseware.


The Distillery District

Check out the sculptures at the 19th-century red brick Distillery District. Pose under the red heart or by the love locks with your travel buddy then hop aboard (or hover a board!) a segway tour to explore the 13 acres of 40 heritage buildings.

During winter this is where you’ll find the Toronto Christmas Market and as well as the free Toronto Light Show.

This is where our one-day Toronto itinerary ends! Sip a craft beer at Mill Street Brewery’s nano-brewery and grab a bite to eat at the bar.

Alternatively, book a table for noodles, oysters or tapas. There is heaps of choice at The Distillery District.

  • Other evening options – catch a show at the Scotia Theatre or the Tarragon Theatre.
  • Like live music? Head to Cameron House, Horseshoe Tavern or Lee’s Place.
  • Fancy drinking and meeting other people? Check out the three-hour tapas and cocktails tour. The cover includes three cocktails and four types of tapas. This is a nice option if you are in Toronto for a day by yourself.

Love Locks Toronto Distillery District

Other Itinerary Options

Kensington Market

Kensington  Market is a cool spot to people watch, shop independently and grab a bite of international food. Chinatown is next door.

Close to Kensington Market (20 minutes walk), you’ll find Trinity Bellwood Park if you fancy some green space which is great for people-watching in summer.

Kensington Market Toronto

Toronto Island

One of the Toronto highlights for me was cycling around Toronto Island.

Take a short 20-minute boat ride over Lake Ontario from Jack Layton Ferry Terminal to the unusual community setup that is Toronto Island.

There are three stops; Ward’s Island, Centre Island and Hanlan’s Point.  

Ward Island is home to quaint houses which wannabe islanders join a waiting list for. Wander the paths and peak through the trees at the Toronto skyline.

Centre Island has a lighthouse, fairground, garden and a clothing-optional beach. You can read about ten other day trips from Toronto here.

Toronto Island

Recommended Toronto Walking Tours

To get the most out of one day in Toronto it is worth considering one of the tours.

Distillery District Walking Tour

  • Dig deeper into the Distillery District’s Victorian industrial architecture during this one-hour tour. The tour may be shorter than others but the treats are bountiful! Sample some chocolates and four craft beers. Book here.

Haunted Toronto Tour

  • Like a scare while you stroll? This 90-minute walking tour discusses the darker side of the city starting at Front Street. Book here: Haunted Toronto Tour.

Chinatown and Kensington Market Tour

  • Visit Canada’s biggest Chinatown and contrast these streets against the cool Kensington Market. The two-hour walking tour allows time to shop at the unique multi-ethnic independent stores of Kensington Market. Book here.

Essential Information

Transport in Toronto

Toronto is a grid system which makes it very easy to navigate. However, the city is big and you are short on time so do consider using public transport and purchasing a day ticket.

How to Get to Toronto From Pearson Airport

  • The quickest but most expensive option to get to/from Pearson Airport is by the Union Pearson Express (UPE). This train takes 25 minutes and costs just under $13 CAD one way to Downtown.
  • The more economical way takes longer. For $3 CAD, a 75-minute journey using the public transport system will get you to/from the airport. Take the Book the boat before you go – click here (bus 192) to Kipling (approx. 45 minutes) then the green line subway into the city.
  • A taxi will cost approximately $60-$75 CAD.
  • A pre-book flat-rate transfer hire costs approximately $100 CAD. Book here before you go.

I did option two and was a little hurried at the airport so leave lots of time.

Where to Stay in Toronto

If The Drake doesn’t float your boat, here are some other hotels in Toronto.

  • Queen Street West’s The Beverley Hotel – This three-star boutique hotel is modern, clean, and the staff are friendly. Book here.
  • Prefer to stay Downtown? One King West Hotel and Residence (four stars) is a historic hotel with modern amenities. Its proximity to St Lawrence Market and central restaurants is an appeal but you might not want to dine out with these alfresco views… Book here.
  • Another popular downtown hotel is the DoubleTree by Hilton Toronto Downtown. Guests love how close the hotel is to shops and restaurants and the heated indoor pool is welcomed during winter stays. Book here.

Looking for something cheaper? Read our Toronto hostels guide here.

What’s the Weather like in Toronto?

Great question! It really depends on what season you are visiting. Summer enjoys highs of 80 degrees Fahrenheit with winter suffering lows of 20.

Packing List

Toronto Packing List (Summer)

  • Dresses that can be layered with tops
  • 1 x jeans
  • Shades
  • Leave the umbrella at home, invest in a sturdy but stylish waterproof like my Mountain Equipment Rupal  US / UK
  • 1 x comfortable, attractive waterproof boots, I recommend Salomon hiking boots US / UK
  • 1 x eco bottle such as Tree Tribe – keeps hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold
  • Electrolytes  US / UK for the hangover if participating in craft beer or cocktails
  • Battery packs for an extra charge on phones, I use Anker packs US / UK
  • Camera, charger and SD card

Toronto Packing List (Winter)

  • 100% Merino wool base layers, see Icebreaker’s range
  • Trousers/pants
  • Hats, gloves, scarf
  • Shades
  • 1 x Mountain Equipment Rupal
  • 1 x padded down jacket, I like North Face
  • 1 x Salomon hiking boots
  • Hand warmers
  • 1 x Tree Tribe – keeps hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold.
  • Electrolytes
  • Anker packs
  • Camera, charger and SD card

Pin for later planning

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Final Words

As you can see there are lots to do with 24 hours in Toronto but luckily the efficient transport system and friendly locals will help you tick off your Toronto bucket list in no time!

2 thoughts on “One Day in Toronto For First Time Visitors

  1. Jenn says:

    Graffiti alley is so cool. I was in town last year for the Toronto Film Festival and made a little time to explore the city. The street art scene was an absolute highlight.

    • Two Scots Abroad says:

      It’s a cool city, glad you got to experience it. The film festival sounds interesting. Thanks for reading Jenn.

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