Hi all! Happy Canada Day!
Can you believe its been about six months since I’ve written and shared a blog post!? Wow, time has just flown by, but I thought today would be a great day to return to travel blogging and to write my latest post.
If you’ve been following me on Instagram the past few months, you’ll know that I started studying a Masters part time, on top of my full time job and therefore, I’ve had ZERO time to blog! BUT! I’m on my summer holidays now and I’m excited to share lots of amazing destinations, tips and content with you all! 🙂
I’ve been blessed to have also travelled ALOT in the past year and I have so many stories to tell. My come back post though, had to be one near and dear to my heart and that was my visit back to Toronto at the end of last year. If you’ve been following me a long time, you’ll know that I lived in Toronto FIVE years ago (OMG!!!) and it has held a special place in my heart since. Leaving was so hard for me and I always said I’d go back for a visit. So, after sourcing an AMAZING deal in the January sales last year with Tour America, I booked a trip for November to celebrate my birthday. And, in this post, I’ll cover all of my top tips for getting there, what to do, where to eat and of course, where to stay! This is, Toronto in a Weekend!
Getting there: Dublin to Toronto Direct Flights
Living in a city, you don’t really experience it as a tourist and when we were going back, we really wanted to enjoy the city in this way. We decided 4 nights would be the perfect length for our trip and flying direct from Dublin with Air Canada was just fantastic. We got our flights for around €360 return trip including 23kg luggage per person and all taxes etc. It was a fare I couldn’t pass up! Our flight was smooth, comfortable and the food and entertainment system on board were good. I’d happily fly Air Canada again.
Aer Lingus also offer a direct service from Dublin to Toronto International Airport, meaning there are lots of options when it comes to getting there. On top of that, Air Canada have also launched a Shannon Airport – Toronto flight meaning there are more seats than ever to this incredible city from Ireland.
Where to Stay: Chelsea Hotel Toronto Downtown
When we first moved to Toronto five years ago, we were jobless and homeless, but what we did have was a 5 night stay in the Chelsea Hotel. And, after having an incredible stay all those years ago, it was a no brainer that we would stay at this hotel again. Having undergone a renovation, we knew the hotel would also be to our more luxury taste, but budget conscious pocket.
The Chelsea Hotel is steps away from Dundas Square in Downtown Toronto, which is essentially the heart of the city and its within walking distance to all of the city’s top attractions. One of the largest hotels in Canada, the Chelsea Hotel offers many room categories, all of which are at an amazing price point. Our room was a Studio Kitchenette Room and it was just gorgeous! Featuring a living area, bed, separate kitchen, bathroom (of course!), and a small balcony with amazing views, we just loved this room.
I’ve also previously stayed in the standard lead in rooms and found them incredible also. While I myself don’t have kids, the hotel I noticed is really family friendly and features a fabulous indoor pool complete with water slides!
Overall I cannot recommend the The Chelsea Hotel enough. It is such a comfortable hotel with great staff and its in the perfect location. I always choose to stay here for these reasons and urge you all to do the same!
Things to do in Toronto
When we lived in Toronto, we did a lot of the tourist attractions over the year and we decided ahead of this trip to do some of our favourites again, whilst also trying out a few new attractions. Check out my top recommended things to do in Toronto!
1. Toronto Islands Bicycle Tour
One of Toronto’s best kept secrets is the Toronto Islands which are a short ferry ride from the city. We decided before we travelled that we wanted to experience the Islands again and we decided to do so on a bicycle tour. Our last visit to the Islands wasn’t guided and we didn’t really know much of the history of them and we thought this was a fun way to explore them and to also learn about their history.
We booked our tour with the Toronto Bicycle Tours and we just had the best time! We met our guide at their HQ in Downtown and got kitted out with our bikes and protective gear. Being Winter, there was just ourselves and another couple booked on the tour and I really enjoyed the intimacy of it. We got to ask lots of questions and I really liked that we weren’t a huge group of cyclists, it felt almost like a private tour! Our guide was a lot of fun and took great care of us on the cycle. It was -11 degrees (yes you read that right!) and she came prepared with heat packs for our gloves and also granola bars to keep our energy up! But the highlight for me was that she was so willing to stop and take lots of photos for you and answer all questions with ease!
The island are so stunning and I loved discovering all they have to offer on a tour like this. We saw so much more than what we would have, had we been on foot. Our guide also new where to go to really experience those remote, beautiful parts of the islands and that insider scoop was the best!
I really recommend doing a tour with these guys if you are planning a trip to Toronto! I have a few on my bucket list for my next trip!
2. Niagara Falls
I’m just going to say it! Its a SIN to go to Toronto and not visit Niagara Falls! Its stunning! There are lots of tours you can take from Downtown Toronto, which is about 90 minutes away by bus, but on this trip, we decided to get Megabus to Niagara Falls, rather than do a tour as we had done the tours before. We were going for my birthday and we decided to head early and get back to the city early so that we could make the most of our time. It was FREEZING when we arrived, like -15, but we were the only two people taking in the falls for about an hour that morning and it was just stunning.
We had so much fun trying to snap selfies in the bitter cold as we took in the roaring falls and stared across at America. I love the Falls and its so worth a trip, as is the nearby quaint town of Niagara-On-the-The-Lake.
3. CN Tower at Sunset
Is there anything like taking in a city-skyline!? The sheer size, scale and density just wow me every time and so after our day at Niagara Falls, I knew I wanted to enjoy seeing the Toronto Skyline at Sunset. It was a race against time to get up to the top of the tower in time but my god, it was worth the rush! The views were SPECTACULAR!
It was a beautiful clear day and we got to see so much, like my old work building, which I’ll talk more about later, where we used to live, the Toronto Islands and we even watched some planes take off from Toronto City Airport, which sits just beside the CN Tower. Looking down at the Rogers Center was also great and it was cool to see there was a new addition below us since our last visit five years ago, in the form of Ripley’s Aquarium!
4. Brookfield Place
I was lucky enough to get to call Brookfield Place my office when I lived in Toronto and returning for a visit was essential. I got emotional, I won’t lie. Its central atrium is made up of the most stunning architecture and the towers are well worth a visit when you’re in the Downtown area. Plus, Brookfield Place is also home to the Hockey Hall of Fame which is a must visit too!
5. Enjoy all of the Burgers and Poutine
Ok, I’m gonna say it! Canadians do burgers WAY better than America or any other country! And don’t even get me started on Poutine! We ate our weight in both during the trip as we visited all our old favourite restaurants around the city! My two favourite spots are Holy Chucks for the burgers and strawberry cheesecake milkshakes that will CHANGE YOUR LIFE and also The Works, for their INCREDIBLE poutine and burgers. Add both to your list, IMMEDIATELY!
What else is there to do in Toronto!?
Aside from the above, I also urge you to explore the city as much as you can, as Toronto is home to so many amazing neighbourhoods and districts, all of which offer their own charm and history. During the summer time, these districts really come to life and many host their own festivals etc all summer long. If you have time, a visit to St. Lawerence Market in Downtown Toronto is a must for foodies, whilst a walk around the Old Distillery District is also essential. I love it here. Below is a photo of this unique area of the city – clearly not taken on this trip lol! This was Canada Day five years when we lived in the city!
Toronto is such a unique city and its the perfect city-break from Ireland if you’re looking to get away for a few days. Not only that, when you convert Euro into Canadian Dollars you gain quite a lot meaning you don’t need a lot of spending money when planning a trip. However, if you plan to do some shopping in the amazing Eaton Center, you’ll definitely need the cash as it is a pricy city to shop in.
Travelling to Canada on an Irish Passport means you’ll also need to apply online for the Canadian tourist visa known as an ETA. This is CAD$7 per person and once approved is valid for 5 years.
Toronto is perfect for…
Literally everyone! Whether you’re travelling with your other half, or your family or a group of friends, you’ll find so much to enjoy in the city all year-round, although I’d advise to avoid the winter time as it gets really, really cold. The fall is my personal favourite time to visit as the Fall colours are just stunning and the temperatures are just perfect! If you wish to enjoy another, more in-depth city guide to Toronto, you can read my Ultimate Toronto Guide HERE.
If I can help with any advise on a trip to Toronto, feel free to pop me a mail/comment and I’d be more than happy to help you. Its such an amazing city and one that sometimes goes under the radar, but I think its time to change that perception!
Disclaimer: Toronto Bicycle Tours kindly gave us a complimentary tour to experience their Toronto Islands Tour. No money was exchanged for my review of the experience stated above.