Discover Toronto this winter
During the colder months, Toronto transforms into a winter wonderland and is a magical place to visit. It could get pretty cold from November through February, but pack your hat and gloves and you can immerse yourself in all the city has to offer.
First of all, we were delighted to hear that the Distillery Winter Village in the much-loved Distillery District is returning for 2023 with a fabulous focus on shopping and dining. From 16 November to 31 December you can enjoy festive treats and a dazzling array of gifts all under the twinkling fairy lights.
For that quintessentially Toronto winter experience, you’ll need to don your ice skates at one of the several outdoor ice rinks. Our pick is the one at Nathan Phillips Square which has been popular with skaters for nearly 60 years (you can even rent all of the equipment there!) You might also catch the Toronto Maple Leafs playing at home. As one of the oldest and most successful teams in the sport, attending a Leafs game is like watching history happen in real time and should be up there on your must-see list, but you might want to read up on the lingo first so that you know when it’s a “face-off” or a “breakaway”.
So now you’ve built up an appetite, it’s time to discover Toronto’s extensive foodie scene. Canada’s biggest city is filled with influences from around the world, so try out walnut cake in Koreatown or Goulash and Pierogies from one of the many eastern European eateries. If you’re hankering after that authentic Canadian taste, how about a peameal bacon sandwich or poutine? You’re going to want to wash this all down with that Canadian Classic – a Caesar Cocktail, which is a Bloody Mary but with that iconic addition of clam juice. There is an abundance of upscale restaurants to try out, in fact Toronto now has its own Michelin Guide – the first Canadian city to do so! We love the Japanese fusion vibe at Chotto Matte or and the classic Canoe Restaurant for a real treat, and Earls is always a fun place for a delicious dish and a crafty cocktail.
For an injection of culture you should visit ROM - the Royal Ontario Museum has a comprehensive array of natural history, cultural and art exhibits while the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario) has over 90,000 works of art ready to impress.
Of course there is world-class shopping in Toronto and you can spend hours in the warm embrace of its fabulous malls. Our two favourites are The Toronto Eaton Centre and the Yorkdale Shopping Centre - both home to over two hundred retailers for all budgets. There is also the upscale shopping available in the iconic Bloor-Yorkville neighbourhood, especially Bloor Street's "Mink Mile”, which boasts an assortment of designer and boutique stores.
IIf you’re there for more than a couple of days, then it’s worth hiring a car and taking a day trip to Niagara Falls. Perhaps head via Niagara-on-the-Lake for an early lunch in this picturesque town, where you can try and then buy some of its famous local Ice wine. Then onto Niagara Falls - a mesmerising place to visit in the winter, with some parts of the falls freezing over, creating a spectacular scene. All the attractions are open (with the exception of the boat tours) so you can enjoy the Journey Behind the Falls, Skywheel, Skylon Tower and more. Catch the Winter Festival of Lights as you head back to the city along the Niagara Parkway and be enchanted by over 2 million lights over a hundred of animated displays. A beautiful finale!
Toronto is just a short trip from the UK with direct flights from London and Manchester, and getting into the city is also very convenient with the UP Express rail link which takes you into Union Station located in the downtown core. Then you’re just steps away from The Fairmont Royal York – our choice for classy Canadian stay experience. The station is also connected to the Delta Hotel by Marriott which we think has one of the best designed bedrooms in the city, with all the space, comfort and facilities you could ask for. The Chelsea Hotel is fabulously located for the shopping of the Eaton Centre.
So what are you waiting for? Plan a trip to Toronto this winter season to experience all these wonders and more.