Toronto is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Canada, for both Canadians and those visiting from overseas. But, the majority of tourist attractions and hotels in the city centre are not cheap, not to mention that a meal at a restaurant in the centre can easily set you back around $15-$30 per person. However, you will be glad to hear that there are several ways to make the most of your trip and see the city on a budget, without missing out on everything that Toronto has to offer. Here are some of our favourite cost-saving tips for visitors to Toronto.
#1. Save on Flights:
First of all, there are plenty of ways to save money on getting to Toronto. If you’re coming from Canada or the US and want to get to your destination as quickly as possible, then flying is undoubtedly the best option for you. But airfare prices can quickly get expensive, so it’s good to know what strategies are best when it comes to saving money on the tickets.
Booking directly with the airline when you book flights to Toronto can be a great way to save money – use a comparison site first, and then check with the airline directly to see if even cheaper prices are available on their website. Some airlines do not list their fares on comparison sites, so you may not always be getting the cheapest and best value deal available. For example, Porter Airlines offer far more than many other airlines, with extra legroom and free snacks and beverages on most flights. If you want to find out more, check out https://www.flyporter.com/en-ca/book-flights/where-we-fly/canada/toronto.
It’s also worth booking as far in advance as possible, since prices tend to rise the closer you get to the day of the flight. And finally, be as flexible as you can when it comes to the days that you travel – weekday flights are usually much cheaper compared to weekends.
#2. Find a Free View of the Skyline:
The Toronto skyline view is so good that everybody wants to see it. And, the CN Tower is usually the most obvious choice if you want to get the best views over the city, but you’ll be charged a whopping $36 for the privilege. Thankfully, there are several places you can visit that offer free views of the Toronto skyline. Chester Hill lookout, for example, is just a ten-minute walk from Broadway Subway Station and offers a 180-degree view of the city’s best landmarks including the CN Tower, Rogers Centre, Don Valley Parkway, TD Bank building, and Evergreen Brick Works. Or, head to Riverdale Park, on Broadview Avenue, for another free and awesome place to see the downtown Toronto skyline.
#3. Find Cheap Places to Eat:
Like many cities popular with tourists, eating out in Toronto can quickly put a massive dent in your pocket if you allow it to. The good news is that there are several local restaurants that offer great food at affordable prices. Head to Spadina and Bathurst and visit El Furniture, which has every dish priced at just $5.95 all day, including classics like beef spaghetti, fish tacos and the work burger. Or if you’re around St. Patrick subway station, The Village by Grande is a must-visit, offering cuisine from all over the world in the large food court with dishes priced very reasonably between $3 and $8.
#4. Take Public Transport:
While you can take the express trains from the airport to downtown or get in a cab or an Uber to get around the city, bear in mind that this is likely going to cost you more. Toronto public transport is very reliable and there are numerous bus, subway and streetcar services that you can take advantage of to get around. And with the fare very affordable at just $3.25 including transfers if you are in the time limit, it’s the best way to see as much as possible of the city without spending a lot.
#5. Find Free Activities:
Finding something fun to do in Toronto doesn’t have to be as expensive as you may think, with plenty of free activities and things to do each month. Events and festivals are held on a regular basis with many offering free entry, whether you’re interested in light festivals, photography and art exhibitions, film festivals, and even massive organised pillow fights. Check out this handy website, which lists all the free events held in Toronto every month with more details on the location, date and time.
#6. Spend Time at Parks and Beaches:
Toronto isn’t just about costly tourist activities; in fact, this city is home to several gorgeous beaches and parks that you can visit during your trip totally free of charge. And, many of these usually take around half a day at least to fully explore, making them the perfect choice for a day trip that isn’t going to cost you the earth. On the east side of Toronto, Woodbine Beach is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life and comes complete with thirty volleyball courts, gardens, zoos, picnic areas, a children’s playground, a boardwalk, and warm water that’s perfect for swimming during the summer.
#7. Check Out the City’s Museums:
There are several great museums in the city of Toronto, many of which will offer free admission to visitors during the week. If you are planning to visit Toronto during a Wednesday evening, then be sure to check out the Art Gallery of Ontario, as this is when the museum opens its doors free to visitors from 6pm to 9pm. The gallery is home to over ninety thousand artworks, that are definitely worth seeing even if you’re not usually interested in art. If you enjoy learning about history, then Bata Shoe Museum is a must visit. It offers free admission and features an interesting collection of thirteen thousand shoes and historical artefacts. And finally, pay a visit to 401 Richmond Street West, which features a college of art galleries, a swipe bookstore, exhibitions, and a café shop – it’s free to enter well worth spending the day.
#8. Find a Hostel:
Accommodation in Toronto can quickly add up, and whilst there are not that many hostel options, there are some central, budget friendly hostels that are definitely worth staying in. Planet Traveler Hostel is a great choice; it’s located on Spadina and College and it’s also within a short walking distance of Chinatown, Kensington Market and other great Toronto areas. There’s a complimentary breakfast, and the free rooftop barbecue on Saturdays is a great opportunity to meet fellow travellers and form new friendships. And, the fully equipped kitchen area makes it easier to save money on eating by getting groceries from the supermarket and preparing your own food. If you’re not sure about the idea of sharing a sleeping area with strangers, then you can find affordable hostels in Toronto offering private rooms that you can get at a much cheaper rate compared to most hotels in the area.
Toronto is a very interesting, lively city with plenty for tourists to see and do. While many of the popular activities and attractions can get quite pricey, plus the cost of getting there and finding accommodation, there are plenty of ways to make the most of Toronto on a tight budget.
Have you managed to visit Toronto and spend as little as possible whilst still having a great time? We’d love to hear your top tips in the comments.