15 January 2013 by Alex Stewart
Toronto, the largest city in Canada, is just seven hours away and a great start point for travels in the east. Unpretentious and diverse, the city has a laconic attitude, coupled with a cool creativity that make it a fun, energetic place to spend time.
Waves of immigration mean that the city is a multicultural mix, evident in the neighbourhoods best explored on foot and the restaurants and bars where you can relax and unwind or watch the hockey. There's cultural highlights too, with opera, art and street festivals to enjoy. above all though, the city is uniquely Canadian.
Hotel Le Germain
This Euro-style boutique hotel is professional but personal, with a casual but competent air about it. Design details include subdued lighting and luxury showerheads, and although the rooms can be a little small, they're sumptuous. There's also a library of 200 art books and a decent restaurant on-site.
Recently refurbished, this five star hotel personifies the Canadian ability to combine casual warmth with style and efficiency. Upgrade to Club Level, an oasis that's akin to a luxury hotel within a hotel. Relaxed and well-appointed ity has views of lAKE ontario and the CN Tower. It as an excellent restaurant, TOCA, and fantastic spa facilities for those wanting to unwind. there's also direct access to Toronto's Underground Walkway , which links mile after mile of subterranean shopping.
Named after the Victorian Prime Minister, Toronto's oldest hotel retains its original backbone but now houses contemporary creatives, with several venue spaces and a number of rooms designed by local artists. A one-time flophouse, this grand red brick venue is rather more salubrious these days, with themed rooms that cater to fashionable clientele. Eccentric and eclectic, this is also the place to head for cabaret, music acts and art festivals.
Almost 1 in 2 people in Toronto are from somewhere else, meaning there's a hugely cosmopolitan make up to the palce. One of the benefits of this are areas dedicated to different nationalities, so look out for Chinatown, Greektown, Little Italy and areas dominated by Portuguese, polish and Jamaican immigrants
French style coffee house with pavement seating, tiled floors and dark wood interiors that's great for brunch - grab some Eggs Napoleon or French Toast. Try the scrolls, crepe-style roti topped with veggies and sauces for something different.
Home of celebrity chef Mark McEwan, famous for North 44degree, this sophisticated split-level joint at the foot of the Dominion tower in the Financial District trades in continental cuisine and uses seasonal regional ingredients to great effect. Even the basic burger is impressive. Wine and beer pairings are intelligently suggested, with a 5,000-bottle cellar at the restaurant's disposal.
A Toronto showpiece, this eatery has a superb, lofty setting and serves delicious food that's a hit with business folk and visitors alike. The dining room is bright and wood-panelled with views of Lake Ontario whilst the kitchen uses Canadian produce to great effect; Albertan beef, Nova scotia lobster, Quebec cheeses and Niagara chardonnay are all worth trying although the tasting menus are best for showing off the talents of the chefs.
Microbreweries are present throughout the city so look out for local and unusual brews. Try the bitters, ales and stouts at the Granite Brewery or take a tour of the historic Steam Whistle Brewery stuck between the ACC and the CN Tower in a railway roundhouse, which includes a tasting session.
Roastery is a retro coffee shop that roasts its own beans on-site. There's also sweet breads, tarts and cookies to snack on
Drop in for a drink in this subterranean bar that boasts 40 brews on tap. Try the house's own hemp ale or coffee porter, play backgammon and on Saturdays listen out for live jazz.
A former butcher shop, this hip bar now conjures up clever cocktail creations alongside tasty snacks and big burgers.
Although no longer the tallest tower in the world, the 553.3m tall CN Tower is as iconic as the Eiffel Tower. Climb to the top of the spindly needle, ostensibly a radio and TV communications tower, for vertiginous views that are absolutely astonishing and, on a good day, include Niagara. There are restaurants on-site and even a cinema.
Hockey Hall of Fame
Get a taste of Canada's national passion by popping in to this sporting museum. Interactive multimedia exhibits and memorabilia will bring the sport to life whilst celebrating the greats of the game including the legendary Wayne Gretzky.
Royal Ontario Museum
As visited for its maverick design and 'crystal' extensions as for the natural history exhibits it hides, this cultural highlight has a range of world-class permanent exhibits that take in dinosaurs, tombs, gemstones, treasures and furnishings.
Two to look out for: the St Lawrence Market is frequently dubbed one of the best in the world for foodies. Over 200 years old and as popular as ever, it serves up fresh local produce from great take-away stands. Special events also take place on-site. Elsewhere, Kensington Market is home to a hyperactive human stew that surges between stalls, bars, fromageries, jerk joints and places selling vintage clothing. Get there early to beat the bustle and remember to duck down the alleyways between buildings to see some of the best street art in the city.
It's a 90-minute drive from the city but a visit is a must on any trip to Toronto. 750,000 gallons of water a second cascade over the side of a cliff right in front of you. Table Rock allows you to stand a metre from the edge of Horseshoe Falls at the top whilst you can also descend 38m through the rock to stand behind the curtain of water. Alternatively, take a helicopter ride over the falls for a different perspective.
Love it or loathe it, this kitsch folly with its towers and battlements provokes an opinion. Built by architect EJ Lennox in response to Sir Henry Pellatt's desire for something different, the house has a domed conservatory made from Italian glass, high ceilings and large open rooms. A secret passage leads to the stables, whilst gardens at the back are secretive and steep, with fountains, waterfalls and wooded pools to discover.