I must say I wasn’t expecting the weather to be so cold and didn’t pack the correct clothing!
During the spring months Toronto experiences very unpredictable weather. The week before we arrived the temperatures were very mild and sunny. During my time there I saw snow, rain and temperatures of minus 8! The city is extremely well equipped to deal with cold temperatures, and they need to be, as during the winter months the temperature can drop as low as minus 20.
Toronto has an underground city, with 30km of shopping arcades. Many hotels, office towers, shopping malls, and even a railway terminal are connected to the underground city. This means that during the coldest months the streets above ground are relatively quiet whilst underground everyone is going about the business without the need to go outside. It really is incredible, felt a bit like a rabbits warren but I could definitely see the benefit if it was minus 20 outside.
We spent 3 nights in Toronto and 3 full days which were packed full with excursions and we saw plenty of hotels. The hotel we stayed in was the Easton Chelsea which has a fantastic location in the city and offered a great base for getting around.
Day one – Visit to Niagara Falls, Ravine Vineyard and Niagara on the Lake.
After breakfast we headed off to the Niagara region by coach. The journey took around an hour and a half. I have always wanted to see Niagara Falls and they are absolutely incredible. Niagara itself has become quite commercialised and I was surprised to see many high rise hotels and casinos at the edge of the falls. Our guide told us to ignore everything that surrounds the Falls and just focus on the beauty of the water.
We were supposed to take a helicopter flight over the Falls but unfortunately the weather was too bad that it wasn’t safe to do so. Instead we took the “Journey behind the falls”. This is a year round attraction that offers a unique view of the Falls from below and behind. We travelled down by lift and entered this maze of tunnels that run behind the Falls. The force of the water as it crashed down was incredible and the sound was so loud. It creates amazing photo opportunities.
Afterwards it was time for lunch and we ate at Elements on the Falls which, as the name suggests, is a restaurant with incredible views of Niagara Falls. After lunch we were on the coach again, and a short journey to the beautiful Ravine Vineyard which is located in the Niagara Region. This region is home to a thriving wine industry with over 90 wineries.
We were then dropped off and allowed free time to explore the boutiques and galleries in Niagara on the Lake.
If I were to travel to Niagara Falls again this is the town that I would stay in. It is a 19th century village where time literally stands still. The main street is home to many quaint shops and cafes. One pub and the more traditional hotel or B&B, this village was in complete contrast to the lights and high rise hotels around Niagara Falls.
Back to Toronto then and some much needed rest.
Day Two – City Tour, Ripley’s Aquarium & the CN Tower
So many big movies are filmed in Toronto and we saw a lot of film vans and sets during our city tour. As the city bears some resemblance to New York apparently film companies choose to film here instead.
We saw the city’s main points of interest which included the upscale neighbourhood of Bloor-Yorkville, credit cards needed here as the streets are lined with many designer shops. Also here you will find the Legislative buildings of Ontario and the Distillery District and St Lawrence Market.
During the summer months the Distillery District is buzzing with trendy wine bars and live music. Still a great place to visit during the colder months but this really is a place to sit outside and enjoy the surroundings. It is very contemporary.
St Lawrence Market is one of the worlds’ best markets and is a great place to wander around sampling the fresh local produce. It is huge and so colourful, I loved it there. The city is home to some fantastic museums and art galleries. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to venture inside. There really is so much to see in Toronto! After lunch we headed off the Aquarium which is located next to the CN Tower. Having seen many aquariums I was expecting much of the same, however I was so surprised by how fantastic this place was. The Aquarium had only just opened and is the new, must see attraction in Toronto. So many different species and amazing exhibits where there to assume and occupy us for hours.
We then went next door then to the CN Tower. It was so high, with incredible views from the glass floor at the top of the Tower. Not for the faint hearted! There is a revolving restaurant at the top which looked incredible and prices are surprisingly good. I would definitely recommend a lunch or dinner reservation there.
We had time to shop and went to the Toronto Eaton Centre which is home to over 230 shops. After that we had dinner and a checked out the Fairmont Royal York hotel. It is a beautiful elegant hotel which hosts many diplomats and celebrities.
Day Three – More hotels and home !
Our last day in Toronto was spent visiting a selection of hotels. These ranged from 3 star up to 5 star and has given me a great overview of what is on offer in Toronto.
Unfortunately my time in Toronto then came to an end and it was time to head to the airport. Our overnight flight with Aer Lingus departed from Toronto early evening and we arrived back to Dublin the following morning.
I had a fantastic time in Canada and will definitely return as I plan to see much more of the country. There are some great connections to other countries via Toronto so this would be a great place to spend a few nights, either at the beginning or end of a trip. Alternatively a visit to Toronto alone would be great as the city and surrounding areas have so much to offer.