My Toronto Story
Exploring downtown Toronto as a solo traveller was never something on my bucket list. While I definitely have a sense of adventure and a love for trying new things, I’m really not much of a solo traveller.
There’s nothing wrong with solo travel. I have several travel blogger friends who frequently travel solo and love it. It’s just that, for me personally, I enjoy travel so much more with my partner by my side, or with a group of friends.
So I must admit, I was full of trepidation when I was invited to attend Social Media Week conference in Toronto – by myself.
My fight or flight response kicked in to high gear.
My first reaction was to try to arrange for another blogger to attend the conference and travel to Toronto with me. When that didn’t pan out, I was faced with my only other option.
Me, myself, and I.
I learned a lot about myself when I stepped outside my comfort zone for this trip.
This experience turned out to be one of the best things I ever did on my own.
My time in the beautiful, dynamic, and world-class city of Toronto taught me just how wonderful solo travel can really be.
I have a strong connection to the city of Toronto. My ancestors on my mother’s side of the family first settled in downtown Toronto in the early
So much about Toronto has changed since I lived there.
Conversely, many things remain the same.
My visit to Toronto was almost like a reunion with my best friend from high school whom I haven’t seen for years – someone so familiar yet, more like a stranger now.
My solo travel to Toronto, Canada’s downtown (as it is affectionately known), taught me many things about myself.
This trip forced me to face many fears – including my biggest (more on that later!).
I learned that I’m not as savvy as I thought I was when it comes to avoiding scams.
I discovered that visiting Toronto on my own was nothing to fear, and in fact, it was something to embrace.
Best of all, my solo trip to Toronto helped me gain
Exploring downtown Toronto on my own, turned out to be a fabulous experience.
I quickly discovered there are so many things to see and do all within walking distance of my hotel – or just a short subway ride away – that I soon realized I didn’t have enough free time to experience all the things I would have loved to do while in Canada’s downtown.
Looking to experience your own solo trip to Toronto? Here are just a few tips and entertaining things you can do to help make the most of your time in the big city…
Toronto: Exploring Canada’s Downtown As A Solo Traveller
Don’t Miss The Train
There really is no better way to travel solo from Ottawa to Toronto than by train. Sure, it’s a 4+ hour ride, however, this gives you plenty of time to relax, unwind, read a book, do some work, or watch the scenery go by.
The best part of travelling VIA Rail? Not having to drive in Toronto traffic.
Be sure to check the VIA Rail website on “Discount Tuesdays” to get the best possible rate on your ticket purchase.
See Toronto Now From A Whole New Perspective
If you are lucky enough to live in a city serviced by Porter Airlines (and some Air Canada flights), a flight to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is another terrific way to travel solo to Toronto.
While pricier than taking the train, the spectacular views of downtown Toronto and the Toronto Islands upon arrival, are worth the additional cost for many travellers.
Recognized as one of the “top 10 most beautiful airport approaches”, Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport has received several “best airport” awards over the years. It remains one of my favourite airports.
Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport’s close proximity to Canada’s
A six-minute walk through the Pedestrian Tunnel, that connects passengers from the island airport to the mainland, or a short ferry ride across the harbour, will have you enjoying the sights and sounds of Canada’s downtown in no time!
Fare Weather Friend
No matter how you arrive in downtown Toronto, one of the best ways to get to your hotel – especially with luggage in tow – is by taxi.
Just don’t make the same mistake I did when I traveled by taxi to the Chelsea Hotel, Toronto.
Sleep In The Heart Of Canada’s Downtown
Primarily known as a family-friendly hotel, the Chelsea Hotel, Toronto is
This hotel is ideally located in the bustling Yonge and Dundas area of downtown Toronto. The Chelsea Hotel, Toronto’s location
Visit The Grand Dame Of Retail
Toronto’s iconic Eaton Centre is home to 250+ best-in-class retailers, restaurants and services in the heart of Canada’s downtown.
Just a short walk from the Chelsea Hotel, Toronto, solo travellers can easily access the Toronto Eaton Centre on foot. Located along Toronto’s Yonge-University subway line, Dundas Station is conveniently situated under this famous shopping destination.
It’s Always Eventful
Yonge-Dundas Square, Toronto’s “Times-Square” as I like to call it, is a sensory experience you don’t want to miss when in downtown Toronto.
There’s always something happening at Yonge-Dundas Square. Here you’ll find festivals, product launches, celebrations and more! Even at it’s quietest time, Yonge-Dundas Square is a must-see destination.
Enjoy The Ride
As a teenager living in Toronto, I rode a Toronto subway train to school every day. Back then, riding the subway was like second nature to me.
Not so much anymore.
As an adult, and solo traveller to Toronto, who hadn’t stepped foot in the Toronto subway system since 1986, I was very wary of venturing into a TTC subway station and hopping aboard a subway train.
At the urging of my friend and fellow blogger, Aeryn from Geek Life, I decided to ride the subway a few times while on my solo trip to Toronto.
Two subway stations, the Dundas and College stations, are within easy walking distance of the Chelsea Hotel, Toronto.
I quickly felt at home in the TTC subway system. It was easy to navigate and I was able to get down to Front Street (Union Station) in minutes.
Thanks to Toronto Tourism, I discovered that the TTC offers a
At a cost of $12.50 per pass, a day pass is “available for use any day of the week, including statutory holidays. Passes are valid from the date shown on the pass until 5:30 a.m. the next day. Good for one person.”
With a one-way cab ride from the hotel to Union Station generally costing $10-$15, this TTC day pass is just the ticket travellers need to save money while visiting downtown Toronto.
Deep In The Underground
Did you know? There’s a whole other world – underneath Toronto!
Toronto’s PATH, is the world’s largest underground shopping complex (according to the Guinness Book of World Records).
Over 1,200 shops and services can be found along PATH’s maze of shopping arcades. Toronto’s subway system and Union Station are connected to PATH.
PATH also connects more than 50 buildings/office towers together under the streets of Canada’s downtown.
If you plan on heading down into PATH, keep this PATH map handy. After several trips through parts of PATH during my solo trip to Toronto, I still needed my friends – or the map – to help me find my way around.
Staging A Scene
Downtown Toronto has a thriving live theatre scene, and theatre fans will find several outstanding options for catching a great live performance at any one of these beloved theatres (all located just a short walk or drive from Chelsea Hotel, Toronto): Ed Mirvish Theatre, Princess of Wales Theatre, Elgin Theatre, CAA Theatre, and the Royal Alexandra Theatre.
Down In Front
There’s something special about Toronto’s Front Street. It’s one of my favourite places to spend time when in Toronto.
Perhaps it’s some long-lost connection to my great-great grandfather who operated one of Toronto’s first grocery wholesale businesses out of his building at 67 Front Street in the
Perhaps it’s also because so many of my favourite Toronto attractions are located on this bustling street.
First and foremost, Front Street is dominated by Toronto’s best-known attraction – the CN Tower. It was high atop the CN Tower that I had my favourite experience as a solo traveller in Toronto. But that story is for another time. Stay tuned.
Located next to the CN Tower, you’ll find both the Rogers Centre and Ripley’s Aquarium. An afternoon at a Toronto Blue Jays game at the Rogers Centre, or exploring underwater worlds at Ripley’s Aquarium, is time well spent.
Front Street is home to Canada’s beloved Hockey Hall of Fame, an attraction every hockey fan will enjoy. Don’t forget to save a little time for browsing the Hockey Hall of Fame’s terrific “Spirit Of Hockey” shop for a great selection of HHOF gifts and souvenirs!
Another notable attraction on Front Street is the CBC Toronto Broadcast Centre. Stop in for a photo op or two in the foyer of Canada’s national broadcaster.
Take a quick stroll inside Toronto’s iconic Royal York Hotel (so beautiful inside and out!). You’ll find a few luxury shops, and some great places to grab a bite to eat or a quick coffee.
Stop by the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, one of the foremost theatrical venues in Toronto, to see what’s happening. This performing arts centre hosts “a variety of dance, concerts, comedy acts, festivals, galas, award-shows, and films with a live orchestra.”
On Front Street, or close by, you’ll find plenty of pubs, retailers, and coffee shops. Keep your eyes peeled for these very handy INFO signs to help you find your way around.
Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre is “an innovative not-for-profit cultural organization that creates events and activities of excellence that enliven, educate and entertain a diverse public.”
Situated on a 10-acre site on the shores of Lake Ontario, Harbourfront Centre offers something for everyone, including the opportunity to enjoy a leisurely stroll along the water’s edge.
This Square Is Insta-Worthy
That famous Toronto sign you’ve seen posted on Instagram countless times? Head to Nathan Phillips Square to find this sign and ramp up your selfie game with Toronto’s iconic City Hall as your backdrop.
Nathan Phillips Square plays host to a number of festivals and activities for visitors to enjoy throughout the year, in Canada’s downtown.
Pay The Ferryman
Planning a solo trip to Toronto during the summer months? Make sure you save some time to enjoy a ferry ride over to the Toronto Islands.
In addition to the stunning panoramic view of Toronto’s skyline from aboard the Toronto Island Ferry, a visit to the Toronto Islands is an excellent way to spend some time enjoying the beauty of the lush flower beds that line the many walking paths around the islands.
A visit to Chelsea Beach is the best way to enjoy the cool summer breezes off Lake Ontario. Don’t forget your bathing suit if you would like to take a swim at this beautiful beach.
Enjoy A Re-Union
New York City may have Grand Central Station but, Toronto has Union Station, a magnificent train station that is designated a Canadian National Historic Site.
Whether you travel by train to Toronto or not, take a moment to step inside Union Station to witness its
A recently renovated section of the station is home to several unique retailers, eateries, and bakeries. Be sure to leave yourself a little extra time to visit these specialty shops before you catch your train!
There is SO much more to see, do, and explore in downtown Toronto. I’ve only just scratched the surface.
Guess I’ll just have to go back for another visit, right?!
Love Toronto? Check out 30 Fascinating Facts About Toronto, Canada!
Have you ever visited Toronto as a solo traveller? What’s YOUR Toronto story? Share it with us in the comments section!