Hipmunk City Love: Travel to Toronto on a Budget

Last Updated on July 7, 2015 by Natasha Amar

This post is part of the Hipmunk #CityLove campaign.

A trip to Toronto, Canada’s cosmopolitan big city, does not have to break the bank. Here’s a guide to get you started on enjoying the best of Toronto on a budget.

Toronto on a budget

Photo by Kevin Jedruch via Trover.com

Budget Accommodation

Like every big city, Toronto has a ton of options across budgets. You just need to know where to look. Consider apartments with Airbnb or these cheap hotels in Toronto. Remember that while downtown hotels are not exactly cheap, you’ll be right in the center of all the action and within close proximity of restaurants, attractions, nightlife, and shopping. This means that you’ll save on transportation costs that you’ll incur if you decide to stay elsewhere. If you can manage to find an apartment that’s in or close to downtown, there’s nothing like it. Avoid staying close to the airport because it’s quite far from the city center.

Eating on the Cheap

Toronto is very multicultural and the different nationalities that live and work here have brought along their cuisines. This means that even on a budget, you have many choices ranging from gourmet sandwiches, Vietnamese banh mi, sushi, and dim sums, to Mexican burritos. To enjoy some tasty and fresh market-style meals, selection of cheese and cold cuts, head to St. Lawrence Market and Kensington Market.

Cool Things to Do

Spend some time wandering around Kensington Market where you’ll find bargains on everything from vintage cocktail dresses from the 80s to fresh organic produce and fair trade coffee. This is a must-do if, like me, you love the authenticity of a good market experience.

There’s always something cool and interesting going on at the Harbourfront Centre located by Lake Ontario, such as a circus festival, food fest, dance performance, recital, or free movie screening. When you get tired of the activities, enjoy the fabulous view of the lake and some downtime in one of the parks along the shore.

If it’s a beautiful summer day, spend some time at Toronto Music Garden (free admission). Designed by cellist Yo Yo Ma, it’s an example of fantastic landscaping inspired by Bach’s Suite No. 1 in G Major for unaccompanied cello. You can take a self-guided audio tour to learn about the making of the garden.

For a totally non-touristy experience, watch an international flick for $10 at one of the Rainbow Cinemas or the Carlton Cinema.

For a farm experience in the city, make your way to Riverdale Farm, a recreation of a historic working farm spread over 7.5 acres. Walking along the leafy trails and having livestock such as cows, pigs, and chickens for company, you’ll be forgiven for mistaking that you’re in a 19th century farm estate.  It’s worth timing your visit to coincide with the weekly Farmers Market on Tuesdays.

Take a walking tour of the historic Distillery district, a pedestrian zone of heritage architecture with the city’s well-preserved Victorian Industrial Architecture. If you appreciate art, visit the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (free admission) featuring temporary and permanent exhibitions and artwork from various local and international artists.

Have you been to Toronto or would you like to go? What was your favorite budget thing to do in the city?

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