Canada has always been at the top of my travel bucket list. So, when the opportunity arose for me to visit, I was super excited! I visited Canada at the end of October for a week. It was a trip to Toronto & Niagara Falls, where I spent 3 and 4 days in each place respectively. It was an amazing journey full of unique experiences!
Renting a car 🚗
I can’t stress enough how easy and cheap it is to rent a car in Canada! I was very sceptical about driving around (cars are automatic when I’m used to manual!). But it was the best decision I ever made. Here are a few reasons (at the time) why:
- To rent a (big) car for a week cost around 160 CAD
- The deposit required was around 50 CAD
- The petrol was really cheap! I spent 18 CAD for the whole week!
- There are scenic routes you should not miss
- It gives you flexibility to stop wherever you want, specifically at the countless vineyards and maple syrup farms along the way!
Therefore, you should really consider driving around!
After picking up the car from Toronto’s airport, I drove to Toronto’s city centre (downtown) where my hotel was located! The drive was very easy along the main carriageway and took about 45-50 minutes – maybe a little more if you hit rush hour.
Whilst in Toronto, I stayed at the Double Tree by Hilton. The rooms are very spacious and modern, and its location is superb as it is situated in the heart of Toronto’s city centre. As a result, the majority of the “must see” things are within a walking distance from you.
Strolling around downtown Toronto
Toronto is the first ever city I visited outside Europe. It was so different from any other city I had been to before. If I had to use a few words to describe it, they’d be “big, cold, cosmopolitan, diverse, entertaining”, and “beautiful”…in its own unique way.
Everything in Canada felt like it was a lot bigger than anywhere I had visited before. Strolling around Toronto, walking in between skyscrapers, shopping malls, and big towers; this sure makes you feel small. Nevertheless, it is without a doubt a very impressive city, offering so many things to do/see/and explore according to what you enjoy doing.
I ❤️ Toronto
One of the things you can’t really miss is the popular “I ❤️ Toronto” sign, situated at the heart of the city. I recommend visiting it at night, as it is particularly impressive when it is lit up!
In this particular area you will also find a lot of different parks to explore, shops, and delicious restaurants – two of which I will talk about in the next sections. It is also 20 minutes away (walking) from the popular CN Tower/Aquarium, and 35 minutes away from the bay front!
The CN Tower
When in Toronto, you should not miss the opportunity to visit the Canadian National (CN) Tower, which is the world’s 9th tallest (553.3m) free-standing structure! It has also been declared as one of the modern seven wonders of the world! To visit you can easily and quickly buy your tickets online (https://www.cntower.ca/intro.html).
The 360 views at the top of the tower are amazing. It also has a glass floor, on which – if you are brave enough – you can step and take a picture!
If you are feeling really brave, you can also “hang” around at the edge of the top of the tower!
If you enjoy Asian culture, food, markets, art, and people, then you should definitely pay a visit to the Chinatown in Toronto. It is in fact one of the largest Chinatowns in North America! It is an ethnic area with countless unique places for you to explore. However, what I loved about it the most was the graffiti art which you can find on every corner and every street!
If you are like me and are looking to find a place that offers a wide array of bakeries, cheese shops, hipster/trendy bars, cafes and international restaurants, you should really take a walk around the Kensington Market. No matter what type of food you enjoy, you are guaranteed to find a place that will blow your mind.
⚠️ Food Alert 🦞⚠️ – Dinner
One of my favourite restaurant chains in the whole world, originates in Canada; The Red Lobster. The food is super delicious 🤤 and for its quality, very cheap. You can get a full lobster and prawns for approx 22 CAD! Make sure to try it!
⚠️ Food Alert ⚠️ 🥐- Breakfast/Brunch
I discovered a great restaurant chain for breakfast/brunch/lunches; Eggspectation. It offers freshly cooked food and home made juices, and no matter what I tried, it was delicious.
Niagara Falls is one of the seven wonders of the world and is located only one hour (by car) away from Toronto. If this is not a good enough excuse for you to visit, the route is also scenic and full of wine tasting vineyards. Therefore you should not miss it!
Whilst in Niagara Falls, I stayed at the Niagara Falls Crown Plaza Hotel , situated literally next to the falls. Overall, the hotel was ok, but its location and views were excellent.
Just a minute away from my hotel, there were the famous falls. I must admit, they looked a bit smaller than I expected them to be! However, they were still stunning. I wish I could put into words the feeling I got when I realised that I was standing in front of this wonder!
A stunning Hornblower Cruise
As you imagine, it is impossible not to take the cruise with the hornblower (niagaracruises.com) to see the falls up close! It was an incredible and very unique experience and I would definitely recommend it! Feeling the power of the falls whilst on the boat, the water splashing, the noise, the views, and just the fact that at that very moment you are so close to Niagara falls, make it a dream come true! You are also given a funky poncho to keep yourself dry!
Here is a short video I took of the falls during the hornblower cruise:
Behind the falls tour
Apart from the cruise, I also took a tour behind the falls. In my honest opinion, it was nothing special and I would not really recommend it. It was essentially a tunnel consisting of small openings from where you could just see the water falling. The best part of it was an opening spot, which is quite low and close to the falls, from which you can take some nice pictures of the falls from a different angle.
A beautiful walk across the falls
For even more breathtaking views, do not miss walking across the top of the falls until you find yourself at the closest point and also the CANADA sign! 🇨🇦
Near Niagara Falls
Apart from the very impressive falls, the nearby area does not have much to offer. In my opinion, it seems like a small version of Las Vegas. It consists of many big chain shops and a quite big arcade/adventure park.
However, one thing that I discovered here and I absolutely loved was Tim Hortons’ coffee! Yum yum! ☕️
A 40 minute drive from Niagara Falls will find you at a beautiful picturesque village called Niagara-on-the-lake. It was one of my favourite places during my trip as it combines lush gardens and gorgeous waterfront views! It is well known for its wineries, breweries, and distilleries!
The drive to Niagara-on-the-lake was very scenic and beautiful, filled with gorgeous autumn trees, water reservoirs, sunshine, squirrels, parks and a butterfly conservatory!
The floral clock and the butterflies
Definitely stop at the Niagara Parks nearby and the Butterfly conservatory. They are both beautiful and worth seeing! Be prepared to walk through hundreds of different coloured butterflies and watch them live in their natural environment. You will definitely have few fly and sit on you too! 🦋
Hamilton – a breathtaking palette of red, gold and orange
During my visit in Canada, I wanted to experience some of its beautiful nature. Fall made it even a better excuse, as the colours of the trees alone were enough to transform any “ordinary” forest into extraordinary! As a result, I decided to visit a nearby city; Hamilton, known for its fantastic fall hikes! The forest trails were just stunning! 🍁
Pumpkin & Maple Syrup farms
Hamilton has many more things to offer than just forest hikes, though! I discovered some beautiful and unique pumpkin farms, and because it was October and Halloween was just around the corner, the pumpkins were everywhere!!! 🎃
Of course, you should also not miss the chance to visit a maple syrup farm. You can find them almost everywhere. Apart from being able to buy a range of maple syrup products, some of them also have free workshops explaining how the syrup is made and how different syrups (according to colour shade) differ!
I really hope that you enjoyed my blog post and that it gave you few ideas of things to do if you find yourself in Ontario, Canada! Overall, I found my trip in Toronto & Niagara Falls interesting, different, and beautiful. In comparison to Europe, everything felt much bigger; the cars, the houses, the restaurants.. I have to say though, regarding culture, art, and history (which I enjoy), Toronto doesn’t offer much, and I definitely missed that! Maybe I was looking in the wrong places! Saying that though, every place has its own beauties, and I’m looking forward to one day visit northern Canada.
P.S. Read about how to edit photos on the fly using just your smartphone in my other post here.
Until next time…