Toronto is a popular travel destination in Canada but most of the tourist attractions and the hotels in the city center are not cheap, and eating a meal at a central restaurant can easily cost between $15 and $30 per person. However, there are several ways to see this city on a budget without compromising the quality of your trip.
1. The view of the Toronto skyline can be free.
While CN tower charges $36 for general admission, there are places that give visitors a free view of the Toronto skyline. Chester Hill lookout, 10 minutes walk from Broadview subway station, has a 180-degree view of the CN Tower, TD bank building, Rogers Center, Evergreen Brick Works, and Don Valley Parkway. Riverdale Park on Broadview Avenue is another place to witness the Toronto downtown skyline. It has a huge green space in the forefront for walking, relaxing, picnicking, and watching the sunset with your loved ones.
2. Eating at cheap restaurants.
There are several local restaurants that offer decent and cheap meals. El Furniture, on Spadina and Bathurst, has every dish, including the work burger, fish tacos, and beef spaghetti, priced at $5.95 all day every day. The Village by Grande, off St. Patrick subway station, has a large food court with cuisine from all over the world, and most plates cost between $3 and $8. The Extreme Taste, which features Mediterranean food, has a seafood plate for $5.99 and a chicken plate for $4.99, and chicken and beef pita for $5.00.
If you are looking for a cheap afternoon tea place, Brazilian Bakery and Pastry in Dundas West and Dufferin is a short subway and streetcar ride from downtown. Their Portuguese egg tart has been rated the best in town on Yelp and only costs $1. It also has bread, cake, sandwiches and various types of coffee and tea to keep you fed without breaking your bank.
3. Public transport gets you everywhere in Toronto.
There are regular subway, bus, and streetcar services and they can take you anywhere in the city and the suburban area. The fare costs only $3.25 and the transfer allows you to get another ride for free within the time limits. While you can take the UP express trains from the airport to downtown, cab, and Uber, it is much cheaper to take public transport to travel around the city.
4. Take advantage of free activities.
This website lists all the monthly free events and festivals in Toronto. From light festivals, food and photography exhibitions, Halloween parties, pillow fights, and film festivals, you can find the activities with detailed information, time, and location on this website close to the date. With this website in your hand, you do not have to pay anything to join the event, just prepared to show up, make new friends, and have fun.
5. Visiting beaches and parks.
Toronto has beaches, parks, and lakeshore areas that are open to the public. Those places usually take a half day to explore and they are a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the city center. Woodbine Beach on the east side of Toronto has 90 volleyball courts, a boardwalk, and warm water to swim in the summer. High Park has a waterfront, picnic areas, gardens, zoos, and a children’s playground. Bluff’s Park in Scarborough has a beautiful beach and looks like a tropical paradise during the summer.
6. Visiting free museums.
If your stay includes Wednesday night, be sure to check out the Art Gallery of Ontario, because that is when this museum offers free admission from 6 pm to 9 pm that allows you to see a collection of over 90,000 artworks. Bata Shoe Museum is free to visit and features a collection of 13,000 shoes and historical artifacts. 401 Richmond Street West has a collection of art galleries, exhibitions, a swipe bookstore, and a café shop that are worth spending a day.
7. Stay at the Planet Traveler Hostel.
There are not too many hostel options in Toronto, and a budget-friendly hostel with a central location is difficult to find. When you have to pay for $40 for a shared room without breakfast and oftentimes it is loud, and has bed bugs, it can be frustrating.
Planet Traveler Hostel is a good pick: it’s on Spadina and College, and within walking distance to China town and Kensington Market, has dorm rooms from $35CAD per night. It also has complimentary breakfast until 1 pm and a fully-equipped kitchen. Free Saturday BBQ on the rooftop offers a great opportunity for you to socialize with other travelers, enjoy the meal, and watch the city light up from the rooftop.
8. Watch comedy show at the Second City.
If you love comedy, you will adore the improved and stand-up performance at the Second City. Different shows take place every night and admission are $5 for adults and $2 for the Second Citizens. Grab a drink, bring a friend, and enjoy laughing and mingling with the actors. In some parts of the show, actors will choose a few audience members to perform with them. Just raise your hand high and you will find yourself on the stage performing with these light-hearted comedians.