A friend from Germany visited Toronto this spring for a month-long work program, and she stayed at this hostel and had a magnificent time. It’s centrally located, inexpensive, safe and very clean. And, as an added bonus, she says she’s made lifelong friends here.
Located a few minutes from the Entertainment District and major landmarks, the hostel caters to travelers of all ages, but everyone I saw whenever I visited seemed to be in the 20 to 30- something category.
With a large guest kitchen and dining area, there is ample space to store food in the fridge or pantry. The kitchen is used very often and is a popular place to meet other travelers. There is also a common TV area, a large outdoor patio, a 24-hour access pub, laundry, long-term storage, and great security. The front door is locked at midnight, and an access key is required to enter after hours. Front desk staff is available anytime, day or night.
The front desk also offers travel assistance and can organize local tours within the city as well as regional ones to places like Niagara-on-the-Lake to visit wineries. The airport bus drop off point is also just one block east of the hostel.
Summer rates for dorms range from $27 to $29 CDN, and discounted rates for guests planning to stay in Toronto for an extended period. Check the website for further information.
460 King Street West, M5V 1L7
+ 1 416 703 8540
Google map: bit.ly/KjFAgY
* Giulia is our Been there local for Toronto. You can see her profile here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/places/canada/toronto/index.jsp and follow her tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/GiuliaFalsetti
Honest Ed’s is more than just a store – it’s a Toronto landmark that locals have shopped in at least once and where tourists must visit before they leave the city.
It is named after its founder, Ed Mirvish, who opened the store in 1948 and ran operations until his death in 2007. Running the length of an entire block, this building can be seen several metres away: the exterior is covered with thousands of huge red and yellow signs lit up like a theatre marquee, advertising the name of the store. There are also several slogans covering the exterior, with puns such as, “Our prices are for the birds – they’re cheap, cheap.”
The 160,000 square foot place sells all sorts of kitsch, as well as low-priced goods ranging from clothing, kitchenware, hardware, toys, furniture and appliances, grocery and pharmaceutical items.
The walls of the very modest interior are crammed with autographed photos of personalities such as Frank Sinatra, Liberace, Lauren Bacall, and many others. There are also posters and photos from old film and stage productions from theatres that Mirvish owned in Toronto and London.
Once you’re done looking and buying, the surrounding neighbourhood, called Mirvish Village, has unique boutiques, book stores, antique shops, cafes, and restaurants.
Don’t be put off by the name – this is a classy joint in downtown Toronto! There are, however, brilliant discounts on offer with happy-hour drinks and a half-price dinner menu every day between 5 and 8 p.m.
I enjoyed watching office workers hurrying home, sat on one of the bar’s terraces with a nice cold beer…
A great place to relax with your shopping and soak up the city’s vibe.
539 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON, M5S1Y6
A great, cheap place to stay right in the centre of Toronto. This budget hostel has a fantastic community feel and is a fun, lively place to meet other travelers. As a girl visiting Canada on my own, I felt right at home here – especially on Saturday nights where the free barbecue attracts a large proportion of the guests for a beer and a burger!
It’s located in Kensington market, about five minutes from the entertainment and shopping districts – and there’s no curfew so you can stay out exploring as late as you please.
This is a friendly place but its real selling point is the combination of the low price of a bed of the night set against their great facilities…
175 Augusta Avenue, Toronto, ON, M5T 2L4, Canada
The Spaghetti Factory is a quirky restaurant that is excellent value for money - a loaf of freshly baked sour dough bread, free refill soft drinks, starter, ice cream and tea and coffee, are included with the price of your main course. Fantastic for feeding a whole family!
The restaurant itself is a treasure trove of Tiffany glass panels and lights, mismatched furniture means you may be seated on a grand wooden throne or inside a reclaimed streetcar, and should you glance up check out the many artefacts and trinkets that adds to the family atmosphere.
#54 The Esplanade
Parking available; Meter & pay parking
One of the best cities for regional Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese, and a host of others. If you have a friend with a car, check out Scarborough and Mississauga for them, also Richmond Hill and Markham for Chinese. Almost every strip mall has cheap and amazing, authentic food, much more authentic and diverse than the better known areas downtown.
Spicy, vegetarian and non-vegetarian south Indian:
Anjappar Chettinnad, 3090 Eglinton Avenue East, Scarborough; tel: 416 265 2695
Fang's Restaurant (Hong Kong food)
3225 Hwy 7, Markham; tel: 905 947-9969
Dragon Dynasty (banquet food and dim sum)
2301 Brimley Road, Scarborough; tel: 416 321 9000
Vegetarian south Indian:
Saravana Bhavan 4559 Hurontario St (at Eglinton) Miss.; tel: 905 290 0769
also 1571 Sandhurst Circle (Finch & McCowan); tel: 416 293 7755
Toronto Island is a must see and it is basically free, an oasis in the middle of the city. The island is a like a large peaceful park with beaches (there's a nude beach, gay beach as well as regular beaches), rollerblading, biking and walking paths, and even an amusement park and free petting zoo for children.
Ferries leave every 15 minutes from Bay St and Queens Quay at Harbourfront, just south of Union Station. There's plenty of parking too. www.toronto.ca/parks/island/index.htm
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