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Toronto Through Its Neighborhoods: A Trip Through the Diversity of the City

Image3While some iconic landmarks in Toronto include sites like the Royal Ontario Museum or its Art Gallery, the CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, Casa Loma, the Hockey Hall of Fame or the St. Lawrence Market, the city is also known for its neighborhoods. Their great variety has turned into a nickname: “the city of neighborhoods”. Nevertheless, which are the most famous ones? Which one to visit first? Here, we propose a guide.

Toronto: Landscape and Culture of Diversity

Toronto, a city known for its cosmopolitan and multicultural culture, is the most populous city in Canada and the fourth most populous in North America. Both its history and way of life have been widely influenced by immigration, and it is estimated that almost half the population was not born in the country. With inhabitants coming from more than 200 ethnic origins, over 160 languages can be heard in its streets. This factor has left a strong impression on Toronto’s environment: it does not matter if you are planning a visit through the neighborhoods or aiming at a Food tour Toronto, you will encounter a great variety of options for you. Some of the most visited areas are:

The Entertainment District

With sites like the CN Tower, the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, Canada’s Walk of Fame, or the Hockey Hall of Fame, this 8-block neighborhood located in Downtown West area is perfect for those who enjoy anything from arts to sports, without missing out on the must-visit fine dining restaurants to have a complete food tour in Toronto. Nightclubs, bars, sports venues (such as the Scotiabank Arena), and theaters (like the Royal Alexandra Theatre, the Roy Thompson Hall, or the Princess of Wales Theatre): in this district, there is an option for every taste.


Bloor Street is the place to be for those who are interested in fashion: this area, also known as the “Mink Mile” is filled with designer boutiques selling top-rated brands, such as Tiffany, Louis Vuitton or Chanel. The elegant style that makes this district stand out can also be viewed in its fancy restaurants.

A former center of hippie activities back in the 60s, nowadays it is distinguished for its luxury, its museums (a list that includes the Royal Ontario Museum and the Gardiner Ceramic Museum) and festivals (like the Bloor-Yorkville Icefest, the Summer Music in the Park concert series or the Yorkville Murals).

It is also close to “The Annex”, a spot that has been influenced by the University of Toronto’s activities and where you can find bars, restaurants, galleries, bookstores and theaters, among others.

Distillery Historic District

This pedestrian-only, 5-hectare neighborhood has gained popularity due to its mixture of past and present: its cobblestone streets with Victorian-era heritage buildings (where the Gooderham and Worts Distillery was formerly located) have been restored and now offer stores, restaurants, breweries, art galleries and performance events.


One of the most classical events in this neighborhood is the December Christmas Market, but you can find regular festivals, events, and plays at the Soulpepper Theater.

St. Lawrence

While today we know it as “St. Lawrence Market”, this area, located in downtown Toronto and revitalized in the 1970s, was known as “St. Lawrence Ward” and was distinguished by the activity of the industry and the Canadian National Railway Embankment.

The main attraction of the district is the public market that gave the name to the neighborhood. Toronto’s biggest place to purchase fresh-food, it was used as a city hall and jail in the past. Nowadays, the St. Lawrence Market is divided in two: the St. Lawrence Market North and St. Lawrence Market South. Both of them offer a great variety of food, local products and international delicacies.


As the name suggests, this area is ideal for those who want to take a plunge in the Asian community and culture. The second-largest Chinatown in North America, this neighborhood is more effervescent during the Chinese New Year, when dancing and dragons take over the street. Nevertheless, you can enjoy its authentic Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and Thai cuisine all year long. In the markets, you will also be able to find souvenirs and unique international products that go from household items to jewelry.

If you are into museums, make sure to check the Art Gallery of Ontario, one of the biggest art museums in North America and home to a collection of almost 90,000 artworks made by artists like Goya, Picasso, and Rembrandt, as well as by Canadian painters.

Kensington Market

Widely known for its artistic, relaxed vibe as well as for the eclectic content and the diversity of cultures that have influenced the life of the neighborhood (from Latin American to Vietnamese, without missing out on Caribbean and Latin American immigrants), this area is perfect for those who enjoy cafes and restaurants (where you will find international delicacies), as well as market stalls and vintage clothing boutiques.


A designated National Historic Site of Canada, it also offers street performances and street art.

Little Italy

Another sample of the cultural patchwork that lays on the basis of the city, this district has gained popularity due to its picturesque patios and its fine-yet-affordable restaurants. This is the place where you can start a small business and benefit from the local opportunities.


Located next to the shore of Lake Ontario, its fresh air, its views (both of the lake and the islands), urban parks and its activities have made it popular among both locals and tourists. Here, you will be able to catch a ferry to visit the Toronto Islands or have a peek at the Harbourfront Centre, a space that focuses on cultural events, festivals and open-air performances.

Queen Street West

A lively atmosphere is the common factor that influences everything in Queen Street West’s paths: from art galleries and design studios to modern stores and unique restaurants, the historic buildings and the street art give this neighborhood its artistic fame.

King West Village

Its historical background as an industrial neighborhood that was the core of the city’s textile market has now been continued by the clothing outlets and retailers that inhabit the area. While it has a reputation of being one of the best spots to do shopping in the city, you will also be able to find rooftop bars and fine dining. Do not miss out on taking a ride in the streetcar, visiting Toronto’s waterfront, or having a peek at Trinity Bellwoods Park.


This district takes its name after the cabbages that Irish immigrants cultivated there when they first arrived in the city. Nowadays, it has preserved the houses from the Victorian era (making it the largest continuous area of preserved Victorian housing), which gives the area a distinguished atmosphere. While it is a residential area, visitors can take a look at the Necropolis Cemetery and the Riverdale Farm, buildings that have been standing there since the 1950s.

In Toronto, the presence of neighborhoods is so strong that it once gave the city the name of “The Six” (or “the 6ix.”), due to the six municipalities that divided the Metro Toronto landscape before it was amalgamated in 1998. So it does not matter whether you are looking for a place to stroll, grab a bite, or go and do some shopping: here, you will find something for every interest.