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It only took me 23 years to realize I was living a mere 10 hour drive from a country I had never been to. So a few weeks ago, my bestie and I filled her car with snacks and booze and started the 600 mile drive to Toronto, Canada. Although it was far from a beach vacation, there’s still plenty to do in Canada during the wintertime. Keep reading for my ultimate 4 day Toronto itinerary to see how I spent my first trip to Canada!
Your 4 Day Toronto Itinerary: The Quick Version
🏡 Where to Stay in Toronto
BUDGET-FRIENDLY HOTELS IN TORONTO:
- The Only Backpacker’s Inn (⭐️ 8.5/10)
- Planet Traveler Hostel (⭐️ 9.6/10)
- All Days Hostel (⭐️ 8.9/10)
- Pembroke Inn (⭐️ 7.2/10)
MID-LEVEL HOTELS IN TORONTO:
- Pantages Hotel Downtown Toronto (⭐️ 8.2/10)
- The Drake Hotel on Queen Street West (⭐️ 9.0/10)
- Radisson Blu Toronto Downtown (⭐️ 8.8/10)
- Chelsea Hotel (⭐️ 7.6/10)
- Airbnb with CN Tower Views (⭐️ 4.74/5)
LUXURY HOTELS IN TORONTO:
🇨🇦 My Favorite Things to Do in Toronto
- Take a day-trip to Niagara Falls: Either rent a car and DIY it to Niagara Falls or book a highly-rated Niagara Falls Tour from Toronto ⛴️
- Taste the best of Toronto with a Toronto Tasting Tour 🍕
- Visit Nathan Philips Square and rent ice skates ⛸️
- Embark on a Toronto Walking Tour or Toronto Bike Tour to see the best in the city 🚲
- Test your knowledge at the Royal Ontario Museum 🦖
- Snack on peameal bacon sandwiches at the St. Lawrence Market 🥓
- Take the elevator up 147 floors to the top of the CN Tower 🏙️
- Shop your heart out in the historic Distillery District 🛍️
- Taste all the Canadian beers at the Bier Markt or book a Small Group Local Beer Tour 🍺
- Drench those fries in gravy and eat your fill of tasty Canadian Poutine 🍟
✈️ How to Get to Toronto
For our vacation to Toronto Canada, we decided to drive the 10 hours from Madison, WI. However, you can also easily fly into Toronto. Toronto’s main international airport is Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ). The airport is located very close to downtown Toronto, so it doesn’t take very long to get into the city. You can call an Uber or take the budget-friendly route with the Toronto Transit Commission’s public transit options.
Our Toronto Airbnb with CN Tower Views
The major perk of traveling to Canada in January is the ability to live out your wildest Airbnb fantasies. Since we were willing to drive north from a state that was already in the midst of a blizzard, we were able to rent the bougiest apartment in downtown Toronto for a fraction of the normal price! We rented this gorgeous place on the 22nd floor in the Entertainment District, complete with indoor parking and this spectacular view, for less than $80/night. Keep in mind, it’s not so affordable in the summer.
Is 4 Days in Toronto Enough?
If you’re wondering how many days in Toronto, four days was plenty of time for our trip to Toronto Canada. We had time to hit all the highlights, eat at some of the best restaurants in Toronto and even take a day trip from Toronto to Niagara Falls! 3 days in Toronto would also be a decent-length trip, although you might miss some of the best attractions. I wouldn’t recommend spending less than a weekend in Toronto, unless you live nearby.
Our drive from Madison took a full 10 hours – so you know we were getting our fill of vacationing in Toronto before we left!
The Best 4 Day Toronto Itinerary for January
If you’re wondering what to do in Toronto in 4 days, then you’ve come to the right place! After plenty of trip research, I’m convinced that I planned out the perfect four days in Toronto in January. Keep reading for the highlights of my Toronto Canada itinerary!
Visit the St. Lawrence Market
As an avid traveler and a devoted foodie, there’s nothing I love more than a local market in a new city. St. Lawrence Market in Old Toronto is home to some of Toronto’s best eats, and you can’t beat the prices. Thankfully the market is indoors, so it’s the perfect place to spend an afternoon warming up and tasting some delicious Canadian cuisine during your Toronto 4 day itinerary!
No trip to the St. Lawrence Market is complete without sampling Carousel Bakery’s famous peameal bacon sandwich* (pictured below)! Make sure to try it with their maple mustard for the perfect combination of savory and sweet.
*Peameal bacon is a wet-cured, unsmoked bacon made from pork loin rolled in cornmeal. It’s found mainly in Southern Ontario, so make sure to try it when visiting Toronto.
Still hungry? Head to Future Bakery to sample a range of international treats including sweet & savory burek and Pastéis de Nata, Portuguese custard treats.
Admire the Gooderham “Flat Iron” Building
Step outside the St. Lawrence Market for a fantastic view of the Gooderham, or the “Flat Iron” Building, and Toronto’s CN Tower. This famous building was designed in the 19th century for Toronto’s Gooderham family as the headquarters of their empire. Although many assume it was modeled after the Flat Iron Building in New York City, Toronto’s version actually predates the NYC landmark by a decade.
📸 The Best Walking/Biking Tours in Toronto
Take the Elevator 147 Floors Up the CN Tower
If you’re a fan of epic views over Toronto and spooky elevators, head to Toronto’s famous CN Tower and pay 38 CAD for a ticket to the top. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, and you’re visiting in the summer months, you can book tickets for the Edgewalk! For 200 CAD they’ll strap you in and scare you shitless as you walk around the very top of the tower…1,815 feet in the air.
Make sure to book your tickets to the CN Tower on one of your first days in Toronto. We waited until the last day and almost couldn’t get tickets due to a private event.
Nathan Phillips Square
Brave enough to experience a Toronto winter outside? Head to Nathan Phillips Square and ice skate your heart out in front of the city’s famous Toronto sign! No skates? No problem. Rent a pair on-site for only 10 CAD! Nathan Phillips Square was our first stop on our 4 day Toronto itinerary and, besides the bone-chilling cold, was the perfect introduction to Toronto.
Behind the “Toronto” sign, you’ll catch a glimpse of Toronto’s New City Hall! The building opened in 1965, replacing the Old City Hall which was built in 1889. You’ll also be right next to the Eaton Centre, one of the largest malls in Toronto.
Catch a Blue Jays Game at the Rogers Centre
No Toronto travel guide would be complete without mentioning one of Toronto’s claims to fame, the Blue Jays. Although it’s still called the SkyDome by many old-school Blue Jays fans, Canada’s only professional baseball franchise plays their home games in the Rogers Centre – around the corner from the CN Tower.
The Rogers Centre was kind of a big deal at the time of its opening, since it was the only stadium with a retractable rooftop. This allowed games to be played at Rogers Centre year-round. If you only have 4 days in Toronto, fitting in a Blue Jays game is not to be missed!
Try Canadian Poutine
Fries? Good. Gravy? Good. Cheese curds? Good. All together = VERY good.
This 4 day Toronto itinerary is not complete without mention of Poutine. Poutine is a Canadian staple found on every street corner of Toronto. Although it’s all delicious, some places have a better reputation among locals than others. The best of the best is Poutini’s House of Poutine in Liberty Village. You can’t go wrong with the original, but if you’re feeling adventurous try one of their special creations like “The Works” with sour cream, bacon and chive.
Have Drinks at the Bier Markt
Could there be anything bad about a bar that serves over 150 beers on tap? Yeah I didn’t think so either. Bier Markt serves brews from all over the world, including a wide selection of local Canadian beers. My advice? Don’t limit yourself. Order a flight and taste four yummy beers at the same time!
If your perfect Toronto itinerary includes lots of Canadian craft brews, I suggest visiting Toronto’s famous Steam Whistle Brewery (near the CN Tower) or booking yourself on a Toronto Local Beer Tour.
Take a Day Trip to Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls is easily one of the best winter day trips from Toronto. Only an hour and a half away, there’s no excuse to not take a day to experience one of the most famous national parks in North America. I’m not going to lie, there’s a lot more to do in Niagara Falls in the summer time. But do you know what there’s also a lot more of? People. If you’re interested in seeing spectacular views without the pesky crowds, head to Niagara in January and enjoy being one of the ten tourists brave enough to be outside during an Ontario winter.
If you do head down to Niagara Falls, I would suggest staying on the Canadian side. The views are much better than the United States side!
⛴️ Niagara Falls Tours You May Enjoy…
Visit Yonge-Dundas Square
Widely known as Toronto’s “mini Times Square,” Yonge-Dundas square is located in the middle of downtown Toronto. This public square is a unique focal point of the Toronto community and serves as gathering space and event venue. You can easily see why it reminds people of New York’s Time Square! 👇🏼
Test Your Knowledge at the Royal Ontario Museum
There’s no better activity for a frigid Canadian day than exploring a museum! Well, besides maybe indoor drinking.
The Royal Ontario Museum is one of the largest museums in North America and the largest museum in Canada. It’s filled with really cool exhibits in art, world culture, natural history and more. My personal favorite is the third floor, where they house the “Age of Mammals” exhibit as well as the “Age of Dinosaurs.”
Entrance tickets cost 23 CAD, but are only 18 CAD with a student ID.
Explore Toronto’s Historic Distillery District
The Distillery District of Toronto is a hipster neighbourhood filled with trendy boutiques and restaurants housed in 19th century whiskey distillery buildings. It’s the perfect neighborhood to do some shopping or enjoy a hipster happy hour. During Christmastime, the streets are filled with Toronto’s Christmas Markets.
While you’re wandering the quaint, cobblestone streets, stop by Wildly Delicious for a taste of Toronto’s finest. They sell plenty of sweet Canadian maple syrup as well as home goods and every kind of sauce, chutney and cheese you could imagine – perfect for your Toronto travel itinerary.
Wander Through Graffiti Alley
Although I’ll admit it’s not the best activity for a freezing Toronto trip, Graffiti Alley is definitely worth a quick visit. Wander the narrow alleyway, admire the colorful street art gallery…and maybe warm up with a hot chocolate afterwards.
Where to Eat in Toronto in Four Days
Now for the highlight of my Toronto vacation guide! Like every major city, Toronto has no shortage of yummy eats. Make sure to eat your fill at these delicious restaurants before you head home after four days in Toronto.
Featured by INSIDER Food, Menami serves udon noodles with a delicious twist. Thick and doughy noodles are topped with creamy cheese sauce and shredded tex-mex cheese before being baked to perfection. It’s the perfect mix of traditional udon and mac n’ cheese!
Since I love both udon noodles and cheese, Menami was one of my favorite restaurants on our 4 day Toronto itinerary.
Chinatown’s The Dumpling House
To say we left full would be a gross understatement…a dumpling coma might be more accurate. The Dumpling House, located in Toronto’s hip Kensington Market neighborhood, sells traditional dumplings both steamed and fried with a variety of fillings. It was also one of the most affordable restaurants we ate at in Toronto. If you do decide to try it out, learn from our mistake and don’t order any appetizers. We were uncomfortably full until the next day, but nothing warms you up like fresh dumplings!
Soft serve in a churro cone? Enough said.
Right around the corner from The Dumpling House, Panchos’ Bakery serves this Instagrammable mash-up treat. Although probably enjoyed best in the summer, the juxtaposition of the freezing ice cream and the warm churro made the treat even more enjoyable.
Chubby’s Jamaican Kitchen
Not only does Chubby’s serve up delicious and authentic Jamaican cuisine, but their restaurant is an Instagram dream. The inside is covered in pink lights and plants and the whole restaurant smells like smoky pork and fried plantains. They also offer a full menu of fancy cocktails topped with edible flowers and whipped egg whites! The food was delicious – we ordered the jerk pork, fried plantains and jasmine rice, and it was the perfect addition to our 4 day Toronto itinerary.
Sometimes while traveling, a girl just needs a full brunch and a spicy Bloody Mary. Eggspectation is the perfect combination of American brunch with a Canadian twist. Now I’m convinced that the only thing that makes poutine better is a fried egg on top!
Little Italy’s Pizzeria via Mercanti
What better place for a girl missing Italy than a pizzeria in Little Italy? Pizzeria via Mercanti was a little slice of heaven with tasty vino, fluffy Neapolitan pizza, and an Italian-speaking waitstaff. We enjoyed some authentic Neapolitan pizza and ended the meal the right way, with an espresso and an ice-cold limoncello.
Even in the frigid Canadian winter, there’s plenty to see, do and eat in Toronto! I recommend staying for at least a long weekend to truly enjoy your time there.
Thanks for reading and if you enjoyed this 4 day Toronto itinerary don’t forget to subscribe to my blog and follow my adventures on Instagram @madisonfootsteps! You also might enjoy my posts…