Toronto can be a very expensive city. Ask anyone who lives there, they’ll tell you the same. While skyrocketing real estate prices have made owning in Toronto almost impossible, visiting the big smoke can be done for less than you think, but only if you plan ahead and plan smart.
If you can’t let the dream of Toronto go, then hopefully this article will help you get your budget on and your trip off the ground.
Here are some tips to save money while traveling in Toronto.
Transport and Travel
I can’t advocate enough how booking flights early using price comparison websites are the way to begin any trip. You don’t even need to endlessly search for the cheapest option, online travel agencies like JustFly will do it for you! Ten minutes later you have multiple budget flights to choose from and you just have to choose what’s best for you.
As for traveling around Toronto? The Toronto Transit Commission (TCC), or known to us as ‘the subway,’ serves much of the city and its surrounding Boroughs. Still quite the money drainer, it is probably only worth it if you use it everyday. However it does give you unlimited options regarding how you spend your time! According to JustFly’s review, there are numerous 24 hour lines in the city, so you don’t have to be a slave to the transit clock!
Cost: $42.25 for a week ticket.
Things to do / see
Although a wealthy city, there are some attractions that are budget-friendly if you know where to look.
While there are many niche museums in Toronto, many of the cities larger museums offer free days. The Art Gallery Of Ontario is free on Wednesday evenings after six. The Bata Shoe Museum is pay what you can Wednesday and Thursday nights (Yes this is a museum about the history of shoes!).
If you feel you can spare it, a price tag does come with the Royal Ontario Museum. But it is the largest museum in Canada and by far the most impressive! If not keen on spending, still go even just to view the striking architecture of the building itself or to stand in the atrium for a glimpse of what the inside has to offer.
Cost: As of 2016 – $17 Adult, $15.50 Student (15-25) or Senior (65+), $14 Child (4-15), Infant free.
This downtown neighbourhood is absolutely loaded with vintage shops and cafes whilst offering some of the best Latin american produce. If street art is your thing, than Kensington is home to some of the most unique pieces in the city. It’s the perfect place to grab a camera and explore the various alleys that have been tagged over the decades.
If you happen to be around between May and September, the last Sunday of every month is known as Pedestrian Sundays. This is the only day of the month where no cars will be seen and roads are opened up as free public space. Be prepared to witness street parties, giant scrabble boards, and people running around trying to purchase the best spring ensemble within the hour with just $25. Why don’t you take your chance at the Kensington Catwalk Fashion Contest?
If you’re going in December? Don’t miss the annual Festival of Lights where you can join in the celebrations of winter solstice by lighting up the night sky with lanterns.
If you fancy more than just Latin American food, check out: How to Travel Cuba on the Cheap
Toronto’s most famous parades are always free. If you happen to plan your trip at the right time you should have no problem experiencing the massive festivities!
The annual Pride Parade traditionally runs in late June, marching down Yonge Street between Bloor and Dundas.
Thousands flock to the city to celebrate the Caribbean Carnival Parade. Running every weekend for three weeks from mid-July to mid-August, people enjoy a day of dancing, eating and people-watching.
For more than 100 years Toronto has put smiles on the faces of every family with it’s traditional Santa Clause parade. Check it out if you’re there on the third Sunday of November!
Where to eat
Toronto can not be Canada’s largest city without offering an abundance of food! Known for it’s ethically diverse dishes, they are also surprisingly affordable too (cheap eats can range from $1 – $12). This is true for restaurant or take- away meals, or even if you’re feeling street food like the iconic peameal bacon sandwich found in St. Lawrence Market!
If you’re a big food fanatic, check out: Photoblog: Night Food Markets in Indonesia
Where to stay
If opting for renting apartments with Air BnB or Roomarama, or even hostels, it’s always best to try and look a little outside of the city where prices are way more acceptable. Plus this means you will also make the most of your subway pass (see what I did there). Places such as Roncesvalles Village or the area around St. Lawrence Market are your best bet.
If this puts you too much out of pocket, you could also try your hand at couch surfing, camping or sleeping in your campa van (true story).
Check out other expensive city guides like: Big Money Cities on the Cheap: Montreal
Have you been to Toronto? How did you save money?