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The best free things to do in Toronto

While Toronto can be an expensive city to visit, there are still plenty of fun things you can do for free. From admiring works of art to hiking in the city, you’ll definitely be able to find budget-friendly activities worth adding to your itinerary. Here are some of our favorite free things to do in Toronto.

The curved reflective-glass walls of buildings support towering glowing billboards and digital signs as traffic and pedestrians walk through a square in Toronto; Free things to do in Toronto
Yonge Dundas Square in the downtown district is basically Toronto's Times Square © Robert Machado Noa / LightRocket via Getty Images

Yonge-Dundas Square

There’s almost always something happening at Yonge-Dundas Square during the summer, from ethnic food festivals to live music performances. Yonge-Dundas Square is basically the Times Square of Toronto, and it’s another great spot to people watch.

Art Gallery of Ontario

Feeling like an art connoisseur? The Art Gallery of Ontario is one of the largest galleries in North America, with an incredible collection of around 95,000 works. The AGO offers free admission on Wednesday evenings for everyone, and it’s free all year round for ages 25 and under.

Aga Khan Museum

The Aga Khan Museum is the first museum in the west dedicated to Islamic art and cultural artifacts. It’s housed in a stunning white granite building, surrounded by a beautiful Islamic garden. Like the AGO, the Aga Khan Museum also offers free admission on Wednesday evenings for everyone.

A lovely pink and white orchid opens up in a green display at the Allan Gardens botanical center in Toronto; Free things to do in Toronto
Allan Gardens is full of stunning and exotic specimens © Jessica Lam / Lonely Planet

Allan Gardens Conservatory

Allan Gardens is a beautiful indoor botanical garden filled with lush greenery and colorful florals. Be careful when taking photos though (even with your smartphone), as the gardens staff tends to push for photography permits.

Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery

Enjoy contemporary works of art changing from season to season, all for free. It’s not a particularly busy spot, so you’re likely to have the exhibitions all to yourself. The Power Plant is located right by Toronto’s Harbourfront.

Toronto Botanical Gardens

Can’t get enough of plants? One of our favorite free things to do in Toronto is to venture a little bit outside downtown to the Toronto Botanical Gardens, which is made up of 17 themed gardens.

Arches are reflected in a pool below as we look across the water in Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto; Free things to do in Toronto
Nathan Phillips Square is a centerpiece of Toronto, directly in front of City Hall © Jessica Lam / Lonely Planet

Nathan Phillips Square

What better way to show you’re visiting Toronto than by taking a photo in front of the big and bold Toronto sign? Find it right in front of City Hall at Nathan Phillips Square. The square itself is not too shabby, and it’s a great spot to do some people watching (or tourist watching).

Canadian Opera Company

Fancy seeing a show? Watch a performance at the stunning Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts building. The Canadian Opera Company plays host to a free concert series from September through May, where you can see performances by established and emerging artists across different genres.

Graffiti Alley

Street art enthusiasts will surely appreciate Graffiti Alley, one of Toronto’s most picturesque areas. Street art is legal here, and you’ll see new works from time to time. Don’t be scared away – you’ll often find many locals and tourists taking photos of the cool murals.

St Lawrence Market during the daytime. A motioned blurred Beck Taxi crosses the scene of the famous place. Free things to do in Toronto
The sights, sounds, smells and tastes are almost overwhelming at the St Lawrence Market © Robert Machado Noa / LightRocket via Getty Images

St Lawrence Market

Take a look around the historic St Lawrence Market and window shop from more than 120 vendors and artisans. It’ll be hard to resist buying anything with all the delicious aromas surrounding you, but at least it’ll be fun to walk around. Fun fact: St Lawrence Market has been around for more than 200 years.

Trinity Bellwoods Park

A popular destination for artsy folk and those who enjoy a legal drink in a public park, Trinity Bellwoods is a lovely Queen West park worth a visit. If you’re craving something sweet, stop by iHalo Krunch next door for some charcoal soft serve.

Evergreen Brick Works

Take a look at the unique art installations, wander around the park, and shop at the weekend farmers market. Evergreen Brick Works is a lovely and relaxing space just outside of the city, perfect for families.

A person walks their dog through High Park in Toronto as the leaves on the trees turn orange; Free things to do in Toronto
High Park in Toronto is at its most beautiful when the leaves are changing colors © Jessica Lam / Lonely Planet

High Park Zoo

High Park is a gem in itself, and the zoo is just another fun addition. The High Park Zoo is small, but still worth a visit, especially with kids. In spring, you might be lucky enough to see cherry blossoms blooming, and if it’s fall you’ll definitely enjoy the autumn leaves changing colors.

Woodbine Beach

As the largest beach in the city, Woodbine Beach is a summer hot spot for families and volleyball enthusiasts alike. It’s located in the Beaches neighborhood of Toronto’s East End, which is a cute area to explore.

Scarborough Bluffs

The Scarborough Bluffs are an incredible escape from the city, within the city. Gaze at the cliffs towering over the beach, where you’ll feel more like you’re in Italy than Toronto. You can drive straight to the top of the Bluffs or hike up from the parking lot.

Just back from: Toronto & the Niagara Peninsula

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