Tourist trap or worthwhile attraction? We all hesitate about before shelling out cash for tickets, and let's be honest – not all sights are worth the hype. Here are some things to do in Toronto that have earned their buzz.

Toronto city skyline at twilight, with rainbow-colored reflections in the water and the CN Tower in the middle
Dominating the Toronto Skyline, the CN Tower is must-do activity for any visitor © Deejpilot / Getty Images

CN Tower

The number one attraction every Torontonian will tell you to visit is the much-loved CN Tower. An elevator ride to the top leads to incredible city views, and the 360 Restaurant offers a revolving panorama. Dining at the restaurant gives you free access to the lookout and is definitely more worth it than purchasing tickets to the lookout alone.

Sharks swim overhead in a clear walkway within a very large aquarium tank
Surround yourself in marine life at Ripley's Aquarium © Jessica Lam / Lonely Planet

Ripley's Aquarium

Ripley's Aquarium is home to sharks, turtles and all kinds of friendly sea creatures. Explore it with the family or ride solo – there's plenty to see and do around the aquarium. It's located right next to the CN Tower.

A very tall fountain is seen outside of the stone, castle-like facade of Casa Loma in Toronto
It's hard to overstate the old-world beauty of Casa Loma © Jessica Lam / Lonely Planet

Casa Loma

Casa Loma is a heritage landmark and museum dating to the early 1900s. The Gothic-style mansion and gardens are a unique attraction in the city and a popular venue for weddings. If you're feeling adventurous, you can try out the escape room.

A hand holds out a funnel cake, cooked to a deep brown, with a dollop of soft-serve ice cream on top of it.
Pick up a funnel cake at Canada's Wonderland. You're welcome © Jessica Lam / Lonely Planet

Canada's Wonderland

Enjoy rollercoasters and funnel cakes at Canada's Wonderland, located just north of downtown Toronto. With 17 rollercoasters and a massive waterpark, it's the largest theme park in the nation.

Rich maroon walls and blonde wood floors mark a museum gallery with dozens of framed artworks on every wall
The Art Gallery of Ontario is a favorite of local Torontonians © Jessica Lam / Lonely Planet

Art Gallery of Ontario

It's no surprise the Art Gallery of Ontario is a favorite spot for many locals. The AGO is home to a massive collection of art from both Canada and the world, and it also features special exhibitions. Entrance is free for everyone 25 and under, and free for all ages Wednesday evenings.

The imposing facade of the Aga Khan museum in Toronto is an angular, granite, minimalist wall
Step back in time with the Islamic treasures at the Aga Khan Museum © Jessica Lam / Lonely Planet

Aga Khan Museum

The Aga Khan Museum is a stunning masterpiece inside and out, housed in a magnificent granite building. Filled with Islamic artifacts from the last 1,000 years, you'll be transported back in time. Entrance is free on Wednesday evenings.

Photo of old brick towers of the chic Distillery District with new condos and downtown skyscrapers in the background
The hip Distillery District is one of the most popular destinations in Toronto for visitors © benedek / Getty Images

Distillery District

Art galleries, shopping boutiques and restaurants line the cobblestone streets of this small but trendy neighborhood, once home to a historic whiskey distillery. Grab a cup of joe at Arvo Coffee, snap photos of the art installations and see a show at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts. The Distillery District is also home to the Toronto Christmas Market, which takes over during the holiday season.

People interact around a large fountain, with giant rainbow colored letters spelling out Toronto nearby
There's always something going on at Nathan Phillips Square, no matter when you visit Toronto © Jessica Lam / Lonely Planet

Nathan Phillips Square

What's a visit to Toronto without stopping by Nathan Phillips Square? With the addition of the colorful 'Toronto' sign from the 2015 Pan Am Games, it's now even more worth the visit. It plays host to so many festivals and fun events, you're likely to catch one while you're here. During the holidays, the square becomes a winter wonderland where you can skate under the stars.

City of Toronto View from Toronto Island Park, with canoes in the foreground and the skyline behind
There's lots of outdoor activities to be found on the Toronto Islands © AmArtPhotography / Getty Images

Toronto Islands

Take a ferry over to the Toronto Islands and spend a day cycling or relaxing on the beach. Kids especially will enjoy Centre Island for some fun rides and farm animals.

A plant presses up against a pane of glass held in by white painted rails
A walk among the plants at Allan Gardens Conservatory is a calm green oasis near the city © Jessica Lam / Lonely Planet

Allan Gardens

Allan Gardens is a conservatory and botanical garden filled with lush greenery and tropical plants. Opened in 1858, it's one of Toronto's oldest parks and a historic landmark. It's open year-round and entrance is free.

An art nouveau mural and a psychadelic colored car are seen in the trendy neighborhood of Kensington in Toronto
Kensington Market is one of the quirkiest neighborhoods in Toronto © Jessica Lam / Lonely Planet

Kensington Market

Kensington Market has been home to many different cultures over the years, and you can clearly see their influence in the diverse shops lining the neighborhood. From international food to vintage boutiques and eclectic murals, it's a fun neighborhood to explore. Summer brings Pedestrian Sundays, where the neighborhood is completely car-free.

Vibrantly colored street art is seen all over the walls of an alleyway
Graffiti Alley might not be in every guide book, but it's an unmissable adventure © Jessica Lam / Lonely Planet

Graffiti Alley

Graffiti Alley isn't an official tourist attraction, but it's so popular, it might as well be one. Located in a small section of alleyways in the west end of Toronto, you'll find street art by all kinds of local artists. Graffiti Alley gets busy on nice days, so be sure to visit during the early morning to avoid the crowds.

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