Toronto is a city of diverse neighbourhoods. From historic cobbled streets and luxe shopping meccas to natural landscapes and eclectic gems, Toronto neighbourhoods are best explored on foot at your own pace, camera in hand. Here are some of the most scenic self-guided tours to give you a taste of everything Toronto has to offer.
The cobbled streets of the Distillery District, one of the most historic Toronto neighbourhoods, make up the largest and best-preserved collection of Victorian industrial architecture in North America. Once a thriving whiskey distillery, the pedestrian-only village is now home to cafes, art galleries, restaurants, and more than 80 boutique shops, like the exquisite Italian menswear store, Gentil Uomo. Start at the end of Gristmill Lane off Parliament Street for art galleries, and then wander down to central Trinity Street. If you’re a beer lover, the thirst-quenching beer and history tour, with local craft beer stops like the Mill Street Brew Pub on Tank House Lane, will surprise you with a wealth of idiosyncratic historical anecdotes about the area. And along the way, stop for a sweet treat at the decadently delicious Sweet Escape Patisserie.
Lower Don River Trail
Away from the busier streets of many Toronto neighbourhoods lies the scenic Lower Don River Trail. The bucolic walk traces the path of the river down to Lake Ontario, and is the perfect place to find a peaceful respite in the heart of the city. There are several sites worth visiting along the way, too, including the community environmental centre, Evergreen Brickworks, once a quarry that made the bricks used to construct many of Canada’s most treasured heritage buildings and national landmarks—including Toronto’s Massey Hall and Casa Loma Stables.
Kensington Market is one of the most vibrant and diverse neighbourhoods in the city, comprised of a tightly knit grid of streets home to some of the most genuine vintage clothing stores and eclectic shops. Start at the bottom of Kensington Avenue and walk north, popping your head into time-warp boutiques like Dancing Days and Flash Back. Inside the Global Cheese Shoppe at the end of the road is an unparalleled homage to fromage with towering piles of every kind of cheese you could ask for: local sweet and nutty Canadian-farmer Swiss, a soft surface-ripened German rougette, and the like. The airy Blue Banana Market is filled with quirky one-of-a-kind finds to suit a wide range of tastes. Blue Banana stocks everything from handmade jewelry to hammocks to hot sauce, and features many local artisans’ products.