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  • Writer's pictureSun Country

Seize the summer: 10 must-visit neighborhoods in Toronto for first-timers

Two friends laughing on a Toronto rooftop

Toronto is often hailed as one of the most multicultural cities in the world, and this claim is not without merit. More than half of Toronto’s population is born outside of Canada, representing over 200 distinct ethnic origins and more than 140 languages and dialects. The city is a global mosaic, so it’s no surprise that this rich blend of cultures, traditions, and cuisines makes Toronto a perfect place to discover new things. (And it’s only a 2-hour trip on our nonstop flight from Minneapolis/St. Paul!) 

With over 140 neighborhoods, picking and choosing what to see in Toronto can be overwhelming. Here is a quick list of 10 of our recommended ‘first-timer’ neighborhoods to give you a taste and a jumping-off point to explore what Toronto has to offer. 


  1. The Distillery District: Once home to the largest distillery in the world, the Distillery District is now a pedestrian-only zone with cobbled streets lined with art galleries, boutiques, and restaurants. The Victorian-era architecture and character make it a must-visit any time of the year.  

The distillery district of Toronto

  1. Yorkville: The neighborhood now known as Yorkville was once the first suburb of Toronto. Now, if luxury shopping and fine dining are on your agenda, Yorkville is filled with options. It is a chic spot to see, with high-end boutiques and brands, art galleries, and the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) nearby.  

  1. Kensington Market: An eclectic and vibrant neighborhood, Kensington Market is a mesh of cultures from around the world. Here, you’ll find vintage shops, international foods, and colorful street art in this bohemian part of town.  

  1. Chinatown: Chinatown is just a short distance from Kensington Market. One of the largest Chinatowns in North America, Toronto’s is a bustling hub of culture, cuisine, and commerce. From dim sum to herbal medicine shops, it’s a sensory feast.  

  1. The Entertainment District: Home to the CN Tower, Rogers Centre, theatres, and nightlife hotspots, the Entertainment District is where the city comes to life. Whether you are up for a Broadway-style show or just a night out, you can always find something to do.  

Night shot of street with blue lights in the entertainment district of Toronto

  1. Harbourfront/Waterfront: Centrally located in the city and running along Lake Ontario is Harbourfront, also referred to as Waterfront. It offers picturesque water views, cultural festivals, boat tours, and a chance to stroll through parks along the water.  

Boats in the harbourfront or waterfront district of Toronto

  1. Cabbagetown: Cabbagetown gets its unique name from the Irish immigrants who used to grow cabbages in their front yards. Today, it is a picturesque neighborhood known for its restored Victorian homes, tree-lined streets, local cafes, and small parks. Oh, and don’t forget the Riverdale Farm - a 7.5-acre city-operated farm that’s a treat for both kids and adults alike.

Row of old houses in Toronto

  1. Roncesvalles: Known affectionately as “Roncy” by locals, this neighborhood boasts a strong Polish heritage. Its mix of bakeries, cafes, boutiques, and even a repertory cinema makes it a charming and quieter escape from the city’s hustle. As a bonus, High Park is just a short walk west, featuring more than 400 acres (about half the area of Central Park in New York City) of natural areas and maintained grounds, perfect for a stroll or just taking in nature.  

  1. Leslieville: Leslieville is a laid-back neighborhood with indie shops, tree-lined streets, and a mix of everything from brunch spots to local pubs. Its residential charm and artsy vibe make it a unique stop for those wanting a slower pace from the dense downtown core.  

  1. Little Portugal: While the Portuguese influence is strong here, with bakeries serving traditional pastries and cafes brewing Galão, it’s also a diverse space with numerous cultures represented. A stroll here means encountering street art, dining patios, and live street music.

Whether you are a first-time visitor or someone rediscovering Toronto, every corner of this city offers a fresh perspective, a new story, and a unique flavor. 


Ready to experience the culture for yourself? Get To Going. 


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