How to Visit Toronto on a Budget

toronto feature

Toronto is the largest city in Canada and home to soaring skyscrapers, world class entertainment, and many thriving multicultural neighborhoods. Although a visit to the Ontario capital doesn’t always come cheap, there’s still plenty to see and do if you’re visiting Toronto on a budget.

From street food to historic markets and even a European-style castle, this city has something for everyone. Keep reading to find out how you can visit Toronto on a budget.


Toronto on a budget: Know before you go


They’re dollars, but different

Canada’s currency is the Canadian Dollar (CAD). 1 CAD = 0.79 USD. Also, don’t toss those coins. Canada has $1 and $2 coins, commonly known as the loonie and the toonie, respectively.


The best time to visit Toronto

Your best bet is to visit Toronto in early fall or late spring. Of course, summer brings the best weather and most activities. But summer also means more crowds and higher hotel prices. These in-between times bring near-perfect weather, lower price tags, and fewer tourists.


Drop the second ‘T’

Locals can spot a tourist by the way they pronounce Toronto, which should sound more like “Toronno” or even “Tronno”. Whichever you decide to say, just please don’t call it ‘The 6’.




Free and cheap things to do in Toronto


Hit the beaches


Like Chicago’s beaches along Lake Michigan, Toronto has several public beaches along Lake Ontario where you can lounge the day away. Head to ‘The Beaches’ neighborhood and stroll along the boardwalk before stopping at the popular Woodbine Beach. Or visit the Insta-famous Sugar Beach, which is more of an urban park, as there’s no swimming allowed.


Taste your way through St. Lawrence Market


More than 200 years old, St. Lawrence Market is a Toronto institution. Follow your nose and let it guide you through the stalls of roughly 200 vendors ranging from cheese shops and fishmongers to artisan bakeries and everything in between. If you’re playing tourist, you simply can’t leave without trying the famous Peameal Bacon Sandwich from Carousel Bakery – a Canadian delicacy.


Wander through a stunning castle at Casa Loma


Believe it or not, bustling Toronto is home to a beautiful castle that’s fit for European standards. Casa Loma was built in 1914 by Sir Henry Pellatt, an electricity multimillionaire and soldier who built the castle as his personal home. It took 3 years and $3.5 million to build. After Pellatt fell bankrupt, the house eventually became a city-owned landmark.

Today, you can tours of the impressive building and even try an escape room inside the castle!


Explore the Toronto islands

toronto islands

That’s right – islands right here in the city. Toronto Island Park is a chain of islands right across from downtown Toronto. Here, you can spend an entire day hitting the beach, riding bikes, having a picnic, playing volleyball, visiting an animal farm, and so much more. The islands are all connected so you can easily walk or ride between them. To get there, simply take the ferry from the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal.


Take in the views of the CN Tower

toronto nightlife

No trip to Toronto is complete without a visit to the city’s most iconic landmark. At over 1,800 feet tall, the CN tower offers spectacular skyline views of the city and Lake Ontario – the more daring can even stand on famous Glass Floor 1,222 feet above street level.

The CN tower is one of the Wonders of the Modern World, a title it shares with the Empire State Building in New York, the Chunnel from London to France, and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The glass floor elevator has also been named the ‘World’s #1 Elevator Ride’, traveling at a speed of 15 miles per hour with dizzying views on every side.

If you don’t want to pay $40 CAD for a trip to the top, check out some of the best ground-level viewing spots at Harbourfront Centre, Toronto Island or the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal.


See a Blue Jays Game

blue jays game baseball

If you’re in Toronto during the summer months, there’s no better way to experience the local sports scene than a Blue Jays Game at the Rogers Centre.

While tickets to a hockey game in this Canadian city might set you back a few hundred dollars, nosebleed seats at a Jays game often come in less than $15. If the weather’s nice, they’ll even open the rooftop, giving you a killer view of the CN Tower right next door.


Visit the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO)

art gallery

If you’re an art fan, there’s no better place to visit in Toronto on a budget than the AGO. Home to over 36,000 pieces of art and ever-changing special collections, the museum will impress any art lover.

Its convenient location in the heart of downtown also makes it easy to fit onto your itinerary. While you’re in the area you might visit Chinatown, the Kensington Market, or do some shopping at the Eaten Centre.

Best of all? If you visit the AGO on a Wednesday night between 6-9pm, tickets are free! Be sure to book online in advance.


Where to stay in Toronto on a budget


The Planet Traveler Hostel

Situated in a restored historic house in the bustling Kensington Market neighborhood, the Planet Traveler Hostel prides itself on using green energy technology, boasting features like solar-heated hot water. As a bonus, the rooftop lounge offers a great skyline view.


HI Toronto

The HI Toronto outpost of this international chain offers one of the best bangs for your buck. It’s located within walking distance to most of Toronto’s top attractions, plans plenty of social activities, and has a popular cave-like bar onsite called The Cavern Bar.


Gladstone House

Situated in a 19th-century Victorian building, Gladstone House is simultaneously both historic and cutting edge. Newly renovated and scheduled to reopen this month, each room will feature unique works by local Toronto artists.


The Annex Hotel

The chic Annex Hotel is brimming with unique touches and modern features. Before you arrive,  check-in is done online, meaning no front desk. Inside, the rooms are each designed differently with local accents and decor. There’s also a burger joint and wine bar on site.


cn tower


Cheap flights to Toronto

Recently, Dollar Flight Club members have saved between 70-90% on cheap flights to Toronto. On average, our members spent $$$ on their tickets and saved over $$$ per ticket. Here are a few samples of cheap flight deals that Dollar Flight Club members have received recently.

New York City (JFK) to Toronto (YYZ)

Price with Dollar Flight Club: $$$

Average Price: $$$

Boston (BOS) to Toronto (YYZ)

Price with Dollar Flight Club: $$$

Average Price: $$$

Los Angeles (LAX) to Toronto (YYZ)

Price with Dollar Flight Club: $$$

Average Price: $$$


toronto food


Where to eat in Toronto on a budget

Frankie’s Diner

This classic spot has been serving ‘Toronto’s best burgers’ since 1977. Frankie’s Original Burger costs a mere $6.75. However, if you’ve got the cash, you can splurge for one of the tricked-out burgers like the ‘Call 911’ – topped with pulled pork, bacon, deep-fried pickles, onion rings, deep-fried jalapenos, fried egg, and cheese.


Banh Mi Boys

Banh Mi Boys is a small local chain with 3 locations throughout Toronto, where they put a modern spin on the traditional Vietnamese sandwich. Each banh mi is priced between $6.50 to $8.50 and comes in innovative flavors like braised beef, pulled pork, lemongrass tofu, and squid. Other options include steamed bao, tacos, and kimchi fries.


Juicy Dumpling Chinatown

Toronto’s Chinatown is a destination in itself, so it’s no surprise that you can find some of the most delicious cheap eats in this part of town. Juicy Dumpling’s famous Shanghai-style soup dumplings can be had for just $2.99 for 6. Don’t sleep on the fried chicken or scallion pancakes though.


Patties Express

Another successful, homegrown joint that has expanded to a small chain of 3 stores. Patties Express does just 2 things and they do them very well –  perfectly flaky baked Jamaican patties and coco bread. Their best deal is easily 2 patties and a can of soda for just over $5. Flavor options are ground beef, curry chicken (spicy), or mixed vegetables.


Street Sausage

The best meal in Toronto on a budget – the sausage cart. Like the hot dog stands in New York city, you can find these vendors all of the city, but they’re especially prevalent in tourist hotspots around the Rogers Centre and CN Tower.


city center


Start planning your trip to Toronto

A visit to Canada’s cultural capital doesn’t have to break the bank! There are plenty of free and cheap things to do if you’re visiting Toronto on a budget, from castles to markets and delicious street food.

Remember to save this budget travel guide and sign up to receive cheap flight deals, so you can start planning your trip to Toronto today!

  • Zach Anderson

    Zach was a digital marketer, copywriter, and flight deal expert at Dollar Flight Club where he helped 1 million people travel more. As a digital nomad, he is deeply passionate about location independence, Thai food, and helping others see the world affordably.

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