Toronto is one of the world's most diverse cultural, culinary and entertainment communities with over 50% of the population being foreign born. Greeks have been quilted into the fabric of Toronto for over 100 years, helping shape this dynamic cosmopolitan destination. This blog is intended to provide tourists a quick guide to the top must-see locations in Toronto, while uncovering some of the nearby Greek establishments along the way. Our trip will start in the core of the city, and take you to a variety of locations which are complemented with Toronto's Hellenic touch. Depending on how much time is allocated for site-seeing, this trip can be squeezed into 1 or two days. An early day is strongly suggested to maximize your experience and your photo album.
CN Tower: The most visible attraction in the city is the CN Tower. Bring a camera, credit card and time. There is a lot to do in this location. Driving in the city can be challenging for tourists, but Front Street has multiple public and private parking lots for drivers, otherwise public transportation is a good choice as the area is accessible via subway or GO Train. The CN Tower offers one of the best scenic views of the city. For daring individuals, take a step out onto the Sky Walk.
Ripley's Aquarium: Visit Toronto's newest attraction at the base of the CN Tower. While there are no Greek fish swimming in the tanks, the Shark tunnel is a pretty surreal experience.
CANADA 150: At the base of the CN Tower, immediately outside of Ripley's, is usually a line up for photo opportunities. Take a quick shot of the CANADA 150 sign, and then another at the shark infested waterfall across the square.
Roundhouse: Across the pedestrian friendly street is the old Roundhouse train station. Commemorating Toronto's train history, this facility provides a variety of photo opportunities with a variety of historical and modern trains.
Stadiums and Arenas: Sport fanatics will love this portion of the tour. Rogers Centre is the home of the Toronto Blue Jays while the Air Canada Centre is home to the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Raptors. For a dining experience, visit Harbour 60 on Lakeshore.
Wave Deck: Harbourfront is located just south of the CN Tower area, and is a short walk away to the lake. Surrounded by towering condos is a pedestrian friendly neighbourhood with scenic views of the harbour, the Toronto islands and Billy Bishop airport. Take a few moments to pose for some amazing photo at one of the wave decks. This promenade is located along the water's edge, skimming Lake Ontario with its wooden waves.
Greek Food Stops: Walk along harbourfront and enjoy a tasty Greek gyros at Alexandros. This authentic establishment nestled right next to the Westin Harbour Castle hotel, overlooking the pier. Its nothing fancy, but the food is satisfying for your morning tour. If your walk takes you up Bay Street, stop into the food court at First Canadian place and enjoy a meal at one of the iconic Jimmy the Greek quick serve establishments. For a full dining experience in the financial district, be sure to impress your guests with a stop into Volos Restaurant.
Flatiron Building: For a great photo opportunity, travel to St. Lawrence Market area up Jarvis Street. Just west along Front Street you will find the iconic Flatiron building. Its a great backdrop for photos where old meets new. The new dog fountain at Berzy park is on the West side of the building for another great photo.
Hockey Hall of Fame: Down the street at Yonge Street is the home of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Take photos with your Greek hockey players, Nick Kypreos and Chris Chelios. Located in the underground concourse about 50 metres from the HHOF is a Jimmy the Greek franchise location.
City Hall: A short drive up Bay Street will take you to Nathan Philips square. Look for a Green P Parking entrance which will take you under the square. Once you arrive to the surface, there are great photo opportunities. Your backdrop can include the curvy City Hall, the Toronto sign, the ice rink in the winter, or Old City Hall across the street. If you arrive at Nathan Phillips square around March 25 or October 1, look for the Greek or Cypriot flag waving on the upper deck to commemorate each country's independence day.
Eaton Centre: This majestic shopping centre is home to three floors of indoor shops, boutiques, brand names and great restaurants. Outside on the north-east entrance is Dundas Square. Take in the lights, signs and downtown scenery along with a variety of interesting characters that populate the streets.
St. George Greek Orthodox Church: A couple blocks east on Bond Street is Canada's first Greek Orthodox church, St. George. Originally build as a Jewish synagogue, it was later converted to a Greek church to serve the growing Hellenic population. Unless there are services, the church is typically closed to the public, but a simple ring of the buzzer will signal the office to grant you access to some of the city's best iconography writing.
Queens Park: Travel West along Dundas, and north on University Avenue too arrive at Queen's Park. This is the home of Ontario's Legislature. Standing on the stairs of the main entrance will provide a great backdrop of the city. Similar to Nathan Philips square, there are also Greek and Cypriot flag raising on the south-west side of the building around March 25 and October 1. Travelling along Wellesley you will find Coach House Restaurant, which is a Greek owned family diner that has been serving the neighbourhood for over 40 years.
ROM: Just north of Queen's Park is the Royal Ontario Museum. Be sure to visit the Greek and Roman section on the third floor and take photos of Zeus, Aphrodite and Athena.
University of Toronto: Just west of Queens Park, follow Hart House Circle for some great photo opportunities next to some of Toronto's few historical buildings. UofT is home to one of three Hellenic Student Associations in the city. The others being located at York University and Ryerson University.
Yorkville: Just north of the ROM on Bloor Street is the finest destination for upscale shopping in the city. The neighbourhood has some hidden gems one block north with boutiques and cafes on Cumberland Street and Yorkville Avenue. For a great lunch, Fat Lamb Souvlaki is located in the Yorkville neighbourhood at Yonge and Scollard. Just don't go on Monday when they are closed.
Casa Loma: Many tourists will be surprised to find that Toronto has its own castle. From the ROM, simply travel north along Bay and onto Davenport. You will not miss the large stone wall on the north side of George Brown College. The facility offers guided tours and a nice view of the city from the garden.
Coffee Stop: For a quick coffee break, visit George and Bill at Kurtis Coffee located at St. Clair and Rushton Dr. While they don't serve Greek coffee, these Greeks have been in the coffee business for over 40 years.
Hellenic Home for the Aged: Toronto's first Hellenic Home for the aged is located in this neighbourhood. Be sure to stop into this facility to visit any relatives.
Greek Food Stop: Travel back along Bloor Street. At Ossington, you will find Mamakas Taverna. Its a great little restaurant in the district of old Greek town where there are still a couple store fronts from decades past. To wrap up your tour of Toronto, we suggest making your way across Bloor to The Danforth for a stroll along the city's Greektown.