Five neighbourhoods to visit in Toronto
Canada's largest and arguably coolest city, Toronto was built on waves of immigration and it shows in the diversity of its neighbourhoods. In a short time, its two and a half million residents have developed their locales to reflect both its unique history and its modern day prosperity.
From Little Portugal to the Toronto Islands to Greektown, visitors can spend weeks exploring the unique delights of each area.
To seek out its most vibrant neighbourhoods, the Flexicover team went over to investigate - and while each 'hood’ has its own charm and appeal, here are five areas we can't recommend enough.
The Hampstead of Toronto, Yorkville not only benefits from great transport links (it's a stop on their sparse metro system) but also high-end shops and pretty houses and apartments - that explains why it's the hub of activity during the famed Toronto International Film Festival. Yet all year around, its quaint atmosphere and heaps of charm means it's a great place to visit. Dubbed the Mink Mile, its shopping street is home to high-end brands like Tiffany & Co, Chanel, Prada and Burberry. Stop for a cocktail on the rooftop bar of The Pilot, or exquisite Italian food at celebrity hangout Sotto Sotto.
If it was possible to bottle the vibe in the hip Kensington Market area, we'd have a precious commodity on our hands. In the north east of the city and appealingly near to the University of Toronto, reasonable landlords have ensured the place remains affordable, fostering a community of creatives and free-thinkers who've resisted attempts to change the area despite its growing commercial appeal. They've shooed away a Starbucks, Wal-mart and Nike stores, ensuring that the place remains dotted with independent restaurants and cafes, homefront stores and dive bars - and it's all the better for it. Check out Sneaky Dee's or Ronnie's as the unlikely hubs of the area at night.
West Queen West
For those that prefer more gentrification in their independent neighbourhoods, West Queen West is ideal. Long-standing shops and buildings stand alongside refurbished arts, crafts and gift stores, many selling handmade or Canadian products. The creativity is also found in the buzzy restaurants of Ossington Street, with the Bang Bang ice cream store a local favourite (don't leave without trying the burnt toffee ice cream). This fast-changing area also houses two upscale boutique hotels: The Drake and The Gladstone. With art on the walls, gin at the bar and Edison lighting hanging from the rafters, both are perfect for any Shoreditch-dwellers looking for a home away from home.
There's not the dramatic change of architecture that the name suggests, but Toronto's Old Town is an interesting sight nonetheless. The jewel in its crown is St. Lawrence Market, a food market with two floors of Canada's most weird and wonderful ingredients. From slabs of pork belly to stalls selling all manner of rice, it's a foodie's paradise. Sweet shops sell a range of maple syrups that make for perfect gifts, while visitors with a kitchen should use the opportunity to try out Canada's native fruit and veg, like the unusual-looking fiddleheads. On Sundays, when the food market is closed, a second market opens further down the road selling a range of antiques and oddities. Give yourself a couple of hours to browse the stalls and chat to the engaging characters who run them.
Every major city has a significant Chinatown, and thanks to its considerable Chinese population, Toronto's is a hub of activity. Along Spadina Avenue, the wares of the Chinese shops spill out onto the street, tempting passers-by. But nothing tempts as much as the wafts of delicious food emanating from the restaurants. The area houses an array of pan-Asian restaurants from Thai to Vietnamese, serving expertly created authentic food to locals at excellent prices. It's also the place to go for cheap electronics and random homewares and gifts - a must-have aspect in any modern city.
Wherever your travels take you this year it’s good to know that Flexicover are committed to providing you with the highest level of protection to ensure that you are safe and secure 24 hours a day when away.