While Toronto can be an expensive city to visit, there are still plenty of fun things you can do for free. From admiring works of art to hiking in the city, you’ll definitely be able to find budget-friendly activities worth adding to your itinerary. Here are some of our favorite free things to do in Toronto.
There’s almost always something happening at Yonge-Dundas Square during the summer, from ethnic food festivals to live music performances. Yonge-Dundas Square is basically the Times Square of Toronto, and it’s another great spot to people watch.
Art Gallery of Ontario
Feeling like an art connoisseur? The Art Gallery of Ontario is one of the largest galleries in North America, with an incredible collection of around 95,000 works. The AGO offers free admission on Wednesday evenings for everyone, and it’s free all year round for ages 25 and under.
Aga Khan Museum
The Aga Khan Museum is the first museum in the west dedicated to Islamic art and cultural artifacts. It’s housed in a stunning white granite building, surrounded by a beautiful Islamic garden. Like the AGO, the Aga Khan Museum also offers free admission on Wednesday evenings for everyone.
Allan Gardens Conservatory
Allan Gardens is a beautiful indoor botanical garden filled with lush greenery and colorful florals. Be careful when taking photos though (even with your smartphone), as the gardens staff tends to push for photography permits.
Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery
Enjoy contemporary works of art changing from season to season, all for free. It’s not a particularly busy spot, so you’re likely to have the exhibitions all to yourself. The Power Plant is located right by Toronto’s Harbourfront.
Toronto Botanical Gardens
Can’t get enough of plants? One of our favorite free things to do in Toronto is to venture a little bit outside downtown to the Toronto Botanical Gardens, which is made up of 17 themed gardens.
Nathan Phillips Square
What better way to show you’re visiting Toronto than by taking a photo in front of the big and bold Toronto sign? Find it right in front of City Hall at Nathan Phillips Square. The square itself is not too shabby, and it’s a great spot to do some people watching (or tourist watching).
Canadian Opera Company
Fancy seeing a show? Watch a performance at the stunning Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts building. The Canadian Opera Company plays host to a free concert series from September through May, where you can see performances by established and emerging artists across different genres.
Street art enthusiasts will surely appreciate Graffiti Alley, one of Toronto’s most picturesque areas. Street art is legal here, and you’ll see new works from time to time. Don’t be scared away – you’ll often find many locals and tourists taking photos of the cool murals.
St Lawrence Market
Take a look around the historic St Lawrence Market and window shop from more than 120 vendors and artisans. It’ll be hard to resist buying anything with all the delicious aromas surrounding you, but at least it’ll be fun to walk around. Fun fact: St Lawrence Market has been around for more than 200 years.
Trinity Bellwoods Park
A popular destination for artsy folk and those who enjoy a legal drink in a public park, Trinity Bellwoods is a lovely Queen West park worth a visit. If you’re craving something sweet, stop by iHalo Krunch next door for some charcoal soft serve.
Evergreen Brick Works
Take a look at the unique art installations, wander around the park, and shop at the weekend farmers’ market. Evergreen Brick Works is a lovely and relaxing space just outside of the city, perfect for families.
High Park Zoo
High Park is a gem in itself, and the zoo is just another fun addition. The High Park Zoo is small but still worth a visit, especially with kids. In spring, you might be lucky enough to see cherry blossoms blooming, and if it’s fall you’ll definitely enjoy the autumn leaves changing colors.
As the largest beach in the city, Woodbine Beach is a summer hot spot for families and volleyball enthusiasts alike. It’s located in the Beaches neighborhood of Toronto’s East End, which is a cute area to explore.
The Scarborough Bluffs are an incredible escape from the city, within the city. Gaze at the cliffs towering over the beach, where you’ll feel more like you’re in Italy than Toronto. You can drive straight to the top of the Bluffs or hike up from the parking lot.
By: JESSICA LAM