Many solo travellers love taking pictures. And why not? When you’re travelling on your own, you can stop as often as you want, and take as long as you want composing the perfect shot without worrying about your travel companions. But even solo, time is sometimes of the essence if you’re only visiting Toronto for a few days. Not to worry though, this post has you covered.
Where to go for great Toronto photos
Toronto’s most iconic images include old stone buildings, modern glass towers, and Lake Ontario. Check out this list to find out exactly where to go, and even where to stand, to capture those postcard-perfect shots.
Flatiron and skyscrapers
Stand on the south side of Front Street, just east of Church Street, to get this shot of the Gooderham Building (a.k.a Flatiron) with the towers of Brookfield Place, the Royal Bank and the CN Tower. From the median platform on Front Street, you’ll get the Flatiron centred between the towers. Watch out and wait for your light when crossing this tricky intersection.
Financial District buildings
Walk on the south side of Front Street, west of Church Street, for nice views of the Financial District buildings rising up behind a line of trees. The trees may look different after the revitalization of Berczy Park, and there may be some new buildings in the background. You’re in Toronto after all! This picture was taken approximately from the location of Winners, a discount clothing store.
The pink umbrellas create a cheery contrast to the blue lake and sky on a sunny day. Turn around and photograph downtown’s towers with the beach in the foreground. Or you may catch a huge ship unloading its cargo of sugar at The Redpath Sugar Refinery that gave this artificial beach its name.
Toronto is home to the largest collection of Victorian-era industrial architecture in North America. It’s called the Distillery District, site of the 19th century Gooderham and Worts Distillery. The 40 renovated buildings and 10 cobblestone streets offer endless photo opportunities. And because it’s completely pedestrian, you won’t have to worry about cars while you position yourself for the perfect shot. You can get really creative here, both with wide angles and close-up detail shots. The photo below shows a classic view.
Nathan Philip Square
There are several places in downtown Toronto where you can see the juxtaposition of old stone architecture and modern glass towers, but Nathan Philip Square is probably the best. The Old City Hall (now the Courthouse) with the towers of the Eaton Centre in the background is a classic shot. The views to the South (Financial District) and North (New City Hall) also make great urban pictures.
University of Toronto
Founded in 1827, the University of Toronto includes a collection of 19th century buildings in a variety of styles including Norman, Romanesque, and Revival. The leafy campus is very pleasant to wander around and photograph, if you ever tire of modern glass towers. Standing in front of the south entrance to the main building of University College, you have an unobstructed view of the CN tower.
Art Gallery of Ontario’s south wing
Although the front of the AGO looks quite impressive with its life-size ship hull design, the back (south wing) is more rarely photographed. A spiral titanium staircase sprouts out of a four-story glass wall which reflects the sky. The contrast between this modernist structure and the 19th century brick building in front of it is rather jarring, in a cool way. You can approach the south wing by walking through Grange Park, accessible from the northern end of John Street.
For a slightly unusual view of the waterfront, walk west of Harbourfront through the Music Garden, all the way to Bathurst Quay. You’ll find yourself right next to Ireland Park (memorial sculpture garden commemorating Irish immigration), and can also watch the planes taking off and landing at Toronto Islands’ Airport.
View from CN Tower
The ultimate bird’s-eye view of Toronto is going to cost you. The basic fare for going up to the CN Tower’s LookOut Level at 346 m (1136 ft) is CAD$35. It costs CAD$12 more to go up to the SkyPod at 447 m (1465 ft). Choose a clear day for best visibility. If you arrive a little before dusk, you can enjoy both daytime and nighttime views.
Skyline from Toronto Islands
This postcard view of Toronto’s skyline fronting the lake is taken from the Toronto Islands. You can stand in several spots to get a similar photo, including the Centre Island ferry boarding area (as shown here), Hanlan’s Point ferry area, Ward’s Island ferry area, and Ward’s village. If you want trees along the edges of your picture, look for a spot with a bench about halfway between Ward and Centre Island.
This is Toronto’s largest public park. You can spend most of a day wandering around. It features a restaurant, a large pond with swans, gardens, hiking trails, a dog park, and more. For one week in late April or early May, the cherry trees are in bloom. Keep an eye on their website to know the exact time. Most of the cherry trees (sakura) are near Hillside Gardens, between the restaurant and the pond. Bring a picnic, or come early to avoid the crowds. Fall is also especially beautiful with the trees changing colour. A true photographers’ delight.
Atrium at Brookfield Place
The cool atrium at Brookfield Place, with its arched “ribbed” ceiling, makes you feel like you’re inside a giant whale who also swallowed the facade of an old bank! It showcases occasional photo exhibits and you can pause at the popular Marché Restaurant for a snack or a meal.
There are dozens of places where you can capture great Toronto photos of course, but if you manage to hit these 12 spots, most of them in or near downtown, your Toronto photo album, not to mention Instagram account, will be way more impressive than that of most casual visitors.
What other photogenic Toronto spots do you know? Leave your suggestion in the comments.