Travel can be expensive! That’s why if you get the travel bug and venture to a major metropolis like Toronto, Ontario in Canada, you can find your wallet empty pretty quickly.
However, the thing to remember about large cities is that there are always free or cheap activities that offer a more authentic tourist experience. So do as the locals do and explore Toronto via these 10 free and fun ways…
1. Explore Kensington Market
Kensington Market is not technically a market. However, this artsy Chinatown neighborhood is known for its string of funky vintage shops, retro furniture stores, and cheap eats!
2. Visit the Distillery District
Toronto’s historic Distillery District is an easy-strolling, pedestrian-only strip that offers a great excuse to take in the Victorian Industrial Architecture if you’re close to downtown. You’ll notice the area is completely free of any franchise or chain stores here—all are small mom and pop shops and galleries.
3. Walk in Her Shoes
The famous Bata Shoe Museum offers a pay-what-you-can entrance fee each Thursday evening between 5 and 8 pm.
4. Window Shop Bloor-Yorkville
If you’re eager to see how the other half live, you can get a taste in the posh neighborhood known as Bloor-Yorkville (home to the Toronto International Film Festival). The upscale dinning and brand name clothing that most of us can barely afford is set against a quaint backdrop of Victorian houses, restaurants, boutique shops, and art galleries.
5. Sample the St. Lawrence Market
The historic food and antique market in Toronto’s downtown core has been called one of the world’s best markets. It’s a great place to start out your day if you’re looking for a cheap coffee and breakfast combo, plus you can hang around for the samples from local and craft artisans and get lunch for free to boot!
6. Good Ol’ Riverdale Farm
Riverdale Farm is a literal farm within the sprawling city. A vast 7 acres of green space right in the downtown core—including moo cows, horses, sheep, goats, pigs, and chickens, which the farm staff care for daily. You can witness life on the farm for free, and even snag some homemade jam or a pie in the Riverdale farm house store.
7. Hit the Harbourfront Boardwalk
Toronto Harbourfront Centre, on the shores of Lake Ontario, offers a wide 10-acre spot for free relaxing in a park, walking the boardwalk, catching a free outdoor show or exhibit, or even strapping on your ice skates during the winter months.
8. Escape to the Beaches
The Beaches, located in Toronto’s east end, offers waterfront galore for strolling, shopping, eating, and even catching the totally free annual fireworks extravaganza on Canada Day long weekend and the Blues Festival at the end of May.
9. Catch a Free Opera
The Canadian Opera Company offers a summer series of free afternoon performances in various music genres in their airy, outdoor amphitheatre—ideal for a romantic picnic!
10. Rock Out at Yonge-Dundas Square
Yonge-Dundas Square offers a complete calendar of free outdoor movies, concerts, and cultural events throughout the year.