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Toronto is a city of immigrants. Until World War II it were mainly British, Irish, Germans and Italians who hoped to build a new future in the city. After the war, the city received a new influx of immigrants, mainly from China, India, Russia and Poland. In the space of twenty years (between 1951 and 1971), the number of inhabitants increased from one to two million! This multicultural identity makes Toronto a lively, colorful city. What's more, together with Vancouver on the Canadian west coast it is often said to be one of the best livable cities in the world.
This multicultural identity is reflected for example in the Royal Ontario Museum, Canada's largest museum. Besides a vast scientific collection, the museum also showcases permanent and changing exhibitions dedicated to world cultures. Many arrangements are interactive, so children can also familiarize themselves in a playful way with world cultures and natural history.
The Ontario Science Centre is also an exciting experience for children. They have simulated a tropical rainforest, you can create a tornado with a machine and you can try out a soundproof tunnel. These are just some examples of the many tests and experiments that you can do in this museum. In addition, there is an Omnimax movie theater (with a screen that goes all the way round).
Art lovers cannot miss the Art Gallery of Ontario. The museum showcases a beautiful collection of Canadian and international painters, including one of the world's most expensive works: Massacre of the Innocents by Rubens. The museum also holds the largest collection of sculptures by Henry Moore.
The 533-meter-high CN Tower is the city's landmark. From the viewing platform you have a fantastic view of the city and Lake Ontario. Part of the platform has a glass floor; not something for people with a fear of heights!
Casa Loma is a strange building. It resembles an antique fairy-tale castle, but it was commissioned by the immensely rich eccentric Henry Pallet in 1911. The 'castle' is located in a huge French garden.
The city's largest shopping mall is Eaton Center, which – just like in Montreal – is connected with other shops and department stores underground. It's fun to go to St Lawrence Market, a huge market where a large selection of fresh produce is sold: Obviously vegetables, fruit, meat and fish, but also honey, cheese, tea, coffee, flowers and plants, souvenirs and alternative clothing. On Saturdays there is a Farmer's Market and on Sundays an antiques market.
For a long time, Toronto was known as a boring business city, where nightlife did not amount to much. That has changed radically by now. Thanks to the multicultural population you can enjoy food from all over the world. You'll find most bars, cafés, comedy clubs, discotheques and nightclubs in the area between the CN Tower and Queen Street.
In the north of Toronto, a nineteenth century Canadian village was reconstructed. Black Creek Pioneer Village consists of over forty houses and other buildings with an interior from those days and volunteers who engage in old trades. There are also animals around: Horses, sheep and goats, but also ducks. The open-air museum is beautifully situated on the Black Creek, which discharges into the Humber River.
Toronto is surrounded by beaches on Lake Ontario. The most popular ones are located in the city itself in the district that is appropriately called Beaches. West of town lies a beach, Parkdale, which once was a busy beach, but after the construction of a freeway has become deserted. You should definitely not miss a trip to the Toronto Islands. These are eighteen islands in the city harbor, each with their very own atmosphere. The most popular one, Centre Island has picnic spots and beautifully landscaped parks. There is also a children's farm. On the south side of the islands you'll find beaches.
The city is located on one of the five Great Lakes on the border of Canada and the United States. The Niagara Falls can be reached by rental car in about an hour from Toronto. You have to see these enormous waterfalls! While you're there you should also take a walk through the wooded rock formations of Niagara Escarpment, west of the waterfalls.
North of the city lie hundreds of smaller lakes, creeks and rivers in an overwhelming landscape. Around Muskoka (two hours driving north) and The Kawarthas (one and a half hours northeast) you'll find cozy guesthouses, spas and campsites. The lakes offer canoeing and fishing opportunities, and you can make long hikes through the hilly, rocky terrain.
Are the kids a bit tired of all that beautiful nature? Take them to Canada's Wonderland for a day; it's a theme park thirty kilometers north of Toronto. This amusement park is divided in no less than eight themes. It includes a water park with spectacular slides and a huge open-air wave pool. Large musical performances take place at Kingswood Music Theatre and part of the park is dedicated to the cartoon characters of Nickelodeon.
Toronto has plenty of accommodations in all price categories. There are luxury hotels, mid-range hotels, guesthouses and hostels. Most hotels are situated in close vicinity to the city's business center. If you want to visit Toronto in the summer we recommend booking your accommodation well in advance.
Parking in the center of Toronto can be tricky. Many hotels offer parking facilities, but check for possible costs involved when booking a room. There are also many parking garages and parking lots around Downtown Toronto. The municipal parking lots can be recognized by a green 'P'.
The airport is located 27 kilometers northwest of Toronto, at about 45 minutes driving from the city center. You can easily reach Toronto Pearson International Airport by rental car: From the center you take Highway 401 and turn to Highway 409 right before the airport. The route is clearly signposted.
Toronto Island Airport is located in the heart of the city, on the harbor. It is mainly used by business travelers and there are direct flights to for example Montreal and New York.