Toronto vs Vancouver — which Canadian city is best for travellers

city skyline under full moon

Choosing between Toronto and Vancouver for your next vacation can be a tough decision. Both cities offer unique experiences and attractions that cater to different types of travelers. Whether you're a nature enthusiast looking for outdoor adventures or a city lover seeking vibrant nightlife and cultural experiences, Toronto and Vancouver have something to offer. This article will compare the two cities across various categories to help you decide which one is the best fit for your travel plans.

Key Takeaways

  • Vancouver is ideal for outdoor enthusiasts with its abundance of parks, beaches, and scenic activities.
  • Toronto offers a bustling city experience with a wide range of cultural attractions, dining options, and vibrant nightlife.
  • Both cities are generally safe for tourists, with high safety indexes and numerous tourist-friendly amenities.
  • The cost of travel can vary between the two cities, with Toronto generally being more expensive in terms of accommodation and dining.
  • Your choice between Toronto and Vancouver ultimately depends on your personal preferences and the type of vacation experience you're seeking.

Tourist Attractions in Toronto and Vancouver

When visiting a place as a tourist, you naturally want to go to some famous tourist attractions. So, do Vancouver and Toronto have good places to see?

Of course, they do! These two cities are famous in Canada, after all!

Toronto is good for tourists to visit because of the many exhibits and attractions you can go to. It’s also a multicultural city offering tonnes of dining options and events. From the CN Tower to Ripley's Aquarium, Toronto is home to dozens of must-see attractions. Check out our list of top attractions in Toronto, Canada.

Vancouver is a good place to visit for tourists. It’s generally a safe city and offers many outdoor and indoor attractions. Vancouver is the ideal tourist destination for nature lovers because it offers many scenic activities despite being an urban and dense city.

Vancouver is the ideal choice for tourists who want to go on outdoor adventures because there are many parks and beaches to visit. Meanwhile, Toronto is the choice if you’re looking for a big-city experience because it’s a busier city.

Cultural Experiences: Toronto vs Vancouver

space needle with time lapse photography

Museums and Galleries

Toronto boasts a rich array of museums and galleries, including the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario. These institutions offer a deep dive into both local and international art and history. Vancouver, on the other hand, is home to the Museum of Anthropology and the Vancouver Art Gallery, which focus on indigenous art and contemporary pieces.

Festivals and Events

Toronto is renowned for its vibrant festival scene, hosting events like the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and Caribana. These festivals attract visitors from all over the world and offer a glimpse into the city's diverse culture. Vancouver also has its share of exciting events, such as the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) and the Celebration of Light, a spectacular fireworks competition.

Historical Sites

In Toronto, historical sites like Casa Loma and Fort York provide a window into the city's past. These landmarks are well-preserved and offer guided tours for history enthusiasts. Vancouver's historical sites, such as Gastown and the Gulf of Georgia Cannery, offer a different perspective, focusing more on the city's maritime history and early settlements.

Whether you're an art lover, a festival-goer, or a history buff, both Toronto and Vancouver offer rich cultural experiences that cater to a variety of interests.

Outdoor Activities and Natural Beauty

aerial view photo of islands and body of water during daytime

Toronto and Vancouver both boast an array of stunning parks and gardens. In Toronto, High Park offers a vast green space with hiking trails, a zoo, and beautiful cherry blossoms in the spring. Vancouver's Stanley Park, one of the world's best examples of urban nature, features scenic seawall paths, lush forests, and the famous Totem Poles.

Toronto's waterfront along Lake Ontario provides numerous beaches and recreational areas, such as the popular Woodbine Beach. Vancouver, located in beautiful British Columbia, is renowned for its picturesque beaches like Kitsilano Beach and English Bay, perfect for ocean kayaking and sunbathing.

For those seeking adventure, both cities offer excellent hiking opportunities. Toronto's ravine system provides urban trails that make you feel miles away from the city. Vancouver, surrounded by majestic mountain ranges, offers thrilling outdoor activities from hiking in the mountains to exploring old-growth forests. Vancouver has lots of amazing outdoor activities that cater to every type of adventurer.

Culinary Scene: A Taste of Toronto and Vancouver

Local Cuisine

Toronto and Vancouver both offer a diverse culinary landscape that reflects their multicultural populations. In Toronto, you can find everything from authentic Italian pasta in Little Italy to mouth-watering dim sum in Chinatown. Vancouver, on the other hand, is renowned for its sushi, which many residents claim is the best and cheapest selection of sushi restaurants outside Japan.

Fine Dining Options

For those looking to indulge in a luxurious dining experience, both cities have plenty to offer. Toronto boasts several Michelin-starred restaurants, while Vancouver is home to the Taste of the West event at the Fairmont Pacific Rim, where award-winning chefs come together for an extraordinary collaborative dinner. Reservations can be made online for this exclusive event.

Food Markets and Street Food

If you prefer a more casual dining experience, both cities have vibrant food markets and street food scenes. Toronto's St. Lawrence Market is a must-visit, offering a wide range of local and international foods. Vancouver's food truck scene is equally impressive, with options ranging from gourmet burgers to fresh seafood. Farmers' markets in both cities provide an excellent opportunity to sample local produce and artisanal goods.

Whether you're a foodie or just looking to try something new, Toronto and Vancouver offer culinary experiences that are hard to beat.

Nightlife and Entertainment

Toronto offers a fabulous nightlife experience with its many pubs, bars, and nightclubs. You can immerse yourself in the local scene and meet Torontonians while enjoying the vibrant atmosphere. Toronto's nightlife is much more robust than Vancouver's, making it an ideal destination for those who love dancing until the break of dawn.

Both cities boast a variety of live music venues, but Toronto stands out with its diverse and impressive music scene. From intimate jazz bars to large concert halls, there's something for every music lover. Vancouver also offers great options, particularly for those who enjoy a more laid-back, scenic setting.

Toronto is renowned for its theatre district, often compared to New York's Broadway. The city hosts numerous world-class productions, making it a haven for theatre enthusiasts. Vancouver, while smaller in scale, offers a rich array of performing arts, including local theatre productions and cultural performances.

Whether you prefer the bustling nightlife of Toronto or the scenic, laid-back vibe of Vancouver, both cities offer unique and memorable entertainment experiences.

Shopping Destinations

white LED neon signage on store

Luxury Shopping

Toronto and Vancouver both offer a plethora of luxury shopping experiences. In Toronto, the Bloor-Yorkville area is renowned for its high-end boutiques and designer stores. Vancouver's Robson Street and Alberni Street are the go-to destinations for luxury shopping, featuring brands like Gucci, Prada, and Louis Vuitton.

Local Boutiques

For those who prefer unique and locally-made items, both cities have vibrant local boutique scenes. Toronto's Queen Street West is famous for its eclectic mix of independent shops, while Vancouver's Main Street offers a variety of local designers and artisans.

Markets and Souvenirs

Markets are a great way to experience the local culture and pick up some souvenirs. Toronto's St. Lawrence Market is a must-visit for its wide range of food items and artisanal products. In Vancouver, the Granville Island Public Market is a popular spot for both locals and tourists, offering everything from fresh produce to handmade crafts.

Whether you're looking for high-end fashion or unique local finds, both Toronto and Vancouver have something to offer every shopper.

Accommodation Options

Luxury Hotels

Toronto and Vancouver both offer a range of luxury hotels that cater to travelers seeking high-end accommodations. Toronto's luxury hotels are often located in the heart of the city, providing easy access to major attractions and business districts. Vancouver's luxury hotels, on the other hand, often boast stunning views of the mountains and waterfront.

Budget-Friendly Stays

For those traveling on a budget, both cities offer numerous options. Hostels, budget hotels, and even some affordable Airbnb options are available. Here's a quick comparison of typical accommodation costs:

Accommodation Type Toronto Vancouver
Hotel or hostel for one person $86 $87
Typical double-occupancy room $172 $174

Unique Lodging Experiences

If you're looking for something different, both cities have unique lodging experiences to offer. In Toronto, you can find boutique hotels with distinct themes and personalized services. Vancouver offers unique stays like cabins and eco-friendly lodges, perfect for those wanting to be closer to nature.

Whether you prefer the urban sophistication of Toronto or the natural beauty of Vancouver, both cities provide a wide range of accommodation options to suit every traveler's needs.

Transportation and Accessibility

Public Transit Systems

Toronto and Vancouver both boast robust public transit systems, making it easy for travellers to navigate the cities without a car. Toronto's TTC offers a comprehensive network of subways, buses, and streetcars, with most services running every few minutes. The PATH, an underground pedestrian walkway, is a unique feature that makes getting around downtown Toronto especially convenient during the harsh winter months. In contrast, Vancouver's public transit system, managed by TransLink, includes buses, the SkyTrain, and SeaBus, providing extensive coverage across the city and surrounding areas. Residents often note that Vancouver has the edge over Toronto when it comes to ease of getting around the city.

Bike and Scooter Rentals

Both cities offer green-friendly commuting options like bike and scooter rentals. Toronto has rental bikes available throughout the city, which residents find to be a great alternative to driving. Vancouver also offers a similar bike-sharing program, making it easy for visitors to explore the city on two wheels. These options are not only eco-friendly but also provide a fun way to see the sights.

Walkability of the Cities

When it comes to walkability, both Toronto and Vancouver score high marks. Toronto's downtown core is highly walkable, with many attractions, dining, and shopping options accessible on foot. Vancouver, known for its scenic beauty, offers numerous walking paths and trails, especially around its waterfront areas. The human-centred infrastructure in both cities ensures that life is much easier than in comparable big cities.

Whether you prefer the extensive public transit options in Toronto or the scenic walkability of Vancouver, both cities offer excellent transportation and accessibility options for travellers.

Cost of Travel: Toronto vs Vancouver

When comparing the cost of travel between Toronto and Vancouver, it's evident that Toronto is more expensive. Vancouver, on the other hand, is significantly cheaper, allowing travelers to either save money or enjoy a more luxurious experience.

Accommodation Costs

The average daily cost (per person) in Toronto is $203, while in Vancouver, it's $141. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy), food, transportation, and entertainment. Here's a breakdown:

Category Toronto Vancouver
Accommodation $120 $80
Food $50 $40
Transportation $20 $15
Entertainment $13 $6

Dining and Entertainment Expenses

Toronto's dining and entertainment scene is vibrant but comes at a higher price. Expect to spend around $50 per day on food and $13 on entertainment. In contrast, Vancouver offers a more budget-friendly experience with $40 for food and $6 for entertainment daily.

Transportation Costs

Transportation in Toronto is also pricier, with an average daily cost of $20 compared to Vancouver's $15. If you're planning to rent a car, keep in mind that a two-week economy car rental from Vancouver to Toronto costs around $1736, which ends up being around $124 per day.

For many travelers, the cost of a destination is a primary consideration when choosing where to go. Vancouver's affordability makes it an attractive option for budget-conscious travelers.

Safety and Tourist-Friendliness

Crime Rates and Safety Measures

Both Toronto and Vancouver are generally safe cities for tourists, boasting high safety indexes of 57.58 and 59.29, respectively. However, it's important to remain vigilant as bad seeds can still take advantage of tourists. Overall, Toronto is statistically a safer city than Vancouver.

Tourist Information Centers

Both cities offer numerous tourist information centers where visitors can get maps, brochures, and advice on local attractions. These centers are strategically located in popular tourist areas, making it easy for travelers to find the information they need.

Local Etiquette and Customs

Canadians are known for their warm and welcoming hospitality. Travelers often find themselves charmed by the friendly locals who are eager to share their culture and stories. Canadians' politeness and friendliness are a hallmark of their national identity, making any visit a heartwarming experience.

Vancouver and Toronto are safe cities for tourists because they have high safety indexes of 59.29 and 57.58, respectively. In addition, Canada is the 12th safest country worldwide.

Weather and Best Time to Visit

Seasonal Weather Patterns

Both Toronto and Vancouver experience a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. Summer is in July and winter is in January. Toronto has a continental climate, which means it can experience more extreme weather compared to Vancouver. For instance, the Greater Toronto Area received 22 and 30 cm of snowfall last March 2023. In contrast, Vancouverites aren’t used to intense snow, and many cars don’t even have winter tires.

Best Months for Travel

The best time to visit Toronto is from June to September. June will still be hot, but the summer means many festivals and events in the city. For Vancouver, the best months are from July to September. There’s little chance of rain, so you can enjoy some sightseeing trips around the city.

In the autumn, Toronto often gets more sunshine than Vancouver. Toronto gets 153 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Vancouver receives 124 hours of full sun. However, it's quite rainy in Vancouver. Toronto usually gets less rain in October than Vancouver, with Toronto getting 61 mm (2.4 in) of rain, while Vancouver receives 164 mm (6.5 in) of rain this time of the year.

If you want to enjoy outdoor activities without worrying about rain, summer is the best time to visit both cities.


In conclusion, both Vancouver and Toronto offer unique experiences for travelers, making it difficult to declare one as definitively better than the other. Vancouver is a paradise for nature enthusiasts, offering a plethora of outdoor activities, scenic parks, and beautiful beaches. On the other hand, Toronto provides a vibrant big-city experience with its diverse cultural attractions, bustling nightlife, and extensive dining options. Ultimately, the best city for you depends on your personal preferences and what kind of vacation you are seeking. Whether you choose the natural beauty of Vancouver or the urban excitement of Toronto, both cities promise memorable experiences. And if neither seems to fit your travel desires, there are always other Canadian gems like Calgary to explore.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Vancouver good for tourists to visit?

Vancouver is a great place for tourists. It’s generally a safe city and offers many outdoor and indoor attractions.

Is Toronto good for tourists to visit?

Toronto is excellent for tourists because of the many exhibits and attractions you can go to. It’s also a multicultural city offering tons of dining options and events.

Which city is more expensive, Toronto or Vancouver?

Both Toronto and Vancouver are known to be expensive cities, but the cost of living and travel can vary depending on the time of year and your personal preferences.

What are the must-see spots in Toronto?

Must-see spots in Toronto include the CN Tower, Royal Ontario Museum, Ripley's Aquarium, and the Distillery District.

What are the top attractions in Vancouver?

Top attractions in Vancouver include Stanley Park, Granville Island, Capilano Suspension Bridge, and the Vancouver Aquarium.

Which city is better for outdoor activities, Toronto or Vancouver?

Vancouver is generally considered better for outdoor activities due to its proximity to mountains, beaches, and numerous parks. Toronto also offers outdoor activities but is more urban.

What is the best time to visit Toronto and Vancouver?

The best time to visit both cities is during the spring (April to June) and fall (September to November) when the weather is mild and there are fewer tourists.

Are both cities safe for tourists?

Yes, both Vancouver and Toronto are safe for tourists. They have high safety indexes and are generally welcoming to visitors.

Curtis Duggan

Curtis Duggan

Curtis is a serial tech entrepreneur, content creator and the host of the Remotely Serious podcast on the future of remote work and digital nomadism.


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