Toronto is a big, sophisticated city and multi-ethnic, and people love coffee here.John Williams
Did you know that Canada has been named one of the world’s most livable countries in the world? It has all you can ask for – from stunning lakes and forests, multicultural cities, exciting theme parks, spectacular gardens and festivals to incredible mountains and glaciers. Moreover, Canada’s laid-back attitude makes it an incredible place for solo travelers, couples as well as families going on a holiday with children.
Why Canada and why Toronto
Are you a bit of a city traveller, nature freak or/and outdoors lover?
If so, Canada should be your top bucket list destination and Toronto must be listed on top of it. It’s a hectic city that will keep you busy all the time by providing unforgettable attractions and sightseeing spots you can’t get enough of; such as CN Tower, island cruises, amusement parks, art galleries, churches, museums and much more. A day or two spent here will be full of adventures, even a few months.
Ok, now you know the main reasons to visit vivid Toronto so now we can plan your budget. Is Toronto affordable? Is it a budget friendly place at all? I might surprise you here, but in fact, it is and you don’t need to plan to rob a bank at the end of your stay in the city.
Cost of living/traveling in Toronto
Just to give you a brief overview of local prices, here is a list of prices of various items and products you may spend your money on when in Toronto:
1 Canadian dollar (C$) = 0.76 US dollar ($)
- Meal for two at inexpensive restaurant – 10C$ ($7.58)
- Regular cappuccino – 3.50C$ ($2.65)
- Beer (0.5l) – 6C$ ($4.55)
- Water (0.33l) – 1.50C$ ($1.14)
- Milk (1l) – 2.16C$ ($1.64)
- Bread – 2.50C$ ($1.9)
- Apples (1kg) – 3.00C$ ($2.28)
- Eggs (12) – 3.00C$ ($2.28)
- Single bus ride – 3.00C$ ($2.28)
- Taxi (1km) – 1.90C$ ($1.44)
After seeing these prices, how affordable is it to live in Toronto in your opinion?
How to spend $25 a day or less in Toronto
The good news is that we found a way to spend a day here for less than $25. You might not enjoy all of the attractions the city offers, neither dine out in fancy restaurants, but you will still have a lot of fun while saving some money for next destination on your Canada trip!
Go couchsurfing (free)
Canadians are extremely laid back and open-minded people who love to interact with foreigners from all over the world. Therefore, couchsurfing is something locals are familiar with. Staying in the house of someone you have never met before can be pretty daunting, but it is a great way to meet people and explore Toronto like a local, on the cheap. If you are planning on staying here for more than a day, then this would be a great accommodation solution for you. Your Canadian host can show you around the city and tell you anything you need to know about places worth seeing and exploring. It does not cost anything, but it can turn your Toronto visit into a real adventure.
A word of caution:
Be extremely careful when choosing your host and always make sure you double check people’s profiles and references. Don’t couchsurf with someone who has different interests or hobbies. Try to pick up those who seem to have something in common with you.
If you decide for some reasons that couchsurfing isn’t for you, Toronto offers a great variety of youth hostels and budget hotels.
Eat your way around the city for $15
There are at least three places in Toronto where you can dine out on the cheap:
#1 St. Lawrence Market
It’s the largest market in Toronto which contains over 100 different food vendors with fresh meat and poultry, dairy products, fresh fruits and vegetables and seafood. The St. Lawrence Market has been named “The best local market in the World” by National Geographic. A lot of locals love to come to the market on the weekend to stock up on groceries. It can get a little crowded and touristy, but nothing beats a Saturday morning walk around!
When coming here, you can’t miss out on Kozliks mustards ($3), Ukrainian pierogies ($6 a plate) and local cheese. You should also try some $1 pepperoni sticks, $1.5 delicious Portuguese egg tarts and $4 Pemeal sandwich.
#2 Kensington Market
Kensington Market is a fun neighbourhood to kill some time, get a little drunk, eat some small grub and maybe buy something from a flea market. It is a maze of narrow streets and alleys with charming Victorian houses which make this place even more beautiful. The good prices of fruits, vegetables, exotic spices and sweet treats attract hundred of locals and tourists here.
What food should you indulge into when in here? Start from snacking on chocolate filled churros ($2), then treat yourself with a yam burrito ($5) washed down with a glass of coke ($1.5) and end up having a massive portion of baked empanadas in beef, chicken and veggie varieties ($8) for your dinner.
Toronto’s Chinatown area is one of the largest in North America where you can find a lot of different stores with various spice, fresh vegetables and fruits on the marketplace and plenty of Asian restaurants. If you are a big fan of spring rolls ($4), Chinese dumplings ($5), congee ($3) or noodle soup ($3), you can’t miss out on this place.
Word of caution: I came across some negative comments on this place such as:
“Chinatown was dirty, frightening, and left me feeling terrible for dragging my husband here. It was a long walk there, which we didn’t mind, but once there we felt concerned for our safety as there were many people looking at us (we clearly didn’t belong), digging in trash cans, and appeared to be on drugs. There is nothing worth seeing”.
Caitlin F, Dallas, Texas. Tripadvisor website.
“Didn’t really do anything specific in Chinatown, didn’t really want to do anything except leave. We enjoyed visiting a cafe on its outskirts, but I found Chinatown dirty-looking, sketchy and just looking generally run-down.”
RowMac, Toronto, Canada. Tripadvisor website.
Go explore the city for $10
Toronto is packed with free and / or cheap things to do. Apart from visiting Chinatown, Kensington Market and St. Lawrence Market (mentioned above), you should definitely add the following activities to your list:
#1 Visit museums and art galleries
You can visit various local museums and art galleries during discounted hours. The Royal Ontario Museum can be a great example here. The museum offers discount admission on Fridays (15:00 – 17.30).
The Art Gallery of Ontario is free every Wednesday between 18:00 and 20:30.
#2 Go ice-skating
Toronto is overloaded with ice rinks and the admission fee is only $3. It’s a great way to spend your afternoon if you are visiting the city in winter.
#3 Attend a concert
You can also attend one of the Canadian Opera Company’s free lunch hour performances and enjoy dance or a variety of musical style concerts in the sun.
#4 Relax at High Park
If you feel like chilling out, head directly to High Park which is the largest park in Toronto. It’s a park well-known for fishing, playgrounds and hiking trails where you can meditate, cycle, have a picnic or workout,.
How do you like this idea of spending a day in Toronto for less than $25? If you have more budget tips, share them please in comments.