When traveling internationally to destinations like Toronto, it’s all too easy to demolish your travel budget. Between trying new food, shopping for souvenirs, and taking advantage of every experience available, you’ll rack up a laundry list of travel expenses before you know it.
Fortunately for visitors and locals alike, there are plenty of cheap and free things to do in Toronto. You won’t have to worry about draining your bank account when you take advantage of these activities throughout the city.
1. Tour the Historic Distillery District
Once home to a major distillery, Toronto’s Distillery District is a pedestrian-only village lined with shops, restaurants, and fun. It’s free to explore and marvel at the Victorian-era buildings perfectly blended with modern architectural trends. Depending on when you go, you may find a free event or show to attend, too.
2. Go to the Beach
While thinking about the beach may conjure up images of a tropical oasis, one of the many free things to do in Toronto is lounging by the water. In fact, Toronto is home to several beaches, each with their own views and activities. From boardwalks to skyline views, you’re bound to find a beach that suits your budget and travel preferences.
3. Check Out the Art Gallery of Ontario
Every Wednesday night from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm, guests can tour the Art Gallery of Ontario free of charge. As one of the largest art museums in North America, the museum boasts 95,000+ works of arts ranging from contemporary art to classic pieces.
4. Stroll through the Toronto Botanical Gardens
Home to 17 blooming gardens, visitors are able to roam the Toronto Botanical Gardens completely free. In addition to the thousands of flowers and plants, guests are invited to take part in the many events (often free) held at the Botanical Gardens. Kids and adults alike love this free attraction in the heart of Toronto.
5. Experience High Park
Often compared to New York City’s Central Park, High Park is Toronto’s largest public park. Featuring hiking trails, dog-friendly spaces, lakefront views, playgrounds, greenhouses, and so much more, it’s easy to see why this park is constantly among the recommended free things to do in Toronto.
6. Visit the High Park Zoo
While you’re at High Park, be sure to visit the free zoo! The tiny zoo is more than 100 years old and is home to deer, cattle, bison, peacocks, and other charismatic creatures. High Park asks that guests refrain from feeding the animals or using flash photography while visiting to ensure a safe environment for all.
7. Go to the MOCCA
The Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA) offers visitors a few admissions options sure to fit your budget. The first floor of the museum is open free to the public and also includes a site-responsive installation, cafe, and shop. On one Sunday each month, guests can access the entire museum free from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.
In addition, admission prices for regular visitation are cheap! Kids under the age of 18 can visit for free, while adult tickets are only $10.
8. Travel to Centre Island
Toronto’s Centre Island is free to visit, but you’ll need to purchase a ferry ticket to get there. While on the island, guests can lounge on the beach, bring kids to the playgrounds, stroll through a garden, and check out the Centerville Amusement Park. Keep in mind, while the island is free to visit, certain activities may require an additional fee.
9. Enjoy a Free Concert by the Canadian Opera Company
Throughout the year, visitors can enjoy a free concert performed by the Canadian Opera Company in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. During select performances, they’ll also be joined by special guest artists! From world music to jazz to dance, this free series highlights several forms of music and art.
10. Visit Yonge-Dundas Square
Modeled after New York’s Time Square, the Yonge-Dundas Square is free to explore. It is also home to hundreds of events, festivals, and performances each year, many of which are completely free to attend. Plus, if you need a signal boost in Toronto, take advantage of the square’s free WiFi, too!
11. Discover the PATH
Among the free things to do in Toronto is the PATH, an underground shopping complex. As an escape from dreary winter weather and the hot summer season, the PATH is also used by commuters accessing public transit or connecting to one of the 50 office buildings along the way.
12. Experience St. Lawrence Market
Get a glimpse at Toronto’s local economy by strolling through the St. Lawrence Market. Here you’ll find 120+ local specialty vendors selling everything from baked goods to homemade items and products. If you have some funds left in your travel budget, grab a bite to eat or find the perfect souvenir to take back home.
13. Roam the Harbourfront Centre
Situated on Toronto’s waterfront, Harbourfront Centre is home to free and cheap events, festivals, performances, activities, and so much more. With 10 acres of shoreline views, guests are treated to a variety of fun (and free) things to do, including ice skating in the wintertime.
14. Check Out Evergreen Brick Works
What was once a hub of old buildings was transformed into an award-winning public space. Evergreen Brick Works features public markets, events, public art, nature visits for kids, and so much more. Visitors find the public art installations and exhibits to be especially intriguing.
15. Go on a Free Tour of Toronto
Yes, you read that right. You can embark on a free walking tour of Toronto with the Tour Guys. From ghost tours to graffiti adventures, you’ll experience Toronto through the eyes of a local and see the iconic sites like CN Tower along the way. Although the tour is free, be sure to tip your guide if you had a great time!
16. Go Ice Skating
It’s no secret that ice skating and ice hockey are favorite pastimes of Toronto residents. So much so that visiting free ice skating rinks made our list of free things to do in Toronto! Each winter, several free rinks pop up throughout the city for guests to enjoy. You may need to rent ice skates for a small fee if you do not have your own.
17. Reserve a Greeter
Toronto offers a free greeters program to tourists visiting the city for the first time. The free program matches tourists with a local greeter who shows them around the city’s neighborhoods and hidden gems. You’ll experience the city like a resident!
18. Hike the William G. Davis Trail
Looking for an outdoor adventure within city limits that won’t cost an arm and a leg? Go for a hike! The William G. Davis Trail is a 1.3-kilometre trail located within Trillium Park. The trail is lined with native plants, trees, wildlife, and flowers. The trail is a favorite among morning joggers and active residents.
19. Visit the Royal Ontario Museum
Although not one of the free things to do in Toronto, a trip to the Royal Ontario Museum is affordable. Inside, you’ll find exhibits on natural history, art, culture, and more. Plus, several exhibits throughout the museum are hands-on, meaning they’re great for young curious visitors!
20. See Casa Loma Castle
Built in 1914 in Midtown Toronto, Casa Loma Castle is a sight to behold. Tourists are able to see and gawk at the castle’s detailed exterior free of charge. However, for a bit more context and fun, purchase tickets to tour the castle halls and rooms. You can also reserve tickets for a castle escape room!
21. Witness Niagara Falls
Minus the cost of transportation and any activities you choose to do while there, seeing Niagara Falls is completely free. Best of all, the views from the Canadian side of the falls are jaw-dropping. If you have a few funds left over from your trip, I highly recommend taking a cruise to the center of the falls!
Add These Affordable and Free Things to Do in Toronto to Your Trip
Nothing is better than free, especially when it comes to travel. Which of these free things to do in Toronto will you add to your trip itinerary?