Dear Toronto: It’s Not You…Well Maybe It Is

Toronto skyline

In recent years I have visited Canada several times, always enjoying my trip and looking forward to further northern explorations. There is one city though that I just can’t seem to crack, no matter how many times I’ve tried and I think I’m frankly done trying. No matter how hard I try, I just can’t seem to like Toronto.

I’ve been to Toronto now three times, each experience more boring than the one previous. Granted, I’ve never visited with the sole intention of being a tourist, and maybe that’s part of the problem. But it definitely isn’t entirely my fault. I’ve visited many cities on business and have managed to leave enjoying my time and looking forward to personal exploration, but that has never happened with Toronto and I seriously doubt that it ever will. So why don’t I like Canada’s largest city? Here are a few reasons.

Lacks personality – Canada’s largest city, Toronto is the center of Canadian business and it looks like it. The city is in a constant state of change and construction, paving over what may have been interesting and unique. In that respect it reminds me of another city I don’t like, London. There’s no intimacy, no electric spark when I drive into town. I get that spark in other cities; I get it in New York, Quebec, Paris; now THESE are cities with personalities. Whenever I make this complaint with native Torontans they always tell me that the beauty of the city is found in its neighborhoods; eclectic communities representing ethnic groups from all over the planet. That’s great, but that’s what makes the city a nice place to live, NOT a nice place to visit. There is a sharp difference between the two. If I’m going to spend my vacation in Toronto I want to do and see things. I want to explore and learn. I don’t want to hang out in a nice park and observe all the cool food trucks. I can frankly do that at home.

Nothing to do – Congested roads, huge skyscrapers and busy people are all normal in Toronto. That’s not a bad thing, you can find the same features in many of the world’s great tourism capitals, so why doesn’t it work for Toronto? Because that’s all there is. In New York there are countless sights to see and things to do, but if you look up the top sights in Toronto here’s what you find: The CN Tower, some parks and neighborhoods and many restaurants. If you start digging deeper you’ll find the Hockey Hall of Fame and some art galleries. That’s the problem, aside from the Tower there’s just nothing unique or distinctive about the city. It doesn’t have the old world charm of Quebec or the views of Vancouver. It’s blah and boring and not much else.

No desire to return – Since I emerged from the womb I have always been fascinated with foreign cultures and travel. There is nothing I enjoy more than visiting a new place and almost everywhere I go, I fall in love. I also almost always want to revisit cities to explore in greater depth. I have never, ever had these feelings for Toronto and for me personally, that’s the greatest indictment against it. The fact that I don’t feel like I’ve missed out on anything, that there wasn’t enough time in the day to soak up the personality and culture of the city – that’s the issue. Travel is supposed to be fun, educational and selfish. In theory, we are supposed to enjoy going on vacation and seeing new things. If that doesn’t happen, well, then Houston we have a problem. You know what? I’m fully able to admit that Toronto does in fact possess some of these qualities, but if I can’t find them then it doesn’t matter. Toronto needs to find and promote the aspects of the city that make it UNIQUE. Forget about shops and restaurants, the city needs to share its personal story; it needs to convince people that it’s as worthy to visit as Quebec or Vancouver. So far that story has not been told.

So there you go. My PERSONAL opinion on Toronto and why I really don’t care to return, unless I have to. Am I wrong? Please, convince me! I would love nothing else than to be proven wrong and to see what makes Toronto a great place to visit. But if my suspicions are right, I don’t think there’s enough evidence out there to prove the case.

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By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.Also follow Matt on Twitter, Facebook and

98 Responses

  1. Coco

    Wow. I could not disagree more. I have always found the people wonderful and warm. There is so much to do and see – it is such a cosmopolitan city. There is absolutely something for everyone. You can eat every cuisine you can think of. I love Toronto and think that many of these comments are simply haters. One thing Toronto does do is bring out the jealousy. There are literally dozens of events and happenings every single night. If you really don’t like it then you don’t. That’s how I feel about many other cities so I respect your opinion. But many of these other commenters really ought to expand their horizons.

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  2. O

    EXACT. After 40 years would love to exit this city. It’s BORING. It is not distinctive, unique. Transit is POOR. Other than (maybe) Kensington Mkt most ‘hoods are mediocre at best.
    And the WORLD CLASS ‘debate’ is ridiculous, nowhere near NYC, Paris, London, Philly, Chicago, and the list goes on… but it could NEVER include Toronto.

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