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

75 Responses

  1. John

    Agreed, the people are also rude.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Well I don’t think that’s a fair statement, rude people are everywhere. I want to instead focus on what the city has to offer.

      Reply
    • Alexandra

      Currently resisting the urge to write a really rude response in a joking manner… Canadians are actually known to be polite, and, being from Toronto, I can say that you have not met rude until you move to Florence, where I currently live. When I visit family in Toronto, i am bowled over by how polite people are, how service is a concept that is applied to, well, service! And how people wait in line for things. In a line. Not in a mass that pushes.

      Reply
  2. Dave

    I stopped to read this because it’s not often you see bloggers or travel writers writing about destinations they don’t enjoy. Based on my visit for TBEX, I agree that it felt cold and corporate downtown.

    There’s visual beauty to be seen in the new architecture and skyline, and I know they’ve got a lot of nice restaurants, but that’s not enough to inspire a return visit for me.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Well thanks for stopping by Dave, I appreciate it and glad I’m not alone in my appraisal of the city.

      Reply
  3. Alouise

    I’m from Edmonton and the rest of Canada loves to hate on Toronto (they think they’re the centre of the universe, the sentiments from commenter John above, etc). When I told people I was going to Toronto everyone asked me why, and said the city was horrible (even people who’d never been there). Surprisingly I really liked Toronto, but it definitely seems more of a livable city than one to visit (I especially found this true on my second trip when I stayed with family in Richmond Hill). I do get your comment about Toronto not being unique, because it does seem like just another big city, but from living in a city that’s passed up for being a one hit wonder I enjoy (to use a horrendous cliche) trying to find the hidden gems in a place. Still many people would probably brush off a place they don’t like on the first visit, and you’ve been back three times. I’d go back to Toronto (likely not for a while), but I can understand why someone wouldn’t go back.

    Reply
  4. Kim Thompson

    Hi Matt! Loved this blog, and I couldn’t agree more! I’ve been to Toronto several times on business (most recently TBEX), and I just can’t seem to fall in love with it. I’ve traveled quite a bit and the only other location I feel similarly about? London. Perfect comparison. I don’t know what it is?! There’s just nothing captivating in either city for me. I did a study abroad in Florence, and visited many cities during that semester, and London is the only one that’s not on my list of places I “have to visit again!” So thanks — your post made me feel better! I was beginning to think it was just me! :-)

    Reply
  5. ehalvey

    I’ve been to Toronto twice, and I just don’t have any reason to return. Other than the quirky Bata Shoe Museum, there’s really nothing to do (I’m *not* doing the CN Tower). It’s like a movie set. There’s nothing unique, quirky, cool, cute, soulful to make it any different than insert-bland-urban-cityscape-here.

    Sssh, I have no desire to ever visit London. Even with all the museums and Indian food.

    Reply
  6. Steph

    Nope, didn’t do it for me either! Only thing I really liked was all the ethnic food. And the people did seem pretty rude (for Canada at least).

    Reply
  7. Suzanne

    I agree with Toronto – I’ve given it many chances as well as i go for the film festival and had never been a tourist -it just seems all business – no one I know goes there for vacation.. This time with TBEX, i was excited to be a tourist to explore with the organized tours – they gave me a bit more insight to history and neighborhoods and it added to my visit. it just seems that many work downtown and retreat home after leaving the city a bit empty of personality.

    Reply
  8. Matt Long

    On the one hand I’m glad I’m not alone in my thoughts, but on the other I’m a little surprised there aren’t people disagreeing with me…

    Reply
    • T

      I actually completely disagree, but of course everyone has their own opinion. The beauty of this city is not in the standard “tourist” attractions. Those are not the “things to do” in Toronto. There are plenty of things to do here, if you know where to look. Here’s the thing though… I as a life long Torontonian – born and raised – I am unapologetic if someone doesn’t like our city. I don’t mean that in a rude way. Just more of an “Oh well. To each his/her own.” And I think a large portion of the people here don’t really feel the need to convince anyone to come. I’ve traveled the world extensively, and still think that Toronto is one of the most amazing cities in the world. I am never bored here. There are a million things I can find to do – and have tonnes of fun doing them.

      Some commenters posted that “the people are rude in Toronto”. Well, there are rude people everywhere. To jumble 2.7 million people into one small generalization is a bit narrow minded. Some of the nicest, most kind and polite people I’ve ever met are from Toronto. It’s unfortunate that you had a less than stellar experience here – but it’s such a massive city, with so much to do, I would think you would have a different experience every time you came here.

      Reply
  9. Helen

    I love living in Toronto… but sure, I can understand why it would be underwhelming to some visitors, especially seasoned travellers. We don’t have centuries-old temples or the ‘exotic’ feel some people seek (although that’s all relative to where you’re from), but culturally, we have a heck of a lot going on – partly because of our city’s ethnic diversity. And to say Torontonians are rude? C’mon. As a traveller and blogger, I don’t make gross generalizations like that after visiting a city once or even three times – no matter how lousy my experiences were our how many douchebags I met. Comments like that are utter nonsense.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      I assume you’re addressing the commenter, because I never said they were rude. And you pointed out what makes it a great place to live, but not visit as a tourist. Huge difference.

      Reply
      • Helen

        Yes, I was addressing the commenters. I know you didn’t call Torontonians rude (you’re wiser than that). But I disagree with your second point. I love the year-round cultural activities and festivals in Toronto as a resident – but they’re enjoyed by tourists as well. And why wouldn’t they be? In the same way, I enjoy those activities when I visit other cities. But each to their own. If you don’t like a city, you don’t like it. That’s your personal preference. But every time I travel to another city I haven’t liked, I do wonder what I missed that would have given me a more favourable impression – and sometimes those things are not conventional tourist attractions.

      • Matt Long

        Well if someone doesn’t like a city, I don’t think that’s a negative thing. Some places and people just don’t click. I love the hectic awesomeness of Bangkok, but I know plenty of people who would be instantly overwhelmed by it. I don’t want to pass judgment on anyone for not enjoying a city.

        And yes, festivals are nice, as are walking around neighborhoods and eating at a variety of multicultural restaurants. And if you happen to be there, those things are nice. I just don’t think they’re interesting or unique enough for someone to take 4 day off of work, but a plane ticket, book hotel rooms and travel to see. That’s my only point.

  10. Fred

    I felt the same way. The sheer number of giant, ugly condo highrises was punishing. Do people really live in those?

    Reply
  11. Andrew Adams

    I’ve lived in Toronto, more than half my life. I’ve also lived in Mumbai. Very different places.
    Toronto does not inspire me at all. Like india does. But as a place to live it has a lot going for it.
    Very clean, convenience, mutlicultural, diversity, and ample green space.
    Toronto islands are a beautiful full escape from the city grind.
    But as a place to visit for holiday, perhaps your right, but makes a great entry/exit point for exploring all our beautiful country has to offer visitors.

    Reply
    • Mariellen Ward

      I agree with Andrew. I have also lived in Tokyo and Delhi (my favourite city on earth). Toronto is comfortable, but not inspiring. And life in Toronto is lived in the neighbourhoods. I love my hood, Roncesvalles Village. It sounds like you didn’t get to any of the city’s great neighbourhoods Matt.

      With regards to the “rude” comment, Torontonians are reserved, and that can be mistaken for rude. I have been to many cities where the people can be far ruder — we are waaaayyyyy to reserved to be really rude.

      Ultimately, Toronto is just a good place to have a home base from which to explore the world :)

      Reply
  12. Etienne

    I am from Montreal and lived for two years in Toronto. It was the best time of my life.

    I hated the city during my first two months living there. I felt it was a boring and smaller version of New York.

    I was so wrong.

    Toronto is unique. For real. And I am not talking about the CN tower and the Hockey Hall of Fame! This is not the Toronto I felt in love with.

    I love Toronto for the incredible nights on Kensington markets, drinking and chatting with tons of young people, entering little bars with atmosphere or entering a gallery where they have a late night opening.

    I love Toronto for the Beaches neighboorhood, where I can go to the beach only taking a 15 minutes from downtown with a streetcar !

    What about the incredible and unique festival. Biggest caribana out of the carribean (this is just insane, dancing with the parade for 10 hours!!!), biggest Pride in North America (some years, a 4 hour parade, with thousands of people using water gun to shoot each other during a hot summer day), the greek fest, africa fest,…

    The nature with the Islands or High Park.

    The fact that Toronto is really a city of neighboorhoods. I never go to Dundas Square, but I visit Roncesvalles, the korean area, the russian one, the many chinatowns (main one, east chinatown, pacific mall biggest asian mall in north america,…).

    This is a great city with always something happening. There is not a weekend without a multicultural event taking place. A muslim event? A Sikh festival ? Everyone is welcome, whatever your religion or ethnic group.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      And you’re right, and those are great reasons to live there without a doubt.

      Reply
      • James Chillcott

        Matt,

        Beg to differ!

        Is TDot one of the 10 must-visit cities on the planet? Nope.

        It is however, easily in the top 25.

        The reasons provided by Etienne aren’t solely what makes the city good to live in, but what should make it good to visit.

        I’ve traveled to all 7 continents, with 50+ major cities under my belt, and I can safely say I’ve never had a guest come into town that wasn’t blow away by their experience here.

        If you’re looking for mind blowing architecture, historical sites or views, we lose.

        But if you visit cities for food, culture, fashion, music, art, sports, shopping we rank amongst the best.

        Epic parties, fantastic festivals, great concerts, cutting edge designers, incredible food from all over the world, etc.

        As for the thing that makes us unique? I can think of only a small handful of major cities that can boast as vibrant a downtown/nightlife as Toronto. On a summer evening there are literally hundreds of thousands of people out on our incredibly clean, safe downtown streets, and we party till dawn.

        Our festivals are endless and gigantic. 2nd biggest Gay Pride parade on the planet. Caribana. Toronto International Film Festival is 2nd only to Cannes. These festivals bring in over 3 Million visitors a year and they’re the tip of the iceberg. No one vacations here? Please!

    • David @ HitTheRoad.ca

      Well said, Etienne!
      I live in Toronto. I have often thought to myself, Toronto’s a nice place to live but I wouldn’t want to visit here. I’ve considered the poor tourist who saw Dundas Square and the CN tower. But, who completely missed out on the diverse communities that cohabit Toronto.
      Matt, next time you’re in T.O. let me show you some of my fav spots! :)

      Reply
      • Robert

        Hello…

        I am originally from NY and have lived in many different places on the east coast of the US and in Ontario…as well as in Banff and Calgary.

        I lived in the US for 23 years and now in Canada for 15. I have been in Toronto for 6.

        I agree with the blog.

        When someone points out:

        “But if you visit cities for food, culture, fashion, music, art, sports, shopping we rank among the best.

        Epic parties, fantastic festivals, great concerts, cutting edge designers, incredible food from all over the world, etc.”

        The problem is any large city has these….Toronto seems to lack originality in its style. As well I find the people overall to be a bit dull. It lacks that lust for life Montreal seems to have in folds. The people in Toronto are very polite…it is clean etc. It has no real negative points..it just isn’t very exciting.

        People will tell me I am wrong..and oh don’t you know Roncy is a great area and whatever else they will say about the great festivals etc. I mean the pride parade is solid, Carabanna is pretty cool. Prob is neither are really my thing…and prob not most ppl’s thing.

        I like to equate the statement of moving to Toronto for some ppl as having grown up in an amazing amusement park and now living in just a play ground. But for some, if you never knew an amusement park you would think a playground is pretty cool….someone will reply i lived in (insert worldly city) and Toronto is just as cool…..The things ppl get excited over and tell you are good are not that great in the grand scheme of things. Sure there are some decent restos….with boring ppl…no I shouldn’t be so hard on it.

        I think the ppl are what really show its colours…each sporting event is a snooze-fest… and ppl will claim it’s because of corporate blah blah. The soccer team has bout the rowdiest bunch…decent. It’s like you go to an event in NYC msg or Boston Garden or Bell Centre and the employees are proud to work there and are quick with a joke and into the event. ACC has some kids who have sat on the subway an hour and look none too happy to be there…look like they know none of the history of whatever sport it is and want to have a nap….

        It just lacks life in a lot of aspects…music events are quite dull..the city has not created much of a movement in any style or music. It has had a few decent acts….bout it…lets take a fun example. The hip hop…it cites it’s great hip hop acts over the years…Maestro, Michie Mee, Choclair, Kardinal, Drake…prob is all are not that great…Kardinal is ok…drake is ok mainstream.

        Anyways…I am getting bored of writing this and won’t go any further.

        Toronto has been fun in the last 6 years, don’t get me wrong…just not that epic.
        It’s like there isn’t much bad to say and not much good…it’s just a bunch of ppl come together, for the good and bad of it all. Go Leafs Go
        Next on the list is San Francisco….

  13. Panos

    Hey Matt,

    Just re-reading your article above and it seems that you paint a fairly vague picture of visiting Toronto. Where in the city did you end up visiting? How long did you stay in Toronto? It would help frame a discussion.

    In terms of visiting Toronto, granted the downtown core is probably the worst place to visit. There is no personality and it is a collection of office buildings and soulless steel. The beauty of visiting Toronto is discovering the pockets of ethnic neighborhoods and side-streets. The traditional art gallery and museum trail in Toronto is weak to quite weak. Ottawa offers much better museums and exhibits from a Canadian perspective. However, walk down Queen Street West and the art galleries are fantastic, and the same applies in Liberty Village and the Distillery District, with many unique pieces on display.

    Lack of Personality?

    I agree with you that there is a lack of personality in Toronto’s downtown core. But did you visit Little Italy, Parkdale, The Beaches, The Danforth, Liberty Village, Yorkville, Queen Street West, Little Pakistan, King West, Chinatown, The Annex . . . those diverse neighborhoods, especially from the spring to fall, are filled with outdoor patios, coffee shops and fantastic restaurants. Toronto’s personality is taken from its collection of ethnic neighborhoods. You are not merely Canadian in Toronto . . . you are (insert ethnicity) Canadian in Toronto and the personality of the city is the convergence of all those nationalities and cultures. It is a shame that when you visited Toronto you did not experience that.

    Nothing To Do?

    I don’t know you, I was merely reading this article that was forwarded to me from one of your fellow traveler bloggers so I am not sure what your likes/dislikes are. From an eating perspective, Toronto over the course of the past 5 years has truly evolved and the quality and level of eating has risen to some very high levels. If you are man that enjoys a beverage or two, there is a wide range to Toronto’s nightlife, from the typical pub to the high-end nightclub. In terms of shopping, hell it is Canada, expect a 30% uptick due to taxes and import fees, but all the stores that are in the US can be found in the city. Also there are several local designers that have taken to Queen Street to show their collections. During the day, there are day trips to Toronto Island, Casa Loma, Distillery District and Liberty Village that might wet your appetite. Even the zoo has pandas now! But in all seriousness, you can rent a car and drive an 1.5 hour north and visit Muskoka and cottage country or an 1.5 hour west to Niagara and wine country . . . and no, not the horrors of Niagara Falls and tacky-land.

    Toronto has its limitations, the transit system is weak to quite weak and Toronto Pearson airport is a pain in the butt . . . but next time fly into Toronto’s Island Airport with Porter, and stay in a hotel or hostel on Queen Street West or King West and experience a different Toronto, that is all I am saying.

    Reply
    • Lindsay

      This comment right here. It’s dead. on. Panos, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

      I will say that Toronto is a better place to live than to visit, but if you do as Panos suggests, I think you’ll see why people love living here. The downtown core is uninspiring, but that’s not what the city is all about, so please don’t judge it on that. Also, I think peoples’ expectations of Toronto may be a little skewed – it’s often positioned as a mini-NYC, which it absolutely isn’t. Sadly, I think if people expect that, they’re often underwhelmed.

      Oh, and one other thing to the commenters who say we’re rude – Mariellen’s right – we’re just a little more reserved! I’m sorry to those of you who think we’re rude or experienced rudeness here, obviously there are some rude people out there, but in general, we’re not a particularly rude bunch (except down in the Financial District…then we just want to get from A to B as fast as humanly possible).

      And finally, massive apologies for the TTC. We’re all very embarrassed by it, so please know that. We definitely know it sucks.

      Hopefully next time any of you come to Toronto, you can have a local help you out and show you the ropes – I managed to keep two friends from England occupied for a full ten days (including a day in Niagara-on-the-lake) and they still had stuff they missed out on! Just don’t come in the winter. It’s really not that charming then. June or September are perfect.

      Reply
      • Matt Long

        Thanks Lindsay, I appreciate it!

  14. Sam

    Hi Matt,

    I so much agree with you about Toronto. Two months ago, I went there with a friend of mine who has been there on many occasions before, while it was only the 2nd time for me. While the city’s skyline looks great with all those new skyscrapers rising….once in the city, I just didn’t feel that vibe like in some other places I visited. While the people there are extremely friendly and it felt much safer walking around than in any other US city of a similar size, I just felt like something was missing and I quickly became bored by just walking around and trying different restaurants and bars. The thing I find very unusual about Toronto is that it doesn’t have a river flowing through. This might be me being from Europe, but I find it very strange to have such a big city having no river and bridges. I know some might say it has the lake, but this is not the same to me. As you mentioned, it might be a great city to live in but to visit, I still have to be convinced.

    Sam

    Reply
  15. Jessica

    I lived in Toronto for 2 years so I feel like I should be defending it, but I actually kind of agree. It certainly has all the generic convenience of a big city: good public transportation, a variety of restaurants, plenty of places to shop – but there’s nothing really special about it. I didn’t mind living there, and there are areas that I like, such as Kensington Market and the Distillery District; but I can see why even these areas aren’t spectacular enough to draw tourists. While I wouldn’t say Torontonians are rude, there are a lot locals who have that sort of over-worked/rushed/stressed-out by city-life vibe. Of course there are exceptions, but it’s an overall feeling thing. I think we’ll move back to Canada eventually one day, but it definitely won’t be to Toronto.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Well said, it’s nice enough to live in, but to visit…?

      Reply
  16. Jerrod

    Even though the author is expressing his personal opinion . . . I disagree 100%.

    I love visiting Toronto and would take Toronto over any North American urban center.

    I am not sure where the author stayed or who the other commentators are but Toronto definitely does not lack personality. Ethnic flavors and culture fill Toronto with more than enough personality. Every time I have been able to visit with my family, we have found ourselves exploring an ethnic neighborhood during a street festival or just sitting at the outdoor cafes and have experienced than our share of personality.

    I am sorry, but walking around with your Lonely Planet in the downtown core is not a means to explore a city . . . put away the books and the lens of the travel blogger who is more interested in getting a stamp than experiencing life and maybe you will see just how fun Toronto is.

    Nothing to Do?!?! Really . . . take a look around . . . ahh this post is making me angry.

    Honestly if you have no desire to return, that’s fine by me . . . we have different tastes and I would be just fine having fun in Toronto without you.

    P.S. I am sorry, but it would make it much easier to understand your position if you explained what you actually did during your visit in Toronto, where did you go, where did you eat, etc?

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Thanks for the thoughts and anger is good! :)

      I’ve been three times, as I said, so not really going to Canada anymore for the stamp. LOL

      No one can like every city, it’s just life. For me, Toronto is a bust. For others, who knows, maybe it’s a dream trip up there with Rome and Paris.

      Reply
      • T

        But where did you go? What did you do while you were in Toronto?

        I’m pretty sure when you answer what you did and where you went, most people from Toronto would say “Oh! Well THAT’S why you didn’t like it much!”

      • Matt Long

        Please read the comments :)

  17. Letitia

    As a Vancouverite now turned proud Torontoian, I’ve been thinking about this post and instinctively want to disagree. But I think what I really dislike is Toronto being singled out. As someone else mentioned in the comments, people in general (fellow Canadians in particular) love to hate Toronto and I don’t appreciate the generalizations by some of the commenters about Torontoians being rude. As Matt replied, rude people are everywhere.

    That said, I think Matt may have a point. My adopted city of Toronto is an amazing place to live; really great art & culture, restaurants and neighbourhoods. I miss Vancouver but I love living here. But I honestly don’t know if I can say I would pick Toronto as an urban vacation over other major cities in the world. But maybe that’s ok. Not every city is designed for tourists and not every city is for everyone.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read and digest the post, I appreciate it. I singled it out because, well, it was just about my experience in Toronto but other cities are similar. I’m so glad many folks love living there, but as I’ve said throughout this post, there’s a huge different between visiting and living. Thanks again!

      Reply
  18. Japhet

    Toronto is a great city to live in but its charms are not easy to find on a visit.

    The disconnect between the local cultures/ communities and the municipal government can be large.

    One solution for visitors is to take a look at local alternative weekly papers like NOW and The Grid for things to do (they have websites too). Some neighbourhoods like Queen West, Kensington Market, the Distillery District and Ossington are great to wander around in but it helps to know whats going on and the daily papers do not help.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      See, that’s sort of what one does if they’re stuck there. It’s not a reason to visit, but does show it’s a great place to live.

      Reply
  19. A Cook Not Mad (Nat)

    everybody’s allowed their opinion but i’m pretty sure they’re called Torontonians not Torontans :)

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Actually no, both are fine. :)

      Reply
      • Ron

        Torontonians. That’s it.

      • Matt Long

        Both are accepted, believe me I’ve checked :)

  20. Andrea

    Funny… I live in Vancouver and totally have my love on for Toronto. I’m an artist though and for me the city is way more cultural exciting than my pretty like a supermodel Vancouver. I’ve been going to Toronto for trade shows for 15 years, so I kind of feel like I’m returning home when I go there because it’s both familiar and undiscovered at the same time.
    Any city can be cool if you know where to look. Would I want to live there? probably not. I like my west coast abode, but would I return to Toronto! Definitely!

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Interesting perspective, thanks for sharing it!

      Reply
  21. Carol Perehudoff

    Seriously? You don’t like London, either?

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      LOL. London is ok and I like it better than Toronto. BUT, I have never felt a spark of excitement in London. I have never felt that indescribable feeling of awe of wonder in London, as I have in many other cities. I don’t mind it and I’ll be back many, many more times I imagine, but it just doesn’t do it for me.

      Reply
    • Exhogtowner

      I lived in London for 8 months. As I say to people who ask me how it was. “It was the worst 5 years of my life!”

      Reply
  22. Dalene

    Funny, we discovered our similar disdain for olives, and now I agree with you again on both parts, about Toronto AND London. We wrote a post about not liking London almost two years ago and we still get flack over it from certain people, so be prepared to sustain comments on this one for a long while. :)

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Dalene,
      Ha! We’re blogging soul mates :) We can’t all like every destination and I hope I did a good job of not being mean about my position.

      Reply
  23. Graham

    As someone who lives here I always wonder why anyone would want to plan a trip here (other than festival, convention, concert or sporting event) and have to agree with a lot of the points you mentioned.

    Toronto does have some stuff to offer, but is it enough to compare with other big cities. The over development, constant construction and never ending traffic are definitely reasons enough not to visit though. I really hope they stop knocking down buildings that give the city character to replace them with condos, but unfortunately this likely won’t stop and eventually there will be no reasons to visit this city other than to work and live.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Sadly many cities have gone through that same process

      Reply
  24. Cheryl

    I’ve been a long time resident of Toronto and must tell you there are plenty of reasons that make it a worthwhile place to visit.

    I hope that if you ever do return that you take up with some of us locals (and fellow travel bloggers) who can show you a different side of a terrific city. :)

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Tell us here! So far I’m not convinced. Everything mentioned is what makes it a pleasant enough city to live in, but not to plan a week long vacation to visit as a tourist. :)

      Reply
  25. Traveller

    One of the most unique features of Toronto is the people, their “holier-than-thou” attitude is only rivaled by a city like Paris, France. There is really nothing to see or do in Toronto except to be amazed at the rude and contempt you will get. There is nothing funny about it, you might even start to appreciate the attitude next time you visit.

    Reply
  26. Darren

    I definitely agree with you. I am from the very east coast of Canada (Newfoundland) and I have been to Toronto multiple times and each time I leave a little disappointed. Vancouver and Quebec are fantastic Canadian cities that definitely have good things to offer. I’d highly suggest making a trip to the maritimes. I’m slightly biased but I enjoy the smaller Canadian cities of Halifax and St. John’s much more, and they have a charm that is often hard to find in the bigger cities.

    Normally, I would usually become upset about a travel blogger that doesn’t see good things about a city in my country, but in this case I sadly agree. I will definitely be reading the comments to see what I am missing about Toronto because I too hope I am wrong about Toronto.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Thanks for the thoughtful comments Darren and as you can see from the comments you are definitely not in the minority. I tried to be fair in my post and not inflammatory and i think honestly that I succeeded. And yes, the maritimes are very high on my list, one day! :)

      Reply
  27. Melis

    I agree! Sadly Toronto has no personality…I moved to Toronto from Istanbul 7 years ago and ughhj I miss istanbul more and more every day I spend in Toronto

    Reply
  28. pedram fanian

    You write that Toronto is a “nice place to live, NOT a nice place to visit.” I disagree. Having lived there for most of my life, I would doubt that it is a nice place to to live for many of the reasons you have indicated as a visitor. The fact is that the world had much to offer and Toronto is just another mainstream city. Sadly some Torontonians seem have an almost pathological disorder of fantasizing that their city is the centre of the universe.

    Reply
  29. Ron

    Just read your post on 5 cities that deserve a second chance and am suprised that you dislike Toronto so much. Yes, Torontonians tend to be reserved, just as most big city residents are. But nothing to do? Nothing visually stimulating? If you couldn’t find an immediate “spark”, then you really should have done some planning before your second visit.
    As other posters have written, there are a ton of attractions, activities, sights, sounds and experiences in and around the city.
    No, it’s not New York or Paris, but it has its charms – we get many repeat visitors. Hopefully, you’ll be back and learn to appreciate our city. Oh, and excuse our buffoon of a mayor – just a temporary thing.

    Reply
    • Robert

      You wrote most big city residents are reserved?? I am confused by this as they are usually not.

      I just got back from Chicago and I thought I have been missing this…ppl were generally more outgoing and generally cooler people to speak with. Their outlook on life was more fun…they had a bit more of a wild side and backbone yet were friendly.

      Toronto gives a dull feeling. I am sorry but most people who say it is a great city will explain how going to the beaches area, or stopping by Leslieville Cheese is amazing!!! They have so many cheeses!! wow…yet it’s such a bland existence here and I look forward to moving on.

      When someone tells me of something cool they did in highschool or how great their weekend was, I tend to think wow…you don’t get out much but that’s just life here. But I will give Toronto one thing, ppl who live here and love it, are solid homers. They love it and will cite its weak things as great. Tell you they are good….look at this slide…wow!! look at this swing set, isn’t it good? They will say….meanwhile you have been living at an awesome amusement park and now you are in a playground that Toronto is…you’re like yeah that slide is ok I guess…looks safe enough…and the Torontonian is like what?!!! are you kidding me?? This slide is crazy!! wowwwww…..as they have no idea what you are talking about..they don’t know a roller coaster can exist…they see this place as amazing…but it’s dull. I don’t want to be mean lol….sorry Toronto

      Reply
  30. Al

    I’m born and raised in Toronto, and under 40 years old. I don’t like it here. It’s difficult for me because as one of latin culture background and a natural joie de vivre in me and yearning for culture, I’m just miserable. It really is the place. :*(

    Reply
    • Al

      It’s me again, because I realized I forgot another big factor: Transit and traffic. THE worst for top developed countries, and considering how Toronto is the largest city here and is supposed to be the hub for Canada. There is the issue of how the govt has been irresponsible for nearly 25 years allowing the highest level of immigration in the developed world yet never expanding any transit and infrastructure all this time. The infrastructure in Toronto is for our 1970s/early 1980s population level. Too many new cheap, material condos allowed to be put up and bought (investment) by foreign people too. However, the bottom line here is: pedestrian, driver, transit commuter, cyclist – we’re all screwed! Nothing works here for any type of person. Lack of options for anyone, especially the transit user. So quality of life is really hurt because of this factor, and the old Toronto charm is fading. You can’t get as much accomplished or see things (leisure or work) as you’d hope to, or it’s just simply frustrating to get around the city. It used to be said that the downtown core was never to be affected by the transit issue, but downtown is now being affected and is now feeling the suburban-like traffic/transit issues as well.

      Reply
      • Robert

        The city gets worse each year…each year that passes you can name some cool building, park etc which is now gone to pump up yet another condo…it’s gross for condos…but the same amount of roads, transit and hospitals etc…yet it pumps condos….I have been here 6 years…it has gone down hill in this short time.

      • Jiries

        With all honesty your traffic in Toronto isn’t too too bad. Its definitely not the worst in the developed world. I don’t know where you heard that. In fact its not even the worst in North America. Many cities- Los Angeles and San Francisco are world’s worse than Toronto in terms of bad traffic. Toronto just has fairly bad big city traffic. But its not out of the norm for a major city. LA and the Bay Area have mind boggling traffic. For example, I was stuck in 30 minutes of terrible traffic at 9:30PM just East of San Francisco. No accident. Just traffic- hardly moving, stop and go traffic, until 10PM.

      • Spaceman

        @Jiries

        At worst L.A. has the same level of congestion as Toronto, the only difference is they have the problem while needing to move 3 times as many people.

  31. ben

    I agree with you,I have been living here for 12 years and it is getting in ti my nerve, planing to move away in 2 years, and don’t plan to come back. Toronto is great for career money but not for wellness.

    Reply
  32. Exhogtowner

    I grew up in TO and it used to be a nice place to live. Then came “world class city” mantra and everything went to crap. People became ruder because they thought that’s what big city folk are supposed to act like. Most buildings of any charm or interest were torn down to make way for ugly, glass high rises. How sad.

    I have had the good fortune to have traveled most of Europe and S. America and enjoyed myself almost everywhere I went. Always something to see in some of the most unlikely places.

    I now live in Lewiston NY (right across the lake from Toronto) and can drive to downtown in about 75 minutes. We get into Toronto only when we have to. The traffic is horrible, the people are arrogant and poorly dressed. Everyone seems to be on edge. There is nothing to see, the Art Galley Of Ontario is second rate, the museum is over priced for any special exhibit.

    Ethnic neighborhoods are becoming more like ghetto enclaves. The only good thing I can say about Toronto is that I can go into town for business and still be home for dinner.

    Reply
  33. Brucello

    I totally agree. I have a brother in Toronto so from my visits I have experienced the place as a traveller. If you want to spend time in a big city on the great lakes, pass on Toronto and visit Chicago.

    Reply
    • Robert

      +1 completely agree! Hit Chicago…much more flavour on all levels.

      Reply
  34. Jiries

    I know I’m very late writing this, but I absolutely agree with your article. I’ve been to Canada several times and Toronto three times. The city largely lacks any distinction or sense of charm. I know that its probably a decent place to raise a family- low crime, its a clean city, decent economy, good schools, etc. But the city lacks any vibe that would make it enjoyable to a visitor. I did the CN tower, and it was nice only because I was there with my fiance. But for 35 dollars a person, I wouldn’t ever do it again. Another recommendation is the Eaton Center. Its just a mall! Not even a particularly nice mall. Just a basic urban mall. Coming from San Francisco, I found Toronto to be fairly boring and bland. Its so generic, so dull. To hear many Canadians try to compare Toronto to New York(and many do try to make this comparison) would make most who have visited both cities scratch their heads.

    All that being said, Toronto is not a horrible city. I’d much rather live in Toronto than say….Phoenix or Cleveland. But in terms of world class cities, all the construction in Toronto isn’t bringing it any closer to being among the world’s elite cities. Even Dundas Square was disappointing. Its no Time Square. Its no Miracle Mile in Chicago. Its no Union Square in San Francisco. Sadly, even the Atlantic Station in Midtown Atlanta puts it to shame.

    Reply
  35. European

    After close to a year and a half living in this city, my opinion on it is exactly the same as that of the author of this article: the city lacks personality and vibe, there is little stuff to do other than work and, if I go back to Europe, I would see no reason to return to it in the future other than work. May I add that, from a urbanistic and aesthetic point of view, it is not a compelling city, either…. Now, having said all that, it is a good city to live in, particularly compared to most cities in North America. It is safe, people are polite, and there are reasonably good public services (particularly health: what happens in the US with public healthcare is unconceivable), but I find it extremely dull. My mdefinition that, I think, encompasess it all and I deliver when people ask me about Toronto is: Toronto?, it is OK, no more, no less

    Reply
  36. Martin

    Hi, im 20yo from Europe and I totally agree with this article.

    I came here in Toronto for three months to study English, now im in my 7th week.
    When I came here the host mother of the family where I live told me that before me there was an Ukrainian guy in the house, who told her that the more he stays here in Toronto, the more he wanted to go back home. I thought that that guy must be mad…

    Well, the first 2 weeks here were ok, it is my first time in North America, at the beginning I had a great feeling, I went around the city with friends I met in my English school, it was cool. Seeing these skyscrapers, many poeple, it was like in movies: I was happy to be here and I thought that coming in the biggest city in Canada was such a great idea.
    But after 3 weeks something started changing, maybe I was getting used to live here, or more probably the euphoria I felt was disappearing.
    Then I realized that until that moment I didn’t actually do anything in Toronto, that I’ve only been hanging out with friends for 3 weeks without really discovering the city….well there is nothing to discover.
    “Great city”, “multi ethnical”, “cultural leader”, “green city” are only some adjectives you can find on reviews about this city, they are true, but probably create too much expectations in people who vist it.
    So I decided to visit places which are recommended like the CN Tower (I’ve not been there yet and I don’t know if im going becasue there is only the view of the city, and I prefer to “live” the city, instead of watching it), Casa Loma (if you come from Europe it’s just an ordinary old house) and Toronto Island where you go to take picture with the skyline of Toronto and staying in the nature near the city. But are there other places? Well, not really.
    I thought that here there were so many things to see and visit, also becasue is a multi-ethnical city, a big city. So I went to kesingston market as someone suggested me, but honestly it doesn’t worth so much, it’s just a south american-portuguese neighbourhood with small cafés and shops, nothing that can amaze you: I also tried different food here, maybe I went to wrong places becasue the taste was nothing special.
    I tried to visit the city, changing places, but actually, in my opinion, it’s like a “fake” multi ethnical city, what canges from a neighbourhood to the other are just the writings of the shops, from chinese to italian, spanish to korean, otherwhise (probably I’m too superficial, but not so much) it doesn’t change anything, maybe in the past the neighbourhood had different peculiarities, but nowadays no.
    Probably my expections before coming here were to high, and probably I’m staying here too long . If you are a tourist 2 days here are enough, if you attend a school like I’m doing don’t stay more than 1 month.
    The people are ok, the most are polite and friendly. When I talk to the residents they can’t understand why I’m bored of Toronto. Yeah I know it’s clean, safe, many cultures etc, but this is not enough to have a city where you can enjoy just walking on the streets. When I visited other countries you could see the personality, and as many said, this city doesn’t have it.
    Is good to live because it’s safe etc, but really I can’t enjoy it right now. I still have 5 weeks here and I hope I’ll find the way to enjoy it (I know I have to change my expectetions, becasue the city won’t). Now it’s June, I really hope that in summer there are gonna be good festivals, more chances to meet more people, to have fun, because now I’m feeling like I’m wasting my money and my time here.
    Before choosing to come here, I wanted to go to Montreal, but since there the first language is French I ended to go to Toronto, and now I regret it.
    I don’t want then to talk about the subway, the slowest I have ever seen and there are only 2 lines to serve 6 milions people (ok there are 4 lines, but the other two are only “extensions lines), the streetcars (30 years old) or the fact that almost every place at night close at 2am.. This is something I could accept if the city would offer something. I’m not really a person who need to be entertained, but here or the desert is the same thing.
    Here there are good restaurants, ok, but it’s like saying that in Russia there is good vodka: am I supposed to drink vodka for 3 months??

    The only good thing about Toronto is that it has many ways to “escape” from here: Niagara Falls is near, Montreal and Ottawa are near, New York and Boston are near. So don’t get me wrong, but this city is dead.

    And I think it’s also expensive comparing to what it has to offer.

    To sum up is a nice city, but don’t stay here more 2-3 days if you are a tourist who is looking for a charming city. Is multi ethnical, i like it, but probably people here work more than what they should and they don’t really need all the stuff that a tourist expects to find here.

    Reply
  37. anonymous

    toronto also has a terrible reputation for dating, just google it.

    Reply
  38. Yaman

    I’ve lived in Bangkok and Tokyo and Toronto doesn’t even compare! Tokyo has a charm that you’ll fall in love with, with its Japanese history and cyberpunk elements with anime and technology that’s an ingrained part of their history. Plus in Tokyo you pay 20$ in some bars and it’s all you can drink! The women in Tokyo are so nice! They are respectful, polite and will make eye contact and smile at you. Toronto is just a city of convenience, like oh there’s a Tim Hortons, there’s a grocery store, there’s some man made park, let me spend 10$ on a pint, there’s another new condo nobody is living in, there’s a woman that gave me the stare of death, there’s another St. Louis wings, there’s the green room, there’s the red room (same owner), there’s poor boy, (same owner), there’s a second cup, there’s another second cup, there’s a Starbucks, there’s another star bucks right beside it, there’s a group of girls with no boyfriends, there’s no couples walking around kissing. There ya go I just gave you a visual tour of Toronto for you guys so you don’t have to visit now.

    Reply

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