visit toronto

15 things you have to explain to visitors about Toronto

Toronto can be a confusing place for visitors, what with our ever-changing subway fare rules, sudden obsession with liquor laws, and a strange love-hate relationship with city raccoons. 

With that in mind, welcome to Toronto, friends. Here are a few things you should know.

Condos are everywhere

This city sure does love its sky-high towers. If you’re wondering why there always seems to be perpetual construction going on in the city, chalk it up to the fact that we’re building more glassy buildings now than ever in history. If the place you’re visiting from has affordable housing—lucky you, we can’t relate.

It’s pronounced "Young"

If you ask a Torontonian where to find “Yawnj” or “Yon-Gee” Street, we’ll probably laugh at you, but we’ll know what you mean. Consider this the Toronto version of New York’s Houston Street: it doesn’t really make sense, but you’ll get used to it.

Ka’wine and Dine

Did you know we’re NBA Champions? Did you know? The Raptors are officially the first Canadian team ever to win the NBA Finals—thanks in large part to player Kawhi Leonard—so he gets to eat at a lot of restaurants in the city free of charge. It's the least we can do. 

It smells like weed sometimes, and that’s okay

Recreational puff puff passing is totally legal in the city now, so don’t be surprised if you catch a whiff of that dank stuff in the street. We also have a handful of stores selling cannabis too, if you want to try some Canadian bud.

Police officers still ride horses

If you see a horse clopping down a traffic-ridden city street, don’t be alarmed. These majestic creatures and the officers who ride them are part of the Mounted Police, the longest running police unit in Toronto. You can even ask to pet them, they almost always say yes.

The TTC will probably only ever have four lines

It’s hard to reconcile all the hubub Toronto makes about its subway system when you look at a TTC map and realize it only has four lines. Unfortunately, ongoing disputes and changes to our Relief Line plans have made the regular citizenry all but abandon hope for any real expansion in the next 100 years.

The ‘Believe guy’ is the best part about Yonge-Dundas Square

If you absolutely must visit the hectic meat market hellscape that is Yonge-Dundas Square, pray that you be blessed by the patron saint of YDS. As his nickname implies, this pious man (his real name is Sarko) has long been yelling “Believe” at people on the northwest corner of the intersection. In this fast-paced life, let there be one thing left unchanged in this world.

Toronto drivers and cyclists are not on good terms

The city could have a great cycling path network if it wanted to, but unfortunately that’s not the case. So while Torontonians are generally pretty courteous to one another, don’t be surprised if you see a scrappy altercation break out between a cyclist and a driver.

Our nickname is bacon related

Hogtown used to be a pejorative term other cities levied at Toronto, mainly because of the excess amount of resources and attention the city commanded in the late 1800s. The name became a term of endearment when the William Davies Company made peameal bacon an international delicacy.

Streetcar tunnels: don’t drive through them

If you’ve chosen to get around the city with your own vehicle, please, for the love of all that’s good, do not accidentally drive into the Queens Quay tunnel. This infamous TTC path has lured and trapped more than 20 drivers over the past few years.

Not everyone is obsessed with Drake

The most famous person to come out of Toronto by a landslide, it’s fair to say that this outspoken rapper does the most (not in a good way) while also doing a lot of great things for the city. There’s definitely no consensus in the city, so if Drake is the only thing you know about Toronto, don’t just assume every person you meet is a big Drizzy fan.

We have a weird relationship with raccoons

They steal our breakfasts, ride the TTC for free, get trapped in dumpsters, and destroy our homes, and yet we can’t deny that our relationship with these urban critters is more love than hate. We are called Raccoon City for a reason.

No one calls Toronto ‘The 6ix’

Yes, it had a short-term stint after Drake (or Jimmy Prime, depending who you ask) popularized the saying a few years back. But no self-respecting Torontonian ever refers to it as such. It’s “Chorrono”, or TDot, if you’re oldschool.

How to use The PATH

Maybe you’ve arrived in the city during a notorious Canadian winter (why didn’t you just wait until spring?) and don’t want to get blown away in a snow storm. Lucky for you, Toronto actually has a 30-kilometre underground network called The PATH that will get you around plenty of tourist attractions in the downtown core.

There's nature all around the city, if you know where to look

At first glance, we might seem like a concrete jungle, but there’s a surprising number of green spaces sprucing up the city. There are great parks all over, plus the wealth of the Don Valley and Humber River for some beautiful walking trails worth getting lost in.

Lead photo by

Howard Yang

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