universities in toronto

The ultimate guide to Toronto for first year university students this fall

Universities in Toronto are just about ready to welcome students back to campus for the fall semester, plenty of first years included.

Figuring out a timetable and where your next class is can be a struggle enough for those new on campus. Let alone, knowing where to go for food, drinks, study sessions, and a much-needed break. 

Luckily, there are plenty of places around Toronto that cater to students on a budget. Plus, a fair share of deals and discounts to help stretch your dollar even further. 

Here's a guide to the city for first year university students this fall.

Where to grab drinks

Wide Open

There's a drink deal for every day of the week at this long-time dive on Spadina Avenue. Drinks are $3.50 every Thursday between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. while Fridays and Saturdays have $5.50 bar rails and $16 pitchers. 

Yonge Street Warehouse

This rowdy spot is right across from the Ryerson SLC, so you can hop over right after class. Drinks aren't badly priced and food won't put you out much either with $5.95 shareables. 

universities in toronto

Yonge Street Warehouse is just across the street from Ryerson SLC. Photo by Hector Vasquez. 

Sneaky Dee's

This College Street highlight offers drinks and tex mex grub on the cheap. Plus, dance parties and concerts are often held upstairs, so you can keep the bar rails comin'. 

Drom Taberna

Prices for cocktails at this Eastern European bar at Queen West and Augusta are pretty standard. Though the large patio and nightly live music performances make up for the cost. 

universities in toronto

Drom Taberna is an Eastern European bar on Queen West. Photo by Hector Vasquez. 

Nothing Fancy

This new-to-the-scene bar may not offer frills, but there are free live comedy shows and trivia every Thursday. Enjoy the night with the help of a few $7 pints, make that $10 if you want to add a hot dog. 

Labyrinth Lounge

Also known as The Lab, this dark and moody spot has become somewhat of an Annex institution just a few blocks from U of T's St. George campus. Expect $4 and $5 drink specials every day of the week. 

Sweaty Betty's

This 20-something dive bar is still kickin', even after surviving a rough year, to say the least. All the more reason to support with a purchase of one or two $6.45 pickleback shots. 

universities in toronto

Sweaty Betty's has been around for over 20 years. Photo by Hector Vasquez. 

Imperial Pub

This pub with a long history has three levels, an old jukebox, and views of Yonge-Dundas Square from the rooftop patio. It's the perfect spot to catch up with some friends over a few beers ($5 domestic and $8 craft).

Where to go for cheap eats
Banh Mi Nguyen Huong

Head to Chinatown to chow down on Vietnamese sandwiches starting at $3.50. This OG bahn mi mom and pop makes them delicious, and ridiculously cheap, every time. 

Egg Club

This Yonge-Dundas spot couldn't be more conveniently located for Ryerson students. It also has one of the tastiest breakfast sandwiches in the city, on Japanese milk bread and costing just a little over $5. 

universities in toronto

Breakfast sandwiches on Japanese milk bread are around $5 at Egg Club. Photo by Fareen Karim. 

Ritz Caribbean

Caribbean food is always a great bang for your buck, and Ritz is no exception. Expect freshly made beef and chicken patties for just $2 a pop and $5.99 lunch specials every day. 

World Food Market

This outdoor market on the Ryerson campus has it all. Karma's Kitchen makes $7.50 momos, Kordog offers Korean-style hot dogs for $5, and Choco Churros has a hard-to-pass-up five churro for $7 deal. 

universities in toronto

The World Food Market has plenty of different vendors right on Ryerson campus. Photo by Hector Vasquez. 

Happy Burger

The affordable prices at this smash burger joint will put a smile on your face. The regular Happy cheeseburger costs just a bit less than $7 while chicken burgs are closer to $9 and hot dogs are barely $6. 

Juicy Dumpling

Though dumpling options abound in Chinatown, none come quite this juicy at such a good price. Six pork soup dumplings for $3 means you can get a few boxes even if you're on a budget. 

universities in toronto

Dumplings won't cost you more than $3 at Juicy Dumpling. Photo by Hector Vasquez. 

Tapi Go!

All of the Brazilian crepes run less than $10 at this newer spot on Bloor West. There are also both sweet and savoury variations depending on what you're in the mood for but all are gluten-free.

Where to hit the books
Neo Coffee Bar on Bay

This cafe has two locations in Toronto, including one on Frederick St. near George Brown College's campus. There's plenty of seating and lots of tasty drinks and baked goods to give you some fuel.

Page One Cafe

Bright and spacious with plenty of tables to sit down with your laptop, this cafe will get your brain juices flowing. There are also cocktails later in the day to reward overachievers. 

page one toronto

Page One has ample seating in its cafe not far from Ryerson. Photo by Hector Vasquez. 

Mallo Coffee & Bar 

Mallo, just a short walk from U of T's St. George campus, is a cafe by day and bar by night. Arrive early to score a spot at one of the few tables and have some friends join after work is through. 

Balzac's Ryerson

You'll find everything needed for a study sesh at this Ryerson campus coffee gem. Balzac's has WIFI as strong as their espresso and large communal work tables. 

neo coffee bar toronto

Neo Coffee Bar is a popular spot for students and freelancers. Photo by Morris Lum. 

Cafe Pamenar

This intimate cafe in Kensington Market makes for a cozy spot to dive into some textbooks. Grab a seat inside or on the nicely sized patio and get to work. 

Toronto Reference Library

This five-level library is where serious students find peace and quiet. Head up the spiraling staircase to find a secluded spot and stay till closing at one of the study pods or larger tables. 

How to spend some downtime 
Explore the great outdoors 

Toronto is full of ravines and parks to enjoy, so get outside whenever you can. A walk through Glen Stewart or a bike ride around Leslie Street Spit will ready you for another semester, guaranteed. 

universities in toronto

Glen Stewart Ravine is just one of the many natural spaces to explore in Toronto. Photo by Tanya Mok. 

Reach rocky new heights 

Take a break from exercising your brain for a visit to Basecamp Climbing. Rock climbing sessions are discounted to $21 if you bring along a valid student ID. 

Channel your inner kid at an arcade bar 

Once work is done, what better way to let loose than playing some old-school arcade games. It only costs $5 to play all night at FreePlay, a multi-level arcade bar on College. Zed 80 and Tilt are other good options.

universities in toronto

It only costs $5 to play all night at FreePlay. Photo by Fareen Karim. 

Take in art and exhibits at a museum

The AGO, ROM and Aga Khan all don't charge admission on Wednesday nights. Plus, AGO offers free admission to anyone 25 or under always while the ROM has free student admission on Tuesdays. 

Where to buy school supplies

Curry's Artists' Materials 

There are two locations of this store of art materials, one on Queen West and another on Dundas West. Students get a 10 per cent discount on regular-priced items with a valid student ID. 

DeSerres

Find three stores around the city, each full of art and back-to-school supplies. Get a 10 per cent discount with a valid student ID. Plus, every $1 spent gets you one point toward a point program. 

Staples

There's all sorts of school and stationery supplies at this well known chain. Some stores even have work spaces and cafes.

Gwartzman's Art Supplies

This family-run business in Chinatown has long been a go-to spot for art supplies. Students get a 10 per cent discount on regular-priced items with a valid student ID. 

Midoco Art & Office Supplies

Three locations of this art and office store exist around the city. All regular-priced art supplies come with a 10 per cent discount with a valid student ID. 

How to save on-the-go

GO Transit

To get discounted student fare, get a GO-approved student ID and a reloadable PRESTO card. Then, set up your PRESTO for student fares to ride for cheaper. Remember to always travel with the GO student ID. 

TTC

If you're going to be hopping on the subway or city buses, consider getting a $128.15 Post-Secondary Monthly Pass. You'll just need a TTC student ID, which you can get at Bathurst Station or on campus. 

Zipcar

Register with your school email address when signing up for a yearly membership and get discounted rates. You can save around $35 a year, which isn't nothing. 

Bike Share

If a two-wheeler is your preferred mode of transport, a $99 yearly membership could be worth it. That works out to around 30 cents a day, that's cheaper than a one-way TTC fare. 

Via Rail

A valid ISIC card or student ID will earn you savings on Economy and Escape tickets. Students are also eligible for a $240 pass for six one-way trips over the course of six months. 

Lead photo by

Sonicgregu


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