A boat passes by the Canadian side of Niagara Falls in Ontario on a sunny day

Things to do in  Ontario

The land of glittering waters

Home to both Canada’s largest city (Toronto) and its capital (Ottawa), the province of Ontario is a powerhouse of Canadian culture, economics, and population. Many travelers stick to the areas of southern Ontario around these two major cities. Chalk it up to Toronto’s museums like the Art Gallery of Ontario, nearby Niagara Falls (and the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Reserve), and Ottawa’s Rideau Canal (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). However, the rest of the province has a lot to offer, too. Vast forests, numerous provincial parks, and four of the five Great Lakes of North America are among the many things to do in Ontario.

Top 15 attractions in Ontario

Niagara Falls, Ontario

The powerful border-straddling Niagara Falls is actually composed of the American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Horseshoe Falls (also known as Canadian Falls). Combined, these cascades have the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world—more than a million bathtubs of water plummet over the edge every second. While they’re wildly impressive from the US, here’s how to explore the Canadian side.More

CN Tower

For many visitors to Toronto, this needle-like telecommunications tower—often seen from the airplane window—is their first glimpse of the city. When completed in 1976, the CN Tower was the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere. Though it no longer holds that title, it is still the tallest tower in Canada, and the spectacular views from its observation decks are second to none.More

Distillery Historic District

Once home to the 1832 Gooderham and Worts’ mammoth distilling facility, Toronto’s charming arts and entertainment quarter is now a popular strolling spot for off-duty creatives. The cobblestone streets are lined with Victorian-era industrial buildings, which have been repurposed to serve as contemporary art galleries, third-wave coffee shops, concept boutiques, restaurants, and bars.More

Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)

Established in 1914, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is Canada’s largest museum. Housed inside a heritage-meets-modern building, it boasts a 6-million-strong collection, which focuses on objects relating to world culture and natural history. It includes everything from First Nations’ crest poles to Egyptian mummies to T-rex skeletons.More

Skylon Tower

Perched on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, the lofty Skylon Tower is famous for its bird’s-eye views. Boasting a panoramic observation platform, ambient dining, movies, shopping, and activities for the whole family, this 775-foot (236-meter) tower offers an entire day’s worth of entertainment.More

Journey Behind the Falls

Niagara Falls is an incredible sight from land and by boat, but at Journey Behind the Falls visitors who wish to truly experience its massive power can get up close and personal—and wet. Standing on an observation deck behind the falls, where more than one million bathtubs of water thunder over the edge every second, is a truly unforgettable experience of Niagara.More

Cave of the Winds

At the Cave of the Winds observation decks, thrill-seeking visitors can get within 20 feet (6 meters) of the thundering Niagara Falls for an experience that feels like the inside of a tropical storm with torrents of water cascading down and winds up to 68 mph (109 kph). Safe to say, you’ll probably get wet.More

Ottawa Parliament Hill

A concentrated cluster of grand government buildings overlooking the Ottawa River, Parliament Hill is the centerpiece of Downtown Ottawa. At the heart of the complex is Centre Block, a neo-Gothic riot of greening copper turrets, stone-carved gargoyles, and pointed arches built around a soaring central campanile (bell tower) known as the Peace Tower. Parliament Hill is not just a pretty sight; it’s also home to Canada’s most important democratic institutions, including the Library of Parliament and the chambers of the House of Commons and the Senate.More

Toronto Harbour

Toronto Harbour is located on the north shore of Lake Ontario, the smallest of North America’s five Great Lakes. Protected from the lake’s tides by the Toronto Islands, the harbor offers smooth conditions for a wide range of water activities, including boat tours, ferry rides, sailing, and kayaking.More

St. Lawrence Market

A foodie paradise, the long-running St. Lawrence Market occupies the historic South Market House building, which previously served as Toronto’s city hall and jail. Since 1803, residents and visitors have come here to meet, eat, and shop for food items ranging from Prince Edward Island oysters to peameal bacon to Montreal-style bagels.More

Queen's Park

Perhaps best known as the site of the Ontario Legislative Building, Queen’s Park is a verdant oasis offering respite from the buzz of downtown Toronto. You’ll find monuments and memorials, walking paths and benches, and lawns ideal for lounging.More

Bridal Veil Falls

The smallest of the three waterfalls that comprise world-famous Niagara Falls, Bridal Veil Falls is anything but small. Located on the US side of the falls, the 56-foot-wide (17-meter-wide) waterfall thunders over a 78-foot (24-meter) drop. Its frothy white cascade is reminiscent of a bride’s veil, hence the falls’ name.More

Harbourfront Centre

Occupying a prime 10-acre (4-hectare) site on the edge of Lake Ontario, the nonprofit Harbourfront Centre offers a jam-packed year-round program of events. The complex comprises more than 30 sights, including parks, outdoor and indoor performance venues, squares, art galleries, a boardwalk, artist studios, restaurants, and retail outlets.More

Rideau Canal

Built between 1826 and 1832 to offer secure passage for British ships from Montreal, the Rideau Canal—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—is an engineering masterpiece. It extends for 126 miles (202 kilometers) between Ottawa and Kingston. Ottawa’s most visited stretch lures boaters, cyclists, and strollers in summer, and ice skaters in winter.More

Toronto City Hall

New City Hall, which replaced Old City Hall in 1965 to accommodate a rapidly growing city, is the current seat of Toronto’s municipal government. Designed by Finnish architect Viljo Revell, winner of the city’s international competition, Toronto City Hall is comprised of two curved towers as well as Nathan Phillips Square, Canada’s largest public square.More

Top activities in Ontario

Niagara Falls Day Tour from Toronto with Boat, Lunch& Winery Stop
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Niagara Falls Day and Evening Tour With Boat Cruise & Dinner (optional)
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Best of Toronto Small Group Tour with CN Tower and Harbour Cruise
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7-Minute Helicopter Tour over Toronto
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All about Ontario

When to visit

There’s never a bad time to visit this vast and varied province, thanks to its dynamic urban hubs of Toronto and Ottawa, as well as its Great Lakes coastlines and dramatic landscapes. Summer is the time to celebrate Canada Day (on July 1) in the capital, attend festivals including the Toronto International Film Festival and Toronto Pride, as well as enjoy beach and boating excursions. In winter, the best things to do in Ontario include Christmas markets, ice rinks, and ski resorts like Blue Mountain.

Getting around

Toronto and Ottawa are the region’s two major urban hubs. The province has four main airports: Toronto Pearson International Airport, London International Airport, Ottawa International Airport, and Thunder Bay International Airport. The region’s cities have many public transportation options, and mainline trains and buses (via routes like the Trans Canada Highway) also traverse the province. Multi-day tours make it easy to discover its cities, blockbuster attractions such as Niagara Falls, and scenic national and provincial parks.

Traveler tips

Visiting in winter? You may get lucky and enjoy a northern lights show. While the aurora borealis is clearest in Canada’s northerly regions, you can still see it this far south, particularly on clear winter evenings. Popular viewing spots include Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron, Lake Superior Provincial Park, Pukaskwa National Park, and other dark-sky spots outside of the cities.

Local Currency
Canadian Dollar (CA$)
Time Zone
EDT (UTC -5)
Country Code

People Also Ask

What is Ontario, Canada, known for?

Ontario is home to Toronto, Canada’s largest city, as well as Ottawa, its capital. Other well-known attractions include the mighty Niagara Falls and the wine-producing Niagara region. Don’t miss its many lakes, including the Great Lakes of Ontario, Lake Erie, Huron, and Superior.

How many days do you need to see Ontario?

Most travelers focus on the areas around Toronto and Ottawa. Set aside around three days each to visit the main cultural and natural highlights. However, this is an enormous province, and you would need weeks to travel across it and see all its attractions.

What is the most visited place in Ontario?

Niagara Falls, which sits on the border with the US, is Ontario’s most visited place. Other popular destinations in the province are Toronto, Ottawa (Canada’s capital city), and Algonquin Provincial Park. Don’t miss the 1000 Islands region and Niagara-on-the-Lake, a historic winemaking town near Niagara Falls.

What should I not miss in Ontario?

One of the best things to do in Ontario is visit Niagara Falls, an impressive natural landmark not far from Toronto. The nearby Niagara-on-the-Lake is another not-to-be-missed destination, especially for travelers who love history and wine. Don’t skip the Algonquin Provincial Park, either, for a glimpse of the region’s natural scenery.

What is the prettiest part of Ontario?

Many people consider the natural areas and provincial parks to be the prettiest parts of Ontario. Algonquin Provincial Park contains pretty rivers and lakes, as well as wildlife. Niagara Falls is another pretty natural spot as is Georgian Bay. And don’t miss the 1000 Islands region of the Saint Lawrence River.

Are Toronto and Ontario the same place?

No, they are not the same place, although they overlap. Toronto is a city within the province, and one of the most popular locations in Ontario, alongside other hubs like Ottawa, Hamilton, and Kitchener.

Frequently Asked Questions
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