All Aboard! A Student Guide for New Torontonians

Posted by Sophie Morgan on July 12, 2018


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If you’re a newly admitted York U student, we at the #YUBlog want to wish you a warm welcome to campus and to Toronto! If you’re not from the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), you can look forward to getting to know the capital of Ontario, the fifth-largest city in North America and home to the Lions’ Den, York University! – It’s an incredibly diverse city that’s worth exploring.

The distinct communities throughout the GTA provide opportunities for you to get to know people and embark on memorable day trips. Once you have fully experienced Toronto by visiting these top Toronto locations, you’ll feel a new sense of belonging and become a part of this amazing city! Enjoy the #YUBlog’s student guide to Toronto and its must-see locations.


Before you can discover Toronto, you first need to learn how to get there. York University is a great starting point for any city goer because you can access nearly every form of transit on campus that will take you almost anywhere in the GTA. During your time at York U, you’ll likely use the following transit providers:

Graphic of map of the GTA that shows important locations by York University
Explore the transit options available from York U by visiting the Transportation Services website!
  • GO Transit: Access at Harry W. Arthur’s Commons (The bus loop outside Vari Hall).
  • York Region Transit/VIVA/Züm: Access at Ian MacDonald Boulevard and at designated campus bus stops.
  • TTC Buses: Access at Pioneer Village Station and at designated campus bus stops.
  • TTC Subway: Access at York University Station or Pioneer Village Station.

To go straight downtown, you’ll most likely be staying on Line 1 Yonge-University (the yellow line on the TTC subway map). Learn more about the brand new subway extensions by checking out our previous #YUBlog post, “Introducing: TTC Subway Stations at York University”!

Graphic of an annotated York University Keele Campus map showing the transit stops by York University

Toronto Locations to Explore 

1) The CN Tower

Image of waterfront view of the CN Tower in Toronto by Gerald Friedrich2 from Pixabay
The CN Tower’s staggering 553-metre height makes it the tallest building in the city and one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.

One of Toronto’s most iconic structures is the CN Tower. You can buy your tickets online before you visit or on site at the box office from 9am to 10:30pm. No ID is necessary, but if you have a Hostelling International Card, an International Student Card or an International Student Exchange Card, you get 10% off the $38 General Admission adult ticket. The view from the top of the tower is breathtaking for any new Torontonian!

2) Dundas Square

Image of people walking at Dundas Square at Yonge and Dundas by The_nautilus from Pixabay
There are tons of shops and a mall around Dundas Square that are worth checking out!

If you’re looking for a lively, public space in downtown Toronto, you’ll definitely want to visit Dundas Square at Yonge and Dundas. Toronto’s own “Times Square” is home to numerous celebrations, theatrical events, dancing fountains and concerts during the summer months!

3) Toronto Islands

Image of a beach and people sitting under beach umbrellas at Queens Quay by Skeeze from Pixabay
Ferries leave the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal at Queens Quay nearly every hour during the summer months.

This beautiful regional park makes for a great day trip! At the Toronto Islands, you can enjoy any number of activities from the Centreville Amusement Park to beaches, pools, mazes, campgrounds and boating at the Toronto Island Boathouse. Tickets to the islands can be purchased for $7.87 online or by going to Jack Layton Ferry Terminal located at Queens Quay and Bay Street.

Success Tip: Many downtown locations offer student discounts and rates, so be sure to carry your student ID with you when travelling!

Educational Destinations 

4) The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO)

Image of people walking in modern art exhibit in white room from a bird's eye view perspective by Pilot Brent from Pixabay
At the AGO, admission is free on Wednesday nights from 6pm to 9pm!

Art student or not, the AGO and its nearly 95,000 pieces of artwork are great for any cultural outing. For a discounted student admission price of $11, you can enjoy diverse paintings, photography, sculptures and works by Canadian and international artists, as well as an impressive collection of Indigenous Canadian art.

5) The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)

Image of the ROM building from outside by Michael Lee-Chin from Flickr.
The ROM offers GO Transit riders 20% off their admission price.

For a wonderful learning experience, visit the ROM! You can explore international collections, fashion collections, a dinosaur exhibit, contemporary art and “cabinets of curiosities” with over 1,000 rare scientific artifacts. The $16.50 student admission price gives you access to over 30 galleries. To top it off, the ROM offers ROMwalks, which are free walking tours of Toronto!

6) The Toronto Reference Library

Image of the Toronto Reference Library from inside on the fourth floor by the Toronto Reference Library from Flickr.
On each of the five library floors, you’ll find cozy study spaces and pods, free Wi-Fi and thousands of books and magazines!

Perfect for all of you bookworms, the Toronto Reference Library at Yonge and Bloor is only a few steps away from the TTC Subway. This is paradise for any student looking for a bit of quiet time, a study spot or a drink at the library’s in-house café.

Students are also eligible to get a Toronto Public Library card, which allows them to borrow materials from the library and access research databases and digital resources, like the Criterion Collection and Lynda Tutorials. Be sure to look out for social events, such as Comic Book Day, too!

Success Tip: For more tips about venturing out into the city, check out #YUBlog’s post, “International Student Guide, Part 4: Exploring Campus, the City, and Beyond”!

Outdoor Activities

7) Harbourfront Centre

Image of a marina at the Harbourfront centre with the CN tower in the background by ElastiComputeFarm from Pixabay
This beautiful summer hotspot next to Lake Ontario is ideal for a low-cost day trip!

This iconic Toronto destination hosts free and inexpensive cultural, art and education events across the waterfront. You can also check out the local shops and restaurants and participate in recreational activities like concerts and boat rides at the Harbourfront Centre.

8) High Park

Image of a blooming, pale white cherry blossom tree from a low angle by MCanada from Pixabay
Be sure to see the beautiful cherry blossoms that bloom every spring!

High Park, a stunning natural scene, offers a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the downtown core. In this green space, you’ll find opportunities for cycling, swimming in the public pool, playing sports and renting sports equipment, nature walks and visiting the High Park Zoo.

Success Tip: The York Federation of Students (YFS) offers student discounts and deals to events across the GTA. Check out the YFS Site to learn more!

Food Hotspots

9) The St. Lawrence Market

Image focused on hands on a vendor giving an apple to a customer by Pexels from Pixabay.
You’ll find over 120 vendors at the St. Lawrence Market.

The famous St. Lawrence Market is the perfect shopping destination for fresh food, produce and even antiques during the Sunday Antique Market! Also keep an eye out for nearby festivals like Buskerfest, the largest busker festival in North America, and Woofstock, Canada’s largest outdoor festival for dogs.

10) Kensington Market

Image of colourful graffiti on a wall downtown by JonasJovaisis from Pixabay.
Some of Toronto’s best street art can be found in Kensington Market!

This unique multicultural shopping hub offers a one-of-a-kind shopping experience! Home to hundreds of small, trendy stores, you’ll find unique cafés, restaurants and vintage shops – the Kensington Market keeps it green and supports local businesses!

These #YUBlog top Toronto destinations offer a wide range of activities and services for students. Now that you’ve made YU your home, it’s time to explore the GTA!

Have any questions about visiting the downtown core? Comment below or tweet us @YorkUStudents!

Sophie Morgan
Sophie Morgan

Sophie Morgan is a second-year Professional Writing and French Studies double major at York U. She is an avid writer, a baking enthusiast and a full-time cat-sitter. She hopes that her posts will inform and inspire both prospective and current York U students!

See other posts by Sophie Morgan

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