It’s summertime which means the Great White North, aka Canada, has thawed out and is once again livable for those who aren’t real keen with hibernating for six months of the year. For Torontonians, it’s the best time of the year — patio season, when folks flock to outdoor restaurants and bars to catch up on missed Vitamin D and enjoy a cool beverage or two. This also means it’s the perfect time for travelers to pay Toronto a visit. Toronto has about just as much metropolitan appeal as other eastern North American cities like New York but doesn’t have the same reputation to live up to. Whether that’s because it’s in Canada or tourists just haven’t had the epiphany yet, it does mean that nearly everyone who leaves Toronto finds themselves pleasantly surprised and excited to return. Canadian culture isn’t all Mounties, hockey, and maple syrup — arguably the most accepting city in the world, many travelers relish the diversity of the place with reportedly half of all Torontonians being born in a different country. While Toronto can get a bit pricey to visit, for the younger crowd willing to share a room in the name of saving a buck, check out these cool spots.
A perfect place to run through the 6 without the woes of spending a lot of money (sorry, we had to throw at least one Drake reference in), the Neill-Wycik Hotel, close to the University of Toronto, is located in the heart of Downtown. With both dorms and private rooms, the Neill Wycik offers a number of accommodation options with sprawling views of the city. With weekly trips to The Art Gallery of Ontario and a Thursday night pub-crawl, the hostel has activities for any style of backpacker. Boasting amenities like free breakfast, helpful staff, and a minute’s walk to numerous activities, the Neill-Wycik is one of the greatest places for an affordable getaway.
The Only Backpacker’s Inn, while a bit further from the action of Downtown, is a great spot to save some money. Beds in air-conditioned rooms cost as little as $25, meaning backpackers have lots of extra spending money for activities and beers at the downstairs café — boasting over 200 options on tap. The loudly graffitied exterior of the hostel creates a fun relaxed atmosphere that attracts travelers from all walks of life.
A common pick for lists of the best hostels in Toronto, the HI Toronto makes noise due to its ideal location in the St Lawrence neighborhood, only walking distance from famous tourist destinations like the CN Tower, the Eaton Centre, and the Distillery District, a quaint historic center of Toronto famous for bars, restaurants, and art galleries. While close to a number of sites, a traveler could essentially rely entirely on the hostel for their itinerary. Every day, the team at HI hosts a different activity from tours to free family dinners to trivia nights. Aside from the activities, the hostel also has its own bar, named the Cavern Bar, in its basement and is known for fun cocktails, a slightly grungy feel, and live music. If for whatever reason, a backpacker is feeling a little weary from shared dorms, the HI is blocks away from the posh Ritz Carlton Hotel, the perfect place to sneak into for some pampering.
Perhaps a slightly more upscale feel compared to what many college backpackers are used to, this gem, further southwest near the shores of Lake Ontario, is both cozy and incredibly stylish. Brand new and located slightly farther away from central downtown, The Parkdale is clean and comfortable. Because it is still within its first couple of years in business, the staff are eager to make every stay wonderful and will assist in trip planning and are always ready with dining and shopping recommendations around the neighborhood.
A sleek modern hostel that would make European hostels jealous, Planet Traveler Toronto is not only backpacker friendly, it’s also eco-friendly. The Downtown spot is attempting to become an award-winning location for its green initiatives. From utilizing solar power to recycling hot water, as well as using geothermal heating and L.E.D. bulbs, the hostel is all about limiting their footprint. Planet Traveler is able to be sustainable without sacrificing any comforts, as the entire hotel is well-maintained and stocked with a number of amenities. Their rooftop lounge overlooks the lights of Toronto and serves as a favorite place for travelers to meet fellow world wanderers.