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5 places not to miss in Toronto

Multicultural is probably the word that best defines Toronto. Chinatown, Greektown, Koreatown, Little Portugal, Little India, and Little Italy are just some of the many foreign communities that have made their home in the city. And best of all is that there is no shortage of iconic places to explore – either on your own or with friends or family. Here, then, are five things you must see when you’re in Toronto.
 
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CN Tower

One of the first things you should do in Toronto is climb the CN Tower. It is one of the tallest structures in the world, dedicated to both communications and tourism, with unobstructed views over the entire metropolitan area.

Looking all around out the huge windows on the observation deck helps give you a better understanding of the layout of the city: from the financial district to the islands, passing through the vibrant (and almost void of buildings) Kensington Market district and the city’s east end.

I strongly recommend visiting the CN Tower, especially early in your stay in the city so you can get an overall idea of the metropolis.
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Ripley's Aquarium of Canada

Although aquariums are ultimately places where animals are kept in captivity away from their natural habitat, they can play a key role in raising the awareness of people – especially young people – of such issues as biodiversity and respect for and conservation of aquatic habitats. Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is one such example.

Located next to the CN Tower, its 5.7 million liter water tank makes it one of the biggest aquariums in North America. If you are lucky, you will be able to watch the rays feeding or the diving vets taking care of the animals. It is without a doubt one of the things that should be on every list of things to do in Toronto. The children will love it!
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Casa Loma

It was back in 1911 when the “visionary” Sir Henry Pellatt hired the architect, E. J. Lennox, to create an Edwardian-style mansion house on the top of a hill with a view over the city. Three years later and the dream had become a reality.

Casa Loma was a family home for less than a decade, until tax increases and the vicissitudes of Canada in wartime forced the Pellatts to abandon their “castle”.

Casa Loma is now a museum and one of the main historical buildings in the capital of Ontario. For me, despite it often looking like a building that is out of place, with the assistance of an audio guide I enjoy perusing the greenhouse, the library, and the lounge, through the incredible rooms created by Sir Pellatt and (mainly) by Lady Pellatt. I also like going up the castle’s three towers. Try it for yourself – you won’t regret it!
 
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Distillery District

Once home to a large whiskey distillery, the Distillery District is now a huge pedestrianized area in the west of Toronto, where you will find lots of cafes and restaurants, art galleries and alternative shops, indie boutiques and outdoor sculptures. It reminds me of the LX Factory in Lisbon.

Like Kensington Market, it breathes creativity, although with a slightly more hipster and elitist ambience compared to the graffiti-lined streets of Kensington. Nevertheless, it is well worth visiting.

And if you are in Toronto during the Holiday Season, then head down to the Distillery District where you will find the city’s Christmas Market. It is yet another attraction that the kids will love!
 
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Niagara Falls

My final suggestion is not actually in Toronto, but no trip to Ontario is complete without a visit to the Niagara Falls. While the River Niagara is actually quite short, it has several waterfalls along its course. The biggest, known the world over as Niagara Falls, is actually called the Horseshoe Falls, and is an impressive 800 meters wide. No less impressive is the overwhelming force of the water! All in all, as long as you are not expecting to find an isolated natural paradise, then you will enjoy discovering the falls and the Niagara peninsula.
By Filipe Morato Gomes / Alma de Viajante

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