Wander or Bust is an Elite Daily travel series that follows young women all over the globe to record their journeys as they experience the thrill of the far-flung and unknown.
They'll track their budgets, where they stay, where they eat and drink, and where they took that amazing Instagram that got them ~maximum exposure.~ The internet is full of travel advice, but none from women just like you. Read on for the tips no one else gives you, and when in doubt, get on the plane.
Here's Katie Lockhart's Wander Or Bust guide to Toronto.
My Name: Katie Lockhart
What I Do: Freelance travel and food writer
Where I Live: Brooklyn, New York (USA)
Where I Went: Toronto, Canada
How Long I Stayed: 4 days, 3 nights
My Spending Style: Extravagant. I spend without consequence; I'd rather have a good time than be on a budget.
Where I Got My Recommendations:
I got recommendations from a friend who lives in Toronto and the Eater heatmap.
Exchange Rate At Time Of Travel: $1 USD = $.78 CAD
What That Looks Like IRL: $50 USD = $64.27
Preferred Payment Method: Credit card. Everywhere.
Phone Bill: Same as always. I have T-Mobile and I have unlimited roaming outside of the US.
Mode of Transport: Airplane
Extra Costs: I took the UP Express train from the airport to Union Station downtown. It cost a little over $12 one way and only took 25 minutes. Plus, there was WiFi.
Transport Total: $212
Accommodation: Bisha Hotel
Location: Right in the center of the downtown entertainment district. A really great location and easy to get back to after exploring.
Extra Costs: None
Would I Recommend It To Someone Else:
Yes, the decor at the Bisha is so chic and fun. It’s was a luxurious stay. They also have a stunning rooftop pool for guests with views of the CNTower and the cutest restaurant.
Accommodation Total: $1,350
Breakfast-Lunch Cost: $40/day
Some days I skipped breakfast and some days I just went to a cafe for a sandwich. Toronto has tons of cute cafes and coffee shops perfect for this.
Dinner Cost: $80/day
I like to splurge on food, and I went to some of the fanciest restaurants in the city.
Average Total Cost: $120/day
Tip Situation: You usually tip around 15-20 percent of the bill.
Toronto is definitely a town for foodies. Its diverse population means there are lot of different types of cuisines from all over the world. I ate out for every meal and they were all pretty heavy meals.
Favorite Restaurant: La Banane
Location: 227 Ossington Ave., Toronto
It was a new French-inspired restaurant. The brass, marble, and little bananas hidden throughout the restaurant were so charming. The food was seriously incredible. I had never had a fish that tasted so good. It was perfectly cooked and amazingly not too salty, even though it was baked in it. The Ziggy Stardust chocolate egg was also unique. It was hollow so you had to crack it and inside were a bunch of different homemade truffles.
Food Total: $500
There was definitely a club and a bar scene there. We decided to go to the Drake Hotel (no affiliation with the city's famous rapper). There were multiple levels and after dinner the bottom level turned into the club while the rooftop was a chic bar. There was also a Harry Potter-themed bar called The Lockhart (no relation to me). That was a really popular, fun place.
What People Wear Out:
It was definitely more of a high heel, short dress kind of vibe. Similar to the Meatpacking District in New York City. People were definitely trying to look good.
Average Cost Of A Pint: Around $4-7 USD.
Extra Cost To Know About: A cab or an Uber at the end of the night.
By law, bars have to stop serving alcohol at 2 a.m. The bars don’t kick you out at that time, but you have to stop drinking.
Average Total Cost Of A Night Out: Around $40.
I’m not a heavy drinker, so I like to have a few cocktails and then take an Uber home.
Cheapest Bar I'd Actually Go Back To:
Sneaky Dee’s is a Toronto institution. It's a punk dive bar with graffiti literally everywhere. They have some pretty great bar snacks, like loaded nachos, and plenty of pints and pitchers to wash them down.
Going Out Total: $150, as we didn't go out every night.
What I Spent A Lot On That Was Totally Worth It:
A trip to the city’s only Hammam Spa. My Swedish massage was one of the best spa treatments I’ve ever had. It cost $120 for 45 minutes. I also splurged on the Hammam treatment. The practice is commonly found in Turkey and you first sit in a steam room then move to a hot slab of stone while you are soaped up and the dead skin is rubbed off you and different temperature water poured on your throughout. It cost $145 for an hour and it was so worth it.
What I Spent A Lot On That Was Totally Not Worth It:
I did a helicopter ride over downtown Toronto. It lasted less than 10 minutes and it cost $125 dollars. The views were amazing, but I would have liked to be up in the air for longer.
What I Spent Little Or No Money On That Was Awesome:
I went to the Art Gallery of Ontario and they had an incredible Guillermo del Toro exhibit. The cost with the exhibit fee was $30. Without it, it would have been $19.50. They often have a lot of fun events happening, including screenings.
Favorite Thing I Did, Regardless Of Cost:
Hidden Gem I Found:
When I went, BlueBlood Steakhouse had just opened, and I’m not sure it’s possible for that place to stay under the radar. Inside the city's famous Casa Loma was an incredible steakhouse with opulent decor and massively delicious steaks and seafood.
The Photo I Took That Got The Most Attention:
Excursions/Extras Total: $400
General Shopping: $70 — I went to the Yorkdale Shopping Centre, the premier shopping destination in Toronto. They had literally everything.
Souvenirs: $0 — I don't really collect souvenirs.
Souvenirs/Shopping Total: $70
Best Toronto Hack:
Walk everywhere. There are so many things hidden down the alleys of the city, especially street art. There are also so many cute boutiques and cafes to stop in while you explore.
Advice For Anyone Traveling Alone:
My advice is to treat yourself. Toronto has a lot of budget options, but some really incredible high-end restaurants, activities and a spa that are worth the splurge.
Total Trip Cost: $2,682
Worth It? Yes, it was! I had a fantastic time. On my next visit, I might do it with a tighter purse string.