Ontario is where you can have the classic big-city experience and seamlessly connect to nature. With 250,000-plus lakes, 346 provincial and national parks and diverse regions, there’s so much on offer in Ontario from city lights and natural sights to cultural heritage and culinary delights in one easily accessible province.
Located in Eastern Canada, Aussies can travel to Ontario with daily flights with Air Canada and Qantas via Australia’s east coast to Vancouver and onto Toronto and Ottawa.
There you’ll discover a province packed full of heart in Canada’s heartland with world-famous attractions along with precious hidden local gems you’ll adore uncovering at your own pace.
Experience the cities
Ontario boasts three of Canada’s most iconic cities – Toronto, Ottawa and Niagara Falls – each with distinctly different experiences on offer.
Canada’s largest city Toronto is a vibrant metropolis that’s also very walkable, or get a bird’s-eye view from the 116-storey-high EdgeWalk at the CN Tower – the world’s highest, full-circle, hands-free walk – if you dare.
Back on solid ground, shoppers will adore upscale Bloor-Yorkville or the Toronto Eaton Centre or head to the Distillery District, home to galleries, boutiques, restaurants and cafes amid restored Victorian industrial architecture.
Canada’s capital Ottawa is also the nation’s cultural capital with a unique blend of French and English traditions and seven of the country’s nine national museums.
Niagara Falls is more than its famous namesake, it’s also a top gastronomic and viticulture region – read on for more on Ontario’s foodie finds.
Check out the newly renovated Niagara Parks Power Station. A historic power generation plant that sits right at the edge of the falls and was decommissioned in 2006, it now has a new life as an immersive attraction about Ontario’s hydroelectric era. A highlight is the opportunity to descend 55m in a glass-paneled elevator and explore the 670m long tunnel, leading to an observation deck at the river’s edge.
With sparkling lakes, rivers and provincial and national parks galore, nature is all around in Ontario.
It’s easy to access the natural world in and around the cities as well. Set on the shores of Lake Ontario, Toronto is teeming with green space as well as beachside bluffs and ravines.
Take the ferry across to the car-free Toronto Islands and hire a bike to explore, tackle the trails in Rouge National Urban Park – North America’s largest, or go kayaking or SUP boarding along the waterfront.
Lakeside retreats are another fave summer (or fall!) pastime – stay in resorts and lodges such as Elmhirst’s Resort and Deerhurst Resort on a fly-drive holiday from Toronto and Ottawa.
Canada’s oldest provincial park Algonquin Provincial Park is also easily accessible from Toronto and Ottawa. This pristine environment is perfect for hiking and canoeing, with lots of camping options and three rustic lodges to choose from.
Of course, no trip to Ontario is complete without witnessing the power of Niagara Falls up close. You can experience the rushing cascades in so many different ways, including Niagara City Cruises, Journey Behind the Falls, Zipline to the Falls and Niagara Helicopters.
To see a different side of the Canadian capital, Ottawa City Rafting offers gentle rafting right in the city, or take it up a notch with whitewater rafting on the Ottawa River – only an hour away from downtown. You can also walk or cycle alongside the historic Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, that runs through the city centre or take a tour boat or canoe out on the water. It turns into the world’s largest skating rink in the winter!
Immerse yourself in culture
With nature all around, the cultural connection runs deep in Ontario. Discover more about the Indigenous peoples of Canada at the Canadian Museum of History in Ottawa, which has the world’s largest indoor collection of totem poles, and on Indigenous walks and experiences.
Many Canadian artists are also inspired by the local landscapes and you can view works by the likes of The Group of Seven and Indigenous art at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, as well as Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Vaughn, just north of Toronto.
Ontario also hosts year-round events, celebrating everything from icewine to poutine and hosting sporting teams to international film festivals.
Embark on a culinary journey
If you travel for the food, you’re in for a treat in Ontario. The province’s lively gastronomy is fuelled by locally grown produce and shaped by innovative chefs and artisans with multicultural influences from around the world.
Toronto was the first city in Canada to receive a Michelin Guide – updated in 2023 – with worldwide recognition for its restaurant scene. Home to 240 ethnic groups, multicultural Toronto is a hotpot of global cuisines from Japanese to Caribbean and Mexican to Mediterranean.
Another way to taste your way around the province is on a dedicated culinary tour where you can meet local providers and producers, sample the international influences and discover their connections to food. Check out Ottawa’s ByWard Market, one of Canada’s oldest and largest, complete with cobblestone courtyards.
Ontario also has myriad wineries, microbreweries, craft distilleries and cideries on tap. Head to the cool climate wine-growing region of Niagara-on-the-Lake aka NOTL. This area has more than 50 wineries alone – be sure to sample the signature icewine (dessert wine made from grapes frozen on the vine).
For a one-of-a-kind experience, visit Muskoka Lakes Farm & Winery – a two-hour drive from Toronto – during the autumn cranberry harvest season for Insta-worthy pics of the vibrant fruit-picking process.
Want to see more of Ontario on a road trip? Head here for inspo.
For more info, visit destinationontario.com
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