| Kaye Holland

Holiday Like a Royal: Why Toronto Should Be Top of Your Travel List

Canada is having a moment. Don’t believe us? Just ask travel specialist Lonely Planet who hailed Canada as the best country to visit in 2017.  

Lonely Planet is not the only one to have been charmed by Canada. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, with their two adorable children, Prince George, 3, and Princess Charlotte, 1 – recently toured Canada at the invitation of Justin Trudeau, the country’s energetic leader. The royal family touched down in Victoria, British Columbia, before boarding a float plane bound for the the bustling city of Vancouver where they received a royal welcome at the Poole Plaza, named after the late businessman Jack Poole, who was a key player behind the success of the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Vancouver.

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The royal family on their visit to Canada in October 2016

Cities aside, William and Kate also enjoyed a day out in the Great Bear Rainforest – aka the world’s largest temperate rainforest – participated in aboriginal ceremonies in Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, and met residents of the small community of Carcross, Yukon.

Prince Harry is another royal who seems to have been seduced by Canada – which next year will celebrate its 150th anniversary. Everyone’s favourite royal met with Prime Minister Trudeau in May 2016 to kick off the countdown to next year’s Invictus Games in Toronto. Prince Harry is clearly enamoured with all things Canadian: news has recently broken about his rumoured Toronto-based flame, actress Meghan Markle – best known for her role as Rachel Zane in US legal drama Suits.

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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

The Prince, 32, was supposed to be in Toronto all this week but scrapped his secret trip after details of their alleged relationship emerged. Here at Sybarite HQ, we’re not surprised to learn that Harry is taken with Toronto. Canada’s largest and most cosmopolitan city packs quite the punch owing to its beautiful waterfront and mix of cultures, concert halls and clubs. Spend even the smallest amount of time in Toronto and you’ll quickly discover the delights of this exquisite destination – a city worth stopping in, rather than just rushing through.

Toronto has a deep bag of attractions to entice tourists but  ascending the 553m CN Tower – where astounding views of the city come as standard – is the one thing you absolutely HAVE to do while in town. Afterwards enjoy a meal in award-winning revolving restaurant, 360.

The Royal Ontario Museum – whose collections take in natural science, art exhibits and ancient civilisation – also comes highly recommended. Volunteers from the Royal Ontario Museum  offer one to two hour historical and architectural walking tours on Wednesday and Sunday evenings.

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Shopping more your bag? Check out Kensington Market, aka Toronto at its most multicultural. For music and vintage shops, seek out Queen West and West Queen West while for bijoux boutiques, check out chichi Bloor-Yorkville.

If sports are more your scene, watch the Stanley Cup winning Toronto Maple Leafs play over at the Air Canada Centre in the National Hockey League. Fans of the super fast sport can enjoy more hockey nostalgia at the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Alternatively, nab tickets to watch theToronto Blue Jays play baseball or the Toronto Argonauts in the Canadian Football League – both at the Rogers Centre – before retiring to your hotel.

Speaking of which, Toronto is home to a handful of historic hotels including the Fairmont Royal York, which has hosted the A-list likes of Tina Turner and Henry  Kissinger no less.

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When the hustle and bustle of Toronto becomes too much, escape to one of the city’s jewel-like islands. Gorgeous islands like Algonquin Island and Ward’s Island are only a short 15-minute ferry ride away from downtown Toronto but feel like another world and are the perfect place for those who want to hike, cycle or simply enjoy some peace and quiet. Elsewhere Lake Ontario often gets overlooked by Torontonians which is a shame, because the lake (whose name means ‘sparkling water’) is surprisingly beautiful.

However, if you choose just one adventure, make it Niagara Falls. True there are taller waterfalls in the world (Niagara ranks pretty far down the list at 50th) but trust The Sybarite when we say that the sheer volume of water won’t fail to blow you away.

Isn’t it about time you treated yourself to a royal trip to Canada?

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