People Standing On Center Island With Toronto Skyline In The Background

Toronto Islands | Destination Toronto

Budget-friendly Ontario travel ideas

People Standing On Center Island With Toronto Skyline In The Background

Toronto Islands | Destination Toronto

From outdoor attractions to famous shopping locations, arcades and picnic spots, explore places you can visit in Toronto, Ottawa and Niagara Falls for a memorable budget-friendly vacation.


Visit one of the many lush gardens for a picnic or enjoy a day trip to Toronto Islands. When in Toronto, you’ll never run out of things to do.

Getting around

The Toronto Transportation Commission (TTC) operates within the city of Toronto and includes a vast network of buses, subways and streetcars.

Additionally, visitors can also use GO Transit buses and trains to travel around Toronto and its nearby region.

While individual tickets can be purchased on the TTC, the economical option is to buy a Presto Card (new cards cost $6) and load a day pass, which costs $13.50, allowing you to travel across the city with ease during your stay.

Having a Presto Card provides lots of benefits.

You’ll receive 20% off the admission fees at:

  • Hockey Hall of Fame
  • Gardiner Museum
  • Bird Kingdom Niagara Falls
  • Toronto Zoo
  • Ontario Science Centre
  • Aga Khan Museum
  • Black Creek Pioneer Village

Additionally, you’ll receive 15% off at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and enjoy One Get One Free on general admission at the Art Gallery of Hamilton.

If you’re in the city during the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) 2023, having a Presto card will help you save up to 43% on advanced admission and ride tickets.

Travellers can also pay using their credit card Amex, MasterCard or Visa cards. Hence, even if you didn’t plan ahead, you’ll still be able to access the TTC and Go Transit.

Get more information on TTC routes, schedules and passes.

Save with Toronto CityPass

Toronto CityPass is a discounted ticket package, allowing visitors to save 42% at five top Toronto attractions, which include admission to the CN Tower, plus four more of your choice from:

  • Casa Loma
  • Royal Ontario Museum
  • Toronto Zoo
  • Ontario Science Centre
  • City Cruises Toronto

All of these attractions are must-visit. And with the pass, you’ll be able to enjoy the variety of experiences Toronto has to offer from the best museums to local outdoor attractions.

Note: The pass is valid for nine days starting from the time you visit your first attraction.

Things to do

When it comes to having fun on a budget, Toronto is one of the best places to be, and here are the best activities for you to enjoy:

Explore Kensington Market

Known for its bohemian atmosphere, diverse community and unique shops, Kensington Market is a popular location for new and repeat visitors to Toronto.

Whether you’re in the mood to shop or eat, you’ll find plenty of budget friendly options across the market.

From Caribbean and Latin American cuisine to Middle Eastern and Asian flavours, the neighbourhood offers a wide range of affordable eateries, food stalls and cozy cafes.

In addition to the food market, visitors will find numerous vintage clothing stores, vinyl record shops, bookstores and arts and crafts boutiques. It's a treasure trove for those seeking one-of-a-kind items, antiques or those simple wanting to refresh their wardrobe.

The market also hosts car-free Pedestrian Sundays, which typically run on every last Sunday of the month from May to October. The festival is filled with artists, live music, performances and local vendors.

Visit the Harbourfront Centre

Toronto's Harbourfront is a vibrant and picturesque waterfront neighborhood located along the shores of Lake Ontario. Enjoy scenic walks along the waterfront promenade, relax in beautiful parks and gardens or take a ferry ride to the nearby Toronto Islands.

From garden tours to free live music shows, there is never a dull moment at the Harbourfront Center. Here is the full list of events you can choose to enjoy.

Go on a cruise

While at the Harbourfront, embark on a relaxing 60-minute sightseeing harbour tour, that provides panoramic views of Toronto’s skyline. You can choose between Oriole, a two-level Great Lakes steam ship replica, or Showboat, a smaller version of the majestic paddle wheel riverboat.

Both these options include a live onboard narrator who will entertain you with stories about city’s history, popular sites and more.

This tour operates daily from May 1to October 31 and is an included attraction for those with a CityPass.

Enjoy Toronto Island Beaches

The Toronto Islands are a great recreational destination. Located just 15 minutes from Toronto, the islands can be easily visited by taking a ferry from Jack Layton Ferry Terminal at 9 Queens Quay West.

Those fond of cycling will love the islands are they are the largest urban car-free community in North America.

Ward’s Island located on the east side is known for its lovely cafes, beaches and a beautiful boardwalk.

Harlan’s Point located on the opposite end has a beach, tennis courts and plenty of open space to cycle, picnic or enjoy other outdoor activities.

Go on a picnic

Toronto is home to around 1500 parks of varying sizes, topography, flora and fauna. Here are the best ones to visit for a relaxing picnic:

  • High Park: Stretching over 400 acres (161 hectares), this is Toronto’s largest public park and includes dedicated picnic areas. While at High Park, bask in the greenery, ride around on rented bicycles and even visit a zoo! Additionally, the park is home to cherry blossoms that bloom annually between April and May.
  • Trinity Bellwoods Park: Managed by the City of Toronto, this park located in the heart of the city, spans 36 acres (14.6 hectares) and has a canopy of over 400 trees. This green oasis offers a great ambience to enjoy a relaxing picnic.
  • Dufferin Grove Park: Easily accessible by public transportation, this park extends two city blocks and is primarily covered with greenery with the exception of some treed areas. Additionally, the park hosts an organic farmers’ market every Thursday and has and outdoor theatre.
  • Withrow Park: Located on Logan Avenue, this park provides a quaint atmosphere, perfect for picnics on a pleasant day. Spanning 19.7 acres (8 hectares), the park contains pet-friendly areas and two dedicated picnic sites.
  • Riverdale Park East: Being one of the best locations to watch the sunset in Toronto, Riverdale Park East makes for a great picnic spot.

Find more discounts and offers

Take advantage of more discounts and offers when you visit these top Toronto attractions:


Ottawa, the capital city of Canada, offers a perfect blend of romance and cultural experiences, making it an ideal destination for an unforgettable vacation.

Getting around

OC Transpo is the primary provider of public transportation in the Ottawa region. Its convenient routes connect downtown with key destinations, such as the main VIA Rail train station, the Ottawa International Airport, various neighbourhoods, popular attractions, shopping destinations and more.

Taking the O-Train is one of the common ways to travel around Ottawa, as it provides connectivity to all key areas and is operational in all seasons. The O-Train currently consists of two main lines: Confederation Line (Line 1) and the Trillium Line (Line 2).

The Confederation Line,from Tunney's Pasture Station in the west to Blair Station in the east, featuring 13 stations in total.

This line provides direct connections to major hubs such as Parliament Station, Rideau Station (near the Rideau Centre shopping mall) and Lyon Station.

The Trillium Line recently underwent a massive southward extension stretching from Bayview Station in downtown Ottawa to Greensboro Station in the south, covering a distance of approximately 16 kilometre and serving eight stations along the way.

Similar to the TTC in Toronto, Presto cards can be used on the O-train.

During the warm months visitors can also travel on the Water Taxi Eh, which is a 100% electric and universally accessible water shuttle service between Ontario and Quebec shores of the Ottawa River.

You’ll encounter various notable stops during your ride. These include the Ottawa Locks near the Bytown Museum, the Canadian Museum of History and Richmond Landing near the Canadian War Museum.

As you glide through the picturesque waters, depending on the chosen route, you will be treated to breathtaking views of renowned landmarks like Parliament Hill, the Supreme Court of Canada and the National Gallery of Canada.

Things to do

Take a ghost tour

For fans of ghost stories, Ottawa has plenty of ghost tour options to quench your appetite for the supernatural. Save money by booking the shared tours and explore the city’s spooky places with fellow paranormal enthusiasts.

Organized by The Haunted Walk, here are the top ghost tour options to choose from:

Visit arcades

From retro pinball machines to cutting-edge virtual reality experiences, here are the best arcades to visit in Ottawa:

  • Fun Haven: From classic games such as air hockey to new-age arcade shorts and virtual racing games, Fun Haven provides options from all popular genres. Additionally, it includes a 5200 square free laser tag arena and a full-service restaurant. If you’re currently enrolled in college, show your student ID to receive a 10% discount.
  • Level One: At Level One you'll find an extensive library of board games, card games, and tabletop role-playing games. Whether you're a seasoned gamer or a newcomer, there's something for everyone to enjoy for hours. It costs only $8 to enter and play!
  • Putting Edge: For just $14 (plus taxes) visitors get to enjoy an 18-hole glow-in-the-dark mini-golf adventure. Additionally, they also have interactive game zones equipped with classic and contemporary options.
  • House of TARG: With 30+ pinball machines and arcade cabinets this attraction is an arcade playground! Each pinball game costs between $0.25 - $2. Additionally, every Sunday between 8:00 p.m. to midnight visitors can enjoy unlimited arcade action for just $10.

Enjoy axe throwing

Axe throwing is a fun and novel experience to be had on your visit to Ottawa. Similar to darts, players stand in front of a target board and try to throw an axe as close to the center as possible. Here’s where to go, to enjoy throwing some axes in Ottawa:

  • BATL: From Sunday to Thursday, visitors can book an hour-long session for as low as $29.99 per person. The first 5 to 10 minutes will include a safety briefing session.
  • Bad Axe Throwing: This is a great establishment to bring out your inner lumberjack. While advance bookings are preferred, you can also visit during walk-in hours from Thursday to Saturday.
  • In The Air LEGACY: In addition to axe throwing, try out knife throwing and shooting in the air gun ultra options. Walk-ins are welcome everyday, costs $18.95 per 30-minute sessions.

Experience golf simulators

A golf simulator is a virtual system that allows players to enjoy golf in an indoor setting and also makes for a fun date night. While playing in the simulator, players hit real golf balls into a screen and the system tracks the ball's trajectory and calculates points based on distance, accuracy and other metrics.

  • Mulligans Golf Bar: This is a gastropub located just steps away from Parliament Hill and provides nine and eighteen-hole games. The cost of the simulator is $25 per half hour and $10 for club rentals.
  • Condor Golf Bar: This bar includes six simulator bays which include two VIP bays offering extra seating and four regular bays with bar seating. They charge $25 per hour.
  • The Bunker: Located in the vibrant neighbourhood of The Glebe, The Bunker is Ottawa’s leading indoor golf bar. It has seven custom and private oversized golf simulation bays. The18-hole, hour long session is priced at $50.

Spend time at waterfront parks

Ottawa has a host of wonderful green spaces, both natural and man-made. Some of their public parks are carefully designed and landscaped around waterbodies to provide an inviting and relaxing atmosphere.

  • Major’s Hill Park: Located on the banks of the Rideau Canal, this is one of the most visited and oldest parks in Ottawa. Additionally, it provides some of the best views of the Ottawa River, Rideau Canal and the Parliament Buildings.
  • Vincent Massey Park: This park is a perfect destination for a picnic, thanks to its picnic tables and barbecue pits. Additionally, the park's convenient location along the Capital's multi-use pathway makes it an excellent starting point for bike exploration across the city’s main attractions.

Visit the Byward Market

From unique local dishes to international cuisine, find an endless offering of food choices at the market.

Moreover, the market’s charming streets are lined with shops and boutiques offering a wide array of products, from local artisans' crafts to fashion, jewellery, souvenirs and more.

Throughout the year, the market also plays host to various entertaining events such as live music shows, art exhibitions and street performances, many of which are free.

Find more discounts and offers

Make the most of these additional discounts to visit Ottawa’s best attractions at low or no cost:

Niagara Falls

When it comes to planning a vacation across Ontario, Niagara Falls is a must visit. Not only is it the home of the world-famous horseshoe falls, you’ll find budget-friendly attractions, dining options and outdoor activities.

Getting around

Visitors to Niagara Falls have numerous transportation options to choose from that make it easy and affordable to visit all popular attractions in the region.


WeGo is a state-of-the-art bus system that seamlessly connects accommodations and popular tourist attractions across Niagara Falls and Niagara Parks.

WeGo buses operate on three routes, namely:

  • The Blue and Red lines catering to the city's major tourist areas
  • The Green line traversing through Niagara Parks.

If you plan to visit Niagara Falls for a one-day trip, purchasing a 24-hour pass will be the economical option. Passes costs $10 for adults and $7 for children.

For those planning a multi-day trip, 48-hour passes are available as well. They cost $15 for adults and $11 for children.

Both passes provide unlimited travel within their designated time frames.

Niagara-on-the-Lake shuttle

The Niagara-on-the-Lake shuttle provides a seamless connection to WeGo, allowing visitors to easily travel past the regular Green Line’s Floral Clock stop into the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

One-way and round trip shuttle tickets can be purchased individually at the Floral Clock in Queenston or Fort George in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

All-day access is included with the Niagara Falls Adventure Pass Plus. A round-trip adult tickets costs $16.

Niagara Regional Transit (NRT)

The NRT is the Niagara region’s public transit system and provides connectivity to nearby communities such as St. Catharines.

The service runs seven days a week with reduced service on Sundays.

Get more information on NRT routes, schedules and passes.

Things to do

Visit the Skylon Tower

The Skylon Tower is an iconic landmark and observation tower located in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. Standing at a height of 236 metres (775 feet), it offers 360 degree views of the world-famous Niagara Falls and the surrounding area.

Visitors can visit two observation decks, one at 160 metres (520 feet) and another at 236 metres (775 feet) above the ground. Both these decks provide great spots for clicking memorable photographs and enjoy spectacular views.

Look for discounted day/night and combo adult tickets.

Enjoy Niagara City Cruises

Enjoy a 20-minute boat tour that takes you as close to the falls as possible. During the cruise you’ll enjoy audio commentary regarding the history of the famous falls and provided a complimentary recyclable poncho to stay dry as you approach the base of the falls.

Journey Behind the Falls

This attraction allows visitors to descend 125 feet and reach an observation deck created at the base of the Horseshoe Falls. Here, you’ll experience the one-in-a-lifetime view of watching one-fifth of world’s fresh water pour down at the rate of 2800 cubic metres per second!

Visit The Tunnel

One of the newest attractions of the region, The Tunnel is a viewing platform created at the base Niagara Parks Power Station, located close to the falls.

To reach the base, visitors need to descent 180 feet in a glass-enclosed elevator which also allows you to witness all the hidden decks of the historic Niagara Parks Power Station.

The newly constructed viewing platform offers unprecedented views of both the Horseshoe and American Falls, making it a must visit attraction.

Find more discounts and offers

Save with the Niagara Falls Adventure Pass

Given that there are numerous great attractions in Niagara Falls, consider purchasing the Niagara Falls Adventure Pass to spend less and enjoy more.

Visitors can choose from one of three passes:

  • Niagara Falls Adventure Pass Classic ($59 + tax): This is the cheapest tier that includes a two-day WEGO pass and admission to three attractions.
  • Niagara Falls Adventure Pass Plus ($99 + tax): This all-inclusive bundle helps you save 53% on costs compared to paying for each attraction individually. Along with a two-day WEGO pass, you can access six incredible attractions including the newly opened Niagara Parks Power Station and Tunnel.
  • Niagara Falls Pass ($79 + tax): This pass bundles five of Niagara’s classic attractions to offer visitors a memorable experience at Niagara Parks.

Get the Clifton Hill FunPass

Located one block from the Horseshoe Falls, Clifton Hill is a go-to destination for family fun. From the iconic Niagara Skywheel to the fast-paced Niagara Speedway, Clifton Hill has something for everyone.

Rather than spending big on visiting each of the six attractions individually, consider saving yourself $30 with the Clifton Hill FunPass. The pass includes admission to:

  • Niagara Skywheel
  • Zombie Attacks
  • Movieland
  • Cosmic Coaster
  • Ghost blasters
  • Dinosaur Adventure or Wizards Golf (miniature golf courses)

Passes can be purchased online 24/7 and are valid anytime within one year of purchase.

Money-saving tips

Here are some common money-saving tips you can practice regardless of the destination:

  • Consider travelling mid-week as travel prices are typically lower and public transport will be less crowded.
  • While long-weekends are the go-to time for travelling, they are accompanied with higher costs. Hence, either book well in advance to avoid surge pricing or consider travelling on non-long weekends.
  • Attractions Ontario provides a curated selection of coupons to help you save while visiting the best attractions across the province.


Last updated: September 27, 2023

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