The most popular photo of virtually any city is one of its skyline, and it’s easy to see why. With stunning skyscrapers creating dimension within the shot, dozens of different shades of colour making for interesting details, and the stories behind each and every building showing the character of the metropolis, there are many reasons why this is true. Whether I’m in a city I’ve visited many time before, or if I’m in a completely new city I’ve never been, I always most enjoy photographing that city’s skyline. So, I decided to start a new series here on my blog, where I show you the best places to go in a certain city to get those perfect skyline shots. To start off my series I thought I’d first write about Toronto, a city I know very well. I used to live just outside of Toronto, I plan to live there after I finish high school, and I go back to visit quite often (hence why I have so many posts here on my blog about the city!), so this post was practically written by a local!
Possibly the most iconic landmark in its country, the CN Tower is a 553 metre tall tower that looms over the entirety of Toronto. The tower, one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, is located on Front St. W, between Spadina and University/York. Due to its primely planned location right between the downtown core and laid back lakefront, the views from the top of the tower are truly breathtaking. You can see basically every neighbourhood in the city from the viewing platforms at the top of the tower, as well as parts of the huge GTA (Greater Toronto Area). There are only two downsides to the views from the CN Tower – one being that the tower itself, an icon of the city, obviously isn’t featured in the views from the top; and that it costs money to go up the tower. However, despite those two cons, I’d highly suggest going up the tower whether it’s your first time in the city or if you’ve lived there all your life and you’ve never got the chance to. I mean, what would a views post on Toronto be without the CN Tower?
(Also – check out the entire post I wrote about the CN Tower last year through this link)
The Gardiner Expressway, an 18 kilometre long highway stretching down the southern part of the city, is probably the most unconventional spot I’ll be writing about in this post. Since about 90% of the people who drive on this highway commute in and out of the city on it everyday in horrid traffic, they’re pretty unlikely to actually notice and appreciate the views of the skyline that are found just out the window driving down the highway. Driving down it you pass by the CN Tower, both the Air Canada (now “Scotiabank Arena”…) and Rogers Centre, and many more iconic Toronto sites. If you’re planning on driving down the Gardiner for some shots of the view, make sure to avoid rush hours on the highway – Toronto traffic is some of the worst in the world!
Also known as the flat iron building, the Gooderham Building is located at the intersection of Wellington, Church, and Front in downtown Toronto. It was originally built as the headquarters for Gooderham & Worts, the same company that built the nearby Distillery District, thought today it’s used as a restaurant/bar and office space. Alone, the building, a mix of Romanesque Revival and French Gothic architecture, is a stunning site, but it’s the city views behind it that make it even more impressive. With the CN Tower peaking out from behind the TD Canada Trust Tower, the many skyscrapers in the background of the building make for a great shot. Every time I pass by this building I always come across at least half a dozen people stopping to take a photo of the view, myself included!
Harbourfront, an upscale neighbourhood located throughout on downtown’s Toronto’s border with the lake, is a great spot to stop for interesting views. Separated from the core of downtown by the Gardiner, Harbourfront has a much more relaxed vibe compared to the hustle and bustle of downtown. As it faces much of the city, you can find stunning views of the CN Tower and the many recent condos, offices, and other buildings surrounding the lakefront area. The view from Harbourfront are also especially unique, since when living in the city you usually only see the tower from north, east, or west, and rarely from south.
Located in Toronto’s largest suburb, Mississauga, Jack Darling Park is a huge recreational park with amazing views of the Toronto skyline. Last summer during the time I spent in Toronto my friend Lorelei brought me to this park, and we had a lot of fun walking around it and admiring the views. Since they’re from pretty far away, these views are very wide and include much more of the northern parts of the city compared to the other spots on this list – just make sure to bring a zoom lenses if you want the best shots of the skyline!
My favourite spot in this post would probably have to be Riverdale Park, a large park evidently located within Toronto’s Riverdale neighbourhood. Situated on both sides of the Don River, with fields for soccer, baseball, and frisbee, Riverdale Park is a very lively and local area. The park also boasts beautiful views of the downtown and midtown skyline of Toronto. For longer, wider views, head to the higher part of the park on Broadview, and for closer up, more original views, walk down towards the DVP and to the bridge connecting the eat side of the park to the west side (here you can look out over the other side of the park, the city, and the DVP). I especially like this park since its super close to both of my grandma’s old apartment in Toronto, so its a short walk from a place I’m at often. It’s also pretty close to my grandma’s new place I stay at when I’m in Toronto, so I visit it a few times every time I’m back in Toronto.
If you’re looking for the iconic, classic shot of the Toronto skyline, head over to the islands! Just offshore from the city, these islands are the only of their kinds in western Lake Ontario. Hop on a ferry or water taxi, and after a quick ride you’ll find yourself in one of the nicest parts of (technically!) Toronto. The views of the city from the islands are again the classic, almost postcard shot of the city, as they include all of the most famous buildings, towers, and skyscrapers of Toronto. Plus, there’s much more to the islands then just stunning views – while there, make sure to explore the pleasant parks, the blissful (at least when they’re not crowded with tourists) beaches, and maybe even the Centreville amusement park.
The final spot in this post is another one you probably won’t find in similar articles – the University of Toronto downtown campus. When thinking of where to go in Toronto for city views, the first thing that comes to mind probably isn’t a college campus, but U of T is actually a pretty nice place to visit for some interesting views. Surrounded by Chinatown, Yorkville, and the Annex, there are tons of interesting buildings around the campus, including the beautifully designed U of T buildings. The views of the CN Tower as well are especially nice, since there’s so much nice architecture around that all make for some cool and unique shots.
Here’s a couple of extra spots I wanted to include but didn’t have my own photos to show for:
Left – Bathurst St. Bridge
Located just north of Front is Bathurst St. Bridge, a short bridge crossing railroad tracks. Looking east from the bridge you’ll get views of the CN Tower and downtown, and looking west you’ll see Fort York and the area where the annual CNE is held. I’ve actually never been to this bridge, but I read about it in posts similar to this one and I’ve added it to my list of places I’d like to visit next time I’m in the city!
Centre – Chester Hill Lookout
Reachable from Broadview, Chester Hill Lookout spot is located between Mortimer and Danforth. This spot has beautiful views of the skyline and the less beautiful DVP (but still interesting to look at), which make for great photographs. This spot is actually super close to where I stay when I’m in the city, and I was planning to check it out before I left this summer, but I never ended up going… guess I’ll just have to next time!
Right – Humber Bay Park
Humber Bay Park, located in the borough of Etobicoke, is a big lakefront park west of Old Toronto. It has stunning views of the skyline, similar to the ones from Jack Darling, though much closer up than the Mississauga park. Surprisingly I’ve also never been here, even though I’ve drove by it countless times heading into Toronto, hopefully I’ll check it out sometime soon!
That’s all for my guide to where to go in Toronto for city skyline views! I hope you enjoyed. Today I also uploaded a video on my youtube channel that I’m super proud of, titled ‘Toronto in Five Minutes’. Click this link to watch it! I worked really hard on this video and I think it came out really well, so I hope you enjoy it.
As always, thank you for reading!