Where to stay in Toronto for first time: 5 Safe areas

Hi guys, on my website, I already wrote an article about staying in Toronto without a car (I will put the links to it at the end of this article). In today’s article, I will help you to find the best places to stay in Toronto for first-time visitors and tourists.

I will share with you what I believe are the best and safest areas to stay in Toronto for first-timers and tourists, along with a helpful map and areas to avoid. I’ll also share where I stayed in Toronto and recommend some of the best hotels in Toronto for various budgets.

Before getting into the detail of the main topic, let’s look at some facts about Toronto:

Toronto is the capital of Ontario and largest city in Canada. It is situated in the southern part of the province, along the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. Toronto is a major economic and cultural hub, known for its diverse population, financial sector, and cultural attractions.

Toronto has several iconic landmarks, including the CN Tower, which was once the world’s tallest freestanding structure, as well as the Royal Ontario Museum, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, and the Art Gallery of Ontario.

The city is home to several world-renowned universities and colleges, including the University of Toronto, York University, and Ryerson University.

It has an extensive public transportation system, including buses, subways, and streetcars. The Toronto Pearson International Airport is the main international gateway to the city.

Toronto has a wide range of cultural and entertainment options, including theaters, music venues, and a thriving film industry. The Toronto International Film Festival is one of the world’s most prestigious film festivals.

Toronto is generally a safe city with a low crime rate. But, like any city, Toronto is not entirely free of crime. Areas with higher crime rates do exist, and incidents like petty theft can occur, so it is recommend always stay vigilant to ensure your safety.

Some general safety tips for visiting Toronto or any other city include: stick to well-lit areas, avoid walking alone in unfamiliar/ poorly-lit areas at night, take care of your belongings, and be cautious in tourist-heavy areas.

Where to stay in Toronto for the first time?

The best and safest areas to stay in Toronto for first-timers and tourists are Downtown (Yonge & Dundas), Entertainment District, Yorkville, Old Town, and West Queen West. While these areas are generally safe, it’s still important to exercise common sense no matter where you stay.

Downtown Toronto, particularly the area around Yonge and Dundas, is one of the most popular areas to stay in Toronto for first-time visitors. This area is at the heart of the city and offers easy access to shopping, dining, entertainment, and public transportation.

Entertainment District is a section of Downtown Toronto, where you can find numerous theaters, restaurants, and nightlife options. It’s a great base if you want to enjoy Toronto’s entertainment scene.

Yorkville is an upscale neighborhood with high-end shopping, dining, and a more luxurious feel. It’s a quieter option compared to Downtown, making it a great area for a quieter and upscale experience.

Old Town is a historic neighborhood that has a charming atmosphere with the St. Lawrence Market, good dining options, and proximity to many attractions like the Distillery District.

West Queen West is known for its trendy and artsy vibe. It’s a great choice if you’re into unique boutiques, art galleries, and hipster culture.

While Toronto is a generally safe city, there are some areas visitors may want to exercise caution in. Neighborhoods like Jane and Finch, Regent Park, and Moss Park have higher crime rates and may not be the best choice for tourists. 

Additionally, some parts of Scarborough and Rexdale are known for higher crime levels. It’s advisable to avoid these areas, especially at night, and stay in more tourist-friendly neighborhoods.

During my trip to Toronto, I stayed at the One King West Hotel and Residence. It was only a 10 mins walk from St. Lawrence Market and Hockey Hall of Fame. Also close to public transport and restaurants. I had a very spacious room and was well-equipped with cooking, microwave, fridge and washing facilities.

Below is a map of the popular areas in Toronto for first-time travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the safe areas to stay in Toronto first time
Map of the safe areas to stay in Toronto first time

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Toronto, especially for first-time visitors. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in Toronto have been carefully selected by me, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

5 Safe areas to stay in Toronto for first-timers and tourists

1. Downtown (Yonge & Dundas)

Downtown Toronto, specifically around Yonge & Dundas, is a popular choice for many first-time visitors due to its central location and proximity to numerous attractions and public transportation. 

Yonge & Dundas is a major intersection and a transportation hub in Toronto. You’ll have easy access to the subway (Yonge-University Line) and streetcars, making it convenient to explore the city.

The Yonge-Dundas Square area is home to several shopping centers, including the Toronto Eaton Centre, which features a wide range of shops and department stores.

This neighborhood offers plenty of entertainment options. You’ll find theaters, cinemas, and live performance venues, such as Massey Hall and the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre.

Yonge & Dundas has numerous dining options, ranging from casual to upscale restaurants. You can explore various international cuisines in this area.

You’ll be within walking distance of many of Toronto’s top attractions, including the CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, Nathan Phillips Square, and the Art Gallery of Ontario.

The Entertainment District, which is just a short walk away, offers a vibrant nightlife scene with bars, clubs, and live music venues.

The neighborhood often hosts cultural events and festivals in Yonge-Dundas Square, so you might stumble upon an interesting event during your stay.

Best places to stay in Downtown Toronto for first-time visitors:

  • Luxury ($$$): The St. Regis Toronto, 5-star hotel centrally located in Downtown Toronto, easy access to the metro station and major attractions such as the CN Tower, Rogers Centre, Scotiabank Arena, and the International Film Festival.
  • Mid-range ($$): Pantages Hotel Toronto Centre, popular 4-star hotel, located in downtown Toronto, within a short walk from The Toronto Eaton Centre,  and Yonge-Dundas Square. The hotel has comfortable, bright, and spacious guest rooms. 
  • Budget ($): Yonge Suites Furnished Apartments, great accommodation that features apartments with fully-equipped kitchens and laundry facilities. Easy walk to the  Financial District, Toronto Eaton Centre, and the Queen St subway station.
MORE HOTEL DEALS IN DOWNTOWN

2. Entertainment District

The Entertainment District is a popular area for tourists and first-timers who want to be in the heart of the city and enjoy vibrant nightlife, entertainment, and cultural scene. 

The Entertainment District is home to numerous theaters, including the Royal Alexandra Theatre, Princess of Wales Theatre, and the TIFF Bell Lightbox, which hosts the Toronto International Film Festival. If you’re interested in live performances, musicals, and film, this area is ideal.

This area comes alive at night with a wide range of bars, clubs, and lounges. You’ll find a diverse selection of entertainment options, making it a great place for those who want to enjoy Toronto’s nightlife.

The Scotiabank Arena is located in the Entertainment District, hosting major sports events, concerts, and shows. If you’re a sports fan or interested in attending live events, this is a convenient location.

The Entertainment District is centrally located and within walking distance of other downtown attractions. It’s also well-connected by public transportation, home to the Unison Station.

Best places to stay in Entertainment District for first-time travelers:

  • Luxury ($$$): Fairmont Royal York Hotel, popular 5-star eco-friendly hotel in Downtown Toronto, that has  direct access to the tram and union station. Short walk from an airport express train to Pearson Airport, and airport shuttle to Billy Bishop Airport. It has 2 2 swimming pools and a lovely breakfast. You can find many restaurants and entertainment venues nearby.
  • Mid-range ($$): Delta Hotels by Marriott Toronto, great 4-star hotel, conveniently located in the heart of downtown Toronto, a short walk from the famous CN Tower, Scotiabank Arena, and Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada. The hotel has direct access to PATH, the underground pedestrian walkway, taking you to Union Station, UP Express and Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
  • Mid-range ($$): Radisson Blu Downtown Toronto, 4-star hotel located in the Harbourfront area, featuring a rooftop terrace with a seasonal pool. 15 mins walk from the lively Chinatown, Union Station, CN Tower, and  Hockey Hall of Fame.
MORE HOTEL DEALS IN ENTERTAINMENT DISTRICT

3. Yorkville

Yorkville is an upscale and trendy neighborhood in Toronto, known for its luxurious atmosphere, high-end shopping, and fine dining options.  

Yorkville is renowned for its high-end shopping, with designer boutiques, upscale department stores, and luxury brands. Bloor Street, particularly in the “Mink Mile” section, is a shopping haven for fashion enthusiasts.

The neighborhood offers a variety of upscale restaurants, cafes, and patios where you can enjoy fine dining and people-watching. It’s a great place for culinary experiences and trying gourmet cuisine.

Yorkville is home to several art galleries, including the Gardiner Museum, which focuses on ceramics, and galleries featuring contemporary art. The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is also within walking distance.

Despite its urban location, Yorkville has access to green spaces like the beautiful Queen’s Park and the University of Toronto campus, which provides a nice contrast to the city’s hustle and bustle.

The neighborhood is well-connected by public transportation, making it easy to explore the rest of the city. There are several metro stations in this area with services to downtown Toronto.

Best places to stay in Toronto in Yorkville for first-timers:

  • Luxury ($$$): The Hazelton Hotel, 5-star hotel located in the chic Yorkville district, close to several metro stations. You can find various Toronto’s finest restaurants in its surroundings. It is within walking distance from the Royal Ontario Museum, Queen’s Park, and Bloor Street shopping area.
  • Mid-range ($$): The Anndore House, part of JDV by Hyatt, great 4-star accommodation, located within walking distance from bustling Yonge Street, and the upscale Yorkville district, easy access to Church Street where you can find many restaurants and bars. It has Laundry services, an onsite restaurant, and 24-hour front desk.
  • Mid-range ($$): The Yorkville Royal Sonesta Hotel Toronto, 4-star hotel, situated on Bloor Street West, within walking distance from plenty of stylish boutiques, art galleries, and fine restaurants. Also close to the Royal Ontario Museum and the University of Toronto.
MORE HOTEL DEALS IN YORKVILLE

4. Old Town

Old Town is particularly well-suited for those who appreciate history, local food, and a charming, laid-back atmosphere while still being close to the heart of the city.

The St. Lawrence Market is a major attraction in the area, offering a variety of fresh produce, artisanal foods, and unique shops. It’s a must-visit for food lovers and a great place to sample local cuisine.

Old Town is known for its well-preserved 19th-century architecture, including charming red-brick buildings and cobblestone streets. It provides a distinct and picturesque atmosphere.

The Distillery District, known for its Victorian-era industrial buildings, is within walking distance. It’s a hub for arts, culture, and entertainment, with galleries, theaters, and unique shops.

Old Town is home to cultural attractions like the Market Gallery, the Hockey Hall of Fame, and the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts.

In addition to the St. Lawrence Market, you can explore local farmer’s markets on weekends during the warmer months.

Best places to stay in Toronto Old Town for first-time visitors:

  • Luxury ($$$): Shangri-La Toronto, 5-star hotel conveniently located between the Financial and Entertainment Districts, featuring an indoor swimming pool and Fabulous breakfast.
  • Mid-range ($$): The Omni King Edward Hotel, 4-star accommodation, located in central Toronto, featuring a car parking, very good breakfast, 24-hour front desk and currency exchange for guests. Close to the train station, and several attractions such as Hockey Hall of Fame, Eaton Centre and Yonge-Dundas Square.
  • Budget ($): Holiday Inn Express Toronto Downtown, an IHG Hotel, 3-star hotel, situated on  Lombard Street, 10 mins walk from Hockey Hall of Fame. Short Uber ride from Union Station, CN Tower and Rogers Centre. It has Good breakfast, onsite parking, and laundry services.
MORE HOTEL DEALS IN OLD TOWN

5. West Queen West

West Queen West is a trendy and artistic neighborhood in Toronto, known for its hipster culture, unique boutiques, art galleries, and a lively arts scene. 

The area is home to numerous art galleries and studios showcasing contemporary and alternative art. The Gladstone Hotel is known for its art exhibitions and events.

West Queen West offers a diverse range of independent boutiques, vintage shops, and design stores, making it a great place for shopping and discovering unique items.

You’ll find a wide variety of restaurants, cafes, and bars with diverse culinary options, including farm-to-table and international cuisine. This neighborhood is known for its foodie scene.

West Queen West is adorned with street art, murals, and public art installations, providing a colorful and dynamic streetscape.

The neighborhood has a vibrant nightlife scene with bars, music venues, and clubs, offering a mix of live music, DJ sets, and eclectic entertainment.

Located at the western edge of West Queen West, Trinity Bellwoods Park is a popular green space where you can relax, have a picnic, or enjoy outdoor activities.

Best places to stay in West Queen West for visitors:

MORE HOTEL DEALS IN WEST QUEEN WEST

In conclusion, Downtown (Yonge & Dundas), Entertainment District, Yorkville, Old Town, and West Queen West are the best places to stay in Toronto for first-time tourists. These are safe and central areas, making them great locations to book your stay and explore the city.

If you don’t plan to drive in Toronto, you can check this article: Best areas to stay in Toronto without a car.

There you have it, my recommendations for the most popular and safest neighborhoods that you can stay during your first trip to Toronto. I hope you enjoyed my article and find it both informative and helpful.

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality content.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. This means that, at absolutely no additional cost to you, I'll earn a small commission if you click through and purchase something I've recommended. I only recommend products that I use myself or firmly believe in. Thank you!

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