The Best Neighbourhoods in the City of Toronto

The Best Neighbourhoods in the City of Toronto

Chances are that you stumbled across this article because you want to know what Toronto’s best neighbourhoods are. There is no one singular “best neighbourhood” in Toronto.

While one neighbourhood might be ideal for one person, it might be horrible for another. This being said we will provide a list with some of the universally recognized ideal neighbourhoods in the City of Toronto.

However, determining which of Toronto’s neighbourhoods is the best is more challenging than you might think. Determining the best neighbourhoods in Toronto is deceptively large so this makes answering the question of what the best neighbourhoods are in Toronto complex.

The City of Toronto has 140 officially recognized neighbourhoods and 239 unofficial neighbourhoods. For this reason, Toronto is known as the “city of neighbourhoods” which has a mix of high-rise and suburban sprawl within its official and unofficial borders. This means figuring out where you want to live in Toronto can get confusing pretty quickly.

Deciding what is the best neighbourhood for you and your family (if you have a family) will depend on a few factors and what your priorities are. For example, do you want to live in a certain area of the City of Toronto, how much you are willing to spend on housing, how far do you want to be from work and/or school, as well as the distance from friends, family, and relatives as applicable? 

Do you want to be somewhere more walkable; do you have a vehicle and are willing to drive? How important are transit, amenities, and green space to you? What are you looking for, a younger vibe, a more family-friendly place, a different type of vibe, etc.?

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It is important to note that this article is not an exhaustive guide on all of the best neighbourhoods in the City of Toronto. There are many excellent neighbourhoods in Toronto and there is no universally agreed setlist of the absolute best neighbourhoods in Toronto. 

What one person might think is an excellent neighbourhood, another person might hate, the taste is subjective. This article is meant to be a jumping-off point to help you learn about some of the best neighbourhoods in Toronto and Toronto geography.

Related article: The Most Expensive Neighbourhoods in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area

Toronto Geography

If you are new to the City of Toronto, it is important that you understand that there are 28 wards in the City of Toronto. There are six officially recognized sections of the City of Toronto, (East York, Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough, Toronto, and York. Here is a map of the City of Toronto, which delineates these areas. On this map of the City of Toronto, you will also see areas such as York-Crosstown, West End, Uptown, Midtown, and Downtown.

The Best Neighbourhoods in the City of Toronto

The West End of Toronto

The Annex

The Annex like many other neighbourhoods in Toronto’s West End is a hub for young professionals and other creative young adults. The Annex has historically been home to the students, faculty, and staff from the University of Toronto.

The Annex begins at the northwest boundary of what is commonly considered to be downtown Toronto. The main University of Toronto campus is found at the southeast end of the Annex. The Annex itself consists of leafy streets filled with older homes, pubs, and restaurants fit for a student’s budget. However, the Annex is not only for students.

Recently, the strip on Bloor has seen a bunch of new businesses opening and its proximity to three subway stations on Line 2, make the Annex a great place to live for many people.

Roncesvalles

Roncesvalles has historically been a Polish neighbourhood but during the last decade, it has become a haven for creative types and hipsters. “Roncy” as it is referred to by the locals, describes the areas surrounding Roncesvalles Avenue running south from Bloor to King Street West in the west end of Toronto. Roncesvalles offers plenty of character with a variety of independent stores, and businesses, restaurants, bars, and coffee shops.

Kensington Market

Kensington Market is known as one of Toronto’s unique and most iconic neighbourhoods. You can find all different types of thrift stores, bookstores, eclectic bars, and fresh food markets in the labyrinth of streets that make up Kensington Market. Kensington Market is known as being a bohemian place which makes a great place to live for those looking for a bohemian neighbourhood.

Kensington Market is located on the western side of Chinatown, between College Street which makes up its northern border and Dundas Street which makes up its southern border. You can easily access Kensington using the two frequent streetcar routes which take you downtown. Additionally, College Street has a sizeable number of record stores, and independent restaurants for cheap eats, and cheap drinks making it a great place to go for late nights. 

Little Italy

Little Italy is located on College Street just past Kensington Market and has a lot of the charm its neighbour has. Little Italy has a lot of great eateries. It also might be one of the best neighbourhoods in Toronto if you are going out at night.

The Taste of Little Italy Festival is one considered to be one of Toronto’s best summer street carnivals when it takes over little Italy for a weekend each June. If you are looking to watch soccer or (football), especially the World Cup or other football matches.

Little Italy has good proximity to transportation with a short distance to Line 2 of the subway and it is served by the streetcar. One block north of College Street is Dundas West where you will find Little Portugal. All of this and more makes Little Italy one of the most exciting neighbourhoods in Toronto.

West Queen West

During 2014, Vogue included West Queen West as second on its list of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world. West Queen West includes a variety of boutiques, vintage clothing stores, record stores, and art galleries to support this distinction.

It stretches along Queen Street from Bathurst Street to Gladstone Avenue. West Queen West also boasts Trinity Bellwoods Park, a 37-acre park that is one of the most popular places to hang out in Toronto during the summer.

King West

King West is one of the busiest and dynamic parts of Toronto, is a great neighbourhood for those who want to embrace city life and condo living in a prime downtown location. King West is filled with many newly built high rise apartments and condos, some of which will include a gym and parking.

Living in King West means almost everything will be convenient, you will have many choices when it comes to nightlife, restaurants, fitness studios, yoga studios, and gyms. Living here means you will have easy access to places like the Rogers Centre where the Toronto Blue Jays play and the Air Canada Centre.

Trinity Bellwoods (includes parts of West Queen West)

Trinity Bellwoods Park is a dog filled hipster haven that is located at the heart of Trinity Bellwoods. Trinity Bellwoods tends to be filled with younger childless people and the things they love such as homey coffee shops, cute stationery shops, and dive bars.

Liberty Village

Liberty Village is a grouping of high rise condos that emerged as its own small village at the end of King West, filled with young professionals. Recently, it has become a popular place for young professionals to live. However, it does not have a lot of character as a lot of franchises have moved into to cater to the demand for amenities for the growing population.

It’s an easy commute to Toronto’s downtown core makes it a great location for people who work in Toronto’s downtown core. And it’s a great place to live if you are a fan of Toronto FC and/or the Toronto Argonauts because of its proximity to BMO Field.

High Park North

High Park North is a village-esque neighbourhood that is a nice escape from the hustle and bustle of downtown Toronto. It is a mainly residential neighbourhood with high-rise apartments and condos and houses. High Park, to the south, is one of North America’s biggest parks, boasts 400 acres of green space, is Toronto’s biggest park.

High Park (the park itself) boasts tennis courts, baseball diamonds, soccer (football) fields, monuments, Chinese gardens, a labyrinth, a zoo, a café, and a pool.

Parkdale

Parkdale, which is just west of Liberty Village and south of Roncesvalles has become a trendy and desirable neighbourhood in Toronto’s West End, after losing its negative reputation. Parkdale has a diverse community with Tibetans, North African people, and West Indians living in tandem with great bars, vintage shops, and comic book shops.

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Runnymeade/Bloor West Village

Bloor West Village is a stretch of the road with colourful shops and a local village vibe. Here you can feel a sense of community in this neighbourhood which is relatively quiet at night compared to some of the surrounding neighbourhoods.

You should be able to find everything you might need and even more here in Bloor West Village and Runnymeade. These neighbourhoods have schools, sophisticated and casual bars, and eateries, cafes, and supermarkets.

Chinatown

Chinatown is home to Toronto’s large Chinese community and is also close to downtown and is known for having excellent restaurants and being a great place to buy fruit and vegetables.

The East End of Toronto

Danforth-Greektown

Like many other neighbourhoods in Toronto’s East End, Danforth-Greektown is known as being one of the safest and most family-friendly neighbourhoods in Toronto. Danforth-Greektown begins on the east side of the Don Valley Parkway, most of Danforth as far to Victoria Park is considered to be Greektown. Danforth-Greektown is best known for its Taste of Danforth Festival. The Taste of Danforth Festival is Canada’s largest street festival, that takes over Danforth Avenue from Broadview to Pape, for one weekend each August.

This area also has many restaurants and a bar scene which is a little low-key than the bar scene in West End or Downtown. The bar scene in Danforth-Greektown is characterized by having more locals because it is not a destination for partiers.

While Line 2 of the TTC subway system runs underneath Danforth Avenue which makes transportation convenient. The neighbourhood’s convenient transportation has made it popular with new arrivals to Toronto and young professionals but Greektown still maintains its Greek heritage.

Danforth-Greektown shares a border with the Don Valley River Park which makes this a great place for nature lovers and people looking for green space. While if you walk a short distance south Riverdale South, you can arguably find one of the best views of the Toronto skyline.

Leslieville

Leslieville is a cool part of East End, that also happens to a family-friendly neighbourhood. Like West Queen West, Leslieville is popular among creative types and is filled with independent bars, shops, and restaurants that serve a variety of people who have nice interests.

Little India

Little India is located at the east end of Leslieville and has had better luck with maintaining its ethnic vibe when compared to other ethnic neighbourhoods in Toronto. Little India has excellent Indian food and the Gerrard India Bazaar which is worth visiting.

The Village

The Village is where you can find the heart of Toronto’s LGBTQ+ community, where it is based around the Church and Wellesley junction. The Village is filled with bars and nightclubs, which makes a great place to come during Toronto’s annual Pride festival in June.

Cabbagetown

While we are now in the 21st century, Cabbagetown is so aptly named for the struggling Irish immigrants who grew vegetables in patches in front of the homes that filled this neighbourhood. Now the tree-lined streets of Cabbagetown are some of the prettiest streets in Toronto. Now, the area around Parliament and Carlton has a small village vibe and boasts some great restaurants.

Riverdale

Riverdale is a pretty residential neighbourhood in the East End of Toronto that slightly overlaps with the western boundaries of Danforth-Greektown. Riverdale also shares borders with East Chinatown and Leslieville so you can easily take advantage of all that these neighbourhoods have to offer.

Riverdale is filled with Victorian and Edwardian style homes. While during the summer, Riverdale Park is filled with activity, with softball games and running clubs meeting here. Riverdale Park is a great place where you can sit in the grass and take in the spectacular views of the Toronto skyline.

The Beaches

The Beaches is known for being a relaxed neighbourhood that is a favourite among middle-class families. Visiting the Beaches means that you might forget that you are still in one of North America’s largest cities. The Beaches has a beachfront which boasts three kilometres of the boardwalk which can get busy in the summer.

Playter Estates-Danforth

Playter Estates-Danforth is a mostly residential area that borders Danforth and North Riverdale, offering many benefits such as great food, instant access to transit, and excellent views. It also has many doctor’s offices, clinics, and mental health services and is a short walk to Riverdale Park.

The North End of Toronto

Casa Loma

Casa Loma is a neighbourhood within a neighbourhood in South Hill. It is named for the landmark Gothic revival castle, the Casa Loma house that was built here during the early 1900s. Casa Loma is one of the most expensive neighbourhoods in Toronto because of its exclusive real estate, proximity to downtown’s Financial and Entertainment Districts. It has an attractive natural landscape with rolling hills and a lot of trees.

Much like other parts of South Hill, Casa Loma is a serene enclave filled with lovely, larger homes surrounded by large old-growth trees and safe parks, with proximity to downtown.

Central Toronto/Midtown Toronto

Lawrence Park North

Lawrence Park North is a popular neighbourhood among affluent families looking to have easy access to the rest of the City of Toronto. It is a quiet residential neighbourhood in Central Toronto.

Yonge-Eglinton

Yonge-Eglinton is a popular midtown neighbourhood that is based around the intersection of Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue, with easy access to downtown Toronto. Recently, it has changed from a quiet intersection to be the Las Vegas of midtown Toronto, with many high-rise condo buildings and excellent restaurants. Eglinton Park offers residents nine hectares of athletic fields, a wading pool and a couple of lost rivers.

Davisville Village and Mount Pleasant

This relaxed part of midtown Toronto is popular with professionals who work for downtown and families. Homes here tend to cost less than Rosedale, Moore Park, and Summerhill to the south and it is less busy than Yonge-Eglinton to the north. The expansive Mount Pleasant cemetery, which is filled with squirrels, cyclists, and runners divides Davisville and St. Clair.

The Kay Gardner Beltline, a former rail line has been transformed into a walking and running path, and during summer evenings you will see residents here exercising.

Yonge-St. Clair

Many affluent condo owners might look at Yonge-St. Clair instead of City Place or Liberty Village. Yonge-St. Clair is a midtown hub where approximately 62% of residents live in luxury high-rises. Yonge-St. Clair has three subway stops and green space with nearby forested ravines. And this area is also known for having some of the City of Toronto’s best schools including De La Salle, St. Michael’s College, and Upper Canada College.

Rosedale/Summerhill/Moore Park

Rosedale-Moore Park and Summerhill are some of the most affluent areas in the City of Toronto. Here where you will find streets filled with beautiful, older homes on the streets which intersect with Yonge Street and beyond. Here there are plenty of quiet bars, boutiques, and restaurants, alongside tennis clubs and parks.

Downtown Toronto

Queens Quay & Spadina/Cityplace

This area overlooks Lake Ontario, is incredibly picturesque, which makes it a great neighbourhood to live in if you like running or walking. This is a densely populated area because there are a number of condo buildings among Queen’s Quay. There are streetcars which run frequently to connect you to the subway system and Go Trains stopping a few stops east of here at Union Station.

Yorkville

Yorkville is one of the most affluent parts of Toronto. You can find the rich and/or famous coming to Yorkville to shop at high-end retail stores such as Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton or sipping cocktails at many of the high-end hotel bars in this area. Yorkville is a great place to come if you are looking to see celebrities during Toronto’s International Film Festival which happens every September.

Downtown Core

Toronto’s Downtown Core is usually known for banks, offices, and shopping than for being a residential area, but a sizeable number of people live here in the centre of downtown. Living in Toronto’s downtown core means you will have easy access to just about anything you might want, such as flashy restaurants and bars, various malls and markets, transportation, and more.

Fashion District/Entertainment District

The Fashion District/Entertainment Districts are vibrant downtown districts in Toronto that can be extremely busy no matter the hour. People who work in Toronto’s creative industries, agencies, and media companies pack the cafés and streets in this area, while after work, the nightclubs, bars, and restaurants in this area are open late because this part of Toronto never sleeps.

Conclusion

Hopefully, after reading this article you will have learned more about some of Toronto’s best neighbourhoods and Toronto geography. Given that the City of Toronto has so many distinct neighbourhoods, there should probably be a neighbourhood for almost everyone.

Choosing where to live can be challenging especially if you are new to a city like Toronto. However, where and how we live in an extremely personal decision.

If you are considering moving to one of these neighbourhoods and/or buying property there and have not visited or spent a lot of time there yet, go and visit. Only you will know what is best for you and your family. Only you will know if you would be better off suited in living in one neighbourhood over another.

Related article: How to Find the Best Places to Live in Toronto?

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