13 Places to Visit in Toronto for Photographers

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As the UP Express slowly made its way to Union Station, I felt a ping of excitement when Air Canada Centre, CN Tower and high-rise buildings appeared right outside the window. I’ve been told that Toronto is an utterly beautiful city, with outstanding architecture, diverse cultures, marvelous landscape and joie de vivre unmatched anywhere else in the country. The statement proved itself true as soon as I stepped outside the train station, jaw dropped admiring tall skyscrapers surrounding the busy central area reached high into the sky without limit. During our trip, we continued to find many great places in downtown core that would make perfect backdrops for photography. In this post, I am presenting to you places to visit in Toronto (besides the iconic CN Tower) for photo shoots!

Places to visit in Toronto for photographers - Canoe Landing Park

01| Nathan Phillips Square

Located right in front of City Hall, this vibrant urban plaza is one of the most celebrated attractions in Toronto. At Nathan Phillips Square, you will get a good view of the big “Toronto” sign, New City Hall, Old City Hall, freedom arches and reflecting pool (which transforms into a skating rink in the winter). Seriously, what could be a better photoshoot location than the bold, spectacular, multi-coloured “Toronto” sign? To avoid the crowd, hit up the place early in the morning. Or visit late at night when LED-illuminated sign transitions between various colour combinations, making for countless photo opportunities!

Places to visit in Toronto for photographers - Nathan Phillips Square

Places to visit in Toronto for photographers - Nathan Phillips Square

Places to visit in Toronto for photographers - Nathan Phillips Square

Read more: How to take UP Express from Pearson Airport to Downtown Toronto

02| Osgoode Hall

Built in the 1800s, Osgoode Hall is a historic building nestled right besides the Nathan Phillips Square. Most people known it for being the home to important legal institutions; however, it is an architectural gem featuring stately Georgian Palladian and Neoclassical style. Everyone visiting the building must go through airport-like security. Once you’re in, you’re free to roam around and explore. Pro tip: don’t miss out on the library on the upper floor, which looks like a set from the Harry Potter movies! 

Places to visit in Toronto for photographers - Osgoode Hall

Places to visit in Toronto for photographers - Osgoode Hall

Places to visit in Toronto for photographers - Osgoode Hall

03| Habourfront

Just steps away from downtown core, Harbourfront provides a splendid view of Lake Ontario and the CN Tower! On warm summer days, visitors and residents flock to the area to take a leisurely stroll, relax by the water’s edge, and escape from the busy city life.

Places to visit in Toronto for photographers - Harbourfront

Places to visit in Toronto for photographers - Harbourfront

04| Simcoe WaveDeck

If you take a walk around the Harbourfront neighbourhood, you will come across this unique wooden wavedeck, located just west of Simcoe Street. Its whimsical and dynamic design gives it an artistic look. The 30-meter-long backless bench is also a fantastic public space for people of all ages to enjoy the harbour views, eat lunch and hang out. Do you know that those impressive curves soar as high as 2.6 metres above the lake?

Places to visit in Toronto for photographers - Simcoe WaveDeck

05| Canoe Landing Park

Also in the Harbourfront neighbourhood, Canoe Landing Park is a privately funded urban park featuring a variety of sculptures. Besides the signature oversized red canoe overlooking Gardiner Expressway in the south, my favourite is the display of large, colorful fishing bobbers denoting a lakefront theme. And hey, it offers a good view of the CN Tower in the background!

Places to visit in Toronto for photographers - Canoe Landing Park

Places to visit in Toronto for photographers - Canoe Landing Park

06| Sugar Beach

Toronto is no way near the ocean, but there’s a urban beach you can hit up! Sugar Beach, located on Queens Quay East across from Redpath Sugar Refinery, overlooks Lake Ontario. Pastel pink umbrellas and white beach chairs not only provide a great photography opportunity, but also give you the chance to relax on the sand and soak in the sun!

Places to visit in Toronto for photographers - Sugar Beach

07| Casa Loma

Perched atop a hill in the north end, Casa Loma is a medieval castle documenting the legacy of Sir Henry Pellatt. The elegance and splendor of this majestic landmark has made it an attractive filming location for movies and television. Do you know that Chicago, Cocktail and X-Men were filmed there? Even if you’re not a Hollywood film fan, you will be amazed by this Gothic-style mansion, with its beautifully decorated suites, soaring ceilings, rich wood carvings and sumptuous marble.

Places to visit in Toronto for photographers - Casa Loma

Places to visit in Toronto for photographers - Casa Loma

Places to visit in Toronto for photographers - Casa Loma

Read more: Casa Loma, the only full-size castle in North America

08| Graffiti Alley

Graffiti Alley (aka Rush Lane) is the renowned destination if you’re on the hunt for unique murals and street art. Running almost kilometer long, this alleyway, just west of Spadina Ave and Queen Street West, provides artists with a blank canvas. As you walk around, you will find artists from all over the world make their mark on the streets. If you’re lucky, you might even spot an artist working on his/her masterpiece! Yes, this is where Rick Mercer films his weekly rant. And yes, street art here is 100% legal!

Graffiti Alley Toronto-15

Graffiti Alley Toronto-8

Graffiti Alley Toronto-12

09| Gooderham Building

Equivalent of New York City’s Flatiron Building, Toronto’s Gooderham Building has that same iconic wedge-like shape. Situated in the St. Lawrence Market District, this 5-storey building exhibits characteristic of Romanesque and Gothic Revival designs through the use of red brick walls, steeply pitched copper roof and decorative frieze.

Places to visit in Toronto for photographers - Gooderham Building

10| Leslieville

Known as Toronto’s hippest place to dine, drink, shop and live, this east end neighbourhood is no doubt a haven for talented local artisans and indie shops. Despite booming with trendy eateries, Leslieville is governed by cozy houses and tree-lined streets, making it seem surprisingly serene and peaceful. Moreover, the village has a vibrant vintage scene and is home to many historic buildings. If you happen to have a reservation at Ruby Watchco, don’t forget to take some time strolling around this cool neighbourhood!

Places to visit in Toronto for photographers - Leslieville

Places to visit in Toronto for photographers - Leslieville

11| University of Toronto

Walking around University of Toronto is like receiving a spa treatment for your eyes. There is no shortage of architecturally stunning buildings on the campus! Even if you have absolutely no idea of their history, those magnificent works of architecture will surely leave you in awe!

Places to visit in Toronto for photographers - University of Toronto

Places to visit in Toronto for photographers - University of Toronto

Places to visit in Toronto for photographers - University of Toronto

Read more: How to get around Toronto by subway and streetcars

12| Distillery District

For more historical capture, I strongly recommend heading towards the Distillery District. This pedestrian village, with its exquisite Victorian industrial architecture, exudes a rustic vibe that is simply irresistible for many love birds. Adorned with red bricks and cobblestone streets, this is one of the popular destinations for wedding photography!

Places to visit in Toronto for photographers - Distillery District

Places to visit in Toronto for photographers - Distillery District

Places to visit in Toronto for photographers - Distillery District

13| Toronto Islands

A short ferry ride from downtown takes you to Toronto Islands, a refreshing escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Made up of a chain of small islands, Toronto Islands is a serene urban utopia with a beautiful view of Lake Ontario on one side, and the city skyline on the other. Around the islands, you will come across multiple spots for scenic photo shoots, including sand beaches, amusement park, lighthouse and many more! Personally, I think watching sunset at the Centre Island is the most romantic thing to do in Toronto!

Places to visit in Toronto for photographers - Toronto Islands

Places to visit in Toronto for photographers - Toronto Islands

Read more: A day trip to Toronto Islands

The above locations are all easily accessible from downtown core. I’m sure there are many more that I haven’t gotten the chance to capture. If you have a secret gem in Toronto, please share with me! I’d love to see the cool shots you’ve taken in Toronto!

If you’re staying in Toronto for a few days, check out this Toronto itinerary!

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38 Comments Leave a Comment »

  1. Great pics! The Wave deck is awesome!

  2. Love this list! It made me so happy to see my hood – Leslieville – included. I had never even heard of Canoe Landing Park or seen those buoys!! Toronto is such a wonderful place thanks for spotlighting it!

  3. I do love Toronto. We were there for 5 days in 2010. I can see some new things in your post and with the familiar I’ve now got stirrings of wanting to return!

  4. I have to admit I am surprised with your pictures. I wasn’t aware of the many cool spots in the city. I have heard a lot about Toronto but I guess I have not seen a lot of it. Thanks for sharing your journey in photos.

  5. Beautiful photographs! There are so many lovely spots in Toronto.

  6. So many beautiful spots- I didn’t know any of them:)

  7. Your photos are gorgeous–another blogger friend is in Toronto this week and it made me think of adding it to my bucket list (I dunno why I hadn’t thought of it previously). Your sugar beach pic makes me want to dive right in 🙂

    Have a great weekend!

  8. We recently made some new friends who live in Toronto, and now we’re even more excited to go visit them! What great places to see – thanks for the rundown! #WeekendWanderlust

  9. I am a very passionate photographer and your post about Toronto surely inspired me. I’d love to go back and see all the sites that you feature here. I’ve only been in Toronto once, about 30 years ago, but didn’t take any pictures then.

  10. Thanks for this amazing post! I am so excited I wish I could visit Toronto now! I have yet to visit Eastern Canada, so I’m inspired and anxious to go now that I’ve seen Toronto has so many places with historical elements, street art and modern influences.

  11. Toronto looks like a great place to visit! I especially like the fishing floats sculptures. Very cool!

  12. Love your photos of the library at Osgoode Hall and the University of Toronto. Thanks for sharing them at #TheWeeklyPostcard

    • Thank you, Ahila! I only walked a part of University of Toronto and was amazed by the architecture. My trip to Osgoode Hall was a unexpected one – I was looking for Nathan Phillips Square and walked into the wrong place lol It was all worth it though!

  13. Ahh love this post! I captured this photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/7MCsQJQGV3/?taken-by=efaadventure on the Toronto Islands! 🙂

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  15. I haven’t been to Canada in more than a decade, but I’d love to revisit Toronto and Vancouver! These spots look awesome – I had no idea there was a beach in Toronto!

  16. Beautiful run down Kat. It must have been 30 years since I was last in Toronto and a lot has changed but it is still a magnificent city. Love the pictures of the bobbers by the lake. For some reason it reminds me of a frivolous statue garden we had in Columbus Ohio. They had a giant cornfield out in a cornfield. A giant motif of art imitating life or something like that. Absolutely stunning photo tour.

  17. Ooh! I am loving this photography series type posts that you have on your blog! I am still learning how to manoeuvre my DSLR, but your photos give me so much photography inspiration!

  18. What a great summary! I thought I knew Toronto well, but you proved me wrong, hehehe! Still a few more places I need to photograph!

  19. What a great list of photog-friendly places! I’m surprised there aren’t more people by Sugar Beach, assuming that’s the closest thing to a beach they have? It looks so empty! And would you say UT is more beautiful or UBC? 😉

  20. I’ve never been to Toronto, but your article just proved to me there’s much more going on there than I would’ve ever imagined before. An urban beach park? A seaside walkway that could nearly double over as a huge skatepark? I’d never heard of the islands surrounding either! How cool, definitely going to keep this one on file whenever I finally make it to Toronto.

  21. Great list and pics!
    Here are some other suggestions for great areas to take pics in Toronto:
    – Kensington Market
    – Chinatown
    – Cabbagetown
    – Allan Gardens
    – The Beaches
    – Tommy Thompson Park
    and many more….

  22. Wow! Thanks for sharing this beautiful place of toronto. It’s very useful for visiters. I really wanted to visit this place. Thanks.


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  26. Love the post!! Have been visiting Toronto each August since 2001 (well, except these past 2 summers) and this was a delightful reminder of why I love the city. Hoping to make a return this summer (2022) and revisit these spots … many thanks!

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