The Most Instagrammable Toronto Street Art Hike / Bike Tour


purple and red abstract mural photographed by a phone in Toronto Graffiti Alley by Patrick Tomasso

Photo Credit @impatrickt

oxygen and fire

by Oxygen and Fire

Art is all around us - all that's needed is being open to it!
Come on an Instagram-worthy cycling tour of Toronto while we explore the less and well known art murals and installations of the city. We'll be covering 15 spots but there's obviously plenty of additional art to enjoy in between. Read the full article for our Scavenger Hunt Challenge at the end.

We chose cycling as our preferred method of transport because it offers us the following benefits:
- exercise
- It's slower than driving so you we can actually enjoy the scenery
* without the added expense and pressure of finding a parking spot

- It's faster than walking so we can cover more ground
- Taking the subway isn't very interesting for us because:
* we end up spending more time on it than actually soaking up the scenery
* It comes with a minimal, yet added expense we could spend elsewhere
* At times, there are closed stations making it harder to commute (ie instead of taking one train to get somewhere, with the closed station(s), sometimes we need to take a train, a bus, and another train)
* Other times, it takes longer based on service frequency levels

You're of course free to choose the method of transport that works best for you based on your needs.

If you do end up choosing to bike, the City of Toronto has a Bike Share program that is available with stations across the city or you could bring your own bike. For the later, we do recommend using reliable bike locks.

We've also made a map for your convenience which can be found at the end of this article. It is in no way shape or form accurate (for example, you don't have to go completely around a block but the software doesn't allow us to select a more direct path in some instances). So, it's important to use your own GPS or phone and be prepared to reroute in case there's construction, for example.

You don't need to do the whole tour in one go and there's no real starting point. You can also pick and choose which spots you'd like to visit based on the short descriptions below. Starting anywhere on the map and even taking detours between spots based on what you find interesting is definitely recommended. If you do take detours, remember to use your GPS or phone to help with rerouting. Breaking up the tour over a few days can also make it more enjoyable and memorable. Selecting one to three spots gives yourself more time which in turn allows for capturing that most Instagrammable moment.

We recommend bringing the following gear with you:

~ selfie stick and or tripod for those picturesque landscapes

~ External battery packs for those long days where you'll be far from an electrical outlet

~ Special lenses you can attach to your phone to give an edge to your images making them stand out from the rest

The CN Tower

For the longest time, the CN Tower used to be the world's tallest structure. Now, it is the second tallest in North America. Still, it offers arial views of Toronto, similar to a drone, making it a popular spot for Instagram-worthy photos.

If you're feeling really brave and looking for a kick of adrenaline, you could do the Edge Walk and take pictures to show the tale.

There are also lots of other attractions around and near the CN Tower worth visiting.

We recommend bringing special lenses to take a picture of the CN Tower at the base such as a fish eye lens so you can capture the whole tower and yourself as well as a selfie stick.

Locals use The CN Tower as a compass marking South as the city sprawls East, West, and North of it (any more south and you land in the water).

Talking about water, our next spot to visit are the:

person taking a photo of the Toronto skyline with their phone by Tandem X Visuals

Photo Credit @tandemxvisuals

Toronto Islands

The Toronto Islands is one of the perfect places to get a snap of the Toronto skyline.

When you first step onto the Toronto Islands, you can instantly feel like you're on a mini vacation. With a lot of greenery and fresh air, there's plenty of space for everyone to enjoy picnics and activities the Islands have to offer.

On the East end, you'll find a community of roughly 300 homes. Some of these cottages can be rented out for your typical Canadian summer getaway without having to commit to a long car ride to get there. There's also the added convenience of having the city just a quick ferry ride away in case you need any essentials.

You can also find an amusement park in centre, an airport on the West side and beaches peppered in between.

Definitely bring a selfie stick and a tripod with you to the Islands to capture the city/landscapes.

All of the above must have worked up an appetite, so let's move onto:

St. Lawrence Market

St. Lawrence Market is a food hall perfect for foodie photos. Let's be real, who doesn't like to spend hours on end watching delicious food posts on social media inspiring us to either order or make our own food? At St. Lawrence Market you can surround yourself with artisanal and specialty foods otherwise rarely, if not at all, found elsewhere in the city. The unique vendors of the market sell Italian, Ukrainian, Japanese, Greek, and Canadian food, to name a few. You can find the following selection grouped under these major categories: bakeries, bulk foods, butchers, cafes, cheese stalls, fish stalls, fruit stalls, juices, specialty items, take-out (sandwiches), vegetable stalls, and more. For those who like trivia, St. Lawrence Market used to be Toronto's first City Hall with jail cells in the basement. We doubt you'd be able to use a tripod there, but you can always bring a selfie stick and lenses. For more history, let's learn about the:

image taken at night at the Distillery District with the illuminated clock and Gooderham and Worts Limited sign with many illuminated lights on all of the buildings by @callmevlads

Photo Credit @callmevlads

Distillery District

The Distillery District in Toronto used to be a whiskey distillery named Gooderham and Worts Distillery. Today, it's one of the National Historic Sites of Canada, home to a theatre company and school, retail stores, restaurants, and a micro-brewery (Mill Street Brewery, which is one of our favourites).

Every season there are themed entertaining events such as the Christmas Market which has been around since 2010 but now called the Winter Village since 2021. Après Ski Weekends was a new event for the rest of the winter that started this year (2023). There have also been movie screenings, fireworks and other activities worth attending at different times of the year.

Regardless of what season you visit the Distillery District, the featured Victorian architecture and cobblestone streets are perfect for capturing vintage feel images for Instagram. Imagine bringing a vintage bike to the location for a photoshoot. What a great pairing!

As this area can get busy, tripods aren't recommended. Do bring your selfie sticks and lenses, though.

Let's take a break from the history lessons and head on over to:

The Beaches

For relaxing times, go to Woodbine Beach. There you can take some great photos of Lake Ontario that seem like you're in Los Angeles. Although there aren't any big natural waves, you'll still get great Instagrammable beach and sunset photos.

Do walk along the board walk / hike or bike along the bike lane as far East as you can to capture the entire beach feel. It changes ever so slightly as you go which is nice to notice.

Also, beach visitors do tend to bring music with them. If you you're not a fan of the genre, it's always nice knowing that there's plenty of space to explore and find a more suitable location to your likings.

Remember to bring a selfie stick, tripod, and external battery pack to help get the perfect Instagram-worthy shot and keep your phone going.

Once you're ready to return to the hustle and bustle of the city, let's go to:

night photo of illuminated Toronto sign at Nathan Phillips Square with reflection in reflection pool by @filipephotographs

Photo Credit @filipephotographs

Nathan Phillips Square

Back to the downtown core, Nathan Phillips Square is located right in front of today's modern City Hall. The Square has many installations and structures that are symbols of peace, freedom, hope, and regeneration for all cultures.

Various cultural events and gatherings are hosted here all throughout the year, such as, Truth and Reconciliation for First Nation communities, farmer's markets, live music, comedy, art shows (e.g. Nuit Blanche in the fall), multi-ethnic food festivals, etc. During the winter, you can also rent skates and go skating.

How can you miss the vibrant Toronto sign in front of the skating rink/reflecting pool, which makes for great day and night photos for your Instagram.

Selfie sticks and lenses will come in handy.

For more night photography, let's go to:

Yonge-Dundas Square

Yonge-Dundas Square is similar to Times Square in New York or certain city centres in Japan. With all of the advertisements on jumbo screens, it's perfect for night photography. Still, you can take an Instagram-worthy photo any time of day especially when the all-way walk sign is illuminated. Similar to Shibuya Crossing in Japan, but much less busy, you can take a picture of yourself in the middle of the street.

To do this, do bring a selfie stick and lenses.

It might be time for a break from the city in which case we suggest going to the:

Wisteria flowers with a solitary bee visiting them by My Nguyen - Wisteria can be seen at the Toronto Botanical Gardens

Photo Credit: My Nguyen

Toronto Botanical Garden

What better way is there to escape the city, even if it's just for a brief moment, than by spending time in nature? At the Toronto Botanical Gardens, there are 17 themed lush gardens that display a variety of local trees and plant species, including perennials as well as a wildflower meadow which will for sure make your Instagram game stand out.

Fun fact, the Toronto Botanical Gardens are apparently not funded by either the provincial or federal governments. It runs on its own profits made off of sales and fundraising/donations.

Here you'll want to take great nature photos by bringing your tripod, selfie stick, and lenses to capture it all. Remember to also pack your external battery pack to keep the good times rolling.

For more gardens, let's move onto:

Casa Loma

Casa Loma is most well known for its castle-like mansion featuring gothic architecture. Did you know some scenes from X-men were shot there? Casa Loma does look like some Harry Potter scenes could have been taken there too, but the only Harry Potter themed event that was held at Casa Loma was the screening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Talking about events, there are many that take place at Casa Loma worth mentioning such as the Casa Loma series of escape room games, the annual immersive theatrical Halloween performance, and symphonies in the garden.

Whichever time of year you decide to visit, we're sure you'll find a great spot to take photos for Instagram on the grounds of Casa Loma. Be sure to bring your selfie stick and lenses.

Next stop, let's continue with the art of architecture at the:

night photo of the Royal Ontario Museum with long exposure of car lights traffic passing in front by @lianhao_qu

Photo Credit @lianhao_qu

Royal Ontario Museum

Upon approaching the Royal Ontario Museum, what first catches the eye is its major contrast in architecture. The variance also sets the tone of what visitors can expect from the Royal Ontario Museum's permanent galleries in art, world culture, and natural history.

It's as if either a crystal grew out of the Italianate and Neo-Romanesque original building or a crystal meteor fell onto it. Whichever way you imagine it, the new architecture is appropriately called the Crystal and mimics the museum's natural history crystal collection.

The exterior truly reflects the city's overall old and new architectural mosaic while the interior represents the roots of its population.

Bring a selfie stick and lenses to help take Instagram-worthy photos of this popular spot.

Next up, more of the art of architecture at the:

University of Toronto

Similar to Casa Loma, some of the University of Toronto's buildings feature gothic architecture which give a bit of a Hogwarts and Harry Potter vibe. Stunning courtyards also provide a great spot for photos some of which are hidden, so do look out for those but make sure to follow signs and staff (not all courtyards are open to the public at all times).

Even though parts of this downtown campus are under construction (at the time of the publication of this article), there are plenty of Instagrammable locations at this prestigious university making it valuable to pack a tripod, selfie stick, and lenses.

It's probably now time for another refuelling stop but this time at:

fruit and vegetable stall in Kensington Market with lemons clementines and various pumpkins by Zoe Xu

Photo Credit: Zoe Xu

Kensington Market

Kensington Market is an eclectic neighbourhood spanning over a few blocks just off of China Town, West of Spadina Road. Its unique shops, vibrant store fronts and street art won't disappoint your Instagram feed.

Plus, the variety of ethnic foods such as Chilean, Jamaican, Mexican, Middle Eastern, Thai, Italian, Vietnamese, Filipino, French, and fusion cuisine, to name a few, will surely satisfy foodie photos and foodie tummies.

The main difference between Kensington Market and St. Lawrence Market is that Kensington is outdoors. A good thing to keep in mind is Kensington has a long standing tradition of pedestrian Sundays making certain streets closed off to cars allowing for pedestrians to freely roam the neighbourhood on the street.

Expect there to be crowds which means, ditch the tripod but definitely bring a selfie stick and lenses to capture the perfect photos for your Instagram stories and posts.

Let's continue on with our theme of colours and street art at:

Graffiti Alley

Graffiti is a controversial topic often debated as either being an unwanted form of expression on a person's or organization's property or a form of art.

Off of Spadina just South of Queen Street West in Toronto lies Graffiti Alley which takes the art side of the debate luring many urban tourists who love to take photos of the murals. This laneway has changed the perspective of many. Instead of graffiti being viewed as a form of vandalism, it is now seen as a form of culturally significant art.

It's generally busier during the weekends, so if you have a chance to visit during a weekday you could then bring a tripod. Otherwise, selfie sticks and lenses will help capture the vibrant Instagram-worthy perfect picture sure to capture attention.

It's time for more nature, so let's head on over to:

fall trees and blue sky with High Park's Maple Leaf in the middle by @edenboudreau

Photo Credit @edenboudreau

High Park

Sometimes nature is art. After all, plenty of art is inspired by nature, so why not revel in the beauty of the trees, leaves, and flowers at High Park? For a short period of time during the spring, there are cherry blossoms which attract thousands of visitors. Still, Instagrammable pictures can be taken all year round. Regardless of the time of year, the park is worth visiting and offers a variety of landscapes, including gardens, trails, and ponds that can act as the perfect backdrop for outdoor Instagram photos.

Definitely bring all four items: external battery packs, tripod, selfie stick, and lenses to High Park as well as the last stop:

Humber Bay Park

Humber Bay Park offers a recreational vibe and coast-side feel for nearby and not so nearby residents alike. This waterfront area located on the opposite end of Woodbine in Etobicoke is a great place to picnic, walk in the gardens, and hike / bike through to see all of the butterflies, ponds, foul, and other wildlife. Plenty of photo opportunities of outdoor landscapes as well as structures like Humber Bay Bridge and the Toronto skyline only, this time, from a different angle prevail.

In closing, Toronto is known for its multicultural population offering a wide range of perspectives. One notable perspective shared with us that has forever changed the way we see the city is how much diversity the city has to offer (in comparison with other cities around the world) which is bound to appeal to many preferences. For this reason, we decided to share the above with a wider public. From cityscapes to landscapes, food from around the world, different art genres, festivals, and activities, one can rarely get bored.

Ready for the Scavenger Hunt Challenge for bragging rights on social media? Answer one or all of the below:

- how many of these (below) did you find while taking "The Most Instagrammable Toronto Street Art Hike / Bike Tour”?

electrical boxes painted with different art can be found all over Toronto

Photo Credit @betterthenblog

- Did you also spot any Muskoka chairs?

- Which of all of the above are your favourites and why?

Let us know on TikTok or Instagram.

Related Articles:
- Best Places to Hike / Bike in Toronto
- Best Toronto Sunset Locations

For more details and a full list of things to see and do in the above spots, please refer to their websites.

City of Toronto
Toronto BIA
CN Tower BIA
Waterfront - Toronto Islands BIA
St Lawrence Market BIA
Distillery District BIA
The Beaches BIA
Toronto Financial District BIA
Downtown Toronto Yonge St BIA
Toronto Botanical Garden
Dupont Casa Loma BIA
Bloor Yorkville BIA
Kensington BIA
Queen Street West BIA
Bloor by the Park BIA
Mimico - Humber Bay BIA

Map, click on image for details:

bike tour google map

Photo Credit: Better Then Blog

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