Why You Should Visit Toronto, the World’s Most Diverse City

In Toronto, visitors can feast upon a year-round celebration of multiculturalism.

A woman in a large feathered and winged lime green costume for Carnival in Toronto

Almost 6 percent of Toronto’s population has Caribbean roots, celebrated at the annual Carnival.

Photo by Itsik Marom/Alamy

By most measures, Toronto is more diverse than any city in the world, including New York City and London. More than half its population of 3 million was born outside of Canada, and upward of 180 languages are spoken here. The city’s multicultural identity has been further solidified with the 2023 mayoral election of Olivia Chow, the first woman of color to hold the post. “It’s important to reflect who we are representing,” she said when she won. “It’s saying to every Torontonian, ‘Doesn’t matter where you came from, what your skin color is, faith—if you have the passion and ideas to contribute to the city, please, the door’s open.’”

My family immigrated to Toronto 36 years ago from Korea. Growing up, my social circle gave me insights into other cultures. My friends’ potluck dinner tables featured crispy Peking duck, spicy lamb rogan josh, and sundubu jjigae (tofu stew)—and candid conversations about how to navigate our “blended” Canadian identities.

Travelers who visit today can tap into the city’s incredible diversity by visiting some of its historic neighborhoods. In downtown Toronto, Kensington Market is a bohemian area with vintage boutiques, specialty groceries, and bakeries. At the restaurant Birria Catrina, try the namesake dish, a complex, slow-cooked Mexican beef stew. Nearby, Rikki Tikki offers modern twists on Indian fare, such as a spiced lamb shank. Between May and October, Pedestrian Sundays feature local vendors and live music.

Parkdale, in Toronto’s West End, has a rich history of immigrants settling here from Poland, the Philippines, Jamaica, and beyond. Today, it’s home to Little Tibet, with one of the largest Tibetan populations outside Asia. Stop by the casual eatery Loga’s Corner for momos, dumplings that are either steamed or fried and stuffed with paneer or chicken.

Two people sitting on bench by the waterfront in Toronto, with fountain at right.

Aside from English and French, some of the languages spoken in Toronto include Mandarin, Spanish, Tamil, and Tagalog.

Photo by Dukas Presseagentur Gm/Alamy Stock Photo

Toronto’s Koreatown is worth a visit for its food as well as its nightlife. Exercise your vocal cords at one of the neighborhood’s karaoke joints, then treat yourself to pork bone soup at the Owl of Minerva, which is open 24 hours.

Greater Toronto has an extensive public transportation system, and visitors should use it to venture deeper into the city’s suburban neighborhoods. A thriving Somali community lives in the enclave of Rexdale. The restaurant Istar, located in Westown Plaza, serves one of the area’s best Somali samosas, savory and layered with rich spices.

In addition to homier regional eats, Toronto’s gastronomy scene is booming. New Michelin star honorees include Restaurant 20 Victoria, which serves a seasonal seven-course meal, and the high-end Japanese restaurant Kappo Sato.

The city’s festivals and special events also showcase its multiculturalism. June will see the biannual Indigenous Fashion Arts Festival, which spotlights textiles and crafts from more than 100 designers and artists. At the Toronto Caribbean Carnival, over a million visitors gather every August to dance to the rhythms of calypso, soca, and reggae music while wearing elaborate outfits of feathers, beads, and sequins. And on October 5, the all-night celebration Nuit Blanche will display contemporary artwork with the theme of “Bridging Distance”—a concept that many Torontonians, including myself, can identify with.

Tips for planning your trip

  • Where to stay: Located in the city’s Financial District, the Shangri-La Toronto is a luxury hotel known for spectacular views of the skyline and a modern Asian design aesthetic.
  • Go deeper: Bruce Bell’s popular 90-minute walking tour dives into the city’s history and pop culture.

For the full list of our favorite destinations this year, read Where to Go in 2024, or watch the video below.

Anna Kim is a journalist based in Toronto. She has also written for TIME Magazine, TIME.com, Fodor’s Travel, and Travel + Leisure.
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