Rising above the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario, Toronto is Canada’s most populous city and a deservedly popular tourist destination. Each year, more than 27 million people visit the city, attracted by its world-class museums, family-friendly attractions, and gorgeous green spaces.
If you’ve ever wondered what the number 1 attraction is in Toronto, this article reveals it all. Read on to discover not only the history behind it but everything you can see and do when there.
While planning a Toronto escape, don’t overlook the importance of booking accommodation as early as possible. To browse a diverse choice of offerings, you can navigate to this website where you’ll find vacation rentals across the city. Whether you opt to stay in Harbourfront, Chinatown, or the Entertainment District, you’re never more than a short tram, bus, or subway ride from Toronto’s top attraction.
Toronto’s number 1 attraction – the CN Tower
Rising to 553 metres above the city, the CN Tower was the tallest building in the world when it was completed in 1976 and is the number 1 attraction in Toronto today. It is named after Canadian National, the railway company that was responsible for its construction, and has been an iconic structure on Toronto’s skyline for decades.
The CN Tower has been designated as one of the Seven Wonders of the World by the American Society of Civil Engineers and is beautifully illuminated with LED lights at night. Soaking up the views from one of the CN Tower’s observation decks is a “must” when visiting the city, with spectacular views across the city and Lake Ontario on offer.
A short history of the CN Tower
As new skyscrapers were built in Toronto during the 1960s and 1970s, the need for higher antennas to provide broadcast signals became apparent. The idea for the CN Tower was first discussed in 1968, not only to provide the city with a television and radio communication tower but also as a symbol of Canadian National’s strength.
Construction on the CN Tower began in February of 1973, with the original plan comprising a tripod of “pillars” linked by structural bridges. A hydraulically raised slipform was used at the base to build the main support pillar, with this considered a feat of engineering at the time.
By the time the tower was completed in 1975, 40,500 cubic metres of concrete had been used in its construction, with all of it mixed on-site to ensure consistency. A Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane known as “Olga” was used to fly the tower’s antenna up in 36 different sections, with the schedule of flights advertised in local newspapers and attracting quite a crowd.
The CN Tower officially opened on June 26, 1976, with the cost of the construction totalling around 63 million Canadian dollars.
Visiting the CN Tower
The Main Observation Level is located 346 metres above the ground and is complete with floor-to-ceiling windows to ensure exceptional views. It also boasts a glass floor, from where you can peer down at the streets below. To learn more about the surrounding sights, you can download the CN Tower’s free viewfinder app. A fun fact is that a time capsule has been buried in the floor of the Main Observation Level and will be opened on the 100th anniversary of the tower’s completion in 2076.
Further up the CN Tower is the SkyPod, which is located at 447 metres above the ground, making it the highest observation platform in the Western Hemisphere. On a clear day, you can see as far as Niagara Falls. Don’t be surprised if you feel a little movement while up there, with the CN Tower known to sway in the wind!
Alternatively, you can brave the EdgeWalk, a thrilling experience 116 stories above the ground. Connected via a harness, you’ll walk around the exterior of the CN Tower’s main pod and experience what the Guinness World Records recognises as the world’s highest external building walk.
For something a little less heart-pumping, why not dine at the 360 Restaurant, which completes a full rotation every 72 minutes. While feasting on sustainably sourced seafood and locally grown Ontario produce, you’ll be treated to the best views Toronto has to offer.
All of the CN Tower’s floors are connected via high-speed elevators, which ascend and descend at a speed of 22 kilometres an hour. The glass floors allow visitors to get a sense of just how fast they are going, with the journey to the Main Observation Level taking just under a minute.
After your visit, be sure to browse the onsite gift store where you’ll find CN Tower mementos, works by Indigenous artists, and local design goods. On the ceiling of the gift store is a geometric metal sculpture inspired by the Northern Lights. Also at the base of the tower is a family-friendly KidZone with video games and play areas, plus Le Cafe where you can grab drinks and light meals.
While the CN Tower regularly tops lists of the best things to see and do in Toronto, remember to give yourself plenty of time to discover some of the other incredible attractions the city has to offer.