Visit one of Toronto’s most iconic landmarks for a bird’s eye view of the city (and beyond)!
The CN Tower is one of Toronto’s most iconic landmarks and a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Canada’s largest city. Standing at a staggering height of 553 meters, the CN Tower is the tallest freestanding structure in the Western Hemisphere (it was the tallest in the world when it was built!) and continues to be a marvel of engineering and design. Whether you go for coffee and a bird’s eye view, brave the EdgeWalk and hang off the edge, or enjoy fine dining at 360 Restaurant, your visit to CN Tower promises to be memorable.
Going Up: The High Speed Elevator
Our CN Tower experience begins with a ride on a high speed glass-fronted elevator, with an emphasis on speed. Within 58 seconds, we will go 114 stories (346 m /1136 ft) from ground level to the CN Tower’s Main Observation Level. Before I can do the math, the elevator attendant tells us we’re traveling at 22 km/hr (15 mi/hr)! Buildings, vehicles, and pedestrians get smaller and smaller by the second as our view of the city gets bigger and bigger.
CN Tower’s Main Observation Level
At the Main Observation Level, we are greeted by floor-to-ceiling windows offering breathtaking views of Toronto and Lake Ontario. Tourists take selfies and panoramic shots; while others line up for the SkyPod, to go even higher. We peer down at Yonge-Dundas Square, Fairmont Royal York Hotel, and the harbour, and watch clouds blow by, then head to VUE Bistro for coffee and cakes (they have poutine and craft beer too!). While you could walk the whole observation level in a few minutes, we recommend staying a while to enjoy the view, learn more about the CN Tower, and visit its elevated attractions.
Here are the top 5 things to do at the Main Observation Level ($ indicates extra charge):
1. Enjoy the Views: See Toronto from new heights! The Main Observation Level offers 360-degree views of the city from 342 meters (1,122 feet) high. Get epic high altitude photos and timelapse videos (super cool for capturing moving traffic, boats, and clouds), and don’t forget to snap a selfie so you remember this special outing! Tip: Download the free CN Tower Viewfinder app to learn about landmarks you can see from the Main Observation Level.
2. Stand suspended over the city on the Glass Floor: Walk on the glass floor for a thrilling and adrenaline-inducing perspective of the city from 342 meters (1,122 feet) high. (Note: the Glass Floor and Terrace Level are temporarily closed for renovations.)
3. Go Up to the Skypod ($): Ride the glass-fronted elevators to the Skypod, which is 33 stories above the Main Observation Level and 447 meters (1,465 feet) above the city, for even more stunning views of Toronto and beyond. Feel the tower sway up to 0.46 m (1.5 ft) in the wind and learn how it was built to withstand high winds and lightning.
4. Dine at VUE Bistro or 360 Restaurant ($): Enjoy fine dining with a view at the award-winning 360 Restaurant, named so because it revolves 360 degrees every 72 minutes, providing ever-changing views of Toronto while you dine. Reservations recommended. For coffee and casual fare, visit VUE Bistro.
5. Brave the EdgeWalk ($): For a once-in-a-lifetime experience, try the EdgeWalk, where you’ll walk around the outside of the tower’s main pod, harnessed to an overhead rail system, while enjoying panoramic views of Toronto. A tower tour, plus photos and video of your EdgeWalk experience are included. Participants must be 13 & over and weigh between 34-140.6 kg / 75-310 pounds.
Bonus: Learn about the CN Tower’s design and history by reading the signage at the Main Observation Level, Skypod, and base. Discover the engineering and architectural feats that made the tower possible.
Back to the Base
After a speedy elevator ride down (saving you 1,776 steps), browse the gift shop and pick up unique souvenirs of your visit to the CN Tower and Toronto. Next, take the kids to the CN Tower KidZone (beside the gift shop) to play while you figure out where to go next. Hopefully the sky-high view of the city gave you some ideas!
If you missed the exhibits before going up, this is your last chance to see them. Discover the fascinating history of the CN Tower, and learn about its construction, engineering, and architectural feats that made it possible.
Grab a beverage from Le Café before you go, and if it’s dark, check out the lights on the CN Tower. Each night, the tower is illuminated with various colours to commemorate different holidays, events, and charitable causes.
Get Tickets / Know Before You Go
If you’re planning to visit the CN Tower in Toronto, there are a few things you should know before you go:
- The Toronto CityPASS gives you 40% off admission to five top Toronto attractions including the CN Tower. The pass is good for 9 days.
- Sea the Sky Ticket saves you 15% on admission to Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada and the CN Tower. Your ticket gives you one entry to each attraction within 30 days of purchase, and you do not need to visit them both on the same day (though you can easily do both in one day as they are side by side).
- Show your same day Blue Jays ticket to get 15% off regular admission: not valid in July and August.
- Get free admission to the Main Observation Level when you dine at 360 Restaurant and spend a minimum of $75/person.
- Note: There are additional fees for the SkyPod and EdgeWalk.
3. Hours of Operation: The CN Tower is open every day of the year, including holidays. In general, the tower is open from 9:00 AM to 10:00 PM during the summer months, and from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM during the winter months. Check the CN Tower hours of operation before you go as there are occasional closures for special events.
4. When to go: First thing in the morning and close to closing time tend to be quieter times to visit. It’s hard to say whether visiting during the day or night is better; they’re both beautiful and completely different experiences!
5. How long does it take to visit the CN Tower? Allow about 1.5 hours to visit the Main Observation Deck and VUE Bistro or SkyPod (2+ hours if you’re dining at 360 Restaurant).
6. Photography: Cameras, phones, and tablets are permitted on the Main Observation Level, but not on Edgewalk (because if you dropped anything, you’d hurt people below). I recommend leaving the tripod at home as it’s quite busy and you wouldn’t want your camera to get knocked over.
7. Accessibility: The CN Tower observation deck and restaurants are fully accessible for visitors with disabilities. Wheelchairs are available to rent on a first-come, first-served basis, and service animals are welcome. Strollers are also permitted on the elevators, Main Observation Level, and SkyPod.
8. Security: All guests must go through a security screening to enter the CN Tower. Bags, purses and knapsacks must be smaller than 53 x 23 x 38 cm and will be inspected. You are permitted to bring snacks and a water bottle. For more information on what you can and can’t bring, visit CN Tower / Common Questions / Security.
The CN Tower is located in downtown Toronto, a short walk from Union Station.
Where to Stay
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Family-friendly hotels with swimming pools in downtown Toronto include The Chelsea Hotel, Holiday Inn Toronto Downtown Centre, and Residence Inn by Marriott Toronto Downtown/Entertainment District.
For a budget-friendly option, try the All Days Hostel (where we stayed), an affordable lodging option in downtown Toronto, only 300 metres from Sherbourne Station (Line 2) or 700 metres from Bloor-Yonge Station (Line 1). We enjoyed staying at this clean, quiet hostel in a 3-person private room with ensuite and TV. The hostel is conveniently located across the street from a No Frills grocery store, Rexall Drug Store, and 24-hour McDonald’s. If you’re looking for affordable accommodation with a great location, this is a good choice!