Toronto’s urban photographers share their favourite spots for the perfect photo opp.
We can’t deny facts, Toronto’s a photogenic city with endless possibilities for capturing a great shot. As eclectic as it is, you may not know where to start. We hear you.
To help narrow down your options, we asked some of the city’s talented photographers and rounded up their suggestions for the most attractive outdoor spaces in and around the city. Because if anyone knows an Instagrammable spot, it’s them. Here are their favourite locations (with tips!) for capturing solid urban photos.
South-west of downtown Toronto, on the grounds of Ontario Place, sits Trillium Park. This scenic space lends to sprawling greenery, quaint lakeside areas lined with Muskoka chairs, spacious trails for biking and walking—and most importantly, jaw-dropping views of Toronto’s skyline. Walk, bike, drive or even run to Ontario Place for unobstructed photos of downtown Toronto and Lake Ontario.
Koel Das: “Trillium Park is my favourite spot for sunrise. I come here to see the sun rising slowly from the horizon and creating its gorgeous glow.” (@koeldas1 on Instagram)
Justin George: “Ontario place would be a nice place to get lake, skyline and landscape shots—all in good composition.” (@justin__photos on Instagram)
Don’t be afraid to experiment with adjusting your camera settings in terms of exposure and lighting while you’re snapping away.
Humber Bay Park is huge, to say the least—there’s both an eastern and western portion with each area offering beautiful photographic inspiration. There are biking and walking paths throughout that lead into butterfly gardens, wooded trails and breathtaking vistas of Toronto’s skyline backdropped against Lake Ontario. A little east of Humber Bay Park East, you’ll come across the Humber Bay Arch Bridge, an architectural beauty so renowned it even won an award.
Felix Zai: “Humber Bay Park is a perfect location to see the city. It’s a beautiful sight during sunset as the skyline turns golden against the horizon. People can get there by the 501 streetcar and a 5-minute or so walk. Or they can ride along the waterfront bike trail.” (@steelcat on Instagram)
Chris Hau: “One of my favourite locations for photography is Humber Park West’s Lookout Point. There’s a parking spot right beside the footpath that leads you to the view. Within 2 minutes you’re at one of the best sunrise photo locations in Toronto! Once you’re there explore the rest of Humber Bay Park West and Humber Bay Park East.” (@thechrishau on Instagram)
Tano: “My favourite and suggested place is Humber Bay Park. There’s much to shoot there and it’s also very easy to access.” (@tanovr46ix on Instagram)
Shahzad: “As you can see on my Instagram page, I like taking photographs of the CN Tower. I especially like capturing it along with the rest of the Toronto skyline, from Humber Bay Park East.” (@shahzad_alvi on Instagram)
Shoot while the sun is setting, aka golden hour. That’s when you’ll get the best lighting that also reflects off of your surroundings.
From afar, Toronto’s skyline is impactful. But if you want to capture it from a captivatingly unique perspective, place yourself smack in the middle of its towering skyscrapers.
The Financial District may seem uniform at first glance, but upon closer inspection every corner and angle magically transforms with its surroundings. Different times of day and different seasons bring out different sides to this neighbourhood, whether it’s an orange sunset reflecting off of its mirrored skyscrapers or its bright lights highlighting a fresh snowfall.
James Paolo Bombales: “As an admirer of architecture, the Financial District is one of my favourite neighbourhoods to photograph and explore. It’s dotted with architectural (and photogenic) landmarks including the Beaux-Arts exterior of Union Station, the minimalist lines of the TD Centre by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and the Art Deco-style and gold-coffered ceiling in Commerce Court North. Its parabolic steel arches span an entire city block and create a stunning array of lines, shadows and reflections.” (@james_bombales on Instagram)
Marcin Skalij: “Personally, my favourite area to take photos in Toronto is the Financial District. I love the density and urban feel of it. The tall buildings create these crazy walls and it almost looks surreal. Anyone can get there since it’s right by Union Station, and there are infinite compositions to be shot!” (@m.skalij on Instagram)
Use shadows and light to create compelling compositions. Look out for interesting patterns, framing or leading lines created by beams of light or strong shadows.
Toronto’s Harbourfront, aka the South Core, is located just south of downtown Toronto and encompasses Queens Quay West and a portion of the waterfront trail that runs along with it. Make your way down via the waterfront bike path, Union Station or by streetcar for striking views and creative photo ops. Notable Instagrammable spots are the Waterfront WaveDecks, close-up angles of the CN Tower, the flower-filled Music Garden and Harbourfront Centre’s Natrel Rink.
Dustin William: “The condo towers (of the South Core) provide the perfect mirror to the evening sky and amazing colours seen with a good sunset. I always love to look upwards. Use the architecture and straight lines to create a very dramatic photo. These buildings might look like boxes in the sky at first glance but the more you look up at them, you can find endless opportunities for an amazing shot.” (@thelandofdustin on Instagram)
Michael Kelly: “My favourite area is downtown’s waterfront. Even when there aren't many events, there’s still plenty to see and take photos of! If you face the water you can capture a beautiful landscape photo, especially if you catch the boats, birds or planes passing by. If you face the city, you get great angles of the CN Tower, other interesting buildings and even the streetcars along Queens Quay.” (@mke11y on Instagram)
Close one eye and look at the scene. This simple change of perspective will allow you to pick up on any distractions that might be cluttering the photo.
Toronto’s Martin Goodman Trail, part of the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail system, spans from the most eastern confines of the city in Scarborough to its most western borders in Etobicoke (22 km). One can technically bike, walk or run from one end of Toronto to the other along Lake Ontario (with some detours). The trail passes through numerous waterfront parks, large and small, featuring a diversity of views like Toronto’s skyline, expansive beaches, flourishing green spaces and of course, Lake Ontario.
Taku Kumabe: “My go-to locations for photos have always been the many great parks along Lake Ontario that Toronto has. If you google the Waterfront Trail, you’ll notice the city has a lot more green space than you probably thought. This is a great way to explore hidden gems—and one of my favourite local parks is Prince of Wales Park. It’s a small green space, but with rocky shorelines, a boat launch area and most importantly, a killer view of the Toronto skyline.” (@smaku on Instagram)
Experiment with your camera’s angles like shooting at ground level or above your head. A different perspective will completely change your photo’s composition.
Head to Toronto’s Port Lands for gorgeous views of the city, facing north-west. The city’s best-kept-secret for scenic photos that’ll beautify your Instagram grid is the boardwalk at Polson Pier. From the pier’s vantage point, Toronto’s skyline pops with colour—especially during a fiery orange sunset or contrasted against a frozen Lake Ontario during Toronto’s colder months.
Khaled Rashid: “Although there are so many places to choose from, I would say Polson Pier is my favourite. Not only is it easily accessible, but it also gives you the best views of Toronto. You can go there any time of the day and not be disappointed. Photographer or not, the photos you take there would undoubtedly come out amazing.” (@k_raash on Instagram)
For a really dynamic photo, look for puddles or any other reflective surface. This gives you a creative and reflective shot of your surroundings.
In addition to its thriving nightlife, delicious street food and multicultural pizazz, Kensington Market is also a pleasure to photograph! Roam the neighbourhood’s colourful alleyways of graffiti murals or simply stick to its vibrant boutiques and shops. On Sundays, it’s pedestrian-only and that’s when Kensington really livens up with interesting people, sights and events. Significant photo ops are the neighbourhood’s iconic Garden Car, the Kensington bicycle rack sign (on College and Augusta) and the Green P Carpark’s rooftop. The latter is a secret spot that leads you to great angles of the city.
Peter Papi: “I love Kensington Market. It’s always so vibrant. A great photo spot in the neighbourhood is the top floor of the Green P parking garage—it has great panoramic views of the city.” (@peter_papi on Instagram)
Always take photos with the sun at your back. It illuminates your subject and makes for great photographs.
Home to Spadina Avenue’s emblematic dragon gates and the best Chinese food in Toronto, Chinatown is a top pick for photos. Throughout the day it’s alive with bustling markets brimming with colourful exotic fruits, in the evening it’s lit up by bright restaurant signs and vibrant window displays. And amidst its hustle and bustle, you’ll find artistic Chinese-inspired murals hidden within the neighbourhood’s alleyways.
Nisarg Shukla: “I highly recommend Chinatown as it’s a well-known hub of Chinese culture with many photogenic Chinese stores and restaurants. You might even find some graffiti walls if you walk through Chinatown’s alleyways. Nighttime is great to capture the neighbourhood’s bright neon signs.” (@nisargshukla25 on Instagram)
Rahuul: “My favourite street to photograph is Spadina Avenue, stretching all the way north from Willcocks to Front Street. I love it because there’s so much diversity on this single stretch of the road. There’s Chinatown, which is the place to go for moody cyberpunk vibes. Then there are many locations where you can frame the CN Tower with a streetcar in the foreground, for a classic Toronto shot. It’s a one-stop-shop for all kinds of photos.” (@rahuul_s on Instagram)
Unleash your creativity and be yourself. Don’t think too much about getting likes, instead focus on your own photography style and what you want to express.
Leading up to Yonge-Dundas Square, you’ll find photo-worthy gems along Yonge Street itself. Peep the historic signs and entrances of Ed Mirvish and Elgin and Winter Garden Theatres juxtaposed against downtown’s modern architecture. Yonge-Dundas Square itself is a sight to behold. It’s one of the most popular intersections in Canada and is iconic for its bright, towering billboards and colourful signage. Look up and you’ll see Toronto’s iconic Sam the Record Man sign, overlooking the square atop Ryerson University.
Matthew McKenna: “Yonge-Dundas Square is definitely one of my favourite spots to shoot in the city. With all the changing billboards and it being a high-traffic area, it can lead to some amazing shots that are different every time. It really allows the photographer to get creative with their surroundings.” (@mxtthewmck on Instagram)
Frame subjects into your landscape shots. Different subjects can drastically change the mood of a picture while adding depth.
Explore Queen Street West for a little bit of everything including rows of fashion-forward boutiques owned by local designers, live music venues, multicultural restaurants, trendy bars and a handful of textile stores. Yes, Queen West is without a doubt eclectic. Add to that its Instagrammable murals (Graffiti Alley is adjacent), historical architecture, flashy storefront signs and artsy locals. Enjoy photographing one of Toronto’s most dynamic neighbourhoods!
Lisa Simpson: “My favourite go-to for any kind of photography is Queen West. Some of my best and most spontaneous shots have been taken in that neighbourhood. It’s such an unpredictable location and you really don’t know what you’ll discover until you’re there. Every time I am, I discover something new. It has so much range and is full of all things weird and wonderful, whether it’s people, buildings or even animals.” (@lisa_a_simpson on Instagram)
Don’t be afraid to get creative and try out different angles. Create a unique point of view that wouldn’t normally be seen and you’ll be amazed at the results.
Cobblestone streets, 200-year-old Victorian buildings and contemporary art installations sprinkled throughout—what’s not to love about Toronto’s Distillery Historic District? At every turn, you’ll find something aesthetically pleasing, whether it’s artsy sculptures like the Love Lock installation, picturesque patios, charming antique stores or moody passageways.
Jonathan Gazze: “The historic cobblestone roads of the Distillery District present an endless possibility of photographic opportunities. The neighbourhood is filled with historical buildings which lend to great architecture. In addition to the buildings, the pedestrian-only streets lead into corners and alleyways that create interesting vantage points for portrait shots or dramatic scenes. All with minimal planning.” (@jgazze on Instagram)
If your photo includes a stream or pathway, try lining up the path to the bottom of the frame. It draws the viewer’s eyes along the path and creates a more engaging photo.
The Don River Valley Park is Toronto’s largest urban park that runs alongside the Don Valley River. It houses woodsy hiking trails and historical attractions like Don Valley Brick Works Park. With acres and acres of greenery, head to Don Valley for the scenic, nature-filled photos. You may even come across wildlife like deer or rabbits. As an added bonus, the trails often lead to scenic views that overlook Toronto.
Nilesh: “If I had to pick just one spot, I would suggest Don Valley’s Chester Hill Lookout. It’s an intimate spot that provides a breathtaking view of the Toronto skyline. The view becomes magical just as the sun is setting when the sky is filled with blue, orange and magenta colours, and the lights of Toronto’s skyscrapers have turned on.” (@ns.photos25 on Instagram)
Get out and practice. Experiment with angles, colours and lighting. Look at every photographic challenge as a chance for improvement.
Grange Park is special in that it not only has ties to Toronto’s art community, but it’s incredibly snap-worthy too! Located by OCAD University and the Art Gallery of Ontario—two architectural gems you may want to consider capturing as well—Grange Park also happens to be a national historic site. Originally part of the Grange Estate, it houses the late Boulton-family home (built in 1917). Keep an eye out for one of Toronto’s most-photographed sculptures—Henry Moore’s popular sculpture, Large Two Forms—found on the corner of Dundas and McCaul Streets.
Tyler: “I love Grange Park at Beverley & McCaul Street. You’ll find unique views of the CN Tower through the trees. And then down Beverly Street there’s a newly redone section of the park that offers unique photo opportunities, within a green urban space.” (@tylersjourney on Instagram)
Be patient. Wait for a perfect moment to happen before taking your photo, whether it’s a person carrying a rainbow umbrella or someone walking their cute dog.
Ok, so technically this isn’t in Toronto. But if travelling abroad is currently out of the question, consider exploring Mississauga. It’s not far from Toronto and has great photographic spots.
Start with Port Credit, a charming village-like neighbourhood that offers killer views of Toronto, and is also easily accessible by train via GO Transit. Situated on Lake Ontario’s shoreline, Port Credit’s boardwalk overlooks Toronto in its entirety from across the lake.
Kurt Wang: “I would recommend Port Credit in Mississauga. This spot is a hidden gem just outside the city, where you can shoot the Toronto skyline and the beautiful Port Credit Lighthouse, as well as Mississauga’s waterfront.” (@kurt.wang on Instagram)
Much like sunset, shooting at sunrise lends to ideal lighting that is very soft and dramatic, allowing you to capture better images.