Capture cool Lake Ontario views and hot city skyline shots as you take a self-guided photo tour along Toronto’s waterfront.

Take a cue from Drake and capture your own views from The 6ix. With its lakeside perspective and city skyline vistas, Toronto’s Waterfront is rife with photo-worthy stops. (Whether you rap about them is up to you.)

Snow, ice and cloudless winter skies create a stark contrast to downtown’s high-rises and CN Tower, making for some dramatic shots. Put on your warmest layers (it can get windy by the water!), pull on your mittens and grab your camera for an urban winter photo safari.

Note: We’ve organized this list from east to west, so your seasonal café and restaurant options will peak midway through your safari route, between Harbourfront Centre and the Billy Bishop ferry. 

Although the winter temps mean the 240 m (790 ft) water channel fed by the three Light Showers art sculptures won’t be on at Sherbourne Common, the zinc-clad pavilion is a sleek, futuristic-looking beauty. Shoot the impressive lines of its sculptural design, which are meant to manifest the park’s connection to Lake Ontario and human interaction.

With powdery white snow on the ground, and its pink umbrellas against a clear blue sky, Sugar Beach can look almost tropical on a chilly winter day — except your cheeks will remind you that you’re in the middle of a Canadian winter! Located at the foot of Lower Jarvis Street and south of Queens Quay East, Sugar Beach takes inspiration from the nearby Redpath Sugar factory and the neighbourhood’s industrial history. Walk east on the tree-lined promenade for photos of the serene lake.

Capture some documentary snaps of skaters at the Harbourfront Centre rink, then head inside to warm up as you check out the Nordic Bridges initiative, which runs for all of 2022. Featuring contemporary Nordic art from a wide range of disciplines — including performing arts and visual and digital art to film and culinary arts — the programming includes creators from Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Greenland and more.

The swooping fluid lines of the Simcoe WaveDeck, located at Queens Quay West and Lower Simcoe Street, were inspired by the shores of Ontario’s great lakes. Photograph the boldest of Queens Quay’s three sculptural “wavedecks” to get its southern (lake)side, which highlights its dramatic undulations, or snap it from the sidewalk with your travel buddies staggered on different levels of the deck. 

Make it a winter beach day and head to HTO Park, aka Toronto’s Urban Beach. Snap the park’s stationary yellow umbrellas against a brilliant blue sky and Lake Ontario below for the retro feel of a Slim Aarons photo. The park’s name is a play on H20 and the city’s nickname, T.O., and represents the transition from lake to city.

Underneath a blanket of snow, the six sections of the Toronto Music Garden — a collaboration between cellist Yo-Yo Ma and landscape architect Julie Moir Messervy, who were inspired by the six movements of Bach’s Suite No. 1 in G Major — might be more difficult to distinguish from one another. Regardless, the broad granite steps of the amphitheatre are the perfect spot to capture the CN Tower stretching high into the sky and the garden’s wrought iron circular Music Pavilion makes for a striking backdrop for a classic tourist photo.

Get your “I’m on a boat!” ’gram by taking the free Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport ferry. At just 90 seconds — crossing a distance of 121 m (397 ft) — it’s one of the shortest ferry rides in the world, so you’ll have to be quick getting those CN Tower shots. Don’t forget to video the wonderfully slushy lake along the ferry route.

You’ll want to launch your own Toronto-postcard side hustle once you photograph Toronto’s downtown skyline from Trillium Park. The 1.3 km (0.8 mile) William G. Davis Trail through the park offers several fantastic vantage points of the city’s iconic skyline with its crown jewel, the CN Tower. Time your photo safari at sunrise for those magical views of the sun emerging from behind the Financial District’s towers, although the end of the day is also a spectacular time, with the glass skyscrapers glowing from the reflection of the sunset.

Photograph the frigid waves of Lake Ontario crashing against the rocky shores at Ontario Place, and it’s easy to forget you’re a mere 10-minute Uber ride to the concrete jungle of the Financial District. Once the sun sets, the glittering globe of the Cinesphere, the world’s first permanent IMAX theatre, looks otherworldly against the dark night sky. 

 

Getting to the Waterfront:

Take the Line 1 Yonge-University subway to Union station, then take the 509 Harbourfront streetcar westbound to the Queens Quay Ferry Docks Terminal (or beyond). Or take the 75 Sherbourne bus southbound to Lake Shore Boulevard East.