Toronto continues to impress with its impossibly cool neighbourhoods, diverse cultures, huge art scene, and of course, vibrant nightlife. There are so many districts that offer a fun and energetic night out, sprawling across the city. From 1940s speakeasy-type bars to high-energy nightclubs, here’s where to go for the best nightlife in Toronto.
Best Nightlife in Toronto
1. Queen West
Queen West has been named one of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world many times, even by Vogue. It’s the hub of Toronto’s diverse edgy arts and culture scene, with a strong artsy and progressive feel. These kinds of city districts usually have some of the best nightlife, and Toronto is no different. Hip locally-owned bars, clubs, and eateries lead the pack here, usually with some kind of twist. Wayward has the vibe of a 1940s speakeasy, Mother has nature-inspired cocktails, and the Rhino is the place to be if you like locally brewed beers. But really, there are so many places to go ranging from beautiful rooftop bars, like the Sky Yard, to edgy live music venues, like Hideout Bar.
Parkdale isn’t typically on tourists’ lists of places to visit, but it’s a huge hit with locals in the know. Gentrification has tried to sweep up this neighbourhood, but the locals have been resistant to the change, while still being open to trendy, hip bars and venues. It’s home to some great dive bars, like Grand Trunk, Pharmacy, and the Mezz. If you want a spot of live music, head to the Cadillac Lounge, Motel Bar, and Parts & Labour.
3. Church and Wellesley
Church and Wellesley is Toronto’s gay village, which is always one of the most fun and welcoming parts of a city. The LGBTQ+ enclave is home to cocktail bars, shows, lounges, clubs, comedy clubs, and more. Woody’s is a Church Wellesley Village institution, often described as the friendliest bar in the district. Book a show at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, which is an open stage for LGBTQ+ playwrights and performers. Once the plays and performances are over, the drag queens take centre stage and put on a wild and energetic show.
4. Ossington Avenue
Ossington is one of the best places for nightlife in Toronto thanks to its edgy vibe. It’s a long strip of bars, clubs, live music venues, open-air spots, and lounges. It’s particularly popular among those under 30, with so many great spots to go out. If you love locally brewed beers, you’ll want to visit Bellwoods Brewery, and if you fancy some live music after your hoppy ale, head to the Painted Lady, Dakota Tavern, Reposado, or Hawker Bar. And if it’s a nice evening and you want to spend it outside, Ossington is full of open-air patios draped with fairy lights, like Sweaty Betty’s – an Ossington institution.
5. Little Italy
While there are countless Italian food joints in Little Italy, the bars are a mix of cultures. Bar Raval is a Gaudi-inspired place, serving up Spanish pinxtos and sangria. It’s a fun, cosy bar that’ll transport you to the streets of Barcelona. Another spot is El Convento Rico, a Latin club that hosts popular drag shows and dance lessons. Fancy a trip to Ireland? Well, Mullins Irish Pub awaits. Head to the traditional tavern for Irish whiskies, games, Guinness, and some great pub grub. But if you want to go to Little Italy to feel the sophisticated essence of the country, then you’ll want to go to Sotto Voce – a wine and pasta bar serving up superb Italian favourites with a relaxed, cool vibe.
6. The Annex
The Annex is close to the University of Toronto, so it’s no surprise that the area has catered to those thirsty students. Despite being a ‘student’ area, it’s still a pretty relaxed place to go out, with tonnes of cool pubs and bars that are a good crack whether you’re a student or not. One such place is Madison Avenue Pub where you can sip on affordable drinks on a rooftop patio, or the Duke of York, a laid-back, traditional English pub. But if you really don’t fancy mingling with the students, head to Paupers. It has a rooftop bar with views of the CN tower – a great place to enjoy sunset cocktails before heading down to the lounge for some live music.
7. King West
Whether it’s a night of fine dining or dancing ’till dawn, you can find it in King West. There are many cities across the world that have a district that was once populated by warehouses and industrial buildings and is now a cool place to go out. King West is actually the name of the street where you’ll find a thoroughfare of bars and clubs, but the general area has spread to incorporate streets that stem from it. There are so many bars here, ranging from swanky rooftop spots to bustling clubs. Some highlights include EFS, Medusa, Toybox, Everleigh, Spice Route, 2 Cats Cocktail, and many more.