Last updated: 09/14/2023
Check out all the tips for visiting the CN Tower, the tower over 550 meters high that is a postcard for Toronto, Canada's largest city.
Built between 1973 and 1976, in steel and concrete, the CN Tower is a telecommunications and observation tower that also houses a revolving restaurant. The tower has 553.33 meters to the top of its antenna (457.2 meters to the roof), equivalent to a 147-story building. For 32 years, it was considered the tallest structure in the world, when it was surpassed by the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world located in Dubai, which we also had the pleasure of meeting. Currently, Toronto's main postcard is the third tallest tower in the world (behind the Tokyo Skytree, in Japan, with 634 meters and the Canton Tower, in China, with 595.7 meters, built in 2012 and 2010, respectively).
The tower has 11 elevators, which take visitors from the ground floor to the main observation deck in 58 seconds, at 22 km/h, and also has 1,776 steps. Inside the concrete tower are hundreds of bundles of steel cables that are tightened to create a strong, flexible “skeleton.”
THE STORY BEHIND THE TOWER’S NAME
The name of the tower is a reference to the Canadian National Railway, the railway company responsible for its construction. The idea to erect the tower came from the need to solve recurring communication problems that arose after the construction of skyscrapers in downtown Toronto, while also showcasing the power of Canadian industry. However, the company was privatized in 1995 and the new administration ended up transferring ownership to Canada Lands Company, another Canadian government company. So that the name of the tower would not be changed, as it was well known, the tower was renamed Canada's National Tower, maintaining the name CN Tower.
MAIN AREAS OF CN TOWER
The CN Tower is made up of several areas. To climb the tower, you must go through security, who inspects each bag and uses a metal detector to identify the presence of prohibited items (weapons of any type, drugs, paint, skateboards, costumes, flags and banners, etc.). Next, check out the main highlights of the CN Tower.
>> CN TOWER BASE
The base of the CN Tower houses the Le Café and a children's area known as KidZone, with video game consoles with games for the whole family. Next door is the Gift Shop, which features works by indigenous artists, articles produced by local designers and miscellaneous items with the CN Tower logo.
>> TERRACE LEVEL
On the Terrace Level there is an area with a glass floor, where it is possible to feel like you are floating while walking beneath the city at 342 meters high. The glass floor can support the weight of more than 3 orca whales. This structure is undergoing a renovation project and is closed to visitors.
>> MAIN OBSERVATION LEVEL
The main observation level is 346 meters high. Its thick glass walls allow visitors to have panoramic views of the city of Toronto, allowing photos of the surroundings through thermochromic technology that adjusts sunlight. An interesting fact is that there is a “time capsule” in this place that is scheduled to be opened in 2076, on the tower’s 100th anniversary.
>> 360 RESTAURANT
It is a revolving restaurant that houses the highest wine cellar in the world, completing a rotation every 72 minutes. While tasting a variety of Canadian cuisine, visitors can see Toronto from all angles.
Opened in 2011, 116 stories high, is a walkable structure on the outer edge of the CN Tower for an exhilarating experience. The Guinness Book of Records recognizes EdgeWalk as the highest walking location in a building.
This is the highest observation platform in the Western Hemisphere. It is 33 stories higher than the main observation platform and 447 meters above ground level. The antenna at the top is bigger than a football field and lights up about 75 times a year. On a sunny day, you can see up to 100 miles away, including Niagara Falls and the state of New York in the USA.
TYPES OF TICKET TO TOUR CN TOWER
The CN Tower offers some ways to get to know its structure. Tickets are timed and can be purchased up to 30 days in advance of the day of the visit. Below, check out the available options.
- TIMED GENERAL ADMISSION: This is the standard but common ticket to visit the CN Tower, at LookOut Level at 346 meters high. Includes a timed visit to the main observatory level with views of the city of Toronto and Lake Ontario. Furthermore, it is possible to access the Outdoor Terrace Level, an external terrace with a glass floor (passing renovation).
- SKYPOD + TIMED GENERAL ADMISSION: In addition to visiting the main level of the observatory, climb 33 floors to have a visit, on the same day, to SkyPod, the highest observation platform in the Western Hemisphere at 447 meters high. It is recommended to schedule your SkyPod appointment 60 minutes after Timed General Admission.
- SEA THE SKY: This discounted ticket includes a visit to the CN Tower (general admission) and also to Ripley's Aquarium of Canada, which is nearby.
- PREMIER: VIP visit to the CN Tower, with priority access to elevators and observation decks, including the SkyPod. There is also a 15% discount for purchases at the shop located in the CN Tower.
- EDGEWALK: For lovers of a good adventure, after climbing 116 floors, take the opportunity to walk, without holding on, on a 1.5 meter wide circular platform that surrounds the central area of the tower at 356 meters high!
OUR EXPERIENCE AT CN TOWER
We bought tickets online to visit the CN Tower at 3pm on a beautiful sunny day. I had checked the weather forecast a few days before to make sure the weather would be good at the time of our visit. We always buy online to avoid wasting time in queues to visit attractions. We ended up finishing some other tours early and arrived at the tower an hour ahead of schedule. We tried to get in line, but one of the employees told us to only come back at 2:45 pm, closer to our ticket time. We took the opportunity to walk around the surroundings and take photos to kill time.
At 2:45 pm sharp we showed the ticket to an employee who allowed us entry. Until that moment we believed that the queue was for security, as you have to go through the metal detector to access the tower. But unfortunately, that was just the initial queue. Most of the queue was inside the tower and it was really huge! I have to confess that I was very frustrated with that situation. We queued for exactly 1 hour to take the elevator to go up to the tower!
When we got there, almost 4pm, the weather had closed in and the sky was completely cloudy, which really affected our vision. Furthermore, I found everything very disorganized. On the main floor of the observatory, they placed a cafeteria whose tables were glued to the windows, making it difficult to see the most beautiful area for photos. I don't know who had this “brilliant” idea of obstructing the view and keeping people standing in the place where they should be passing by. A snack bar located on another floor would make a lot more sense, wouldn’t it?
Paulo was super calm after all that waiting, but I was very upset due to the waiting time, the suddenly cloudy sky and the crowded place with poor views. I think the expectation of visiting the place, all the planning over many weeks, ended in frustration and ruined our experience.
I know that everyone has a different experience and we cannot generalize. But, I'm not going to lie that I consider it the least interesting experience we've ever had in observation towers. As soon as we arrived, I was already wanting to leave. If you want to visit the attraction, my tip is to buy the VIP ticket, which has priority entry, so you don't waste so much time in line and don't run the risk of having a frustrating experience.
WHERE TO EAT AT CN TOWER
In addition to a revolving restaurant, the CN Tower has other spaces for coffee or quick meals. Then check the options offered on site.
>> 360 RESTAURANT
Located at the top of the CN Tower, 360 Restaurant offers panoramic visits of the city through a rotating structure that makes a complete rotation every 72 minutes. The restaurant serves dishes prepared with fresh and sustainable ingredients from regional Canadian cuisine, including many wine options. There is a minimum consumption of CAD$75 per person. It is recommended to do reservation in advance to guarantee a good table. Spending at the restaurant guarantees a visit to the observatory at no additional cost.
>> VUE BISTROS
Located on the main level of the observation tower, VUE Bistros offers some examples of classic Canadian cuisine, such as poutine, as well as drinks and beers. The establishment is open daily from 10am to 9pm.
>> LE CAFÉ
Located on the Ground Floor of the CN Tower, Le Café serves a variety of coffees, teas, pastries, and quick meals (pizzas, sandwiches, salads). The cafe is open daily from 11am to 6pm.
HOW TO GET TO CN TOWER
The CN Tower is located in downtown Toronto, between the Rogers Center stadium and Ripley's Aquarium of Canada. Entrance is via Bremner Boulevard (south side of the CN Tower). Regardless of the means of transport used, the closest disembarkation area is probably the Union Station, Toronto's main station. From there, the CN Tower is located a short walk along Bremner Boulevard. Another option is via the PATH Skywalk, a closed walkway of approximately 160 meters that connects Union Station to the CN Tower.
We advise you to use the Google Maps, O TTC Trip Planner, or the Metrolinx for more information on the best way to get to the tower depending on where you are. For those who have a car in the city, there are many parking lots paid for cars in the surrounding area. The closest are the Metro Toronto Convention Center south parking lot (enter on Lower Simcoe Street from Bremner Boulevard or Lake Shore Boulevard) and the Impark parking lot at Navy Wharf Court (along the west side of the Rogers Center north of Bremner Boulevard).
- Address: 290 Bremner Blvd, Toronto, ON M5V 3L9, Canada
- Schedules: daily from 9:30 am to 9:00 pm
- Timed General Admission: CAD$43
- SkyPod + Timed General Admission: CAD$53
- Sea the Sky: CAD$74
- Premier: CAD$95
- EdgeWalk: from CAD$199 to CAD$225
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