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Our northern neighbor, Canada, is one of the easiest ways to experience an international getaway, whether it’s for a week or weekend away from Washington, DC. (Photo courtesy: Tourism Toronto)

5 ways to explore Toronto on the cheap

Our northern neighbor, Canada, is one of the easiest ways to experience an international getaway, whether it’s for a week or weekend away from Washington, DC.

Toronto, which is now the fourth-largest city in North America, is your must-visit destination, especially if you’re in search of quality food, culture, and convenience. For starters, Canada is priced to win. The exchange rate favors the U.S. dollar, and there are several travel hacks that can help you save even more Loonies—aka Canadian dollars.

Here are five ways to plan and save for your next trip. You can thank us later. Eh?

Fly discount without compromising on service

Typically, when you fly small regional airlines at a discount, you’re sacrificing on comfort and experience. That’s not the case when you fly from DC to Toronto with Porter Airlines. This regional airline operates reliable nonstop service from Dulles to Toronto Billy Bishop Airport, which is smaller and more convenient than Toronto Pearson International Airport. Aside from proximity, your Porter Airlines ticket comes with several perks, including free snacks and drink service (adult beverages included), special airport lounge access at Billy Bishop, and free ground transportation to downtown Toronto.

Don’t delay and book a homestay

Your best time to travel to Toronto is right now. In September, the city welcomes one of its biggest star-studded events, the Toronto International Film Festival, as well as one of the largest craft brewing events, Toronto Beer Week. The weather is also significantly cooler than DC summers which seem to run almost through October. If you’re looking to save a few extra Loonies during your stay, go with a vacation rental by owner, which often is priced significantly less than hotels, thanks to Toronto’s booming condo and apartment market.

Explore the city while avoiding traffic

Traffic in Toronto is as notorious as the Beltway at 6 p.m. on a weekday. One way to get around this congestion is by opting for some of the city’s alternative forms of transportation, including its public transit system. If that doesn’t do it for you, the city’s bike share program connects you to many of the popular neighborhoods, including Kensington Market, which is best known for cheap eats and an open air market, popular with Instagrammers. Otherwise, exploring Toronto by foot is your next best bet. The city has several self-guided Discovery Walks, as well as one of the longest stretches of lakefront hiking, biking, and walking trails, compared to any other city in the world.

Stroll through the museums for free or cheap

Just like DC, museums in Toronto can be free, or cheap, if you plan ahead and know when to go. Many museums offer periodic free entry or pay-what-you-can pricing. The Art Gallery of Ontario is free every Wednesday from 6 to 9 p.m. Admission to the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA) is always pay-what-you-can. And the Royal Ontario Museum, which has a jaw-dropping exhibit on blue whales, offers discounted admission on Fridays from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. between July 7 and September 22.

Purchase a CityPASS if you plan to do-it-all

There are so many reasons to visit Toronto, and you can save a lot if you plan ahead and purchase a CityPASS ($49 or $72 each). The ticket booklet is good for up to nine consecutive days and includes admission to some of Toronto’s most popular destinations, including the CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium, Ontario Science Centre, and Toronto Zoo. Passes also allow you to skip many visitor lines, which means you’ll spend more time exploring and less time waiting for the next attraction