the CN Tower: to go up or stay firmly on the ground?
Adventures Canada

the CN Tower: to go up or stay firmly on the ground?

CN Tower
Toronto boasts an iconic skyline because of one of the tallest structures on the planet – the CN Tower. Originally intended primarily as a communications tower for the vast sprawl of a city and beyond, the tower has become something of a tourist trap as well. Over 2 million people visit every year, but it’s garnered a reputation among travellers and locals as a bit of a gimmick.

When surfing the net looking at what kind of things might take my fancy in Toronto, I found over and over again that fellow bloggers were saying to give it a miss. Even a couple of charity people who initially stopped me to ask for donations (they were incidentally very nice and ended up chatting despite my inability to give any money) said not to bother. After much thought and pondering over the price, I decided I would bother. I had nothing to lose (except the $48 dollars I spent on the ticket).

For me this became something of a personal pilgrimage as well. I work in telecoms. I design mobile telecommunications sites for a living, and this tower is the tallest telecoms site in the world. After making this connection, it suddenly became less of a “nice to do” and more of an “I have to do this”. That’s probably quite nerdy, but I like my job so I don’t care.

CN Tower from the ferry

First things first: getting inside the Tower

I passed by after spending a lovely day wandering around by the lake, and the queue was LONG. So I did some more wandering by the lake, returning a couple of hours later and the queue was less long, but still actually really long. I joined anyway, because I figured the sooner I joined the queue the sooner I’d be at the front of it.

Just a few tips on the queuing situation:

  1. Buy your ticket in advance on the website. This will cut your queuing time significantly. I got inside and saw another line snaked around the entrance hall, but I bypassed that since I bought my ticket earlier that day *smug*. You can also buy a saver ticket for the Tower and the aquarium all at once, which I did not know.
  2. The queue outside may look long, but the queue inside is much longer. Even without having to line up for a ticket, the wait was still over an hour. And they trick you. There’s a circular room you get filtered into which has further queuing folded around barriers. It takes a really long time. You do have to reaaaaaaaaally want to get up that tower. If like me you’re on your own, bring a book. Bring sustenance. Go to the toilet before you join that queue.
  3. If you get the ticket for the sky pod as well, there’s also a smaller queue for that once you get up to the main platform. Basically, you will spend most of your time inside the Tower in a queue. From this perspective, I understand why people say to avoid it.
  4. You can get a timed ticket for a little extra if you really can’t face the queues. This means you select a date and time to get expedited entry. Had I known the queues would be so long, I would have definitely chosen this option. Believe me, if you’re there during the peak season like I was, it’s worth it.
  5. Final tip, and it’s going to be controversial. For goodness sake, don’t try to take a damn buggy up with you. Firstly, they take up loads of room in the lift – space which PEOPLE could be using. Secondly, if your child is in a buggy they are going to HATE the long wait to get in, and they’re not going to care one iota about the view at the top. I get it, parents want to do fun stuff too, but don’t be selfish. Maybe I’m the one being selfish. I don’t know, but I do know I hate buggies in crowded places.

The city from the sky

toronto from the CN tower
The lift up to the viewing platform has a window so you can see the city getting smaller beneath you. I didn’t like it. It was frightening, but at the same time it felt like a waste if I closed my eyes. Then the fear of watching safer ground getting further and further away made me anxious that I’d realise I’m deathly afraid of heights once I got to the top. It would be just like me to find that out at the most inconvenient time.

The good news is I am not afraid of heights. I just didn’t like the lift part. In fact I had a great time wandering around the entirety of the donut that makes up the outside viewing platform. I even stood on the glass floor, surprised to discover that this didn’t scare me at all. Everything is safely caged in and reinforced, so there’s so chance of being swept away in a particularly strong gust of wind, or of falling through the floor. No matter how many people are standing, jumping, or rolling around on it at the same time.

Toronto from the CN tower
Next was the Sky Pod. That’s the highest you can be without physically going outside and climbing the tower like spiderman. The lift that takes you up the further 33 storeys to this level is tiny, but in the centre of the tower so you don’t have to endure that feeling of terror as the ground beneath gets even smaller.

Toronto from very high up in the CN Tower
From this height, the views were even more fantastic. You can see the shapes of the islands, the curving and jutting of the Toronto lakeside. Apparently on clear, bright days you can also see as far as Niagara Falls. The sun was staring to set when I was up there, so the sky was dusky and hazy. The clouds glowed pink with the memories of a beautiful sunny day, and once again nature took my breath away. This time with it’s subtle beauty, the perfect nuances that we don’t usually find the time to appreciate.

Toronto from the viewing platform

So do I think you should go there?

Really it’s up to you. Don’t go up the tower just to be able to say you’ve done it, that’s a waste of time. Go up because you want to see the city from above. Go up to enjoy views that you can experience no other way. Go up to marvel at the great heights that civil engineering can take you. But don’t go up just to tick it off the list. I can imagine that you’ll only leave feeling like you wasted your time.

Personally, I had a great time despite the long wait to go up. But I am a sucker for a nice view. Plus, as mentioned before I had my nerdy vested interest in going up the tallest telecommunications tower in the world. I am very glad I did it, and would definitely feel like I had missed out if I’d chosen not to.

CN Tower
Have you been up the CN tower, or are wondering whether you should? Comment below 🙂

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