Kingston was the first capital city of Canada. Today, it’s a thriving yet quaint city by Lake Ontario. It is home to some of the most impressive universities of the country, such as the Queen’s University and Royal Military College. But it is much more than just a university-town. Whether you appreciate heritage architecture or naturescapes inside a city, Kingston has something for you. If you’re curious to see the famed Thousand Islands, Kingston is a great gateway.  

To learn more about all there is to see and do in Kingston, scroll down or visit the city's tourism website.

Where is Kingston?

Kingston is located on the eastern corner of Lake Ontario, at the headwater of the St. Lawrence River and at of the Cataraqui River. It’s in the Southeastern part of Ontario.  

Kingston is just under a three-hour drive or bus ride from Toronto, under two hours from Ottawa and about three hours from Montreal. Alternatively, fly into the regional airport located very close to the city, Kingston Airport (IATA: YGK, ICAO: CYGK), also known as Norman Rogers Airport.  

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Things to Do in Kingston

Kingston is known for its world-class universities as well as natural beauty owing to its scenic location by Lake Ontario. It’s home to national historic sites such as Fort Henry. The Rideau Canal is worth an exploration — it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site that includes a chain of locks, lakes and rivers.

Take in the natural beauty of Lake Ontario while you’re in Kingston — it’s the perfect space for nature lovers who appreciate picnics by gorgeous water. You can also look forward to long walks along the vast Kingston waterfront, or maybe you even want to try your hand at sailing! 

If you want to watch some engrossing theatre or performing arts, the city has several venues. Kingston also has a vibrant nightlife with Princess Street being a hub. 

History lovers can head to some historical museums such as the Bellevue House, the former house of Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John Alexander Macdonald, or the Royal Military College of Canada Museum, which is a repository of artifacts and research of the Royal Military College. 

To have an even more immersive experience in this historical city, take a guided tour in and around the Kingston City Hall, a landmark site with many tales of the history of the city. 

Kingston Neighbourhoods & Districts

The City of Kingston is made up of several distinct neighbourhoods, however, the city can be divided into four major areas geographically.

Downtown and inner suburbs

A historical centre of the city, downtown and the inner suburbs are home to some of the most important heritage places of interest in Kingston, including Syndenham, which is Kingston’s commercial center.

Kingston West

Kingston West is the beginning point of Princess Street, a major road connecting the city.

Kingston East

A district dotted with parks, Kingston East is full of natural sites and also home to the oldest federal penitentiary in Ontario that is now open for tours.

Kingston North

Rideau Heights, a residential neighbourhood occupies a large part of this district.

Things to Know About Visiting Kingston

Whether you’re still in the planning stages or you’re already on your trip to Kingston, it’s nice to learn what the locals know about the city.  

Little known fact

Former prison Kingston Penitentiary is Canada’s oldest and most notorious maximum security jail –take the fascinating guided Kingston Pen Tour of the facility.

Hidden gem

Martello Alley is a labyrinth of alleyways that are full of artistic surprises, from street art to galleries of local artists’ work.

Don’t forget to pack

Good walking shoes! There is so much to explore along Kingston’s historic, and scenic waterfront, including great places to shop, delicious food options and beautiful parks.

Great way to get around

Hop-on, hop-off Kingston Trolley Tours are the most flexible and fun way to explore Kingston’s historic sights and unique attractions.

Where to watch the sunset

Kingston’s 3 hour Sunset Dinner Cruise through the glorious 1,000 Islands might just end up being the highlight of your visit.

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