Kitchener and neighbouring Waterloo and Cambridge form a tightly-integrated metro area within the larger Region of Waterloo in Southwestern Ontario. The city his home to 470,000 people, while there are 525,000 in the metro area (2016).
Kitchener and Waterloo were pioneered by Mennonites from Pennsylvania, Cambridge by British, principally Scots, in the early 19th century. Once named Berlin, Kitchener was renamed in 1916 due to the anti-German sentiment during World War I, after British military hero Lord Kitchener. Since the 1950s when Waterloo attained city status, Kitchener and Waterloo have been known as the "Twin Cities", "K-W", or "Kitchener-Waterloo". Increasingly, Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambridge (a 1970s merger of the older City of Galt with the neighbouring Towns of Preston and Hespeler, and the village of Blair) are being referred to collectively as the "Tri-Cities".
Immigration, beginning with Germans and Central Europeans in the 19th century and continuing to the present from Central and South America, the Near East, Far East and Asia have created a broad-based multi-cultural population. Kitchener and Waterloo, in 'North Waterloo' exhibit a strong German heritage, celebrated most notably in their 9-day Oktoberfest, the largest outside of Munich. Cambridge, in 'South Waterloo', has a sizeable Portuguese population, from the Azores, and a large constituency of Newfoundlanders, relocated from Belle Isle, Newfoundland, in the 1960s.
Highway 401 runs along Kitchener's southern border. Kitchener is located one hour west of Toronto, one hour east of London, three hours east of Windsor/Detroit. If coming from Toronto, take exit 278A (Highway 8). At the Highway 7 and King Street exit, take the exit King Street to get to downtown Kitchener. If coming from London, take exit 278 (King Street), then take Highway 8 east to the King Street exit as above.
Waterloo Region International Airport is served by WestJet with one flight a day to Calgary, American Eagle with one flight a day to Chicago-O'Hare, and Sunwing Airlines with one flight per week to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, during the winter months. Most air travel to Kitchener comes through Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ IATA) in the north-west corner of Toronto. Ground transportation between Kitchener and Pearson is operated by Airways Transit who operate door-to-door services as well as scheduled minibus services from several large hotels in Kitchener, Airways Transit services are, however, prohibitively expensive, to the point that a taxi is significantly cheaper for two or more people. Another, much cheaper option for people travelling alone is to take the Greyhound coach to downtown Toronto and then take the Pacific Western airport coach to the airport, however this can take significantly longer depending on traffic.
- 1 Kitchener Railway Station (Kitchener GO), 126 Weber St W (just northeast of Downtown Kitchener). M-F 8:15AM-1PM, Sa Su 8AM-1PM, 3:30PM-7:45PM. Kitchener Railway Station serves Via Rail and GO Transit trains. It lies about 650 metres east of ION Central Station; GRT bus routes 20 and 34 can save you a little walking.
- VIA Rail. VIA Rail runs between Kitchener and Toronto, Guelph, London, and Sarnia. Via runs two trains a day in each direction. A trip from Toronto to Kitchener takes about 1 hour and 35 minutes. Seating is reserved. As Kitchener Station has limited opening hours, customers should consider booking VIA Rail trains online.
- GO Transit. GO Transit runs several commuter trains weekdays (excluding holidays) in the morning rush hours to Toronto returning during the evening rush hours. Effective September 2019, there is also one early afternoon plus one mid-evening train running from Toronto to Kitchener on weekdays, returning to Toronto after a brief stop. A GO train trip to Toronto takes about 2 hours, and is cheaper than by VIA Rail. GO trains from Toronto can be crowded; there is no reserved seating. GO fares can be paid by Presto card. GO Transit refers to Kitchener Station as "Kitchener GO" online and in printed schedules. Some GO Transit bus routes originate at "Kitchener GO" before stopping at the Kitchener Bus Terminal (Charles Street Transit Terminal).
By intercity bus
- 2 Charles Street Transit Terminal (Kitchener Bus Terminal), 15 Charles St W, Kitchener (located in Downtown Kitchener). The Charles Street Transit Terminal serves inter-city buses operated by GO Transit, Greyhound and Megabus (Coach Canada). Nearby connections to ION light rail are at ION Victoria Park Station (southbound) and ION Kitchener City Hall Station (northbound). As of July 2019, ticket counters serve only Megabus; GO Transit users cannot reload the Presto cards or buy tickets within the terminal; there may be a Greyhound ticket seller on the platform.
- Greyhound. Greyhound operates buses between downtown Kitchener and Toronto, stopping on the site of the former Sportsworld amusement park on the border of Kitchener and Cambridge.
- GO Transit. GO Transit provides service to Mississauga Square One (City Centre Transit Terminal) as well as to Bramalea GO station, where one can make connections to other destinations, such as Toronto. There are no direct GO buses between Kitchener and Toronto, and GO trains operate only during rush hours between those two points. However, midday weekdays (excluding evenings and holidays) you could take a GO train (Kitchener line) from Union Station to Bramalea GO station, and transfer to GO bus 30 to complete the trip to Kitchener (Charles Street Transit Terminal). The trip would take about 1 hour 50 minutes. GO fares can be paid by Presto card.
- Megabus (Coach Canada). Megabus runs regular coaches from Kitchener to Hamilton (Hamilton GO Centre).
- 3 Kitchener Sportsworld, Sportworld Drive, Kitchener (south-west side of Highway 8 interchange). A number of Greyhound buses from Toronto and GO Transit buses from Mississauga Square One stop at this location near the city limits between Kitchener and Cambridge before proceeding to the Charles Street Transit Terminal. ION bus 302 running between ION Fairview Station (Kitchener) and the Ainslie Street Transit Terminal (Cambridge) also stops here.
By car, with a local map: where other cities are laid out more or less on a grid Kitchener streets are not, rather follow their own complex patterns with frequent twists and turns, many continuing into adjoining Waterloo.
Likewise, street directions are designated E, W, N, and S, but only one major cross street, Lancaster Street East/West, is true to the compass (running, oddly enough, straight north/south). King, Weber and Westmount are the principal EW streets in Kitchener (at Union Street, they become King, Weber and Westmount in Waterloo, where they are designated N/S). Queen, Frederick, Ottawa and Victoria, are the principal NS cross-streets.
There is an express route, known locally as the Conestoga Parkway, but not signed as such, which loops traffic on Highways 7&8 traffic through Kitchener South and Highway 85 traffic through Waterloo North.
Addresses number EW from Queen, NS from King.
The centre of the city, known as downtown, is divided into four neighborhoods:
- Warehouse District at the north end of downtown, full of disused factories, many of which are now being converted into loft condominiums or offices.
- Downtown Core, the centre of downtown, contains city hall and a large number of other sights, as well as many office buildings, shops and restaurants.
- Civic Centre, contains many public buildings, including the public library, the police station and the Centre in the Square concert hall.
- East End, contains many small shops and inexpensive restaurants as well as the Kitchener Market.
By public transportation
- Main article: Region of Waterloo (Ontario)#Public transportation
Grand River Transit provides all public transit within the Region of Waterloo, which allows access to most centrally located sights in the twin cities of Kitchener and Waterloo.
Downtown Kitchener is fairly compact and walkable; thus, public transportation is mainly useful to go beyond downtown such as Uptown Waterloo. The ION light rail line runs from Fairway Park Mall (ION Fairway station) in south Kitchener, through Downtown Kitchener and Uptown Waterloo to terminate at the Conestoga Mall (ION Conestoga station) in Waterloo. In Downtown Kitchener, between Victoria and Frederick streets, the ION line splits into two branches with northbound going along Frederick and Duke streets, and the southbound trains going along Charles Street; the branches are about 250 metres apart. Because of the branches, four of the 6 ION stations in Downtown Kitchener serve only one direction. The Charles Street Transit Terminal (Kitchener Bus Terminal) is served by ION Victoria Park Station (southbound) and Kitchener City Hall Station (northbound); Kitchener Railway Station lies 650 metres east of ION Central Station.
- 4 GRT Customer Service Centre (Grand River Transit), 105 King St E (at Benson St, between Frederick and Queen ION stations). M-F 6:15AM-7:30PM, Sa-Su 8:15AM-6:30PM. Information and sale of fare media for GRT buses and ION light rail.
- 1 Waterloo Pioneer Memorial Tower, 300 Lookout Ln (From King St. E., take Deer Ridge Dr. to Lookout Lane). A tower built in 1925 to commemorate the pioneers who first settled in this area in 1800, the first inland settlement in Upper Canada. A national historic site.
- 2 Victoria Park. Beautiful park in downtown. The park was designed by the firm of Frederick Law Olmstead, the same firm that designed Central Park in New York City. The park contains a large lake, a magnificent clock tower taken from the old city hall when it was demolished, a statue of Queen Victoria and a small restaurant that plays host to many musical acts among other things. The main entrance to the park, which was recently redesigned, is at the end of Gaukel St., only two blocks from city hall.
- 3 Kitchener City Hall, 200 King St. W. An attractive, post-modern building in the centre of downtown.
- 4 Centre in the Square, 101 Queen St. N. This is the venue where the K-W Symphony performs, and is also where Broadway touring companies perform. Located in the Civic Centre neighbourhood of downtown, beside the Kitchener Library. The hall was built to be large enough to perform Wagnerian opera, and seats approximately 2000 in a lovely setting with a very nice acoustic.
- 5 The Registry Theatre, 122 Frederick St, ☏ . A small theatre providing inexpensive performances by small theatre groups. Located in the Civic Centre next to the police station and behind the library.
- 6 Conrad Centre for the Performing Arts, 36 King St W, ☏ . Concert hall under the stewardship of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra, that houses the Orchestra’s offices, and is used for rehearsals and Youth Orchestra activities.
- 7 THEMUSEUM, 10 King St. W, ☏ . The museum features rotating & permanent interactive exhibits related to art, science and technology.
- 8 Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery, 101 Queen Street North Kitchener, Ontario, N2H 6P7, ☏ . The gallery premiers and exhibits contemporary art of Canadian and international artists.
- 9 Glockenspiel, 17 Benton St (at corner of King St). Summer plus Oktoberfest period 9AM, noon, 3PM, 5PM. Chimes sound during animated shows with figurines of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The "stage" is in a cabinet over a building entrance.
- 10 Woodside National Historic Site, ☏ . Daily 10AM-5PM. Spring Valley Drive, off Wellington Street North. The boyhood home of William Lyon MacKenzie King, Canada's longest serving prime minister. Historic house is only open from early October till just before Christmas, but you can stroll the grounds year-round.
- 11 The Joseph Schneider Home (Schneider Haus National Historic Site), 466 Queen Street South, ☏ . Built by pioneer founder Joseph Schneider, restored as a Mennonite farm home of the 1890s. Adults: $2.25, seniors/students: $1.50, children: $1.25, family: $5.
- 12 Waterloo Region Museum & Doon Heritage Village, 10 Huron Rd (at Homer Watson Blvd), ☏ . There are two museums at this address: Waterloo Region Museum is an indoor museum featuring exhibits on Waterloo's history. The 24-acre Doon Heritage Village is an outdoor museum with a collection of homes and buildings removed from elsewhere in Waterloo Region, restored and reconstructed as a 1914 era village.
- 13 Public Utilities Commission Building (Starbucks), 191 King St W (opposite Kitchener City Hall). This attractive heritage building was built in the Art Deco style in 1931 using cut granite and sandstone. Today, the ground floor is used as a Starbucks coffee shop.
- 14 Kitchener Railway Station, 126 Weber St W (at Victoria St N). The brick-and-stone station was built in 1897 for the Grand Trunk Railway. It was repaired after a 1908 fire and had further modifications in the 1960s. It is still an active station used for Via Rail and GO Transit trains.
- 15 Waterloo County Jail and Governor's House (Waterloo County Gaol), 73 Queen St (2 blocks north of Duke St). The Waterloo County Gaol was built in 1852, and the Governor's House was added in 1878, the latter being built in a rather cute mid-Victorian Italian Villa style. The jail is literally in the backyard of the governor's residence. Today the house contains Waterloo Region Crime Prevention office and the old prison houses the Provincial Offenses Offices. There is a small courtyard on the west side of the prison building that contains a small garden that the public can see by looking through a wrought-iron gate. A larger courtyard today contains a parking lot. The building interiors are probably not open to the public.
- 16 Bingemans, 425 Bingemans Centre Dr, ☏ . An amusement centre, campground and conference/banquet venue.
- Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest. Bavarian festival held annually in October; is the largest in the world outside of Munich, Germany.
- Walter Bean Trail. A trail for hiking and bicycling that, when complete, will run along the Grand River through Kitchener, as well as Waterloo and part of Cambridge.
- 1 Kitchener Memorial Auditorium, East Ave. The home of the Kitchener Rangers, an OHL (major junior hockey) team, "The Aud" often hosts other special events.
- open ears festival of music & sound, Downtown Kitchener, toll-free: . A diverse, week-long, multi-venue music festival that has something for everyone. International musicians converge to treat festival goers to all manner of fascinating sounds and sights. From grand scale orchestral performances at the Centre in the Square to sound installations to intimate late-night experimental performances, the festival provides entertaining and interesting fare for the open-minded music lover. Festival passes, individual performance tickets and free shows are available. $0-220.
- Kitchener Blues Festival, Downtown Kitchener. 4 days, 5 stages, more than 60 shows! Free.
- 1 Fairview Park Mall, 2960 Kingsway Dr (ION Fairview Station). The largest shopping centre in the region, it is at the southern terminus of the ION light rail line.
- 2 Belmont Village, Belmont Ave (between Glasgow St and Union Blvd; GRT bus 16 from Uptown Waterloo). This three-block section of Belmont Street is lined with storefronts, giving it a small-town feel. Here you will find a few antique stores, a few flower shops, and several niche stores, as well as other businesses.
- 3 ABC Military Surplus (at King St), 46 Queen St S, ☏ . Independent army surplus shop to purchase new or used army gear; camouflage pants, boots and supplies.
- 4 Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest, 17 Benton St (at Charles St E), ☏ . Th-F noon-5PM. Non-profit retail store in a building resembling a Schloss. Sale and rental of Oktoberfest costumes (Tracht in German). In-store and online sale of tickets for Oktoberfest venues.
- 5 Erika's Bavarian Fashions, 143 King St E, ☏ . This women's clothing store features the dirndl, a traditional costume (Tracht) suitable for Oktoberfest. According to the window display, other Oktoberfest-themed knickknacks are also for sale.
- 1 Kitchener Market, 46 Queen St S. Tu-Fr 8AM-4PM, Sa 7AM-2PM. Farmer's market held on Saturday mornings in a modern building at the south end of downtown, about a 10 minute walk from City Hall and the bus station. There is also a food court made up of multi-cultural restaurants which is open every weekday. One local radio station, CJDV ("Dave FM") has a studio in the market, though they more often broadcast from their studio in Cambridge.
- 2 Three Kretans, 151 Frederick St, ☏ . An authentic Greek restaurant. Est. 1995. Steps from the Centre in the Square and Registry Theatres.
- 3 Taste of the Philly Cheesesteak, 98 King Street West (Quick walk right down King St), ☏ . Sandwich shop with burgers and wraps, made fresh in front of you. Giant burgers from $5.99.
- 4 Matter of Taste, 119 King St West, ☏ . Great place for specialty coffee, lattes, and desserts. Relaxed atmosphere, a good place to meet up with and enjoy a conversation.
- 5 Ye's Sushi, 103 King St. W, ☏ . The biggest chained restaurant in the region with all-you-can-eat sushi, Ye's has a large selection of sushis and other oriental cuisine. All-you-can-eat is $12.99 at lunch and $19.99 at dinner. The restaurant is on King St in the heart of downtown between Gaukel and Ontario Sts. A second location is located at the northwest intersection of King St & Northfield, and is a short walk north of Conestoga Mall.
- 6 Ellison's Bistro, 14 Charles St. W, ☏ . Soul Food with Caribbean, European and urban finesse.
- 7 Korean BBQ Restaurant, 265 King St E (Hong Kong Plaza), ☏ . Korean cuisine. Affordable prices and a home-cooked feel to this small restaurant.
- 8 Cameron Chinese Seafood Restaurant, 21 Cameron Street South (at Charles), ☏ . Many foodies agree that Cameron has the best dim sum this side of the Greater Toronto Area.
- 9 City Cafe Bakery, 175 West Ave, ☏ . Not a full restaurant (and just at the edge of downtown) but a hip, funky place to have lunch. They have really tasty thin crust pizza.
- 10 Pho Dau Bo, 301 King St E, ☏ . Vietnamese cuisine. Possibly the best Vietnamese restaurant downtown. Try the rare beef pho.
- 11 Two Goblets, 85 Weber St W, ☏ . Romanian cuisine with some Hungarian, Polish and German dishes. Try the Budapest schnitzel for a real treat.
- 12 TWH Social, 1 King St West, ☏ . Daily 11AM–11PM. A bistro focussed on local and fresh ingredients, under downtown's Walper Hotel, and spilling out on fine summer evenings to sidewalk tables. entreés $20-30.
- 13 Modern India Buffet, 157 Main St E. Daily 11AM–10PM, lunch buffet daily 11:30AM–2:30PM, dinner buffet M–F 4:30PM–9:30PM, Sa Su 3:30PM–9:30PM. Offers a lunch and dinner buffet. Also provides takeout service. Lunch buffet $10.99, dinner $13.99 (incl. one non-alcoholic beverage).
- 14 Ennio's Pasta House, 655 Fairway Road South, ☏ . At Ennio's you will find authentic Italian cooking at its best. The love of fine cuisine!
- 15 Balzac's Coffee Roasters, 151 Charles Street West. Located in the Tannery District of downtown Kitchener, Balzac's serves great coffee and a very nice atmosphere.
- 16 Matter of Taste, 117 King Street West. Great espresso bar in downtown Kitchener.
- 17 Café Pyrus, 16 Charles Street West (Opposite the bus terminal, downtown), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M–F 8:30AM–7:00PM, Sa 9:00AM–6:00PM, Su 10:00AM–5:00PM. Café Pyrus is a coffee shop and a Vegetarian&Vegan Restaurant. Sandwiches $12, starters $6-9.
The German clubs
All the German clubs serve food but not all of them have restaurants. Call before you go.
- 18 Alpine Club, 464 Maple Ave, ☏ .
- 19 Concordia Club, 429 Ottawa St South, ☏ . The Schenke Restaurant is open 6 days a week.
- 20 Hubertushaus (German-Canadian Hunting and Fishing Club), 1605 Bleams Rd, Mannheim (take Ottawa Street South to just past Mannheim), ☏ .
- 21 Schwaben Club, 1668 King Street East, ☏ .
- 22 Transylvania Club, 41 River Rd E unit B, ☏ . Most events take place at the Alpine Club.
See Nightlife, the weekly entertainment supplement published Thursdays by The Record, the area's daily newspaper, for its calendar of what's on in clubs, concerts, movies, stage, art, and kids stuff.
- 1 The Bent Elbow, 2880 King St E, ☏ . M-Sa 3PM-11PM. 40 taps of Ontario and craft beer, over 50 bottles of one-offs, hard-to-find selections and Trappist ales.
- 2 Moose Winooskis, 20 Heldmann Rd, ☏ . Su-W 11AM-midnght, Th-Sa 11AM-1AM. Log cabin decor, child-friendly.
- 3 Descendants Beer and Beverage Co Ltd., 319 Victoria St N, ☏ . Bierhalle: M 11AM-9PM, Tu 11AM-10PM, W-Th 11AM-11PM, F Sa 11AM-1AM, Su 11AM-7PM. Bottle shop: M 11AM-9PM, Tu 11AM-10PM, W-Sa 11AM-11PM, Su 11AM-7PM. Craft brewery and European-style bierhalle with a full bar, eatery and a retail shop with cans, bottles, growler fills and merchandise.
- 1 Crowne Plaza Kitchener-Waterloo, 105 King St East (ION Queen station (southbound) or Frederick station (northbound)), ☏ . This is downtown Kitchener's only major chain hotel. It has a heated indoor pool.
- 2 The Walper Hotel, 20 Queen St S, ☏ . In the middle of downtown Kitchener on a site that has been the site of a hotel since 1820, this historic hotel dates back to 1893. Its guests have included Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bob Hope, and Louis Armstrong. All of the hotel's 79 luxury rooms feature modern amenities such as wireless high speed Internet.
Kitchener is one of three cities in Waterloo Region. Visit Waterloo to the north or Cambridge to the south. It is also a great base for exploring the surrounding countryside, the towns of New Hamburg, St. Jacobs and Elora are all within easy driving distance.
|Routes through Kitchener|
|Sarnia ← Stratford ←||W E||→ Guelph → Toronto|
|London ← Woodstock ←||W E||→ Cambridge → Toronto|
|Sarnia ← Stratford ←||W E||→ Guelph → Markham|
|Goderich ← Stratford ←||W E||→ Cambridge → Hamilton|
|END ← Waterloo ←||N S||→ END|
|END ←||W E||→ Guelph → Toronto|