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, exit King Street 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.
VIA Rail runs between Kitchener and Toronto, Guelph, London, and Sarnia; the train station is located at 126 Weber St. W, near the corner of Victoria St. in the northeast corner of downtown. Via runs three trains a day in each direction. GO Transit runs two commuter trains each weekday to (in the morning) and from (in the afternoon) Toronto.
Greyhound runs regular commuter coaches between downtown Kitchener and Toronto, stopping on the site of the former Sportsworld amusement park on the border of Kitchener and Cambridge, some coaches to Toronto also run to the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo. Greyhound also runs coaches to London and Guelph. Coach Canada runs regular coaches from Kitchener to Hamilton and Niagara Falls. The bus terminal in Kitchener is in the centre of downtown, one block from city hall, on Charles Street, between Ontario and Gaukel Streets; the main office for Greyhound is a small structure on the intercity platform of that terminal.
GO Transit also offers bus travel via both universities and the downtown terminal to its Mississauga Square One terminal; connections are available there to points across the Greater Toronto Area.
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
All public transit within the Region of Waterloo is provided by Grand River Transit.
Kitchener as a whole has a poor (though improving) public transit system, although most centrally located sights can be reached without much difficulty. The route 7 bus is the city's main line and comes every 7 - 10 minutes. The 7 can be taken from almost anywhere on King St. south of the intersection of King and University Ave. in Waterloo. Something that can be confusing is that there are three different 7 routes, the 7c, 7d, 7e; they all run the same route until the intersection of King and University, the 7c runs to Conestoga Mall at the north end of Waterloo, the 7d travels to the University of Waterloo through the most direct route, along University and the 7e runs to the University of Waterloo along Columbia, on the north end of the campus. To the south, all 7s run to Fairview Park Mall, no matter the letter.
There is also a limited-stop Express service between Waterloo, Kitchener and Cambridge known as the 200 iXpress. It runs a similar route to that of the 7, beginning at Conestoga Mall and stopping at the University of Waterloo, Uptown Waterloo, Downtown Kitchener, Fairview Park Mall, Cambridge Centre Mall and Downtown Galt among other places.
The bus fare is $3.25 and allows for travel for up to 90 minutes. If you intend to connect to another route, ask the driver for a transfer when you pay your fare. A detailed map of all routes in Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge can be purchased at a variety of locations for $2 or downloaded for free from Grand River Transit. Students of University of Waterloo and/or Wilfrid Laurier University do not need to pay cash fare if they flash their University-issued Student ID (WatCard for University of Waterloo; OneCard for Wilfrid Laurier,) as long as the expiry date on the card has not elapsed. These students have already paid for bus services through non-refundable fees on their fees statement.
- 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.
- 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.
- 2 Kitchener City Hall, 200 King St. W. An attractive, post-modern building located in the centre of downtown.
- 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 neighborhood 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.
- 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.
- Theatre & Company, 36 King St. W, ☎ . A medium sized theatre located in the centre of downtown. It is next to the Waterloo Region Children's Museum and across the street from the Walper Terrace Hotel. The theatre complex itself, called the King Street Theatre, often is the venue for other events than just Theatre & Company's events.
- Children's Museum/THEMUSEUM, 10 King St. W, ☎ . An extremely fun museum for children of all ages, also plays host to child related events. Located in the centre of downtown, across the street from the Walper Terrace Hotel and next to Theatre & Company.
- Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery, 101 Queen Street North Kitchener, Ontario, N2H 6P7, ☎ . The gallery premiers and exhibits contemporary art of Canadian and international artists.
- 3 Woodside National Historic Site, ☎ . M-Su 10:00-17:00. 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.
- The Joseph Schneider Home, 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.
- Doon Heritage Village, 10 Huron Rd, ☎ . Living history museum at Homer Watson Boulevard. A collection of homes and buildings removed from elsewhere in Waterloo Region, restored and reconstructed as a 1914 era village.
- Public Utilities Building, a beautiful, early 20th century building on King St., across the street from the city hall; the former Public Utilities Building now houses the Kitchener - Waterloo Tourism Centre [dead link], a great place to find information on city events.
- Bingemans, 425 Bingemans Centre Dr, ☎ . An amusement center, 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.
- 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, 60+ Shows! Free.
- 1 Fairview Park Mall, 2960 Kingsway Dr. The largest shopping centre in the region. It is in the southern part of Kitchener and is a 10-20 minute bus ride from downtown. To get to the mall by bus from downtown take either any route 7 or iXpress bus headed south.
- Kitchener Market. Farmer's market held on Saturday mornings (7AM - 2PM) in a new 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.
- Belmont Village, Belmont Ave (between Glasgow and Union Sts.). 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. Bus 8 (via Westmount) runs from the bus station downtown to the University of Waterloo, running through Belmont Village.
- The Catacombs (King & Ontario Cross Streets), 37 King St. West (beside Peter Martin's 20King and TD Bank). The largest music memorabilia shop in the region. Thousands of t-shirts, sweatshirts and even baby clothes from just about any rock, metal or punk band you can think of.
- ABC Military Surplus (King & Queen Cross Streets), 46 Queen Street South. Independent army surplus shop to purchase new or used army gear; camouflage pants, boots and supplies.
- 2 Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest (retail store), 17 Benton St (at Charles St E), ☎ . Sale and rental of Oktoberfest costumes (tracht in German). The store is in a building resembling a Schloss.
- Three Kretans,, 151 Frederick St, ☎ . KWs Premier Authentic Greek restaurant. Est. 1995. Steps from the Centre in the Square and Registry Theatres.
- 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.
- 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.
- Botanica, 105 King Street East (Bus 7 to Frederick Street). Breakfast: M-F 6.30-11, Sa-Su 7-11; Lunch: M-Su 11-14; Dinner: M-Su 17-22. This is the Delta Hotel's restaurant.
- The Berlin, 45 King St. W., ☎ . Lunch: 11:30-2, Dinner: 5-10. A venture by acclaimed chef Jonathan Gushue, this downtown destination provides a modern, local angle on European cuisine. Taking its name from the city's former moniker, it focuses on fresh, locally-sourced ingredients served with a Germanic touch. moderate-high.
- 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.
- Ellison's Bistro, 14 Charles St. W, ☎ . Soul Food with Caribbean, European and Urban Finesse.
- Korean BBQ Restaurant, Korean Cuisine, 265 King St. East, +1 519 568-7111. Located in the Hong Kong Plaza. Affordable prices and a home-cooked feel to this small restaurant.
- 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.
- 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.
- Pho Dau Bo, Vietnamese Cuisine, 301 King Street East +1 519 568-8904. Possibly the best Vietnamese restaurant downtown. Try the rare beef pho.
- Two Goblets, Romanian Cuisine with some Hungarian, Polish and German dishes, 85 Weber Street West, +1 519 749-1829, . Try the Budapest schnitzel for a real treat.
- Taka Japanese Restaurant Japanese and Korean Cuisine, 270 Bleams Rd., +1 519 748-5456,
- Modern India Restaurant, 4355 King St E, ☎ . Experience the wonderful exotic and tantalising flavours of authentic Indian Cuisine.
- 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!
- 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.
- Matter of Taste, 117 King Street West. Great espresso bar in downtown Kitchener.
- Café Pyrus, 16 Charles Street West. Café Pyrus is a coffee shop and a Vegetarian&Vegan Restaurant Located in front of Charles street bus terminal in downtown Kitchener.
The German Clubs
All the German clubs serve food but not all of them have restaurants. Call before you go.
- Alpine Club, 464 Maple Ave, ☎ .
- Concordia Club, 429 Ottawa St South, ☎ . The Schenke Restaurant is open 6 days a week.
- Hubertushaus, German-Canadian Hunting and Fishing Club, Mannheim (take Ottawa Street South to just past Mannheim), +1 519 634-8491, .
- Schwaben Club, 1668 King Street East, ☎ .
- Transylvania Club, 16 Andrew St, ☎ . Open Tu-F.
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.
- Delta Hotel, 105 King St East (Bus 7 to Frederick Street), ☎ . This is downtown Kitchener's only major chain hotel and has a heated indoor pool.
- The Frederick Street Inn, 230 Frederick St. Just steps from the city's core, business section, and theatre. This century home was once the home of Aaron Bricker, mayor of Berlin (1905–1906) and has been renovated to reflect its original charm with modern convenience. This bed and breakfast has three rooms.
- Walper Terrace Hotel, 1 King St. W.. Located right 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 were renovated in 2002 and 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|