Travel Guide to Niagara Falls

Updated on May 12, 2024 | Canada eTA

Majestic Niagara Falls is considered to be the eighth wonder of the world by many. Even though the falls are not exceptionally high, the sheer amount of water that flows over them makes it among the most powerful waterfalls in North America.

Niagara Falls is a small, pleasant city in Ontario, Canada, which lies on the bank of the Niagara River and is known for the famous natural spectacle created by the three waterfalls grouped as Niagara Falls. The three waterfalls are situated at the border between New York in the United States and Ontario in Canada. Out of the three, only the largest one, which is known as Horseshoe Falls, is located in Canada, and the other smaller two, known as American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls, are located entirely within the USA. The largest of the three Niagara Waterfalls, Horseshoe Falls has the most powerful flow rate of any waterfall in North America.

The tourist area in the city of Niagara Falls is concentrated at the Waterfalls but the city also has many other tourist attractions, such as observation towers, hotels, souvenir shops, museums, water parks, theatres, etc. So when visiting the city there are many places for tourists to visit apart from the Falls. Here is a list of the places to see in Niagara Falls.

Where is Niagara Falls located?

Niagara Falls Waterfalls is situated at the southern end of Niagara Gorge between the province of Ontario, in Canada, and New York along the Niagara River, which flows between the Great Lakes, Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. The largest of the three, Horseshoe Falls, is situated on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, between Goat Island and Table Rock. American Falls on the American side of Niagara Falls lies far left of the Horseshoe Falls, within the United States nestled between Prospect Point and Luna Island. The smallest falls, The Bridal Veil, is also on the US side, separated from American Falls by Luna Island, and from Horseshoe Falls by Goat Island. The closest city to Niagara Falls from the United States is Buffalo, New York State, at around 20 miles. Visitors from Canada can start from Toronto which is approximately 90 miles away.

Why visit Niagara Falls?

If you love waterfalls then you will love Niagara Falls, renowned for its exceptional width, power and beauty. Niagara Falls is composed of three waterfalls, the Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls, and the Bridal Veil Falls, which combine to produce the largest water flow rate of any waterfall in the world. The falls create an epic visual owing to the misty fog created due to the high speed at which the river falls.

Niagara Falls has been a classic honeymoon destination as witnessing the stunning waterfalls and then strolling through the ice wine vineyards with your soulmate is truly romantic. Couples and families can also enjoy the lush landscape at the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens. If you are a golf enthusiast, then you would be happy to know that the stunning landscape of the Niagara area is home to some of Canada’s best golf courses. Several souvenir shops create a memorable experience for visitors. It is safe to say that this stunning display of nature is a sight that one should experience at least once in their life.

Main Attractions of Niagara Falls

Helicopter Ride, Canada

Visitors from Canada can take advantage of the several Helicopter ride opportunities available to provide a unique and spectacular experience of soaring above the turbulent waterfalls. Apart from the bird’s eye view of the Niagara Falls, the flight also provides the visitors with a thrilling view of Niagara’s other natural and man-made wonders such as Queen Victoria Park, Skylon Tower and all of Toronto, thereby creating an unforgettable memory.

Horseshoe Falls

The largest and only one of the three waterfalls that make up the Niagara Falls that fall in Canada, Horseshoe Falls, also known as Canadian Falls, is the biggest attraction of the city of Niagara Falls in Canada. Almost ninety percent of the water from the Niagara River flows over the Horseshoe Falls. One of the most popular waterfalls in the entire world, it is also one of the most beautiful. Although there are taller waterfalls in the world, Horseshoe Falls and Niagara Falls as a whole siphon the most volume of water, making them the biggest waterfalls in the world. Shaped like a concave, once you see these waterfalls you would understand why all other waterfalls in the world pale in front of them. There is a walkway above the falls from where you can get a stunning view of them, even at night when the falls are lit up in different colours. Because they are so beautiful, married couples often spend their honeymoon there and the place has gained the nickname of the Honeymoon Capital of the World.

Journey Behind the Falls

Journey Behind the Falls offers one of the most unique views of the Niagara Falls from the vantage point of below and behind the Falls. It involves taking an elevator 125 feet down to a hundred years old tunnels cut through bedrock outside which are observation decks and portals that offer the view of the back of the massive sheet of water of the Niagara Falls. You will have to wear a rain poncho while observing the Falls from this direction as the water thunders so much that you will get wet from the mist of the water. Watching the water of the Niagara Falls come crashing down will be an experience that will leave you breathless. It’s one of the attractions of the Niagara Falls that is a favourite of tourists.

Hornblower Cruises

These cruises are another way tourists can view the Niagara Falls from the base of the waterfalls. The cruises take the visitors on catamaran boats that can accommodate 700 passengers at a time. Watching the falls cascade down from the middle of the Niagara River while getting sprayed by the mist of the water would be a truly memorable experience. This is the only boat tour in Niagara Falls and the fact that it is a guided tour is an added advantage. You will find interesting facts about all three Niagara Falls, the ones on the Canadian side and the ones on the American side. And of course, the pictures that you click with your waterproof cameras would be spectacular reminders of a wonderful trip. But pictures don’t do it justice and you just have to take the tour to know what the fuss is all about!

Writing on Stone, Alberta

Niagara on the Lake

If you are visiting the city of Niagara Falls to view the amazing waterfalls by the same name, you must take full advantage and drive up to the small quaint town known as Niagara on the Lake which is just 20 minutes away from the city. Situated on the bank of Lake Ontario, this is a charming little town where most of the buildings are built in the style of Victorian architecture. This is because after the War of 1812 between the United States and the United Kingdom, much of the town had to be rebuilt and since then newer buildings are also built in the same mid 19th-century style of architecture. Tourists love the old-style buildings and streets and they even have the option of being pulled in a horse-drawn carriage through the streets of this little town. It’s a must-see place if you are visiting the Niagara Falls and in fact, many guided tours to the waterfalls make a stop in this town first.

Niagara Parkway

Originally known as Niagara Boulevard, this is a picturesque drive that follows the Niagara River on the Canadian side, starting from Niagara on the Lake, going past the city of Niagara Falls, and ending at Fort Erie, another town on the Niagara River. Not just a scenic drive, with parks and greenery on the way, there are also some popular tourist destinations situated on the Parkway, such as Floral Clock, which is a famous huge working clock made out of flowers, located near the Botanical Gardens; Whirlpool Rapids; and a Butterfly Conservatory. You can also walk or bike along the Parkway.

Visiting during the spring season is also great as you can see some of the tourist attractions and get a cheaper price for a hotel. The places are not as crowded as during the summer months. You can also enjoy the lush greenery and colourful blooms at the Botanical Gardens. Because Canada is regarded as the Great White North, it is understandable that winter sees below-freezing temperatures which cause several attractions, such as Maid of the Mist boat tours to shut down.

Niagara Parks Botanical Garden and Butterfly Conservatory, Canada

If you wish to take a break from the roar of the thunderous Niagara Falls, then visiting the lush overflowing gardens and award-winning landscapes at the Botanical Garden and Butterfly Conservatory is the perfect idea. This place is gorgeous with the vibrant seasonal blooms along the peaceful walking trails displaying one of Canada’s finest tree collections. During summers, guided horse and carriage tours are available to explore the 100 acres of this picturesque garden. The gardens are also home to the Butterfly Conservatory, which features thousands of exotic butterflies that flutter among brightly coloured flowers.

Maid of the Mist, United States

Maid of the Mist is a sightseeing boat tour of Niagara Falls which provides a ferry ride along the Niagara Gorge into the Canadian waters to provide a spectacular view of the waterfalls. The journey starts at the Observation Tower where recyclable rain gear is provided free of cost as getting a dunk under the falls is the most exciting part of the attraction. The boat ferries past the base of the American Falls, onto the base of magnificent Horseshoe Falls, offering fantastic views along the way.

Cave of the Winds, United States

Cave of the Winds is a series of wooden platforms and walkways that lead you to the base of Bridal Veil Falls. An elevator ride would take you around 175 feet deep down to the awe-inspiring Niagara Gorge and once you exit the elevator cave you can walk over a series of wooden walkways to the famous Bridal Veil Falls, which is also referred to as ‘Hurricane Deck’ due to the storm-like conditions. The rushing waters loom above you, so you should be prepared to get soaked and also carry your poncho and shoes with good traction to walk on slippery paths.

Old Fort Niagara, United States

If you are a history buff then you can visit one of the most historical Niagara Falls attractions located in Youngstown, where the Niagara River flows into Lake Ontario. Built by the French Empire in the 17th century, this fortification is one of the oldest continuously occupied military sites in North America. Visitors can explore the gunpowder rooms, army barracks, and centuries-old cannons to understand the history of this old and magnificent fort that served as a strategic vantage point for militaries over four centuries. It also provides a splendid view of the Niagara River and Lake Ontario in Canada.

Niagara Falls Light Show

Every evening as the sun goes down; Niagara Falls's night time attractions come alive as the three waterfalls that make up Niagara Falls are transformed into an incredible, colourful water and light masterpiece. The glowing waters elevate the beauty of the mighty falls during the nightly light show. Hundreds of LED lights housed in different locations across the Niagara Gorge create an array of colours along with the famous fireworks display, offering a breathtaking view. Niagara Falls is also illuminated during holidays and significant occasions.

When is the best time to visit Niagara Falls?

Even though Niagara Falls is definitely beautiful at any time of the year, the summer months between June to August are considered to be the best time to visit Niagara Falls. However, it is better to pick a season depending on the kind of activities you wish to indulge in and the attractions you wish to see. Summer is peak season, all the tourist attractions remain open in the summer months but it is also the most crowded time to visit and it can be extremely hot. But with the mists and breezes from Niagara Falls, the air feels cooler and can make you feel good on a hot day. An additional benefit of visiting during the summer is that you can take advantage of the Discover Niagara Shuttle, which is free of cost and operational only during summer months, as it would make travelling between Niagara Falls attractions easier.

Where to stay in Niagara Falls?

To enjoy the beautiful lighting and fireworks in the evening, it is advised to spend at least one night in Niagara Falls. Visitors would be able to find a plethora of options for hotels for every budget in Niagara Falls. The hotels are however expensive during peak season, i.e. summer so it is advised to make bookings in advance. The Canadian side offers accommodation options, from luxury hotels to camping getaways to suit every need. The Marriott is renowned for its stunning view of Niagara Falls and fantastic service. Embassy Suites offers good accommodation facilities along with spectacular views. Originally built as a restaurant and tourist attraction, The Tower Hotel is now converted into a hotel which also offers a close-up view of the Falls. Courtyard by Marriott Niagara Falls and Travelodge at the Falls are some popular budget hotels in Niagara Falls, Canada. The Hilton Fallsview Hotel and Suites is a hotel situated between the American and Canadian Falls offering a unique view of both the Falls. On the American side, there are hotels such as Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino, Hyatt Place Niagara Falls, Red Coach Inn, etc. which offer beautifully furnished rooms along with great restaurants. Holiday Inn Niagara Falls and Wyndham Garden at Niagara Falls are good options for budget travelers.

Where to eat in Niagara Falls?

Just like any other large tourist destination, you will find plenty of restaurants, from elegant dining to family-style Niagara restaurants and casual pubs, clustered in Clifton Hill which is the tourist part of Niagara Falls. The Canadian side was known for chain restaurants that served fast food, however, now the local chefs have taken over and provide food made using ingredients harvested from farms and orchards in Ontario. AG Inspired Cuisine is a hidden gem and one of the city’s best in terms of creative cooking and providing regional wines. Weinkeller Niagara Falls Restaurant and Wineries, and Tide & Vine Oyster House are also popular for the usage of local ingredients, seafood, and local wines. Niagara Brewing Company is a huge pub that offers a range of beers along with snacks and sliders. On the New York side, there are restaurants such as Top of the Falls Restaurant, Third Street Eatery & Pub, and Red Coach Inn Restaurants, popular for local flavours, upscale pub fare and quaint atmosphere along with cozy meals.

The Best Activities to Do in Niagara Falls

Here is a list of the best things to do in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada:

  • Sail on a Niagara Hornblower Cruise for a closer view of the Great Falls.
  • Visit Niagara Falls State Park, which is Canada's oldest national park.
  • Learn about the history of Niagara Falls at Niagara Fury. It gives visitors a chance to learn about the Ice Age, glaciers and more.
  • Climb the stairs on Niagara's Hornblower Funicular to reach the hills.
  • Enjoy the WildPlay Mist Rider zipline, one of the most fun sports activities at Niagara Falls.
  • After a fun trip to Niagara Falls, Treat your taste buds at the Riverside Courtyard where you can experience a variety of delicious food and drinks.
  • Enjoy an exciting and unforgettable experience on a jet boat to explore the lower part of the Niagara River.
  • Take a "Behind the Falls" tour of Niagara Falls and enjoy the sound of the falls.
  • Enjoy a hike through Devil's Hole State Park. The park's hiking trails are the best in Canada.
  • Immerse yourself in the amazing nature at the White Water Walk Tour.
  • Enjoy freshly baked and delicious treats at DiCamillo's Bakery, a signature Niagara Falls location.
  • Make your Niagara Falls experience a splendid one and enjoy a variety of water sports such as kayaking, canoeing and exploring the Niagara River.

Niagara Falls Visit Tips - What Every Visitor Should Know Before Exploring This Natural Wonder

  • Since Niagara Falls can be enjoyed from both the Canadian and American sides, visitors are advised to carry their passports to explore the beauty of the Falls from every angle.
  • To reach Niagara Falls, visitors can choose to fly to the American side through two main international airports:
    • Niagara Falls International Airport.
    • Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

    Alternatively, they can opt for the Canadian side with main airports such as:

    • Hamilton International Airport.
    • Toronto Pearson International Airport.
  • The optimal season to explore Niagara Falls is summer. The warm weather and misty breeze create a soothing and pleasant atmosphere for a delightful experience.
  • For first-time visitors, clothing choices should align with the season. Light and breezy garments are suitable for summer, while layered and warm clothes are recommended for winter visits.
  • Regarding clothing, travellers are highly encouraged to wear waterproof or water-resistant garments, especially during tours to Niagara Falls attractions like the Maid of the Mist or journeys behind the waterfalls.
  • Ideal Discoveries from the Canadian Side:
    • The Horseshoe Falls.
    • The Niagara SkyWheel.
    • The Skylon Tower.

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