Looking for things to do at the Canadian Niagara Falls? Niagara Falls Canada is an epic trio of waterfalls: Horseshoe Falls (the largest, also known as Canadian Falls, as it sits between Canada and the United States), American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls. As one of the world’s largest waterfalls and a fascinating natural wonder, there are many things to do in the Niagara Falls area and millions of people travel to the falls each year to enjoy everything this North American destination has to offer.
This guide to what to see in Niagara Falls covers practical information about getting to Niagara Falls and the best time of year to visit (and therefore which attractions are available, depending on the month of your trip), as well as recommendations for the top six essential things to do there.
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Where is Niagara Falls, Canada?
Niagara Falls is located at the south of Niagara Gorge, spilling over from Canada’s Ontario province into the US’s state of New York.
How to get to Niagara Falls
There are a number of ways to get to the Niagara Falls area, so it depends where you are coming from and which method of transport you’re planning to use.
If you’re coming from the United States, you will need to have your passport with you, as you’ll be crossing over the border into Canada. Depending on what passport you hold, you may require a visa to visit Canada, and this may need to be obtained in advance of your trip. Niagara Falls is a must-stop on an Ontario road trip.
There are four major airports near Niagara Falls. The closest is Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF), which is a 45-minute drive from Niagara Falls, Canada. The next closest is John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport (YMC), which is just less than an hour’s drive from Niagara Falls.
These are followed by Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ) and Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ), both of which are around a 90-minute drive from Niagara Falls, Canada.
In addition to these four, there is a smaller airport, Niagara District Airport, but this is not really used for commercial flights.
You can comfortably do a day trip to Niagara Falls from Toronto via the GO Train, which departs the city in the morning and returns in the evening, and there are seasonal weekend services.
There are also trains available on the VIA Rail, which is Canada’s national passenger rail service. Direct daily return journeys are available from Toronto, New York City and Cleveland, as well as connections via Ontario and Quebec.
If you are coming from the Toronto area, the route will take you along the Gardiner Expressway West and the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) before you exit at ON-420 onto Niagara Veterans Memorial Highway East. The trip takes around 90 minutes one way, however there can be a lot of traffic during peak times of day, week and year, which can double the journey time.
If you’re coming from New York State, you’ll cross Peace Bridge, Queenston Lewiston Bridge, or Rainbow Bridge – all three of which require toll money in cash (both Canadian and American dollars are accepted). You may also need travel documents to hand for the border crossing.
There are several parking lots available at Niagara Falls, including Clifton Hill (700 spaces), Skylon Tower (also has some overnight parking available), Casino Parking (at both Casino Niagara and Fallsview Casino), and Niagara Parks parking lots (some are free), as well as others, many of which are seasonal.
Parking prices vary according to which parking lot and how long you plan to park there for (some are metered, others have a flat rate). If you require overnight parking, it’s best to select Niagara Falls accommodation that has parking available.
For a more affordable option, visitors to Niagara Falls can travel there by bus. There are GO buses from the Greater Toronto and Hamilton regions, which stop at St. Catharines, Niagara-on-the-Lake and Niagara Falls.
Other bus options include the Greyhound and megabus, which depart directly from Toronto and Buffalo, New York, to the Niagara Falls Bus Terminal.
When to visit Niagara Falls, Canada
Niagara Falls welcomes roughly 33 million tourists per years, the majority of which travel in the summer months. However, each season brings something unique, so you can visit during different times of year and experience the falls in a completely new way.
Plan your things to do in Niagara Falls in line with the time of year you’re visiting:
Visiting Niagara Falls in Winter
Although some of the main attractions are closed for the winter (including the White Water Walk, Whirlpool Aero Car, and the Hornblower Cruise), the chillier months also have their advantages. Visiting Niagara Falls in the winter is a wonderful experience.
For one, you may get the opportunity to see the falls at their most Narnia-esque; partially frozen (or even completely frozen – this happened once in 1848), beautifully surrounded by snow and icicles. Plus, as winter is low season, prices ae cheaper and crowds are fewer.
Temperatures at Niagara Falls can dip down as low as -8 degrees Celsius in January and February, plus you may be contending with heavy snow. However, other reasons to visit in winter include festive events, such as the Niagara Icewine Gala, New Year celebrations in Queen Victoria Park, and the Winter Festival of Lights.
Visiting Niagara Falls in Spring
Spring is a lovely time of year to visit Niagara Falls, when the main attractions reopen, the winter weather subsides, and the spring flowers are in bloom. In fact, the spring blossoms make this time of year the best time to visit the Botanical Gardens (where the Butterfly Conservatory is also located, see below).
There are a load of cool events going on during the spring months, such as the Niagara Folk Arts Festival in May, the Niagara Falls Elvis Festival in April, and A Taste of Niagara on the Lake, which is a special gourmet dinner tour of the most acclaimed restaurants in the area.
Of course, temperatures depend on which month you’re traveling, as March has lows of -5 degrees Celsius, while May boasts highs of 20 degrees Celsius – so check ahead for the weather forecast before you pack your suitcase.
Visiting Niagara Falls in Summer
Summer is peak season at Niagara Falls, so be mindful that prices may be inflated and accommodation fills up, so be sure to book your trip well in advance. It’s also one of the best times to visit, as the weather is warm, and the mist and spray from the falls is sure to cool any summertime visitor down.
An added bonus of visiting Niagara Falls in summer is that the free Discover Niagara Shuttle is in full operation, so it’s easy to get from one attraction to the other.
Temperatures soar to highs of 28 degrees Celsius in July, with similar weather in June and August, so be sure to pack your sun scream, shades and a hat for sun protection.
Visiting Niagara Falls in Autumn
As the summer crowds die down, so do prices, making fall a great time to visit Niagara Falls. As well as the pretty autumnal foliage in burning shades of red, orange and gold, the harvest season also brings about special events at local wineries.
September has average temperatures of a very comfortable 16 degrees Celsius, but as the season goes on, temperatures fall dramatically, dipping into minus figures towards the end of November. Autumn can also be one of the wettest seasons, but when you’re doused in mist and spray of the waterfalls, you may not even notice the rain!
Things to do at Canadian Niagara Falls
The prices and opening hours listed below for each attraction may be subject to change due to Covid-19 measures and also seasonality. There are deals and packages available that combine multiple attractions, therefore change the Niagara Parks website before your trip to see if you can save money by buying a package instead of individual tickets.
Lunch at Table Rock House Restaurant
This restaurant has the apt tagline, “the closest you can dine to the Canadian Horseshoe Falls,” due to its superb location right on the edge of the largest and most powerful of the triplet falls.
During the day, you can watch (and listen) to the falls as they cascade, while enjoying a casual meal or a drink with a spectacular view. If you’re attending dinner service, you’ll be able to see the nightly illuminations, which light up the torrents of water and create a romantic atmosphere.
The menu features fresh produce sourced from farms in the Niagara Falls area, as well as wines from local vineyards. Some of the most popular dishes include the Classic Burger and Niagara Butter Lettuce Salad. If you’re visiting over the weekend, the Sunday Brunch also comes highly recommended.
Opening hours vary. At present, Table Rock House is only open from 11.30am-4pm Friday to Sunday, though this is subject to change. Average meal prices are estimated around CAD30 per head, including food and drinks.
Journey Behind the Falls
Journey Behind the Falls is perhaps one of Niagara Falls’ most popular and famous attractions, and is open in all seasons, so you can experience it no matter when you visit.
The “behind the falls” journey is a self-guided walk that goes down underground into a series of centuries-old tunnels and caves, until you’re behind (and even under) Horseshoe Falls.
Some of the best photo opportunities can be found on the observation deck where the tunnel ends, which is right at the bottom of the falls. Be aware though that you may want to bring your poncho, as from this angle you’ll definitely be in the splash zone!
Tickets for Journey Behind the Falls cost CAD14 for adults (over 13 years old) and CAD9 for children between the ages of six and 12 years old (children under five go free). Opening hours are 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday, to 7pm on Saturdays and to 4.30pm on Sundays. Note that the lower deck is closed during the winter.
White Water Walk
The White Water Walk is perfect for anyone who wants to meander the river without actually getting on a boat. Take the elevator down into the gorge and you can stroll along the 400-meter self-guided boardwalk, learning about the geological and biological heritage of the area from the educational plaques situated along the walk.
Of course, there are also viewing platforms ripe for photo opportunities, where you can even see the Class 6 “Whirlpool Rapids.” Visitors usually spend an hour or two here.
Admission price is CAD16.50 for adults over 13 years of age, CAD10.75 for children aged between six and 12, and free for kids under five. Opening hours are roughly 10am or 11am until 5pm Thursday to Monday (closed Tuesday and Wednesday), though this may change seasonally. Note that the White Water Walk is not open in winter.
Whirlpool Aero Car
This thrilling and unique cable car ride, designed by esteemed Spanish engineer Leonardo Torres Quevedo, has been in operation since 1916. The cars are suspended from six cables and the ride provides birds’ eye views of the whirlpools and rapids along the Niagara River, showcasing how the river abruptly changes direction – an incredible natural phenomenon.
What’s more, this open-air cable car technically crosses the border between the United States and Canada four times, due to the way the river winds through the landscape. The ride takes only 10 minutes one way, covering 500 meters and hovering 80 meters above the churning river waters.
Admission price is CAD16.50 for adults over 13 years of age, CAD10.75 for children aged between six and 12, and free for kids under five. Opening hours are roughly 10am or 11am until 5pm Thursday to Monday (closed Tuesday and Wednesday), though may change seasonally. Note that the Whirlpool Aero Car is not open in winter.
One of the most popular things to do at Niagara Falls.Canada, is to take the “Voyage to the Falls” Hornblower Cruise. First, take the 1894 Niagara Hornblower Funicular down to the river. This is a fun attraction in itself and you can buy tickets just for the funicular if you prefer, though it’s included in the cruise ticket price.
Once you’re at river level, board the vessel (and don the signature red poncho) that takes you right into the mist of Horseshoe Falls on a 20-minute cruise. If you don’t mind the spray, get the best views from the upper deck, but if you’d rather escape the elements and just enjoy the ride, then opt for the lower-level seating.
There is also the Maid of the Mist boat tour, which follows the same route, however this cruise comes from the American side of the river.
Niagara Falls on Canada Cruise tickets cost CAD27.50 for adults and CAD17.50 for children, exclusive of 13% tax. Children under two years old ride free. Cruises run every 30 minutes from Monday to Sunday, 10 am to 4 pm. Note that the Hornblower Cruise is not open in winter.
Step into a fairytale world with a visit to the Niagara Falls Butterfly Conservatory, home to roughly 2,000 butterflies across 45 diverse species. This is a great family-friendly activity, though big kids will also love chasing kaleidoscopic wings, or even having a butterfly land on them. This is also a great attraction to visit in the winter, as the conservatory is open year-round and heated.
Tickets for the Niagara Falls Butterfly Conservatory cost CAD16 for adults over 13 years old and CAD10.25 for children between the ages of six and 12 (children under five go free). The conservatory is open 10am to 5pm daily.
More Things to Do at Niagara Falls, Canada
These are just six of the absolute best things to do in Niagara Falls, Canada, however, there are plenty more attractions that cater to a wide array of interests, budgets, and preferences. Here are some additional things to do at the Canadian Niagara Falls:
- Niagara Winery Tour with Tastings
- Canadian Niagara Falls Night Lights and Dinner and Cruise
- Niagara Falls Dining Experience
- Niagara Falls Skylon Tower Observation Deck
Did you find this guide helpful in planning your Niagara Falls trip? Or, if you’ve been to Niagara Falls already, what was your favorite thing that you did there, and could you share any insider tips, tricks, or hacks for a seamless Niagara Falls adventure? Let us know in the comments.
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