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15 Things to Know BEFORE Visiting Niagara Falls, Canada (2024 Guide!)

15 Things to Know BEFORE Visiting Niagara Falls, Canada (2024 Guide!)

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Niagara Falls is easily one of the most famous natural attractions in the whole of Canada – and maybe even the world! So if you’re traveling to Toronto, a visit to Niagara Falls should be high up on your list of things to do while there. 

Of course, you can also visit Niagara Falls from the US, but the best views and things to do are on the Canadian side – and we’re not just saying that because Bailey is Canadian! We’ve visited a few times now, both independently and with tours, and the beauty of these falls never fails to impress us. 

So if you’re planning a visit to Niagara Falls anytime soon, stay tuned because this guide contains EVERYTHING you need to know about visiting from Canada. We’ve covered it all, including where to stay, how to get there, the best attractions and tours, and more!

Don’t have time to read the full article? The Canadian side of Niagara Falls is full of incredible views and fun activities, like this zipline that has you flying over the water and this seasonal combo tour, which includes a boat ride, guided tour, and Journey Behind the Falls experience. You can always visit Niagara Falls on your own, but we loved this full-day tour from Toronto, which covers roundtrip transport, plus a boat ride, lunch, and a winery stop!

1. About Niagara Falls, Canada

Niagara Falls in the background of the viewpoints on the Canadian side
So many tourists!
The Hornblower Cruise leaves dock headed for Niagara Falls in Canada
On our way to the falls!

Niagara Falls was formed roughly 12,000 years ago from melting glaciers. It’s crazy to think that ice melting could form such a spectacular geological formation, but that’s exactly what happened!

These same melting glaciers also created the Great Lakes. This is precisely why Niagara Falls sits between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. As the glaciers melted, the force from water in Lake Ontario and Erie cut through the earth to create the Niagara River, which formed Niagara Falls. 

However, Niagara Falls isn’t just one waterfall, but three: Bridal Veil Falls, American Falls, and Horseshoe Falls. Horseshoe Falls is the largest of the three and is located on the Canadian side.

When you’re looking at Niagara Falls – specifically Horseshoe Falls – you might be blown away by the power of the water (hopefully not literally!). There are roughly 600,000 gallons (2.5 million liters) flowing over these falls. To put this in perspective, that amount can completely fill an Olympic-sized pool in ONE second!

At night, the amount of water flowing over the falls is reduced by nearly half. Some of it is actually rerouted to power stations in the US and Canada between 9 pm and 8 am daily. But once you arrive here in the morning, you can expect the water levels to be back in full force to maximize those views.

The falls can be visited from both the USA and Canada, and both sides are connected by the Rainbow Bridge. Walking across this bridge is pretty cool because you can see the falls from different vantage points. Mind you, if you plan to fully cross this bridge, you’ll need a passport since you’ll be entering a new country. That being said, I think the best views are on the Canadian side – and if you’re hoping to learn more about it, you’ve come to the right place, so read on!

2. Where is Niagara Falls?

View of Niagara Falls on the Canadian side looking towards the United States side
View of Niagara Falls on the Canadian side looking towards the United States side

Niagara Falls spans the border between Ontario, Canada and New York State in the USA. The Canadian portion is in a small town called – funnily enough – Niagara Falls! It’s 128 km (79 mi) from Toronto and is about an hour and 15 minutes drive from the city. For that reason, Toronto is a really popular base to visit Niagara Falls, but we’ll talk more about that later.

Meanwhile, Montreal is 668 km (415 mi) away from the falls, and Ottawa is 532 km (330 mi) away. This may sound like a long distance, but remember that Canada is HUGE – the city of Vancouver is over 4,300 km (2671 mi) away from Niagara Falls! 

3. How do you get to Niagara Falls?

Bailey and Daniel take a selfie as they ride the bus to Niagara Falls Canada
The bus ride to Niagara

Tour

The most convenient way to get to Niagara Falls is with a tour. If you’re visiting from Toronto, then this full-day tour is our top choice. We did it on our second visit to the falls and absolutely loved it. It includes lunch, a boat ride or IMAX experience, and a visit to a local winery – so really, what’s not to love? You get a jam-packed day of fun without having to organize a thing! 

It’s also possible to take a tour of the falls from Montreal. This 2-day, 1-night tour gives you one day to explore Toronto and another to discover the magic of Niagara Falls. Taking a quick visit from Montreal to Niagara Falls can be a headache to plan by yourself, so we think that the $290 CAD price tag is well worth the money – especially since it includes accommodation and transport. If you want to do any extra activities, like the Observation Tower or the Hornblower boat ride you can just say the word and your guide will arrange it for you! 

Drive / rental car

If you’d prefer to visit the falls independently, then renting a car in Toronto and driving yourself is a great option. Without traffic, it takes around 1 hour and 15 minutes to drive from central Toronto to Niagara Falls.

Unless you love traffic jams, don’t set out between 8 am and 9:30 am, or you’ll be adding an extra hour or so to your journey. Even leaving at 7 am is risking it. Honestly, we’d recommend dragging yourself out of bed early and hitting the road at around 6 am. It’s totally worth it – once you see the magic of Niagara Falls, you’ll forget all about that early alarm. 

Train

If the thought of driving isn’t appealing, but you still want to visit Niagara Falls by yourself, take the train! 

Every day at 8:20 am, you can catch train 97 from Toronto Union Station to Niagara Falls. The journey takes exactly 2 hours, so you arrive at 10:20 am. It costs $28.25 CAD (with tax) for a one-way fare, so you’re looking at $56.50 CAD for a roundtrip journey. 

The return train (number 98) leaves Niagara Falls daily at 5:45 pm, arriving at Toronto Union Station at 7:43 pm. This means you’ll have from 10:20 am – 5:45 pm to enjoy the falls, minus traveling to and from the station of course. You can buy your tickets online through VIA Rail Canada

Once you arrive at Niagara Falls Station, you can either take a taxi to the falls for around $10 CAD, or you can purchase a 24-hour pass for the WeGo bus. This costs $13 CAD and will cover your return journey from the station to the falls, so this is a more cost-effective option if you’re traveling alone. 

4. When is the best time to visit Niagara Falls?

tourists walk along niagara falls canada
Perfect weather

It really depends on the experience that you want. Generally speaking, summer is the best time to go. The weather is warm and sunny, and all of the attractions are up and running, so you get the full Niagara Falls experience. 

For example, boat rides only run between early May and late October. However, precise dates change every year because it’s just too cold during the winter! On the tour that we did, the boat ride is replaced with an IMAX experience in the colder seasons. It’s a nice show, but if we’re being honest, it’s not quite the same!

The Whirlpool Aero Car, which dangles you over the Niagara Whirlpool, is only available during the summer as well. The same goes for the White Water Walk. If you’re a bit of a thrill-seeker, the summer months are the best time for you to visit Niagara Falls. And if you want to learn more about any of these activities, just keep reading – we’ll dive into the fun details further down!

However, with all of that being said, winter at Niagara Falls can also be beautiful. Not only is it a lot quieter, but the falls transform into a stunning frozen landscape! While they haven’t technically frozen since 1848, big icicles form around the edges, which creates the illusion of frozen falls. So if you’re looking for a more peaceful and tranquil experience (and don’t mind donning a few layers), winter could be the perfect time to go!

And in terms of the time of day, the morning or afternoon is best. We liked that the tour we did got us to the falls pretty early. You definitely want to be there during the daytime to appreciate Niagara Falls in all its glory and enjoy some of its fun attractions. However, if you’re driving yourself, it’s also worth sticking around for the nighttime lights. 

Niagara Falls by Night with illumination
Wow!

The Niagara Falls Illumination happens all year round. Every night as the sun sets, hundreds of multicolored LED lights are switched on behind the falls, bathing them in vibrant rainbow colors. You can view this phenomenon on the Canadian side from Queen Victoria Park, Clifton Hill, the Skylon Tower, or the Niagara SkyWheel

The start time of the illumination varies according to when the sun sets, and it lasts until 1 am or 2 am. From May 15 until July 31 (when the days are longest), it begins at 8:30 pm. In November and December, the light show starts at 4:30 pm because night falls so early here! 

Between late November and early January, there’s also a fireworks show over the falls. This occurs on weekends at 8 pm but is a daily occurrence for the two weeks over Christmas and New Year. There are also fireworks on weekends over the summer at 10 pm, but you can check the exact dates and times via the website.

Related Read: If you love sightseeing and exercise, check out the best bike tours of Toronto!

5. Is Niagara Falls free to visit?

Yes! Niagara Falls is completely free to visit. There are no admission or national park fees to access the observation decks. Aside from transportation costs, it’s a great free or cheap thing to do from Toronto. The only things that you’ll have to pay for are the attractions, such as boat rides and observation towers that bring you closer to the waterfalls. These are cool and I’ll discuss them in more detail down below – but again, they are totally optional.

6. Can you visit Niagara Falls on your own?

Bailey sits on the bus looking out the window on her way to Niagara Falls from Toronto on a tour
Niagara here we come!
Daniel leans over the railing at Niagara falls and poses for a photo on the Canadian side
Such a special place!

Yes, going it alone is a very popular way to see Niagara Falls. However, it does involve some planning. It can be hard to get parking and work out exactly where to go, and when. It’s totally doable – but if you only come for one day – you might find that it’s not quite enough time.

For that reason, if you want to visit Niagara Falls on your own, we recommend staying overnight near the falls. That way, you’ll have two days here, giving you more time to see and do everything and take it all at a relaxed pace. Plus, this makes it easy to stay behind in the evening and check out the Niagara Falls Illumination. It’s also just less stressful trying to figure things out on your own when there’s less time pressure involved! 

Another cool thing about staying overnight in Niagara Falls is that there are lots of fun things to do in the town of Niagara Falls, which are often overlooked by day visitors. 

You should definitely take a stroll along Clifton Hill, which is nicknamed the town’s “fun street” because there are so many quirky activities to enjoy along here. From the Movieland Wax Museum to wizard-themed mini golf and zooming along a Mario Kart-inspired go-kart track, Clifton Hill is basically a giant funfair! 

Bailey looking at Niagara falls from the walkway Canada
All the views

You can also save money by purchasing this Clifton Hill Fun Pass for $40 CAD per adult because it grants you entry to 6 of the area’s top attractions, including the SkyWheel where you can get a great view of the Niagara Falls Illumination. 

It’s also a quick 25-minute drive over to Niagara on the Lake, which is a pretty town that’s covered in flowers and home to several wineries. We actually visited here on our sightseeing tour, but you’ll also have time to check it out if you’re staying overnight in Niagara Falls. 

7. Where to stay in Niagara Falls, Canada

Sterling Inn & Spa in Niagara Falls Room
Photo credit: Sterling Inn & Spa

Cadillac Motel Niagara

The Cadillac Motel Niagara is a cheap and cheerful option. It’s in a super central location so you’ll be able to access everything in town easily. In fact, the Skylon Tower is just 600 meters (0.4 mi) away! There’s plenty of light in the rooms, barbecue facilities outside, and free parking on-site. 

The rooms all have air conditioning, free WiFi, and private bathrooms, so while this isn’t a luxury property, it’s well-kept and clean, and you’ve got everything you need. It’s one of the only motels in town with great guest ratings, so we think that this is the perfect budget option for an overnight stay in Niagara Falls. Rooms start at $90 CAD per night (plus an additional $20 CAD in taxes) and can be booked online right here

Travelodge by Wyndham Niagara Falls at the Falls

You can’t go wrong with a Travelodge, because you always know what you’re getting. This Travelodge in Niagara Falls is ideally located smack dab in the middle of town, so you won’t have any problems getting around. You can step out of the door right into the hustle and bustle of Clifton Hill! 

There’s also an outdoor pool here if you want a refreshing swim, and the spacious rooms each have their own balcony. The hotel also has a bar and restaurant on site, although you’re so close to Clifton Hill’s quirky-themed eateries that you might not need them! Rooms also come with AC, free WiFi, a coffee machine, and a microwave, so really, what more could you need?

Prices per night at the Niagara Falls Travelodge start at $110 CAD but can go up to $389 CAD on weekends during July and August, which is peak season. To get the best deal, we suggest securing your room well in advance.

Sterling Inn & Spa

If you’re looking for more luxurious digs in Niagara Falls, then the Sterling Inn & Spa is the ideal spot. All rooms have either a jacuzzi bath or steam shower, as well as four-poster beds and fluffy bathrobes. It’s the perfect place to stay if you’re taking a romantic trip to Niagara Falls! 

One of the best things about this hotel is that while it’s very close to the town center and all of its attractions, it’s a little off of the main road. This way, you get the best of both worlds. you’ll have peace and quiet to enjoy the hotel’s luxurious facilities, while still being within walking distance to all of the best restaurants and things to do in Niagara Falls. 

Prices per night for the Sterling Inn & Spa start at $166 CAD outside of peak season. You can score a real bargain by staying here if you’re visiting Niagara Falls during the winter or early spring, especially on a weekday. However, rooms are significantly pricier during the summer, costing up to $300 CAD on weekdays and $500 CAD on weekends. You can check prices and book your room online here.

8. Where can you visit Niagara Falls from?

Views of the Toronto skyline from the Toronto Islands
Toronto skyline from the Toronto Islands

Toronto

Toronto is the most popular place to visit Niagara Falls from and there are many options for hotels here. It’s an awesome city with a ton of cool things to do, and it’s only 128 km (79 mi) from Niagara Falls. This means you could easily take a day trip from Toronto to the falls. You can choose to drive yourself in an hour and 15 minutes or get there via the train in 2 hours.

There are also a ton of great Niagara Falls tours from Toronto if you don’t want to worry about logistics, which is exactly why we took this tour from the city

Montreal

Unlike Toronto, Montreal is too far away from Niagara Falls to do a day trip, since it’s 668 km (415 mi) away. I do think it’s better to visit Niagara Falls from Toronto since it’s so much closer, but if your itinerary doesn’t allow for this, then there’s no reason you should miss out! Plenty of people do visit from Montreal, you just need a little more time. 

It’s possible to hire a car and drive yourself down, fly, or take the train. However, a tour is probably the better and cheaper option here. Luckily, there are also several fun Niagara Falls tours from Montreal! We recommend this overnight tour, which gives you a day in Toronto and a day at Niagara Falls. Everything is organized for you and it includes transport and accommodation, so you can save money and you don’t need to worry about any of the logistics! 

Ottawa

Ottawa is 532 km (330 mi) away from Niagara Falls, which is roughly a 5.5-hour drive. So while it’s not exactly next door, you can still make the journey from Ottawa to the Falls if you have a couple of days. 

You can either drive to Toronto and take a tour from there (in which case we’d recommend staying for 2 nights). Or, stay near Niagara Falls and visit independently, in which case 3 nights would be better, as that would give you two full days. 

Ottawa is Canada’s capital city, and there’s plenty of history there. It’s quiet and friendly, and it’s a great place for families, so you might want to visit the falls from here if you’re traveling with kids! 

Niagara on the Lake

Niagara on the lake canada
Niagara on the Lake

Quaint and convenient, Niagara on the Lake is a fantastic place to stay when visiting the falls. It’s just 22 km (13.6 mi) from Niagara Falls, so it’s super easy to visit from here. You can drive there in 25 minutes, or catch the Go Bus to the Niagara Falls Bus Terminal and then change to the WeGo bus to reach the falls.

We visited Niagara on the Lake as part of the Niagara Falls tour that we did, and we found it to be a super scenic town. It’s filled with charming buildings, cute shops selling artisan goods, a scenic marina, and a historic fort that dates back to 1796. One of the most famous things to see in the town is the floral clock, and there are some great wineries to visit, such as Peller Estates.

Hamilton

Hamilton makes a great base to visit Niagara Falls because it’s only about a 50-minute drive away! Yup, Hamilton is actually closer to Niagara Falls than Toronto is, at 72 km (45 mi) away. Plus, it’s a super cute town with some beautiful hiking trails, botanical gardens, and tons of cool farms that you can visit. There are some nice waterfalls here, too – they don’t rival Niagara Falls or anything, but they’re still nice to check out.

It’s easy to drive to the falls from Hamilton, or you can even travel by bus. You can catch the #40 GO Bus from the Hamilton GO Center to Dundas St. @ Hwy. 407 Park & Ride, where you can change to the #12 bus to the Niagara Falls Terminal. To plan your trip, you can use the GO Bus travel planner.

To be honest, if you’re somewhere as small as Hamilton, you’ll probably want to rent a car, though! 

9. What are the best tours to Niagara Falls from Canada?

If you want to visit the falls but base yourself in a major city, I recommend staying in Toronto. There’s so much to do in this city, whether you’re here in the middle of summer or on a rainy day. And no matter what time of year it is, you can always add a trip to the falls to your Toronto itinerary.

In fact, some of the best tours to Niagara Falls are from Toronto. To help you out, we’ve highlighted our favorites below.

Niagara Falls Day Tour from Toronto with Boat, Lunch, and Winery Stop

We took this particular full-day tour from Toronto and loved it! You get roundtrip transport, a 3-course lunch, wine tasting, and epic views of the Canadian side of the falls. Everything was super well organized, and we also got free time to explore the cute town of Niagara on the Lake.

It also includes the Voyage to the Falls boat tour, where you’ll see the power of Niagara Falls and get wet, of course! If you’re here and the cruise isn’t running, you’ll get to experience the Journey Behind the Falls. This lets you see the powerful water crashing down from observation decks directly behind the waterfall!

Tickets can be purchased online and are $200 CAD each, which covers everything we mentioned. Pick-up from select hotels is around 9:30 am and the tour lasts roughly 10 hours. When you factor in all the experiences, we really couldn’t have done it much cheaper ourselves.

Click here to learn more and book this day tour from Toronto to Niagara Falls!

Niagara Falls Day Tour from Toronto

This day trip to Niagara Falls is a bit cheaper than the previous tour we mentioned and has more freedom on the choice of activities so you can create your own itinerary!

The drive to Niagara Falls is absolutely stunning and once you arrive, you’ll have three hours of free time to explore on your own! You can also add on extra activities like a cruise or a trip up the Skylon Tower. You also have the chance to wander around Niagara Falls town and check out the casinos or explore the “Street of Fun” aka Clifton Hill with its arcades, mini-golf, and a Ferris Wheel.

I love the flexibility of this tour and when you’re on your own, you can snap as many photos as you like! The day begins at 8 am and lasts 9.5 hours. It costs $99 CAD with roundtrip transport from the meeting point. The total price is $135 CAD if you include the 20-minute Hornblower Niagara City Cruise – which we recommend!

You can book this tour right here with free cancellation up to 24 hours beforehand – it’s perfect if you like flexibility when planning!

Private Tour: Half-Day Niagara Falls Tour From Toronto with Boat and Helicopter Rides

If you’re celebrating a special occasion or just want to feel like a total VIP, this private tour to Niagara Falls is a pretty amazing way to treat yourself! Not only will you be taken from Toronto to the falls (in a chauffeur-driven vehicle no less!) but you can add on a boat tour AND a helicopter ride!

Because it’s just your group on this tour, you can customize it how you like. There are optional stops for maple syrup or wine tastings, but really it’s up to you. Just make sure when you book that you pick the add-ons you’re after. There’s the Voyage to the Falls boat tour past the falls (available from April to November), the scenic helicopter ride over the falls for some truly epic views, and a buffet lunch with views of Horseshoe Falls.

If you opt for absolutely everything, this tour is $799 CAD per person. But if you just want the boat ride and no lunch or helicopter ride, tickets drop to $479 CAD each. You’ll need a minimum of two people for this tour too.

You can check out all the options and book this private customizable tour right here!

Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, for more info, read our detailed review about Viator here.

10. What is better, a tour or visiting Niagara Falls on your own?

Bailey poses for a photo next to niagara falls canada
So cool!

Honestly, there are pros and cons to each! Going to Niagara Falls on your own gives you more freedom to explore and check out some of the unique attractions here. For example, when you drive yourself to the falls, you can stay late and enjoy the Illumination light show, which you can’t really do with a tour. 

We went to Niagara Falls independently on our first visit and did a tour the second time. Personally, I much preferred doing the tour! Everything was included so we didn’t have to plan anything, and we really got the most out of our day. We also learned more about the waterfalls the second time around, because we had a guide with us. Plus, relaxing on the bus was much better than struggling through Toronto in rush-hour traffic. 

The attractions at the falls are cool. But to be honest, I think that the boat cruise and seeing the falls from the park’s viewpoints is enough. All of the Niagara Falls tours allow you to do this during the summertime. I don’t know if there’s much point in trying to plan everything yourself for the sake of squeezing an extra 1-2 attractions into your day. 

We felt like our tour gave us the full Niagara Falls experience, and we got to visit a winery on the way back, plus Niagara on the Lake. It was a well-rounded experience and way more chilled out than the first time we went (despite the fact that we got to do so much!). 

Related Read: For another fun day trip in the area, we recommend visiting the Toronto Islands. They’ve got history, beaches, a petting zoo, an amusement park, and water sports!

11. What are the best things to do at Niagara Falls, Canada?

A boat heading towards Niagara falls canada
Look at that water!

There’s plenty to do on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. Before you go, it’s worth checking out which packages and deals are available on the Niagara Parks website, because you can save some money by combining attraction visits – a bit like buying a sightseeing pass when you visit! 

If you’re visiting the falls without a tour and the below attractions sound good to you, you might be able to score a discount with a Wonder Pass or an Adventure Pass.

The Wonder Pass is available from October 30 to March 31 and costs $49 CAD per person. It covers 5 attractions, plus gives you 2 days of unlimited access to the WeGo bus and the Falls Incline Railway.

Meanwhile, the Adventure Pass is the summer version of the Wonder Pass and is available from April through October. The Classic Pass covers 3 attractions and 2 days on the WeGo bus, while the Plus Pass covers 7+ attractions, 3 days on the WeGo bus, and a free shuttle so that you can explore Niagara on the Lake. Presale tickets are as low as $64 CAD for the Classic and $104 CAD for the Plus.

These are both great options if you’re spending a few days at the falls. However, if you’re visiting May through October and only coming for one day, you might be better off with this combo attraction deal. You’ll get a guided tour by boat and on foot followed by the Journey Behind the Falls experience (which we’ll discuss in more detail below!).

Journey Behind the Falls

View from the Journey Behind the Falls in Canada
View from the Journey Behind the Falls in Canada

Journey Behind the Falls is a super unique experience that allows you to explore the tunnels and caves behind the Horseshoe Falls. As you explore Behind the Falls, you’ll get amazing views from the Upper and Lower Observation Deck and be able to view the huge sheet of water from various portals. Niagara Falls is such an iconic natural wonder that it’s pretty cool to get the chance to walk behind it! 

The Journey Behind the Falls alone costs $25 CAD (before tax). Alternatively, you can do it as part of this combo package, which takes you on the first boat cruise of the day for unobstructed views of the falls. It also includes a guided walking tour to ensure that you tick off all of the best viewpoints and snap those Insta-worthy photos! And of course, you’ll get to experience the Journey Behind the Falls which was our highlight.

The combo package is available from May through the end of October and costs $132 CAD. We think it’s worth it because it ensures that you get to see the best of the falls before the park gets too busy! It can be booked online here with an option to pay later.

Niagara Falls Cruise

A boat approaches Niagara Falls on a tour from New York City
Let’s go!

A Niagara Falls cruise is a must – combined with checking out the viewpoints, it’s the quintessential way to see the falls! The cruises are so much fun and although you don’t go behind the falls, you get pretty close to the cascading water, so you’ll emerge feeling like you’ve just had a shower. Don’t worry – rain ponchos are provided! 

The cruise is put on by Niagara City Cruises and costs $33.75 CAD (before tax). Cruise season runs from the end of March to the end of November, but dates can vary depending on the weather.

However, if you’re visiting May through October, we recommend opting for the combo package that we mentioned above. It includes the cruise and you get the bonus of going out on the first boat of the day, so you’ll have panoramic views of Niagara Falls all to yourself. 

The combo package costs $132 CAD with the 20-minute boat ride, as well as a guided walking tour and the Journey Behind the Falls. You get the full Niagara experience while saving money AND the independence of driving yourself or staying nearby. What’s not to like?

Helicopter tour

Niagara Falls certainly looks spectacular from the boat and viewpoints, but to take things to the next level, you can book this helicopter tour over the top of them! You’ll get to see all three sections of the falls and truly grasp the sheer force of the Niagara River from above.

When you soar over the falls, you get even better views of the powerful currents and the dramatic drop-off points. You’ll be able to fully capture the rainbows shimmering through the mist. As you fly, your pilot will provide commentary about the area’s wine country, the surrounding historic landmarks, and of course, the falls themselves. It’s super interesting – and definitely not your typical Niagara Falls experience! 

This is a self-drive tour, so it leaves from the heliport. It’s a pretty quick experience and helicopters leave every half an hour between 9:30 am and 4 pm, so it’s really easy to fit into a day of independent sightseeing at Niagara Falls. You’ll definitely earn some major bragging rights from this tour once you get back home!

It’s a wonderful experience, and at $280 CAD for a 20-minute flight, it’s actually pretty competitively priced. You’ll need at least 2 people to book it, though. 

Grab a friend or partner and book this epic helicopter flight over Niagara Falls here!

Skylon Tower

Views from the Skylon Tower in Niagara Falls, Canada
Views from the Skylon Tower in Niagara Falls, Canada

The Skylon Tower is a rotating restaurant and observation deck that towers over Niagara Falls. On a clear day, you can even see as far as Toronto from here! You can see all three parts of the falls (American, Horseshoe, and Bridal Veil) from up here, and they look breathtaking from this vantage point. I mean, having dinner at a rotating restaurant is always cool, but it’s even better when you’ve got bird’s eye views of the most famous waterfall in the world! 

We’ve seen incredible views from the Sydney Tower Eye as well as observation decks in New York – but this one is all about those epic nature views. And if you want to spend loads of time at the Skylon Tower, why not enjoy a full meal while you’re at it?

They’ve got two restaurant options and dining here gives you free access to the observation deck. You can either go for the Summit Suite Buffet, which is more budget-friendly (and, in our opinion, the better choice for families). The restaurant is only open for dinner, and it costs $49 CAD per adult and $26 CAD per child for the early dinner (5 pm and 5:30 pm reservations), or $59 CAD per adult after 6 PM. 

For something a bit fancier, you can eat in the Revolving Dining Room, which makes one full rotation every hour. It’s open year-round from 11:30 am until 3 pm for lunch, 4:30 pm until 5 pm for early dinner, and 6 pm until 10 pm for regular dinner. You can expect to pay between $50 -$70 CAD for a main course here. It’s a bit pricey, but how often do you get to dine with a view like this?

But you don’t have to have dinner at the Skylon Tower – you can just buy a ticket for the observation deck for $22 CAD per person. It’s open from 9 am on weekdays and 10 am on weekends. It closes at 10 pm Sunday to Thursday but stays open till 11 pm on Friday and Saturday, so this would be a really cool way to see the Niagara Falls Illumination if you’re staying nearby. If not, it’s nice to go up in the day and get aerial views of the falls if you can’t quite spring for the helicopter tour

Niagara Parks Power Station Tunnel

For fans of history and engineering, the Niagara Parks Power Station Tunnel is a super interesting attraction to check out. It’s hard to imagine that it was excavated back in 1901 using only lanterns, shovels, pickaxes, and dynamite! 

The tunnel was used in the generation of hydropower at Niagara Falls for over 100 years. The water used in the process would leave the tunnel and re-enter the river, and now that the plant is defunct, you can walk along that very same tunnel. 

Another cool thing about checking out the tunnel is that there’s a new viewing platform, where you get a unique perspective of the lower Niagara River, in addition to the Horseshoe and American Falls. Bring a jacket if you want to visit the tunnel because it can get chilly down here! 

You can also check out the power station itself on your visit, as you’ll have to pay the entry fee anyway. There are some interactive exhibits around where you can learn more about the history of hydropower at Niagara Falls, and there are QR codes that you can scan to pull up even more information online. 

Entry to the power station and tunnel costs $28 CAD, or $38 CAD if you want to add a guided tour. It opens at 10 am each morning and closes between 5 pm and 7 pm, depending on the time of year. 

You can also save money on your visit to the power station by booking a Wonder or Adventure Pass. This costs $49 CAD and also includes admission to the Journey Behind the Falls, Niagara’s Fury, the Butterfly Conservatory, and more – it’s a no-brainer, really. 

Zipline to the Falls

People zipline towards Niagara Falls Canada
What a rush!

We love ziplining and have done it all over the world, but there are few more remarkable places to whiz through the sky than Niagara Falls! When you book this tour, you get to go zooming over the Niagara River Gorge with insane views of the falls, as well as a big adrenaline rush. Plus, you’ll land at an observation deck that offers fantastic photo opportunities. How cool is that?

One thing that I find cool about this experience is that there’s not just one zipline. In fact, four people can go at once! So I think this would be such a cool thing to do if you’re visiting Niagara with a group of friends, or even your family, since kids aged 7 and over are welcome to join in the fun. 

The zipline is 670 meters (2,220 feet) long, and you start pretty high up so you get some incredible views even before gliding down. I mean, just check out the photo above!

It’s a self-drive experience and lasts for about 1.5 hours from the time that you gear up at the meeting point to the time the tour ends. The experience costs $84 CAD per person and is available daily for most of the year. On certain days, you can go for the early bird ticket (starting between 8 am and 9:30 am), for $72 CAD. You can check availability and book your ticket right here.  

Niagara’s Fury

Niagara’s Fury is a 4D IMAX experience that tells the story of Niagara Falls over the past 12,500 years. You’ll learn about how these powerful falls broke free from the last Ice Age and retreated northward over 10,000 years to become the majestic site that you see today. 

This is the experience that the boat cruise is replaced with if you do a sightseeing tour during the winter (when the boat cruises aren’t running). It’s not quite the same as getting super close to the falls on a boat in real life. However, the 4D effects make it feel pretty realistic and it’s a cool learning experience. You’ll even need a rain poncho because you’ll get splashed a lot! 

Niagara’s Fury is open from 10:30 am each day and usually closes at 4 pm, although it sometimes stays open for an extra hour or two during peak seasons (such as in July and around Christmas). There are showings every half an hour, and tickets cost $17.50 CAD per person. We think that this would be a great thing to do with young kids at the falls, and it’s included in the Wonder/Adventure Passes as well as the sightseeing tour in winter

White Water Walk

White Water Walk at Niagara Falls
White Water Walk at Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls is home to some Class 6 whitewater rapids. These are insanely strong and no, you can’t go rafting on them – it would be way too dangerous! However, you can do the White Water Walk to see these powerful rapids up close. Even just looking at them, I could tell they were much more powerful than the whitewater rapids in Banff and Jasper!

The walk takes you down the Niagara Gorge along a series of boardwalks and viewing platforms so that you can see the whirlpools, which flow at a speed of up to 48 km/hr (30 mph). The river will be roaring in your ears and you’ll definitely understand why no one goes rafting here! 

The White Water Walk is a self-guided experience, and the boardwalk is 0.4 kilometers (0.25 miles) long. You can take it at your own pace, but for most people, it will take around 30-60 minutes to complete because you’ll be stopping regularly to admire the views and snap photos. 

Admission costs $13 CAD per person and the walk is only open from late March until the end of October, as the boardwalk is too slippery during the winter. The route is open from 10 am until 5 pm from March to May and in October. Meanwhile, it’s open from 10 am until 6 pm in June, and 9 am until 8 pm in July and August.

Butterfly Conservatory

Did you know that there’s a butterfly conservatory at Niagara Falls?

Yup, as if there weren’t already enough to do here, you can check out one of North America’s largest butterfly gardens, which is home to over 2,000 brightly colored butterflies! There are winding pathways, tons of plants, and even waterfalls inside the conservatory, so it’s nice to take a walk through and admire the butterflies at various stages of their life cycle. 

The conservatory is open year-round from 10 am. It closes at 5 pm during the winter, 6 pm during the summer, and 7 pm on weekends during peak season. Entry costs $19 CAD (without tax) and is also covered by both the Wonder and Adventure passes

Niagara SkyWheel

Niagara SkyWheel at Niagara falls Canada
Niagara SkyWheel at Niagara Falls, Canada

The Niagara SkyWheel is in Clifton Hill, in the town of Niagara Falls. If you’re staying overnight, don’t miss the chance to ride this giant Ferris wheel because you can get awesome views of the Niagara Illumination from here! 

The SkyWheel takes you 53 meters (175 feet) above the falls for epic views. We discovered that the gondolas have both heating and air-conditioning, so this is one attraction that you can enjoy year-round. It’s open from 12 pm until 10 pm during the week, but it stays open extra late on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, so this is something you can enjoy after you’ve left the park itself. 

Tickets for the SkyWheel cost $17 CAD with tax. If you’re interested in checking out some of Clifton Hill’s other rides and attractions, such as crazy golf and the Cosmic Coaster, you can save money with the Fun Pass

The Rainbow Bridge

The Rainbow Bridge is a 290-meter (951-feet) long bridge that connects the Canadian side of Niagara Falls to the American side. You can walk or cycle across it, and it offers fantastic views of the waterfalls since it’s high above the water. 

However, this is only worth doing if you’re a Canadian citizen. Canadians don’t need to pre-arrange an ESTA (electronic travel authorization) to get into the US. However, most other countries do require an ESTA, so it’s probably not worth the extra fees and paperwork. Still, it’s a nice thing to do if you can get into the US easily! 

The bridge is open 24/7, and to walk across it you’ll need to pay $1 CAD on the Canadian side, and $6.50 CAD when departing the US side. It takes between 15-30 minutes to walk across the bridge, but factor in 5-15 minutes for customs at each end. 

During July and August, you can be waiting up to 15 minutes at customs on each side, so to be honest, it’s not worth doing the bridge during the peak of summer. Still, it’s a cool experience if you’re visiting in the shoulder seasons or during the winter, as you won’t be waiting for too long. 

12. What is better, the USA side or the Canadian side of Niagara Falls?

Views of Niagara Falls take from the USA side from a viewing platform
You can see the Rainbow Bridge in the distance

Overall, the Canadian side of Niagara Falls is said to be the best, and I agree. From this side, you can get panoramic views of all three waterfalls, whereas on the US side, you can’t see the entirety of the Horseshoe Falls. With that being said, both sides are amazing and worth visiting – more on that below! 

13. Can USA visitors see the Canadian side of Niagara Falls?

A boat of tourists going towards niagara falls canada

Yes, visitors from the USA can walk, cycle, or drive across the Rainbow Bridge, which connects the two sides of Niagara Falls. The bridge is open 24/7, and pedestrians and cyclists need to pay $1 USD to get across, while there’s a $5 USD fee for drivers. 

Visitors from the USA will need their passport to be able to enter Canada. US citizens don’t need a visa to enter Canada, and since this is a land crossing, no electronic travel authorization (ETA) is required (unlike when you arrive by air). If you’re from a country that has a visa-waiver arrangement with Canada, then all you’ll need is your passport, but you should definitely check the requirements before you go. 

14. What are the best places to eat at Niagara Falls?

Daniel enjoys dessert at Queen Victoria Place Restaurant at Niagara Falls
Queen Victoria Palace Restaurant
A small table overlooking Niagara Falls at queen victoria palace restaurant canada
Good spot for some lunch

Table Rock House Restaurant

The Table Rock House Restaurant is the top place to dine at Niagara Falls because it offers amazing views of the Horseshoe Falls! And the view is not the only draw because it’s run by a Michelin-trained chef, so the food is really good. I don’t think dining at Niagara gets any better than this. 

You can come here for lunch to enjoy a Canadian prime rib burger or Atlantic lobster grilled cheese (yum!), and it costs roughly $25-$35 CAD for a main. Alternatively, you can have dinner here and enjoy the Niagara Illumination in the evening. You can do the 3-course set menu for $69 CAD per person, or the seasonal Flavors of Niagara dining experience for $79 CAD. 

The restaurant is open from 11:30 am until 8:30 pm most of the year and closes at 9:30 pm during the summer. It’s very popular, so it’s best to make a reservation online

Vittorio’s Italian Eatery

Vittorio’s is located inside the Fallsview Casino, and it serves up hearty Italian food, so come with a big appetite. This place is very relaxed, so don’t expect anything too fancy, but prices are reasonable and portions are generous. And if you like spice, their homemade hot sauce is really good! It’s open from noon daily, closing at 10 pm Sunday – Thursday, and 11 pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

Massimo’s Italian Fallsview Restaurant

Massimo’s Italian Fallsview Restaurant has a fantastic view of the falls! It’s the brainchild of Canadian celebrity chef Massimo Capra, who has been on tons of cooking shows. All of the food is made with fresh, seasonal ingredients from the Niagara region, so this place is basically like a love letter to Niagara Falls! 

The restaurant is located inside the Sheraton Fallsview Hotel, and is only open for dinner, from 5 pm to 9 pm daily. You can do the 3-course prix fixe menu for $70 CAD per person between 5 and 6 pm, or dine a-la-carte later on and enjoy great views of the Niagara Falls Illumination! You’re looking at between $25 and $50 CAD for a main course, and you’ll need to book a table in advance.

Queen Victoria Place Restaurant

The restaurant and view from Queen Victoria Place Restaurant at Niagara Falls, NZ
Great views while you wait for your food

The Queen Victoria Place Restaurant is another lovely place to dine while overlooking the falls. They’ve got a great outdoor terrace where you can sit and enjoy spectacular views of the American and Horseshoe Falls, and soak up the sun on a warm day. 

The restaurant sources all of its ingredients from the Ontario province, and the chef was born and raised in the Niagara region, so this is about as local as it gets! You can come here for lunch or dinner, and you’re looking at about $25-$40 CAD for a main dish. In the evening, you can also do the 3-course set menu for $60 CAD per person to save money. 

Queen Victoria Place is open from mid-May until mid-October, from 11:30 am until 9 pm daily. It’s a fantastic place if you’re visiting during the summer months, and we like the fact that they’ve got an extensive local wine list, too.

Skylon Tower Revolving Dining Room

This revolving restaurant allows you to dine 236 meters (775 feet) above Niagara Falls while enjoying insane 360-degree views! The dining room has panoramic windows and completes one rotation every hour, allowing you to see Niagara Falls, Niagara Gorge, the Winelands, and the city of Buffalo on the American side of the falls. 

The restaurant is open all year round. You can have lunch here between 11:30 am and 3 pm, or come for dinner between 4:30 pm and 10 pm. The food is fairly expensive at between $50-$70 CAD for a main course, but if you eat here you also get free access to the Skylon Tower Observation Deck, which normally costs $22 CAD. 

The deck is open until 11 pm during the summer, so if you time your meal right you can watch the fireworks from here! However, you’ll definitely need to make a reservation for this. 

Related Read: Foodies won’t want to miss the best food tours in Toronto. And if you’re heading to New York after the falls, check out the best food tours in NYC.

15. Is visiting Niagara Falls worth it?

Bailey smiling in her red plastic cover to keep her from getting wet at niagara falls canada
Yes!

YES! We’ve been twice and loved both of our visits. We’re even planning on visiting again soon to see the place in winter. You really can’t miss the chance to visit while you’re in Ontario! 

One of the best ways to experience Canada is by hitting the road. Some of the best things to do and attractions are located in remote areas between destinations. For that reason, we highly recommend getting your own wheels!

  • Rent a car – To simply rent a vehicle, search on Discover Cars where they compare tons of different rental companies near you. This way you can easily compare prices, features, policies, and more!
  • Rent a campervan or motorhome Motorhome Republic is great for finding a motorhome or campervan to rent in Canada. With your own home on wheels, you can camp in beautiful places and save money on accommodation!

Thanks for reading!

Bailey and Daniel take a selfies as people loading onto a tourist boat at niagara falls canada
Thanks for reading!

Niagara Falls is one of those bucket list destinations that’s worth the hype. While you can experience it from both the US and Canada, we prefer the Canadian side (and not just because Bailey’s from here!). There’s so much to see and do on this side, whether you take a tour or visit on your own. Regardless of what you decide to do, we hope this guide has made planning super easy!

If you enjoyed reading this article, check out our other blogs about Canada. And if you’re hopping over the border after your Niagara Falls visit, we’ve covered US destinations too – especially on the East Coast! To get started, click on one of the links below.

12 Things to Know BEFORE Visiting Casa Loma, Toronto

10 BEST Sightseeing Tours in Toronto (+Our Review!)

22 BEST Places to Visit in BC, Canada – British Columbia Destinations