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Niagara Falls, Canada/USA
Canada | USA | Nature
|Where: USA-Canada border between lakes Ontario and Erie|
|Trip purpose: |
- Enjoy Natural Wonder
- One of the greatest natural wonders of North America
- Day trip from Toronto
- Several amusement attractions in town
- Can stop in Niagara-on the-Lake wineries for wine tasting
- Far from large US cities if you tour USA (easier logistics from Canadian side if you visit Toronto)
Why visit Niagara Falls
Niagara falls is one of the greatest waterfalls in the world and one of the must-see natural attractions in North America. Visiting Canada without seeing the falls would be an incomplete itinerary as the falls are close to Toronto. It is a natural wonder and demonstration of nature's might. More than 3000 tons of water move over the falls every second with a roar. The Horseshoe falls are almost 1 kilometre wide (790m) with a vertical drop of 57m. The size of the semi-circle and the amount of water that keeps falling are enormous. Imagine that most of water of the Great Lakes (Superior, Michigan, Huron, and Erie) drains into the lake Ontario through the falls. There are also few attractions in the Canadian town. It grew into a mini-Vegas with hotels, a casino and amusement attractions. There is also a town Niagara-on-the-Lake in a half-hour driving distance. The town is on the tip of Niagara peninsula which is the main wine-growing region in Canada. You may have heard and maybe tasted Canadian ice wine. There are also regular wines of French and German grape varietals. All wineries offer tastings and there are fine dining restaurants with wine pairing menus.
Where in the world?
Niagara Falls is a group of waterfalls on Niagara river that divides Canada and the United States between the province of Ontario and the New York state. The Niagara river connects lakes Erie and Ontario. There are Niagara Falls towns on both US and Canadian sides. The closest cities are Buffalo on the US side and St. Catharines on the Canadian side.
The closest large city is Toronto in Canada. It is approximately 1.5-2 hours from Niagara Falls by car. New York city is 7-8 hours away. Detroit is closer if you drive through Canada. It will take 4-5 hours if you cross Detroit-Windsor border and drive through Canada. The most convenient scenario for an international tourist would be to visit Toronto and include a day trip to Niagara Falls. This trip can be extended by a day-two visiting Niagara-on-the-Lake town with its wineries. Canadian approach also has a major advantage of better views of the falls. Views from the US side are partial and one would need to cross the border at the falls to see them in all their splendor (all images on this page are taken from the Canadian side). You may need a Canadian visa to cross the border which cannot be given on spot. Overall, things are easier if you are already in Canada.
120 volts, 60Hz, socket with two flat vertical slots.
English, although it is Canada, not many people speak French in the area.
Canadian Dollars (CAD) ~ $0.75-0.8 USD. As it is right on the border many places take USD.
Vaccination and infections
According to CDC no vaccination is required in addition to the routine vaccination established in most countries (subject to your country of origin and your personal vaccination). Hepatitis vaccine is recommended. There is NO risk of malaria in the country. Prevent yourself from insect bites to avoid insect transmitted infections. Some parts of Canada are endemic for Lyme and other tick born diseases. Please see updated information for health at CDC site or health authority in your country.
Visitors from most countries need either a visa or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). Check for your situation here.
When to go?
Canada is a northern country with cold winter. Although there is some charm in seeing the falls in February, with snow and frost around, do not expect the falls to freeze. Some edges can freeze with low temperatures but a complete stand-still happened only once in the recorded history, in 1848. The American Falls also froze in 1912 but the Horseshoe Falls continued to flow in that year. Best time to see the falls starts in the second half of May and lasts till mid October. Canadian fall is a special time of the year during late September to mid October when trees turn red and yellow. It is always chillier close to the falls because of water mist. You will get wet to a degree, so dress appropriately.
Where to stay?
If you drive from Toronto, it is possible to do a day trip. Leaving 2 hours for each way you can make it a very productive day. Just be aware, that weekends and especially Canadian holidays bring more people and traffic. If you are a tourist, try to pick a weekday. If you would like to stay in the area overnight, there are two options, either to stay in Niagara Falls town or drive to the nearby Niagara-on-the-Lake. Staying in Niagara Falls has an advantage of the views at night. The falls are illuminated at night. You can stay in a room or dine in a restaurant with view of the falls from above. There is entertainment at night as the town has a Las Vegas-like zone. There are several hotels in town. If you do not like this atmosphere, you can drive to Niagara-on-the-Lake. There are several hotels with the old loyalist Canada ambiance. B&Bs are available as well. Next day you can visit wineries in the area.
What to do?
There are activities around the falls and some activities in town and nearby areas. The best area to park on the Canadian side is a large parking lot west of the falls. A shuttle bus service runs along the river and has stops at all attractions.
Activities at the falls
There are many ways to see the falls. You can come to the very edge of the horseshoe fall at the Table Rock in Canada. There are also underground tunnels in Canada that lead you to tunnels behind the falls and to an observation deck at the river level. The attraction is called Journey Behind the Falls. On the deck you are at the level of water hitting the rocks and the river. You will get wet and the company hands disposable plastic overcoats which can be kept as a souvenir. A more adventurous way to see the falls is to take a boat ride. There a company that runs boats from the Canadian side and another one from the US side. You are guaranteed to get wet and you will get similar overcoats.
Activities in the town and around
There are a number of amusement rides and attractions like Wax and Guinness museum in the Niagara Falls town in Canada. Further on the shuttle bus route there is a Butterfly Conservatory. You may be interested in the indoor skydiving. There are also a water park and the Marineland, a water zoo. If you drive to Niagara-on-the-Lake, the main attraction there is wineries. Our favorites are the oldest wineries in the region, Inniskillin and Chateau de Charmes.
As always, we have no affiliation with any booking companies or resorts. We simply share our experience and opinions.