When I arrived in Canada, I wanted to see everything! But there was one thing I wanted to do first: visit Niagara Falls.
My paternal grandparents had told me it was an extraordinary place, so I was eager to discover it for myself. But quickly, I started hearing that Niagara Falls wasn’t as beautiful, and that Montmorency Falls near Quebec was much more interesting…
I had the opportunity to see both falls, so let me tell you, they are absolutely incomparable. While Montmorency is more wild, the power and grandeur of Niagara are unmatched.
In this article, I will present to you all the things to do at Niagara Falls to make the most of the place and give you lots of practical tips. We will see together:
- What are Niagara Falls?
- Where are they located?
- 8 activities to do at Niagara Falls
- Experiencing Niagara Falls at night
The questions I am often asked:
- How to get to Niagara Falls
- How much time to visit?
- Visiting Niagara Falls in winter: good or bad idea?
- What to do around the falls?
But I wanted to start with a point that seems important to me. Know that access to Niagara Falls is completely free.
There are numerous easily accessible observation points without spending anything. If you want to go further, you can do activities, which are paid, and I will talk about them right after.
Niagara Falls: What are they?
Niagara Falls consists of 3 falls called Horseshoe, Bridal Veil and American.
The Horseshoe Falls is the most imposing of all, nearly 800 meters wide and 53 meters high. It is named because of its shape (like a horseshoe, as you may have guessed). Part of the falls is in Canada and the other is in the United States. 90% of the water flow is drawn by this fall.
The Bridal Veil Falls is located on the American side. It is the smallest fall, with 17 meters wide.
The American Falls is also in the United States. It is about 300 meters wide and about thirty meters high. There are large stone blocks at its base, a consequence of a landslide that occurred in 1954.
The falls are truly massive in terms of size, but they are not very high, as they are only 52 meters high. For comparison, Montmorency Falls measures 83 meters.
I was amazed and impressed by the falls. The sound is striking, and you wonder where all this water comes from.
By the way, that’s the question I asked myself all day. So, I did some research and learned that the water from the falls comes from 4 of the 5 Great Lakes in the region. The water flow can reach 5 tons per second at the end of spring, which is quite amazing! However, in summer, this figure is halved.
Where is Niagara Falls Located?
Niagara Falls is located partly in the United States and Canada. It forms a natural border between the two countries!
You can admire them from both sides of the border, but naturally, the view is not the same. I admit preferring the view from Canada because you can see them face-on. In the United States, you see them from behind. The advantage of the United States is that there are more hiking trails near the falls than on the Canadian side.
Note that if you decide to explore Niagara Falls from the USA, you will need an ESTA to cross the border. If your stay is mainly organized in Canada, I recommend staying on this side of the border for simplicity.
Additionally, the majority of activities are in Canada.
8 Things to Do to Visit Niagara Falls
The surroundings of Niagara Falls have become a true amusement park, with many things to do based on your preferences.
Keep in mind that depending on when you visit, there might be a lot of people. So if possible, don’t hesitate to book your activity in advance! I will share the tips each time 🙂
You will see an asterisk following some links. This means they are affiliated. I receive a small commission if you purchase the activity using my link. It’s completely free for you, but it’s a great support for the blog, so thank you in advance!
Table Rock Center
I’ll start with Table Rock Center. It’s not really an activity since it’s the main information point for visitors. It is located at the Horseshoe Falls.
But I wanted to mention it because it is one of the best places to observe Niagara Falls. The view is absolutely magical as you are right above them! And access is completely free.
This building is a true historical site, but it also houses shops and a restaurant.
It is also the starting point for the “Journey behind the falls” activity and the premises for the 4D cinema, which I will talk about shortly.
Notes: You can find toilets, ATMs, and even a currency exchange there. It's the meeting point for passing travelers with questions about the location.
View Niagara Falls by Boat
The best activity in Niagara in my opinion.
After donning a magnificent red plastic poncho, embark on a cruise close to the action… And it’s AMAZING!!!
During this cruise, you will have the opportunity to get as close as possible to Niagara Falls.
Get ready to take a good shower (the poncho is especially effective for the body, but not so much for the head), but it’s really worth it.
There is a lot of wind, and you get bursts of water right in the face. It’s challenging to take great photos when the camera is not waterproof, but it still looks pretty good!
In any case, I was amazed (literally and figuratively). If I had to recommend only one thing to do at Niagara Falls, it would be this.
As a side note, you’ll notice that the colors of the ponchos are different depending on the boats: it depends on your departure location, Canada or the United States!
Notes: This activity is offered from early May to late November, lasting about 45 minutes. You can buy your tickets here and choose your time slot. Departures are every 15 to 30 minutes. The ticket costs $33.50 for adults, which is approximately €22, and $23.50 for children under 12, which is approximately €16.
“Journey behind the falls”: Going Behind the Falls
This activity called “Journey behind the falls” allows you to go behind the Horseshoe Falls. It’s the largest of the falls, so you can imagine it’s truly impressive!
You reach the back of the falls by passing through tunnels and openings in the rock. You can witness the power of the falling water and be impressed by the deafening noise. By choosing to do this activity, you also have access to an exhibition about Niagara Falls, providing more insights into the history of the falls.
This activity is often offered in a package with other attractions, which I will present shortly.
Practical information: This activity is also available from early May to late November. The ticket costs $25 (€17) for adults and $16.50 (€11) for children under 12. You can buy your tickets here.
Niagara Falls Tunnel
This activity is quite new, as it opened its doors in the summer of 2022. By taking a tunnel from an old power plant, you can reach a unique viewpoint on the falls.
To reach it, you need to take a glass elevator that descends 54 meters. Once at the bottom, you’ll have to traverse the 670-meter tunnel to reach the observation platform located on the banks of the Niagara River.
Throughout the tunnel, explanatory panels are scattered, providing additional insights into the history of this former power plant.
Notes: The visit lasts about 2 hours. Tickets cost $29 (€19) for adults and $19 (€13) for children. You can buy your tickets online here.
Go to the Top of the Skylon Tower
Right next to Niagara Falls, a tall tower offers a panoramic view of the landscape. At the top of the Skylon Tower, you will probably have the best view of the falls. This tower has become a true emblem for the city!
Be cautious, though, as being at a height can involve a lot of wind! But personally, I found that it added a little extra to the visit.
To go to the top of the tower, take an elevator that will take you over 230 meters high. The view is already incredible from the elevator.
If the weather is clear, you may even see the buildings of Toronto in the distance.
To enjoy the view even more, consider having a meal at the restaurant at the top of the tower, overlooking the falls. Moreover, it’s a rotating restaurant, so you’re sure to have a magnificent view of the falls at some point during the meal!
Notes: The tower is open all year round. Tickets cost $19 (€13) for adults and $9.50 (€6.50) for children. You can get them here*.
Ziplining Above the Falls
If you enjoy thrills, taking a zipline tour over the Niagara River won’t scare you!
There are indeed 4 ziplines, installed over 60 meters high. They don’t really go over Niagara Falls, but they provide a superb view. The crossing is quite fast but still covers nearly 700 meters, which is quite impressive.
Notes: The zipline is also open from May to November. The ticket costs $70 per person, and the activity is open to those over 7 years old. You can buy your tickets here.
4D Experience “Niagara’s Fury”
This 4D cinema experience allows you to immerse yourself in the heart of Niagara Falls.
Dressed in your poncho, you will discover the history of the falls in real conditions. The room temperature changes, water is sprayed on you, the platform you are on moves… In short, a true immersive experience!
Notes: The ticket costs $17.50 (€12) for adults and $11.50 (€8) for children and can be purchased here.
If you want the most beautiful view of the falls, why not gain some altitude? If you enjoy thrills, a helicopter tour is the best idea.
Departure is from the Niagara-on-the-Lake heliport. During the tour, you are equipped with a headset that allows you to have live commentary. Be aware that the tour is very fast, lasting about ten minutes, so make sure to enjoy it.
Notes: Departure is from the Niagara-on-the-Lake heliport. During the tour, you are equipped with a headset that allows you to have live commentary. Be aware that the tour is very fast, lasting about ten minutes, so make sure to enjoy it. The ticket costs €124, and the helicopter can accommodate 7 people at a time. You can book your tickets here*.
Combine Multiple Activities at Niagara Falls at the Best Price
Engaging in several activities can quickly add up, which is why packages have been created by the Niagara Falls Park.
On the Canadian side, the Adventure Pass allows you to access the following activities for $49 (which represents a 60% discount) per person:
- Journey Behind the Falls
- Niagara Falls Incline Railway
- Butterfly Conservatory: One of North America’s largest butterfly conservatories
- Floral Showhouse: A collection of orchids and other tropical plants
- Niagara’s Fury 4D Experience
- Wego Bus Pass valid for 48 hours: It’s a shuttle service dedicated to visitors that connects the main points of interest and hotels in the city.
Discovering Niagara Falls at Night
As night falls, Niagara Falls lights up and offers a completely different but equally magical spectacle.
It’s worth noting that during the summer, every Friday, Saturday, and public holiday, a fireworks display is set off above the falls. These fireworks can be observed from the city and the surroundings of the falls, but you get an even better view from the Skylon Tower.
Some Information to Best Prepare for Your Visit to Niagara Falls
I have compiled the questions I have been asked most frequently to help you plan your visit to the falls.
How to Get to Niagara Falls?
Niagara Falls is quite accessible. During my first visit, I went with a tour operator, so I didn’t have to choose much. But here are some tips depending on your means of transportation.
There are numerous parking lots at the entrance to the area, so it’s quite easy to park your vehicle. However, they are paid, averaging around $35 (€24) per day.
There are also several charging stations for electric vehicles (about twenty in total).
For your information, Niagara Falls is 7 hours from Montreal (check my article about the road-trip from Montreal to Niagara Falls) and 1.5 hours from Toronto.
The easiest way is to take a bus from Toronto to the falls. The price varies, but it’s around $15 per person (€6.5) on average.
It’s also possible to reach the city of Niagara by train with the company Viarails. It costs about $25 per person.
An international airport is located 6km from downtown Niagara Falls. However, you will hardly find flights from Paris that land here!
How Long Does it Take to Visit Niagara Falls?
It’s difficult to answer this question because it really depends on the activities you want to do.
If you only want to observe the falls without doing any activities, or just the cruise, for example, half a day may be enough.
But if you have the opportunity, I recommend spending a whole day on-site and varying the activities to learn more and have different viewpoints.
If you enjoy amusement parks, a weekend is highly recommended. You can spend one day enjoying the falls and their wild side and another day in the city area, where there are many rides and other attractions.
Visiting Niagara Falls in Winter: Good or Bad Idea?
Niagara Falls in winter offers a completely different spectacle. Part of the falls is frozen. However, most activities are closed. So, it’s up to you to decide if it’s worth it for you.
The advantage is that there are much fewer people, so if you don’t like crowds, it might be a season to consider.
However, remember that it’s always colder near the water, as it’s quite windy. So, dress warmly if you decide to go in winter.
Also, note that the best time to visit Niagara Falls is probably late spring. It’s the time when the volume of water falling is the highest.
What to Do Near Niagara Falls?
Niagara Falls is a must-visit, but there are other things to do in the region.
I’ve already mentioned it, but the city of Niagara Falls offers many activities. It’s often presented as a small amusement park, and it’s indeed a bit like that. It doesn’t appeal to everyone, but it’s an aspect of the area.
If you’re looking for a more typical village to explore, I highly recommend spending a few hours in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Plus, the village is only 30 minutes away from the falls!
The Niagara region is renowned for its vineyards. There are numerous vineyards and wine producers in the area.
France is known for the quality of its nectar, but Canada is starting to stand out! And it’s always interesting to learn more about the ways of making wine abroad.
My discovery of Niagara Falls was magical, and I hope it will be for you too. Certainly, the city of Niagara is a true amusement park, with a Ferris wheel, ghost trains, and all that comes with it, but it didn’t shock me that much.
I had come really to see the falls, and I was not disappointed.