Niagara Falls (Ontario)

See Niagara Falls (New York) for information about the American side of the falls
The Horseshoe Falls. That's the United States on the left, and Canada on the right and in the background, in case you can't see the difference.

Niagara Falls, Ontario, is the self-proclaimed "Honeymoon Capital of the World". For over a century the grandeur of the waterfalls of the Niagara River have attracted tourists to this destination.

Understand

Niagara Falls was incorporated on June 12, 1903. Its population was 83,184 as of 2008.

Mainly a tourist destination, the main attraction has always been Niagara Falls, which brings hundreds of thousands of tourists to the city. Tourism plays a major part in the economy of the region. Increasingly, visitors seeking more natural settings are finding the Niagara River to a great place to hike and visit downstream from the Falls where the majority of visitors go.

Visitor Welcome Centres open daily at 9AM, June through August. They offer advice and maps of the area, and sell People Mover bus tickets and the Great Gorge Adventure Pass. They are located at:

Climate

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°C) -1 -1 5 12 19 24 27 26 21 15 8 2
Nightly lows (°C) -8 -8 -3 2 9 14 17 17 13 6 1 -5
Precipitation (mm) 70 67 76 76 77 88 75 82 95 84 91 91

See the Niagara Falls 7-day forecast at Environment Canada

Spring: Temperatures range from 5° to 19° degrees Celsius (41° - 66° degrees Fahrenheit). Nightly temperatures range from -3° to 8° degrees Celsius (26º to 46° degrees Fahrenheit). As temperature changes are sudden outdoor camping before mid-May is not advisable.

Summer: In June, July & August the weather is generally bright and sunny with sporadic rainfall. Storms are caused Lake Erie and Lake Ontario and are seldom severe.

Fall: In the fall, it is unlikely to snow prior to the end of October. First killing frost and/or snowfall be expected by late October or early November. Mixed weather patterns prevail. Rain and cloudy skies are common.

Winter: The days are generally cold and clear. Snow is moderate. Snow storms are infrequent. Lake effect snowfalls are mainly localized to areas near Buffalo and southward. Lake Erie, during extended cold weather will freeze over completely. Some of the activities associated with the falls (e.g. Maid of the Mist and Marineland) do not run during winter due to the frozen conditions, but most attractions now remain open year-round, dealing with mist related ice near Niagara Falls.

Get in

By plane

The closest airports to the Falls are across the border in the U.S. Buffalo-Niagara International Airport (IATA: BUF) in Buffalo, New York is about a 20-30 minute drive from the Falls and is served by most major American carriers. Niagara Falls International Airport (IATA: IAG) is the closest airport to the Falls, but only a few scheduled flights serve it.

On the Canadian side, Hamilton International Airport (IATA: YHM) in Hamilton is about 70 km (43 mi) from Niagara Falls, and is served by WestJet. Toronto Pearson International Airport (IATA: YYZ) in Mississauga is about a 1 1/2 hour drive from the Falls and is served by most major domestic and international carriers.

Buffalo Airport Shuttle, +1 716 685-2550, offers service from the Buffalo-Niagara airport to the Canadian side of the Falls. A family of 4 can expect to pay less than $25 per person and the drivers often have great tips on where to go and what to avoid.

By car

Niagara Falls is 1 1/2 to 2 hours from Toronto (depending on traffic) and 30 minutes from Buffalo.

By bus

Coach Canada, +1-800-461-7661, and Greyhound, +1-800-661-8747, offer regular bus service to Niagara Falls from other Ontario cities.

GO Transit, +1 416 869-3200, operates bus service to the Burlington train station, connecting to trains to Toronto.

Megabus, offers discount bus service to Niagara Falls from Toronto. The stop is near the VIA Rail station.

The Niagara Falls bus depot is located at 4555 Erie Avenue, +1 905 357-2133.

Taxi service to the Falls and main tourist area from the bus depot will run $10-15, If you fancy a walk the route is simple and easy, although nearly 5 km (3 mi), and has the advantage of seeing the Falls come slowly into view.

By train

VIA Rail Canada's Toronto-Niagara Falls service offers one departure per day in each direction using Amtrak equipment. The train leaves Toronto in the morning. The train from Niagara Falls leaves in the late afternoon. The trip is about 2 hours direct to Niagara Falls from Union Station in Toronto. The train continues on to New York City, via Buffalo. On the way back, it leaves New York in the morning and arrives in Niagara Falls in late afternoon.

Toronto-based commuter train operator GO Transit also operates between Toronto and Niagara Falls. It uses the same stations in both cities as the VIA trains, although some intermediate stops use GO-only stations. This service operates weekends during July and August plus some long weekends. For 2014, the service operates Victoria Day (May 16-19), Summer (June 27 through September 1), and Canadian Thanksgiving (October 10-13).

The Niagara Falls train station, +1-888-842-7245 (toll-free), is located at 4267 Bridge Street, about 4 km (2.5 mi) from the Falls and right across from the bus depot. Taxi service to the main tourist area at the Falls will run $10-15.

Organized Tours

Get around

The Niagara River whirlpool basin

On foot

Many of the main attractions are within walking distance depending on where you walk from, and the rest are easily accessible by transit. Note that some roads are steep so it may be preferable to drop elderly family members off near the falls before parking.

During the busiest tourist season (May - October), the Niagara Parkway and Queen Victoria Park along the Canadian side of the Falls, can become very crowded and finding a "picture perfect" view of the Falls is difficult. Walking to the attractions can be slow during peak tourist season with thousands of people bustling by.

If you want to park your car and walk around the city, consider parking at the Niagara Casino (near the Hilton Hotel). It is a flat $5 every time you leave the garage; there is no limit on how long you can leave your car inside the garage.

By bus

WEGO Niagara Falls, bus system runs throughout the Niagara Parkway, Falls Avenue, Fallsview Boulevard and other tourist areas year round. There are stops at the participating points of interest including attractions, hotels, and restaurants. Prices vary although day passes are available. There is a live map of WEGO stops and buses online . WEGO passes can be purchased from Niagara Parks Info Centres, WEGO Drivers, and participating attractions and hotels. WEGO buses, especially on the Green line (which takes you to all of the attractions along the Niagara parkway) can easily fill up during peak hours and be difficult to find space on. If possible, try to catch the bus at its terminal end near the Journey Behind the Falls attraction in order to secure yourself a seat, especially if travelling to attractions such as the white water walk or butterfly conservatory.

Niagara Transit, is operated by the Niagara Transit Commission (City of Niagara Falls) and has routes covering sections of Niagara Falls not covered by the WEGO system. Tickets are available at the bus terminal or from the shuttle bus driver. Day passes are $10 for adults.

Niagara Regional Transit, is operated by the Niagara Regional Government to transport travellers between the cities of Niagara Falls, St. Catharines and Welland. Tickets are available at the bus terminal or from the shuttle bus driver. Price is $6 with transfers available to local transit for an additional fee and day passes are not available.

There are also several tour services that offer the option to buy a shuttle pass, which allows you to board any of the tour buses at any stop point throughout the day. Many of these operators have ceased operating their shuttles after the WEGO system débuted in 2012.

See

Most visitors' first view of the Falls, from the Canadian side of the river, is at Queen Victoria Park along the Niagara Falls Parkway. This grand, royal garden provides the perfect vantage point for experiencing both the nightly illumination of the Falls and the summer fireworks displays. The Falls are illuminated, , every evening until approximately midnight (see website for exact times) and there are Fireworks over the Falls, Friday and Sunday nights in the summer months.

Niagara Parks offers a Great Gorge Adventure Pass, that includes access to the Hornblower Niagara Cruises, Journey Behind the Falls, White Water Walk, and the Butterfly Conservatory, a one-day People Mover pass and discounts for other attractions. Pass components do not have to be used on the same day. In general, it takes about 6 hours to complete the main attractions on the pass. One way to use the pass is to do the Hornblower Niagara Cruises and Journey Behind the Falls on one day, and use the one-day People Mover pass to do the White Water Walk, Butterfly Conservatory/Botanical Gardens, and Aero Car (all of which are near each other, but farther from the Falls) on the second day.

Skylon Tower

Do

Approaching the Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side of the Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls is awesome! The list is never ending: world class casinos, rides, wax museums, haunted houses, a huge midway with more skeeball and games than you can shake a stick at, restaurants, clubs, bars, and so on. Go to Niagara Falls, get a hotel near the falls and then walk down towards Clifton Hill. The air is buzzing and there are people from all over the world there.

Also, don't forget the wine tours. Niagara Falls has recently boomed with vineyards due to the increasing popularity of ice wines. If you've never tasted these, they alone are worth the time. They are thick and sweet much like the muscats and ports, but without the afterbite. They are processed in freezing temperatures in very early morning hours and only with "approved" grapes.

Buy

NOTE: Hotels and restaurants have been adding unexplained and poorly-documented fees, some as high as 10%, to fund destination marketing programs. Acronyms on bills include DMF, DMP, DMF, DMDF, PF and TIF. The charges, which vary widely, are not mandatory and lawfully cannot be identified as a tax.. Consumers who believe they're being misled may call the Ontario government's consumer services ministry at +1-800-889-9768.

In 2010, with the Canadian dollar strong and US money accepted at par throughout Niagara Falls, it sometimes made sense to simply use US cash to avoid bank conversion fees. As of 2016, Canadian dollars can be had for about 75 cents; an individual merchant offering to accept your US dollar for C$1.20 or so is doing you no favours. A visit to your bank or credit union may be the best option.

There are a great many souvenir shops in Niagara Falls, especially in the Clifton Hill area and at the Maid of the Mist Marketplace at the foot of Clifton Hill. You'll find everything from the usual t-shirts and calendars to vials of Niagara Falls water.

Eat

As a major tourist destination, many restaurant chains are represented in Niagara Falls.

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Drink

The legal drinking age in Ontario is 19.

Sleep

Prices posted are for high season (May–October).

Numerous hotels offer a room with a view of the Falls; check with the hotel when booking and specify that you want a full fallsview room when you book, or you may be given a room with only a partial view. If getting the 'perfect' room is important to you, book through the hotel directly as opposed to on-line or via their world-wide reservations number.

Budget

Mid-range

  • Fallsview, 6519 Stanley Ave, toll-free: +1-800-847-9043. 1 block away from the Fallsview Casino, and the Falls itself.
  • Clifton Hill, 5657 Victoria Ave, toll-free: +1-800-847-9043. In the heart of Niagara's Clifton Hill tourist district. The Days Inn features an indoor pool, Applebee's Grill & Bar, and Remington's of Niagara Steak & Seafood Restaurant on site.
  • Centre Street, 5046 Centre St,  +1 905 357-2550. Located a block and a half north of Clifton Hill. Free Wi-fi. Complimentary breakfast is not too good but inexpensive rates. Swimming pool and hot tub on premises. Very clean hotel, staff is also incredibly helpful and friendly.

Splurge

Go next

Routes through Niagara Falls

Toronto St. Catharines  W  E  Niagara Falls (New York) Buffalo
Ends at Niagara-on-the-Lake  W  E  → becomes Lewiston Niagara Falls (New York)
Ends at  W  E  Niagara Falls (New York)
Hamilton Niagara-on-the-Lake  W  E  Fort Erie Buffalo


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, April 02, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.