Perhaps my favourite place I have visited so far, Niagara falls is the epitome of nature meets fun. Straddling the US/Canadian border, both sides offer a variety of attractions in and around the falls, ideal for families, couples and backpackers. It may be hard to decide which side to stay on but both sides offer falls attractions with the Canadian side providing a range of nightlife and family-friendly activities. Plus, from either side, you can get stunning views of the falls for FREE!
Both the US and Canadian sides offer a variety of falls related activities; such as boats into the falls or walks in, around and behind the falls. You may also wish to travel upriver to check out the Whirlpool Jet Boats or Whirlpool aero car. Both sides offer restaurants and bars, with the Canadian side offering a wide variety of nightlife opportunities and children activities; like a hilariously BAD wax museum!
Hostel/Budget rates – Double private rooms starting at $20 – $60, similar price for both sides of falls.
Midrange Hotel rates – Very nice rooms available from $60 – $150, Canadian side offering slightly better rooms for the value.
Luxury Hotel rates – 5 star hotels starting at $150 – $200, very few high end hotels in Niagara falls but plenty of excellent chain and luxury hotels.
Transport – Walking is the best way to get around Niagara falls, whilst taxi’s are rather inexpensive because of the close distance between attractions, restaurants and hotels.
Average cost of food – Both sides of Niagara falls is home to many chain restaurants with a full range of prices; from Wendy’s to Hooters, Denny’s to TGI Fridays, so you will no doubt find food to fit your price range. We typically would spend $80 -$100 a day when having breakfast and lunch from fast food chains or sandwich shops, followed by a 2-3 meal course at a sit down restaurant with a few wines and beers.
Where to stay
Below is recommended hotels covering both the US and Canadian side.
Hostel/Budget – Days Inn – Niagara falls Near The Falls, is a favourite budget hotel based on the Canadian side, conveniently placed among a wide variety of restaurants and bars and just a ten minute walk to the falls. Double private rooms start at $39 but ask for a non-smoking room if you are not a smoker. Across the border, Days Inn Niagara at the Falls also provides a clean and friendly atmosphere with a short walk to the falls. Both hotels offer wifi and a pool as well as a Denny’s restaurant for cheap eats.
Midrange – With many hotels on both sides at midrange prices, it is difficult to decide which hotel to stay at. For the US side, I suggest Comfort Inn: The Pointe, Niagara Falls with rooms starting at $80 and Doubletree Fallsview Resort and Spa by Hilton for the Canadian side, with rooms with fall views starting at $83.
Top End – The Red Coach Inn is an historic inn on the US side, just 5 minutes walk from the American Falls with suites available for those who wish for a fireplace and fully equipped kitchen. Rooms start at $149 and great deals can be found throughout the year. The Hilton hotel and Suites Niagara Falls/Fallsview is a great hotel with 3 towers overlooking the falls and also include a gym, indoor pool and spacious suites to relax in. Fall view rooms start at $121 with rooms with whirlpool rooms available at $128.
How to get there
Fly – You can fly from Toronto (Pearson International) or Buffalo, New York airport with taxis, shuttle buses and train services available from both airports, making the trip to the falls quick and easy. Flights from NYC take approx. 45 minutes and starting prices begin around $60.
Bus – Greyhound offers bus services to Niagara Falls but these can be long; taking 9-11 hours depending on traffic. This route costs approx. $55 each way to the Trailways bus terminal (NY) being located 6 miles from Rainbow Bridge.
Train – The Niagara Falls NY Amtrak Train Station is approx. 4.5km from rainbow bridge, costing around $10 cab fare whilst the Niagara falls station on the Canadian side has stopped trains through to Toronto apart from occasional weekend trips. Trains from New York City takes nine hours and cost $78 each way.
Drive – Niagara Falls is apron 6.5 hours drive from New York City with the quickest route taking the interstate 80 west to 81 North to 90 west then 190 North to the Robert Moses Parkway.
Walking is the most popular way of getting around Niagara falls, with most sights within a short walk from one another. Driving around the center of Niagara falls can be difficult, with very little parking available. There is the Rapidsview parking lot about 3km south of the falls for those who wish to park up and explore. Bicycle rentals are available around the falls and there are some great bike tours to be had.
The WEGO is an incline railway with red, green and blue lines covering the major sights and hotels. The Niagara Transit has a good network of buses to get you to and from attractions further afield as well as Buffalo airport. For the Whirlpool aero car and Whirlpool Jet boats you may wish to drive or get a taxi to these places further up river.