Are you planning a trip to Niagara Falls or thinking about scheduling a visit? This North American wonder situated on the border of New York State in the US and Ontario in Canada is the perfect outdoor weekend getaway. Whether you road trip to Niagara Falls or visit on a day trip, there’s so much to do here! Here are my best Niagara Falls tips to help you plan your Niagara Falls getaway.
This list of things to know before you visit Niagara Falls are brought to you in collaboration with Hotels.com.
Can’t read now? Pin for later!
Things to Know Before Visiting Niagara Falls
Here are my best tips for planning a visit to Niagara Falls!
Things to Know about the Niagara Falls Waterfalls
Niagara Falls is three separate waterfalls: Horseshoe Falls (Canadian Falls), American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls. While the Horseshoe Falls is the most impressive and famous, it’s the only one of the three on the Canadian.
You can see all three Niagara waterfalls from either side of the border, so whether you choose to visit Niagara Falls, New York, or Niagara Falls, Ontario, you won’t miss out on these gorgeous waterfalls!
Know Which Side of the Border You are Planning on Staying
While many people can cross between New York to Ontario (or vice versa), not everyone can. Further, there are times when the border might be closed. This means it’s important to know which side of the border you want to stay on and choose accommodations and tours that are on this side of the falls.
During normal times, many people will plan to visit both sides of the falls on a trip, but you still want to think through if you will stay in the US or Canada.
Which side is better? They are both great! New York has a state park right at the falls, so it’s better for nature lovers and people who want to hike. If you want to experience the kitschier version of Niagara Falls, you can still cross over and visit the Canada side as long as the border is open and you have the proper documentation.
Note: For most tourists, the border between the two countries is currently closed for public health reasons. However, Niagara Falls is still worth a visit even if you can’t cross the border!
Splurge for a Hotel Room with a View
If you can afford it, spring for a room with a view! Niagara Falls is stunning from above, and you won’t regret waking up to a scene like this every day!
You Might Need a Passport and a Visa to Visit Niagara Falls
If you do want to spend time on both sides, you will need the correct documentation to cross over. You should check your government for entry rules. If you are an American wanting to visit the Canada side, you can start with my guide to planning a trip to Canada and make sure to check with the State Department’s guidelines for traveling to Canada for current Canada travel advisories and rules about getting an eTa for entry.
Even if you are staying in New York and want to cross the border for a day trip, you will still need to ensure the border is open, bring your passport, and check to see if you need to get an eTa ahead of time.
For Canadians who want to cross over into New York, you need to check the Canadian government’s USA travel page for rules and entry requirements.
If you are planning on visiting Niagara Falls and you are a citizen of a country other than the US or Canada, check with your government. Just keep in mind that if you want to visit both countries, you will need to check the required documentation for both separately. The US and Canada do not form a continuous travel block and have different entry requirements.
Plan Your Cell Phone and Data Needs in Advance
On my last trip to Canada, I tried to purchase a prepaid sim card and found out that having prepaid data for four days was going to cost me over $100! Whether you live in the US, Canada, or abroad, make sure to preplan your data so that you don’t end up without coverage for part of your trip. You also want to avoid roaming fees, which can be quite expensive.
Start by checking with your home provider to find out how much international data would be. It’s possible that if you are an American staying on the New York side and only want to see Canada during one day, that it might not be worth getting data for such a short amount of time. You can always seek out wifi when necessary.
Plan Your Niagara Falls Activities Ahead of Time
Something I didn’t realize beforehand was just how long the lines are for some of the most popular attractions. You don’t want to leave it to the last minute to book or you could find yourself having to miss out on some of the things you want to do the most!
The 3 Best Niagara Falls Tours that Leave from New York
Because of the different tours available on each side of the border, you need to pay attention to where your tour leaves from and pick the one closest to you. Here are the most popular activities in Niagara Falls that leave from the American side. You can also use this list of Niagara Falls New York tours to see if there’s something more unique you’d like to do.
The Maid of the Mist Boat Tour: If you are staying in New York, this is the boat ride you want to book. The Maid of the Mist is blue and can be seen from above the falls. The boat gets up close and personal, so dress to get wet! The quintessential Niagara Falls Experience!
If you want a little more drama on the water, you can a Lewiston Jet-Boat Tour that gets you even closer to the water by speeding you through the Class 5 rapids of the Niagara River. Adrenaline lovers, take note!
The best part of staying on the New York side is experiencing Niagara Falls State Park. You can see the best of the park on a guided Walking Tour of Niagara Falls State Park.
The 3 Best Niagara Falls Tours that Leave from Ontario
The Canada side offers different tours. Here are the most popular. You can also use this list of Canada Niagara Falls tours to see if there’s something more unique you’d like to do.
The Voyage to the Falls is the Canadian side’s answer to the Maid of the Mist. This is the most popular tour to do on the Canadian side and a can’t-miss.
Another important tour you won’t want to miss on the Canada side is the Journey Behind the Falls where you can get behind them and appreciate the falls from a whole new perspective.
If you’re interested in experiencing the Niagara River’s rapids, you can do so on the Niagara River Jet-Boat Tour.
Other Things to Do in Niagara Falls
The greater Niagara region is a great place to explore if you have time! You can learn about the history of the local Underground Railroad, try Ice Wine, visit Amish country, go shopping for Niagara Falls souvenirs, and more! There’s enough here to spend at least a long weekend away, though you could stay even longer!
What to Do in Niagara Falls at Night
Besides enjoying a nice dinner, the falls are a great attraction for visitors who want something beautiful (and even romantic) to do at night. They are lit up in neon colors, making them visible after dark. You can even catch fireworks displays above the falls during certain summer nights!
If you like going on tours at night (like I do!), you should check out this day trip which includes the Maid on the Mist as well as other Niagara Falls highlights and ends with enjoying the fireworks display.
5 Things to Pack for Your Trip to Niagara Falls
The Lonely Planet New York or Lonely Planet Canada guidebook (depending on your plans). It can be kind of a pain to find the major guidebooks once you land, or you’ll find them overpriced. I always like to pick mine up ahead of time.
Backup Charging Bank for your cell phone since you’ll be using it as a camera, GPS, and general travel genie.
A Waterproof Passport Holder so that if something happens while you are on a tour or near the falls, your passport doesn’t get wet. I’ve seen people denied boarding on flights due to wet passports, and you can technically not be allowed to go over the border.
A Great Day Bag so you can carry what you need with you (like your camera, snacks, water, sunscreen, cash, etc). My current favorite is the Pacsafe Citysafe, which is especially great for Niagara Falls because it has many anti-theft features designed to deter pickpockets. It also transitions to a night bag more easily and won’t embarrass you if you go to dinner directly after sightseeing all day.
More Niagara Falls Travel Resources
If you are still in the process of planning your trip, check out my Niagara Falls itinerary. Once you’re there, you can use these great Niagara Falls quotes and Niagara Falls puns for photo captions and statuses, plus check out these ideas for Niagara Falls souvenirs.
Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!
Before you leave for Niagara Falls make sure you have a valid Travel Insurance Policy because accidents happen on the road. I pay for World Nomads, and I happily recommend them. It’s especially important to get travel insurance if you’ll be hanging out in popular tourist spots like Niagara Falls.
I have been a paying customer of World Nomads for travel insurance for four years, and I happily recommend them. If you get sick, injured, or have your stuff stolen, you’ll be happy to have the ability to pay for your medical bills or replace what’s stolen or broken.