The Weekend Trip Guide: Toronto to Niagara Falls
It’s no surprise that Niagara Falls is such a popular weekend getaway, especially for those living in or near Toronto. After all, how many world-renowned natural wonders are located so close to a big city? Whether you’re a lifelong Torontonian, a traveller looking to explore Canada, or something in between, the two-day trip from Toronto to Niagara Falls is on almost everyone’s list. Here’s how to make the most of your weekend escape to ‘the Falls.’
Getting to Niagara Falls from Toronto
Seasonal GO Train route from Union Station to Niagara Falls
This is the most popular transit option for weekend travellers in the summer. For $35 per person or $65 for a group, GO travellers get:
- A roundtrip ticket to and from Niagara Falls
- Two-day access to the Niagara Falls transit system, WEGO.
This special service is available from late June through Labour Day Weekend. Click here for more information.
Taking the bus to Niagara Falls from Toronto
Greyhound and Megabus both services between Toronto and various places in the Niagara Region, including Niagara Falls bus station, with one-way tickets typically ranging from $15 to $25 CAD.
From there, visitors can take a short ride on the WEGO bus to the tourist district of Niagara Falls, Clifton Hill. On foot, the walk to Clifton Hill from the bus station is about 30 minutes.
Driving from Toronto to Niagara Falls
The drive to Niagara Falls from Toronto typically takes between 1.5 and 2 hours, depending on traffic. The most direct route to Niagara Falls from Toronto is via Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW). Though, adventurous road trippers may choose to get off the highway earlier to enjoy the Niagara backroads. Once you see signs for “The Falls/Niagara Falls U.S.A,” you have arrived.
Parking in Niagara Falls, Ontario
If you choose to drive to Niagara Falls for the weekend and wish to stay close to the tourist district, expect to pay for parking. Most hotels charge an additional $20-$35 for overnight parking. Those visiting for a single day can park in Niagara Parks lots for $26.95 + HST. For this reason, most Toronto visitors opt to take transit for their weekend trip to Niagara Falls. However, if you plan to do some hiking or visit wineries elsewhere in the region, it could be worth having a vehicle on hand.
Top 5 Things to Do on a Weekend Visit to Niagara Falls
From a bird sanctuary to casinos to ziplines, Niagara Falls has something for everyone. For the best weekend itinerary, mix these must-see attractions with some of your personal picks:
- Ride the Niagara Skywheel. This ferris wheel provides a remarkable 175-foot vantage point over Clifton Hill and the Niagara Falls.
- Niagara Falls boat cruise. The hallmark attraction of Niagara Falls, Ontario, the Hornblower boat cruise takes you face to face with the famous Horseshoe Falls.
- Journey behind the Falls. Experience another up close and personal view of Niagara Falls with Niagara Parks’ “Journey Behind the Falls.” Combination tickets that include this attraction + the famous boat cruise can be purchased here.
- Dinner with a view. Enjoying any meal – dinner, lunch, brunch, or even a late-night snack – while looking over the Niagara Falls is a stunning experience. There are plenty of foodie destinations to choose from in the area, so make sure to book at least one meal with a view.
- The famous fireworks show. Every night, Niagara Falls hosts a dynamic fireworks show. Find a spot to watch on land, or better yet, watch the action from a Falls Fireworks Cruise.
What to Pack for a Weekend Trip to Niagara Falls
If you choose to take a transit option like the GO Train or a Megabus to Niagara Falls from Toronto, you’ll have to limit your luggage. Luckily, a trip to Niagara Falls requires very little gear. Here are a few “must-haves” when packing your weekend bag:
- Clothing: Weather in Niagara Falls is remarkably similar to that in Toronto, although you may happen upon more rain and slightly warmer temperatures. In the summer, pack light clothing to wear during the day, a sweater for the evening, and an umbrella or rain jacket to prepare for the occasional drizzle. If you visit during a colder time of year, prepare for fluctuating temperatures by packing additional layers.
- Food: Niagara Falls offers plenty of food options, ranging from budget-friendly options like Tim Hortons and the Riverside Patio to fine dining. If you do choose to bring your own food along, be sure to pack it in a waterproof container or, better yet, leave it in your hotel room.
- Electronics: Your cellphone is a must for capturing photos of your experience. Be sure to protect your phone with a waterproof case and have a safe place to stow other electronics. While you are unlikely to get drenched, be prepared to face some mist when you get up close to the Falls.
- Sun protection: Save yourself from buying sunscreen at a pricey tourist shop by bringing some along for the trip. Hats, sunglasses, and other protective measures are also a good idea!
- Passport and identification: While it is definitely possible to have a great weekend getaway without visiting the American side of Niagara Falls, crossing the border on foot via the Rainbow Bridge is a pretty unique experience. This border crossing may be untraditional, but customs rules still apply – make sure to have your passport on hand and prepare to answer any questions from border security. Also, bars and casinos on both sides of the border often ask for two forms of identification before permitting entry, so be sure to bring at least multiple government-issued ID cards with your date of birth listed such as a driver’s license, passport, and health card.
Things to do near Niagara Falls on a two-day trip
Day one of your itinerary will almost certainly be spent in the Clifton Hill/Niagara Falls area, but what about day two? Many people will choose to venture a bit further out from the central tourist area to round out their weekend visit. Here are some of the top choices to round off a weekend trip in Niagara:
- Take a Niagara wine tour. Niagara has two distinct wine regions: Twenty Valley, which boasts over 50 vineyards, and the quaint Niagara-on-the-Lake. Companies like Niagara Vintage Wine Tours offer a variety of full and half-day tours to local wineries, including pick up and drop off from most Niagara Falls hotels. If you have your own vehicle, you can also name a designated driver and head to whichever wineries you fancy!
- Visit a Heritage site. WeGo’s Niagara-on-the-Lake shuttle provides transit to various heritage sites including the Laura Secord Homestead, MacKenzie Printery, McFarland House, and Fort George. Click here for more information about this fascinating, but often lesser-known route.
- Head to the beach. Where there is water, beaches can’t be too far away! Port Dalhousie, Lowbanks, Crystal Beach…there are plenty of spots to catch some rays and take a dip in the lake. Here is a list of some of the most popular locations for fun in the sun.
If you prefer to stay closer to Clifton Hill on day two of your trip, consider taking in a show, trying your luck at the casino, or just enjoying one of the many scenic walks available near the Niagara River.
Top Tips for Planning Your Weekend Trip from Toronto to Niagara Falls
Finally, here are some of the top overall tips we have to share about planning your weekend to Niagara Falls from Toronto:
- Buy package deals to save. For the best savings available, we recommend combining the Niagara Parks Adventure Pass with the Niagara Parks Travel Package.
- Arrive early to popular attractions. Lineups at Hornblower Niagara Cruises and Journey Behind the Falls can grow as the day goes on. Consider taking an earlier bus, train, or drive to beat the weekend crowds. Getting tickets online in advance is also a great idea!
- Arrive well-rested. Niagara Falls promises fun-filled days and excellent nightlife, so come into town ready to have fun!
- Bring your crew. Niagara Falls’ reputation as the honeymoon capital of the world is well-earned, but the site promises a good time for larger groups, too. Consider bringing the whole family or friend group for an unforgettable weekend getaway!
Have any other tips for a weekend trip to Niagara Falls? We’d love to hear them! We’re always looking for ways to help travellers enjoy the ultimate Niagara Falls experience – if you have any experiences or tips that might help our readers, let us know so we can add them to this guide!