Prepare to be stunned – Niagara Falls day trips from Toronto help you trade the skyscrapers of Canada's financial capital for North America's most powerful cascades. Encompassing three separate waterfalls, they crash across the border between Ontario and New York State.
These days, all sorts of excursions are available to take you there. Some include rides on the mist-swirled Hornblower Cruise. Others pack in visits to local wineries. And there are even Niagara Falls trips by twilight that can reveal the cataracts in a totally different light!
How to get to the Niagara Falls from Toronto?
Toronto is one of the closest major cities to Niagara Falls. There are two main options for driving between them. You can take the speedy six-lane QEW highway direct. That takes around 1.5 hours from start to finish. For something more scenic, veer off onto the 81 at St. Catharines to delve into Ontario's bucolic wine country. That adds about 30 minutes to the drive.
By public transport
If you don't have access to your own wheels, don't worry – there are plenty of ways to kick-start your own Niagara Falls trip from Toronto. There are regular daily connections from Downtown Toronto to the Historic Old Town of Niagara Falls on VIA Rail. Greyhound buses also run the route in about 1.5 hours. Or, you can mix and match rail and bus links going via Burlington.
Opting for a tailor-made Niagara Falls day trip from Toronto cuts out the chore of organizing your own transport. Loads of packages include transfers to the waterfalls from the heart of the city. Most use comfy, air-conditioned buses. Picking a private Niagara Falls trip can add a little extra luxury, ensuring it's just you and your travel companions along for the ride. Expect journey times in the region of 90 minutes each way.
How much does the entrance ticket to the Niagara Falls cost?
It's important to score the right ticket for any Niagara Falls trips from Toronto. There are a couple of options, each with their own pros, cons, and different price tags. Check them out:
Niagara Falls Adventure Pass Classic
One of the most popular tickets for those on Niagara Falls day trips from Toronto, the Adventure Pass Classic, takes care of the most iconic attractions and draws.
The Pass includes a trip on the famous Hornblower Cruise – ponchos will be needed. It lets travelers enter the tunnels and lookout points to Journey Behind the Falls. And it includes access to the White Water Walk, where the roaring rapids of the Niagara River are on full display. Prices for the Niagara Falls Adventure Pass Classic are:
- Adult (13+) – CAD$89.90 (US$69)
- Child (6-12) – CAD$58 (US$44.50)
Niagara Falls Adventure Pass Plus
Want to explore every facet of these mighty waterfalls? Want a Niagara Falls trip from Toronto that truly smashes the bucket-list? There's probably no substitute for the Niagara Falls Adventure Pass Plus. It's a fully-fledged, all-access ticket that includes everything the Classic pass does (see above), along with some enticing extras.
Bag this one, and you'll be able to explore the Butterfly Conservatory to see exotic fliers in tropical gardens. You'll hit the Whirlpool Aerocar from 1916, which takes you high above the gurgling rapids of the Niagara River. And it comes with two days' access to the Incline Railway, where you can travel up the Niagara Gorge while gawping at the mighty cascades of the Horseshoe Falls. Niagara Falls Adventure Pass Plus prices are:
- Adult (13+) – CAD$190 (US$145.50)
- Child (6-12) – CAD$127 (US$97)
A la carte tickets – for flexible Niagara Falls trips from Toronto
If you're the sort of traveler who likes to plan as they go, you could pick up tickets on an a la carte basis. The bonus is you'll only pay for what you want to see.
However, you'll also need to queue separately for each attraction. It's also worth checking to see if bagging an Adventure Pass would actually save you money. That's often the case if you're keen to pack Hornblower Cruises, White Water Walk treks, and rapids viewing into a single Niagara Falls trip from Toronto.
What are the best Niagara Falls day trip from Toronto?
Niagara Falls trips from Toronto come in all shapes and sizes. There are group trips that check off all the main sites. You've got luxury private trips that'll add a dash of five-star comfort to your days on the Niagara River. And other excursions throw in outings to Ontario's rolling wine country and immersive heritage sites. Some top-rated examples are:
Day trip from Toronto
A 9-hour in and out, this Niagara Falls trip from Toronto takes care of the basics. You'll be whisked from the city to the winelands, and then hit the lookouts over the cascades. The price starts at CA$79 (US$61). Optional upgrades include boat rides and jaunts to the top of the Skylon Tower.
Day trip from Toronto with a boat ride
The highlight of this 10-hour Niagara Falls day trip from Toronto is undoubtedly the ride on the Hornblower Cruise. That takes you deep into the heart of the falls, to feel the swirling mists and power of the water. The excursion also passes wineries and the Table Rock Welcome Centre. This tour usually costs around CA$114 (US$88).
Private day trip from Toronto
A fully customizable itinerary makes this private Niagara Falls trip from Toronto one for those who like to be in total control. You'll have a qualified guide at hand the whole way, along with tickets to the iconic Hornblower Boat Cruise and even an optional helicopter flyover!
Niagara Falls Evening Trip (Night illumination)
Witness a totally different side of the awesome Niagara Falls as they sparkle in pinks and yellows and blues after sunset. You'll have front-row seats to the light show thanks to the Hornblower Cruise. And then it's onto a meal with a panorama at the Fallsview Dining Room.
Niagara Falls & Wine Country Day Tour
Wine buffs who also want to check off the bucket-list cascades are sure to love this VIP Niagara Falls trip from Toronto. The focus is really on Ontario's beautiful backcountry, where you'll hop between prestigious vineyards like the Sunny Brook Farm and Henry of Pelham. Somewhere in the middle, there's a pitstop at the magnificent waterfalls, for a panoramic tour, souvenir shopping, selfies, and more.
What will you see and do at the Niagara Falls?
Because the big city is less than two hours from the cataracts, you can whiz in and out, leaving oodles of time to take photos and hit the attractions. Talking of attractions…there are loads of exciting points of interest you'll want to consider dropping into your Niagara Falls trips from Toronto:
Journey Behind the Falls
The Journey Behind the Falls is one of the great highlights of any Niagara Falls trip from Toronto. It promises to get you up close and personal with the Horseshoe Falls – the most powerful and wildest section of the whole wonder.
Guests are whisked away from street level on elevators in the Table Rock Welcome Centre. Then, observation stations and tunnels wiggle and weave around the site, occasionally opening up onto panoramas of the huge cascades, or revealing ceaseless streams of water crashing over the rocks.
Hornblower – Voyage of the Falls
Ontario's answer to NY's iconic Maid of the Mist is the Hornblower. You'll ride a panoramic funicular to the loading deck. Then, it's onto the famous boat for an outing across the great Niagara Gorge. The zenith of the trip comes as you sail right into the mouth of the colossal Horseshoe Falls.
MistRider Zipline to the Falls
Calling all adrenaline junkies – this 670-meter zipwire offers a high-speed descent through the bluffs of the Niagara Gorge. As you shoot from top to bottom, you'll enjoy eye-watering views of the American Falls and the surrounding state park.
White Water Walk
The White Water Walk lets you see, first hand, the sheer primeval power of the Niagara River. Descend an elevator and hit the boardwalk trail that runs alongside the waterway. It's a route that wiggles through groves of trees by the thundering currents, passing Class 6 rapids and high canyon walls as it goes!
Combine classic fairground fun with the stunning nature of the Niagara region on this family-friendly Ferris wheel. The ride takes you 175 feet above the waterfalls in air-conditioned (or heated, depending on the season) capsules.
Delve into thousands of years of natural history with the enthralling Niagara's Fury production. It's a no-holes-barred theatrical rendition that hearkens back to the creation of the falls. You'll feel water spraying, be transported to the ancient Ice Age, and get eye-popping visuals of the cascades.
Niagara Skylon Tower
There are arguably no better panoramas of the Niagara Falls than the ones that unfold around the Niagara Skylon Tower. Up there, hundreds of meters above the rapids, you'll be able to peer over the Horseshoe Falls, survey the Ontario winelands, and see deep into the USA.
When are Niagara Falls open over the year?
The Niagara Falls aren't a museum or gallery – they are a waterfall. That means they are running 365 days of the year. However, certain times in the calendar are considered prime for planning Niagara Falls trips from Toronto.
Most visitors will aim for the middle of summer. From May to October is perfect. For starters, that's when the weather is at its best. But it's also when top-drawer attractions like the Hornblower Cruise is guaranteed to be running.
If you're keen to have a Niagara Falls day trip from Toronto without the big crowds, it might be better to consider shoulder seasons. Spring can be beautiful, and add extra oomph to the power of the Niagara River. Fall sees the surrounding forests start to change colors, from emerald to ochre, auburn, and yellow.
For something totally different, you could opt for Niagara Falls trips from Toronto in the winter. It's important to wrap up warm then – thermometers regularly go sub-zero from November to March. And get ready to see a wholly different side of the wonder. In fact, the waterfall is often frozen and there are occasional icebergs on the Niagara River!
What are the opening times?
Whatever Niagara Falls trip from Toronto you choose to go on, it's important you check ahead to see the attraction you're most excited about will be open. The various points of interest in and around the falls have different hours of operation during different seasons. For example, Hornblower's famous boat rides only run in the summer months, while timings of the evening light show change with the months.
- Take waterproofs – a poncho and suitable footwear is a must if you're going to be getting close to the Niagara Falls.
- Be wary of crossing between the US and Canada with an active cell phone – there might be extra charges for roaming.
- Be sure to have the right visa, currency, and documentation if you'll be crossing over onto the US side on your Niagara Falls trips from Toronto.
- Summertime visits promise the most reliable weather – most say May-October is the best.