Complete guide to Niagara Falls, New York
What is the Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls consists of three falls bordering the US and Canada. Of the three falls, the Horseshoe Falls is the largest, followed by the American Falls, and finally the Bridal Veil Falls. It is the Horseshoes Falls that lie on the US-Canadian border, whilst the other two are on the American side.
How to get to Niagara Falls
I flew in to Buffalo Niagara International Airport, and then took the bus to Niagara Falls.
You can also fly in to Niagara Falls international Airport, but fares are higher, and you may not get the connections you are looking for.
Public Transport- Bus
The bus takes close to 3 hours to get you to Niagara Falls, but it is the cheapest option, and you have the flexibility of taking it at any time during the day.
You could also get on a coach from the airport to Niagara Falls, but they do only two trips a day, so if you aren’t arriving close to the bus’ departure time, it is quite inconvenient. The coach will get you to Niagara Falls in 1.5 hours.
If you are driving from New York City, it will take around 8 hours, whilst the bus will get you there in 10-12 hours.
If you are looking to take the train, the Amtrak has a direct route from New York City to Niagara Falls, which should get you there in 10 hours.
How much time do you need at Niagara Falls
If you plan on just seeing the falls, then one day is all you need. If you have more time, you can go to Old Fort Niagara, try white water rafting on the Niagara Gorge, or hike Devil’s Hole State Park.
Things to do at Niagara Falls
The Falls are perfect to spend a day at with your family, or even alone. There are benches along the water that offers great views for a picnic lunch.
Maid of the Mist
This is the name of the boat that starts from the New York side of the falls. It takes you as close to the falls as possible, so be prepared to get wet. You can buy ponchos to protect yourself from the water. The boat ride gives you magnificent views of the falls, but taking your camera out too close to the falls might not be a good idea.
Cave of the Winds
If you want to get absolutely drenched, buy a poncho (which really is of no use), change in to flip flops, and stand right below the Bridal Veil Falls.
The Cave of the winds is a natural cave behind the Bridal Veil Falls. A few years after its discovery in 1834, it was opened for tourists to experience the falls from right below the falls. The winds are really strong, and the water is crashing down all around you, it’s almost like you are in the middle of a storm.
The interesting, yet scary part is that the deck that’s built for tourists to experience the falls, is just wedged between the crevices of the rocks, and not bolted down! Apparently it is removed every fall and a new observation deck is installed every spring.
The Rainbow Bridge
The Niagara Falls International Rainbow bridge connects the cities of Niagara Falls, New York, USA, to Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. This arch bridge can be used by pedestrians to cross over to Canada, after payment of a toll. The view from the bridge is unlike any other from the rest of the view points, as you get a panoramic view of all three falls, the American, Bridal Veil, and Horseshoe Falls.
Note: For international tourists, you will be asked for your passport with a valid Canadian visa.
Now, if you got to the falls early and you checked all the above off your list before dusk, I suggest you wait around as what’s next up on my list shouldn’t be missed!
To while away your time, dine with a view, at one of the restaurants inside the national park, or spend some time browsing through the gift shops.
Watch the falls light up
There is nothing like the magic of fireworks to make your day at Niagara Falls more special than it already is. During the summer, as long as weather permits, the firework display is totally worth staying for!
The Falls are illuminated in a rainbow of colours every day from dusk till 1 AM. Recently, the light display was upgraded with LED technology, which increases the brightness of the show, and is more energy efficient!
Check out the following link for updated dates and timings for both the fireworks and illumination schedule.
Do you need a guided tour for the Niagara Falls
No, you don’t. If you are driving, you can park outside the national park, and then walk to the visitor’s centre, and get all the information you need to spend your day at the Falls.
The staff will guide you with maps for the area, and help you decide your itinerary for the day based on your requirements, or restrictions, if any.