The most powerful waterfall in North America
A first time ever trip to Canada could not be without coming to one of the most spectacular natural places on the planet, the Niagara Falls. So yes, while planning Toronto I did know this will have to be also part of the deal on the trip, even considering our rather very short time, just 4 days in total. Still, good enough to enjoy both beautiful Toronto over the Christmas period and the awesome falls. In this case, with 2 different views, one during the day time, and the other during the night with the amazing Christmas light show installation. Now this was the real deal, the truly winter wonderland.
Before I continue, let me also add some notes in here about the falls itself for someone like us, having been to the grandest of the waterfalls in the planet, the Iguazu. Niagara is when comparing, tiny. In height and especially size, however the major drawback I see in Niagara are the hideous, horrifying constructions right on the edges of the falls! How on earth did this get allowed remains a mystery. It is actually hard to even capture a nice picture without anything man-made visible. But building high-rise buildings, hotels and casinos by the edge is just very, very wrong. How to turn one of the most impressive natural heritages in the planet into an amusement park, that’s all they’ve done. Whenever you get to Iguazu, and likewise my friends who have been to Victoria Falls in Africa, you are completely surrounded by nature, where man-made structures are restricted to the minimum in order to enjoy what you are really supposed to enjoy, the nature at its finest.
The falls are shared by both Canada and the United States of America. The best side is the Canadian from where you can enjoy the horseshoe in its grandest and luckily to everyone, without any hideous extra construction. You will enjoy an absolute clear view; although when looking towards the American Fall from this same side (Canadian), you get to also see the viewing point towers and hotels by the edge. Worst is the Canadian side in this though from the USA side, with views to all the high-rise buildings, viewing towers, casinos and other paraphernalia built by the edge, and a limited view towards the horseshoe.
Visiting the site is straightforward and won’t take much time. However during the time of the year we came there was an extra sight, the Christmas light show projected on the falls. We had to be on the site at both day and night time to enjoy both views of course, and this is the reason why we thought it would be a nice idea to reach Buffalo in between. It’s just 35 kilometres beyond the falls, and a massive temptation I could not resist. After all, the border crossing was very straightforward, around 15 minutes to get into the USA, and no more than just 5 to re-enter Canada on the way back.
Don’t worry when thinking where you should eat or if bringing anything with you. No need at all, after all, you are in an “amusement park” call it that way, so every possible fast food chain or really nice proper Canadian / American restaurants are all over. While not the cheapest, it is well worth it having a nice real meal. The same applies for coffee places, bars, pubs, even casinos and of course shops of any kind. Being one of the most visited places in Canada and the USA, the top attractions, it is no wonder you have every choice available too.
For more information about the Niagara Falls check Wikipedia site. Canada’s currency is the Canadian Dollar (CAD). Please note that any price reference is true as from when this guide was created, therefore check prices in advance as with the time they change.
How to get there
You have few great and easy options to come to the falls. One being from the USA side where Niagara City shares its boundaries with Canada and the falls, and nearby Buffalo. Plenty of flights across the country or even international destinations connect to both cities. The other option, Canada side. Toronto being the largest city near the falls and once again, plenty of flights there.
Whichever the option you will be arriving from, there are plenty of buses and railway connections to literally next door to the falls. You can also consider the international Maple Leaf daily rail link between Toronto and New York City, stopping at both Niagara, Canadian and USA side.
From our experience we arrived from Toronto, our base, by renting a car. The journey could not be any easier, with a great motorway all the way completing the distance of 130 kilometres in barely hour and a half.
How and what to see in the area
Canadian side of the Falls are by far the best. It is from this side where you will enjoy the entire Horseshoe (it’s entirely on Canada’s soil) without the need to take on a boat. Take a note that a boat will be your only option should you be in the American side and would like to enjoy the Horseshoe, because these boats navigate right to the very edge, being at both Canada and USA at once. In order from north towards the south, you have:
- Queen Victoria Park Running side by side with the flow of the river, offers great views towards the American Falls.
- Skylon Tower The highest advantage point with views of the entire Falls, the American and Canadian sides, and all the area around 360 degrees.
- The Horseshoe Fall The most impressive and spectacular image of the Niagara Falls without equal. Beautiful during any season of the year.
- Former Toronto Power Generating Station Further south along the path right by the Niagara River. Notably for its beautiful architecture.
Since we did come here as a day trip we did not need to stay overnight at any hotel. We just simply drove and returned to our base, Toronto, for which I can give you all the information you should know and consider with regards to accommodation there.
Being the largest and most important city in Canada, the 4th largest in North America as a continent itself, you can imagine and expect the countless vast amount of hotels and accommodation of any class. From the very top of the range in luxury to the most modest, and everything in between, however, prices come high across all of them. Canada, same as the USA, have quite high standards and way over the average in fares per night. Finding a good deal is quite difficult, no matter what season in the year although notably higher during the summer months and Christmas period. A good and reasonable point to start your search is by checking some of our preferred affiliate hotel search engine such as Hotels.com, Booking.com, Expedia, Otel.com, Agoda, Opodo, LateRooms or Ebookers. I found a “nice” deal on one of these sites after a long research; it should not be too complicated, only a bit more laborious in the searching and comparing than it generally is for other world cities.