From Toronto to Niagara Falls: 4 Best Ways to Get There
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Niagara Falls is a must-see when visiting Toronto, and fortunately it's close by and easy to get to on a day trip or overnight excursion. The trip can be accomplished in a variety of ways: you can drive, take a tour, take a bus, or take a train/bus combo.
The drive via the Gardiner and Queen Elizabeth Highways is fast and easy, with the 130-kilometer trip taking about 80 minutes outside of rush hour. The route is all on divided highways and is well signposted and easy to follow.
Bus and train/bus combos take a bit longer at about two hours and two hours, 40 minutes respectively. However, you'll need to tack on a bit of time for the public transit options, as the bus station in Niagara Falls is about four kilometers from the actual falls, and a walk or ride share will be required to get you to your ultimate destination.
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1. From Toronto to Niagara Falls by Car
If you have your own car, traveling from Toronto to Niagara Falls provides the greatest flexibility. You can leave and return when you want and easily visit sights located away from the falls themselves.
The route from Toronto couldn't be simpler. All you have to do is get on the elevated Gardiner Expressway and head west towards Niagara Falls. The highway changes names at the Highway 427 Interchange, but no action is required, just keep going straight.
One of the highlights of the trip is the Burlington Skyway at the far western edge of Lake Ontario. As you climb this impressive bridge, be sure to soak up the views to your left back towards Toronto. On a clear day, you'll be able to see the downtown towers. On your right are the Hamilton steelworks, with their trademark bellowing smoke and flames.
The road continues onwards to Niagara Falls, passing through St. Catharines and up over the Garden City Skyway. From here, you may be able to catch a glimpse of the spray cloud of Niagara Falls. Off to your right is the Welland Canal with its impressive lock systems. If you are lucky, you'll see a ship transiting.
From this point, Niagara Falls is fairly near, so keep an eye out for the exit for Highway 420. Take this exit, and then eventually take the exit for Falls Avenue. This will take you to the Niagara Parkway and the falls themselves.
A series of large parking lots are located on your right-hand side. Parking here is expensive. If you don't mind a walk to the falls, park at the free lot near Clifton Hill. It's located off Stanley Avenue/RR 102 on Ferry/Victoria Avenue.
After you've seen the falls, check out some of the other attractions in and around Niagara Falls including Clifton Hill, the Floral Clock, or the Butterfly Conservatory. Other popular things to do in Niagara Falls include a boat ride to the foot of the falls with Niagara City Cruises or a trip down into the tunnels behind the falls.
A nice option for your return trip to Toronto is to go via Niagara-on-the-Lake. It's one of Ontario's most romantic towns and has a wonderfully restored historical main street full of shops and restaurants.
2. From Toronto to Niagara Falls by Tour
If you are staying in Toronto and don't have your own transport, the best way to visit Niagara Falls is on a tour. All the logistics, parking, admission fees, and meals are coordinated and taken care of, all you need to do is show up on time for your hotel pickup (included).
One of the best tours, limited to 12 people for maximum enjoyment, is the Luxury Small-Group Niagara Falls Day Trip from Toronto with Cruise. The tour is a full day and takes on average between 9 to 10 hours.
You'll follow the same driving route mentioned above, and your guide will provide you with background and information on the the sights you'll see along the way. In town, your tour includes a wet and wonderful ride on the Niagara City Cruise ship (Formerly Hornblower Cruises) to the foot of the falls. You'll also be able to see the falls from the top; the viewing area at Table Rock is less than two meters from where the water tumbles over the edge to the chasm below.
Just up from Table Rock, and recently opened after a multi-million-dollar restoration, is the historic Niagara Falls Power Station. This brand-new attraction in town is well worth a visit for architecture buffs, science fans, and those with an adventurous mindset.
Once you've had your fill of Niagara Fall's natural attractions, take a wander up Clifton Hill for some seriously wacky entertainment.
Three hours after arriving in Niagara Falls, you'll depart the falls and stop in at the Floral Clock. The next stop is the beautiful and historic small town of Niagara-on the Lake. Here, you can indulge in a bit of shopping, snacking, or just strolling up and down main street. The tour then departs and heads back to Toronto where you'll be dropped at your hotel.
3. From Toronto to Niagara Falls by Bus
Taking the bus from Toronto to Niagara Falls is the most economical option. The MegaBus has one morning departure and one evening departure daily. The cost of this option is almost the same as taking the train and bus option below but is approximately 40 minutes faster and is direct. The MegaBus leaves from the downtown coach station at 610 Bay Street.
The only downside to the bus option is the four-kilometer walk from the Niagara Falls bus station to the falls themselves. However, if you don't mind a bit of exercise, one upside to this is that you can do the walk along pleasant paved pathways that run beside the scenic Niagara Gorge. Don't feel like walking? Just grab a ride share service or a taxi for the short jaunt. City bus connections don't really work to the falls.
4. From Toronto to Niagara Falls by Train & Bus
The train and bus combo is through GoTransit. This option is super convenient, with departures almost hourly. It's a pleasant and relaxing train ride for half the route and a coach ride for the balance. The GoTransit route involves a change from train to bus in Burlington; the change from one mode to another is only a short walk.
As mentioned above, the coach portion of this trip arrives into the Niagara Falls bus station, a four-kilometer walk from the actual waterfall. The GoTransit train leaves from Union Station in the heart of downtown Toronto.
The price of the train/bus combo is competitive with the MegaBus option listed above.