Niagara Falls Ontario – a complete travel guide

Your guide to Canada's natural wonder of the world


Niagara Falls Ontario is a name famous the world over. Most people know about The Falls and it is one of the first images they have of Canada when it is discussed. Almost every person that has come to visit me in Ontario Canada for the first time requests a trip to Niagara Falls and being just 30 minutes down the highway from my home makes it easily accessible. In fact I make it a point to visit the Falls a couple of times a year, visitors or not, it is just that spectacular and beautiful a sight.

The Falls is the main attraction but there is also the city that has grown up around this natural wonder of the world. The pages in my Niagara Falls Ontario section will provide you with all the information you should need when planning a visit to this remarkable city.

When talking about Niagara Falls Ontario it is necessary to breakdown the discussion into two segments, the city and The Falls…

The Falls

This is the attraction that most people come to see but for the most part visitors will end up spending more time in the city itself and at other attractions than at The Falls. The Niagara Falls however are a thrilling site to behold. Just watching the water pour over the edge at such a velocity and with a thundering crash leaves most first time viewers enthralled. I myself have seen The Falls over 100 times and am still amazed every time I see them.

The Falls were created in about 11000 BC when the last of the glaciers receded and formed the Great Lakes and Niagara Falls. The Falls are the result of the Niagara River draining Lake Erie into Lake Ontario creating the most powerful waterfalls in North America

Quick facts

    • At present Niagara Falls is about 173 ft (52 m) high with 3 drops. The two main sections are separated by Goat Island: Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side and the American Falls on the American side. The third and much smaller Bridal Veil Falls is on the American side and is separated from the main falls by Luna Island.
    • The Horseshoe Falls drop 173 ft and are about 2600 ft wide (790 m) while the American Falls height varies between 70-100 ft (21-30m) and are 1060 ft (320 m) wide. Visitors are usually struck right away by the colour of the water tumbling down the river and over The Falls. It is very green in colour and is caused by dissolved salts and finely ground rock in the water generated by the massive erosive force of the Niagara River.
    • The Falls flow varies depending on the time of year with peak flow occurring in the late spring at 202,000 cubic feet per second (5700 cubic metres). Flow is usually regulated as much of the water is diverted for use in hydroelectric generation. It is also turned down to 50,000 cubic feet per second (1400 cubic metres) at night or in the winter during the low tourist season. A weir accomplishes this with moveable gates located upstream from the Horseshoe Falls. The flow can be turned off completely as was done in 1959 when the flow to the American Falls was cut off to study and repair erosion and rock formations and perform a clean up and maintenance work to stem further erosion.
    • Erosion is a fact of life for Niagara Falls and at the current rate of erosion, 1 ft (0.30m) per year, it means that in approximately 50,000 years Niagara Falls will have eroded right back to Lake Erie and will cease to exist.
    • Today the Niagara Falls area is protected by both governments as The Falls are preserved by the Niagara Reservation State Park on the American side and the Niagara Parks Commission on the Canadian side.
    • The Falls do still significantly contribute to the economies of Ontario Canada and New York State as continuous hydro-electric generation has occurred since 1883 with the opening of the rivers first generating station. Today, Niagara’s generating stations produce about 4.4 gigawatts of power.

Insider Tip: The best views of The Falls are from the Canadian side along the manicured gardens of Queen Victoria Park especially at Table Rock observation point. Also the observation deck from the Skylon Tower offers the highest overhead views and in the opposite direction you can even see Toronto on a clear day. Good views are also available from the Tower Hotel (formerly Minolta Tower).

Every visitor to Ontario Canada must put at least one day aside for a trip to Niagara Falls Ontario. Most visitors usually are traveling to Toronto and do a day excursion to see The Falls of which there are many and they are relatively inexpensive. However there is more to Niagara Falls than just The Falls as the surrounding area has many unique and interesting sights to see. Make sure you do not however miss the main attraction, as the cascading waters will leave a clear imprint in your mind that will last your lifetime…

Insider Tip: While most visitors come and go during the daytime when The Falls area is packed I recommend you to stay a little longer as a must see is from the Canadian side as floodlights illuminate both sides of the falls after dark until midnight. Free fireworks are also set off every Friday during the summer months.

The City

The term Niagara is definitely aboriginal yet no one can say with certainty what its original meaning is. Members of the Samuel de Champlain exploration party are reportedly the first known white men to have seen the spectacular falls in 1604. An Iroquois settlement apparently occupied a site near the falls. Father Louis Hennepin is the first documented European to see the Falls in 1675 and the French settled in the area very quickly thereafter with the British arriving after their victory in the Seven Years War.

After a small influx of British immigrants most of the early settlers were then American Loyalists arriving after the American Revolution. At this time the British also moved the Portage Road from the east back (US side) to the west bank (Canada) and the new road opened in 1790 allowing the bypass of the rapids and falls of the Niagara River. Today ships bypass Niagara Falls by using the Welland Canal.

An important event happened in 1804 when Jerome Bonaparte (Napoleon’s younger brother) and his bride were reportedly the first couple to honeymoon at Niagara Falls. This led to the self-proclaimed moniker as “honeymoon capital of the world”, a name the city proudly utilizes to this day.

Two towns grew beside The Falls that eventually were named Niagara Falls. Clifton changed to Town of Niagara Falls in 1881 and Drummondville changed to Village of Niagara Falls in 1882. The two communities merged in 1901 to create the City of Niagara Falls that was incorporated on Jun 12, 1903.

There actually still are two cities called Niagara Falls today. The twin cities of Niagara Falls Ontario, Canada and Niagara Falls New York, United States of America. The twin cities are joined by the Rainbow Bridge just downriver from The Falls and the oldest bridge, the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge, which lies 1,6 km (1 mile) south of the Rainbow Bridge.

Niagara Falls Ontario, Canada has always been a more prosperous city than its neighbor. At one time it was an important industrial city due to its relatively inexpensive but abundant electrical power but industry has since left the city and today its main economic revenue source is tourism.

Niagara Falls Ontario, Canada now has a population of over 82,000 and its convenient location, only 20 minutes away from Buffalo International Airport and 1 hour from the City of Toronto, makes it consistently one of the 10 most visited places on earth annually.

Niagara Falls Ontario long ago realized the potential of the almighty tourist dollar. Visitors are usually amazed as soon as they leave The Falls area and head into the tacky looking tourist area known as Clifton Hill. A medieval type conglomeration of wax museums, souvenir shops, restaurants and various attractions the strip nevertheless is worth exploring as there is something for everyone to be found at one of its array of merchants.

In recent years the Ontario government has also licensed two adult targeted attractions with the opening of two casinos. Niagara Fallsview Casino and Resort in the Fallsview Tourist area and Casino Niagara near Clifton Hill. On the American side there is also the recently opened Seneca Niagara Casino.

There are also many more attractions and activities to be found in the Niagara Falls Ontario area no matter what your interest. Check out some of my pages below for a full explanation of any areas or topics that might interest you.


Location of Niagara Falls Ontario


How to get to Niagara Falls:

By Car:

From Eastern Ontario:

  • Take Highway 401 West
  • Take Highway 427 South to the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) Hamilton
  • Take the Queen Elizabeth Way West towards Hamilton/Niagara
  • Continue on QEW into Niagara Falls

From Western Ontario:

  • Take Highway 401 East towards Toronto
  • Near Woodstock take Highway 403 towards Hamilton
  • Continue on Highway 403 past Hamilton to the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) towards Niagara Falls
  • Continue on QEW into Niagara Falls

From Northern Ontario:

  • Navigate to Highway 400 South
  • Highway 400 ends at Highway 401
  • Take Highway 401 West
  • Take Highway 427 South to the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) Hamilton
  • Take the Queen Elizabeth Way West towards Hamilton/Niagara
  • Continue on QEW into Niagara Falls

By Public Transport

By Bus:

Niagara Falls Ontario is easily reached by bus services.

Ontario’s commuter bus service Go Transit travels to the city. 

By Rail:

Passenger rail service is now available to the city through Go Transit,  the provinces rapid transit system.

By Air:

While Niagara Falls does have a small airport it does not offer any passenger services. The city is so close to Toronto’s Pearson International Airport (approximately 90 minutes) by car and it is the main entryway into the province for international and far afield domestic visitors alike, a car rental or other public transport option as listed above is the easiest way of reaching the city.


Niagara Falls Ontario Attractions

Skylon Tower

The Skylon Tower is an observation deck with facilities that provides a spectacular overhead view of both the American Falls and the Horseshoe Falls at Niagara Falls, Ontario Canada. It is the iconic landmark in the city much the same way the CN Tower is for Toronto. Visit my Skylon Tower page for more information.

Clifton Hill

Clifton Hill is a world famous street and tourist district in Niagara Falls Ontario known as the “street of fun by the Falls”. It has a variety of shops, hotels, restaurants and attractions that are particularly attractive for families and teenagers. Visit my Clifton Hill page for more information.

Table Rock

Table Rock is at the heart of Niagara Falls Ontario, it was a massive rock formation that overhung the Canadian shore of the Niagara Gorge and was one of the early vantage points from which the public could view the Horseshoe Falls. What remains today is the Table Rock observation point where you can still get a great bird’s eye view of The Falls. Visit my Table Rock page for more information.

Fort George National Historic Site

Fort George is a reconstruction of a War of 1812 British fort that once stood at this site. It is a National Historic Site and is part of parks Canada. The site is not open year round but is only open from April 1 to October 31. Visit my Fort George National Historic Site page for more information.

Greg Frewin Theatre

Touted as the “Best Magician in the World”, Niagara Falls Ontario based illusionist Greg Frewin has travelled the world performing his unique brand of magic and comedy. Now housed in his own Greg Frewin Theatre located just off Clifton Hill his “Las Vegas styled” performance is sure to be a hit with all ages. Visit my Greg Frewin Theatre page for more information.


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