One of the most fascinating natural wonders in the world, Niagara Falls is a must for anyone backpacking in the United States of America and Canada. The Niagara falls is a family-friendly destination, which is also a perfect place for traveling couples looking for a small romantic getaway. Located not far from New York, Niagara Falls are a great option for both weekend travels of busy city dwellers and road trips of nomadic souls. Let us tell you how you can enjoy these magnificent falls just in two days!
The Niagara Falls are divided into three parts: the Horseshoe Falls (Canadian side), the American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls. It is highly recommended to visit all sections to get the best perspective. The Canadian side is believed to have the best view, whereas in the American National Park you can approach the falls themselves. In case you do not have the visas for both countries, it is always an option to take a ferry (departs from both Canadian and American side), which will get you to the bottom of the Horseshoe Falls.
There are multiple ways to get to the Niagara Falls. The plane is the most expensive option with flights arriving at Buffalo-Niagara International Airport being the most affordable option. It is much cheaper (and, much more fun) to travel there by train. Amtrak’s Niagara Falls is connected to New York City by the Empire Service and the Maple Leaf. We arrived in Niagara Falls by night bus, operated by Greyhound, the cheapest and the most convenient way for everyone short on time and money.
Accommodation is a huge problem in Niagara Falls. There are little if no Couchsurfing and Airbnb offers over there, so you have to rely on hotels and motels. The latter is either ridiculously expensive or have low relating, which means they are dirty and have bedbugs. Out recommendation is to read the reviews carefully and to book well in advance.
Budget (in US dollars)
The Niagara Falls. The views of Niagara Falls are accessible and free for everyone. You can just walk to the fall as close as possible. The best thing is that the shores of the Niagara Falls are covered with blackberry bushes. For some reason, nobody picks those berries so that you can get a view of the falls with a complimentary snack.
Cave of the Winds. This is the closest spot where you can get to the falls on both American and Canadian sides. The place is wet, so will need rain ponchos and non-slippery sandals which are all provided.
Maid of the Mist. The boat called “Maid of the Mist” will take you right to the bottom of the most powerful of all falls. On your way, you will pass all falls and also will get an excellent view of the shore. There are plenty of birds living behind the falls (no idea how they survive there), so it’s also a great place to bird-watch. You will also have a chance to look up at the falls from below and breath in their mist. It’s wet, so do not forget to grab a free poncho on your way. The boat operates only during the warm season in April-October.
Aquarium of Niagara. Aquarium is worth visiting if you are traveling with kids. Otherwise, it offers the same range of animals as aquariums elsewhere in the United States: otters, tropical fishes, sea lions, etc. It is also a perfect place to hide in case it’s raining.
The Niagara Gorge Discovery Center. This is a small museum, where you can learn more about the geography, history, and geology of the falls. The exhibition tells about the first Indian settlements in the area, the arrival of the colonists, and the industrial life of the area in the 19th century.
Niagara Scenic Trolley. A small trolley is a convenient way to get around the park. A great option for families traveling with children.
Daily Travel Guide to Niagara Falls (Itinerary Details)
Arrive at the downtown of the Niagara Falls. Have breakfast in the Marketside Restaurant. Head to the reception center at the Niagara Falls State Park. Over there you can buy your Niagara Falls USA Discovery Pass, which includes admission tickets to Niagara Adventure Theater, Aquarium of Niagara, Cave of the Winds Trip, Niagara Gorge Discovery Center, and Maid of the Mist. Take a walk to the Niagara Falls themselves and enjoy the view. From this point, you can also go to Goat Island (across the bridge).
Return to the city to have lunch. There are plenty of Indian restaurants nearby, in case you like Indian cuisine. Go to the Maid of the Mist to take a boat to the bottom of the Niagara Falls. This is fascinating, but quite exhausting experience, so you’ll probably want to go directly to the hotel after that, as we did. Return to the falls at night to enjoy them in the moon light.
After having breakfast at the hotel, go to the Cave of the Winds. Take a waterproof case or a plastic bag to protect your camera. Be careful: the stairs are slippery! After enjoying your morning under the rain of waterfall drops, go to the Niagara Gorge Discovery Center to get a bit drier and learn more about the history of the falls. From there take a five-minute walk to the Aquarium. There is no place to eat nearby, so you’ll probably have to come back to the city center. We highly recommend visiting one of the downtown diners. After a lunch cross the rainbow bridge to the Canadian side to take pictures of the Horseshoe Falls.
A valid visa and passport are required to travel to both American and Canadian sides of the Niagara Falls. Do not try to cross the bridge without your visa! It is possible (there is a really little control on the bridge, which is the state border), but if you get caught, you will have problems traveling to the country ever again.
About the Writer:
Illia and Nastia are passionate about each other, traveling around the world and sharing their experiences at crazzzytravel.com, a blog where you can find plenty of budget travel tips as well as practical information about numerous destinations. They have already been to 42 countries on five continents and ain’t no stopping. Visit their website to learn more about backpacking in the US.