Niagara Falls, Canada sits on the edge of the Niagara Gorge, at the site of Niagara Falls, one of Canada’s biggest attractions. Its strategic location has made it one of the most popular places to visit in Canada.
The city itself is fun and quirky, with a carnival-like atmosphere. It has a strong appeal for families who come to enjoy the falls, as well as the various things to do, including rides, tours, and action-packed amusements. A plentiful assortment of hotels and resorts adds to the vacation experience.
It also draws couples who come here for romantic getaways, to sit by a fire, relax over a fine meal, soak in the views of the falls, and stop by nearby Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Niagara Falls’ proximity to Canada’s largest city makes it easy to access. It’s one of the most popular day trips from Toronto, but it’s better to spend the night and see the falls in the evening, when they’re lit up in different colors. Visitors have several choices when it comes to getting from Toronto to Niagara Falls.
Three bridges link the city of Niagara Falls with its American counterpart, all of them with fine views into the gorge that divides the two countries.
Plan your trip and sightseeing in advance with our list of the top attractions in Niagara Falls.
1. Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls are some of the largest, most beautiful, and most famous waterfalls in the world. They are also some of the most easily accessible. You can walk up and stand on the very edge of the falls, separated only by a railing, without even having to pay a fee.
If you want to see them from a little different perspective, you can take a boat trip to the base of the falls, or go behind the falls and see the water pouring over from above.
The falls consist of three parts: The most spectacular section is the concave Horseshoe Falls, running 640 meters across from the Canadian shore to the American shore. The American Falls, about 330 meters across, is on the New York side, but the best views are from the Canadian side. A small third section, known as Bridal Veil Falls, is located between these two.
On the Canadian side of the falls, a walkway stretches from above the falls all the way along the edge of the gorge, providing spectacular views. At night, the falls are lit up in different colors.
The main viewing area is on the edge of Horseshoe Falls, behind which is the Table Rock Welcome Centre. This building has a restaurant overlooking the falls and is also where you’ll find shops and an information and ticket booth where you can purchase tickets to the various attractions and tours.
Below the falls, the Niagara River flows through the deep walls of the gorge, between 80 meters and 300 meters across, forming the Whirlpool Rapids as the gorge narrows. The waters eventually flow into Lake Ontario.
2. Journey Behind the Falls
Journey Behind the Falls offers a close-up view of the falls from the base of Horseshoe Falls. From the Table Rock Welcome Centre, an elevator takes you down 45 meters to tunnels with viewing portals behind the falls and an observation deck near the lower edge of the falls.
From here, you can look up at the wall of water coming over Horseshoe Falls and feel the rush of mist on your face. This view offers a unique perspective and a completely different experience than viewing the falls from above.
3. Skylon Tower
At a height of more than 235 meters above the falls, the Skylon Tower offers a spectacular bird’s eye view of Niagara Falls, the Niagara Escarpment, and the city.
The tower features an indoor/outdoor observation area and two restaurants. The Revolving Dining Room is an upscale revolving restaurant, while the Summit Suite Buffet is a more mid-range family oriented establishment.
Access to the observation decks is free if you are dining at the tower.
4. Niagara City Cruises
Niagara City Cruises, by Hornblower, offer close-up tours to the base of all three falls in 700-passenger catamaran boats. Cruises run all day and into the evening, when the falls are lit. Cruises take about 20 minutes and allow you to get up close to the thundering torrent of water.
This is a wet experience, and rain jackets are provided. Since the Maid of the Mist stopped operating out of Canada, this is the only boat tour option from the Canadian side that takes visitors to the base of the falls.
You’ll find the departure docks near where Clifton Hill meets the Niagara Parkway.
5. Niagara Skywheel
One of the newest attractions at Niagara Falls is the Niagara Skywheel, one of the largest observation wheels in Canada, standing 175 feet tall. You’ll be amazed at the views out over the roaring falls and the surrounding countryside. If the day is clear, you’ll be able to see the skyscrapers of Toronto out across Lake Ontario.
Climate controlled gondolas means it’s open year-round, and rides last between eight and 12 minutes. You can take these day or night. At night, you can see the city lights as well as Niagara Falls illuminated in various colors.
6. Whirlpool Aero Car
The Whirlpool Aero Car is an antique cable car in continuous operation since 1916 suspended above the roiling waters of the Whirlpool Rapids. Climb aboard and take a 10-minute trip over this portion of the Niagara River for a unique view of the powerful currents swirling around in a massive whirlpool a stunning 240 feet below. Don’t be fooled by the website’s claim that the cable car soars 3,500 feet above the river below – that’s the distance the car travels, not the vertical height.
The Niagara Aero Car travels approximately one kilometer from one side of the gorge to the other and can hold 35 standing people per trip. You’ll actually pass into the United States on this trip, but because you don’t actually land, no passport is required.
7. Clifton Hill
Part of the attraction of the town of Niagara Falls is the festive atmosphere. A walk down Clifton Hill, also known as Niagara’s Street of Fun, will take you past the Niagara Skywheel, the Niagara Speedway, restaurants, and family-oriented attractions.
Along here, you’ll find shops selling ice-cream, cotton candy, fudge, and other treats. This area is just up the street from the falls. Even if you don’t choose to spend much time here, it’s worth a look just for the display of tacky and cheesy displays.
8. Niagara Power Station
Over the years, people have walked or driven along the Niagara Parkway past the falls and have seen a beautiful old building seemingly abandoned. It’s been a long time coming, but now the former power station dating from 1905 has been completely renovated and brought back to life.
It’s now a spectacular building, bright and airy and full of antique equipment, and is fast becoming one of Niagara Falls’ top attractions. Self-guided and guided tours are available, and anyone even with the slightest passing interest on how electricity is produced is sure to enjoy their visit.
Plans are in place to allow you to go down deep within the earth to the former spillway tunnels and walk to where they empty into the Niagara River.
9. Whitewater Walk
When you visit Niagara Falls, all the views of the river, with the exception of the area above the falls, is down into the deep gorge. If you want to get within mere meters of the roaring river as it churns along, give the Whitewater Walk a try.
Located just north of the Whirlpool Bridge, the Whitewater Walk is accessed via an elevator that descends 70 meters straight down through the earth to the river’s edge. As you emerge, you’ll be amazed by the sheer power of the Class 6 rapids rolling by at an incredible 48 kilometers per hour.
The Whitewater Walk leaves from here; just follow the 300-meter-long boardwalk to find the best photo spots to capture the green water as it roils and boils by you.
10. Niagara Parkway
The Niagara Parkway is a scenic drive running from Niagara-on-the-Lake, past Niagara Falls to Fort Erie, following the gorge. The road, lined by parks and green space, has many interesting sights along the way where visitors can stop.
Some of the most popular features along the parkway are the Floral Clock, Whirlpool Rapids, and the Butterfly Conservatory. Another popular (and new) attraction located just a bit past the falls is the Niagara Power Station.
A paved pathway for walking and biking runs alongside the Niagara Parkway.
11. Butterfly Conservatory
The Butterfly Conservatory, along the Niagara Parkway, is home to 2,000 free-flying butterflies. The glass-enclosed conservatory with waterfalls and tropical plants features more than 40 different species of butterflies and is the largest of its kind in North America.
Inside you’ll find one of the most spectacular species: the Blue Morphos. These iridescent blue giant butterflies almost glow in the light. If you are lucky, one may land on you and pose for a photo!
This attraction is open year round making it a particularly popular place to visit during the winter months when the outside gardens are not in bloom.
12. Niagara Botanical Gardens
The Niagara Falls Park service does an incredible job of making the lawns and gardens near the falls look spectacular throughout the spring, summer, and fall. You may wonder where all these spectacular plants originate from, and the answer is the Niagara Botanical Gardens.
Spread out over an extensive area, these wide-open gardens are worth a visit if you have a green thumb, love photography, or are visiting the Butterfly Conservatory located on the same property (admission is free!). One of the highlights of a stop is the incredible rose garden. Flowering throughout the warm months of the year, the smells and sights of 2,400 roses are something to behold. The Botanical Gardens are also an excellent place to spot wildlife. Deer are frequent visitors as are squirrels, bunnies, and hummingbirds.
13. Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours
Interested on taking a thrilling jet boat ride through class 5 whitewater rapids towards Niagara Falls? Well then head to Niagara on the Lake and Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours. These giant super-powered jet boats race up the Niagara River on a thrill ride you won’t soon forget. Choose the “wet” tour, where you’ll get completely soaked as the boats crash through huge waves, or the “dry” tour, where you are comfortably enclosed in a glass dome.
At one point, the boat drivers will make the boat spin 360 degrees at high speed, a true stomach-turning experience!
During the quieter parts of the tour, the guides share educational information on the geology and history of the area.
14. Bird Kingdom
If you love birds, this is the place to come, and it’s also a great indoor activity if you are visiting in winter. Bird Kingdom is the largest free-flying indoor aviary in the world.
Colorful tropical birds zoom past and squawk from the trees as you walk along the paths. One of the highlights of a visit is acting as a human feeding station at the Lorikeet Landing. Have the camera ready to snap photos of your favorite friend covered in colorful birds.
Another highlight is the Night Jungle. Here you’ll be able to walk through a darkened area and see the denizens of the night including owls, bats, and other rarely seen birds.