I'll share a little personal story about this writer before I hop into the different ways to get to Niagara (don't worry, it's relevant). I grew up in England, and when I first came to Canada I took a role leading tours to Niagara Falls (I'd worked in tourism in a few different countries prior). It was strange at first as the imposter syndrome took over and I doubted myself wondering how long it would be until someone realized I wasn't Canadian. While I am Canadian now (fast forward past the citizenship process), I didn't grow up here. When I would lead those first tours I found it humorous (with a u, because humour is best with u) that I was talking about Canadian history to Canadians - I felt like a Trojan Horse. 

As time went by I would often get asked what the best way to go to the Falls was, and there are many ways. I can't say one is better than the other, as each way has it's appeal to the traveller and their set of circumstances - e.g. time, money etc, but I can outlay what the options are and you can play your cards with what you've got.

While I've done the journey on a bicycle, I'd advise against it. Unless you're a cyclist with lots of time. As the crow flys (assuming it flys in a straight line), the distance from Toronto to Niagara Falls is 73 km. So if it weren't for Lake Ontario, we'd probably be able to get there in under an hour. But Lake Ontario exists! So the driving distance is 130km ~ On a good day, you're there in no time. On a bad day, It can take 3.5 hours to get to Niagara on the Lake due to traffic on the QEW (Queen Elizabeth Way - Highway). Fortunately, those days are few and far between. 

In this blog I'm going to look at how to get to Niagara Falls from Toronto.


Niagara Falls with a rainbow


Public transit

Let's start with the Go Train. This is a great option for a DIY day out. As of November 2023, a day return on the weekend can be purchased for as little as $18. It's worth noting that there are only 3 departures each day (weekend schedule) and it takes around 2 and a half hours from Union Station to the Niagara Go Station. Then, when you get to the Go Station, you're still 4km to the Canadian falls. The good news is that the fare sometimes includes the bus transfer at Niagara Falls so you can hop on the WeGo bus when you get there. You can check current conditions here.

If you're looking for more departures, you can use Megabus. This will cost you slightly more. With these types of service, the further you book it in advance, the better. Something I like about this option is that you can go one day and come back the next. This journey typically takes around 2-3 hours. It's worth noting that the coach station on the Niagara side is not next to the falls which means you still have a 4km journey to the Canadian Falls. Megabus departs Toronto from the coach terminal near Dundas square. 

If you'd prefer to travel from Scarborough, Mississauga or Union station then a good option is Flix bus. Flix is a big German brand, and if I've learned anything about German companies it's that they are efficient. Flix says they can do the journey in under 2 hours. Not only that, they drop you off at the Embassy suites which is really close to the waterfalls. Flix offers competitive pricing and is possibly a better alternative to Megabus, given it's pricing, options and drop off locations. 

Another option worth mentioning is the Casino bus. This is run by Safeway Tours. Essentially, there are a few pick up locations in Toronto (Chinatown east and Chinatown - Spadina). You would need to contact Safeway to make a reservation. On the bus, they do not take any money from you, but the idea is that you purchase a casino card when you get to Niagara. The card that you purchase can be used to gamble. The last time I took this, it cost me $20 for a return. Please contact Safeway for up to date pricing. 

These are just some of the options that can take you to Niagara, but it's worth noting that these are direct and do not visit any of the other charming things that are totally worth seeing in the Niagara region. 


Niagara City Cruises 

Niagara Falls Tour

There are a number of benefits in travelling with a tour company from Toronto to Niagara Falls by bus. The biggest ones that spring to mind are commentary and the ability to see more. If you travel on your own, you may have a good time and that is great, but if you want to learn more and get all the tips and tricks - a tour company is the way to go. Tour companies have local knowledge so they can maximize your time efficiently and give commentary to paint the pictures you're seeing. They can take you places the direct route can't meaning it's not just A to B, but it can include C, D, Etc.

While Niagara is known for its waterfalls, it's also known for its wine region. The Niagara wine region is home to nearly 100 wineries. The region is ideal for growing wine as it has a unique climate and fertile soils. While Buffalo is south of the region, it's said that the temperature is generally warmer in the Niagara region which means it's milder and more conducive to grape growing.

A number of tour operators offer tours that take you to wineries and also to Niagara Falls. We have our wine tour which samples 4 different venues in addition to the falls. If you're looking for a vineyard tour, wine samples and pairings then look no further! Let us be your designated driver - you're on holiday after all. 

Our wine tours also take you to the ever beautiful Niagara on the Lake which was voted in the top 50 prettiest small towns in the world by Conde Naste. I know every time I visit, I want to move there. Situated on Lake Ontario, it's steeped in history from the war of 1812 and blessed with great boutiques and bites on Queen street. On a direct Niagara transfer, you likely won't see this, whereas with a tour company, you will. 

(If sampling wines isn't your appetite, we can customize itineraries for groups. The journey to the Falls has a number of alternative attractions including the Shopping Outlets, Hamilton waterfalls, Niagara Glen (great walking), Butterfly Conservatory, Whirlpool Jet boats and more! Just reach out if you have any questions on things to do.)

To lead tours in the Niagara Region, tour guides need to pass a knowledge test. All of our guides at Northbound tours are licensed, have advanced wilderness first aid training (not that you'll need it here) and lots of stories to animate your day out.

Rental car

There are a number of rental companies in Toronto who you can rent from. The main things to note here are that quite a number of companies require the renter to be over the age of 25. If you're under, we're sorry - we don't make the rules. Check with each company if you are to see if they'll rent to under 25's. 

Having used a number of rental car companies in the past, the costs can add up. Once you add insurance, gas, parking and the car charge... it's getting close to what a day tour would cost. Then there is the risk associated incase there are any bumps in the road along the way. If you do get a rental, I really suggest you make a video of the rental before you set off so you have a before and after record. Take 5 minutes to record it, just incase you get dinged with a charge. 

The other hindrance with a rental is that sometimes they do not have enough KM's included - I'd suggest checking what is included. Niagara falls there and back can be done in under 300km but if you're going to rent a car, you might want to drive to see more sights. 

The next thing to add in is parking. The wineries do not charge for parking, but you may have to pay in Niagara on the Lake depending on what street you are on. Then, in Niagara Falls, most of the streets are paid parking. You can find free parking but you'll have to head out of the touristic area to do so and I'm assuming you drove to Niagara Falls to see the Falls which is the touristic area. 

Car rental sign

Personal car

If you have a car, the only challenges are designated driver if visiting the wineries and parking in Niagara itself. You may find that your numbers are too many to fit in the car, so in this circumstance, either rent another one/get a larger one, consider the train/bus, or hop on a tour. I personally like driving but it's not for everyone and new roads may make it feel more like work than an actual holiday. If you have multiple drivers, then road trip away. 

Boats and planes

I sometimes get asked if you can take a boat there. In short, not commercially. There was a buzz in the press in 2022 about a company called Hoverlink who were mooting a 30 minute journey on a hover craft from Toronto to Port Weller in St Catherines. It's worth noting that this is still 20+ km away from the Falls so transportation on that side would need to be considered. 

That was advertised to launch in the summer of 2023 but it hasn't come to fruition yet. If it's sustainable we'd certainly support that. However, the transportation wouldn't be able to take you to Niagara Falls itself as it would need to venture up the Niagara River to do so and there are class 6 rapids that await. To give some context to that, the Inga Rapids on the Congo river are rumoured to be the strongest rapids in the world... they are class 6. The point I'm making here is that it is not possible to take a boat from Toronto to Niagara Falls. When links do open up, they'll take you near but there will still be a connection with ground transportation for the remainder. 

While there are adventure tours on the Niagara river in the form of the Whirl Pool Jet boats that take you into the rapids, they depart from Niagara on the Lake and are there to serve the purpose of recreation, not transportation. 

In terms of planes, there are a few small airfields near Niagara Falls. However, it's not very common to fly there from Toronto. There is a larger airport at Buffalo-Niagara but that is on the US side which involves a border crossing and even then it requires a 30 minute drive back to the falls. If you're going to spend time clearing at the airport, crossing an international border and then driving back to Niagara - You might want to consider a bus or train instead if your plans are to return to Toronto. 

I hope this blog helped in some way, shape or form. While it's not an exhaustive list, it's what I can share off the top of my head. This was written in October 2023. I'm sure things will change over time as Niagara is a place worth visiting. If you have any questions, we're happy to answer those for you on 4163423880.