A trip to Niagara Falls is one of the most unique and interesting things to do in New York. A perfect escape to nature to take a break from the asphalt, city noise and tall skyscrapers.
The waterfalls are 650 kilometres from the Big Apple. But if you follow these tips, you'll enjoy them as if they were just around the corner from Central Park.
1. Book a package tour to make the most of your time
The most common trips to New York tend to last five days or a week. A trip to Niagara Falls takes at least a day.
To get the most out of it and enjoy the site's attractions without the hassle, it's best to join a guided, organised tour from New York. You'll be comfortable on a night bus where you can rest and, therefore, the trip won't take as long as if you were travelling during the day.
And once you're there, you don't have to worry about improvising your visit. The tour is planned so that you can enjoy it at your leisure, and so that you don't miss any of the main attractions in the area, of which there are many!
- Niagara Falls day trip from New York - From £169.
- NiagaraFalls 2 day tour from New York - From £299.
- NiagaraFalls, Toronto and 1000 Islands 3 day tour from New York - From £434.
- 4 day tour of America from New York (Niagara Falls, Washington and Philadelphia) - From £614.
- 5 day tour of America from New York (Niagara Falls, Washington, Philadelphia and Toronto) - From £745.
2. Take comfortable shoes and expect to get wet
It's not hard to imagine that Niagara Falls is a rather humid environment. Even on hot summer days, water splashes everywhere. And you'll be wandering back and forth, taking in the breathtaking views and beautiful corners of the park, bathed in steam from the waterfalls.
Conclusion: When it comes to footwear, go for flexible, comfortable and, if possible, waterproof trainers (or boots if it's autumn/winter). You're bound to get them wet.
And speaking of getting wet, on the Maid of the Mist, the boat that takes you right next to the huge waterfall, they leave you a mackintosh. But if you bring your own in case it rains, all the better. Just like you would do on any other tour.
3. If you go in winter, wrap up warm because it can get quite cold
Visiting the Falls in winter can be a great experience. OK, it's colder and it's more likely to rain. But the autumn colours in the Falls area are spectacular. And if you go in deep winter, you might even get lucky and see the falls frozen over. That would be a real treat, wouldn't it?
Temperatures can drop as low as -7°C at this time of year. Keep in mind that the place where they are located is quite far north, right on the Canadian border. The winter there is harsh. So you need to dress warmly at this time of year. A light anorak is more appropriate than a coat. You'll be able to move around better.
4. Be patient in summer, there are a lot of tourists
Niagara Falls is one of the most visited destinations in the world. In the hot season, the influx of tourists is tremendous. You're likely to get more than a few crowds, as this is considered the best time to visit Niagara Falls. Take it easy.
As far as the weather is concerned, it is very cold in winter, but in summer it can be quite warm. Wear light, cool clothing.
To avoid the heat and long lines, the best time for a guided and organised tour from New York is May-June or September-early October. The weather is usually good and there are fewer tourists.
5. Take your lunch with you, you won't regret it
Whether you've chosen a package tour or you're on your own, you're on your own when it comes to food.
The food on offer in the area is not great and it's usually not cheap. Bear in mind that it is a very touristy place, full of people who spend a whole day visiting. In other words, people who have to eat. So they take advantage of the opportunity to 'nail' a little bit.
Given this scenario, our recommendation is that you take your food with you from New York. Some good sandwiches or well-stocked lunch boxes will do you a lot of good. And without having to punish your credit card. There are plenty of outdoor and indoor picnic areas to enjoy a picnic.
6. If you're travelling with kids, take them to Cliffton Hill
If your stay in New York is with your young children and you are travelling to Niagara Falls with them, I have a great plan for the whole family: visit Cliffton Hill.
This street is located on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls and only 10 minutes away from the Falls. The kids will have a great time, as it is famous for being the street of fun. Museums, haunted houses, attractions, restaurants, it's worth staying a little longer in Niagara Falls and visiting both sides!
Which brings us to our next tip:
7. Don't forget your passport, you have to cross the border into Canada!
Niagara Falls borders Canada. So don't leave your passport and eTA permit to cross into the neighbouring country.
From Canada you can enjoy a good visit that includes all the attractions of the site. Also, the Canadian side of the border is much more secure.
Get your documents ready and cross to the other side of the Rainbow Bridge, the bridge that connects the two countries!
8. If possible, allow at least two days for your visit
Even if you travel to the Falls in comfort, it is a somewhat long trip of approximately 7-8 hours, so I recommend that you take at least two days or more for your visit if possible. If you can choose the 2-day tour instead of the day trip to Niagara Falls, it's well worth it, as you'll enjoy the falls from dawn to dusk. If your trip is longer and you have more time, you can also opt for a 5-day tour. As well as visiting the falls on the American side, you'll cross the border and see the Canadian side.
The tour includes a visit to Watkins Glen State Park, where you'll see the famous She Qua Ga Falls, smaller than Niagara Falls but incredibly beautiful.
The return trip to New York stops at the Crossings premium outlet, a great place to shop for American brands at great prices.
The contrast to the day trip
Day trips usually take about 22 hours, including travel and sightseeing. You leave from the city centre and go by night bus. You sleep on the journey and wake up to the sound of the waterfalls for an intense but sensational day of sightseeing.
I also recommend that you make the trip on a weekday. On weekends the crowds can be uncomfortable.
9. Make sure you have enough storage space on your mobile phone
There's nothing more annoying than being in the middle of your trip, taking the most iconic photos and your phone starts nagging you with a notification: you're low on storage space.
Before you leave your hotel in the morning, or the night before, make sure you free up the space on your phone. The scenery you will encounter during your visit to the Falls will make you want to take pictures from every possible angle.
Another tip is to also make sure you have enough charge, either in your mobile phone or camera. For your mobile phone you have the portable batteries which, in my opinion, are quite useful when travelling.
10. If you are travelling in a group, take the car!
If you're enjoying all the things to do in New York as a group and there are several of you driving, you might want to take a trip to Niagara Falls by car. The drive from the city to the falls includes some great sights and scenery that are worth a stop. Also, the roads in the US are very good, so it's worth a try.
There are several natural parks and oak forests of incredible beauty that you can enjoy at your own pace. All you have to do is rent a car in New York (they start at 20 euros per day), choose your route and get going.
Take your turn behind the wheel and enjoy the ride!