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Niagara Falls Day Trips from New York

Visiting the most popular waterfalls on the planet is a great way to get away from the lights and chaos of New York. Here's a list of the best organised tours and whether or not it's worth the trip.

Alex Grande

Alex Grande

12 min read

Niagara Falls Day Trips from New York

Panoramic view of Niagara Falls | ©Edward Koorey

Located on the border between the United States and Canada, Niagara Falls is made up of three breathtaking waterfalls that will make your visit unforgettable. Seeing this stunning natural wonder at least once in a lifetime is totally worth it, and it's definitely one of the must-do activities during a trip to New York, even more so if it only requires a day or two of your time. Here are the best tours to visit Niagara Falls from New York:

My favourite
Niagara Falls Day Trip (1 day)

The most comfortable option to discover the breathtaking Falls in one all-inclusive day.

Perfect if you are looking for the fastest, most convenient and complete option to experience the Falls at the most affordable price. Includes the Maid of the Mist cruise.

Duration: 22 hours
From £162 at Hellotickets

This is the quickest option for visiting Niagara Falls, as the tour gets you to and from downtown New York in one day. The trip to Niagara Falls from New York is by bus, so it will be a busy day but totally worth it.

During the day you will visit Niagara Falls State Park, admission to which is included in the price. You can also take a boat ride over Niagara Falls on the legendary Maid of the Mist, which will be the highlight of the day. You'll also have plenty of time to discover the Niagara Gorge Trail, a trail full of leafy paths that is well worth the walk, and you'll also pass Goat Island and Luna Island, two little islands in the middle of the Falls that will give you breathtaking views.

Why I like this option: In just one day you'll see all the must-see sights in the park, leaving nothing on your list of things to see and do in Niagara Falls. The Maid of the Mist cruise will take your breath away, but the views you'll get from other parts of the park are key. The expert guide will make sure you don't miss a thing and the price is very reasonable for all that's included.

Recommended if... you don't want to miss out on this unique natural wonderland without having to spend days in New York.


The most complete option
2-Day Trip: Niagara Falls (Hotel included)

A two-day visit, more relaxed, to enjoy more of this natural park (hotel included).

You will tour the entire Natural Park, with plenty of time to hike and see the waterfalls illuminated at night. On the way back, you will stop for shopping at an outlet store.

Duration: 2 days
From £269 at Hellotickets

If you have enough time, taking a two-day tour of Niagara Falls instead of the one -day tour is a great option. This tour is very economical as it includes accommodation and allows you to visit Watkins Glen State Park and its magical waterfalls, and see Niagara Falls at sunset, sunset and sunrise.

This tour will take you by bus to Niagara Falls, touring several waterfalls on the way: you will pass through the stunning Watkins Glen State Park nature reserve and visit the She Qua Ga Falls, a famous waterfall in the village of Montour Falls.

Arriving before sunset, you will tour the American side of Niagara Falls via Goat Island and Luna Island as the sun sets over the falls. In the evening, you can watch the Falls light up, and the next morning enjoy the sunrise over the Falls and take the Maid of the Mist tour.

On the way back to New York, you'll stop at the Crossings premium outlet, so if you were thinking of buying some American brands to take home as souvenirs, this is the perfect place. If you're interested in taking a trip to New York's outlets, here are the best options.

Why I like this tour: It's very comprehensive and allows you to see Niagara Falls at three different times of the day: morning, afternoon and evening. Most people who visit this amazing place tend to do so for a few hours. In two days you can connect much more with nature and the environment.

Recommended if... you have enough time to savour the scenery and feel like a more authentic experience.


In summary, we compare the two options


But is it really worth going to Niagara Falls from New York?

View of Niagara Falls| ©Tim Gouw
View of Niagara Falls| ©Tim Gouw

Obviously, this is a very personal question, but I will try to answer as honestly as I can, giving you the tips, pros and cons that I think are important for you to make the decision that best suits your travel style.

Depending on the length of your trip

If you are going to be in New York for 5 days or more, you have plenty of time to consider taking one of the best day trips from New York. Spending the day out of the chaos and lights of Manhattan and into a very unique natural setting will have you returning to New York with more energy to continue enjoying the city.

On the other hand, if you are short on time during your trip and, for example, you will be in New York for 3 days or less, subtracting a day from your trip might leave you without seeing or enjoying some of the must-see neighbourhoods or attractions. In this case, it would not be worth visiting the Falls.

Is this your first time in New York?

If it's your first time in New York and you want to get the most out of the city, you'll probably want to stay in the Big Apple for as long as possible, as there's so much to discover. In that case, it may not be worth leaving New York to embark on a full-day trip, especially if, as mentioned above, you don't have much time in the city.

Will it be too much of a round trip to Niagara Falls in one day?

One of the big questions facing all of us who have been to New York and have considered the option of going to Niagara Falls from New York is this: Is it worth the long drive to see the Falls in one day? The answer here for me is clear: yes.

The scenery you will see at Niagara Falls is spectacular (in fact I had already been to Iguazu Falls and I found the Niagara trip equally spectacular). The road doesn't get tiring, because you'll be seeing a lot of scenery along the way. Besides, in my case, jet lag worked its magic and I slept almost all the way back, so I can say that I almost didn't even notice it!

Do you want to contrast your visit to the city with a natural site?

If you're a traveller who likes to enjoy the great outdoors on your holiday, discovering unique natural places that are not built or designed by man, this is a great way to give your trip to New York the perfect counterpoint. After a few days wandering through the traffic, lights and noise of the city, spending a day in nature (and what a nature!) will be the perfect break from your holiday.

Is it worth it if I go with children?

If you doubt that the little ones will like this excursion, I'll settle the question right away: they 'll be amazed. The scenery, the sound of the water, the waterfalls, the boat trip.... If we adults are impressed, visiting Niagara Falls with children can literally be the adventure of a lifetime.

However, bear in mind that the bus ride is not a short one, so the decision will depend more on whether they tend to fall asleep on the way, get road sickness and so on.

Book your Niagara Falls Tour

What to see in Niagara Falls

Maid of the Mist Cruise| ©Chris Mcintosh
Maid of the Mist Cruise| ©Chris Mcintosh

On your visit to the Falls from New York, be sure to include the highlights of Niagara Falls on your route to make the most of the wonderful natural surroundings and to make sure you don't miss out on anything there is to see in Niagara Falls:

Niagara Falls State Park

Niagara Falls State Park is a perfect location overlooking the three falls. From the overlook, you can see the waterfall on the Canadian side from afar while walking very close to the Bridal Veil waterfall.

Maid of the Mist

On this iconic Niagara Falls boat tour you will enjoy the three falls from up close, and it's an experience you should definitely experience as it is the main attraction of Niagara Falls. One of the great things about the tours I recommend is that they all include tickets to the Maid of the Mist.

The boat departs from the American side daily (with few exceptions), and will take you on a tour that departs near the Rainbow Bridge and takes you down the Niagara River to the American Falls, then to the Bridal Veil Falls and finally to the Horsehoe Falls, whose dense mist you may have seen in more than one photo.

Niagara Gorge Trail

Along the Niagara Gorge there are a number of paths and trails along which you can take a stroll to enjoy the breathtaking views. There are trails of varying lengths, and in terms of time, we recommend the Great Gorge Railway Trail, which is an easy 1.8km (one way).

Goat Island

On this island in the middle of the Niagara River, you'll find the famous Terrapin Point lookout and a statue dedicated to inventor Nikola Tesla in a setting of natural beauty. Goat Island is also home to Cave of the Winds, a popular Niagara Falls attraction.

Cave of the Winds

After a lift ride down, you'll practically be inside the waterfall if you visit Cave of the Winds in Niagara Falls. This access to the lower part of the river is one of the spots that offers the best views of the waterfall and also one of the spots where you'll get the wettest. You can buy tickets to go down to the Cave of the Winds once in the park, but there are also organised tours of the falls that include this stop.

Luna Island

The second of Niagara Falls' small islands is located between the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls, and walking along its edge you'll be just a few metres from the falls. The origin of its name is sure to give you an idea to try on your visit: it is said that on nights when the moon is full, it is possible to see rainbows in the falls with the reflection of the moonlight.

Although you can do this Luna Island tour on your own, my recommendation is to go on an organised tour, as well as learning about what you're seeing, it will take the stress out of planning everything down to the last millimetre for the itinerary you see above. And while you're at it, you won't have to worry about getting there and back, as everything is included.

Alex's Traveller Tip

Don't miss the breathtaking views of the Horseshoe Falls from the Table Rock Welcome Center!

Plan your trip to Niagara Falls from New York City

Around the Falls in autumn| ©Alexis Gethin
Around the Falls in autumn| ©Alexis Gethin

Photos

Visiting Niagara Falls is almost a must if you're a nature lover, because in addition to the impressive spectacle of the falls, you'll find the perfect natural setting for a hike. And if photography is your thing, I assure you that in few places will you have the opportunity to capture water in motion as in Niagara Falls. And of course: you'll be able to take some stunning photos for your Instagram.

Niagara Falls with kids

If you're visiting Niagara Falls with kids, they'll have a blast: the area is perfect for families and has plenty of attractions and places for the little ones. For your sleeping and eating schedules, keep in mind that to get to Niagara Falls, you'll be catching an early morning bus and it will take you around 10 hours to get there from New York, including all the stops along the way.

Groups

Group tours to Niagara Falls are usually around 50 people and include admission to the one experience you'll want to experience - the Maid of the Mist.

Meals

Meals are not included on these tours, so you'll have some free time to explore at your leisure. For some tips on where to eat in Niagara Falls, read below.

Book your Niagara Falls Tour

Best day of the week to tour Niagara Falls from New York City

Niagara Falls illuminated at night| ©James Wheeler
Niagara Falls illuminated at night| ©James Wheeler

As with many other tourist attractions, you'll find it less crowded if you visit the Falls during the week. That said, I recommend you check the fireworks calendar on the official Niagara Falls website to try and time your visit to coincide with a show that will add a special touch to your trip.

Best time of the year to tour Niagara Falls from New York City

The Falls from the Maid of the Mist| ©Caitlin Louise
The Falls from the Maid of the Mist| ©Caitlin Louise

The typical temperature around Niagara Falls changes greatly throughout the year. While winter in Niagara Falls can be freezing cold, summer is usually quite nice, with sunny and warm days. If you visit the Falls in spring, you're likely to get rain, and in autumn you can expect pleasant weather, as long as you visit before November.

If you can, my recommendation is to visit in mid to late May and between September and October. It's certainly the best time to go to Niagara Falls, you'll have better weather and you'll avoid most of the tourists, who come in the summer.

If the weather doesn't help or doesn't suit you, we recommend the Washington tour from New York or the Philadelphia tour from New York, where the weather will be less of an issue when it comes to enjoying the rides.

  • Winter
  • December - March
  • Weather: Snow
  • High 11ºC
  • Minimum 0ºC
  • Spring
  • March - June
  • Climate: Temperate
  • Maximum 27ºC
  • Minimum 2ºC
  • Summer
  • June - August
  • Climate: Hot and humid
  • Maximum 29ºC
  • Minimum 18ºC
  • Autumn
  • September - November
  • Climate: Temperate
  • Maximum 25ºC
  • Minimum 6ºC

Typical food in Niagara Falls

If you're going to eat in Niagara Falls, you should know that in the surrounding area, you'll find typical American food, but also Canadian food with a strong French influence. There are barbecue bars and restaurants to suit all tastes, where you can try the typical dishes: poutine (fried potatoes with cheese and gravy, a meat sauce) and Canadian bacon (pork steaks marinated in maple syrup sauce).

To be honest, though, you're not going to find spectacular food in the park. One of my tips for visiting Niagara Falls, and this applies to every tour you go on that doesn't include food, is to pack some food in your backpack (and a good bottle of water to refill!).

Recommended restaurants:

  • Flip Burger - If you're looking for something reasonably priced with a typical American flavour, Flip Burger has very good reviews and is also next to the Maid of the Mist tour departure point.
  • Mother Cluckers Inc - an interesting mix of Portuguese and American cuisine and is quite well located next to the visitor information point.
  • Smoke's Poutinerie - If you don't mind a bit of a walk, you can cross the Rainbow Bridge and try Smoke's Poutinerie's popular poutine.
  • Savor - The best option if you prefer not to stray too far from the more touristy Niagara Falls area.

What should I take with me to Niagara Falls?

View of Niagara Falls with the Rainbow| ©Jason NG
View of Niagara Falls with the Rainbow| ©Jason NG

The best advice I can give you is to wear the most comfortable clothes you have. You will find that most people visiting the Falls do the same. If you visit in winter, it's best to wear several layers to adapt to the changing weather.

In terms of footwear, I highly recommend that you wear trainers or waterproof footwear, as you're bound to get wet at the Maid of the Mist. For the same reason, a rain jacket and a GoPro camera are good additions to your backpack (although they do give you a poncho and flip-flops).

Latest tips

View of Niagara Falls from an observation deck| ©Cameron Venti
View of Niagara Falls from an observation deck| ©Cameron Venti
  • Very important! Don't forget to bring the necessary documentation for Niagara Falls, as you will be crossing the border between the United States and Canada on a regular basis.
  • If you visit Niagara Falls in autumn, don't miss Niagara Falls Park- the colours of the leaves are beautiful!
  • Don't worry about children as it's a very safe place.
  • If you have the budget, consider taking a helicopter ride over Niagara Falls; it will be short but intense and I assure you it will be worth it.
  • Finally, one of the tips to keep in mind when visiting Niagara Falls from New York is that the Canadian side of the Falls is actually much more manicured and better looking than the American side, so try to spend as much time as you can on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge.

A trip to Niagara Falls is a unique experience that you will remember for the rest of your life!

Frequently asked questions

  • Do I need a passport to visit Niagara Falls from New York?

    You will be asked to provide a passport when returning to the USA from Niagara Falls, so it is mandatory that you bring it with you on your trip.

  • Is it really worth going to Niagara Falls?

    The answer is yes, absolutely. You'll see a very unique natural landscape and the trip doesn't get too tiring. The highlight of the experience is the Maid of the Mist boat tour.

  • How far is Niagara Falls from New York?

    Niagara Falls is about 643 kilometres (400 miles) away from New York, which means it takes about 6-7 hours to get there. Most tours departing from New York to the famous falls leave very early in the morning (around 04:00).