Daytripping – New York City to Niagara Falls

Thinking of travelling from NYC to Niagara? On my last trip to New York I decided that I needed to get out of the city more! When looking at day trips I decided on Niagara falls. It’s a bit far for a day trip from New York to Niagara falls and back but you can do it as an overnight trip. If you are thinking of taking a day trip from New york City to Niagara Falls this post contains everything you need to know!

Getting There

Fly

There are several flights each day from New York to Niagara. Make sure you book through Skyscanner! You can get some great deals and if you book in advance this can end up being the cheapest option. The flight time is around 1 hour.

Car

It takes about 6-7 hours to drive from New York and it’s a pretty easy drive if you have a car. We went in December and it snowed frequently on our drive so make sure you check the weather.

Train

You can take the train from Penn Station and it will take you 9 ½ hours. Book online 14 days in advance on Amtrak and you get a booking discount. Last time I checked you can expect to pay around $125 for a round trip.  

Public Bus

By public bus, you are looking at 9-15 hours! Most of the buses leave from the Port authority terminal and arrive either on the New York side of the falls or you can carry on to the Canadian side. It’s cheaper to book in advance and there are three main companies offering connections from New York to Niagara Falls: Greyhound, Trailways NY, and City2City.

Private Tour Company

This is the option I took, mostly due to the seriously low cost! I paid $75 for a round trip including an overnight stay in a hotel! There were 4 of us, so if you are on your own it is $150 but still the cheapest option. I will go into more detail of this ‘tour’ further down. But it took 8 hours to get there including 3 ‘comfort’ stops and 8 hours back. The trip included a hotel for the night and we were really lucky to be a 5-minute walk from the falls.

How Much Time

This depends on what you want to do there, and what time of the year you go. I actually went in December one week after all of the main attractions closed up for the winter. We had an evening and then a morning in Niagara and at that time of year that felt plenty. We had time to do everything we wanted to do including a short hike around the park. That said if it was the summer I may have preferred a bit more time on the second day.

When to go

I would say as long as you don’t mind the cold go in late November. We got there just too late as everything had closed the week before. This meant we couldn’t access all of the viewing platforms and the Maid of the mist wasn’t running. The jet boat was, but it was a bit out of my price range. What this did mean though was there were no people!

We decided to get up early and try and catch a sunrise. When we walked over to the falls after sunrise we had it to ourselves for the whole time we were there. It was pretty special! If we had gone the week before I could have still gone on the Made of the Mist and I’m pretty sure the ques still would have been non-existent. I would love to go back in the summer but if you go then be prepared for the crowds!

 

Things to do

I can only really talk about my experience and as everything was closed there wasn’t really much to do! We even struggled to eat in the evening as everything was closed. I was pretty surprised at how commercialised it was around there. It looked like a mini Las Vegas! I can imagine during the main season it’s pretty lively.

 

Get up early and see the sunrise. The best place to catch the sunrise is from the first bridge as you head over to the islands.

Take a walk around the parks viewing platforms in the early morning after the sunrise.

Head back towards the falls and take a walk down the river by the old train track. It’s a pretty easy walk and the path is very clear. There are some pretty stunning views and good places to take a photograph.


Take a walk across Rainbow Bridge. Sadly we weren’t about to do this as two of our party didn’t have their passports! You are entering a different country so you do need to have your passport.

 

About the Tour

There are a few different tours you can take. Being a budget traveller I chose the cheapest option and then roped my mum and her partner in to make it even cheaper! The normal cost is $135 if there are four of you and you all share a room it’s $300! So it’s worked out really cheap. But all it included is getting there and back and the hotel. Once you get on the bus they will try and sell you all of the extras including the jet boats and evening entertainment.

Now, if you asked my mum how she liked this particular tour she would tell you she hated every moment of it and would NEVER go on another. I, on the other hand, thought it was brilliant! So here is a rundown of the tour from both viewpoints.

The Tour

Run by a Chinese company it departs and returns to Chinatown. Therefore most of the people on the tour were Chinese. We were actually the only English/ North American group. The tour guide was Chinese and he was brilliant! Everything was spoken in English and Mandarin and he has a really great was of speaking to the group.

The Coach

It really wasn’t great. There is hardly any space in between the seats and the windows are covered with a weird colour plastic thing so you couldn’t see out of it properly. This was pretty bad for me and my mum’s partner who are tall with long legs. Spending the best part of 16 hours over 2 days that cramped in wasn’t much fun. I’ve been on worse so I didn’t mind so much but I know he really struggled. So, in short, you will be spending 8 hours squashed on a coach and you can’t really see well out of the window. There is no wifi BUT there are plugs so you can charge up, sadly ours didn’t work!

The Extras

We were the only people on the trip who didn’t do any of the extras. The only real issue this caused was that the following morning the coach and the group leave at 7 am to go on one of the extras. Now even if you don’t decide to do this you still have to vacate your room and put your bags on the coach. This is part of the booking arrangement and there is no way of extending your room. I was fine about this as I wanted to see the sunrise anyway. My mother, however, was not impressed. It took several hours and a few coffees to cheer her up after her early start!

Other than the coach journey we really didn’t have much to do with the tour group. If you prefer something a bit more organised and would want to do all of the ‘extras’ then I would suggest going with a different company. Take a look at what is on offer through Viator. I use them all the time and I can’t recommend them enough. You can get an all in the tour on a far better coach with wifi and more leg room for about $320. If you are like me and don’t mind a rough and ready tour then here is the link to book through Tours4Fun.

Thinking of travelling from NYC to Niagara? On my last trip to New York I decided that I needed to get out of the city more! When looking at day trips I decided on Niagara falls. It's a bit far for a day trip from New York to Niagara falls and back but you can do it as an overnight trip. If you are thinking of taking a day trip from New york City to Niagara Falls this post contains everything you need to know!

 

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28 Comment

  1. Great tips! I’ve been to Niagara Falls years ago and would love to go back! Your sunrise photo is awesome. And oh moms! My mother would have been the exact same way and I wouldn’t have minded. Gotta love budget travel 🙂

    1. I’m pretty sure she will kill me when she reads this ?

  2. I would likely agree with your Mom, but the falls look lovely. I will definitely check for off-season to ensure that restaurants and activities will be open.

    1. Haha to be fair I think most people world. My standards are pretty low ?

  3. Great guide. I used to work in Niagara often (based in Toronto at the time) and never tired of looking at the falls, especially in the winter. Witnessed a few sunsets with my early rises before work. Nice post. Safe travels…

  4. That is such a fantastic deal. How do they even make money? It would be great to go overland but not sure my husband would agree with me

    1. It’s definitely not for everyone. My mother has sworn never to go on another coach again haha

  5. When I go next time I’m going in the car and going to please myself when I get up ? Claire’s right not one of my favorite trips, then to top the lot being rushed out in the morning I left my iPad in the hotel but luckily for me whoever cleaned the room hand it in and the hotel kindly sent it back. I must admit though nice we got out and saw the sunrise it was pretty amazing.

    1. Oh hay mother ? yea next time I go on a budget road trip I won’t drag you along ?

  6. Oh great guide. I didn’t even think about going here when I was in New York. Though that was nearly 10 years ago!!

  7. I didn’t know you could walk along the river there! I’ve been to Niagara a few times before when I was little but I didn’t remember it much. We went for a 4 day trip back in May and I was surprised how calming it felt being by the falls even with all the people around. It was hectic when you looked at all the people but if you paid attention to the falls, it was quit relaxing.

  8. I may be a bit biased in thinking that the Canadian side of the falls is better, since my parents live in Toronto and we go to the falls at least a few times each year, but it is quite convenient for you to get to the falls from NYC. I was surprised to read that the private tour is cheaper than the public transport options. I’d recommend going in September when the leaves are just changing color for the most picturesque views! Hope you enjoyed your trip 🙂

  9. This is an awesome guide! I was just there in October and was taken aback by how different it looks in your photos as there are no leaves on the trees!

  10. I have never been to Niagara falls, but have always wanted to. This sounds like a great tour you can do from NYC. Your photos are still great even if it was near winter. There’s always the plus and minus to traveling off season. I hate how things can be closed, but LOVE the fact there aren’t any crowds.

  11. Kiwirugbytravelstories says:

    Thanks for the advice on heading to Niagara Falls – although I probably wouldn’t take the method you took it is great to get some advice on how long it takes

  12. I did this in 2016 and loved it! The Falls are so awesome, especially at night when they light them up. I also love the vineyards in the area.

  13. There’s still some good things in the US, afterall 😉

  14. People should definitely give winter travel a try (even if there isn’t a ski slope near by!) I would love to see the falls in winter.

  15. I can’t imagine doing this as a day trip from NYC. I did it as a day trip from Toronto though. I was there in August so everything was open, I went on the boat and had a great time. I kind of wish I had been there at night though to see it lit up 🙂

  16. Niagara Falls is so beautiful! 🙂 What a lovely idea for a weekend trip. Next time you go, I’d also suggest seeing the Canadian side of the falls! 🙂

  17. Niagara Falls is so beautiful! I am a little embarrassed that I live in NYC and have never been. I do think I would want to go in warmer weather–perhaps October or September–when it will have more things open. Thanks for the pretty pictures and the tips!

  18. Niagara falls is really one of the must visit places in the World. The private tour you took, looks like a great and cost effective option to visit the place. Hope to get there some day.

  19. I’ve been to New York a couple of times but still haven’t been north enough to make it to Niagara. I feel like it needs more than a day trip from NYC! I’ve always wanted to though – your photos looking stunning! Great breakdown of the options too 🙂

  20. I did this as a kid with my parents! It was a long day trip but my father loved driving. I’ll have to do it again with my kids I think. They’d love to see Niagara.

  21. I went to Niagara falls once as a child but don’t remember it much, so this is great! I’m definitely hoping to get back sometime soon, and I had no idea you could actually fly there. I love the idea of catching the sunrise!

  22. Great info! I never have any idea how close or far things are up in the northeast. Definitely thought it was a bit closer to New York, haha. That Chinese tour sounds awesome and a unique way to see the area haha. Glad the guide was going back and forth in the languages so everyone could get something. ^^

  23. I would to see this one day! Hopefully next time I’m in America

  24. Wow your organised tour was a great price! Our first trip to NYC we took a flight over to Buffalo but it was cancelled until the next day because of a storm – a bit of a pain and not as much time at The Falls as we would have hoped! The second time we took the Amtrak and although long it wasn’t too bad!! 🙂

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