Niagara Falls Day Trip
A day trip to Niagara Falls, one of the world's top ten attractions, should definitely be on your to do list when visiting Toronto
Niagara falls, one of the world's top ten tourist attractions, has always been closely associated with Toronto by virtue of it's proximity. If you have never seen Niagara Falls in person and you are vacationing in Toronto, I would highly recommend a Niagara falls day trip to experience this natural wonder. Pictures and videos simply don't do justice to the awesome sense of power and grandeur that one experiences by being there. When visiting Niagara Falls I would recommend going up to the Skylon Tower Observation Deck which will provide you with a spectacular overview of the falls and the surrounding areas. On a clear day you can sometimes make out the Toronto Skyline far across lake Ontario. I also recommend a ride on the Maid of the Mist which will take you on a breathtaking (and wet) ride up to the base of the Horseshoe Falls.
There are numerous tour operators offering package tours from downtown Toronto to Niagara Falls and most of them include the Maid of the Mist attraction in their price. While these tours are great, they are more restrictive for time and cost considerably more (see below) than using the Go Train/Bus and local bus service to visit Niagara Falls. Throughout the year you can travel from Union Station in Downtown Toronto to Niagara Falls using the combination of a Go Train to Burlington Station with an immediate transfer to a Go Bus that will be waiting at the train station to take you on to Niagara Falls. This trip takes about 2¼ hours and there are several departure times available each day. See Niagara Falls Go Train and Bus Schedules for exact times. From late in May until late September a single Go Train trip, travelling all the way to Niagara Falls, departs each Saturday and Sunday morning. There are 2 corresponding return trips from Niagara Falls to Toronto in the evening. For exact times on these seasonal trips see Go Transit - Zip Down to the Falls. This service takes approximately 2 hours each way, about 15 minutes quicker than the train/bus combination. Go Trains and Buses terminate at the Via Rail Station in Niagara Falls. From there you can walk along River Road to the falls in about 40 minutes or take a Falls Shuttle operated by Niagara Region Transit Service. For more information about Niagara Falls see the Official Website: Niagara Falls Tourism.
Total round trip cost for an adult from Union Station in Downtown Toronto is $34.20* for Go Transit plus $6.00 for a day pass on the Niagara Falls Shuttle, for a total of $40.20. If you add $19.75 for the Maid of the Mist attraction at Niagara Falls the total cost per adult is $59.95. This compares very favourably an average going rate of about $89 including tax for a Tour Bus | Maid of the Mist Tour. If you are travelling with children your savings will be much higher - Go Transit $17.10* / Falls Shuttle - Free / Maid of the Mist $12.65 for a total of $29.75 compared to an average of about $78 including tax for a similar package tour. A family of 2 Adults and 2 Children can save around $150 compared to a similar tour bus package.
In addition to the considerable savings you will have many more options for departure and return times providing up to 9 hours in Niagara Falls on Weekdays and up to just over 10 hours on Weekends. Package tours usually only give you 2-3 hours of free time at the Falls.
*Seasonal weekend Go Train rate is $6 more for adults and $3 more for children and seniors for the round trip. It is a bit faster and more convenient but you can still use the train/bus combination on weekends and get the lower fare. See table below for rates.
If you do prefer an all-in-one package tour, the two tours below provide added value including air conditioned coach transportation right from your hotel, the Maid of the MIst Tour, a visit to the Whirlpool Rapids observation deck and a Niagara winery. The evening lights tour also includes a buffet dinner and a chance to see the falls at night.