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A guide to the NIAGARA FALLS Border Crossing (2024)

A guide to the NIAGARA FALLS Border Crossing (2024)

The Niagara Falls Border Crossing can be daunting but we share everything you need to know, after crossing many times whilst living in the USA.

With the Canadian and American sides of the border offering different attractions around Niagara Falls, of course, we naturally asked can you walk across the border at Niagara Falls?  

Straddled across the Niagara Falls border crossing of the USA and Canada, Niagara Falls is a natural wonder of the world.

On our first visit, we stayed on the US side and crossed the border to visit Skylon Tower on the Canadian side.

For our second visit, we crossed the Rainbow Bridge, suitcases and all, and stayed on the Canadian side. We loved staying on this side because we could enjoy the plenty of attractions on the Canadian side like the Niagara Falls Jet Boat Whirlpool Experience.

Since moving to the US, this Niagara Falls crossing has become a second home to us, as we travel across the border to see both sides of the falls and explore more of Ontario, Canada.

It is worth visiting both sides of the Falls to experience the great attractions in the area, so here is how to cross the border at Niagara Falls for those who aren’t too sure.

Niagara Falls Border Crossing – A Complete Guide

maid of the mist Niagara Falls

Can you walk over the Rainbow Bridge Niagara Falls Border Crossing?

Rainbow bridge is the route you will take when crossing the border and you can either drive or walk across the bridge.

Crossing as a pedestrian from NY to Canada is free and the reverse route costs $1 but make sure you have cash; there is a machine to get the change from if needed.

Walking across the bridge gives you the advantage of great views of the falls but also great photo opportunities at the Niagara Falls border crossing.

Plus, there are some fun attractions to enjoy on both sides, with the US offering the Maid of the Mist and the Cave of the Winds and Canada offering the Journey Behind the Falls and the Niagara Falls Whirlpool Jet Boat.

Both sides are very walkable areas that are well signposted, so if you are staying near the bridge, you can easily walk and find the bridge entrance.

Creative tip: The Rainbow Bridge is also a great location for viewing the Falls & Friday night fireworks.

Driving across the Rainbow Bridge Border Crossing

Can you drive over the Rainbow Bridge?

You can drive over Rainbow Bridge Niagara Falls border crossing – either via taxi or self-drive, though be aware that there can be traffic on the bridge with some wait time, causing a higher taxi price.

Traffic can be busy early in the morning and between 4-7 pm so if you are planning on just a day trip on the other side, the walk may be a better option. You can also check live traffic conditions online before the Niagara Falls border crossing.

2024 toll fees: $5 U.S. or $6.50 Canadian funds for autos (round trip). The toll is also included in the E-ZPass system.

Do you need a passport for Niagara Falls?

Yes, you are leaving one country and entering another so you will need a passport.

For many passport holders, you will not need a visa for either Canada or America but double-check the visa requirements for both if you are unsure. However, most passports other than US and Canadian passports, will need an ESTA to enter into the US or ETA to enter into Canada.

Niagara Falls Border times

Rainbow Bridge is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Typically, there are no delays in crossing on foot but traffic can impact delays crossing via car; especially during the holidays.

On foot, you can typically walk straight through; HOWEVER, this can be different early in the morning.

As we experience first hand, it can be busy going into Canada in the early morning. Due to Canadian visa changes and backlogs, many immigrants are finding themselves having to flagpole across the borders of Canada, in order to update their visa status. This means that even if you are a visitor wanting to visit Canada, you still wait in the same line and this can be up to an hour wait at times.

To avoid this, try to avoid walking across the border in from 8-10am.

Where to stay in Niagara Falls?

American side

Canadian side

Niagara Falls border crossing

Getting to Niagara Falls

Fly – You can fly to Toronto (Pearson International) or Buffalo, New York airport with taxis, shuttle buses, and train services available from both airports to Niagara Falls, making the trip to the falls quick and easy.

Flights from New York City take approx. 45 minutes and starting prices begin at around $60. 

For both visits, we have flown into Buffalo Airport, the first time taking the Express Bus 210 that operates between May – September. These only run 7 times a day and we were lucky to catch one just after exiting the airport.

You can also catch the 204 bus to Buffalo Downtown and then change to bus 40, schedules are found here. There are also plenty of attractions and restaurants to spend at least 48 hours in Buffalo City if you want to explore more than just the falls. 

A friend of ours who recently traveled to Niagara Falls mentioned hotel shuttle buses to the left of the airport as you exit, which took her to the hotels near Rainbow Bridge. From there, she could walk over to the Niagara Falls border crossing.

On our second trip, we went for a taxi as we had big suitcases and were very tired from an early flight. This second trip meant we had to take a taxi to Rainbow Bridge, costing us $70.

From here, we walked across the bridge and then took the short 8-minute walk to our hotel; Days Inn near the falls.

Bus – Greyhound offers bus services to Niagara Falls from NYC but these can be long; taking 9-11 hours depending on traffic. This route costs approx. $55 each way to the Trailways bus terminal (NY) located 6 miles from the Niagara Falls border crossing on Rainbow Bridge.

From the Canadian side, there are a few bus options from Union Station in Toronto (arguably one of the best cities in Canada), like Megabus and Flixbus. These should only take 2-3 hours but we have definitely been on a 5+ hour journey back from Niagara Falls to Toronto before!

Train from NYC to Niagara Falls

Train – The Niagara Falls NY Amtrak Train Station is approx. 4.5km from the Niagara Falls border crossing at Rainbow Bridge, costing around $10 cab fare whilst the Niagara Falls Station can be reached from Union Station in Toronto.

When planning a trip to Canada, you can take advantage of the VIA Rail options available in the country. Trains from New York City take nine hours and cost $78 each way.

Cars driving across Rainbow Bridge Border Crossing

Drive – Niagara Falls is around a 6.5 hours drive from New York City with the quickest route taking Interstate 80 West to 81 North to 90 West then 190 North to the Robert Moses Parkway.

You can travel to and from various cities along the East Coast, traveling from Boston to Niagara Falls or Buffalo to NYC are popular routes, especially for those who have a little more time to explore the US. 

Rainbow Bridge Location:

5650 Falls Ave, Niagara Falls, ON L2G 3L7, Canada

If you are catching a taxi here, it is best to be dropped off at the corner of Prospect Street and Niagara Street in NY, or be dripped off by the sidewalk near CDN customer before crossing the bridge on the Canadian side. You can use the address – 5827 River Rd, Niagara Falls, ON, Canada to reach this spot.

FOR US BORDER SERVICES CALL: 1-716-843-8300

FOR CANADIAN BORDER SERVICES CALL: 1-800-461-9999

Niagara Falls up close

The border at Niagara Falls FAQ

What is the Niagara Falls Rainbow Bridge walk?

The Rainbow Bridge walk is the route you will take at the Niagara Falls border crossing, from the USA side to the Canadian Side or vice versa. This is the closest border crossing to the Niagara Falls attraction. 

Do you need a passport for Niagara Falls New York?

You do not need a passport if you are only visiting the New York side and are staying in the US. However, you will need a passport if you intend to cross the border to the Niagara Falls Canadian side. If you are going across the Niagara Falls border crossing from one country to another, you will need your passport.

Do you need a passport to visit Niagara Falls Canada?

If you are visiting the Canadian side from the US side, you will need a passport. However, if you are staying on the Canadian side and want to visit the attractions in and around Niagara Falls on the Canadian side, you do not need a passport. 

Do I need a visa to go to Niagara Falls?

Many international travelers are exempt from needing a visa to Niagara Falls under the Canada visa waiver. See the full list of countries included in the waiver and more visa information here.

People on the Maid of the Mist Boat in Niagara Falls

Do you need a passport to go to Niagara Falls?

If you are only visiting the attractions on the side that you are staying on, you do not need a passport.

We don’t recommend taking one either, as many Niagara Falls activities will leave you soaked through and you don’t want to damage your passport.

However, if you want to experience an attraction on the other side of the border by using the Niagara Falls border crossing, you will need a passport but remember to bring a waterproof case or bag to keep everything as dry as possible.

Is Niagara Falls in the USA or Canada?

Niagara Falls is a group of three waterfalls that span the border of Canada and the US. The American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls are in the USA and the Canadian Horseshoe Falls are in Canada. 

Niagara Falls Canadian side vs. American side – which is better?

The Canadian side offers the best panoramic views, particularly of the impressive Horseshoe Falls. Both sides offer boats under the falls too.

The US side is surrounded by a State Park, ideal for those looking for a peaceful, relaxing experience.

The Canadian side is catered to tourists, with plenty of restaurants, bars, interactive museums, casinos, and attractions. If you are planning to stay in the area for a few days, there are more activities to enjoy on the Canadian side. 

toronto skyline

What is the nearest Canadian city to Niagara Falls?

The nearest Canadian city to Niagara Falls is Toronto. You can fly into this city and travel via bus, car, or train to Niagara Falls. The Drive takes around 1.5 hours whilst the train is just under 2 hours. 

Can you see Niagara Falls from the US side?

You can see the falls from the US side in the state of New York. You can view all sections of the falls from this side but we recommend taking the Maid of the Mist boat to get an up-close view of the falls. 

In fact, we also recommend walking across the Niagara Falls border crossing, as the view of the falls from Rainbow Bridge itself, is incredible!

Walking by Niagara Falls in the Winter

Can you walk over Rainbow Bridge Niagara Falls?

You can walk over the Rainbow Bridge at Niagara Falls but will need your passport to travel through the Niagara Falls border crossing. The bridge offers gorgeous views and can be used as an entrance point to/from Canada/USA. 

How long does it take to walk across Rainbow Bridge Niagara Falls?

It takes around 5 minutes to walk across Rainbow Bridge. It can take up to an hour at the Niagara Falls border crossing if you are visiting on a national holiday. However, generally it takes between 10-30 minutes at this Niagara Falls border crossing.

It is also worth noting that the Canadian border (travel into Canada from the US) is being used for those activating or applying for working visas on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. This means there can be a long wait for immigration in the mornings.

Maid of the Mist ride in Niagara Falls

How far is Rainbow Bridge from Niagara Falls?

The Distance between Niagara Falls Station and the Niagara Falls border crossing at Rainbow Bridge is 2km, but the bridge is only 0.4 miles (7 minutes walk) from the Niagara Falls State Park. 

Is the US Canada Border open 24 hours?

Yes, the US-Canada Border on Rainbow Bridge is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Expect to cross with 5-10 minutes with longer wait times during national holidays or, as mentioned above on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday heading into Canada.

Niagara Falls from above

Is it safe to walk around Niagara Falls at night?

The falls turn the lights off at midnight but it is common to see tourists wandering around after that. It is safe to walk around Niagara Falls at night as long as you stay in well-lit areas. 

How many days do you need in Niagara Falls? 

If you want to experience the attractions on both sides (which we recommend), you will need at least two days in Niagara Falls. 

Can I cycle across the Niagara Falls border crossing?

You can cycle across Rainbow Bridge but you must use the roadway not the sidewalk.

Things to know before you go to Niagara Falls

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