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A guide to the NIAGARA FALLS border crossing

A guide to the NIAGARA FALLS border crossing

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? We are sharing this Niagara Falls border crossing guide so that you experience the best of this wonder of the world. 

Straddled across the border 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 the Skylon Tower on the Canadian side.

For our second visit, we crossed Rainbow Bridge, suitcases and all, and stayed on the Canadian side.

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.

maid of the mist Niagara Falls

Can you walk over the Rainbow Bridge?

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 or bicyclist 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 on the border. 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. If not, use the map below or ask a taxi to take you to Rainbow Bridge.

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

Can you drive over the Rainbow Bridge?

You can drive over Rainbow Bridge – 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.

2020 toll fees: $4 U.S. or $5.25 Canadian funds for autos (round trip).

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.

Niagara Falls Border times: Rainbow Bridge is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  

Where to stay in Niagara Falls?

American side

Canadian side

Niagara Falls border crossing

Getting to Niagara Falls

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

Train – The Niagara Falls NY Amtrak Train Station is approx. 4.5km from the rainbow bridge, costing around $10 cab fare whilst the Niagara Falls station on the Canadian side has stopped trains through to Toronto apart from occasional weekend trips. Trains from New York City take nine hours and cost $78 each way.

Drive – Niagara Falls is an apron 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, travelling 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

maid of the mist Niagara Falls

The border at Niagara Falls FAQ

What is the Niagara Falls Rainbow Bridge walk?

The Rainbow Bridge walk is the route you will take 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. 

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. 

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, it you want to experience an attraction on the other side of the border, you will need a passport but remember to bring a waterproof case or bag like this. 

Is Niagara Falls in 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. 

maid of the mist Niagara Falls

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. 

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. 

Can you walk over Rainbow Bridge Niagara Falls?

You can walk over Rainbow Bridge at Niagara Falls. 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 border if you are visiting on a national holiday. 

maid of the mist Niagara Falls

How far is Rainbow Bridge from Niagara Falls?

The Distance between Niagara Falls Station and 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. 

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. 

What to pack for Niagara Falls?

Things to know before you go to Niagara Falls

Helpful Resources

Travel essentials:

What to pack

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Thursday 28th of October 2021

Hi, I am not a US citizen currently in the US with valid visa. I just got a traveller's visa of Canada. Can I walk through the bridge with a large suitcase. (Would it be a very long and tiring walk, and very crowded so the suitcase would make it more difficult?) How long does it take to get pass the borders (check the visas and everything) and how long to just walk across? I wonder if I should get on a bus and it would be faster. Thank you so much!

Julie Dick

Saturday 19th of June 2021

The Journey behind the Falls--- can you do that from either side of the border? or do you need a passport to cross into Canada to take that tour?


Friday 25th of June 2021

The Journey behind the falls is an attraction on the Canadian side but in the US you can go under the falls in the Cave of the Winds attraction

Cesar Palomeque

Saturday 8th of May 2021

Can I cross the bridge on foot from the US and stay at the Canada falls for 3 days ..???


Tuesday 11th of May 2021

It depends on your passport but yes you can cross and stay for a few days if you have a US or EU passport

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