A GUIDE TO NIAGARA FALLS BORDER CROSSING

getaways from nyc

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.

BORDER AT 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 an advantage of great views of the falls but also great photo opportunities on the border.

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 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 4-7pm 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.  

NIAGARA FALLS border crossing

Where to stay in Niagara Falls?

American side

American side

 

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 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 then change to bus 40, schedules found here.

A friend of ours who recently travelled 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) being located 6 miles from Rainbow Bridge.

Train – The Niagara Falls NY Amtrak Train Station is approx. 4.5km from 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 takes nine hours and cost $78 each way.

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

Rainbow Bridge Location:

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

BORDER AT NIAGARA FALLS

Border at Niagara Falls FAQ

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. 

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 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. 

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

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. 

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 is in the USA and the Canadian Horseshoe falls is in Canada. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

You can walk over Rainbow Bridge Niagara Falls. The bridge offers gorgeous views and can be used as an entrance point to/from Canada/USA. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

Helpful resources:

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40 Comments

  1. I’ve always wanted to visit Niagara Falls, it seems so beautiful from all the pictures, including yours! Great tips on the boarder crossing too, will make note of that, and I’ll make sure I have some cash on me 🙂

  2. Niagara falls is so beautiful and romantic. I had no idea that you could walk across. Time permitting that would be my choice over driving.

  3. The last and only time I went to Niagara Falls was more than 40 years ago (I’m no spring chicken…lol!). I live in Montreal and it’s only a few hours away but I’ve never went back. I’m happy to know people from all over the world still come to Canada to visit this beautiful site!

  4. Niagara Falls would be amazing to visit. It’s funny hearing about crossing the border, because coming from New Zealand, the closest border to cross is a three-hour flight away! Anyway, good advice for those wishing to do so. Cool you can walk across!

  5. I didn’t know that you could walk over the bridge. I was at Niagara falls about 12 years ago and I would have loved to have done this. I will have to wait till I am next there. Thanks for the heads up!

  6. I would love to visit Niagara Falls. I visited Victoria Falls from both Zambia and Zimbabwe so I would definitely want to see Niagara from both sides as well. I hadn’t realised it was so straightforward.

    • Victoria Falls looks amazing, would love to visit it!

  7. This looks great! I went to Niagra a few weeks ago but it was just into December and most of it was closed for the winter so we didn’t get to do much. However, it was really quiet so no crowds! Unfortunately, we couldn’t walk over the bridge as my mum forgot her passport! Next time though!

    • Oh the falls must have looked amazing in the winter! I have seen photos of it all frozen over 🙂

  8. I crossed the border at Niagara Falls last summer. I took a rental car. As an American, the process was super easy. I’m curious how hard it is for visitors from other countries.

    • We are from the UK and it wasn’t too hard at all 🙂

      • With a UK passport did you need a visa?

  9. I love Niagara Falls. I have family living close by, so I have visited them many times. But if you really love falls, you need to go to Zimbabwe to see Victoria Falls.

  10. I loved our visit to Niagara, and I agree seeing both sides is key. We drove across the border as well, and the lines were pretty long. I think it would have been faster to walk.

  11. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. Especially as you write, because sometimes it’s difficult to find useful information onliine.

  12. Cool to focus on the border crossing. Good help with logistics.

  13. Great tips on crossing the border! I didn’t realize it was such a process

  14. That is one outstanding view. Would be great to see this up front but that will only be a dream of mine. I’ll have to make do with the photos. Thanks for sharing!

  15. I have been to Niagara on many visits when we have had people visiting us from the UK and Ireland. I love the falls in the winter in particular when it is cold enough to freeze and they put the lights on at night. It gave me a great pleasure to read about my home area today.

  16. Stunning photos, I imagine the walk across the bridge would be some stunning sights. Not a bad price, I knew Canada charged to leave the country, which I find funny. Last time I flew to Vancouver I was charged $10 to leave, strange!

  17. Its really nice that you can actually walk across the bridge. How much time does it take to cross that way? The natural beauty around the area looks stunning.

  18. Niagara Falls is a great place to visit. The second photo is amazing!!

  19. Amazing Pictures loved them, thanks for sharing 🙂

  20. those waterfalls are impressive

  21. We are Singaporeans, will visit Niagara Falls next month, staying in US side. Do we neef to fill any forms or visa when we go to Canada and then back to USA

  22. […] Read also: CAN YOU WALK ACROSS THE BORDER AT NIAGARA FALLS? […]

  23. Very informative,thank youHow much time is needed to walk from Canada to America ör vice versa?Is a week more than enough for the US side?

    • A week is more than enough to see both sides! It takes around 30 – 45 minutes to walk across if you are walking at your own leisure and want to take photos of the view! We have visited in the height of summer and you never have to wait for more than 5 minutes to get across the border.

  24. […] on toll roads, but it was well worth the money. We got to Niagara Falls in the late afternoon and crossed the border over to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. Because of the fact that we were traveling in October, we were able to walk right into the first […]

  25. […] unto itself, its also makes for a perfect stop if you’re road tripping from New York City to Niagara Falls.  Located a 5.50 hour drive from NYC and 90 minutes drive from Niagara Falls (click here for […]

  26. hello , i am planning to go Toronto in November , then travel to Niagara fall for two night, can i walk across to USA to continue my journey to New York city , i got my visa for Canada and got ESTA visa for USA

    • Yes that isn’t a problem. If you have a suitcase, they may ask what your plans are next and it would help if you have an email confirmation of your outgoing flight to leave the USA.

  27. Hi.We are From Srilanka, will visit Niagara Falls next month, staying in canada side. Do we need to fill any forms when we go to USA and then back to Canada ?
    (WE HAVE BOTH SIDE MULTIPLE VISA) want be a any problems please any one can advise me

    • Hiya,

      If you are staying in Canada, you will need to complete a non-immigrant visa, which you can apply for online from Sri Lanka. Once you have this, this is all you will need for your visit.


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