5 Mistakes to Avoid When Visiting Niagara Falls on the Canadian Side

Updated on February 18, 2020
Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

Claudia enjoys traveling and bringing her travel tips to readers.

5 mistakes you can avoid if you visit Niagara Falls on the Canadian side.  This is a view of the falls from the platform of the "Journey Behind the Falls" attraction.
5 mistakes you can avoid if you visit Niagara Falls on the Canadian side. This is a view of the falls from the platform of the "Journey Behind the Falls" attraction. | Source

Growing up, I always wanted to see Niagara Falls. People I knew had gone there on their honeymoons, and I'd seen stories of daredevils trying all sorts ways to go over the falls. Frankly, it looked like loads of fun.

Last summer, I finally got the chance to go. We planned an intergenerational trip which included me, my mother, and my teen daughter. What a fun trip it turned out to be, and the falls did not disappoint. The memories we made will last a lifetime.

We live in the United States but wanted to see the falls from the Canadian side, so it took a bit more planning. I liked it so much that I definitely plan on going back to see some of the things I missed. Unfortunately, some things didn't go quite as expected, but I learned some valuable lessons from the mistakes that I made.

Hopefully, you can avoid some of these pitfalls too.

Niagra Falls' Canadian Side: Things You Need to Know Before Going

  1. To avoid paying fees, you'll want to to check your credit cards' policies before you go. Learn exactly what to ask and why below.
  2. Be sure to wear comfortable footwear.
  3. It's a mistake not to give yourself enough time to see everything. Below, you'll find a list of my favorite tourist traps and how much time you'll need to see them.
  4. The bus is the smartest way to get around, but be sure to get the discount card and a buss pass if you can!
  5. Check your phone settings beforehand to avoid extra fees, communication complications, and frustration. Scroll down for more information on international roaming charges.

The rainbow over Horseshoe Falls.
The rainbow over Horseshoe Falls. | Source

Mistake 1: Not Checking Credit Card Policies

Look around in a store these days and almost everyone is using credit or debit cards instead of cash. When traveling, it's the easiest payment method around.

Before going to Canada, check with your credit card carrier to see if any types of fees will apply to purchases made there.

I pretty much only used my credit card while I was there, and boy was I surprised when I got my statement. On every single charge I made, there was a service fee. Had I checked beforehand, I would have used my other card which doesn't have a fee like that, or I would have used cash. It was very frustrating.

US Dollars

I was surprised that most of the places I went in Niagara Falls took US dollars. You shouldn't take it for granted that the store you are in does, but it can't hurt to ask. It was nice because I hadn't exchanged a lot of money.

A view of Horseshoe Falls from the Skylon Tower.
A view of Horseshoe Falls from the Skylon Tower. | Source

Mistake 2: Not Wearing Comfortable Footwear

This may be a no-brainer, but wear comfortable shoes. I was grateful I took a pair of tennis shoes because we walked and walked, and then walked some more. I didn't realize how hilly it was on the Canadian side (although I can't speak about the American side of the falls).

Your feet are going to feel it. Even if you take transportation around, you'll still be standing in lines, and there are places that cars and buses can't get close to.

Be Prepared for the Crowds

Niagara Falls is crowded—really, really crowded—and the lines are long. We got up early one morning and took the bus down to the falls just to avoid some of the craziness for a few minutes.

The American Falls, taken from the boat of the Horatio Hornblower attraction.
The American Falls, taken from the boat of the Horatio Hornblower attraction. | Source

Mistake 3: Not Staying Long Enough

We stayed two nights and really wish we had stayed one more. There are so many things to do in Niagara Falls on the Canadian side, and that extra day would have allowed us more time to venture outside of the city.

We did manage to go to Niagara-on-the-Lake for a few hours. If you are planning a trip to Niagara Falls, Ontario, plan a quick side trip to this lovely historic town. Many people told us to visit, and we fell in love. Niagara-on-the-Lake is only about half an hour outside of Niagara Falls, and it's like you are in another world. The flowers along the streets were beautiful and there were quaint shops and restaurants all over the place.

Enjoy the Nightlife!

The city is hopping at night, and while my mother stayed at the hotel, my daughter and I walked around and enjoyed the arcade-like atmosphere of Clifton Hill. It was loads of fun and we were easily able to get a cab back to the hotel.

Mistake 4: Not Getting the Discount Card and Bus Pass

I saw ads for the discount card when I was planning our trip but, being stubborn, I figured we would just pick and choose a couple of trips.

Boy, was I wrong. Whenever we would book a trip, I would compare the price of the pass to what we paid and found that we would have saved a lot of money had we gotten the pass.

Get the Public Bus Pass

I realized, a day late, that a cheap public bus pass was the way to get around the city. For a set price we rode everywhere we needed to go. On our last day we just got on the bus and rode it like a sightseeing bus. By that time we were exhausted and it was nice to just sit and ride. I really wish I'd gotten the pass on our first day.

Get Over Your Fear of Heights

I'm no fan of heights, but I forced myself to ride the SkyWheel and go up in the Skylon Tower. I didn't like it much, but I did it, and the spectacular views were well worth the fear.

The Niagara SkyWheel.  What a ride, especially at night!
The Niagara SkyWheel. What a ride, especially at night! | Source

Mistake 5: Not Checking Your Phone Settings

I'm a little embarrassed to admit this, but I'm not really good with my phone settings. If it weren't for my husband giving me pointers before we left, I would have been charged massive amounts of money for international roaming charges, and probably other charges that I don't even know about, while using my phone in Canada.

Before you go, make sure your phone settings are set up for when you enter the country.

Also, I'm not sure why, but my GPS didn't seem to work well in Canada. After we entered, we looked up directions for our destination town of Niagara-on-the-Lake (our first stop before we went to our hotel) and followed them. We ended up at a massive hockey stadium. We tried again and it just didn't work, so we ended up asking someone for directions.

Be Ready to Spend Some Money

Niagara Falls is not cheap, so make sure you budget accordingly.

My Favorite Tourist Traps in Niagara Falls, Canada

why you should visit
Journey Behind the Falls
You get to go behind the falls. How cool is that?! The viewing platform is pretty much as close as one can get to the falls. The top photo was taken from that platform. I still can't believe how much water flows over the falls.
Horatio Hornblower (formerly "Maid of the Mist")
Everyone has heard of the "Maid of the Mist" but, according to our bus tour guide, Canada decided to change the name. It's the same boats, you just get a different colored poncho. You will get soaked (which is half the fun) and the views and roar of the falls are impressive. It also runs quickly despite the thousands of people riding.
Skylon Tower
This tower looks like it's been around a long time, but the views are incredible. You can walk around the top and have a nice buffet dinner. We were there at sunset.
Queen Victoria Park
Despite the hoards of people, this was a charming park along the falls and the flowers were spectacular. In fact the flowers all around Niagara Falls were spectacular. This park had a rose garden and lots of places to relax and enjoy the scenery. The best part is that it is free!
Clifton Hill
OK, so it's incredibly commercial and cheesy, but it's also lots of fun, especially if you have kids in tow. My teen and I had a fun evening while my mom stayed at the hotel.

Take the quiz!

Have you ever been to Niagara Falls, Ontario Canada?

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Have Your Travel Papers in Order

Despite the fact that it's just a drive over a bridge to get into Canada, it is a foreign country, so unless you are a Canadian citizen, you are going to need the appropriate documentation. Check with your government to see what you'll need, and give yourself plenty of time in case you need to obtain some documents.

© 2018 Claudia Mitchell


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    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Mitchell 

      44 hours ago

      Next time we go we'll have to try out the Illumination tour. That sounds like fun! Thanks.

    • profile image


      2 days ago

      Good tips! My family and I adore Niagara Falls, CA. We have taken multiple trips because each time there are so many things we still haven't done. We have plans to back this summer if the pandemic crisis clears up.

      One thing to note: the boat cruise is Hornblower Niagara Cruises. Horatio Hornblower is a fictional character from a book series. If you have the chance, take the Illumination tour. You get to ride out at night when the falls are lit up like a rainbow.

      This year we plan to stay at Jellystone for a different vibe, but I recommend staying on Clifton Hill. You get to experience the energy of the heart of the tourist area and you can walk to many of the places you're likely to want to see. That way you save on parking costs, which can add up. My favorite thing to do is just walk down and see the falls. Last year we took a day trip to Canada's Wonderland. If you're into amusement parks and rollercoasters (like my husband and kids) I recommend looking into that. I liked that they have Peanuts characters. (They are owned by the same company that owns Cedar Point here in Ohio.)

    • profile image


      5 weeks ago

      Thank you so much for the info. It is on my bucket list. Planning for this fall. Looking into both the US & Canada sides.. maybe both.

      Wonderful tips & suggestions!

    • profile image


      8 weeks ago

      We go to Niagara Falls, ON often(I live about 2 1/2 hrs South in the US). Your tips are spot on. One thing, however, when using cash, sometimes if something is, say $5 Canadian, and you give a $20 in American money, they will give you $15 Canadian back..with the exchange rate, you’re actually losing money every time like that. So we only use cards over there.

    • DominiqueCM profile image

      Dominique Cantin-Meaney 

      2 months ago from Montreal, Canada

      I haven't been to Niagara Falls, Ontario, since I was a teenager. I would definitely like to go back though.

    • profile image


      4 months ago

      Before you go to the falls, watch the 1953 movie "Niagara" starring Marilyn Monroe and Joseph Cotton. You will get an idea of how things looked back then.

    • profile image


      5 months ago

      The "Maid of the Mist" use to run boat tours from from both sides, but lost the contract to hornblower (California Company) a few years ago.

    • profile image


      5 months ago

      Thanks and nice informative post

    • profile image

      Elly Kaye 

      6 months ago

      Do not miss the Butterfly Conservatory at the Botanical Gardens! We spent 2 hours there and it felt like 15 min!! Breathtakingly beautiful plants and flowers and thousands of butterflies flitting around you! Don’t forget your camera!!

    • profile image


      6 months ago

      thank you for this post!!!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Mitchell 

      7 months ago

      Thanks for reading. That jetboat ride did look fun!

    • profile image

      Pete and Sue Casey NZ 

      7 months ago

      We visited the Falls 6 weeks ago, and was amazed by them and the awesome place Niagara Falls (Canadian Side) was.

      A must do, is the Whirlpool Jetboat Ride. WOW. Excellent value for money.

      Enjoyed your post, and thanks for sharing your experience. :-)

    • profile image

      Lily Barrios 

      8 months ago

      Great Post!! Very informative!!

    • profile image

      marc meyers 

      8 months ago

      i am from Belgium

      i have visite many years ago the falls i believe 1989.

      we are considering to do it again

      many things are changed, more hotels and more things to do

      looking forward to come.

      see you.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Mitchell 

      8 months ago

      I hope you get to see the falls soon. It's lots of fun. I think I make mistakes on every vacation I've ever taken. Some bigger than others. Thanks for reading.

    • Besarien profile image


      8 months ago from South Florida

      I have never seen either side of the falls, but would love to see them both one day. Thank you for this guide to the Canadian side! By the way, I've made mistakes on holiday, too. Hubs are a great way to make lemonade out of those lemons, and help others avoid some of the pots holes on Holiday Road.

    • profile image


      8 months ago

      Great information! Thank you!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Mitchell 

      9 months ago

      Glad you liked the article. Check online or in brochures or in your hotel for the passes.

    • profile image

      Maureen Gringle 

      9 months ago

      Thank you !! I just need to know where to buy the pass etc ???

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Mitchell 

      10 months ago

      The hotel we stayed in had all of the bus info in the lobby and the concierge was able to tell us everything we needed to know. The fee I was talking about was the foreign transaction fee, but I don't know what every credit card company does so you would have to check with your credit card company.

    • profile image


      10 months ago

      I am going to drive from us to niagara falls. So what you are suggesting to get public bus pass? Where to get this?

      Is there bus map ? How do you fogure whay number bus you have to take to the your destination? I am thinking to walk or take my vehicle to see around.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Mitchell 

      12 months ago

      Sorry I wouldn't be able to answer that.

    • profile image


      12 months ago

      Hello do you need permission from your lender for your vehicle ?

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Mitchell 

      12 months ago

      We drove, so I am not familiar with the Buffalo airport.

    • profile image


      12 months ago

      Did you leave from Buffalo Airport? Because we have a trip planned in the end of May, and I didn't realize it was 45 minutes away and that's not counting the time stopping at the border. How did it go for you if that's the case?

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Mitchell 

      19 months ago

      Thank you and I hope you have a good time when you visit the Falls.

    • profile image


      19 months ago

      Thanks for sharing your experience with us and also for your precious advices.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Mitchell 

      19 months ago

      Oh Liz - I have many more places I'd like to see in my lifetime but unfortunately budget always rears its' ugly head. I know what you are talking about. Thanks for reading.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 

      19 months ago from Oakley, CA

      So many places I want to travel and see, but on my fixed income, it isn't going to happen. I'll do all that travelling from the spirit world once my days on Earth are finished. ;)

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Mitchell 

      19 months ago

      Have fun. I would love to go back.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Mitchell 

      23 months ago

      Thanks Dianna - It would definitely be worth a visit. It was very touristy, but sometimes that is lots of fun too.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      23 months ago

      I would love to visit one day. Great shot of the ferris wheel, not my favorite ride but it's pretty.

    • RedElf profile image


      2 years ago from Canada

      Awesome article. The parks and gardens are gorgeous, aren't they. I'd love to visit the American side sometime :) Just to see some of the wedding chapels.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I got to see both sides of Niagra Falls with my family when I was only 12 years old. I know that I would enjoy going back and spending more time there after reading your post. Thanks for all of the tips!

    • profile image

      Marina G Corbin 

      2 years ago

      Great info but one thing: Staying longer is often too expensive for the common folk. I just wanted to bring that up. You could add some affordable places at that location.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is an enjoyable article. I've never seen the Niagara Falls in person, but I'd love to do so. The area certainly sounds interesting. Your tips should be very useful for people visiting the area.

    • Natalie Frank profile image

      Natalie Frank 

      2 years ago from Chicago, IL

      I haven't been to Niagara falls yet but am hoping to before the summer is out. Thanks for writing these tips as there are several mistakes I definitely would have made and having waiting this long to visit I really want to get the most out of it. As for getting over my fear of heights . . . well. . .

      I do plan on trying to get to Niagra on the Lake as it sounds lovely.

    • srsddn profile image


      2 years ago from Dehra Dun, India

      Very useful tips, Glimmer. Some of my friends have visited Niagara Falls, but did not discuss these issues. Sometimes even a small tip can add to your comfort while visiting such places. Thanks for sharing.

    • Readmikenow profile image


      2 years ago

      Good article! Visiting Niagara Falls in Canada is always a great experience. I would also add that if you go on the Maid of the Mist tour you should accept the fact you're going to get wet. It's part of the experience. Enjoyed reading this.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

      Claudia Mitchell 

      2 years ago

      Thanks Bill & Donna - Bill - I had no idea what a beautiful area it is around the city. Also if you are a big wine fan there were vineyards everywhere. I definitely want to head back and see the surrounding area. Donna - I didn't realize the point about the birth certificate/passport. I just know that when I was planning I heard lots of different things from people, but luckily I have a passport so there were no issues. Glad you enjoyed the article.

    • purl3agony profile image

      Donna Herron 

      2 years ago from USA

      I haven't been to Niagara Falls, but I've wanted to go since I saw the movie "Niagara" with Marilyn Monroe. I didn't know that my phone had international roaming settings, so thanks for the tip. Also, as you pointed out, most US citizens might not realize that you can get into Canada with just a birth certificate, but you'll need a passport to get back into the US. Thanks for the great tips!

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      2 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Glimmer. Great hub. I guess we just assume that going to Niagra Falls is a simple trip, and doesn’t require much planning. Your experience should certainly help anyone planning to visit the falls, especially the Canadian side. I wasn’t aware of all the other things to do around the falls so good information.


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