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

Updated on March 26, 2018
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Glimmer 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.

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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, and 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 before hand 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 U.S. 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 (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 2 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 as stubborn as I am, I figured we would just pick and choose a couple of things to see.

Boy, was I wrong. Whenever we would see something, 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 how you want them to be 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 the country 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

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. My cover photo was taken from that platform. I still can't believe how much water flows over the falls.
Horatio Hornblower
Everyone has heard of the "Maid of the Mist" and 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 you can go to 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.

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.

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Glimmer Twin Fan


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      • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

        Glimmer Twin Fan 6 days 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 9 days 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

        RedElf 3 weeks 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 3 weeks 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 4 weeks 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 4 weeks 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 4 weeks 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

        srsddn 4 weeks 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

        Readmikenow 4 weeks 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 image

        Glimmer Twin Fan 4 weeks 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 4 weeks 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 4 weeks 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.