Niagara Falls is the most popular tourist destination in Canada.
More people visit here than anywhere else in the country including places like Toronto, Vancouver, and our beautiful East Coast.
Is one day enough to see it all?
One Day in Niagara Falls Itinerary
In this post I want to share with you a helpful one day Niagara Falls itinerary.
This way you’ll be better equipped to make the most of your visit to this beautiful natural wonder!
The area on the Canada side shouldn’t take more than one day to explore.
There are plenty of other things to do in the Niagara region but if your focus is on the Falls themselves this is the guide for you.
Where to Stay in Niagara Falls, Ontario
There are hundreds of options for accommodation in Niagara Falls between all of the hotels, motels, and B&B’s.
Most of the best places to stay are close to the Canadian Falls and Clifton Hill.
I recommend staying somewhere that’s walking distance to most of the attractions, restaurants, and shops you want to visit.
Here are my recommendations on the best places to stay in Niagara Falls:
King’s Inn Near the Falls – Great if you’re on a budget. 15-min walk from Falls. Rates starting at $45 per night.
The Rex Motel – Clean, modern hotel with updated rooms. Rates starting at $70 per night.
Marriott Fallsview – Closest hotel to the falls. Wide range of different rooms available starting at $300 per night.
Arrive at Niagara Falls (9:00AM)
The earlier you can reach the area, park your car, and start exploring the better off you’ll be.
As the day progresses it continues to get busy around the Falls, especially during the warmer summer months.
Thousands of people are visiting every day so it’s best to arrive as early as possible!
The best thing to do after parking is to make your way to the walkway along the Niagara River.
You can walk right up to the Falls for some amazing photo opportunities.
Standing at the Falls you’ll notice that there are 3 different waterfalls pouring over the escarpment.
These are the picturesque Canadian Horseshoe Falls, the Bridal Veil Falls, and the American Falls.
At the Falls is a large public building with a parking lot, Tim Hortons, washrooms, and the ticket booth for Journey Behind the Falls (A tour that takes you behind the waterfall).
Take a Hornblower Boat Cruise (10:00AM)
The Hornblower boat cruises are the best way to see the Niagara Falls up close.
The tours have been running for more than 170 years bringing people right past each of the three different waterfalls.
Prices for the most popular “Voyage to the Falls” boat tour are $25 for adults.
This includes admission on to the 700 passenger catamaran, mist poncho, complimentary elevator ride, and access to the Hornblower Riverside patio.
With just one day this is one of those MUST-DO experiences that you don’t want to miss.
It’s hard to describe the thunderous roar and earthy vibrations as the boat cruises by the millions of gallons of water flowing over the escarpment into the Niagara River beside you.
Head to the Niagara Cruises website here to book your tickets for this amazing boat tour!
It’s a good idea to book tickets for this Cruise in advance – this is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Niagara Falls.
Explore Clifton Hill (11:30AM)
Clifton Hill is the main tourist shopping area.
There are dozens of restaurants, quirky tourist attractions, and interesting stores that you can check out.
This is the best place to grab souvenirs like maple syrup maple candy, Tim Hortons, or really cheap tourist t-shirts.
Some of the other highlights of Clifton Hill include:
- Niagara SkyWheel (large, modern ferris wheel that offers amazing views of the Falls)
- Louis Tussaud’s Waxworks (cool wax museum, great for kids)
- Ripley’s Believe it Or Not!
- Nightmares Fear Factory (the best spot for some quick scares)
- Fudge Factory (fudge and a vast selection of candy)
Thinking about lunch yet?
One of the places I’d recommend for first-time visitors to the falls is the Rainforest Cafe – it’s a fun place to eat if you’ve never been!
The Bird Kingdom (1:00PM)
Five minutes from Clifton Hill, right beside the US Border entrance, is the Niagara Falls Bird Kingdom.
This is the largest free-flying indoor aviary in the world and it’s full of hundreds of tropical birds.
When you’re inside you can explore a multi-level rainforest on different open-air pathways for the best bird experience.
There are parrots, toucans, owls, bats, and other interesting creatures.
This is a great place to visit if you’re looking for things to do in Niagara Falls with kids.
The bird kingdom is open daily between 9AM and 6PM.
Tickets are $18 for adults and $14 for children. You can save $3 per ticket if you buy online.
Hike the Niagara Gorge (3:00PM)
There are more than 4 km of rugged trails winding through the deep Niagara Gorge.
The Niagara Glen Park offers a number of different opportunities for outdoor activity.
Bouldering is a popular local hobby with climbers visiting every day to test their skills on the Escarpment.
Thinking of climbing? Visit the Nature Centre to pick up a Bouldering Permit.
During the summer there are guided hiking tours available with a Niagara Parks Naturalist.
These tours are great for familiarizing yourself with the local geology, plant, and animal life while learning more about the history and impact of the falls.
Ride the Whirlpool Aero Car (5:00PM)
The Whirlpool Aero Car is an attraction here you don’t want to miss.
Suspended from 6 cables, a cable car whisks you across the Niagara Gorge offering amazing views of the Niagara Whirlpool and River down below.
The round trip takes about 10 minutes with the cable car turning around halfway through the journey.
Up to 35 people can stand on a cable car and there is plenty of room to take photos of the scenery.
Tickets for the Whirlpool Aero Car cost $15 per person with the rides running between April and November.
Head to Niagara-on-the-Lake for Dinner (6:30PM)
Niagara-on-the-Lake is one of the oldest and prettiest small towns in Ontario.
Sitting on the shores of Lake Ontario, at the mouth of the Niagara River, it’s worth it to consider doing a day trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake all on its own.
In town you’ll find a beautiful tree-lined main street with picturesque and well-preserved 19th century buildings.
Niagara-on-the-Lake is only 30 minutes away. Those of you driving will enjoy the scenery along the Niagara River Parkway.
There are plenty of options for parking once you get there.
Looking for alternative transportation?
It’s possible to take a shuttle from the falls using the WEGO Shuttle Services.
If you get the chance, Niagara-on-the-Lake is an incredible place to visit even if just for a few hours!
Tips for Visiting Niagara Falls
Tip #1: Don’t Visit During the Summer
I’ll be honest, the crowds are crazy during the summer.
By 9AM it’s already packed and thousands of people are wandering around everywhere.
It also gets really hot in Southern Ontario, especially in July and August when you can expect temperatures upwards of 30°C.
When’s the best time to visit Niagara Falls?
October to April and avoiding major holidays is the ideal time to visit.
Kids are in school and there are generally less people traveling during this time.
You’ll find better deals and lower prices for tours and accommodation during the off-season.
What’s the best day to visit Niagara Falls?
The middle of the week is when you’ll find the best deals.
This is also when the least amount of people will be out traveling.
You’ll have the best opportunities for photos and exploring without too many tourists around.
Personally, I’d recommend visiting on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday to avoid the weekend crowds.
Tip #2: Don’t Overpay for Fixed Rate Parking ($10-$15 MAX)
The best place to park in Niagara Falls are the fixed rate parking lots.
These are dozens of parking lots. They aren’t hard to find once you arrive.
Start looking for parking close to Clifton Hill and avoid using any of the hotel lots.
The hotels for overcharging for parking so you’re better off avoiding them.
Tip #3: Read Reviews Online Before Spending Money
The Tim Hortons on Clifton Hill charges more than the locations everywhere else.
Some restaurants also charge a “tourist tax” that can add up to a signification amount of your bill.
This was something I didn’t expect to find when visiting the Falls.
It’s a sleazy way to get more money out of tourists.
Before spending money ANYWHERE pull out your phone and look up reviews.
Seriously, you just have to do a quick Google search for the specific location.
One of the first results will be Google Reviews and it doesn’t even take a minute to read the first few.
This is the most practical way to find honest places to visit and it’s a strategy I use whenever I’m traveling to avoid getting scammed or overpaying.