I’ll never forget my first glimpse of Niagara Falls. I was only 8 years old, but the tremendous tumble of water over the edge of the cliffs was simultaneously terrifying and thrilling.
I remember my dad’s friend joking that he would send me over in a barrel, and being very wary of him for … well, the rest of time. (I’ve got my eye on you, Wayne.)
The falls are just as impressive today as they were to 8-Year-Old Me, and for good reason. According to the Niagara Falls State Park website, “3,160 tons of water flows over Niagara Falls every second.
This accounts for 75,750 gallons of water per second over the American and Bridal Veil Falls and 681,750 gallons per second over the Horseshoe Falls.”
The falls are connected in some way to all five Great Lakes, whether fed by them or emptying into them, and create massive amounts of electrical power, shared by the US and Canada.
They are, in other words, totally boss, and you should totally see them on your next adventure. But how to do so without breaking the bank? Let’s take a look.
Average Trip to Niagara Falls Cost in 2023
An average one-week trip to Niagara Falls for two people will cost around $3,000:
- Average Accommodation Cost: $150 per night
- Average Flight Cost: $300 per person
- Food, Drink & Activities: $75 per person, per day
- Transportation: $300 total
- Total Cost: $3,000
Niagara Falls has been a destination since prehistoric times, and it remains so today. “The Niagara Region was a place of awe and wonder for the Indigenous peoples who first walked this land,” explains Niagara Falls Tourism.
“Their ancestors’ footsteps arrived approximately 13,000 years ago as the melting glaciers retreated northward, revealing the great lakes of Erie and Ontario and the mighty Niagara River.”
Our awe has not faded over time. And while some parts of Niagara are tourist traps, there are plenty of ways to see this amazing natural wonder without breaking the bank.
Niagara Falls Trip Cost: Average by Item
The average cost of a trip to Niagara Falls will differ depending on your travel preferences, dates, number of people in your party, and more.
However, it’s good to know where to start! Read through the following categories to see what you can expect to pay, then use our tips to save money wherever it works for you.
First things first, always get a hotel ahead of time in Niagara Falls. Some people, especially if they live close, assume they can just drive up and snag a hotel when they get there.
Although this may work during the low season, especially in the middle of the week, it’s a poor strategy for any time during the high season, as well as any weekend or holiday. Booking hotels right near Niagara Falls in Ontario will cost you.
It’s a tourist hotbed, and even in the off-season, you’re likely to pay hundreds of dollars a night. A better idea is to stay in Toronto on the Canadian side, where you’ll see prices closer to $150 a night.
If you’re fine staying on the US side, which is cheaper, then by all means stay in the city of Niagara Falls. There you can find hotels for about $150 a night as well, and they’re closer to the main attraction than Toronto is.
If you’re the type to enjoy hostels, you can find single dorm beds for as low as $26 a night in the US, depending where you look. You can also camp in the spring, summer, and fall.
Assuming you’ll take the hotel route, set aside about $150 a night for a “real” Niagara Falls experience. Then, if you want to drive further away and stay in a motel part or all of the time, you can whittle down your accommodations budget.
Flights to Niagara Falls are fairly reasonable. You will land in Buffalo, New York, which is about a half-hour’s drive from the city of Niagara Falls. From nearby NYC, plan to pay about $150 for a round-trip flight.
It’s about the same from Chicago. From Los Angeles, $300 is a more reasonable budget.
And from anywhere that isn’t a major travel hub, you should tack on roughly $100. In general, you can plan on paying about $300 for tickets, on average.
Food, Drink & Activity Costs
There is no lack of fun at Niagara Falls. For instance, consider the Niagara SkyWheel. It’s a Ferris wheel that takes you 175 feet into the air, where you can see spectacular views of the entire falls landscape.
The climate-controlled gondolas are comfortable year round, at night as well as during the day (see more on the light show below). At only $15 CDN for adults (about $11), it’s a steal – especially since the ride lasts between 8 and 12 minutes, a pretty long time as such things go!
Another classic Niagara activity is the Maid of the Mist. Memorialized as the site of Jim and Pam’s wedding on The Office, it has been around since the mid-1800s
On its decks, you can get close to the belly of the beast, experience the soaking spray, and hear the drumbeat of the falls in your very bones.
There’s nothing else like it in the world, and it’s quite inexpensive. An adult ticket is less than $30, while children under 12 are less than $17, and under 5 are free. Niagara Falls is always getting better, too.
“A whitewater wonder visited by everyone from Marilyn Monroe to Mark Twain, Niagara Falls has been a magnet drawing global travelers for at least two centuries,” says CNN (and longer, we might add). “But until this year, a huge tunnel buried deep below the cascade has been off-limits to visitors.”
As for food, you can pay as much or as little as you want. Restaurants on both the US and Canadian sides are pricey near the falls, but if you drive 20-30 minutes away, you’ll see normal fares for fare. Eating from the grocery store can save you even more money.
Given the relative inexpensiveness of the main activities, as well as pretty standard grocery and restaurant prices, you can enjoy everything Niagara has to offer for only about $75 per person, per day.
The cost of a taxi from nearby Buffalo to Niagara Falls is about $80, so don’t take that route unless you have no other options. And, to be honest, you always have other options.
A Greyhound bus, for instance, only costs $13 per person, about a third of what the two-person taxi cost amounts to. You can also take an Amtrak train – quite the picturesque way to travel – for about $16, though it will take a little longer – closer to an hour and 15 minutes than half an hour.
If you want to have a Canada experience, consider taking the train from Buffalo to Toronto. The cost can drop as low as $50, depending on the time of year and current market prices.
It takes about 4 hours and is a lovely way to see the countryside, enjoy views of Lake Ontario, and stay in a Canadian hotel for a few days without having to fly into Canada.
If you choose to rent a car, that will cost you a bit more in Canada than the US, an average of about $20 a day plus gas. Overall, if you budget about $300 for trains, buses, and automobiles, you should be set for the week.
Things to Consider
Here are a few other things to consider when planning your trip to Niagara Falls:
- Camping is a great budget option in the Niagara Falls area. Consider Niagara Falls Campground & Lodging, Niagara Falls KOA Holiday, or Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp Resort Niagara Falls for some great places to stay with fun amenities. Each of these is fairly close to the main attraction, so you won’t have to drive too far.
- The Maid of the Mist is a must-see. Well, more accurately, the falls are a must-see from the deck of the Maid of the Mist, the classic Niagara Falls tour boat – in operation since 1846!
- The Niagara Falls light show is breathtaking. If you can get there during the dates and times that the falls are illuminated, we highly recommend you do so. Viewing from the observation deck only costs $1.25 per visitor.
- You can use American money at most places on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. However, you won’t get the best exchange rate that way. It’s better to change your money over before using cash.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about budgeting your trip to Niagara Falls:
Do I need a passport to go to Niagara Falls?
You will need your passport to see the falls from the Canadian side or to stay in Canada. If you’re hoping to have that experience, make sure you can legally enter Canada (other options include a passport card or a NEXUS card).
If you are a US citizen, you can also use a birth certificate with your photo ID to get in.
Do I have to pay to see the falls?
No, it’s always free to enter Niagara Falls State Park. You can see the falls from there, and it’s open every day of the year. As the website explains, the park “also features thrilling attractions, interactive exhibits, miles of hiking trails, and delectable dining options in a family-friendly environment.”
Moreover, “No passport is needed to experience an unforgettable and breathtaking Niagara Falls vacation.” If a passport is an untenable expense, or you simply don’t want to deal with it, you can still have a Niagara Falls adventure.
When is the most affordable time to visit Niagara Falls?
July through August are the busiest times of year to travel to Niagara Falls. Because it is located in a temperate corner of the world, this is guaranteed to be the warmest and sunniest time for a visit. However, that’s not necessarily the best time to go.
We recommend heading there in late spring or early fall. Costs are cheaper outside of the high season, but the weather is still nice enough that you’ll likely get to view the falls without rain you. However, you may have to leave the exact day up to chance depending on the weather.
Is it cheaper on the US or Canadian side of the falls?
It’s definitely cheaper to stay on the US side of the falls. If you want to save money, you can stay on the US side and drive over into Canada during the day, where you will find lots more activities than on the US side.
Just know that border crossings do take a while, and they close at night, so give yourself plenty of time to get there and back.
Buffalo, NY, is only about a 20-minute drive from the falls. There’s plenty to do there as well, so you might consider that as your home base.
Is winter a good time to see Niagara Falls?
Winter is a different experience than the rest of the year. During the coldest snaps, a crust will freeze over the top of the falls, making it look as though it’s in suspended animation. Despite this, the crashing sounds of water will tell you the truth: the falls never stop!
That said, winter is actually a lovely time to go. The view is still beautiful, especially with snow and ice all around. If you like winter sports, this could be ideal.
Over to You — Book Your Trip Today!
|🛎️ Average Accommodation Cost||$150 per night|
|✈️ Average Flight Cost||$300 per person|
|🍽️ Food, Drink & Activities||$75 per person, per day|
|🚕 Transportation||$300 total|
|💲 Total Cost||$3,000|
The average cost of a one-week trip to Niagara Falls is around $3,000 for two people. You can spend even less than this by booking well ahead of time and traveling smart. Either way, it’s an experience everyone should have once in their lives.