One of the world's most famous natural wonders, Niagara Falls is famed for its beauty and immense power. It's the most popular attraction in the state of New York outside of New York City, although it's quite a journey to travel between the two. The trip from NYC to Niagara Falls, NY (not to be confused with the town of Niagara Falls, Canada, right across the border), is just under 410 miles. It's a bit long for a day trip, but this charming town and the nearby cities are worth staying in for a night, if not longer.
The quickest way to travel from New York City to the epic falls is by flying, with flights to the nearby city of Buffalo taking only 90 minutes. The next fastest way is to drive yourself, which is a long drive but through the scenic forests of Upstate New York. The bus is the least expensive method, although it takes three times as long as a plane and it's just marginally cheaper. Lastly, the train is the slowest and most expensive choice, but train travel is often considered the most comfortable.
|How to Get From New York City to Niagara Falls|
|Train||8 hours, 50 minutes||from $68||Comfortable travel|
|Bus||7 hours, 50 minutes||from $55||Traveling on a budget|
|Plane||1 hours, 30 minutes||from $49, plus transit||Arriving on a time crunch|
|Car||6 hours, 30 minutes||408 miles (657 km)||Freedom to explore|
What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From New York City to Niagara Falls?
Whether you go by bus, train, or plane, the price is roughly the same for all types of transit. However, the bus tends to be slightly cheaper than the other two. The company OurBus offers daily journeys that start at $55 for a one-way trip. The bus route is direct but takes nearly eight hours, so be prepared to spend an entire day of your vacation in transit.
Buses leave New York City from the George Washington Bridge Bus Terminal, located in Washington Heights at the northern tip of Manhattan. The station in Niagara Falls is right in the heart of the town next to the Niagara Falls Visitor Center, so you'll be able to step off of the bus and immediately see the falls.
What Is the Fastest Way to Get From New York City to Niagara Falls?
The fastest way to travel to Niagara Falls is, without a doubt, by plane. The Buffalo Niagara International Airport isn't actually in Niagara Falls, but in the nearby city of Buffalo, which is only 30 minutes away by car or up to two hours away by public transit (which is longer than the flight). Flying to Toronto is also an option if you want to visit the Canadian side of the falls, and it takes about an hour to reach them by car.
Planes depart frequently from all three of the New York City airports—JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark. Prices don't fluctuate depending on your departure point, so you can freely choose whichever airport is most convenient for you. If you buy tickets in advance and aren't traveling during a busy holiday period, prices start at about $50.
How Long Does It Take to Drive?
If you have a vehicle, the drive takes six and a half hours and passes through all of New Jersey and northern Pennsylvania before re-entering New York State and continuing up to Niagara Falls.
Niagara Falls State Park on the U.S. side of the border has four parking lots that are open 24 hours a day and seven days a week, which cost $10 to park for the day. However, on weekends and holidays they fill up quickly. If they're full, there are paid parking lots around downtown Niagara Falls as well as metered street parking, all of which are just a short walk from the waterfall viewing points.
How Long Is the Train Ride?
The train may be one of the most relaxing ways to reach Niagara Falls from New York City, but it's also the slowest and generally the most expensive. It's a nearly nine-hour journey, so you'll use up an entire day just sitting on the train, and with tickets starting at $68, you'll likely spend more than taking the bus or even a plane. However, if you want to visit other Upstate New York destinations, such as Albany, Rochester, the Hudson River Wine Valley, or the Finger Lakes, the train passes through all of them en route to Niagara Falls.
Amtrak trains depart from the Moynihan Train Hall, the expansion to Penn Station that opened in January of 2021. The Niagara Falls Station is located two miles from downtown and the viewpoints to see the falls, and it's easiest to use a cab or ride-sharing service to get there.
When Is the Best Time to Travel to Niagara Falls?
Each season in Niagara Falls has its own advantages, depending on what you're looking for. Summer is, understandably, the peak season for tourists when prices for hotels and boat tours are at their highest. However, the warm and sunny weather more than makes up for the cost difference, and the spray of the falls even feels refreshing in the summer heat.
Winter, on the other hand, is freezing, oftentimes literally. Niagara Falls is frigidly cold in the winter, and many of the most popular attractions shut down for the season (including the popular Maid of the Mist tour). However, hotel rates are at their cheapest and there is an undeniable charm of snowfall in Niagara.
Spring and fall are considered the shoulder season, when temperatures are still chilly but the summer crowds have yet to arrive. In spring, the local flowers are all in bloom while in autumn, the nearby wineries are celebrating the seasonal harvest.
Can I Use Public Transportation to Travel From the Airport?
Public transportation is available from the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, but it can take up to two hours to reach your final destination. Buses are available from the airport to downtown Buffalo and from there, passengers have to change buses to a Niagara Falls bus. The cost of each bus is only $2, so it's definitely the cheapest way to travel from the airport.
If you prefer faster and more comfortable transportation, then shuttles and taxis are also available. Prices range and are clearly much higher than the bus, but you'll save a lot of energy and not lose out on any extra time from visiting the falls.
What Is There to Do in Niagara Falls?
The real question is: how do you want to see the falls? There are several different boat tour companies, some of which bring you so close to the base that you won't just get wet, you get soaked. Another option is to hike down the backside of Horseshoe Falls, which actually brings you behind the waterfall for a completely different perspective. And for those who want the ultimate tour, nothing beats taking a helicopter ride or a zipline over the falls for a view that few people get to see.
But if you think the town of Niagara Falls is just the eponymous waterfall, think again. There's plenty to keep busy on both sides of the border, so don't forget your passport. Walk around downtown to dine in quaint restaurants and enjoy local craft beer or wine. The Niagara Fallsview Casino not only has a great view overlooking the falls, but it's also a fun place for adults to hang out and hit the slot machines. The Niagara Falls Botanical Garden is especially great to visit in spring, and the butterfly conservatory is the most popular attraction there.