Why visit Niagara Falls in Winter?
Honestly, I can’t think of a better time to visit the incredible Niagara Falls area than in the dead of Winter. It may be bone-chillingly cold between the months of December to March in the Niagara region, but the unique experience of seeing the Falls flow into frozen pools that are so big they look like puffy clouds is absolutely worth braving the icy air for.
Even with limited time in Canada, staying with family in Schomberg before moving on to Toronto for 24 hours, I still made sure I had a chance to see one of the most famous waterfall systems in the world. I obviously visited from the Canadian side, which meant that the feature waterfall was the remarkable Horseshoe Falls – the largest of the three waterfalls that make up Niagara Falls. According to Wikipedia, 90% of the water that flows through Niagara Falls comes over Horseshoe Falls.
Getting to Niagara Falls from Toronto
Greyhound buses leave frequently from Toronto city headed towards New York via Niagara Falls. A bus will take just over two hours and will set you back between $20 and $30 CAD. Alternatively, there is also the option of getting the train from Union Station to Burlington, then changing to get the GO Bus towards Niagara Falls. Both options cost around the same amount and take the same amount of time, so for my money, I’d suggest the bus to avoid any confusion when transferring at Burlington.
Probably not the best option for the cost conscious, but if money isn’t an object and two hours on a bus sounds like hell then you could consider an Uber. A one-way trip will take around 100 mins (depending on traffic of course) and will set you back around $150 CAD.
Hiring a car may be the best option for those who want all the convenience of being able to drive themselves around and explore the area at their own pace. For an overnight (24 hour hire), budget around $250-$300 CAD, with lots of companies vying for your business in Toronto. The drive is not a difficult one, but be wary that if you’re visiting in winter, the elements can bring rain, sleet and snow, so ensure you’re comfortable driving in those conditions.
What to Expect
OK so firstly, it’s going to be freezing cold. There’s no getting around the fact that the temperatures and wind chill around the Niagara area in winter area are a force to be reckoned with, so rugging up is critical. The best views are from the Canadian side of the falls, where you can see the Horseshoe Falls and a walk around the lip of the lake pooling at the base of the rushing water is the most wonderful and free way to explore the beauty of Niagara.
The famous US-based Maid of the Mist isn’t running at this time of year, because much of the water has given way to frozen lake, but honestly the sight of the frozen pillows of water framed by the bare and gnarled winter trees is worth missing out on the boat ride. In addition, the Festival of Lights runs over winter (up until the end of Jan) and the Falls, themselves, are lit up at night in coloured designs starting from the early evening – extra spectacular when the Falls are frozen over.
If you ask frequent travellers and/or lovers of Niagara Falls, then many will tell you that Winter is the ultimate time to avoid the tourists and see the Falls at their most magical. There’s little that can beat the emerald waters roaring underneath the icicles, still providing power and energy despite the snow. If you find yourselves in this patch of the woods over winter, then feel lucky that you’ll experience a unique and beautiful view of Niagara Falls away from the hordes of tourists that arrive in droves over summer. Just don’t forget your jacket!
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