Niagara Falls – The divided natural wonder

American Falls at the Niagara Falls

Every time someone asks me if I have already been to Canada, I answer in the negative. But that's not true at all, as I always remember later on. On one of my trips to the USA I visited the Niagara Falls, which are located in the USA as well as in Canada. But from which side does the natural wonder come into its own better?? This and more you can read in this travelogue!


Travel time: June 2010 (2 days, 1 night)
Getting there: By United Airlines from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport to Buffalo Niagara International Airport (approx. 1:10 h), then continue by rental car to Niagara Falls (ca. 0:40 h)
Accommodation: Hotel Marriott on the Falls* ( 6755 Fallsview Blvd, Niagara Falls, ON L2G 3W7, Canada ): expensive high-rise hotel with very nice rooms (my photos still show the old state of 2010, meanwhile the rooms are furnished in neutral colors and modern), large panorama windows with perfect view of the falls, large whirlpool bathtub in the room, comfortable beds, free WLAN, breakfast good, wellness area not used. Recommendation? YES
On my favorite hotel search engine you can find more nice hotels at Niagara Falls*.


*The links marked with an asterisk in this blog article are so-called affiliate links. Additionally, there are some paid links to sites that I personally find helpful and recommend. If my blog article helped you plan your trip, I'd love for you to use these links to book your accommodations or recreational activities. I receive a small commission and you support the maintenance of this blog. Of course there are no disadvantages for you. Thanks a lot! 🙂

Horseshoe Falls at Niagara Falls

The waterfalls call!

In my home country Austria I like to spend time hiking and exploring as well as photographing waterfalls (you can see pictures of them and more on my website coeser.see en/showcase). Accordingly, I was very interested when I planned a trip to the USA from New York via Washington to Chicago with my girlfriend and came across Niagara Falls on the way. Up to this point I knew the huge waterfalls only from television and pictures – so it was time to get a picture of this imposing wonder of nature for myself!

Getting to Niagara Falls

During my research on the internet for this blog article, I noticed that a large part of the travel reports recommends a journey via the Canadian metropolis Toronto. From there you can get to Niagara Falls in an hour and a half to two hours by rental car and you don't have to cross a border. Alternatively, you can take a day trip by bus from Toronto to Niagara Falls*. My girlfriend and I, however, came from the US side and took off for the falls in a rental car from the Buffalo airport. Since most of the hotels (like ours) are on the Canadian side, we had to go through a border check – but it was surprisingly quick and easy.


No matter if you arrive by plane to Canada or to the USA – you need an electronic entry permit in any case. A visa is only necessary in certain cases. If you fly to Toronto in Canada, you have to apply for an eTA online. You can apply for a visa for example on the following make. If you fly to Chicago in the USA, you have to apply for ESTA. This can also be done quickly and easily on the website

If you then continue to Niagara Falls by rental car, you will only need your passport to cross the border. You do not need to apply for an entry permit for both countries, but only for the country you entered by plane.

One name, three waterfalls

Now briefly a few geographical and historical details about Niagara Falls, which I find very interesting. The falls are fed by the Niagara River, which connects the two lakes Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. In the process, the river plunges 57 meters at Niagara Falls, forcing ships to take a detour via a canal twelve kilometers away. The origin of the falls goes back to the end of the last cold period about 12 years ago.000 years ago, when the last glaciers in the area melted and caused Lake Erie to overflow, which in turn created the Niagara River.

Since then the water of the river pours over the Niagara Escarpment to Lake Ontario. The Niagara Falls are constantly "migrating" towards Lake Erie due to erosion of the soft shale rock – already about eleven kilometers since they were formed! To slow down this geological phenomenon and at the same time use the water masses for power generation, part of the river is diverted to power plants.

The illuminated Horseshoe Falls of Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls: Expectation vs. Reality

This paragraph is very important to me, because I want to tell you something about my expectations of Niagara Falls at that time and the reality on the spot. In my head I had the beautiful waterfalls with a lot of nature around – so a very romantic idea. When you actually arrive, you might feel like me in the first moment and you won't believe your eyes.

Niagara Falls, despite its huge size, is only a small part of the landscape, nestled between casinos, observation towers, hotels, restaurants, bars, amusement parks and other tourist frippery. Basically, the whole setting reminds me a little bit of Las Vegas, only without pomp and without neon signs. This circumstance is perhaps also the reason why the Niagara Falls were not taken up to the UNESCO world heritage.

How long should I stay?

As much as the unattractive surroundings of the falls bothered me, a visit to Niagara Falls is still a highlight, if you ignore everything around it. We had planned an overnight stay, which I consider very useful for the overall experience. But if you only want to make a day trip to Niagara Falls, that's of course not wrong either.

If you want to stay overnight like my friend and I did, you'd better spend a little more money and make sure you get a hotel with a view of the falls – I think that's necessary to get the most out of a visit. It is simply fantastic to sit at the panorama window and admire Niagara Falls from above both in daylight and with lighting in the evening. If you want to treat yourself to a bottle of wine, then look for a nearby liquor store via Google Maps or with the recommendation of the hotel, in order to get affordable alcohol (don't forget to take your passport or ID with you).

What to do at the falls?

On the spot, I recommend to leave your rental car at the hotel or at one of the numerous parking lots during a day trip and do everything on foot. On the Canadian side there is a wonderful panoramic trail with the best views of the falls and you get very close to the water in places. Over the Rainbow Bridge you reach the side of the USA and as a pedestrian you are much faster done with the passport control than the car drivers.

No matter in which country you are: you have to take a boat trip to the falls (info in the picture gallery below). If you are really brave, you can also climb down a footbridge next to the American Falls at the attraction Cave of the Winds – but you will definitely get wet completely. But now I show you with a selection of photos my experiences at Niagara Falls!

Other stops on this trip

The visit of Niagara Falls was part of a two weeks trip through the USA. My girlfriend and I also visited New York, Washington and Chicago, you can find the travelogues about them below respectively. will follow soon!

Itinerary: Vienna -> New York (flight Austrian Airlines) // New York -> Washington, D.C. (JetBlue flight) // Washington, D.C. -> Buffalo Niagara (United flight) // Buffalo Niagara -> Chicago (rental car) // Chicago -> New York (JetBlue flight) // New York -> Vienna (Austrian Airlines flight)

Niagara Falls with American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and Horseshoe Falls Boat Maid of the Mist in front of Niagara Falls Visitors with rain capes on the Maid of the Mist in front of Niagara Falls Maid of the Mist in front of Niagara Falls Camera protected from water in front of Niagara Falls Niagara Falls Observation Tower, American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls Illuminated Niagara Falls with the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls in rainbow colors Panorama of the illuminated Niagara Falls Skyscrapers in Niagara Falls Rainbow Bridge and Niagara Falls Panorama of Niagara Falls and skyline of Niagara Falls Cave of the Winds at Niagara Falls Horseshoe Falls at Niagara Falls Detailed view of the Horseshoe Falls at Niagara Falls Long exposure of the Horseshoe Falls at Niagara Falls


My long cherished wish was fulfilled in 2010 and I could see and especially feel Niagara Falls for the first time with my own eyes. Nestled between the two sister cities of Niagara Falls, the falls plunge 57 meters through the U.S.-Canada border, creating a powerful natural spectacle. The less attractive, Las-Vegas-like setting around you just have to fade out, then nothing stands in the way of a great stay. To get the most out of a visit, you should treat yourself to a night in one of the high-rise hotels on the Canadian side to fully enjoy Niagara Falls also colorfully illuminated and especially with a view from above! 🙂