Complete Guide to Visiting Niagara Falls on a Budget
Want to check something off your bucket list without breaking the bank? Whether you’re travelling solo, as a couple or with the whole family, Niagara Falls is an ideal choice for a vacation that is equal parts affordable and awe-inspiring.
As a designated park, Niagara Falls’ many lookouts are free to explore. Along with the beautiful views, Niagara Falls boasts dozens of affordable motels and hostels, plentiful transit (the WeGo) in its tourist core, and a perfectly priced discount pass for its main attractions. Combine that with great hiking, free fireworks shows in the summer, and the year-round Falls illumination, and you have an incredible destination for your next vacation!
Each year, Hornblower hosts thousands of visitors looking to make the most of their travel budget. What better way to use this knowledge than to put together a complete guide to visiting Niagara Falls on a budget! So, without further ado, here are our best tips for travellers looking to take a memorable trip without spending a lot of money.
Top Tips for Planning a Trip to Niagara Falls on a Budget
- Save on all major attractions with a Niagara Parks Adventure Pass. Although Niagara Falls is a budget-friendly destination, the must-see attractions still come with a price tag. Like any trip, it’s a good idea to research the experiences which are worth a piece of your travel budget. If you will be in the area for a couple of days, a Niagara Parks Adventure Pass is definitely the best bang for your buck. The pass includes local transportation on the WeGo for two days, plus tickets to the most popular attractions in the area. TripAdvisor doesn’t lie – this package is definitely worth checking out.
- Venture outside Clifton Hill for shopping or food. Like any tourist district, you’ll see your share of inflated price tags in Niagara Falls’ Clifton Hill. With the exception of fast food and a few hidden gems, most restaurants and retailers close to the Falls are fairly costly options. But, Niagara Falls isn’t just a tourist destination. Every day people live here, and there are plenty of department stores, grocery chains, and fair-priced restaurants to prove it. You don’t have to venture too far from Clifton Hill for a good deal, either – Lundy’s Lane, which is serviced by the WeGo’s red route, has plenty of local favourites to choose from for food, while plenty of big box stores and grocers are within a 10-minute drive from the tourist core.
- Your dollar goes further on the Canadian side of the Falls. When researching things to do in Niagara Falls, remember that the Canadian and American dollar are different. As of the publication of this article, $1 Canadian is worth about $0.75 USD. In general, this means that your dollar goes further on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. It also means that you should check the currency of everything before deciding it’s the most inexpensive option. Before crossing the border to the US in search of a better deal, be sure to consider currency. Most of the time, prices in Canada will be less expensive due to the difference in the dollar.
- Visit outside of high season for tourism. If you’re trying to save money on your Niagara Falls vacation, booking outside of the July-August tourist season is highly recommended. The best periods for a budget-friendly Niagara Falls trip are late through May and late September through October. Visiting during the winter months (November through March) is also an option, but you may find that many of the attractions in the area are closed for the season.
Free and low-cost things to do in Niagara Falls
Once you’ve locked in your Niagara Falls Adventure Pass, you’ll probably want to fill in any remaining gaps in your travel itinerary. We’ve got you covered! Here’s a comprehensive list of free and nearly free things to do in and around the Niagara Region.
- Explore Dufferin Islands. Situated less than two miles from Niagara Falls, this Dufferin Islands features multiple small islands connected by bridges and footpaths. There are 10 acres of nature to explore, including beautiful trails, bird feeding stations, and plenty of eye-catching vegetation. The area also features lighting displays in winter as part of the Winter Festival of Lights.
- Admire the Botanical Gardens. It’s free to wander the 99 acres of beautifully maintained gardens in Niagara Falls. Open year-round, the botanical gardens feature seasonally appropriate displays and a world-famous rose garden. If you have a bit of budget leftover, you can also check out the Butterfly Conservatory next door
- Check out the famous Floral Clock. A true piece of art, the 40-foot wide floral clock is truly a sight to behold. This is one of the largest floral clocks in the world, with between 15,000 and 20,000 carpet plans each year. Be sure to get a picture and make a wish while you’re there!
- Enjoy a wine tasting & tour. While some wineries charge a few dollars for their tastings, others offer a taste and even a tour completely free. Prices and offers are subject to change, but as of the publication of this article the following wineries have free offers available:
- Hernder Estates – free tastings and winery tours (tours are available weekends at 1 pm)
- Caroline Cellars – free tastings of up to four standard wines
- Lailey Winery – coupon for free tasting flight available through Niagara Falls tourism website
- There are also several wineries that offer low-cost tours and tastings; for example, Pillitteri and Niagara College Teaching Winery both have public tours available for only $5.
- Walk around Clifton Hill. It costs nothing to wander around the tourist centre of Niagara Falls. If you do have some spare change, it won’t cost you too much for a round of mini-golf or an arcade game – plus, you can spend a full morning, afternoon, or evening enjoying the sights and sounds of the lively area. If quaint shops are more your scene, Niagara-on-the-Lake is an equally great way to spend an afternoon.
What should you budget for your Niagara Falls trip?
We’ve established that it’s possible to travel to Niagara Falls on the cheap. But just how cheap, exactly?
With lower-end accommodations (double occupancy), a Niagara Falls Adventure Pass, and modest meals, most couples can enjoy a full two-day trip to Niagara Falls for around $150 per person. Transportation and additional entertainment might increase costs, while finding a great deal on a hotel room (there are lots on Groupon, especially in the low tourist season!) can decrease costs significantly.
Do you have tips for Niagara Falls visitors on a budget?
How did you keep costs low on your Niagara Falls trip? Was there a must-see experience, like the Niagara Falls boat tour, that was worth the ticket cost? Is there anything cost-wary travellers should avoid or watch out for?
We love sharing past guests’ tips and tricks with future visitors, so please don’t hesitate to comment or let us know if you have something to share. Happy exploring!