A couple of weeks ago, I went on a weekend trip to Toronto, Canada. I got really lucky that the weather was just perfect that weekend, plenty of sun and really warm (the weekend after that it snowed in Toronto so very lucky!).
It had always been a goal for me to visit the Niagara Falls. Even though I live in New York now, it’s still a long drive to visit and rumor says that the view from the Canadian side is better.
To plan for my visit, I googled ways to get to the fall but almost all of the sites I found were day trips that cost around $100. I wasn’t looking to do the whole boat ride/helicopter ride, I just simply wanted to go there, walk around, take some photos, and see the fall. I also had a time limit because I was landing in Toronto in the morning, so that only gave me the afternoon to visit Niagara Falls. Most of the tours was a full day tour so that was another reason why I couldn’t do a tour.
After speaking to a friend that lives in Toronto, I realized that there is actually a really easy and cheap way to get to the fall! It was through a tour bus going to Fallsview Casino right by the fall.
The company that I went with was Safeway Tours, you can find our their bus schedules here. They have several pick up points throughout Toronto to take you to the Fallsview Casino. If you are not member of the Casino (first time visitor), the round trip ticket is CAD20. If you are already a member of the Casino, the round trip ticket is only CAD 6! Compare to the $100 tours, this was such a steal.
My friend had called Safeway Tours to reserve 2 seats on the bus and we were picked up at 1pm at Chinatown Center near Downtown Toronto. Since she had a casino card (shown below) and I didn’t, she paid for the round trip ticket of CAD 6 and I paid CAD 20. The bus itself was really nice, the seats were comfortable and there was free wifi (awesome for tourists). The ride was about 1.5 hours depending on traffic, and once we got off the bus, the Casino people ushered us off the bus to register at the Casino.
Now I was slightly reluctant at the beginning but the bus is actually for the casino, not for the fall itself, so it was not surprising that the casino wanted us to become members. Since it was free and fast, I figured I’d just do it so next time I go to Niagara I can take the bus for CAD 6.
After I finished registering, we were free to do whatever we wanted. You don’t need to gamble if you don’t want to, but you can always get a free (non-alcoholic) drink from the casino floor 😉 There are also a lot of restaurants and coffee shops inside the casino so we quickly grabbed a cup of coffee and some pastries and went to the fall.
The fall is literally a 7 minute walk from the Casino. In fact you can even see the fall from the back garden of the casino, but we walked to the fall because we wanted a better look.
Even though it was early November, there were still a good amount of people by the time we arrived (~3pm). To my surprise, we saw double rainbows at the fall!
We quickly walked around the area, spent about 30 minutes from one side to the other side while taking tons of photos before heading back to the casino to grab a free drink. Since we took the 1pm bus, the default time to get back is 8pm, which was really late. But once you get off the bus, Safeway Tours have a counter inside the casino where you can ask to change your return trip to an earlier time. Most likely you will have to be on standby for an earlier return, but when we were there on a Saturday we were able to get on a 5pm bus with no problem.
To me the trip was totally worth it, CAD 20 to see the fall, get some free drinks, and enjoy the view during the ride. So if you are interested in a short and easy trip just to see the fall, you should definitely do it.
A few note before you go:
- Make advanced reservation with the tour company, tell them your name, how many people are in your party, and where you would like to be picked up (selected locations)
- Get there 15 minutes early to guarantee you won’t miss the bus
- Bring your passport <– important
- Bring cash as the bus is cash only <– important
- Check your return ticket time; if you want to get on an earlier bus to come back, talk to the Safeway Tours people at the counter inside the casino immediately after you get off the bus
- Ready to get a casino membership card
- Dress warmly, bring cameras, and have a great time!