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You can easily visit Niagara Falls from Toronto as a day trip, or stay longer and explore all that the Niagara Region has to offer.
Niagara Falls is approximately 130 km (80 miles) southwest of Toronto, an average drive of 1½ hours without traffic delays. This natural wonder of the world attracts over 14 million visitors each year.
There are six travel options available to you to get from Toronto to Niagara Falls.
You can rent a car and drive yourself. Numerous rental companies have locations in downtown Toronto, so it's easy to rent a car for the day. Expect to pay $40-$60 for a one-day rental.
The Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) is the major route from Toronto. It's also a major commuter route, with heavy traffic going into Toronto until a little after 9 am, and heavy traffic coming out of the city 3-7 pm. (Traffic can also be heavy going into Toronto when there's a Toronto Blue Jays home game or other major event.)
GO Transit, the commuter rail and bus service for the Greater Toronto Area, is the cheapest way to get to Niagara Falls. However, you can't reserve a seat in advance. (This isn't usually a problem as GO trains are very large.)
GO trains use the Niagara Falls Train Station (4267 Bridge Street) and buses use the Niagara Falls Bus Terminal (4555 Erie Ave., across the street from the train station), both of which are a short cab ride from the Falls and most hotels. There is also a second bus stop in Niagara Falls, at the corner of Falls Ave. and Stanley Ave., which is much closer to the tourists areas. In Toronto, GO trains depart from the basement of Union Station (65 Front Street West), which has connections to the TTC (subway) and Via Rail; the CN Tower, Air Canada Centre, and Rogers Centre are within walking distance.
Summer Weekend/Holiday GO Train Service
During the summer (mid May to Labour Day), GO Transit runs direct train service from Toronto's Union Station to the train station in Niagara Falls on weekends (Friday, Saturday & Sunday) and holidays only. There is one return trip on Friday evenings and 3 on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, with a travel time of 2 hours. On GO Transit's web site, train trips are listed on a green background. An adult return ticket costs $41.30. There are occasional delays due to Welland Canal crossing. Note that no food or drink is sold on board GO trains, though you can bring your own. There are washrooms available on GO Trains, not on buses though.
Year-Round GO Train and Bus Service
GO Transit runs daily bus service between Niagara Falls and the GO train station in Burlington. As shown on the schedule, you'd take a "Lakeshore West" GO Train from Toronto's Union Station to Burlington (as listed on a green background), then transfer to the Niagara Falls GO bus service (as listed on a yellow background). There are stops at the VIA Rail station and at Hwy 420/Stanley Ave. Total travel time is just over two hours. An adult return ticket costs $35.30 and a "group pass" (roundtrip for up to 5 people, maximum two adults) will cost $70.60
VIA Rail, Canada's national passenger rail service, runs two trains daily between Toronto and Niagara Falls. Note that the evening return trip to Toronto is a train that originates in New York City and often runs late. An adult return ticket costs $75, with discounts down to $54 if bought far enough in advance.
For the last leg of your journey, see "Getting to the Falls from the Train or Bus Station" below. In Toronto, VIA trains depart from the main level of Union Station (65 Front Street West), which has connections to the TTC (subway) and GO Transit; the CN Tower, Air Canada Centre, and Rogers Centre are within walking distance.
Coach Canada and Greyhound provide more than 25 buses in total each direction every day, with travel times of 90 minutes to two hours. As of this writing, the earliest buses are at 4:15 am heading to Toronto and 7:30 am to Niagara; the latest buses are at 12:45 am heading to Toronto and 11:00 pm to Niagara. With advance purchase, return fares are about $33, including tax (or just over $50 for same-day purchase). All buses go to the Niagara Falls Bus Terminal at 4555 Erie Ave.
Megabus provides express service to/from Niagara Falls up to 11 times per day in each direction. Cost is $15 each way.
For the last leg of your journey, see "Getting to the Falls from the Train or Bus Station" below. In Toronto, the bus station is at the intersection of Bay Street and Dundas Street West, a short walk from Dundas subway station and the Eaton Centre.
Several companies, including Airlink Tours, BG Tours, Downtown Adventures Queen Tour, Gray Line, Niagara Bus Tours, Niagara Tours, North Star Tour, Royal Tours of Niagara Falls Canada , Toronto Tours, and Zoom Tours offer guided tours from downtown Toronto. (For feedback on some of these tours, search the TripAdvisor forums.)
If you are staying near Toronto Pearson International airport, or want to head directly to the falls after getting off your flight, Niagara Airbus offers shuttle bus service. Adult fare is $108 round-trip, with advance booking.
If you travel by GO Transit, VIA Rail, Coach Canada, or Greyhound, you'll arrive at either the Niagara Falls Train Station (4267 Bridge Street) or the Niagara Falls bus station (4555 Erie Avenue). These are located near downtown Niagara Falls, across the street from each other. To get to the Falls, main tourist areas, and most hotels, you can:
More TripAdvisor pages on transport and other tips are here.
Some interesting websites about Niagara Falls and local attractions.