One of the first things on the list if you visit Toronto are of course the Niagara Falls. We informed us on Travelwiki and Tripadvisor but couldn’t really grasp the procedure on how to visit the falls. In the end, and because of time problems we decided to go for an organized tour. Normally not our way to explore a country but this time it proved to be superior.
Money-wise it is actually not that much more expensive than organizing everything yourself (see prices below for comparing) and the fact that you can cut all the waiting-lines and have someone telling you where to go makes this a very lazy and lay-back experience. We can only recommend using Greyhound services for tours. All safe, great value, fun guides, a good mix of young and older people, no waiting – even on a busy Sunday tour, and at the same time not overly touristic.
The tour offers to pick you up at a hotel in Downtown Toronto – we are not staying at a hotel, so we just took the closest one and went there. Pick-ups are scheduled ahead via email and their coach arrived right on time.
After a few more guests had joined our tour we were on our way to a wine-yard and icewine producer Trius. During the 25 minute stop, we learned that >90% of the worldwide production comes from the Niagara-region in Canada. The icewine is indeed very good but for me always to sticky sweet. We were offered a free tasting of one of their icewines and then led to their shop. A Japanese girl did not quite understand that you have to order and pay the tasting wines there and started drinking from the glasses of other people which caused some embarrassing moments :-).
We took a few pictures and went off to visit Niagara-on-the-Lake, a historical and preserved town, full of historic moments and tourist-traps alongside the main street. The busses have to park a bit outside of town and we were given a 30 minute time-slot to explore. As you need ~10 minutes to get into town and 10 to get back that doesn’t leave much time but it was enough to get a glimpse of this tourist-infested hotel-city. It might be historical but it surely doesn’t look like much anymore. We decided to stop at a local store to buy some snacks and drinks and wandered off towards the lake to escape the masses of tourists marching through the town. A few beautiful houses can be found in the more peaceful streets at the back of the town. The people living in Niagara-on-the-lake seem value this area to chill out on the beach-side for pick-nicks and some quiet quality time.
We were back just in time and off the bus went to the highlight of the tour – the Niagara Falls. We first had our lunch at one of the top floors of the Sheraton Hotel – it was a good buffet. Drinks, apart from water, coffee or tea will cost extra. We got to know two girls, Jackie and Jenny, from New York that were on a long-weekend-trip to Toronto. They were nice and helped us with the vice-versa team shooting so we hopefully all end up with some decent shots in front of the breathtaking scenery. Talking about that, the most spectacular part here was the view from the balcony – a first quick photo-session got us all excited about what would be coming next.
Which was of course the boat tour into the mist of the Falls. Both the American Falls and the Canadian Horseshoe. Expect to get wet – but you are provided with a poncho by the Boat-Runners, which flies around in the heavy wind and you will still get rather soaked. However, protecting your camera and phone inside the poncho or with some plastic bags during the heaviest splashes – proved to be enough for us. And we still managed to shoot some pictures.
Afterwards, we drove further up the falls to get a good look from the top down – and as promised by our Guide – were able to see some rainbows inside the Falls. Pretty amazing scenery again, but it got very touristic. Especially Asian families seem eager to push you out of the way quite fiercely to get their kawaii-smile-selfie in front of the rainbow-falls-background. We adapted and pushed and shoved back a bit as well 😉 earning some confused looks and swearing – tourism can be so much drama. But the view is stunning – especially with the evening light pouring a shower of gold over everything (hey there Donald Trump, what are you looking at!).
The tour was rounded up with a stop at the Niagara-Helicopter platform and for 111CAD more you could book an additional 9 minute Heli-ride towards the falls which we declined. Some of our tour-members went and so we had a brief rest on top of the Whirlpool.
Then we headed home.
What a day.
Some prices (only for adults, kids usually cheaper):
The tour – 169 CAD p.p.
Bottle of Icewine – 50-90 CAD
Glas of Wine at the Lunch: 10-14 CAD, plus taxes and service
Hardrock Cafe Shirt – 32.99 CAD (The only thing we bought … )
Helicopter ride (ca 9min) – 111 CAD (tourprice) otherwise 142 CAD
Alternative Bus ticket by MEGAbus (just the ride from Toronto to Niagara Falls)- 30-50 CAD p.p.
The Picture. Surprisingly the best Panorama came from my Iphone – including colors, feeling of depth and rainbow. Of course I made it even more poppy using google-filters but I wanted it to be eye-catching. Unfortunately, the resolution is too bad for large printing.