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Located on the west bank of the Niagara river, Niagara Falls takes its name from the three waterfalls that straddle the border between Canada and the US – a world-famous natural wonder estimated to be 12,000 years old which attracts millions of tourists each year. Visitors can embark on cruises, take a journey behind the falls themselves via specially constructed tunnels and enjoy spectacular views across the water from the top of the 160-metre Skylon Tower.
However, there is plenty more to Niagara Falls than the waterfalls. With a hire car at your disposal, you can fully explore the diverse cultural landscape of the city, from art galleries and open air music to museums and a whole host of festivals celebrating everything from the best in film to the annual Winter Festival of Lights – Canada’s largest lights festival.
Fly into Niagara Falls International Airport in America, and from there it’s a 20-minute drive along the US-62 across the border to Niagara Falls. Alternatively the John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport in Canada is just an hour’s drive away from the city along Queen Elizabeth Way, which runs along the shore of Lake Ontario.
With a hire car at your fingertips, you can easily venture beyond Niagara Falls to other nearby areas of interest. St Catharines is just a 20-minute drive away - the largest city in the Niagara region – known as the ‘Garden City’ for its 1,000 acres of lush green parks, gardens and trails. Welland is also the same distance in the car, where you can watch ships sail into the Welland canal and feast on delicious treats during the Niagara Food Festival, which takes place in the city’s downtown in early autumn each year.
Choose from a wide selection of hire car providers in Niagara Falls to suit every budget and requirement, from Thrifty and Hertz to Alamo and Avis.
Aside from the waterfalls themselves, there is plenty to see and do in Niagara Falls, from Bird Kingdom (the world’s largest indoor aviary, with over 400 species of free-flying tropical birds) to the botanical gardens, complete with a stunning butterfly conservatory. The Niagara Falls Art Gallery is also a great place to learn about influential Canadian artist William Kurekek, where the largest collection of his drawings, paintings and graphic works is on display, while the Niagara Falls Night of Art is also a popular fixture, with music, poetry, photography and literature alongside local food and entertainment.
Beyond the city, your hire car can take you to America’s Buffalo (a half-hour drive away), on the shores of Lake Erie in upstate New York, where you can admire the city’s range of art deco and beaux arts architecture, most prominent in the city’s towering 32-storey city hall – a striking icon of Buffalo. Mississauga is also with easy reach (an hour’s drive away), where the annual Canada Day celebrations are said to be the biggest and best in the region. The Carassauga festival of cultures which takes place annually during mid-May is also the second largest cultural festival in the country and sees the city swamped with food stalls, performances and plenty of lively music.
Canadians drive on the right and safety standards are particularly high on the roads, with excellent conditions across the country. However, when venturing out of the city, keep an eye out for wild animals. Signs should alert you to areas where wildlife such as deer and elk are present.
Feeling inspired to start exploring Niagara Falls and other parts of Canada? Check out this city guide and use the Expedia search tool to help you find the best car hire, flight and hotel deals and research the best attractions and activities.
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