New York to Niagara Falls: Pros and Cons of All the Travel Options

Fall colors on the American side of Niagara Falls in full flow with water mist rising.

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The trip from New York to Niagara Falls is doable in a single day, but it will definitely be a long day trip. We’ll go through all the options that get you from the city to the falls so you can choose the best route for you.

We’ll also include a few multi-day tour options if NYC is your base but you want to see more of the region during your visit.

Check out all of our helpful tips to plan your time in the Big Apple around your trip to Niagara:

Our NYC Travel Guides

FAQs for Traveling from New York City to Niagara Falls

How far is Niagara Falls from NYC?

The distance from NYC to Niagara Falls is approximately 400 miles (640 kilometers) by road.

How long does it take to drive from New York to Niagara Falls?

The drive time is roughly 6.5 hours.

What is the fastest way to get to Niagara Falls from NYC?

The fastest way is to fly, which you can learn about in the flights section below.

What is the cheapest way to get to Niagara Falls from NYC?

The cheapest options are to take the bus (details are in the bus section below) or drive, unless you drive and opt to spend a night instead of making the return trip to NYC the same day.

Alternatively, consider taking a tour from NYC so you don’t have to do all the driving and can instead sleep during some of the journey; details are in the tours section below.

Views of Manhattan from Brooklyn Heights Promenade NYC in New York

Ways to Get to Niagara Falls from NYC

In this order, we’ll cover the following modes of transportation in detail:

  • Driving Yourself
  • Taking the Train
  • Taking the Bus
  • Day Tours and Multi-day Tours
  • Flying

Drive Yourself

Driving from New York City to Niagara Falls offers flexibility and the opportunity to explore various scenic routes.

The flexibility makes driving the most popular option between the two destinations, so you can expect some traffic along the way, although much of the trip is through small towns.

The primary route for this journey is via Interstate 80 (I-80) and Interstate 90 (I-90).

The Driving Route to Niagara

Start your road trip to Niagara Falls from NYC by heading west on I-80, which offers a direct route from NYC.

You’ll pass through beautiful regions of New York and Pennsylvania, including the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

After following I-80 north for about 100 miles, the highway will merge into 380 and continue north.

This may be a great place to pull over for your first break; stop in the beautiful small town of Tannersville, PA, with its popular Camelback Ski Resort.

Another 40 miles north, 380 becomes I-81 N, which you’ll stay on for about another 125 miles until you make it to Syracuse, which can be another great option for a rest stop.

That is as far north as you will go; from there you will be taking I-90 W through Rochester until you get to Buffalo, and it’s a brief drive from there to Niagara Falls.

The drive may be long, but it is picturesque, follows major highways, and is filled with great options to stop and take a break along the way.

Where to Stop Along the Way

If you only want to stop once along the way, consider Binghamton, which is the mid-way point about 3 hours outside of NYC and offers playgrounds for kids as well as a great downtown area filled with nice restaurants for a lunch or dinner break.

There are also 6 rest stops along I-81 North, where you can stop to refuel the car and yourself!

The Southern Tier New York Welcome Center is the most popular rest stop, featuring a unique circular visitor’s center with shops and restaurants included.

There is also a playground with slides and climbing equipment, perfect to get some pent-up energy out of your kids before getting back in the car.

The highlight of this rest stop is the ‘I Love NY’ sign overlooking the rolling hills where New York meets Pennsylvania, an excellent photo opportunity that is very popular among roadtrippers.

Other popular rest stops include Whitney Point Rest Area right along Whitney Point Lake, as well as Preble Rest Area, immediately south of the finger lakes on your way to Syracuse.

I love New York mugs

Pros of Driving from NYC to Niagara Falls

Flexibility: Driving allows you to set your own schedule and make spontaneous stops along the way.

Affordability: For groups or families, driving can be cost-effective, especially when sharing fuel costs.

Cons of Driving

Traffic: Depending on the time of day and route, you may encounter traffic congestion, especially around major cities.

Weather: Winter weather conditions, including snow and ice, can make driving challenging.

Parking: In Niagara Falls, parking can be limited and costly, so plan for parking expenses.

New York City to Niagara Falls by Train

Taking an Amtrak train from Penn Station in NYC to Niagara Falls is one of the most comfortable and scenic ways to travel.

Amtrak’s Empire Service and Maple Leaf routes connect New York City to Niagara Falls, offering comfortable seating and spacious cabins.

Amtrak trains are well-equipped with amenities such as Wi-Fi, power outlets, and spacious seating, making them suitable for relaxing or even sleeping during the journey.

While meals are not included, there is typically a café car on board where you can purchase snacks and beverages.

The train journey from New York City to Niagara Falls takes you through a diverse and picturesque landscape.

You’ll pass through towns and landmarks such as Albany, Schenectady, Syracuse, and Rochester.

Enjoy views of the Hudson River, Erie Canal, and the scenic beauty of upstate New York.

The journey offers a unique perspective on the changing seasons, from lush greenery in the summer to colorful foliage in the fall, all while you can sit back, relax, and soak it all in.

Amtrak offers a range of discounts, including for children, veterans, seniors, students, government employees, and groups.

Lower level sign showing Moynihan Train Hall at Penn Station in New York City NYC

Pros of Taking the Train from NYC to Niagara Falls

Comfort and Convenience: Amtrak provides spacious seating, Wi-Fi, and power outlets, making it a comfortable choice for passengers.

Scenic Beauty: The journey offers stunning views of New York’s countryside and landmarks.

Discounts: Various discounts are available, making it budget-friendly for different traveler groups.

Cons of Taking the Train

Meals: While there’s a café car for snacks and beverages, full meals are not included, so consider bringing your own or purchasing on board.

Time: At about nine and a half hours, taking the train will take the longest of all transportation methods by a significant amount.

If you are okay with the food options and the extra time required, traveling by train from New York City to Niagara Falls is a scenic and comfortable journey through upstate New York.

With a range of discounts available, you can make this trip both enjoyable and budget-friendly, although admittedly more expensive than driving if the drivers are splitting fuel costs.

Starbucks coffee on an Amtrak Acela train

How to Get to Niagara Falls by Bus

Taking a bus from New York to Niagara Falls can take around 9 to 11 hours, depending on the route and stops.

Greyhound, Megabus, and Peter Pan are some of the bus companies that operate routes between these two destinations and are all accessible within major regions of New York City.

Bus Pickup and Drop-off Locations

Greyhound and Peter Pan typically depart from the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan, conveniently located in the heart of NYC.

Megabus departs from various locations in NYC, including the Port Authority Bus Terminal and other stops.

The drop-off location for all buses from NYC to Niagara Falls is the Niagara Falls Transportation Center.

Transportation Upon Arrival in Niagara Falls

Upon arriving at the Niagara Falls Transportation Center, you can easily access various transportation options to reach your final destination within Niagara Falls.

Taxis are readily available at the transportation center for convenient travel to your hotel or other destinations in the area.

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) operates local bus services that can take you to different parts of Niagara Falls.

Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft are also available in Niagara Falls for convenient transportation.

Packing Recommendations

When traveling by bus, consider packing light, as you’ll need to manage your luggage yourself.

A small carry-on bag and one larger suitcase or backpack are typically allowed per passenger.

Keep essential items like identification, tickets, and valuables in a smaller bag for easy access during the journey.

Pros of Taking the Bus to Niagara Falls from NYC

Cost-Effective: Buses are traditionally the cheapest way to get to Niagara Falls from NYC, making them an economical choice for travelers.

Multiple Departure Options: Bus companies offer various departure times and locations in NYC.

Frequent Routes: Greyhound, Megabus, and Peter Pan provide multiple daily departures to fit your schedule.

Cons of Taking the Bus

Longer Travel Time: Bus journeys can be longer compared to flights and driving.

Self-Management: Passengers are responsible for their luggage and belongings during the journey.

Discomfort: Buses are typically less spacious than trains or planes, without the option of flexible rest stops, and there are no amenities outside of wi-fi access.

If you value affordability and are willing to do with less luggage and a bit of discomfort, traveling by bus may be the best option for you.

Tours to Niagara Falls from NYC

There are tons of options to let someone else do the driving and guiding!

We’ve rounded up the best day trips and multiday trips so you can choose the right one for you.

Day Tours to Niagara Falls

From NYC, you can take this popular 1-day tour to Niagara Falls that includes an optional Maid of the Mist add-on when you buy your tickets.

Or this 1-day tour lets you choose from departure times, offering more flexibility for your time in NYC.

This overnight bus tour is the cheapest option we could find for you if budget is your main concern.

That one leaves from NYC at 11pm and drives overnight so you arrive first thing in the morning.

If you want the utmost flexibility and you’re traveling as a family or small group, this private tour is more expensive but definitely worth it for the customized experience!

Note that the private tour includes Maid of the Mist tickets, which many other tours exclude.

Multi-day Tours to Niagara Falls

If you have more time and want to see more than just the highway and the falls, consider taking several days to incorporate other stops in the region.

This 2-day tour includes a stop at beautiful Watkins Glen State Park plus an outlet shopping stop — grab all the souvenirs!

This 3-day tour includes the beautiful Finger Lakes region or this 3-day tour is more focused on small cities in New York State.

This is an affordable 4-day tour from NYC that also includes Boston and Washington DC.

Or, if you have the time, this 5-day tour starts in NYC with multiple stops including Philadelphia and Washington DC!

Watkins Glen State Park entrance in New York

Can You Fly from New York to Niagara Falls?

If speed is your priority, consider taking a flight to Niagara Falls.

The closest airport to Niagara Falls, NY is the Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF).

Direct flights from NYC airports, such as JFK and LaGuardia, to Buffalo typically take around 1.5 to 2 hours in the air.

New York to Niagara Falls Flight Time

While the New York to Niagara Falls flight is roughly two hours, that does not properly depict the actual timing if you factor in all elements.

To estimate the total travel time when you fly from New York to Niagara Falls, consider the following:

  • The average drive from your house to your departure airport in NYC, which may vary depending on your location within the city.
  • The time it takes to check in, pass through security, and board your flight at the NYC airport.
  • The flight time from NYC to Buffalo.
  • The time it takes to disembark, collect your baggage, and exit Buffalo Niagara International Airport.
  • The transportation time from Buffalo airport to Niagara Falls.

On average, with all of the calculations above factored in, the total time from New York to Niagara Falls by plane is roughly five hours, which still makes it the fastest way to get to Niagara Falls from NYC.

Transportation Options From the Airport

Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF) is approximately 27 miles (43 kilometers) from Niagara Falls, meaning you need to factor in traveling from the airport to your final destination.

The ideal means of transportation from Buffalo Airport to Niagara Falls is by shuttle service or taxi.

Several shuttle services operate between the airport and Niagara Falls hotels. These services offer convenience and may be pre-booked.

Taxis are readily available at the airport, and the ride to Niagara Falls takes approximately 30 to 40 minutes.

Pros of the Flight from NYC to Niagara Falls

Speed: Flying is the quickest option, with a flight time of around 1.5 to 2 hours.

Convenience: Buffalo Niagara International Airport is close to Niagara Falls.

Comfort: Flights offer onboard amenities, such as Wi-Fi and in-flight services.

Cons of Flying

Total Travel Time: While the flight itself is short, the total travel time may be longer due to airport procedures and ground transportation.

Taking a flight from New York City to Niagara Falls can significantly reduce travel time compared to driving while providing comfort and convenience. Be sure to factor in the time required for airport procedures and transportation from Buffalo Airport to Niagara Falls to plan your journey effectively.

Delta Wing From Plane Window

Final Words

We really hope this guide helped you decide how you’ll go from New York to Niagara Falls to see this extraordinary natural attraction.

Share your experience in the comments below to help other travelers!

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