Residents of Niagara-on-the-Lake have long considered our town a special piece of Canadian paradise. After all, it’s been known as “the prettiest town in Canada” for decades. And now, the world knows it, too! Condé Nast Traveler has listed Niagara-on-the-Lake among the 50 most beautiful towns in the world! And your accommodation hosts are ready to welcome you with open arms.
When you do decide to visit us, chances you will drive yourself here. However, once you’re here, you might prefer to park your vehicle and forget about it. Other visitors may depend on public or private transportation companies to get here, and then what? Either way, how do you appease your curiosity and take in all the sights in the Niagara area without a car?
If you don’t have a car and don’t wish to rent one, a number of options are available, depending on your circumstances and budget:
- Niagara Air Bus offers convenient, door-to-door shuttle service by coach or private car from Toronto International Airport, Buffalo International Airport, Hamilton International Airport, Toronto Island (City) Airport, and Downtown Toronto Hotels to your accommodation property in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Book at least 84 hours in advance to qualify for a 5% early-bird discount on their airport shuttle service.
- VIA Rail provides regular daily service between Toronto Union Station and Niagara Falls. While taxi or Uber service from Niagara Falls are options to reach Niagara-on-the-Lake, you can also use the combined WEGO/Shuttle bus service, which operates from April to October between Niagara Falls and Fort George in Niagara-on-the-Lake. (More on the shuttle service later.) American visitors can book travel on Amtrak to the U.S. Niagara Falls station, just across the river from the VIA Rail station on the Canadian side.
- Megabus Canada has numerous departures daily from Toronto Union Station to Niagara Falls or St. Catharines, both of which are a 25-minute taxi or Uber trip away.
- GO Transit features a combination of rail and bus service between Toronto Union Station (rail) and the Burlington GO Station, where you transfer onto a bus destined for St. Catharines and Niagara Falls.
Touring Niagara-on-the-Lake (NOTL)
Once you’re here, local shops, restaurants and wineries are easily accessible, without a car. While here, you may want to visit the four communities that make up NOTL: Old Town, Virgil, St. David’s, Queenston and Glendale (for the Outlet Collection at Niagara and Niagara College Campus where you can sample wine, beer and spirits created by students at the Education Centre).
- Walking is always an option if you’re staying in Old Town, which covers an area of about 2.5 square kilometres where you’ll find the highest concentration of restaurants, shops and historical sites as well as a few wineries. Get to know our historical town on a humorous guided walking tour with Ross Robinson. Tours leave from the Courthouse steps at 26 Queen Street every day at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., rain or shine.
- Take it slow and easy on a horse and carriage tour of Old Town. You’ll find your driver waiting for you in front of the Prince of Wales Hotel across from the cenotaph (town clock) or book online.
- NOTL is a popular cycling destination. A number of companies, like Ebike Rental Niagara and ZOOM Leisure Bike Rentals, rent bikes and e-bikes. The terrain is flat for the most part and safe off-road cycling trails and quiet back-country roads are ideal for cyclists. An online digital map helps you navigate Old Town and the surrounding area on your own with ease. If you prefer, most of the rental companies also offer guided cycling tours of the area and wineries.
- Let someone else do the driving. Chauffered winery tours are a great way to tour the countryside and sample local wines, craft brews, ciders and spirits. Again, numerous companies, such as Brewery & Distillery Tours Niagara, offer daily tours and happily pick you up and drop you off at your accommodation property.
- An on-demand transit service operates between Old Town, Virgil and the Glendale hub. Pickups are arranged as needed using the NRT OnDemand app, which can be downloaded. The NOTL service runs from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday to Saturday. The service promises pickup within an hour, with an average wait time of 20 minutes. Pricing is broken down by fare category and type.
A Day Trip at the Falls
The best route to Niagara Falls is along the beautiful Niagara River Parkway, dubbed “the prettiest Sunday afternoon drive in the world” by Winston Churchill in 1943.
- You can leisurely cycle or e-bike to the Falls from NOTL along the 25-km Niagara River Recreation Trail, an off-road bike and walking path that runs parallel to the Niagara Parkway and flanks the mighty Niagara River. Except for one short incline up the Niagara Escarpment at Queenston, the terrain to the Falls is relatively flat. Along the way, you’ll pass numerous wineries, historical sights, attractions and photo ops.
- A scheduled daily Niagara-on-the-Lake Shuttle service connects to the Niagara Falls WEGO bus service at the Green Line’s Floral Clock stop (from June 30 to September 4, 2023) or at the Butterfly Conservatory stop (from April 30 to June 29 and September 5 to October 9). One-way and return tickets can be purchased at Fort George in NOTL. All-day access to the WEGO service is included if you purchase the Niagara Falls Adventure Pass Plus.
- The NRT On-Demand Transit Service (mentioned earlier) provides service to the Niagara College Campus in Glendale, where you can connect to Bus #12 to Niagara Falls.
Summer 2023 Events in Niagara-on-the-Lake
It’s turning out to be an eventful 2023 in NOTL, where, aside from all the beautiful architecture, sites and gardens, there’s always something happening.
June 3: Murder With a Side of Merlot at Lakeview Wine Co.
June 9: White Effect Dinner at Peller Estates Winery (be sure to pre-order your wine, beer and cider)
June 9–September 15: Jackson-Triggs Summer Concert Series
June 17: Strawberry Festival
June 18–August 29: Music Niagara Summer Festival Concert Series
June 22: NOTL Chamber of Commerce Golf Tournament
June 24: Shaw Guild Garden Tour
June 24–25: Fort George in the Great War
July 1: Canada Day at Fort George
July 1–3: Canada Day Fireworks;
July 8: St. Mark’s Cherry Festival
July 15-16: Battle of Fort George Re-enactment
August 12: Peach Festival
August 12: Sip, Savour & Stroll
August 23: Shades of Summer Dinner
August 19-20: Fife & Drum Muster & Soldiers’ Field Day