peninsula in Ontario, Canada
North America > Canada > Ontario > Niagara Peninsula

The Niagara Peninsula is in Ontario's Golden Horseshoe, encompassing most of the city of Hamilton and all of Niagara Region. Niagara Region is a regional municipality (roughly similar to a county) consisting of cities, towns and villages east of Hamilton on the Niagara Peninsula.

Niagara Gorge


Map of Niagara Peninsula

  • 1 Fort Erie — the site of Old Fort Erie, an important War of 1812 site
  • 2 Grimsby — a starting point for touring the Niagara wine region
  • 3 Hamilton — the third largest city in Ontario is transitioning from an industrial city to a centre for health sciences with a growing arts and culture sector
  • 4 Lincoln — a rural town known for its dozens of wineries
  • 5 Niagara Falls — there's supposed to be some big waterfall here; it might be worth checking out
  • 6 Niagara-on-the-Lake — popular with visitors drawn by its quaint colonial-style buildings, the Shaw Theatre Festival, Old Fort George, and wineries
  • 7 Port Colborne — great weather, ample beach front, cultural attractions, and historic shopping districts
  • 8 St. Catharines — a good base for exploring the Niagara Peninsula
  • 9 Thorold — the historical Welland Canal and the impressive locks bring many tourists here
  • 10 Welland — known for the many murals around town

Except for Hamilton, all the above cities and communities are part of Niagara Region.



The Niagara Peninsula is formed by the shores of Lake Ontario to north, Lake Erie to the south, and the Niagara River along the United States border to the east.

The defining feature of the peninsula is the Niagara Escarpment, a ridge running through the Great Lakes in Ontario between New York and Wisconsin creating unique landforms and ecosystems, that has been designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Through Niagara, it runs in an east-west direction, rising about 75 m above the flat bench land along the shore of Lake Ontario. The steeper face of the escarpment is on the north edge, and many of the peninsula's transportation corridors and population centres are on the flat land between escarpment and Lake Ontario. It's nicknamed "The Mountain" in Hamilton, where the escarpment crosses through the middle of the city, creating "upper" and "lower" neighbourhoods.

The best known part of the escarpment is where it meets its namesake, the Niagara River, creating the beautiful Niagara Falls. Elsewhere in the vicinity of the escarpment, there are many natural areas to be explored, many smaller waterfalls to be seen, and many great views to be found. On a clear day, hikers can spot the distant Toronto skyline from across the lake.

Niagara Region is situated on treaty land. This land has a rich history of First Nations such as the Neutral, the Haudenosaunee, and the Anishinaabe, including the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.

The area had an important in the settler history of North America as well, having been the first area in Southern Ontario to be settled by English-speakers. Many of the towns were settled by British Loyalists fleeing the United States in the lead-up to the War of 1812, where these lands were a main battleground, including the bloodiest battle ever fought on Canadian soil near Niagara Falls. This heritage is especially celebrated in Niagara-on-the-Lake, which has preserved its British-influenced colonial architecture throughout the town. Later, the region was a destination for the Underground Railroad and Harriet Tubman lived in St. Catharines for several years.

The peninsula was well-suited for advances in technology towards the dawn of the 20th century. Governments supported engineering efforts to harness rivers and waterfalls for hydroelectricity, and the region soon had access to cheap and reliable high-voltage electricity for manufacturing. Hamilton became an important Great Lakes harbour for shipping, and the first railway chartered in Ontario connected Niagara to Windsor, Toronto and beyond.

The legacy of this period is still evident. The Queen Elizabeth Way was the first intercity highway in North America (beating the Pennsylvania Turnpike by one year), and it's two skyways take travellers overtop the Hamilton Harbour and the Welland Canal. Around Niagara Falls, a few of the earliest power plants still stand as some of the most prominent old structures in the city.

Today, the peninsula is home to some of the best farmland in Canada. The climate makes grape-growing possible, and there are over 60 wineries in the area, most of which are in the towns of Lincoln and Niagara-on-the-Lake. The region is also important for several other Ontario crops, such as peaches, pears, plums, and cherries. Roadside stands and bustling country markets with a variety of fresh produce are common and worth a detour off the highway during the harvest season.

Tourism is also a large part of the economy, and the peninsula attracts over 12 million visitors per year from all over the world.

Visitor Information


Get in


By plane


The closest major airport to Niagara Region is actually in the United States. Buffalo-Niagara International Airport (BUF IATA) is just outside of Buffalo, New York and about 20-30 min drive from the Falls. It is served by most major American carriers. Niagara Falls International Airport (IAG IATA) is the closest airport to the Falls but has only a few scheduled commercial flights, given over mainly to chartered and private planes. Hamilton (YHM IATA) has a major airport which is closer than Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ IATA) in Mississauga.

By bus


Megabus (Coach Canada) and GO Transit offer regular bus service to Hamilton and the cities and towns in Niagara Region including Niagara Falls. Flixbus (previously Greyhound) connects Toronto to New York, with stops in Buffalo, Niagara Falls and St. Catharines.

By train


VIA Rail and Amtrak partner to run a daily train from New York City to Toronto making stops in Niagara Falls, St. Catharines, and Grimsby. The travel experience is more comfortable than travelling by bus, but the journey is generally not faster. Note that VIA Rail cannot book a trip that originates in the United States except as part of a return ticket, and that trips entirely within Canada can only be booked through VIA Rail.

GO Transit runs trains from Toronto that stop in Hamilton and St. Catharines. Weekday trains cater to commuters travelling from Niagara Falls early in the morning and returning in the evening. Additional trips are scheduled on weekends and some holidays, and in the summer these trains provide space on board for several dozen bicycles. The fares are the same for GO trains and buses, but combination tickets are also offered online for family-sized groups that include the WEGO buses in Niagara Falls.

By bicycle


A journey on bike from Toronto to Hamilton is approximately 75 km downtown-to-downtown, which can feel like a daunting distance for casual cyclists, but the route follows the shoreline of Lake Ontario, making the ride scenic, quite flat and refreshingly cool on the hot summer days. The route is generally parallel to the historic road connection between Toronto and Hamilton, Highway 2 (now Lakeshore Road), so you'll find many suburban parks, beaches, and main street spots to rest or stop for a meal. A network of trails and country roads can take you from Hamilton along the escarpment through Grimsby and Vineland and onward to Niagara Falls.

From Fort Erie and Buffalo, the Niagara River Recreation Trail follows the river from Fort Erie to Niagara-on-the-Lake. The winding ride from the bridge in Fort Erie to Niagara Falls is about 32 km.

By foot


The Bruce Trail is a walking and hiking path that follows the Niagara Escarpment. It's about 900 km long, with another 400 km of side trails. Many outdoor enthusiasts in this part of Ontario add an end-to-end walk of the trail to their bucket list - a feat which could easily take your entire summer and a lot of careful packing. Instead, most people who attempt the journey break the adventure into segments they complete one day at a time, over the course of years or even decades. The many towns along the escarpment on the peninsula can break the trail into several manageable segments. Arriving from the north, you'll pass through Burlington on the way to trail sections in Hamilton.

Get around


It's possible to see the city of Niagara Falls without a car, as the transit system is well-developed and most of the attractions are close together.

To explore the surrounding area, including Niagara-on-the-Lake and the wineries, a car is recommended. Biking is also popular.

The Niagara Falls, for which the peninsula is named, is one of the most impressive waterfalls in the world and is definitely a must for visitors - as is the Hornblower Niagara Cruises boat trip to the foot of the Falls. In addition to the Falls themselves, the city offers a number of other attractions including the lively and carnival-like Clifton Hills entertainment area, the Butterfly Conservatory, and Marineland. There are also two casinos in Niagara Falls.

There are several historical sites from the War of 1812 scattered around Niagara Region, since the region borders the United States and much of the fighting took place here. They include Fort George, Fort Erie, Laura Secord's house, and Queenston Heights.

At Queenston Heights, there is a tea room and a humongous monument to General Brock who died gloriously in the Battle of Queenston Heights during the War of 1812. It has great views over the river and is worth the climb, when open. There is a small plaque for General Sheaffe, who actually won the battle. And a statue for General Brock's horse. Make sure to keep an eye out for a grassroots monument to the otherwise unrecognized Indigenous warriors who also defended the territory from the United States that has been found at the base of Brock's monument at times.

The popular Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake features the plays of Bernard Shaw and his contemporaries. It runs from April to October and attracts over 250,000 visitors each year.

Dundurn Castle

Dundurn Castle is a neoclassical mansion in Hamilton that is a museum illustrating daily life from the 1850s.

There are many wineries that host tours and tastings located around Niagara-on-the-Lake, Beamsville, and Vineland (see Wine Regions of Ontario). The Niagara Wine Festival takes place in September. The main festivities and parade take place in St. Catharines, and the area's wineries host their own special events.

In addition to Niagara Falls, the area has other much smaller but still pretty waterfalls, including Ball's Falls and Rockaway Falls near Vineland, Decew Falls on the outskirts of St. Catharines, and Louth Falls near Jordan. The best time to visit is spring and early summer, when water levels are at their highest.

There are many possibilities for hiking and biking in the area. The 845-km-long Bruce Trail has its southern terminus point in Queenston, Niagara Falls and winds its way north along the Niagara Escarpment to Tobermory. The Niagara River Recreation Trail is a 56-km paved trail running along the Niagara River from Fort Erie in the south to Fort George in Niagara-on-the-Lake in the north. Niagara Glenn has 4 km of trails - enter the gorge at Totem Pole Park and follow the U-turn of Niagara so you will be close to where you started when you get out, i.e. a short walk to your car.

The Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority manages over 30 conservation areas, each with a unique setting and offering different activities, including picnicking, strolling or hiking, birdwatching, and boating. Beamer Memorial Conservation Area near Grimsby is known as a place to watch the annual hawk migration, Binbrook for windsurfing, Ball's Falls for its waterfalls and historic buildings, including a grist mill. Some conservation areas allow fishing and hunting (licence required).

Aside from the Shaw Festival, Niagara has had a small but low-key very active creative arts and music scene, including festivals like In The Soil, Rodman Hall, and a new arts and culture house in the Performing Arts Centre.

Niagara has the typical restaurants one would expect for southern Ontario but also owing to it having the best farmland has excellent local produce, particularly soft fruits. Consider a visit to one of the many local farm-to-table restaurants or even stop in at a farm that offers pick-your-own. These are good options if you're looking to get off what might be an otherwise very-well beaten path and see some of the countryside.



The Niagara Peninsula is one of the three main Wine Regions of Ontario. It competes with British Columbia's Okanagan Valley for being the top producer in Canada. The region is particularly well known for its ice wines, made from grapes picked after they have frozen. Ice wines highlight the grape's sweetness, and few regions in the world can match Niagara's quality.

Niagara Ale Trail Craft beer has become the beer of the moment, and breweries or brewpubs have become popular in many cities.


Skyline of Niagara Falls

The city of Niagara Falls is well-equipped to handle the huge numbers of visitors it receives, with a large number of hotels, motels, and inns in all price ranges. Nonetheless, during the height of tourist season (in particular weekends in July and August), it can be hard to find rooms in the budget to mid-range categories. During these times it's best to book in advance.

Lodging in downtown Niagara Falls means you'll be close to the attractions and have a wide choice of accommodations and restaurants, however, the area can seem very busy, 'touristy,' and noisy. Staying at a hotel or bed & breakfast in Niagara-on-the-Lake or in the smaller towns of wine country can be a more relaxing experience.

There are a number of campgrounds in Niagara Falls, and at the Ball's Falls, Chippewa Creek and Long Beach Conservation Areas.

Stay safe


The Niagara Peninsula is quite safe.

Provincial guidelines limit tasting more than 4 one-ounce samples at each winery. Be aware of your limits and don't drink and drive.

When hiking, take adequate supplies (water, food, safety equipment), wear sturdy hiking footwear and dress with the weather in mind. For safety, don't hike alone. Most trails are not maintained in the winter months.

Go next


There are several bridges to the United States across the Niagara River. Other options for further travel include:

  • Toronto - Ontario's multicultural capital
  • Waterloo - university town hosting the largest Oktoberfest in the world outside of Munich
  • Stratford - picturesque city that hosts the Stratford Shakespeare Festival from April to November
  • New York
  • Buffalo

This region travel guide to Niagara Peninsula is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.