How to Take the Train from New York City to Niagara Falls
If you are considering a trip from NYC to Niagara Falls by train, you are in the right place.
I have traveled this route several times in the past few years and highly recommend the Journey. If you want to take a leisurely trip to Niagara Falls and avoid all the lines and hassles at the airport, read on and see if a train from New York to Niagara Falls is for you.
Should you Take the Train To Niagara Falls?
Although the train trip from NYC to Niagara Falls can average over 9 hours, the hassle of flying, driving, or taking a coach may not be worth saving a few hours.
Before you decide on taking a train to Niagara Falls, you should first consider the alternatives.
In the table below are the average travel times from Manhatten to Niagara Falls. Also included are the best prices for the 2023 Season, but these ticket prices will vary depending on demand.
|Fuel, tolls, Operating Costs
|$39-$75 each way (city to city)
|1.5 hrs for a direct flight to Buffalo. plus travel from NYC airport and Buffalo airport (5-6 hrs total travel time)
|$75-150 each way plus Transfers
|$68 to $129 (City to City)
Bring your Bike
One great feature of taking the train to Niagara Falls is your ability to bring your bike along. Having your bile along makes getting around Niagara Falls a breeze. You can cover just about all the attractions and downtown hotels in a short bike ride.
The bike trails on both sides of the border are plentiful.
Three Daily Trains from New York City to Niagara Falls, NY.
Amtrak normaly has three trains a day scheduled to Niagara Falls, NY. The Maple Leaf is the first train of the day at 7:15 am, and two additional trains under the name Empire Service depart daily at 10:20 am and 1:20 pm.
Below is an example of the daily Train Line up on Amtrak from New York Penn Station in Manhatten to Niagara Falls, N.Y., for the 2023 Season
First, we will talk about the Maple Leaf train as it will cross the Border into Canada after departing the Niagara Falls, NY Amtrak Station.
Then we will talk about the two Empire Service trains that terminate in Niagara Falls, NY.
Update: April 28, 2023
Summer Pricing Has Started
As the summer season bookings have begun, the dynamic pricing model has started to increase ticket prices around the weekends and when trains begin to get more than halfway full.
For example, Coach fares to Niagara Falls, N.Y., which were $68 each way, are now hitting $97, $115, and $129 each way on some busy weekends.
If you see a train that runs over a weekend or is filling up, watch when the website warns that there are only “2 left at this price” as a price increase on that train is soon to follow.
The Maple Leaf: Service to Niagara Falls, NY, and Niagara Falls, Ontario
The first train of the day to depart New York Penn Station is called the Maple Leaf (Amtrak 63). You can take this train to Niagara Falls, New York, and depart the train on the American side of the Border.
This train continues after stopping in Niagara Falls, NY, crossing the US-Canadian Border, and stops again in Niagara Falls, Ontario, before continuing to Toronto. So if you plan to visit or stay in Niagara Falls, Ontario, this may be the train for you.
The Maple Leaf fills up a little more quickly as it is the only train to Niagara Falls, Canada, from Penn Station and the first train of the day out of New York City bound for Western New York.
All things being equal, this is the train I would opt for as it arrives at Niagara Falls, NY, at 4:40 pm.
For Those Staying on the Maple Leaf and Crossing into Canada:
Crossing the Border on the Maple Leaf
If you will stay on the train and cross the Canadian Border, You will need a passport or Enhanced Drivers license to enter Canada. Please see the Canadian Government Guide on Crossing the Border into Canada website for details about documents and the need for birth certificates if traveling with children under 15 years of age, and they do not have travel documents.
After Departing the Niagara Falls New York Amtrak Station, the train then crosses the border into Niagara Falls, Ontario, to clear customs at 4:46 pm. The train then departs as a VIA Rail train with its final destination of Toronto.
Empire Service To Niagara Falls, New York.
The second and third trains of the day from New York Penn Station are Amtrak 281 and Amtrak 283, called “Empire Service”. Both of these trains terminate in Niagara Falls, New York. Amtrak Train 281 Empire Service departs Penn Station at 10:20 am, and the second Empire Service Train, Amtrak Train 283, departs Penn Station at 1:20 pm.
Ticket Prices for 2023
Currently, the standard Coach ticket from New York Penn Station to Niagara Falls, NY, is $68 each way. You can check the latest Amtrak ticket prices here. In my experience, as the trains start to fill up, the prices start to increase. Often if you can move your travel dates a bit, you can still get a good fare.
Business class usually sells out on many days. Amtrak will often offer you a chance to bid on a Business class seat for 20 or 30 dollars. I have tried this out of Penn Station several times, and even with the max bid, I never win. So if you want a Business Class seat, it is best to just buy it upfront. You can check Amtrak ticket prices here.
Boarding the Train To Niagara Falls at Penn Station: Get on the Good Side of the Train
The key to a good trip from Penn Station to Niagara Falls is trying to board the train just after they call the Door/Track. The gate agents don’t always know what track the train will use at the station. As it gets close to boarding time, watch and listen for the track assignment.
It is best to get yourself over to the Door/Track as soon as possible. You will want to sit on the left side of the train as that’s where all the good views of the Hudson River will be. You can ask the conductor about what side to sit on if you are not sure, but you will see all the other passengers filling in the seats on the “good side” of the train first.
The 9-Hour Trip Across New York State
All three trains are usually pretty full during the warmer months, and by the middle of summer, the trains sell out as many New Yorkers head up to the Adirondacks for long weekends. But not to worry. As the train travels north, more people get off the train at the station stops than get on the train.
After about two and a half hours, you arrive at the Albany Rensselaer Station. If you are on schedule, the train may stand by in the station for 20 minutes for a crew change and to put on new passengers. You can generally get off the train to stretch your legs for a few minutes.
After everyone gets off in Albany it can be a good time to pick some new seating. If you ask the conductor they will usually allow a chance to reset your seating location. Remember to move your ticket stub above your seat if you do move.
Across Upstate New York Along the Erie Canal
This portion of the trip is kind of interesting for those interested in history and the building of the Erie Canal. You will notice the train moves along the Erie Canal and Mohawk River, and you will see all the historic old towns that sprouted up as the Erie Canal entered service In the early 1800s.
The second part of the trip to Niagara Falls is a bit long. You may be able to find some open double seats so you can get comfortable for the long haul part. Just like out of New York Penn Station, you will want to be on the left side of the train as you run along the mohawk river and the Erie Canal.
It is best to have a bit of a schedule and figure out how best to use your time and maybe plan a meal time with your travel companions in the cafe car. As you get close to Buffalo, sometimes they close down the cafe car, so plan accordingly.
Arriving at Niagara Falls
Once you reach Buffalo, you are getting close. The views get a little more interesting, and everyone gets anxious to get off the train.
Finally, Niagara Falls train station is in sight. You spent a full day on the train. If you are not continuing to cross the border, you will find the Niagara Falls Amtrak train station a new, modern, clean station.
The Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Museum
If you are on one of the earlier trains, you can visit the Underground Railroad museum at the far end of the station. This little gem of a museum will open your eyes to the historical role that Niagara Falls played as the last stop on the Under Ground Railroad. They do charge admission to enter the museum, but it is worth it.
You may want to hold off and save this museum for your day of departure if you are in a rush to get to your hotel or arrive after hours.
You can catch a cab out to your hotel from the cab stand in front of the station. Of course, you can also call for a ride-share.
If you want to save a few bucks, you can ride the Discovery Shuttle to the Downtown area. The Discovery Shuttle is mainly for moving tourists around the different attractions around Niagara Falls. It only runs for limited times between May and October.
Watch the schedule because the Discovery Shuttle does not run later in the day. If you do plan to use this bus, download the app so you can see how long you will have to wait for the next bus. Although this can be a free way to get downtown, I would just use an Uber or cab if your budget allows.
A Second Option to Niagara Falls: The Lake Shore Limited
There is also a 4th train daily from Penn Station to Western New York. This train travels the same route as the Maple Leaf and Empire Service. However, when this train reaches Buffalo – Depew Station, the train continues West toward Cleveland rather than turning north to Niagara Falls. The Lakeshore Limited travels from Penn Station and eventually terminates in Chicago.
Sleeper Cars to Niagara Falls? No- Just to Buffalo
The Lakeshore Limited may be appealing to some because this train offers a limited number of bedrooms and roomettes on the train. However, these accommodations fill up quickly, and you must reserve these rooms as soon as your travel dates are set. If you are able to reserve a bedroom or roomette, you will also have access to the Amtrack Lounge in the Moynahan Train Hall.
The only issue with the Lake Shore Limited train is that it arrives in Buffalo at 12:30 am, so picking up a rental car has to be pre-arranged. You can take a cab or ride share up to Niagara Falls (about 30 Min. ride). You can also arrange a ride ahead of time with Buffalo Airport shuttle or a car service so you have a ride waiting for you.
If you are staying on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, you may want to use a pre-arranged shuttle service or car service to ensure your driver can enter Canada and take you directly to your hotel.
Is The Train to Niagara Falls Right For You?
Some people will say they enjoy taking the train to Niagara Falls. I find the train relaxing and better than the alternatives if I am not in a hurry. I also know that some people are crawling the walls after a few hours, and after 8 hours, they are stir-crazy. Taking the train to Niagara Falls is best left to the patient people who can easily keep themselves occupied for 9 hours. Families with older kids that can be put in some air pods and zone out will be fine. But if you have little ones, be sure to have lots of activities and snacks.
Some other options to get to Niagara Falls.
Driving from Manhattan to Niagara Falls, NY, will be a 400-mile drive, and with good traffic and a couple of stops for food or fuel, you will be looking at about 8 hours in average traffic conditions. The main advantage to driving is you will have your car in Niagara Falls with the ability to take some side trips and let’s face it, the comfort of having a car on standby can outweigh all other considerations.
Motor Coach or Tour Bus
Motor Coach times to Niagara Falls can be all across the board. Some dedicated tours to Niagara Falls advertise a round trip from Time Square to Niagara Falls and back in just over 19 hours; however, you only spend a few of those precious hours in Niagara Falls.
Traditional Bus service can take from 8 hours to upwards of 12 plus hours from the New York Port Authority to Niagara Falls. Read our guide on taking the Bus to Niagara Falls Here.
Flying has its pros and cons, and if you can land a reasonable airfare (you can sometimes even beat the train fare), flying to Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF) may be the way to go. The flying time from NYC to Buffalo, NY, is about 1 hour and 30 minutes, and you have all your transfers set up; you can get from central Manhatten to Niagara Falls in about 5 hours.
What is the best way to travel from NYC to Niagara Falls?
If you want a smooth and scenic journey, then taking a train from NYC to Niagara Falls is the best option. Although this is a 9-hour Journey if you are prepared to relax and spend the day with your travel companions or maybe a good book. Airline flights to Buffalo Niagara Airport are about 1 hour and 30 minutes from NYC. Driving a car will take about 8 hours, and Motor Coach can be upwards of 12 hours. There are a few tour Buses that make a round trip out and back tour in 19 hours from Time Square.
Which train company operates from NYC to Niagara Falls?
Amtrak is a train company that operates from NYC to Niagara Falls. You can book your Amtrak tickets online, through their mobile app, or at the station. You can pick Niagara Falls, New York, or on the Maple Leaf train, you can cross the border and disembark in Niagara Falls, Ontario, on the Canadian side of the border.
What is the travel time by train from NYC to Niagara Falls?
The average travel time by train from NYC to Niagara Falls is over 9 hours. After departing New York Penn Station, the train travels north to Albany and then across New York state along the scenic Erie Canal.
Where do I get on the train from NYC to Niagara Falls?
You can board the train from New York Penn Station, which is located in Midtown Manhattan. The station is the busiest in the United States, so make sure to arrive early to avoid any rush. You will follow the signs for Amtrak in the Moynihan Train Hall.
How much does a train ticket from NYC to Niagara Falls cost?
The current 2023 price for a coach ticket is $68 each way. Amtrack uses dynamic pricing, so as the train fills up during the summer months, ticket prices will increase if the train is nearing maximum capacity.
What is the distance between NYC and Niagara Falls by train?
The distance between NYC and Niagara Falls by train is approximately 400 miles. After departing New York Penn Station, the train travels north Along the Hudson River to Albany, New York. After a short layover, the train departs east along the Mohawk River and the Erie Canal before passing through Buffalo and arriving in Niagara Falls.
What are the available train services from NYC to Niagara Falls?
The available Amtrak trains from NYC to Niagara Falls are the Maple Leaf and two additional Amtrak Empire Services trains to Niagara Falls. The two daily Empire Service trains terminate in Niagara Falls, NY, While the Maple Leaf train crosses the border into Canada and stops in Niagara Falls, Ontario, before proceeding to Toronto.
Is there a high-speed train from NYC to Niagara Falls?
Unfortunately, there is no high-speed train from NYC to Niagara Falls. Amtrack uses trackage rights over CSX railway’s Water Level Route. The Maximum speed for most of the 400-mile run is 79 miles per hour for passenger trains on this route.
Train to Niagara Falls
All aboard for a leisurely and picturesque journey from New York City to Niagara Falls! If you're seeking an alternative to airport hassles, consider taking the train for a scenic and relaxing trip through the Empire State. With three daily Amtrak trains from NYC to Niagara Falls, you have plenty of options. The Maple Leaf is the first train of the day, departing at 7:15 am, and is the only one that crosses the US-Canadian border. Two additional Empire Service trains depart daily at 10:20 am and 1:20 pm. With an average travel time of over nine hours, the train may not be the fastest option, but it offers stunning views of the Hudson River and Erie Canal, as well as historic towns dotting the landscape. To make the most of the scenery, try to board the train as soon as the track is assigned and aim for a seat on the left side. Ticket prices for 2023 start at $68 each way for a standard Coach seat, while Business Class seats are available for $163. Business Class offers limited seating, so be sure to book early if you prefer this option. As you travel north, enjoy snacks and drinks from the cafe car or plan a mealtime with your travel companions.
- Relaxing trip with room to stretch out
- Ticket prices are competitive with driving and bus
- Wifi and power outlets at each seat
- Cafe Car available for most of the trip
- Scenic views of the Hudson River and Erie Canal
- Easily Accesable
- Eco Friendly
- No problem with Luggage
- Bring your Bike
- 9 1/2 hour journey from NYC to Niagara Falls
- Possible train delays from freight trains
- Three trains a day that fill up fast in the summer
- Kids can get board if their time is not well structured
- Food options on train can be very limited
Comfort Level for the trip
Competitively priced with air and bus
Total time on train
Bring along luggage and a bike
Scenic views along the way
Food options on the train can be limited
Possibility of delays along the way
Eco friendly and accessible