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Looking for places to visit in Canada in winter that are ideal for a vacation? Check out these incredible places specially to enjoy staying in Canada in winter.
Traveling to Canada in winter is an incredible experience. The weather is a bit cold, but there are lots of destinations that offer a winter wonderland like feel. You won’t mind the chilly weather and fall in love with the beauty of snow covered and white powdery surroundings. Winter in Canada generally falls between mid December and mid March. Apart from fun activities like snowmobiling and sledding, you will also get to be a part of the cheerful festive activities hosted in many cities in Canada for Christmas and New Years. There are plenty of things to do in Canada during winters.
So, if you are looking forward to spending your winters in Canada, here are some places that you must consider visiting for a wonderful winter trip.
Best Places To Visit In Canada In Winter
1. Big White Ski Resort
The Big White Ski Resort in the winter is a sight to behold. The snow-capped mountain tops, fresh powder, and crisp air, make for an incredible experience. As you gaze out at the endless rows of colourful ski lifts, it’s hard not to be impressed by all that Big White has to offer. Big White Ski Resort is a favourite winter destination for many Canadians and one of the best ski resorts in Canada for families. Located in the village of Big White, it’s just two hours from Kelowna International Airport and four hours from Vancouver International Airport. The resort features excellent skiing with a variety of runs to choose from and lots of snow. In addition, big White is popular for families because it has an excellent child-friendly ski school and equipment rental centre.
Besides skiing and snowboarding, other winter activities at Big White are Nordic skiing, fat biking, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, tubing, dog sledding and horse-drawn sleigh rides. There are also many cosy restaurants to enjoy a delicious meal at after skiing or snowboarding all day. The village at Big White is perfect for holiday shopping with stores that sell clothing and gifts.
Christmas is an enjoyable time to visit this family-run winter resort as the trees are decked out with Christmas lights, and each year, there are fireworks, a laser show, a Christmas market, and the kids will love seeing Santa glide down the slopes in his red suit.
There are a few choices of where to eat in Big White, including the Black Diamond Bar & Grill. The Clocktower Coffee Co has excellent coffee and makes a mean hot chocolate.
By Christina of Travel2next
Whistler Blackcomb is the largest ski resort in North America. Powder hounds flock to Whistler each winter, but you do not have to be a snowboarder or skier to appreciate the magnetic and relaxed mountain culture. Take a snowmobiling tour through the majestic snow-covered trees of the backcountry or walk through a forest of enchantment at Vallea Lumina. Fly through the snow-covered valley on a zipline excursion. Try one of Whistler’s most unique activities by taking a ride in a passenger bobsleigh, or the public skeleton. Or explore the winter wonderland on a snowshoeing tour.
One of the best places for dinner is the Longhorn Saloon & Grill in Whistler Village. The restaurant is located at the base of Whistler Mountain, so it is among all the action. Usually, there is a DJ and it has a fun party atmosphere. For breakfast, take a short drive to the Southside Diner in Creekside. Their signature “bigass pancake” is the size of your head. It is a cosy diner that is very non-pretentious.
There is so much to experience and explore in Whistler, it is a destination you will want to return to.
Where to stay in Whistler : AAVA Whistler is a great mid-range hotel with an excellent location. It is only a short two-minute walk from Whistler Village and a five-minute walk from the Whistler and Blackcomb Mountain gondolas. If you are looking for a hotel on the fancier side, the Fairmont Chateau Whistler screams luxury.
By Debbie Fettback from World Adventurists
Vancouver can often be known for its rainy winters but if you get up into the local mountains then the rain turns to snow and you get to enjoy a winter wonderland. There are three local mountains in Vancouver, Grouse, Cypress and Seymour, and they are all easily accessible from downtown. Grouse can be accessed via public transit while Cypress and Seymour both run bus services of their own from downtown Vancouver. These mountains offer downhill skiing, snowshoeing, cross country skiing and sledding and on clear days you get amazing views over downtown Vancouver and over into Howe Sound.
While getting into the mountains is a great way to enjoy the winter here, there are lots of other cool activities in and around the city that you can enjoy as well. As Vancouver is on the coast, it usually gets fairly mild winters and there is rarely snow at sea level. This means there are a lot of awesome winter hikes in Vancouver that you can enjoy like Quarry Rock, Diez Vistas and Norvan Falls that will usually be completely snow free.
Cycling along the famous Stanley Park Seawall is another great winter activity although you will want to make sure you bring gloves to keep your hands warm. When you finish exploring for the day, Vancouver is home to plenty of great bars and restaurants, like Phnom Penh and the Hawksworth, so you can enjoy some delicious food to finish off a great day. Whether you want to spend time skiing in the mountains, hiking or just exploring the city, Vancouver is a great place to visit in the winter.
Where to stay in Vancouver : Pinnacle Hotel Harbourfront
By Luke Storey of Wild About BC
There is simply no better place to visit in Canada than Banff. Nestled between the almighty Canadian Rockies, Banff in winter is simply a winter wonderland with many activities to do. To start it off, Banff is a beautiful town surrounded by pristine nature and alpine peaks. In the main street of Banff, visitors will find boutique shops, restaurants, and plenty of château-style hotels to host their stay.
When you are not enjoying the facilities inside the town of Banff, there are plenty of winter activities near Banff. Start off with a gondola ride to the top of Sulphur Mountain, where you are taken 698 meters above the town of Banff. Here you will be blessed with immaculate views of some of the snow-capped giants in the region.
No Banff trip in winter is complete without skiing or snowboarding at one of the “Big 3” ski resorts in Banff. After a busy day, don’t forget to finish off with a relaxing soak in the Banff Upper Hot Springs.
Where to stay in Banff : Elk + Avenue Hotel
By Sean Lau of Living Out Lau
5. Lake Louise
When in search of a beautiful winter destination in Canada, it is impossible to overlook Lake Louise. The famous lake freezes over, and the surrounding mountains and forests are draped in a thick layer of impenetrable Albertan snow. Lake Louise really is a winter wonderland waiting to be explored.
What makes this place a truly unique winter destination is the number of amazing winter activities to do in Lake Louise. Whether you are looking for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to ice-skate on Lake Louise, or whether you prefer the challenge of conquering the back bowls on your skis at the world famous Ski Resort, Lake Louise has something to offer for everybody.
For a truly memorable winter experience in Lake Louise, try and plan your visit to coincide with the enchanting ice magic festival from mid-late June. A number of ice-sculptors from around the world converge on Lake Louise to compete in an international ice-carving competition – the fruits of their labour are truly spellbinding. There is no denying that Lake Louise is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Canada in Winter.
Where to stay in Lake Louise : If you are looking for a luxury winter stay in Banff National Park, it is difficult to look beyond the acclaimed 5-star hotel, Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. If you prefer a more budget friendly option, then perhaps Lake Louise Inn, found in the village of Lake Louise, will be more suited.
By Ben from Ticket 4 Two Please
6. Winterlude on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa
Ottawa is home to the Rideau Canal which freezes over every winter to become the world’s largest outdoor skating area. The full length is 7.8 km (4.8 miles) and it is usually open from early January to early March, depending on weather conditions. During the month of February, an outdoor festival called Winterlude takes place on and around the Rideau Canal to celebrate the unique winter climate and culture of Canada.
This event features ice carving competitions, illuminated snow sculptures, musical and artistic performances and various sports races and competitions. The highlight of the festival is skating down the canal and there are skate rental facilities, warming areas, and kiosks which sell hot chocolate and a traditional cinnamon sugar fried pastry called a ‘Beavertail’. For visitors who are not comfortable skating, it is also possible to walk along the canal.
For dining options, try the Byward Market or Elgin Street for a variety of restaurants to choose from. There is also a large shopping mall with a food court called the Rideau Centre right next to the main entrance of the canal. Ottawa has a public transit system with buses and light rail which will drop visitors close to the canal entrance. During the Winterlude festival, there are free shuttles running between different event sites throughout the city.
By Claire of Claire Pins Travel
Toronto is a brilliant winter destination to explore in Canada’s colder months as it offers a unique opportunity to explore the city covered with snow. Toronto doesn’t slowdown in the winter as Canadians are well-used to the cold temperatures, so there’s plenty of things to do in Toronto to keep you busy. There are plenty of ice-skating rinks around for those wanting to test their abilities on the ice and ice hockey season is in full swing.
Toronto also has plenty of indoor experiences to help you stay warm during the winter, such as a tasting flight of your favourite beer or spirit in the Distillery District, a stroll with the kids through the brilliant Aquarium or simply snuggling up in a cosy pub with a plate of poutine. The city’s most famous attraction, the CN Tower, also offers up incredible views of the snow-covered city – a perspective best appreciated from the observation deck way above ground level.
Finally, a rugged-up stroll through Toronto’s Graffiti Alley is a chilly, but beautiful way to spend an afternoon. Graffiti Alley is a long laneway covered in artist murals – made all the more special when the snow is falling all around.
Where to stay in Toronto : The Westin Harbour Castle
By Emma of Emma Jane Explores
8. Quebec City – Best For Winter Carnival
For a winter adventure like no other, you need to visit Quebec City during carnival. Carnaval de Québec is a 3-week long extravaganza where people come together to embrace winter and celebrate all the fun that comes with the cold temperatures, ice, and snow. It’s an action-packed festival featuring everything from street parades and canoe races, to dance parties and snow baths.
The Plains of Abraham is a good place to start your visit since this is where many of the activities like ice sculpting competitions, dog sledding, ice fishing and sleigh rides take place. Ice skating is another fun activity that can be enjoyed across the city including Place D’Youville in the heart of the Old Town, and Pointe-aux-Lièvres where they have a 1.5 kilometre illuminated skating path. For some thrills, you can try the icy slide on Dufferin Terrace at the foot of Château Frontenac, or better yet, join an ice canoeing excursion on the St. Lawrence River.
And of course, no visit to Quebec City in winter would be complete without meeting Bonhomme; he’s the carnival’s jolly mascot and master of celebrations. You can find him in his ice palace or making appearances at various events across town. He’s a 7-foot snowman wearing a red toque and arrow sash, so he’s hard to miss.
Where to stay on your trip to Quebec City : One final experience to enjoy during your winter trip to Quebec City is the Hotel de Glace. This ice hotel is located in Saint-Gabriel-de-Valcartier, which is a 30-minute drive north of the city. The ice hotel is open to day visitors, but if you plan your trip right and book well in advance, you can spend the night.
By Audrey Bergner of That Backpacker
9. Niagara Falls
Most people think of Niagara Falls as a summer destination, but it is actually one of the best places to visit in Canada in winter. You can see the Falls covered in snow and there are a few special events for the season. While you have a nice view from Queen Victoria Park, the best way to see Niagara Falls in winter is to take a helicopter ride. It’s a bit of a splurge but it’s an experience you will remember for a lifetime. Alternatively, you can watch the Falls as you enjoy dinner in the revolving restaurant at the top of the Skylon Tower.
At night, you can enjoy the illuminations on the Falls. Custom colours are used to mark significant dates and to show support for charitable causes. If you have a Falls view hotel room, you can enjoy the show without going out.
During the winter in Niagara Falls, there is also the Festival of Lights, one of the biggest light festivals in Canada. They have a 8 km route with over 2 million lights through several of the Niagara Parks and all around the town of Niagara Falls. Nearby Niagara on the Lake, they have the Ice Wine Festival in mid to late January. During the festival, you can go to the glamorous Niagara Icewine Gala or more low-key outdoor street festivals. They offer a Discovery Pass that includes eight unique pairings at your choice of over 35 wineries.
Where to stay in Niagara Falls : Niagara Falls Marriott Fallsview Hotel & Spa
By Anisa of Two Traveling Texans
In the heart of British Columbia lies the charming town of Revelstoke with its stunning natural beauty and big mountain energy. The greatest appeal of the area is its exceptional skiing and snowboarding offering throughout the winter period. With the longest vertical in North America, skiing in Revelstoke offers a tantalising challenge and a serious adrenaline rush.
Revelstoke, in its 12 years of opening, has garnered a reputation for heli skiing. There are various tours available, such as the Eagle Pass Heliski and Selkirk Tangiers Heli Skiing, or you can go cat skiing if the weather’s too harsh for heli skiing. There’s something for everybody if you visit Revelstoke during the Christmas period, from “catch the gingerbread man” to Winter Wonderland. It’s a lively, festive place for the holiday period – for kids and adults alike.
Revelstoke is fairly remote but there are a number of options for getting there:
- Bus transfer : Busbud offers transfers from Calgary to Revelstoke in 6 hours.
- Hire a car : If road trips are a part of your plan, then why not rent a car? Just be aware of jams and potential avalanches on the highway!
- Ridesharing : Join the Facebook group Revelstoke Rideshare, where you can hitch a ride with someone already driving in your direction.
Where to stay in Revelstoke : Sutton Place Hotel is a fantastic place to stay, being located right at the base of the mountain. The hotel also offers spa facilities, including an outdoor heated pool, outdoor hot tubs, a gym, plus an indoor hot tub with stunning views over the mountains.
By Jessie Moore of Pocket Wanderings
11. Iqaluit, Nunavut
Iqaluit, Nunavut is not a destination many people think to visit, largely because they are unaware of all it has to offer and how easy it is to visit. Nunavut is Canada’s largest territory, stretching from Manitoba all the way to the North Pole – and Iqaluit is its capital city. Iqaluit sits on the coast of Baffin Island and features a landscape of distant mountains, expansive tundra and the Arctic Ocean. Despite its remoteness, you can reach Iqaluit on a single 4-hour flight from Ottawa. Iqaluit has several hotels, restaurants and activities.
Iqaluit lies right below the Arctic Circle, so in the winter there is nearly constant darkness. However, this makes Iqaluit an excellent place to see the northern lights. Two companies – Arctic Kingdom and Inukpak Outfitting – offer tours for northern lights viewing on the tundra. In addition, Inukpack offers dog sledding and snowmobiling. To take advantage of these activities, visit Iqaluit at the end of winter when the days are beginning to get longer and the temperature isn’t quite so cold.
Also, ensure you bring a good camera and tripod for capturing the northern lights. Many tour guides are excellent photographers and will help you set up your camera to perfectly capture the experience.
Where to stay in Iqaluit : Aqsarniit Hotel and Conference Centre
By Mikaela of Voyageur Tripper
12. Inuvik, Arctic Canada
Canada is known for its stunning wilderness. And what more unique than the Arctic, with its white open scenery of dry deserts over the frozen tundra. And the Northwest Territories of Canada, nestled between the Yukon in the West and Nunavut in the East, and by the Arctic Ocean in the North, is the perfect destination to appreciate the beauty of Arctic landscapes. Yellowknife is the trendy city most people heard about. Still, other places like Inuvik are little gems that are worth getting off-the-beaten paths for anyone wanting to learn about traditional Arctic culture.
Come winter, the hiking trails turn sledding grounds, lakes welcome snowmobiles, and rivers turn ice roads. Drive a car over the frozen Mackenzie River all the way to the tiny outpost of Tuktoyaktuk, right by the Beaufort Sea and the Arctic Ocean. Among the top activities is dog sledding, where mushing a team of white huskies through the tundra is a thrilling must-do. Add spending a night camping on the tundra under the Northern Lights to make the trip a once-of-a-lifetime experience.
Home to the Inuit people, learn about their culture during the Muskrat Jamboree, usually held in March, where traditional dances and songs are performed. March is also when a free-ranging herd of reindeer comes through the North of Inuvik and can be observed during a snowmobile trip. Regardless of the activities, a visit to Arctic Canada in winter is a trip of a lifetime.
Where to stay in Inuvik : Nova Inn
By Patricia Pagenel of Ze Wandering Frogs
13. Muskoka, Ontario
One of the best places to visit in Canada in winter is the heart of Ontario’s cottage country, Muskoka. Located a couple of hours north of Toronto, Muskoka is one of Ontario’s top summer destinations. Many overlook it in the winter months, but there is a ton of things to do in Muskoka, especially for outdoor enthusiasts.
You will find lots of great hiking trails and parks that turn into winter wonderlands. Algonquin and Arrowhead Provincial Parks are great stops for snowshoeing and winter hiking. There are also a bunch of great skate trails across Muskoka, like in Arrowhead and at the Muskoka Lakes Farm & Winery. For the more adventurous you can try your hand at ice climbing, dog sledding or skiing.
Where to stay in Muskoka : If you are looking to plan a weekend or week-filled winter adventure in Muskoka there are two great places to base yourself. Huntsville is ideal for those looking to be close to the best provincial parks and ski resorts. You will also find great restaurants in town to fuel your adventures like The Mill on Main. For those who want to stay in a Christmas movie-like small town then you will love Bracebridge. It’s home to three of the many waterfalls in Muskoka, cute shops and great restaurants like El Pueblito.
By Stephanie of The World As I See It
14. Prince Edward County
One of the best places to visit in Canada in winter is Prince Edward County. Located on the shores of Lake Ontario a visit to Prince Edward County is a popular summer destination. However, as the days get shorter and the lake starts to freeze over Prince Edward County turns into a winter wonderland. A visit to Prince Edward County means enjoying winter sports like ice skating, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing just to name a few things. However, what makes Prince Edward County so special is that it is home to amazing wineries and breweries where you can warm up after a day out enjoying the snow.
For example, bring your snowshoes (or rent them) and check out Sugarbush where you can go snowshoeing on that trail that takes you past the vineyards and is then followed by a wine tasting back in the tasting room. Or check out Midtown Brewing Company where you can grab a beer, a burger and then go ice skating on the rink right behind the brewpub. And if you prefer to just skip the winter activities check out trail estates where you can sit in the large windowed tasting room and admire the snowy vineyards from the comfort of the heated tasting room.
Where to stay in Prince Edward County : The Empty Nest B & B
By Taima Ramsey of Poor In A Private Plane
Val-David is a vibrant and one of the popular places to visit in Canada in winter. The charming French-Canadian village is located about an hour’s drive north of Montreal. Cross country skiers will find a network of groomed trails for all abilities in the natural areas surrounding the town. Le P’tit Trail du Nord is a linear park that runs right through downtown for fabulous cross country skiing. The reclaimed rail right-of-way travels 200 km from Saint-Jérôme and Mont-Laurier. You can also snowshoe into ice caves at the Val-David Regional Park.
Other winter activities include ice skating and hockey at the downtown ice rink with a cosy warming centre. A local outdoor equipment store has rental equipment for many winter outdoor adventures. Kids will love the Village du Pere Noel (Santa’s Village). There is snow tubing, farm animals to pet, and, of course, Santa Claus for the kids to enjoy.
Alpine ski enthusiasts will find many classic ski resorts within a short drive. Try out the slopes at Valle Bleu or Belle Neigh ski resorts. The Plushie ski trail at Belle Neigh, festooned with hundreds of stuffed animals, is a family favourite. The food and craft beer at Le Baril Roulant shouldn’t be missed. Sit out on the terrace to sip one of the 21 brews available while tasting the classic bistro food.
Where To Stay In Val-David : Le Baril Roulant has accommodations where cross country skiers can ski right out the door.
By Karen Warren of Outdoor Adventure Sampler
So, now that you know about all the incredible places to visit in Canada in winter, you can easily plan your getaway to a winter wonderland and indulge yourselves in much needed and enjoyable activities.
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