Canada in Winter

There's a lot going on in Canada in winter.

Average Canada Temperatures by Month & City | Converting between °F and °C | Seasons in Canada

Winter in Canada may be chilly, but it has plenty to offer both the adventure seeker and city slicker.

Many of the people who visit Canada in the winter do so specifically for the winter activities like skiing, but even if you're not a fan of cold weather, there are reasons why winter may be your best time plan a trip.

For one thing, certain times of the winter offer extremely affordable airfare and hotel rates. If you've always wanted to see Montreal, but are on a tight budget, maybe the slow post-Christmas season is your best bet. 

Second, not all of Canada is freezing cold in the winter. Western Canada, including Vancouver and Victoria have moderate climates and little snow. Of course, the country's best ski hills are not far away. 

Finally, if you avoid travelling during winter because the snow and cold scares you off, try to alter your mindset to embrace the experience. Canadians do not stay inside between November and March, but instead plan wonderful outdoor festivals that celebrate the season. Joining in on this fun makes for a truly unique and authentically Canadian experience. 

  • 01 of 06

    What's the weather like in Canada in winter?

    Toronto Frozen
    Pankaj Brijlani / EyeEm / Getty Images

    The height of winter is freezing cold in most places in Canada except for the BC coast, where winters are moderate. Whistler, two hours inland from Vancouver, on the other hand, gets loads of snow and is a major ski destination through May.

    Winter in the Canadian Rocky Mountains is long. Calgary, however, does not get much snow, but it stays around in the higher altitudes; Banff and Canmore - both in Alberta - may get two feet in April. Southern Alberta gets winter relief from warm Chinook winds.

    Eastern Canada, including Toronto and Montreal, has a short, fierce winter: mostly sub-zero temps and -20°C (-4°F) not uncommon from December to February. At least one or two snowfalls of eight inches or more will likely hit in January and February.

    If you're visiting Canada in winter, learn how to dress for cold weather.

  • 02 of 06
    Mother and her little girl snowshoeing
    Getty Images/Nino H. Photography

    Cold winters are a reality in most parts of Canada, so Canadians embrace them and make them fun. Some of the more popular winter activities include downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and ice skating. Hotels and resorts will often offer packages that include these activities.

    Of course, holing up in a cozy resort or spa provides a nice respite from the Canadian winter. Many of Canada's best spas offer winter getaway packages.

    As long as you're dressed properly, visit one of Canada's most popular cities for fine dining, culture or shopping. During the winter months, most hotels will offer discounted rates that include activities in the city.

  • 03 of 06

    Canada Winter Vacation Ideas

    Woman and Son in Sled in Doorway of Ice Hotel, Quebec City, Quebec
    Roderick Chen / Getty Images

    Some winter vacation ideas in Canada include a visit to the Quebec Ice Hotel, located just outside of Quebec City - also home to the world's biggest winter carnival, the Quebec Winter Carnival.

    The country's capital, Ottawa puts on Winterlude, a winter festival that takes place over three weekends every February. A major highlight is skating the Rideau Canal, a 7.8 km (just under 5 miles) waterway that becomes the world's largest skating rink in freezing conditions.

    See the full lineup of Canada's best winter festivals.

  • 04 of 06
    Whistler Mountain, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada.
    Randy Lincks / Getty Images

    Canada is famous as a ski destination. The country's ski resorts are picturesque, not to mention state-of-the-art, well maintained, and easy to get to. Whistler and Banff/Lake Louise in the west and Mont-Tremblant in Quebec lead the pack as the best Canadian ski resorts, but there are hundreds of other ski resorts to suit a variety of levels, types of skier and budgets.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06
    Ice Castle in Quebec Carnival, Quebec City, Quebec
    Alan Marsh / Getty Images

    Canada stages many winter festivals between the months of November and March. Winterlude in Ottawa and the Quebec Winter Carnival in Quebec City are two of the most popular, but there are plenty more winter festivals in Canada.

  • 06 of 06

    Canada in Winter, Month by Month

    Montreal High Light Festival
    RENAULT Philippe / / Getty Images