Winter in Canada may be chilly, but it has plenty to offer both the adventure seeker and city slicker. Travelers who visit Canada in the winter do so specifically for winter activities like skiing and snowboarding, but even those who aren't cold weather fans find plenty of reasons why winter is a great time to explore the region.
Budget-conscious travelers will find that certain times during Canada's winter season offer extremely affordable airfare and hotel rates. For instance, if you've always wanted to see Montreal but are on a tight budget, the slow post-Christmas season is your best bet for great deals.
If you are hesitant to embrace sub-zero temperatures, you'll be pleased to know that 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 famed ski hills are not far away, offering travelers the best of both worlds.
Staying active and making the most of the winter holiday season is commonplace in Canada. Canadians do not stay inside between November and March, but instead plan wonderful outdoor festivals that celebrate the season. Planning your trip around one of these celebrations, or around a region of the country that offers your preferred climate, can make for a truly unique and authentically Canadian experience.
What's the weather like in Canada in winter?
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 impressive amounts of snow and is a major ski destination through May.
Winter in the Canadian Rocky Mountains is long. Though Calgary does not get much snow, it stays around in the higher altitudes; Banff and Canmore, both located 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, displaying sub-zero temps around -20°C (-4°F) throughout December to February. At least one or two snowfalls of eight inches or more will likely hit in January and February.
If you are planning to visit Canada in winter, learn how to dress for cold weather.
Cold winters are a reality in most parts of Canada, so Canadians embrace them by partaking in fun activities. 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.
During the winter months, many hotels offer discounted rates that include activities in the city. As long as you're dressed properly, visiting one of Canada's most popular cities for fine dining, culture, or shopping can also be a memorable experience.
Canada Winter Vacation Ideas
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.
Ottawa, the country's capital, 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.
If carnivals interest you, explore the full lineup of Canada's best winter festivals.
Canada is known for its various ski destinations. The country's ski resorts are picturesque, not to mention state-of-the-art, well maintained, and easy to access. 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 and budgets.