How to Travel From Vancouver to Whistler by Bus, Car, and Plane

Entering Whistler Village with mountains in background

Karin Slade / The Image Bank / Getty Images

Whistler is one of the premier ski resorts not just in Canada, but in all of North America. It's located just 75 miles away from Vancouver, so it's also easily accessible from a major city with an international airport. If you have a car, driving is one of the easiest—and most scenic—ways to get there, but plenty of shuttle services also pick-up from downtown Vancouver or the airport to bring visitors to the mountain. For the quickest and most luxurious journey, you can go by seaplane or helicopter right to the summit.

  Time Cost Best For
Bus 2 hours from $15 Traveling on a budget
Flight 40 minutes from $116 Luxury travel
Car 1 hour, 30 minutes 75 miles (121 kilometers) Taking the scenic route

What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From Vancouver to Whistler?

If you are on your own, the cheapest way to get to Whistler is by bus or shuttle. There is no public transportation option for getting to Whistler, but the variety of bus companies keep prices low. Single one-way fares for adults run from around $20–$50, depending on the company you choose and where you get picked up from.

Several companies offer scheduled bus service from the Vancouver International Airport (YVR) and have multiple stops in Vancouver itself. Some even offer day lift passes plus return transportation at reasonable rates. Rides usually take between two and two and a half hours.

  • YVR-Whistler SkyLynx is the only bus transportation company with ticket counters located at the airport if you want to book a ride upon arrival. The SkyLynx also stops in downtown Vancouver and it's cheaper to catch the bus from the city center than the airport, with prices starting at $15.
  • Snowbus offers transportation between Whistler and Richmond, Vancouver, and West Vancouver during the ski season, with one-way journeys starting at $22. Snowbus also offers bus/lift ticket packages, so you can hit the slopes the moment you arrive.
  • Epic Rides keeps it simple and affordable, offering one direct bus for Whistler in the morning and one return ride per day during the busy season. Tickets start at $24 for a one-way journey or $35 roundtrip.
  • The Whistler Shuttle requires you to book in advance, as it runs on a schedule that matches incoming and outgoing flights from Vancouver International Airport. If your inbound flight is delayed, there's no reason to sweat—staff monitors the air traffic and will wait for you if your plane is late. It is the most expensive shuttle option, starting at $55 for a one-way journey.

Tip: All of the Whistler bus and shuttle companies offer discounts if you buy a roundtrip ticket. Save money by planning ahead and book both trips together.

What Is the Fastest Way to Get From Vancouver to Whistler?

Even though Whistler and Vancouver are only 90 minutes away from each other by car, you can speed up the trip by taking a seaplane or chartered helicopter. The flight is only 40 minutes and because these are small aircraft, you don't have to deal with all of the hassles of plane travel like going to the airport and going through security. Harbour Air provides seaplanes from Vancouver Harbour directly to Whistler Blackcomb with seats starting at about $116. Blackcomb Helicopters is more of a luxury transit for a private chartered ride, but it's the ultimate way to splurge on your vacation.

How Long Does It Take to Drive?

There is one major route to Whistler—straight up Highway 99, better known as the Sea to Sky Highway. Note that in winter, driving conditions can be challenging, so it's best to have an experienced driver at the wheel. If you aren't taking your own car, several car rental companies operate out of Vancouver Airport.

Taxis are available outside the Vancouver Airport and throughout the city and will cost about $180 to get to Whistler, so it's not a cheap option. You can often get discounts by booking ahead with companies like Whistler Taxi. Whistler Taxi has the advantage of vehicles that are equipped to take up to six passengers and their ski gear, so if you're traveling with a group, taking a cab and splitting the fare might be a convenient and affordable option.

There's a website called Poparide where drivers across Canada can offer up extra seats in their car to travelers for a modest price (often around $10–$15), like an organized version of hitchhiking. Riders simply need to put in their pick-up and drop-off locations, the dates of travel (this is optional if you have a flexible schedule), and the site will list drivers who are making the journey on a variety of dates. Riders can also request specific routes at specific times to be matched with drivers. There are often a number of drivers traveling between Vancouver and Whistler, so it shouldn't be too hard to find a ride.

When Is the Best Time to Travel to Whistler?

Whistler is best known for its ski resorts, and winter is the most popular time to visit these Olympic-grade slopes. If you're traveling by bus or shuttle, the ski season is the best time to travel to Whistler. These companies mostly cater to skiers and snowboarders and offer fewer services in the summer—assuming they don't shut down completely.

Even though you may have fewer bus options when summer arrives, the shuttles that do continue running are usually cheaper than in the high season of winter. If you have your own vehicle, driving in the summer or fall also means you don't have to worry about icy roads or tire chains.

What's the Most Scenic Route to Whistler?

Apart from taking a chartered plane ride through the mountains, the drive from Vancouver to Whistler—whether you drive yourself or take a shuttle—is one of Canada's most scenic drives. Nicknamed the Sea to Sky Highway, it's a breathtaking journey through mountains, temperate rainforests, and coastline, and it will leave you wishing for more time in the car.

What Is There to Do in Whistler?

Vancouver's relatively temperate climate means top-notch snow with even better weather, so you can ski or snowboard on cloudless days with bright blue skies. But Whistler doesn't shut down when the snow melts. On the contrary, summertime is filled with activities like alpine hiking, ziplining, mountain biking, and using the Peak-2-Peak gondola for unbeatable views.

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