Canada is not only one of the most beautiful countries in the world, but it’s also the second-largest, which means that it can be quite an adventure trying to visit every Canadian landmark.
More than that, Canada’s climate changes dramatically from the summer to the winter months, and there are some parts of the country that are much more enjoyable to explore during specific seasons than others.
We want you to make the most of every Canadian trip – regardless of whether you’re a local taking time to see new and exciting parts of your own backyard or a visitor that’s just there to soak up as much Canadian culture as possible.
To help you Getaway Well on your next Canadian vacation, we’ve put together a list of the best places to visit in Canada in winter. This should help you narrow down your options when you’re planning your next trip.
Before we do that, let’s talk a bit about the best time to visit Canada in winter, so you can avoid the worst of the winter weather and make the most of your journey.
The best time to visit Canada in winter really depends on where you’re planning to go.
Each province has certain months that tend to bring with them the worst weather and coldest temperatures. This may not always negatively impact your trip, but inclement weather can make flight schedules, as well as road travel somewhat unreliable.
For most of the country, the largest drop in temperature starts around mid-late December and runs anywhere from mid-late February to mid-March.
With that in mind, we actually have two suggestions for the best time to visit Canada in winter: December or March.
We think December is one of the best times to visit Canada in winter because you get the benefit of also enjoying all the holiday decorations that many major Canadian landmarks prepare before the winter holidays.
Whether you’re exploring Lake Louise or strolling through Quebec City, there will be a lot of energy and joy in the air – in addition to incredible, creative light displays.
Alternatively, March is also one of the best times to visit Canada in winter because the worst of the weather is usually over by this point in the season, which means you’ll have fewer travel concerns weighing on your mind throughout the trip.
Also, some of the milder parts of Canada may even be beginning to see the hints of Spring, with slightly warmer daytime temperatures and the reappearance of some greenery. This means you can take advantage of all the snowy scenery, without freezing your tail off in the process.
Have you ever dreamed about being up close and personal with the Rocky Mountains? If so, then you absolutely need to see Banff. Trust us – there’s a reason it’s #1 on our list of the best places to visit in Canada in winter.
Not only are there great skiing and snowboarding opportunities in Banff, but you can also plan your trip around visiting the Upper Hot Springs to warm up while you enjoy the snow-capped scenic views.
Once you’re here, the hardest part will be convincing yourself to leave at the end of your trip.
Close to our Banff destination in Alberta, Lake Louise has been named one of the ’10 most beautiful ice skating rinks in the world by CNN Travel, and anyone can rent a pair of skates to take in this once-in-a-lifetime experience for themselves.
Known for being a hub for professional ice carvers, Lake Louise hosts the annual Ice Magic ice carving event that you’ve got to see to believe.
World-class ice carvers from around the world gather here to compete, but the real winners are the spectators, who get to watch their absolutely transcendent sculptures appear out of the ice. When it comes to carving ice, you know you can trust Canadians to put on a great show.
Niagara Falls is a popular tourist destination year-round, and it only seems to get more gorgeous as the weather gets colder.
If you’re going before the holidays, you can also try to have your visit coincide with the Winter Festival of Lights, or after the holidays the Niagara-on-the-Lake Icewine Festival. Regardless of when you go, there’s always plenty to see and do in Niagara Falls.
For those that have never seen this natural wonder of the world, you would be doing yourself a disservice to not visit Niagara Falls. It’s definitely one of the best places to visit in Canada in winter.
Sometimes the most gorgeous destinations in the winter aren’t the big, bustling cities, but are instead found in the beautiful, relaxed environment you’ll find in some of Canada’s smaller towns.
Collingwood in Ontario has a cozy, historic downtown Heritage Conservation District that you can explore, which harkens back to a simpler time.
For those who love a craft drink, Collingwood has become one of Ontario’s craft beverage capitals with beer breweries, kombucha breweries, and distilleries in this one city. There’s even a craft beverage tour that you can take if you’re visiting Collingwood.
Kombucha is great for digestive health. This makes Collingwood one of the best places to visit in Canada in winter, not only because of the stunning local sights but because you can take advantage of these local suppliers for delicious, homemade, healthy drinks.
Are you a big fan of winter festivals? You absolutely can’t miss the Québec City Carnaval if you do, because this is considered the largest winter festival in the world.
Not to mention the fact that the entire city looks absolutely majestic in the snow. Québec City carries the same kind of romantic, charming atmosphere that you might find in an international destination like Paris (the French sure know their romance).
If you’re planning to take a lover’s trip to Canada with your partner, this could be the best place to visit in Canada in winter. The whole city will help you keep the love in the air.
Ottawa is the capital of Canada, which makes it a popular destination for both Canadians and international tourists alike.
Stand at the foot of the parliament buildings, or explore the many restaurants that you can find both in Byward Market, as well as on Elgin Street.
The best part is that, unlike other sprawling metropolises that can take weeks to truly explore in-depth, Ottawa is extremely compactly designed.
This makes it much easier to get around and take in large portions of the city in a shorter visit. So, if you’ve only got a few days to spare, this could be the best place for you to visit in Canada in winter
For those that are planning to take their winter trip before the holiday season, we’d strongly recommend making your way into Toronto to visit the Christmas Market in the distillery district of the city.
Not only will you find the whole core adorned with beautiful light displays and holiday decorations, but you can also spend some time stopping by some of Toronto’s great indoor venues, like Ripley’s Aquarium, the Rogers Center, or any of the hundreds of incredible, diverse restaurants that you can find throughout the city.
If you really want to find the best view in the city, you need to make your way up to the top of the CN Tower. Perhaps, you could book yourself a dinner and grab a bite, while you take in the glory that is the city of Toronto.
Whistler Blackcomb is a must-see for all skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts that are looking for the best places to visit in Canada in winter.
As the largest ski resort in North America, it’s no surprise that eager snow bunnies flock to the area every season, but that’s not all there is to do in Whistler.
Consider planning a zipline excursion and add a bit of excitement to your trip – even if you aren’t a fan of zipping down the hills, you can zipline across Vallea Lumina, which offers a gorgeous, breathtaking view you need to experience for yourself.
If you’re planning to make your way through the Maritimes part of the country, Fredericton is one of the snowiest destinations you’ll find.
In fact, Fredericktown is known for the Fredericton Frostival, which is a huge family-friendly winter event that has hundreds of things to see and do.
This festival takes place across 3 weekends, so there’s a lot more flexibility to build this into your trip itinerary than many other winter festival schedules.
For people traveling with their children, this could be a perfect opportunity to help them explore Canada alongside you while taking in an event that’s sure to keep them engaged and entertained.
Located in Ottawa, the Rideau Canal is so breathtaking that it warrants making a trip to visit it all by itself, even if you don’t have time to explore all of Ottawa.
In the winter when the Rideau Canal freezes, it becomes the world’s largest outdoor skating area at 4.8 miles, which is a seriously long area to use and makes it easy to keep space between all the regular skaters on the canal.
If you’re planning to visit Canada in February, you can also check out the Winterlude Festival, which takes place on and around the Rideau Canal, so there’ll be lots of other things to enjoy other than just somewhere gorgeous to go for an afternoon skate.
Have you ever considered surfing… in the winter?
That might sound crazy to you, especially in Canada, but if you’re not afraid of a bit of cold water, you may want to add Cow Bay in Nova Scotia to your list of best places to visit in Canada in winter.
Surfing enthusiasts are adamant that the winter month waves are even better than you’ll find during the spring and summer in other parts of the world.
You’ll have to visit Cow Bay to try it for yourself – but if you go, make sure to bring lots of warm clothes to bundle up when you get out. You wouldn’t want to catch a cold.
Vancouver is known for its rainy winters that are sometimes less frigid than other parts of the country, so if you’re not a huge fan of the cold, Vancouver will offer you plenty to do with fewer concerns about freezing your butt off.
This doesn’t mean there’s no snow to enjoy if that’s what you’re looking for. Three local mountains, Cypress, Seymour, and Grouse are easily accessible from the city. This means you can quickly escape the urban environment if you’re craving some time with a more natural environment.
You can even take a trip to Norvan Falls, if you’d like to see one of the only waterfalls that rarely gets snow in Canada, even in the winter months.
You might think that you’d have to visit the arctic areas of Canada in order to see polar bears in their natural habitats, but the truth is that you might actually catch a glimpse of some from Churchill, Manitoba.
Plan an eco-tour with your travel group and let one of the local guides take you on a winter safari across some of the unbelievable landscapes surrounding the small city.
Best of all, if you’re lucky and go at the right time of the year, you might actually be able to see the Northern Lights, without having to trek way out into the wilderness.
We think that makes Churchill one of the best places to visit Canada in winter since so few people have the opportunity to see the Northern Lights in their lifetime.
Montreal is another incredible Canadian city that you can find in Québec, which is sure to make your winter vacation extra special.
Visit historic local sites, like Notre Dame and Old Montreal and take in the amazing architecture. Depending on the weather conditions, most years Montreal opens the Ice Hotel – yes, you read that correctly. The Ice Hotel.
Visitors can go into the Ice Hotel and have a drink at the authentic ice bar, or even book a night’s stay. If you’re trying to find the most unique, exciting ways to enjoy your winter trip to Canada, Montreal should definitely be on your list.
Located driving distance from the Greater Toronto Area, Blue Mountain Resort is actually quite close to another one of our recommended destinations – Collingwood.
With incredible skiing and snowboarding options, as well as plenty of comfortable amenities to enjoy (even during the cold months), Blue Mountain Resort has tons of things to do to keep you busy, with or without visits to the slopes.
Take in the incredible views from the Escarpment, or book yourself a room at one of the local hotels and bask in the beauty of the local scenery, while you enjoy soaking in outdoor hot tubs or hot springs.
Blue Mountain puts the relaxation in your vacation, which is why we’d often recommend it to our friends as one of the best places to visit in Canada in winter.
There are plenty of great indoor and outdoor activities that you can enjoy if you’re planning to add Charlottetown to your list of best places to visit in Canada in Winter.
Go for a skate at Founder’s Hall Ice Rink, or spend a quiet afternoon at one of the cozy downtown cafes in Charlottetown’s core.
For another unique idea, take a stroll over to Victoria Park in Charlottetown, since you may be able to join an outdoor winter yoga session (don’t forget to pack your outdoor yoga mat).
Have you ever dreamed about standing at the tip of North America? Well, you’re in luck because Cape Spear will give you the opportunity to have this unique experience.
While you’re visiting, plan an excursion to the Cape Spear Lighthouse, which gives you a unique, eye-opening perspective on Labrador and Canadian topography.
If you’re coming for December 31st, you can actually ring in the new year ahead of the rest of the country, since you’ll be in a time zone ahead of the rest of the country.
Oh yeah, did we mention icebergs?! You might actually get to see icebergs, which (cold as it may be in the winter) is a rare treat in Canada’s part of the world.
Sometimes a winter getaway to Canada doesn’t mean you want to spend the trip digging yourself out of snowbanks and trying to stay warm as you go exploring.
For those moments, consider booking some time during your trip in Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island.
Because the winter months are much warmer in this area than in many other parts of Canada, some people consider this to be the equivalent of a ‘tropical’ Canadian winter destination.
And since this town is right on the water, you can enjoy strolling along the beach lines and taking in the weather as it rolls in across the water. Just don’t dive in. It will still be very cold.
There are a lot of huge, densely populated areas of Québec to explore, but sometimes you don’t want to go somewhere quiet so packed full of people.
For those types of trips, consider making a stop at Mont Tremblant, which not only offers a resort-style ski experience, as well as a fantastic assortment of shopping and dining options to keep you entertained throughout your visit.
Most relaxing of all, consider booking some time for yourself and your partner at one of Mont Tremblant’s spas so that you can pamper yourself a little while you’re vacationing. After a long day walking around and exploring, a hot stone massage sounds just about perfect.
If you’ve been eager to get some stargazing in while you’re visiting Canada, but don’t want to make a trip to a very rural location to be able to see the stars, consider stopping in Halifax.
Not only can you catch a fantastic view of the stars from Point Pleasant Park near the city’s center, but you can also go tobogganing!
What would a winter adventure be without a stop somewhere along the way for some sledding? We think that alone makes this one of the best places to visit in Canada in winter.
For a truly authentic, natural experience, consider giving up the 5-star resorts and planning a trip to Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory instead.
Get some exercise and sign up for the Winter Solstice Run just before Christmas each year, which draws hundreds of athletes (both amateur and pro) for this historic event.
Or plan a trip to the Northern Lights Space and Science Center, which has exhibits that focus on both the Northern Lights, as well as the constellations of the stars.
Learn a bit about the constellations and then spend an evening outside with your partner trying to identify as many as you can. It’s educational and romantic.
Seated in the heart of British Columbia, Revelstoke offers skiers and snowboarders plenty of challenging runs (amateurs may find this a bit more challenging than some other slope-focused destinations).
In fact, Revelstoke is actually known for its heliskiing, which involves a helicopter taking you to the top of one of the slopes and dropping you off (literally) onto the slopes, so you can meet them at the bottom.
It’s an incredible adrenaline rush that’s perfect for anyone that adores extreme sports or wants to take their skiing/snowboarding games to the next level of intensity.
Stargazers will tell you, there are few places that you can go in Canada that will provide you with as stunning a view of the stars as Iqaluit in Nunavut.
Get away from sprawling urban centers and plan some time out in the vast silence of the open landscape. You might get lucky and run into some wildlife like caribou or muskox that wander these areas in peace.
You can even book a ride on a dogsled, if that’s something that you’ve been interested in doing but thought you’d have to visit Alaska or Antarctica to try.
For those who are looking to get as far away from urban areas as possible on their trip, Inuvik in the Northwest Territories is definitely the best place to visit in Canada in winter.
Spend time making your way across Canada’s vast frozen tundra. Arrange to have a local guide take you on a tour using one of their dog sleds.
There are plenty of great places to sled, snowmobile, or even rent a small car and drive around. However, one of the best features of visiting Inuvik is that you can actually camp out in the tundra overnight and spend time basking in the awe-inspiring Northern Lights.
If seeing the Northern Lights is high on your list of to-dos, Inuvik should definitely be on your itinerary this winter.
For the last suggestion of best places to visit in Canada in winter, we chose a location that’s both somewhat rural but also has many city elements for you to enjoy.
Muskoka is located in Ontario’s cottage country, and the laid-back atmosphere you’ll find in Muskoka’s residents make it a welcoming, comfortable place to spend your vacation.
There are fantastic skate trails that you can use to explore the area in a healthy, exciting way. Or, you can plan other physical activities like ice climbing or snowshoeing through the many forested areas surrounding Muskoka.
You could even rent a whole cottage in Muskoka, as many people do during the winter months, and then spend a week or two relaxing in a comfortable environment that will make you feel totally at home.
You’ll want to dress warmly, regardless of which of the places you’re planning to visit in Canada. Cold weather is a pretty consistent staple here throughout the winter months.
Men will love this down winter jacket that’s not only warm enough for your adventures, but it’s stylish as well. It even comes in a range of colors: black, gray, red, and blue. This way you can look good while you’re staying warm.
For women, these Columbia winter jackets come in an even wider variety of colors, including some fantastic shades like a coral reef, canyon blue, and plum. You’ll look stunning in your travel photos wearing one of these beautiful coats.
As you can see, there are a huge variety of options available to you if you are looking for the best places to visit in Canada in winter, but the ones that will appeal to you most depends on what you’re trying to get out of your trip.
Sit down and make a list of things you want to accomplish. Pack up your healthy non-refrigerated snacks and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime.
When you take the time to prepare yourself properly for your winter adventures, not only will you get more satisfaction out of the places you see and things you do on your journey, you’ll be ready to Getaway Well no matter where you might be heading.