Canada is famous for more than just poutine, apologies and hockey. Our vast expanse of land is home to immense natural beauty and countless wonders that are a joy to explore. Recognized around the world for our snowy winter landscapes, there are a variety of locations across the country that are ideal for winter adventure seekers:
WHISTLER – BRITISH COLUMBIA
Famous as the site of the 2010 Winter Olympics, Whistler is a veritable winter playground. Whether you’re looking to ski, bobsled, skidoo or ice climb, there are so many magical things to do during the winter in Whistler. The view from the mountains is breathtaking but there’s also lots to see and do down below in Whistler village. This outdoor town that was built to house Olympians is now yours to explore with countless restaurants, shops, service providers, playgrounds and more.
If you’re big into festivals, you can experience the World Ski & Snowboard Festival in Whistler each April (starting again in 2023), which combines two popular winter sports with the biggest series of outdoor concerts in Canada.
MOUNT EDITH CAVELL – JASPER NATIONAL PARK, ALBERTA
One of the most beautiful spots in the Canadian Rockies, this area is accessible by using a cross-country ski trail that boasts various levels of difficulty. The trek is definitely worth it for the view, plus, at the foot of the mountain’s north face, you’ll also find a geological marvel called the Angel Glacier that’s bound to leave a lasting impression.
BOW VALLEY – BANFF, ALBERTA
The Canadian Rockies are a sight to be seen, especially in the winter. Mount Sulphur, located in the Bow Valley in the Banff region, is a summit beloved by many hikers. It’s a challenging trek but when you make it to the top, you’ll be rewarded with the most spectacular view of the Canadian Rockies.
Check out the Winterstart Festival in Banff each year to experience their ski races, outdoor concerts, theatre performances and parade.
IQALUIT – NUNAVUT
This area is a dream; with surreal landscapes, star-covered skies and the opportunity to fully immerse yourself in winter life. Connect with and explore the traditions of Inuit peoples while experiencing travel by dogsled, unprecedented silence in the crisp white tundra, and if you’re lucky, a front-row seat to the aurora borealis.
Each April the Toonik Tyme Festival celebrates Inuit traditions and the return of Spring. You’ll be able to experience igloo building, traditional Inuit treats and skidoo races.
NIAGARA FALLS – NIAGARA, ONTARIO
Niagara Falls has long been a massive draw for tourists from all around the world, but in the winter, it offers up new experiences unlike those its warm weather visitors take in. When the temperature drops low enough, the falls freeze over, stopping the massive world wonder in its tracks and providing a magical view that words struggle to describe.
You can also visit during the Winter Festival of Lights (usually held in February) to see the whole area surrounding the falls lit up with light displays. If you’re a fan of wine, you’ll also want to check out the Ice Wine festival held during the winter months.
OTTAWA – ONTARIO
The city of Ottawa is home to the world’s largest ice-skating rink! At 7km long, the Rideau Canal Skateway is a magical winter experience for anyone who enjoys ice skating. If you’re travelling with kids, this is a great way for the whole family to get out and experience the city of Ottawa in the winter. Once you’ve taken off your skates, explore the city’s many wonderful restaurants, visit Gatineau Park for cross country skiing and even indulge in winter camping like a true Canadian!
QUEBEC CITY – QUEBEC
Quebec is a truly majestic place in the winter! Whether you’re exploring the streets of the old city dusted in snow, booking a room at the famous Ice Hotel or taking a dog sled ride over frozen Montmorency Falls, there is so much to see and do when the temperature drops.
Quebec City is also home to the biggest winter festival in the world, Quebec City Carnaval, which also takes place in February. There are so many fun and unique activities for the whole family, including giant soccer games, canoe races, night parades, ice sculptures, maple syrup tastings and more!
THE CHIC-CHOC MOUNTAINS – GASPÉSIE NATIONAL PARK, QUEBEC
Tucked away in Quebec, the fairy tale landscape of the Chic-Choc mountains is the perfect winter playground for those seeking sport adventures. This is a great escape destination if you’re seeking a winter sport experience coupled with the relaxation you’ll find in the quiet and serene landscape.
MONTS-VALIN NATIONAL PARK – SAGUENAY
With 15 peaks over 800 metres high, this slowly eroding mountain is home to many unique and beautiful viewpoints. The snow here is considered “exceptional” by many so it’s a great spot for snowshoers and skiers who are looking for a great sport experience that doesn’t disappoint when it comes to the views.
COW BAY – NOVA SCOTIA
Nova Scotia isn’t an area known for winter sports, but the fact that it’s surrounded by water makes it a unique destination for those who love winter surfing. Some of the world’s greatest surfers practice their sport during the winter because of the excellent waves. If you’re seeking out a new sport adventure or you’re a surfer at heart, this destination may just be the perfect unique winter escape for you.
CAPE SPEAR – NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR
Located at the very tip of North America, this beautiful and serene place is home to the historic Cape Spear Lighthouse and a view that stretches as far as the eye can see. Spot icebergs during your visit or dare to try out the extreme sport of windsurfing.
VICTORIA – VANCOUVER ISLAND
This European-inspired city is surrounded by water and as quaint as it is inspiring. Horse-drawn carriages and hop-on-hop-off tours will take you all around the magical city and help you find little coffee shops, Dutch bakeries and diners to fill your belly with something warm. If you plan to visit around the holidays, you can also enjoy their Magic of Christmas event, which boasts great light displays and an outdoor skating rink.
CHURCHILL – MANITOBA
If you enjoy the peaceful quiet of winter and want to explore a place that isn’t full of tourists, Churchill, Manitoba, is a great choice. This small town is nestled on the shores of the Hudson Bay and is a great place to bird watch, whale watch, see polar bears in the wild and if you’re lucky, catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights.
HALIFAX – NOVA SCOTIA
The capital of Nova Scotia is a great place to visit during the winter. No matter what the temperature, there is plenty to see and do in Halifax. Local farms offer sleigh rides, you can toboggan on Citadel Hill, try some famous maple syrup, explore the city’s waterfront boardwalk and if you’re looking to connect with nature, check out one of the many hiking trails in the area.
GREAT LAKES – ONTARIO
Visiting one of these large lakes during the winter is always a treat. Visit one of the many small towns on the shorelines of the Great Lakes and take in the beautiful frozen views. Scope out a local coffee shop, explore the nearby hiking trails and spend some time experiencing the loveliest small town main streets under a dusting of snow.
BLUE MOUNTAIN RESORT – ONTARIO
One of the most popular winter destinations in Ontario, Blue Mountain Resort is an amazing place to visit all year round. Ski the beautiful slopes or trek up the mountain to skate along their 1100km ice rink loop with breathtaking views of the Niagara Escarpment. Go on a hike through one of their many trails and hop on the tube slide to get back down to the resort. With plenty of restaurants and things to experience, Blue Mountain Resort is a popular place to escape for some winter relaxation or take the whole family for an unforgettable adventure.
PARC DE LA GATINEAU – QUEBEC
Less than a 30-minute drive from downtown Ottawa, this snowy wonderland is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the big city. A much-loved destination for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and winter hiking, this park is home to 150km of trails that are divided into different levels of difficulty, each with idyllic scenery.
CHARLOTTETOWN – PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
The smallest province in the whole country, Charlottetown is a picturesque place to experience winter in Canada. Go tobogganing, put on your snowshoes, enjoy skating, downhill skiing, take in frozen waterfront views and explore the beautiful snow-covered town.
MONTREAL – QUEBEC
The city of Montreal is pure magic in the winter! Stay at an ice hotel, explore underground shopping malls, take in the sights at Notre Dame and explore the old port full of quaint shops and eateries. If you plan to visit around the holidays, don’t miss their Christmas event Marché de Noël or their Christmas village held every November – January. They even host a German Christmas Market called Weinachtsmarkt which transports visitors to Europe for a seasonal experience like no other.