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Top 5 winter vacations in Canada

Top 5 winter vacations in Canada

Check the most up-to-date travel restrictions, including border closures, before planning your trip and be sure to contact businesses prior to travel to book reservations and confirm availability.


Come winter time in Canada, storms sweep the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, snow blankets everything in between, and the heat gets turned up, way up, inside. All of which has given rise to a refreshing roster of distinctly Canadian cool-season escapes.


If you haven't ever considered travelling during the winter, you just might find yourself packing after reading this list of must-do wintertime getaways.

Kick it up on the slopes

Marmot Basin Ski Resort, Jasper, Alberta
Marmot Basin Ski Resort, Jasper, Alberta - credit: Marmot Basin Ski Resort

Among the most exhilarating things to do in Canada during winter, skiing and snowboarding promise crisp fresh air, sparkling mountain vistas, and heaps of the country's signature fresh powder snow. Resorts big and small dot the land (there's even one on the prairiesExternal Link Title), serving up easy-to-epic runs, often with dining, apr?s-ski, and accommodations on the side.

British ColumbiaExternal Link Title alone is home to thirteen major resortsExternal Link Title. Carve through one of North America's biggest snowfalls (11 metres annually) at Mt. Washington Alpine ResortExternal Link Title, a 1.5-hour drive north of NanaimoExternal Link Title on Vancouver IslandExternal Link Title; make tracks down one or all of the eight winter playgrounds along Kootenay RockiesExternal Link Title' fabled Powder HighwayExternal Link Title; or dip into the Alpine Fondue & Starlight DescentExternal Link Title at Sun Peaks Resort - this National Geographic Best Winter Trip 2019External Link Title is just an hour's drive northeast of the riverside cityExternal Link Title of Kamloops.

Next door in the Rocky Mountain-bordered provinceExternal Link Title of Alberta, one ticket lands you on the slopes at three ski and board destinationsExternal Link Title: Lake Louise Ski ResortExternal Link Title with 1,700 hectares of varied terrain, Banff Sunshine VillageExternal Link Title with its seven-month-long season, and Banff NorquayExternal Link Title, home to Canada's longest consecutively running annual ski raceExternal Link Title. A half-hour drive south of the laidback Alberta mountain townExternal Link Title of Jasper, Marmot BasinExternal Link Title boasts Canada's highest elevation base (1,690 metres) and North America's most affordable amenitiesExternal Link Title.


On the other side of the country, TremblantExternal Link Title tempts with 102 runs, the Le NomadeExternal Link Title on-mountain mobile canteen, and a European-style pedestrian village 145 kilometres northwest of Montr?alExternal Link Title, Qu?becExternal Link Title.

Wind down at a spa or hot spring

Ainsworth Hot Springs, Kootenay Lake, BC
Ainsworth Hot Springs, Kootenay Lake, BC - credit: Destination BC/Kari Medig

Canada in the winter means snow-dusted trees and glistening icicles - best viewed from the warm surrounds of a spa or hot spring.

In British ColumbiaExternal Link Title, sink into a stone-lined mineral pool and soothing treatments at ParksvilleExternal Link Title's Grotto Spa at Tigh-Na-MaraExternal Link Title, a two-hour-drive north of Victoria and number one on Spas of America's Top 50 Canada SpasExternal Link Title list. Soak in a natural horseshoe-shaped cave and outdoor pool at Ktunaxa Indigenous-owned Ainsworth Hot Springs ResortExternal Link Title in the Kootenay RockiesExternal Link Title. Or sit a spell at these other go-to B.C. hot springsExternal Link Title.

Voted Best SpaExternal Link Title in the annual Best of Calgary awards, the Riverside SpaExternal Link Title along AlbertaExternal Link Title's Bow River beckons with a eucalyptus steam room, Swiss raindrop showers and dimly lit fireside lounge. 

Heading east, bob in Manitou Springs Resort and Mineral SpaExternal Link Title's famously buoyant waters in Manitou BeachExternal Link Title, SaskatchewanExternal Link Title; or indulge in Elkhorn ResortExternal Link Title's Solstice Spa treatments and pool in central ManitobaExternal Link Title's boreal forest- come back in late 2020 when the new Elkhorn Nordic Spa opens with a temperate pool, cold plunge, and relaxation pavilion. Can't wait? Some 30 of Qu?becExternal Link Title's 200-plus spas already offer Scandinavian-style amenities, including Strom Spa Nordique'sExternal Link Title hot-and-cold thermal experienceExternal Link Title

Make it an offbeat adventure

Dogledding in the Northwest Territories
Dogledding in the Northwest Territories - credit: Adam Pisani

Better known for its seafood and iceberg-spotting, Atlantic Canada also serves up a variety of novel winter activities. Gape at central Newfoundland and LabradorExternal Link Title's snowdrift-laden landscape of Gaff Topsails on a Hodges Hill Snowmobile TourExternal Link Title, then tuck into an open-concept chaletExternal Link Title with river view for the night. Give fat biking a go in New BrunswickExternal Link Title's Kouchibouguac National ParkExternal Link Title, where groomed trails wind through a mixed-wood Acadian forest. Meanwhile, snowshoeing, an infrared sauna for two, Qi Gong sessions and a cedar-scented Mongolian yurt are all part of the Snow Much Fun PackageExternal Link Title at Cabot Shores, at the start of Nova ScotiaExternal Link Title's 298-kilometre Cabot Trail. While the whole clan can go tubing, outdoor skating or cross-country skiing at Prince Edward IslandExternal Link Title's family-friendly Mill RiverExternal Link Title resort, a 1.5-hour drive up island from the historic capitalExternal Link Title of Charlottetown.

Up north, hop aboard one of the most quintessential winter vacations in Canada: dogsledding. Make like a musher on Into the Wild Adventures' multi-day dogsledding excursionExternal Link Title, where you'll drive your own sled dog team through a YukonExternal Link Title landscape of deep valleys, canyons and mountains. Or simply watch how it's done by catching part of the legendary Yukon Quest International Dog Sled RaceExternal Link Title, running from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Whitehorse, Yukon, every February. Ease into the sport on Arctic Chalet Resort & Adventure Tours' 2.5-hour Fabulous Fun RunExternal Link Title in the Northwest TerritoriesExternal Link Title. Or cross snow-covered tundra or frozen ocean on Inukpak Outfitting's half-, full- and multi-day dogsledding tripsExternal Link Title in NunavutExternal Link Title.

Chill in the city

Rideau Canal Skateway at night, Ottawa
Ottawa’s Rideau Canal Skateway at night - credit: Ottawa Tourism

Head into one of Canada's diverse cities and experience the warmth of the season.


Grab yourself a hot chocolate from a local cafe and wander down streets adorned with twinkle lights. Browse storefront holiday displays and then pop inside to shop and support local boutiques. After shopping refuel at world-class restaurants to sample some of the best food in Canada


Next up, strap on some skates and glide on to any of Canada's iconic ice outdoor ice rinks. Choose from the world's largestExternal Link Title, or longestExternal Link Title and look for ones that feature amped-up entertainment like  local DJsExternal Link Title. Ottawa's picture-perfect Rideau CanalExternal Link Title offers nearly eight kilometres of skating along the naturally frozen canal, usually open January to March. Downtown WinnipegExternal Link Title is home to the ten-kilometre stretch skirting two rivers, the Assiniboine and RedExternal Link Title, stopping in at the artsy warming hutsExternal Link Title designed by global talents. And easy does it at Montreal's Bonsecours BasinExternal Link Title in charming Old Montreal. Glide along with a view over the St. Lawrence River and listen to some of Montreal's best musicExternal Link Title on Thursday nights.

Set your sights on the Northern Lights

Northern Lights, Whitehorse, Yukon
Northern Lights in the Yukon - credit: Arctic Range Adventure

When it comes to classic winter vacations in Canada, viewing the aurora borealis is, well, up there. Also known as the Northern Lights, this natural phenomenon occurs when the sun's electrically charged particles collide with gases upon entering the earth's atmosphere. The resulting display of colourful dancing lights on clear, cold nights continues to draw travellers from around the worldExternal Link Title to Canada's north.

The aurora borealis' constantly changing appearance is now matched by the many ways to see it. Spy the light show from the cozy comfort of a private glass chalet at Northern Lights Resort & SpaExternal Link Title in the Yukon or from teepee village after a gourmet three-course meal at the Aurora Dining ExperienceExternal Link Title in the Northwest TerritoriesExternal Link Title (currently under review for the Winter 2020/21 season) or plexiglass bubbleExternal Link Title called an Aurora DomeExternal Link Title 20 minutes away from the northern ManitobaExternal Link Title town of ChurchillExternal Link Title.


Now it's time to plan your winter escape to Canada with this list of top five getaway ideas.