Would you choose to visit Canada in summer, autumn, winter or spring? If you’re a skier or snowboarder, you already know about the quality of the snow in Canada, the stunning alpine scenery, the long runs and uncrowded slopes. Then there’s the wilderness, the breathtaking scenery and the powerful energy of the mountains. Winter is my favourite season in Canada but not just for the winter sports. I love Canada in winter for all those reasons above and all these reasons below. Here are 20 things to do in Canada in winter.
I bet you’ll find a few for your bucket list too!
If you’re visiting at any other time of the year, read on for 30 more things to do in Canada in spring, autumn and summer.
- 20 Things to do in Canada in Winter
- 1- See the Northern Lights
- 2- Go dogsledding
- 3- Hop on board a horse-drawn sleigh
- 4- Go on a snowmobiling adventure
- 5- Explore the outdoors snowshoeing
- 6- Soak in an outdoor spa
- 7- Ride the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola in Whistler
- 8- Ice Fishing in the Northwest Territories
- 9- Canyon Ice walking
- 10- Celebrate Christmas in Canada
- 11- Glide down a mountain in a Sno Limo
- 12- Have a ball tubing
- 13- Sleep in the Ice Hotel in Quebec
- 14- Try ice canoeing on the St Lawrence River
- 16- Try Snowtagging at La Mauricie National Park
- 17- Ride an Olympic bobsleigh at Whistler Sliding Centre
- 18- Take a Rocky Mountains wildlife tour
- 19- Journey along the Arctic Winter Road
- 20- Experience the buzz of the Yukon Quest
- 30 Things to do in Canada in Spring, Autumn and Summer
- 21- Sugar off at Quebec’s sugar shacks
- 22- Wander around old Montreal
- 23- Experience the splendour of Niagara Falls
- 24- Take the train across Canada
- 25- Stay in a Canadian castle
- 26- Explore the 1000 Islands
- 27- Take a road trip through the Yukon
- 28- Taste food and wine in the Okanagan
- 29- Sail The Great Bear Rainforest
- 30- Eat Your Way Through Victoria
- 31- Cruise the Rideau Canal
- 32- Stay at the Fogo Island
- 33- Hunt for James Bond in Winnipeg
- 34- Channel your inner cowboy at the Calgary Stampede
- 35- Walk on the ocean floor at the Bay of Fundy
- 36- Dig Up a Clam on Prince Edward Island
- 37- Experience old traditions in Newfoundland
- 38- Go Camping at Algonquin Park in Ontario
- 39- Discover the Nahanni River
- 40- Drive the Cabot Trail
- 41- See polar bears at Hudson Bay
- 42- Journey aboard Train le Massif
- 43- Relive the Goldrush in Dawson City
- 44- Experience the creativity of the Charlottetown Festival
- 45- Take an Instagram photo at Peggy’s Cove
- 46- Toronto’s EdgeWalk
- 48- Watch the iceberg parade along Iceberg Alley
- 49- Meet the bears at Assiniboine Park Zoo
- 50- Hunt for dinosaur bones in Alberta’s Badlands
20 Things to do in Canada in Winter
1- See the Northern Lights
Looking up and seeing a green pulsing curtain in the sky is a spectacular sight.
The Aurora Borealis in Canada is a surreal spectacle of nature.
The sky becomes a giant screen of pulsing colour.
The best place to see the Aurora in Canada is in the Northwest Territories or Yukon Territory. Yukon Northern Lights viewing tours are available from Whitehorse.
The Northern Lights can appear anytime in the sky between September and May.
Seeing them in real life far surpasses watching a documentary.
Is it magic?
Sure it is!
2- Go dogsledding
Dog sledding is available just about anywhere in Canada in winter and shoulder seasons between October and April.
The best places to go dog sledding are in the Yukon and the Rocky Mountains.
The best ski resorts in Canada, including Whistler, Sun Peaks and Lake Louise also offer dog sledding.
If you’re planning a skiing or snowboarding holiday you might want to fit in a half-day dog sled tour.
Some tours will give you a taste of what it’s like to drive your own dog sled.
But there are longer tours, such as the Ghosts of Fortune Mountain tour, where you can spend two days in the wilderness to learn the skills of mushing in the Rocky Mountains and sleep a night in a tent.
3- Hop on board a horse-drawn sleigh
The tinkling of sleigh bells and the clatter of hooves are some of the sounds of winter in Canada as you ride through valleys and forests in a horse-drawn sleigh.
Most Canadian winter resorts offer sleigh rides and some will drop you off at a mountain cabin restaurant for a hearty winter dinner.
4- Go on a snowmobiling adventure
Snowmobiling in Canada in winter is a Canadian experience through and through.
Actually, the skidoo was invented in Quebec so it’s not surprising that the best snowmobiling spots are in Quebec’s backcountry.
But it doesn’t matter where you are in Canada, you’ll not be hard-pressed to find a snowmobiling tour.
Snowmobiling is fun and safe for most fitness levels and is a great way to experience being outdoors in winter.
5- Explore the outdoors snowshoeing
One of the best things about visiting Canada in winter is there are plenty of ways to get active.
And if you’re not that keen on skiing or snowboarding then have a go at snowshoeing.
It’s a fun outdoor activity that gets you right in the midst of nature.
Don’t think it’s going to be a walk in the park.
Snowshoeing will give you a good workout and you’ll appreciate that soak in the spa later.
6- Soak in an outdoor spa
Soaking in a hot tub or an outdoor bath while the snow falls around you is a dreamy experience.
Most winter resorts have some kind of outdoor Jacuzzi but for a special treat check into a Scandinave Spa.
There are four in Canada and one in Whistler is particularly enchanting.
The treatment is a series of hot and cold Scandinavian-style baths in a sprawling complex located in a picture book forest setting amidst spruce and cedar trees.
7- Ride the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola in Whistler
Even if you’re not a skier or snowboarder, Whistler Blackcomb’s Peak to Peak Gondola is a sightseeing experiencing worth doing in winter.
It’s the longest (3.024km) and highest (435m) lift in the world, with mind-blowing vistas of a white winter wonderland from the sky.
For skiers and snowboarders, the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola opens up options as it connects the high alpine terrain of both Whistler and Blackcomb mountains.
8- Ice Fishing in the Northwest Territories
Wherever there’s an icy lake, there’s an opportunity to go ice fishing.
There are many places where you can stay warm in a heated hut and fish through a hole in the ice.
Fishing is a way of life in the Northwest Territories and this part of the world does fishing well.
You can fish for trout or pike on an inland lake.
You can even travel to your ice-fishing destination by dog team to jig for Char on the Arctic coast.
9- Canyon Ice walking
Caves, fossils and frozen waterfalls are some of the jaw-dropping sights on an ice walk.
The most popular ones are in Maligne Canyon and Johnston Canyon in the Rockies.
On a guided walk you’ll be equipped with tread-enhancing cleats and warm winter boots.
Then you’ll walk along a frozen canyon floor through an ice kingdom of ice caves, natural ice sculptures and waterfalls that look like a wizard has cast a spell.
If you’re adventurous there’s the opportunity to try ice climbing too!
10- Celebrate Christmas in Canada
Treat yourself to a Christmas winter wonderland in Canada.
Of all the places to visit in Canada for Christmas, the ultimate spot is the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise in the Canadian Rocky province of Alberta.
Skate the frozen, turquoise lake, snuggle up under a blanket for a dog sledding adventure, and walk off Christmas lunch on snowshoes, traversing through sparkling fir trees.
Or at least rent skates at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise and glide (or wobble) out onto the frozen lake, which is cleared each day.
The lake, with its backdrop of Victoria Glacier and the Rocky Mountains, has a spectacular setting.
11- Glide down a mountain in a Sno Limo
Glide down the mountain like an expert skier without being able to ski.
The Sno Limo is a smart British Columbia invention that allows non-skiers to experience the thrill of skiing.
It’s a chair on skis where anyone can be glided down the mountain by an expert skier.
12- Have a ball tubing
Although tubing doesn’t quite provide the thrills of a Sno Limo, it’s a fun activity for all the family.
It doesn’t matter what age you are (tubing is especially fun for the little ones), try it once and you’ll want to do it again and again.
13- Sleep in the Ice Hotel in Quebec
The Ice Hotel (or Hôtel de Glace) near Quebec City is an icon in Eastern Canada, with soaring ceilings, snow vaults and ice sculptures.
The most amazing thing about the Ice Hotel is the rooms have beds made out of solid ice.
There’s a mattress on top of the ice and plenty of blankets but most people sleep to keep warm by tucking into an arctic sleeping bag.
It’s no wonder spending the night in the Ice Hotel is one of the most memorable things to do in Canada.
14- Try ice canoeing on the St Lawrence River
Ice canoeing on the St Lawrence River in Quebec is a pretty unique experience.
It’s a huge river where solid ice slabs float with the currents.
The river currents reverse direction during the day, adding to the magical experience of ice canoe.
You will have the impression of being on a giant treadmill while striding in front of a city boasting 400 years’ of history
15- Take a heli-sightseeing flight over snow-covered mountains
A bird’s-eye view of Canada’s mountains, rivers and valleys from the sky is stunning at any time of the year.
The landscape has a particularly powerful allure in winter when the vast blanket of snow and ice spreads as far as your eye can see.
The scenery shows off the power of nature, the simplicity and serenity of the mountains.
You’ll find helicopter trips in the major centres, such as Banff National Park and Whistler Blackcomb as well as some of the smaller winter resorts.
16- Try Snowtagging at La Mauricie National Park
Here’s a winter activity you’ve probably never heard of.
Snowtagging is where you snowshoe to a remote lake where you use your snowshoes to “draw” on the surface of the lake.
Using a pre-designed picture drawn on a laminated sheet which also has the compass coordinates, you might end up creating, say, a picture of a spider.
It’s an activity that has taken off in Quebec in winter.
At La Mauricie National Park, the staff supplies you with a compass to interpret the coordinates.
You stamp the snow down with your snowshoes, creating a picture on the lake. Sound intriguing?
17- Ride an Olympic bobsleigh at Whistler Sliding Centre
Live your Olympic dreams at the Whistler Sliding Centre, which was a venue for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
Take an adrenaline-charged ride in a bobsleigh speeding at 125 km/h, launch headfirst down the world’s fastest sliding track or have a go at the luge.
18- Take a Rocky Mountains wildlife tour
Spot elk, coyotes, wolves and sheep on a winter wildlife tour of the Rockies.
While the wildlife might sometimes be a little shy in winter, you’ll learn a lot about the animals and the mountain eco-system they live in.
19- Journey along the Arctic Winter Road
It’s a thrilling winter driving adventure on an icy freeway over the frozen Arctic Ocean.
You’ll see caribou and musk ox, pyramid-shaped pingos (hills heaved out of the permafrost) and meet the Inuit.
20- Experience the buzz of the Yukon Quest
Ther famous Yukon Quest is a 1600km/1000-mile dog sled race between Whitehorse in the Yukon and Fairbanks in Alaska.
Held each year in February, the starting line (or finish line, depending on the year) is charged with energy.
As it’s a typical relaxed Yukon-style event, you’ll be able to wander around and meet the mushers and their dog sled teams. The gruelling race takes 10 to 20 days for the teams to complete.
30 Things to do in Canada in Spring, Autumn and Summer
21- Sugar off at Quebec’s sugar shacks
The fun ritual of “sugaring off” is more of a spring attraction, although in Quebec where sugar shacks attract thousands of visitors, it’s likely to be still snowing in March and April.
Imagine standing in a forest of trees covered in snow.
You tap a simple spout into a trunk, holding your mouth open underneath.
Sweet, ripping maple sap flows over your tongue with a sugar rush that makes you shiver.
You drink your fill and then join the feast inside, where a crackling fire awaits.
This is the Sucrerie de la Montagne, an authentic sugar shack, where trees are tapped for their saccharine sap, which is transformed into pure maple syrup using a traditional wood-fired evaporator.
Canada’s sugar shacks are fun for all the family.
Drink thick pea soup and munch on home-cured ham slathered with maple syrup and buckwheat pancakes.
22- Wander around old Montreal
Wander the cobblestone streets of Montreal, where more than a whiff of French flair hangs in the air.
Eat croissants, sip coffee and dine on fine French food.
Going shopping in Montreal’s chic boutiques and visiting the stunning Notre Dame Basilica are a couple of the fabulous things to do in Montreal in any season.
Looking for a party?
Montreal is the place to be.
From the world-famous Montreal International Jazz Festival in July to Igloofest, the mid-winter celebration of electronic music, there’s a party to suit all tastes and ages.
The circus festival, Montreal Complement Cirque, is a stunning reflection of Montreal’s history with Cirque du Soleil and not to be missed.
23- Experience the splendour of Niagara Falls
You can fly over Niagara Falls in a helicopter, take an adrenalin-pumping jet boat ride or go on a tour behind the falls. And these are only some of the adventurous activities in Niagara Falls.
But there’s more to Niagara Falls than simply watching water falling in torrents over gigantic cliffs.
Tour the Niagara’s abundant wine district, cruise along the Niagara River indulging in gourmet fare and don’t miss the Niagara SkyWheel, Canada’s largest observation wheel.
24- Take the train across Canada
All aboard VIA Rail from British Columbia to Toronto on the Trans-Canada Experience.
Enjoy the romance of the rails as you make new friends, sleep in your own private cabin, and soak up the views and history along the way.
25- Stay in a Canadian castle
Fall under the romantic spell of the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac.
This architectural masterpiece is complete with castle turrets, perched high on a bluff overlooking the mighty St. Lawrence River in a four-century-old walled city.
It’s little wonder this is the most photographed hotel in the world.
The décor of the hotel’s interior brings you right back to 18th-century France and the hotel’s view of The Saint Lawrence River is stunning – a castle away from home.
26- Explore the 1000 Islands
The sparkling waters of the 1000 Islands on the St Lawrence River has over 1800 islands, including a stretch of cottage country called Millionaire’s Row.
Located on the US Canada border, the region is a playground for wealthy New Yorkers who own majestic summer retreats that are quite a sight.
A cruise from Gananoque will take you across the border to Boldt Castle while a helicopter flight over the islands is a spectacular way to see the region.
27- Take a road trip through the Yukon
Independent travellers are always looking for new, amazing road trips and the Yukon Territory has scenic drives to blow your mind.
This is a driver’s dream – an exhilarating combination of picturesque scenery, historic communities, and roadside wildlife.
The Yukon is a land of friendly characters, endless midnight sun and northern lights, with awe-inspiring expanses of wilderness
28- Taste food and wine in the Okanagan
This one’s for the wine connoisseur in us all!
The Okanagan Valley in British Columbia is home to most of the province’s 208 grape wineries.
We’re talking 5,000 acres of wine country in a near-desert region 400 kilometres inland from Vancouver.
You won’t find a more idyllic location to sample some of the finest wines on the planet.
Okanagan Valley stretches between the Cascade Mountains to the west and the Monashee Mountains to the east, stretching north from the unique desert region of Osoyoos.
One of the region’s most famous libations is Icewine, a sweet dessert wine produced from grapes frozen on the vine.
29- Sail The Great Bear Rainforest
British Columbia’s remote western coast lies begging to be explored.
Discover ancient native villages, untouched forests, amazing coastal wildlife and like-minded travellers.
Sail the Great Bear Rainforest and Cruise the Haida Gwaii on Bluewater Adventures 70-foot yachts. It’s one of the adventurous things to do in British Columbia.
Here lies the ancestral home of the Haida – the West Coast Aboriginals who have lived here for thousands of years.
Jump on a kayak to explore tiny coves and narrow passageways, and watch the abundant wildlife all around, including eagles, wolves and grizzlies.
And the Holy Grail of them all?
Catch a glimpse of the elusive all-white Spirit Bear (Kermode) in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest.
You won’t find these awesome creatures anywhere else in the world.
30- Eat Your Way Through Victoria
Calling all foodies to Vancouver Island!
The city of Victoria will whet your appetite.
Red Fish Blue Fish is a canteen-style, take-out fish restaurant operated out of a steel shipping container on Victoria’s Inner Harbour.
I can tell you first-hand that this seafood hub serves Pacific halibut, wild salmon, and albacore tuna that will melt in your mouth.
Try Mo:Le for lunch, a Victorian institution, and Spinnaker’s Gastro Brewpub for dinner, defining the art of regional cuisine with hand-crafted beer.
31- Cruise the Rideau Canal
Canada’s capital city of Ottawa boasts the Rideau Canal, famous as the largest naturally frozen ice rink in the world.
During summer, cruise the Rideau Canal, take in a free outdoor yoga class on Parliament Hill and visit the eclectic ByWard neighbourhood, with its markets and cafes.
You may see a group of locals and visitors alike doing yoga on Parliament Hill – Lululemon Athletica coordinates free “guerrilla yoga” classes each Wednesday at noon from May to the end of September (weather permitting).
Up to 1000 people participate on a weekly basis! Bring a mat to join in the class, or just enjoy the grassy lawns of Parliament Hill.
It’s one of the classic things to do in Ottawa.
32- Stay at the Fogo Island
It’s a striking example of world-class innovation.
The magnificent Fogo Island Inn, perched on the furthest edge of the Earth off the north-east coast of Newfoundland, stands on crooked pilotis on the dramatic and rocky coastline, providing panoramic views through its floor-to-ceiling windows, surrounded by whales, seabirds and icebergs.
The island’s people and stories are felt throughout the Inn: bespoke furniture and fixtures entirely handmade by local carpenters and artisans; the textiles– quilts, rugs, pillows – are hand-crafted by the island artisans following the centuries-old traditions of “made not bought”.
This place has to be seen to be believed.
33- Hunt for James Bond in Winnipeg
Psst! Did you hear? Bond—the real James Bond—is hiding out in Winnipeg.
Ian Fleming based the character on Winnipeg-born William Stephenson.
To live like a spy, check out the James Bond Connection.
This intriguing tour is one of the coolest things to do in Winnipeg.
Think debonair tweed suits, perfect silk socks, mysterious mansions and, of course, the ultimate accessory: a polished humidor of Cuban Cohiba Behikes.
Can’t get enough of covert operations?
Go on a private Architecture, Spies and Hidden Code Tour to discover the city’s fascinating secrets.
34- Channel your inner cowboy at the Calgary Stampede
Hides are raw, hearts untamed, and the world’s toughest rodeo stock walk on two legs at what’s known as The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth – The Calgary Stampede.
Australians flock to this event – it’s like the Easter Show on steroids.
Aside from the bareback, bull riding, barrel racing, saddle bronc, steer wrestling, and down roping, the music is truly the heart and soul of Stampede.
From country legends to rock royalty, it’s the ultimate outdoor music festival.
35- Walk on the ocean floor at the Bay of Fundy
In the maritime province of New Brunswick in eastern Canada, walk on the ocean floor as the world’s highest tides ebb around the towering rocks at the Bay of Fundy.
A few kilometres away, marvel at the strange sensation of braking at the bottom and rolling uphill at Magnetic Hill in Moncton.
I’m not kidding.
This natural phenomenon has been baffling visitors for over 80 years.
Simply drive your car to the bottom of Magnetic Hill, take your foot off the brake and roll back uphill.
36- Dig Up a Clam on Prince Edward Island
It’s the new trend in food preparation – catch it yourself.
Prepare to be chest-deep in water as you dig for clams in this unique, hands-on experience in Georgetown, on Prince Edward Island, with Tranquility Cove Adventures.
Had a successful haul?
Head off to the beach to steam them in fresh salt water or an old-fashioned beach cook-out.
Then continue ticking off your list of things to do in Prince Edward Island by snapping a selfie at the Panmure Island Lighthouse.
37- Experience old traditions in Newfoundland
It’s famous for its craggy coastline, colourful clapboard houses and lonely lighthouses, but Newfoundland has a unique character shaped by its locals, for those who take the time to connect with them.
Self-drive with Cape Race and immerse yourself in the Newfoundlander way of life.
Step into their culture, living room and workplace for a rich, authentic experience.
It’s a transformative way to experience old traditions.
38- Go Camping at Algonquin Park in Ontario
The essence of Algonquin Park in Ontario lies in its vast interior of maple hills, rocky ridges, and thousands of lakes.
The only way to explore the interior of this park is by canoe or on foot.
Led by expert guides, experience an Algonquin Park canoe adventure in Ontario.
We’re talking amazing wildlife viewing opportunities, fantastic backcountry cuisine and spectacular campsites.
Stay at the Algonquin Park Log Cabin, where you can canoe, hike and dogsled to your heart’s content.
Soak up the warmth of an authentic log cabin in a spectacular wilderness setting.
39- Discover the Nahanni River
Looking for a new place to drop your line?
The Nahanni River system in the North West Territories is the ultimate outdoor adventure for fishing, kayaking and wildlife, teeming with Arctic grayling and lake trout.
Its towering granite walls, deep canyons, cave systems and hot springs draw white-water canoeists and adventure-seekers, with grey wolfs, grizzly bears, black bears, caribou, moose, and mountain goats roaming freely.
The Nahanni River leads to Virginia Falls, a thundering waterfall cascading more than 90 metres, nearly twice the height of Niagara Falls, and is flanked by towering evergreens, completing a perfect picture.
40- Drive the Cabot Trail
Of all the wonderful places to visit in Canada, the Cabot Trail in the maritime province of Nova Scotia serves up one of the greatest road trips in the world.
My top tip?
Head there during autumn – the fusion of light and colour has to be seen to be believed.
41- See polar bears at Hudson Bay
There’s a good reason why Churchill, an outpost near Hudson Bay, calls itself the “The Polar Bear Capital of the World”.
In October and November, hundreds of polar bears gather at Hudson Bay waiting for the ice to form, anxious to leave.
17,000 of the world’s 25,000 polar bears are in Canada.
The bad news?
The polar bear season is a short one and seats on a Tundra Buggy or in a polar bear lodge, where you can get close to bears on the ground are in high demand.
The good news?
In summer, you’ll swim with belugas, spy families of polar bears roaming free in the distance and see a 100 species of birds.
42- Journey aboard Train le Massif
The luxurious Train le Massif is a five-star rail journey from Quebec City to the artisan region of Charlevoix, 140 kilometres along the beautiful banks of the St Lawrence River.
Alight at Baie-Saint-Paul and soak up the eclectic, arty vibe of this quaint village.
43- Relive the Goldrush in Dawson City
The Yukon Territory’s Dawson City is a township steeped in history and is one of the more fascinating places to visit in Canada.
Wander the dusty streets and soak in the heady Klondike Gold Rush days when 100,000 poor miners and wealthy prospectors came to strike it rich in 1896.
44- Experience the creativity of the Charlottetown Festival
Creativity buzzes in the air at the annual Charlottetown Festival on Prince Edward Island.
Anne of Green Gables – The Musical is a product of the festival and Canada’s longest-running musical.
Take in a show and soak up the creative vibe alongside Canada’s finest designers, playwrights, performers and directors.
Prince Edward Island is a charming place to visit in Canada.
45- Take an Instagram photo at Peggy’s Cove
Strike envy into the hearts of your Instagram followers at Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia.
Canada’s most photographed fishing village is set in the midst of a geographical marvel and the perfect pit-stop along the lighthouse trail to the colourful town of Lunenburg.
46- Toronto’s EdgeWalk
Adrenalin junkies love Toronto’s EdgeWalk, a hands-free walk along a 1.5 metre-wide ledge encircling the top of the CN Tower.
Lean back over Toronto with nothing but air and breathtaking views of Lake Ontario beneath you.
48- Watch the iceberg parade along Iceberg Alley
Newfoundland and Labrador is one of the best places in the world to view 10,000-year-old icebergs.
Go on a boat tour, paddle a kayak or hike along the coastline and watch these glacial giants parade down Iceberg Alley
49- Meet the bears at Assiniboine Park Zoo
Visit Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and experience Journey to Churchill, a new 10-acre Arctic species exhibit, featuring four exquisite polar bears.
You’ll be awestruck as the polar bears perform synchronised swimming overhead in an acrylic tunnel.
50- Hunt for dinosaur bones in Alberta’s Badlands
Explore Alberta’s Badlands, one of the world’s most prolific dinosaur fossil sites.
Natural rock formations called ‘hoodoos’ jut out from the ground, casting eerie shadows over the sandstone landscape.