Whether you’re a snow bunny, an urban explorer or an outdoor enthusiast, Canada has something to make your jaw drop. From winter wonderlands to soaring vistas, from ancient cultures to thriving metropolises, there is always something to see and do so the hardest part of any Canadian trip is deciding when to go!
We’ve pulled together the best of what’s on offer year round to help you plan the ultimate trip.
For many people, winter is the first thing they think of when you mention Canada; and for good reason! There are too many ski resorts to count, the national sport is ice hockey and as the most dominant season in the country there is no wonder Canada is affectionately known as the Great White North. If you are keen for a white Christmas, want to ski some of the best terrain around or just want to escape the Australian summer then a Canadian winter trip could be for you.
Early snowfalls can start anytime from September and last through until April. The height of the season though is Jan-Feb, when the snow is deep and the turns are fresh. Check out the great family friendly resort Whistler Blackcomb near Vancouver if you’re short on time and want something easy to get to. If you want to see more of the country though, it is worth flying out to the prairie city of Calgary and then heading back into the heart of the Canadian Rockies by road. The views are spectacular and you have easy access to some of Canada’s best ski resorts including Kicking Horse, Revelstoke, Panorama, Lake Louise and Sunshine Village.
If you are up for even more adventure, head north to chase the magical northern lights. The long winter nights and clear skies make for ideal viewing. To give yourself the best and most comfortable chance of seeing the lights it’s probably best to book on a tour - one with hot chocolate and warming huts!
If you are flying from Vancouver to Calgary, book a day flight and a window seat. The view over the mountains is incredible.
Driving in winter conditions can be unpredictable. If you are hiring a car make sure you consider your abilities and the vehicle’s. Many resorts will offer transfers to save you driving.
Winter sports can sometimes lead to expensive accidents make sure you have the right international travel insurance for the activities you will be doing, such as the Allianz Travel Insurance* adventure pack.
As the snow begins to melt, a new feeling creeps across the country. Just like many Canadians, as the weather warms up the wildlife comes out to play. Melting snow uncovers fresh grass perfect for foraging and draws all kinds of animals out of the woods and hibernation. Sunrise and sunset are the best times for spotting wildlife and while a hike is a beautiful chance to take in the country side and do some spotting you’ll also have a great chance of seeing wildlife along the numerous scenic highways.
Bears are the one of the obvious favourites and can be seen from mid-March but most come out of hibernation in late April. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot a new mum with her cubs as she teaches them the ropes. There is great information available on how to stay safe in bear country and if you’re venturing off the beaten track, or even just on the track, make sure you have look.
Spring is the start of maple syrup season. Visit a farm to see the tapping as the warmer weather coaxes the sweet syrup up from the roots.
Lakes, rivers, mountains, cities and beaches (yes, beaches!) come to life in summer. Long bright days and warm temperatures make Canada any adventurers dream destination. Enjoy beautiful hikes with breathtaking scenery. Experience the thrill of mountain biking without the hard slog uphill at many of the ski resorts that transform in summer. Festivals take over the cities with events like the Calgary Stampede or the Montreal comedy extravaganza, Just for Laughs.
Head out to the coasts to see a different side of Canada. On the north east coast you’ll find Newfoundland. North America’s oldest city, St. John’s, resides on the beautiful harbour and is the perfect place for whale watching and iceberg spotting.
The west coast is home to Tofino, located on Vancouver Island. A beautiful outpost with blustery beaches, Tofino has some of Canada’s best surfing and in summer, it’s the perfect place to see Orcas.
Canadians love summer. There are always free outdoor events on in the big cities so check the calendars before you go.
Autumn or ‘Fall’, as the Canadians call it, is a season that many Australians never get to experience the full glory of. The whole country turns red, orange and yellow as the days grow cooler and shorter. Besides the beauty of the landscape, the activity level of the wildlife also increases. Bears, moose, deer and more are all out to make the most of the final spoils of warmer weather.
The season is a short one, starting in September and although it might officially end by December, snow usually brings it to an early end by November.
Make the most of the fall colours with a road trip to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. Witness the beauty of the falls and the magical colours before the winter freezes some of its volume.
The weather can be unpredictable with late summer heat and early winter storms. Pack layers and waterproof jackets to help keep you ready for all conditions.
Otherwise, enjoy your Canadian trip, regardless of the season!