République du Canada, nicknamed as the great white North, conceals some of the most prominent winter, as well as summer, destinations across the globe. The country is laden with ski resorts and characteristic cottages. From sliding down world-class pistes to frozen lake Patinage, flying and landing over snow-covered meadows, and even living in ice-built accommodations.
When it comes to adventure sports, Canada is enlisted among the top ten winter sports countries. However, ice and snow activities are not all the winter attractions of the country; thousands of tourists each year visit the northern terrains of Canada, for gazing at the colorful float of northern lights, aurora borealis.
We have gathered a list of the top 15 destinations in Canada for an intense winter experience and a memorable escapade of the polar light spectacles.
On the heights of the British Columbia range, the charming hamlet of whistler sits on the basins of Black comb and whistler mountains. Recognized as the largest skiing zone in entire northern America, Whistler offers championship-grade pistes and received the hosting of the 2010 Olympics. A scenic Gondola ride connects the peaks of Blackcomb to Whistler’s skiing station, with ski drop-off points with picturesque views.
Whistler boasts no shortage of winter activities within its national parks; snow biking, paragliding over the frozen lakes of Lost, Alpha, and Alta, and accessing the cross-country trails of Whistler’s Olympic Park. While visiting one of the world’s most renowned winter-sport destinations, do not miss the indoor activities.
Centuries before the transformation of Whistler into a posh touristic hub, the village inhabited the indigenous Canadian tribes, Squamish and Lil’wat. Artifacts and excavated items of these two first nation tribes are exhibited at Squamish and Lil’wat Nations Cultural Centre.
These unique displays provide insights into the ceremonies and the life of winter dwelling kinfolks. In accordance with the center’s essence, an adjacent café serves dishes made with ancient recipes, together with souvenir shops of local crafts.
2. Quebec City
Previously a municipal territory of the French kingdom, the historic quarters of Quebec take the visitors on a journey to medieval Europe. Cobbled stoned alleys, the gothic cathedral, medieval apartments, and ramparts; each edifice bears the historic elements of European monarchies.
The first icy attraction of the city lies at the medieval center. Europeans built a 34-meter high toboggan slide at the end of the 19th century, overshadowing the renowned chateau Frontenac; the fairytale resembling castle is a living heritage, accommodating the guests of Quebec, or la Capitale Nationale.
For a historic accommodation, spa experience and a museum visit the monastery of Augustines, paces from the defensive barricades of the old town. Ancient rooms within the wall have been transformed to posh hotels by the magic of interior design while savoring the antique feel of the structure.
Vieux-Quebec’s walled neighborhood stands as the only barricaded township in North America; encircling the cathedral of Notre-Dame des Victories, Place Royale, ancient barricade hotels, gift shops, and the city’s finest restaurants at Grand Allée. During the winter carnival of Quebec and Christmas, these quarters come to life with festive ambiance; from night parades and sculpting ice and snow figurines, to outdoor concerts and authentic street food during the day.
After a few days of sliding down the Laurentian Plateau’s ski pistes, there is nothing like a steaming spa to rejuvenate sore muscles. A few minutes from Centre De Ski Le Relais, Siberia Station Spa is located at just at the edge of rural suburbs.
Sided by a river and endless woodlands, the Finish Spa, hints to strong north European architecture with a classic wooden frame and outdoor thermal pools. Aromatherapy, thermotherapy, and general wellbeing programs are among the services of the center.
3. Ice Hotel and Mont-Sainte-Anne
The entire region of Quebec ranks as one of the largest Sweetwater reserves across the globe, which has resulted in a unique landscape. Embraced by the Laurentian Plateau, Quebec is dotted with snow-capped mountains, ski-suitable slopes, and hearty villages; offering wooden condos and luxurious tourist amenities.
The abundance of ice and water in the region has inspired the construction of the most astonishing hotels in the world. The Grand Hotel de Glace boasts 44 room accommodation, a bar and restaurant, and its own slide. The entire structure is built entirely of ice and held together with the particular science of temperature and time; beverages are served in freshly carved glasses, sizzling hot food brought on ice-sheet plates and beds of ice blocks, at the comfort of cozy fur rugs. A large ice slide bids the largest icy masterpiece of the hotel for sliding and gliding at the convenience of your hotel’s lobby.
Only 40 kilometers from Quebec City, Mont-Sainte-Anne rises high with three snow summits. Fat biking, ice canoeing, and moderate pistes to cross-country trails are the chief winter activities of Mont-Sainte-Anne. This mountain is titled in the honor of St. Anna and the 17th-century Basilica.
Situated on the highlands, Chateau of Saint Anne mountain was once the residence of French lords of Quebec. Today, it harbors the skiing station at Parc du Mont Sainte Anne, with Gondola cable cars and outstanding perspective over the falls of the Grand Canyon of Québec.
4. Banff National Park
In 1885, the Canadian government established the nations’ first national park, enclosed by the rocky mountains of Alberta Province. Banff Centre is perhaps the most frequented and intellectual point amid the reserve’s wilderness; with live music performances, occasional cultural workshops, world-class restaurants, and cafes with breathtaking vistas.
From dog sledding at Lake Louise, family-friendly to champion-level ski trails including the renowned Mount Norquay ski resort, to icefall climbing and hiking over frozen lakes and gorges, Banff National Park spots the country’s most prominent winter destination. Gondola of Banff slides from the center toward the top of Sulphur Mountain, noted among the country’s most picturesque cable car rides.
A brief distance from the sulfur mountain peak and castle Junction viewpoint, Upper Banff Thermal Spa’s steaming pool is bordered with piles of fresh snow; featuring healing properties and an ultimate remedy for tender muscles and sore feet.
5. Gros Morne National Park
Flanked by the coastlines of the Canadian Atlantic, Gros Morne National Park is home to evolutionary geological history and recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While ice fishing in the region is traced back to the first inhabitants, it remains as a popular sport even today, at Newfoundland Island’s Ice Fishing Adventures Tour.
To reach the favorite spots for ice fishing, or exploring the frozen kingdom of the national park, snowshoeing pistes, ice hiking trails pave the way to white horizons. Recreational sports facilities also include snowmobiles; though trail limitations and extreme care is taken to avoid disturbing or harming the park’s biodiverse animal species.
While skiing and ice activity may be rendered as casual throughout Canadian territory, Gros Morne hosts phenomenon winter storms; visitors follow the less-traveled paths to the reserve’s winter camps, to experience the sight of dramatic storms over the Atlantic’s frozen ocean.
For a comprehensive winter vacation in addition to posh ski runs and characteristic winter activities, there is nothing like a safari to add a true taste of adventure to the itinerary. Each winter, thousands of splendid polar bears migrate from the Atlantic summer residents to the abundant shores of Hudson’s Bay. For this reason, Churchill is often referred to as the world’s capital of polar bears.
While their main concern is hunting seals, these cute creatures have grown accustomed to their fellow-human visitors. Several eco-tours organize safari travels on the bay’s shorelines; expanding from south of Churchill to Wapusk National Park, over a 6o kilometer stretch. After a long day of admiring and photographing Churchill’s polar bears, the night sky reveals an other-worldly spectacle.
Colliding colors of polar lights streak the night sky of this remote community; January to March highlights the peak season of aurora borealis in Churchill.
On the frozen shores of the Great Slave Lake, Yellowknife is the only city of northwestern Canada and characterized as a winter wonderland. The most distinguished feature of Yellowknife is the northern lights. However, the commune also presents a multitude of cultural wealth, besides antiquated vestiges. Formerly a house to Canadian First Nation Tribes, ice fishing, dog sledding, ancient architecture techniques, and recipes yet survive in the regional culture, such as sled dog breeding at the picturesque village of Aurora.
Bush Pilot Monument remains as the first memorial of industrial development in the North Slave Region, followed by the construction of the historic connective road to Dettah community. The Museum of Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre dives even deeper to the history of the region, displaying artifacts and scriptures of indigenous origin, together with Northwest Territories’ natural history.
After a three months artistic contribution of international ice sculptures, the annual Festival of Snow King stirs the ambient of Yellowknife. A month-long festival of live music inside an ice castle reflects the acquaintance of culture and entertainment with the territory’s extreme weather conditions.
Apart from the amusing artistic performances and exhibits during the festival, the caste itself is sculpted exclusively of ice, which embraces concert halls, carved masterpieces, and ice bars and restaurants with frosted decorations.
From jumping off a helicopter to crossing national territories, skiing is the favorite sport in Revelstoke. Peak views, endless snow-dusted woodlands, and incredible landscape attract recreational sports fans for a variety of winter sports; Revelstoke Mountain Resort with a panoramic chairlift, snowmobiling on Monashees and Selkirks mountains, dog sledding with native huskies, and fat biking- only to name a few.
The township seems to have a knack for Grizzly bears and have neighbored one another for generations. The historic walk around the pedestrian zone is emblemed with a bronze statue of a Grizzly mother and her cub which paves the way to authentic restaurants, charming cafes, and the city’s renowned brewery Monashee Spirits Craft Distillery.
At a short distance from Mt. Revelstoke National Park, Canyon hot spring resort contributes to the wellness of the citizens and guests of Revelstoke.
9. Okanagan Valley
While the winters of Okanagan Valley are relatively mild, the valley features unique winter activities complemented with a festive atmosphere. Besides the grand lake of Okanagan, the region possesses over a dozen magnificent lakes, formed by glacier drift and land movements between Columbia and Cascade mountains.
Big White Ski Resort pinpoints one of Canada’s largest ski villages, cross-country pistes of SilverStar with 105 kilometers of Nordic Trails and Apex Mountain Resort offers a variety of winter adventure sports.
10. Wine Festival of the Canadian Napa Valley
The encircling vineyards of Okanagan have been nicknamed as the Canadian Napa Valley and are the spring source of the world-famous wine of BC’s wineries. The legacy of this traditional craft is celebrated in the Sun peak village wine festival every January, followed by the Okanagan Wine and Dine festival get-together of the region’s best chefs and restaurant menus and tasting enchanting varieties of wine.
Kelowna stands as the largest municipal city that encompasses a wide range of cultural exhibitions, ethnic museums, and art galleries.
The most fascinating feature of Calgary’s winter lies at the heart of the city, at Plaza Olympic. The scenic park comprises fountains, idyllic pathways, and an illuminated ice skating piste- noted for its dramatic scenery. The town itself displays a well-developed urban structure and boasts, from world-class restaurants, peak views of futuristic edifices to countless cultural centers.
Canadian military history museum, Alberta region museum of Glenbow, The National Art Center, and Calgary zoo- dedicated to the life and preservation of winter animal species. For adventurous winter activities, the ski slopes of Fish Creek Provincial Park, Prince’s Island Park skating rink and cross-country trails, and ice fishing at the municipality’s numerous lakes, highlight the best of winter sports destinations.
Calgary is a wine lover’s heaven; ladened with endless vineyards, top-quality breweries, and wine tasting festivals during the snowfall season.
It is said that the winters of Rossland are almost endless. With a long-lasting winter and favorable natural skiing ramps, the township’s entire tourism is built around winter sports, prestigious hotels, and adventure sports clubs.
Ranked as the 8th winter sports destination in the world, Rossland incorporates various types of ice and snow-related adventures; from Josie’s spa and ski resort to seven summit snowshoeing trail and renowned pistes of Kootenay Rockies. This highland municipality also harbors the largest Canadian winter carnival in the last week of January- as a festive legacy of a Norwegian miner since 1898.
Though inhabited since the First Nation Tribes, Fernie earned most of its industrial success after the discovery of regional oil wells. The Fernie Oil Derrick goes back to 1907, consequent with the development of eateries, bars, and convenient stores that are still up and running.
As a premier skiing zone, the locality is covered with a thick blanket of snow fluff throughout winter. Except for breathtaking views such as three bear summits, the surrounding mountains are lined with cross-country Nordic Trails of Elk valley, groomed trails of alpine resorts, and Island Lake Lodge. The city’s century-old distillery, authentic restaurants, and Fernie’s Spa 901, located at the historic downtown highlight the indoor activities.
On the foot skirts of the Blue Mountain, the heritage town of Collingwood is a tourist hub, despite the seasons. A 60-kilometer long network of trails accommodate trekking and recreational activities both in summer and winter; snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and ice fishing or wandering off amid the wilderness of the great white.
Besides the ski resorts of Blue mountain and Craigleith Ski Club, Collingwood is home to urban winter activities. Such as a gratuitous ice rink, dozens of registered heritage sites including Blue Mountain Tea Company- best visited during the heritage tour of Collingwood.
Once inhabited by the indigenous Athabaskan tribes, Yukon sits on the shores of the Yukon river and flatlands of Canada’s highest peaks in Kluane National Park. Most of the activities remaining in the region are traced within the cultural routes.
Ice fishing, dog mushing, ice hiking, and climbing were not only challenging entertainments but means of survival for the ancient residents and First Nation Tribes. Adäka Cultural Festival is dedicated to the protection and preservation of aboriginal art and culture.
Following the European settlement, other elements were introduced to the heritage of Yukon; today this heritage is celebrated during storytelling and sour bread baking festivals, to widespread skiing and skating sports. The most prominent feature of Yukon is only seen during the long and dark winter nights and while the streaks of colorful aurora borealis light up the night sky.
Canada’s culture and nature are inseparable from ice and winter. From sports to gastronomy to lifestyle, everything comes under the reign of white winters. While there are numerous man-made winter attractions that can be found across the republic, natural sceneries are often overlooked due to harsh weather conditions.
The most renowned winter wildlife are found at Churchill’s coastline-dwelling polar bears and the vista of belugas whales, Caribou wolves and arctic foxes, and Banff’s Moose, Red-tail deer, and Wolverines. All the natural and artificial attractions of Canada, including the relaxing thermal springs to adrenaline spiking winter adventures, can only be complemented by a warm and original dish; Poutine, Tourtière meat pies, split peas soup with pork, and Saskatoon Berry Pie for the desert mark the most authentic recipes of Canada.