The Most Affordable Winter Vacation
Some people might shy away from visiting Canada when temperatures start to drop. But it’s a fantastic winter vacation destination. There are world-class ski resorts, beautiful snowy cities, and fun festivals to enjoy across the country. Here are the most affordable places to visit in Canada this winter.
Québec City always has a romantic quality, thanks to European-style architecture and cobblestoned streets. When it’s blanketed in snow, this feeling is only intensified. Fortunately, a winter weekend in Québec City can be affordable. Wander through Old Québec, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the only fortified city north of Mexico. It sparkles at night during the holidays, and is home to Christmas markets and activities. There are also four different ski resorts near Québec City, and it hosts the world’s largest winter festival (aptly named Québec Winter Carnival). Getting there: Most major North American airlines fly direct to Québec City. Where to stay: Royal William Hotel is a good budget hotel option, within walking distance to the city’s main attractions. For backpackers, Auberge Internationale de Québec is a hostel located within Old Québec.
The nation’s capital is a great place to visit in winter. Ottawa is known for its Rideau Canal Skateway, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the world’s longest natural ice skating trails. The city is also home to some of the country’s best museums, which are the perfect places to explore in winter. Time your trip to coincide with Winterlude, which the Department of Canadian Heritage established in 1979. Expect snow sculptures, family events, and ice carving competitions. Getting there: All major airlines fly to Ottawa. It’s also located two hours west of Montreal, and four hours northeast of Toronto. There are daily buses from these destinations. Where to stay: Have an unique experience and stay in one of Canada’s most haunted places, the HI Jail Hostel. Here you will sleep in an actual former prison cell.
Skip over Toronto and instead head to the Niagara region in Ontario. Niagara Falls hosts the Winter Festival of Lights annually, which is one of North America’s most breathtaking light displays. There’s also a skating rink in front of Niagara Falls City Hall. In Niagaraon-the-Lake, go on a winery tour and sample the region’s famous icewine. Alternatively, bundle up and enjoy a carriage ride around one of Canada’s prettiest towns. Getting there: Niagara-on-the-Lake is conveniently located an hour and a half from Toronto, and 45 minutes from Buffalo in New York. Where to stay: South Landing Inn is a small bed and breakfast with reasonable prices and excellent reviews.
Banff is one of those places that’s beautiful, no matter the season. Fortunately, a visit in winter doesn’t have to blow the budget. There are plenty of hotels and cheap activities to enjoy within Banff National Park. These activities include visiting frozen Lake Louise, warming up in Banff Upper Hot Springs, or skiing/snowboarding at one of the region’s SkiBig3 ski resorts. Canmore Nordic Centre is also a must-visit for cross country skiing enthusiasts. Getting there: Banff is less than an hour and a half from Calgary. There are daily buses and shuttles connecting the two areas. Where to stay: Samesun Banff is the best backpacker hostel in town, while Homestead Inn is a small, budget hotel alternative.
Vancouver Island isn’t an obvious winter destination idea, but it does have a lot to offer. For example, Tofino is a storm watcher’s paradise from October until April. Skiing is available at Mount Washington Alpine Resort. Victoria’s historic buildings also look good in every season. Plus, the award-winning Butchart Gardens transform during the holidays. The gardens are covered in lights to celebrate Christmas, which is a great place to visit with the whole family. Getting there: Ferries are available from Vancouver to Victoria and Nanaimo, and are the cheapest option. Where to stay: Tofino Harbour view Motel is a great budget hotel option. In Victoria, there’s one hostel named Ocean Island Inn, which has a perfect downtown locatio
Vancouver on the west coast experiences some of Canada’s mildest winter weather, which makes it a perfect winter destination. The city looks breathtaking surrounded by the snowy North Shore mountains. Popular activities include visiting the German-inspired Vancouver Christmas Market, skiing at one of the three nearby mountains, seeing the Christmas lights take over Stanley Park and VanDusen Gardens, and going on a day trip to picturesque Whistler. Getting there: Vancouver is easily accessible from many major US cities. Where to stay: Like its Banff counterpart, backpackers will love the Vancouver version of Samesun. The hostel is located on Granville Street, the city’s downtown entertainment and shopping district.