Whistler | When to Go, Where to Stay, What to Expect
So the epic mountain views and world-famous ski slopes have inspired you to visit Whistler. But before you come, I’m sure you’ve got loads of questions about what to expect from a trip to Whistler. Does it live up to its reputation as the best ski resort in North America? When’s the best time to visit? How do you choose a hotel in Whistler? And except for skiing, what else is there to do in Whistler (spoiler alert: a lot!).
In this article, you’ll find answers to some of the most common questions people have before visiting Whistler. And you’ll find helpful links to more detailed guides for you to get your teeth into – whether you’re looking for inspiration for your next adventure or your next meal.
When to Visit Whistler | What to Expect
Whistler is a true four-season resort, with unforgettable adventures and staggering mountain scenery every month of the year. Here’s what to expect each season in Whistler
- Weather: Snow, of course! Temperatures are cold (between -15°C and 0°C) and there’s consistent snowfall – between 9 and 15m each winter.
- Top activities: Of course, most visitors come for the unparalleled skiing and snowboarding terrain. But there’s plenty of other winter activities to try out, including snowmobiling, dog sledding, and ziplining.
- Prices: Winter is the most expensive season in Whistler, especially over Christmas and other holidays. Book in advance to get the best deals!
- Weather: A bit of everything. Temperatures range from 0°C to 15°C, and we can get sun, snow, rain and everything in between.
- Top activities: Spring means multi-sport days in Whistler. Skiing, mountain biking, hiking, golfing, and splashing around in the mud on an off-road RZR tour are just a few of the activities you can choose from in spring.
- Prices: Spring is an affordable time to visit Whistler (except over Easter). There are great deals on hotels, activities and restaurants -, especially in May, the quietest month.
- Weather: Summer is hot, hot, hot in Whistler. Expect temperatures between 15°C and 30°C and plenty of blazing sunshine. We do still get the occasional rainfall though, so don’t forget your raincoat.
- Top activities: Mountain biking draws huge crowds to Whistler during the summer months. But hiking, ziplining, whitewater rafting, fishing and wildlife viewing are also very popular options in a town with endless summer adventures on offer.
- Prices: The peak summer months of July and August can be expensive in Whistler – though not as pricey as the winter. Visit in September for warm weather and affordable prices.
- Weather: The weather in fall is a mixed bag. There’s crisp clear autumn days, but also plenty of rain (which thankfully is snow high up on the mountain). A bit of rain doesn’t stop us getting outside though!
- Top activities: Sneak in a few final high alpine hikes or fishing trips before the snow starts to fall. Or, if you get caught in the rain, head inside to try your hand at axe throwing, or visit one of Whistler’s many excellent spas.
- Prices: Fall offers more great deals on accommodation and activities in Whistler. You could grab a killer deal at some of the fanciest hotels during October and November.
Where to Stay | Hotels in Whistler, BC
Whistler has accommodation options to suit every budget – from backpacker hostels to five-star resorts. With so much to choose from, we put together a full guide to the best hotels in Whistler – and here are a few of our favourites.
Budget Options in Whistler
There are several great hostels in Whistler, with beds starting around $40 per person per night. The HI Hostel in Cheakamus Crossing offers modern rooms and tons of fun activities. And both Southside Lodge and the Whistler Lodge Hostel have rustic ski lodge charm and cozy rooms and common areas.
Mid-range Hotels in Whistler
If you’re looking for a comfortable room at a modest budget, there’s heaps of choice in Whistler. We love the Pangea Pod Hotel, with it’s Japanese inspired “pods” and fun, friendly bar and rooftop patio. The Summit Lodge is a quirky, boutique option with all the amenities you could ever wish for. And the Aava Hotel offer dog-friendly accommodation so you can bring your four-legged friend along too.
Luxury (Always an Option)
Visiting Whistler in luxury is an experience like no other. Staying at hotels like the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, the Four Seasons Resort and Spa, or Nita Lake Lodge means you’ll be treated like royalty from check-in to check-out. Think onsite pools and spas, fine dining restaurants, plush beds and rooms overlooking Whistler’s awe-inspiring mountains and lakes.
How to Get to Whistler
Whistler is located 120km north of Vancouver, BC, and is easily reached from Vancouver International Airport by car or bus.
If you’re driving from Vancouver, head north on Highway 99 and follow the highway for approximately 2 hours until you reach Whistler. It really is that simple. Remember it can take a little longer in winter – and all cars must have winter tires from October to March.
You can catch affordable shuttle buses from downtown Vancouver and Vancouver airport straight to the heart of Whistler. The cheapest options (like Epic Rides) start around $25 per person one-way, from downtown Vancouver. Or pay a little more with Skylynx to get picked up at the airport, and have your shuttle timed to meet your flight perfectly.
The most budget-friendly way to reach Whistler is to hop in a rideshare. Local app Pop-A-Ride lets you connect with locals who are driving from Vancouver or Squamish to Whistler. Normally it’s cheaper than the bus, and you can get some insider tips on the way.
In the best-case scenario, it takes around 4 hours to drive to Whistler from Seattle. But you can expect it to take longer with traffic, queues at the border, and winter weather. Still, if you want your vehicle with you, it’s a totally doable option. For detailed info on how to reach Whistler from Seattle, read our complete guide to how to get to Whistler.
What to do in Whistler?
Trust us, you’ll never be short of things to do in Whistler. Here we’ll touch on some of the most popular activities – but there’s plenty more to do if you scratch under the surface and get off the beaten track. If you’re struggling to decide, pop by Whistler Visitor Centre. They’re always happy to share their expert local knowledge with you!
Top Adrenaline Activities in Whistler
Adrenaline junkies are spoilt for choice in Whistler. Apart from the world-class (and sometimes hardcore) skiing, snowboarding, and mountain biking, there are heaps of other high-octane adventures on offer. Bungee jumping, off-road driving, ziplining, helicopter tours, and whitewater rafting are all sure to get your heart pumping and put grins on faces all around.
Top Nature-Lovers Activities in Whistler
With panoramic mountain vistas, crystal-clear lakes, and dense, lush coastal rainforest, nature-lovers are right at home in Whistler too. Take a hike or a helicopter tour to see the best of Whistler’s stunning landscapes. Or go on a wildlife viewing tour to meet our furry and feathered friends – spotting a black bear in the wild is a bucket list Whistler experience!
Top Whistler Activities For Families
Whistler is a fantastic family destination because there’s such a huge variety of activities on offer. Kid-friendly activities like the Coca-Cola Tube Park, ice-skating, and sleigh rides will keep the little ones happy. Older kids will love trying their hand at mountain biking, canoeing, or ziplining. Or why not take the whole family on a bike ride to explore Whistler’s lakes and beaches – stopping for a dip at each one of course!
Top Whistler Activities For Groups
Visiting Whistler with a group is heaps of fun – and easy too, with so many activities to keep everyone happy. We love axe throwing for a bit of friendly competition and a lot of laughs. Whitewater rafting, RZR tours and ziplining with your crew is always loads of fun too – and work just as well for bachelor parties as for wedding guests!
Where to Eat in Whistler
You might not come to Whistler for the food, but you’re likely to come back for it. Whistler is a secret foodie heaven, with a huge range of world cuisine, affordable prices, and some seriously high-end options too.
Every big day of adventure starts with a great breakfast – and Whistler does breakfast right. For a quick bite on the go, we love Alpine Cafe, Gone Eatery, and the Bread Bunker Cafe. Or if you’d rather take your time over brunch, head over to Fifi’s Bistro for delicious, fresh ingredients, Elements for indulgent, original takes on Canadian classics, or the Wildflower in the Fairmont Chateau for a breakfast experience like no other.
Best Lunch Options
There no end of delicious, affordable lunch options in Whistler to help you fill up after a morning of adventure. Head to Main Street for some of Whistler’s best independent eateries, including Hunter Gather’s farm-inspired plates, Australian-style Peaked Pies, and wood-baked pizza at Pizzeria Antico. For a late lunch after a day on the slopes, check out GLC for classic Canadian poutine, or Handlebar for German-inspired dishes and the best craft beer in BC.
Best Dinner Restaurants
You can happily eat outstanding food every evening in Whistler for weeks, and never visit the same place twice. If it’s fine dining you’re after, then Araxi, the Bearfoot Bistro, and Rimrock Cafe all consistently get rave reviews for their locally inspired and delicately designed dishes. Other firm favourites are the modern Italian fare at Il Caminetto, the fun and friendly Japanese Harajuku Izakaya, and Brickworks Pub’s take on traditional pub meals.
Ready to visit Whistler yet?
Whistler is a fascinating place, with increasingly diverse activities, restaurants, and accommodations available. These days it’s far more than just a ski town. Hopefully, we’ve helped you get started with planning your hotels, transport, and most importantly, all the fun activities you’ll do in Whistler. Remember, you can always drop us an email if you’d like some more insider insight to make your trip one you’ll never forget!