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Is It Possible to do Whistler on a Budget? Yes! Here’s How

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Strapped for cash but looking to explore Whistler? Not a worry – there’s plenty of ways to save a dime or two and do Whistler on a budget. Here are a few ways to live large on a small allowance and experience all the best Whistler has to offer!

How to Find Cheap Whistler Accommodation – 4 Techniques

If crashing on a friend’s couch isn’t an option, here are some ways to get the best deals on accommodation in Whistler.

  1. Hostels & Pods 

    Pod Hotel - The Living Room Whistler

    No need to lose style points, just because you are on a budget – check out the Pod Hotel

Whistler has a few popular hostel options for those travelling solo or looking to spend less on accommodation (it really is just a place to lay your head anyway!). Whistler’s newest pod hotel, Pangea Pod Hotel, is located smack dab in the centre of it all in Whistler Village. They offer single and double pods, female-only pods, and have an amazing cafe and rooftop bar. Meet like-minded travellers, be within a stone’s throw from the gondola, and return to your own private space every night.

The HI Hostel is located in Cheakamus Crossing – a community south of Whistler Village that is easily accessible via public transit or taxi. The hostel offers dorm rooms and private rooms are perfect for nature lovers with many hikes and bike trails right out the front door. Function Junction is a short walk away where you can check out breweries, go for brunch, and even go axe throwing.

Southside Lodge has been housing travellers for decades and is a mainstay in the Creekside community. It has female-only and mixed dorms and is minutes from the Creekside Gondola, Alpha Lake Park, and the shops and restaurants of Creekside.

2. Whistler Visitor’s Centre

So, you’ve made it to Whistler… now what? Head over to the Whistler Visitor’s Centre to grab some brochures, see what’s on in town, and can even get you hooked up with a last minute deal at a hotel. Helpful staff have been in Whistler for years and are more than happy to talk through budget options with you.

3. Book in Advance

Booking your accommodation in advance can save you up to 40% off your stay. Hotels like to secure bookings early so they offer discounts to fill the rooms ahead of time. Winter lodging typically has sales ending at the end of August whereas winter lodging offers discounts if you book before the end of May.

4. Book Midweek

Flexible with dates? Travel midweek for the best rates on accommodation. Weekends fill up quickly with people travelling from nearby Vancouver and the surrounding area leaving the weekdays empty. Hotels want to fill these rooms midweek and often offer attractive prices from Monday to Friday to get the hotel filled.

How to Fine Dine in Whistler For Less – 4 Techniques

Sure, you can go to the grocery store and cook every meal in your hotel but with incredible restaurants in Whistler, going out at least once or twice should be scheduled in. Save money on food and spend it on more adventures – here’s how. 

1. Daily Deals

There’s a deal somewhere every day and night in Whistler, and the website Whistler Bites lays out every deal every day of the week on drinks and food. It can fluctuate throughout the year, with the most deals happening in the shoulder season (May – June and September – November). Favourite deals? $20 Pizza and Beer on Tuesdays at Pizza Antico and Taco Tuesday at La Cantina in Nesters. 

Araxi dining room, in whistler lined with wall to wall wine cellar

Dine surrounded by wines, sherry, and champagne at Araxi (seasonal deals apply!)

2. Spring/Fall Dining Specials 

During the shoulder seasons (May – June and September – November), locals and travellers can enjoy serious discounts at most restaurants in town. Many of the high-end restaurants (ie. Araxi, Il Caminetto, Rimrock Cafe) offer multi-course dinners that are less expensive than a typical entree from their regular menu. Most offers take place during the week (Sunday to Thursday) but some offer it seven days a week! Try one restaurant or try them all!

3. Brunch

It’s like two meals in one – brunch is a great way to fuel up for the day until dinnertime. With so many great brunch restaurants in Whistler, you won’t feel so bad about sleeping in. Go to the Wildwood Cafe in Function Junction for delicious bennies and banana bread french toast, Riverside Cafe for waffles, or Alpine Cafe for your bacon and eggs and breakfast burritos. Wash it down with a Canadian favourite – the Caesar – and you’ll be good to conquer the day.

4. Happy Hour

Happy Hours can vary on the establishment but typically it is between 2:00 PM and 5:00 PM and can save you some serious dollars. Check out Whistler Bites for daily Happy Hour specials and save on appetizers and drinks. Favourites include Earls’ epic Happy Hour between 3:00 PM – 5:30 PM (and 10:00 PM until close) and the Crystal Lounge from 12:00 PM to 3:00 PM for 35 cent chicken wings and cheap drinks.

How to Have Fun in Whistler on a Budget – 4 Techniques

Having fun in Whistler doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, and while some of the more expensive options are super fun there’s plenty of activities to do in Whistler on a budget.

  1. Axe Throwing

For $37/hour per person, you get to throw axes at targets with your friends while being coached by enthusiastic hosts. Axe Throwing is a great way to spend an afternoon or evening out of the elements in their funky axe throwing warehouse where you’ll quickly learn the techniques and put them to work in fun competitions and challenges. The hour will fly by and you’ll be hooked on the sport of axe throwing.

2. Lakeside Fun

On hot sunny summer days, most locals can be found lounging lakeside with friends enjoying barbeques, lawn games, and paddle sports. Bring a blanket and a book to spend the afternoon staying cool in the shade or rent a stand-up paddleboard or canoe to explore the lake a bit further. Lost Lake Park is the most popular as it’s the closest to the village, but Lakeside Park and Rainbow Park on Alta Lake are great spots to sit in the grass and hang out. Most parks have limited parking, so walk or ride your bike.

3. Vallea Lumina

Check out Whistler’s newest nighttime activity – a multimedia night walk through the forest to discover hidden wonders. Moment Factory and The Adventure Group proudly present a twilight expedition that takes you on a journey retracing the footsteps of two bold travellers who uncovered the secret wonders of the woods. Start your adventure in pursuit of this local legend which many have called Whistler’s most unforgettable experience.

4. Escape! Whistler

Uncover clues and beat the clock in a carefully curated escape room with Escape! Whistler. Choose from four different rooms ranging from easy and family friendly to black diamond challenging. Try your hand at a real-life gaming experience where groups of 2-6 are placed in a room and through solving puzzles, riddles, and clues have forty-five minutes to escape. It’s the perfect rainy day activity for all ages!

How to Get to Whistler on a Budget – 2 Techniques

Once in Vancouver, getting to Whistler on a budget is actually extremely easy, with many shuttle buses offering competitive and cheap prices to get you on your way. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenic ride along the Sea to Sky to Whistler. 

View of the sea to sky highway near Squamish in Canada

A taste of your journey on the sea to sky highway – private shuttle or Pop-a-ride!

  1. Shuttle

The secret with getting an inexpensive shuttle bus ride to Whistler is to make your way into Vancouver from the airport. Shuttles leaving the airport have to pay premiums to arrive and depart from the airport, so by travelling into downtown Vancouver you’ll not only save money but you’ll get to experience the beautiful seaside city as well!

Getting from the airport to downtown Vancouver is an easy Skytrain (similar to a monorail or subway) ride away which takes about twenty minutes and costs less than ten dollars. From there, Epic Rides has a roundtrip shuttle for $35 between downtown Vancouver and Whistler, and YVR Skylynx for $40. Depending on what time of day you want to travel can depend on what shuttle would work best for you.

2. Pop a Ride

Vancouver and Whistler sadly do not have Uber yet, so to make up for it Pop a Ride offers ridesharing and carpooling options to share rides between cities in Canada. It’s free to sign up as a passenger and great if you’re flexible in your travel plans as you do have to find someone travelling from Vancouver to Whistler. It’s a fairly common route and you’re sure to meet some new people along the way.

Though Whistler has many luxurious accommodation options, pricey tours, and lift ticket prices that’ll make your eyes pop, there are also ways to do Whistler on a budget.

Accommodation and restaurant prices can rack up a steep credit card bill but by staying in budget-friendly options and taking advantage of restaurant deals and Happy Hours can keep your wallet fat. Enjoy the best of what Whistler has to offer without going into debt after your trip!