Sök efter en plats eller aktivitet

10 Things To Do in Vancouver in the Winter

This coastal city offers a perfect mix of wintery delights, cosmopolitan sights, and temperate weather.

Vancouver with snowy mountains behind the city on a winter's day.
Hi, I'm Georgia!

Georgia Freedman is a freelance journalist and editor based in the Bay Area. She has written for the Wall Street Journal, Food & Wine, Afar, Saveur, Martha Stewart Living, and many other publications and has worked as an editor for national consumer magazines and book publishers. Georgia also writes and co-authors cookbooks and produces the California Table newsletter on Substack.

Vancouver’s prime location between the Pacific Ocean and the Coast Mountains makes it a perfect, year-round vacation destination thanks to its mild weather and quick access to outdoor activities.

While most Vancouver visitors head here in the summer to enjoy its beaches, hikes, water sports, and whale watching, the city also makes a great winter getaway. The weather at sea level—and therefore in most of the city’s primary neighborhoods—hovers at around 40°F (5°C) all season, making it comfortable to explore on foot, while the nearby mountains get enough snow to offer easy access to winter sports.

Vancouver is also built to be cozy in winter with walkable neighborhoods, indoor marketplaces, expansive malls, and easy-to-use public transportation. Put these pieces together, and you have an ideal winter escape—just don’t forget to bring an umbrella.

1. Enjoy wintery fun

The gondola heading up Grouse Mountain in Vancouver in winter.
When in Vancouver, get a bird's eye view of things.Foto: EB Adventure Photography / Shutterstock

Ski, snowboard, skate, and snowshoe without leaving city limits.

While Vancouver stays relatively temperate all winter, it is a destination for wintery fun. Vancouver’s mountaintop parks, many of which are within the city limits, get plenty of snow, giving visitors the opportunity to spend a day (or half-day) skiing, snowboarding, tubing, and snowshoeing.

The easiest park to access is Grouse Mountain, just 20 minutes from downtown. If you want to head a little farther into the mountains, you can visit Cypress Mountain or Mt. Seymore, both of which offer rentals and a combination of skiing, snowboarding, and other alpine activities.

2. Explore museums and galleries

The entrance to the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver can be visited in winter.
Vancouver is known for its museums.Foto: Xuanlu Wang / Shutterstock

See First Nations art, learn about the city’s history, and dive into BC culture.

Chilly or inclement winter weather offers a perfect opportunity to explore Vancouver’s many art venues and museums. The city’s most famous museum, the Museum of Anthropology, boasts a huge collection of First Nations art and artifacts. Meanwhile, other museums that focus on the area’s history include the Museum of Vancouver and the Vancouver Maritime Museum.

For exhibitions of contemporary local art, head downtown to the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Bill Reid Gallery, or the Rennie Museum. And, if you have kids with you, head to Science World for some hands-on fun.

3. See the twinkling lights

Christmas lights on show at night in Van Dusen park in Vancouver in winter.
You'll find great light displays all over the city.Foto: MaxAch / Shutterstock

Enjoy a sparkly solution to shorter days.

When winter hits, Vancouver lights up. Throughout the season, the city hosts a number of different light shows, all of which are designed to take advantage of the dark and turn nights into opportunities for a bit of magic. During the holidays, Grouse Mountain celebrates with a Light Walk perfect for snowshoeing through, while February sees the nearby Capilano Suspension Bridge start to twinkle with Valentine’s-focused Love Lights. The largest display, however, is in VanDusen Park, which boasts an entire world of bright, colorful lights, “dancing” light shows, and other attractions.

4. Enjoy world-class restaurants

Japanese dishes on display at Misu restaurant in Vancouver.
Vancouver has a world-class restaurant scene.Foto: Miku / Tripadvisor

Taste some of the best Asian food in the West and enjoy the Pacific Northwest's unique culinary scene.

Vancouver residents eat well. Local restaurants here take excellent advantage of the region’s fresh seafood and nearby farms (and wineries), crafting unique dishes that showcase the area’s bounty and unique sensibilities. The city is also one of the best places outside of Asia to enjoy Chinese and Japanese regional cuisines, and many chefs who specialize in Pacific Northwest–style cooking borrow ingredients and flavors from their immigrant neighbors. For a true taste of Vancouver, try to eat at a few different kinds of restaurants during your stay.

Related: Why Vancouver Has the World's Best Dim Sum (and Where to Find It)

5. Explore trendy Mount Pleasant

The entry to Forecast Coffee in Vancouver on a sunny day.
Forecast Coffee is ever popular.Foto: Forecast Coffee / Tripadvisor

Grab a coffee and do some window shopping.

To explore Vancouver’s hipster side, head to Mount Pleasant and stroll along Main Street between East First and 33rd Avenue. You can browse through boutiques, pick up vintage clothing, and shop for unusual art supplies.

If the weather turns (or you just start to feel chilled), do what the locals do and drop in at a coffee shop to warm up. The popular Forecast Coffee location on the corner of East 14th offers not only coffee (roasted in nearby Whistler) but also breakfast sandwiches, lunch options, beer, wine, and cocktails.

6. Shop and savor on Granville Island

A vegetable stand at Granville Island Public Market in Vancouver.
The market on Granville Island is a lovely place to spend a winter's day.Foto: DeymosHR / Shutterstock

Buy snacks, enjoy a meal, and pick up souvenirs.

The public market on Granville Island is great at any time of year. But there’s something about this bustling indoor food market—with vendors selling everything from imported Thai mangosteens and miniature mangos to slices of pie to cheddar-filled perogies—that is particularly enchanting in winter. Enjoy a tea and a sweet crepe (or a local beer and some bratwurst), then grab smoked salmon and local paté to take home. After you’ve stocked up on food, explore the tiny island’s many homey shops. You’ll find everything you need from quilt-making supplies to specialty cooking tools to regional crafts.

7. Stroll through Richmond’s indoor malls

Shoppers at one of Richmond's malls in Vancouver in winter.
Richmond is a place for shopping—and eating.Foto: PookyCake / Tripadvisor

Escape the rain in one of the biggest Chinatowns in the world.

One of Vancouver’s most unique neighborhoods is explicitly designed for inclement weather. Richmond, a suburb south of the city center, is Canada’s largest Chinatown, and more than half of the town’s residents are immigrants. As a result, this is one of the best places in the world—outside of Asia—to enjoy Chinese, Korean, and Japanese food. Richmond is also a great place to spend a day exploring and window shopping, thanks to its concentration of indoor malls. Walk into any of these huge shopping and dining destinations and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a corner of Hong Kong or Taiwan.

Related: Business Owner Carol Lee's Guide to Vancouver's Chinatown

8. Take a trip to Whistler

A water feature in downtown Whistler, near Vancouver.
Whistler is a dream winter destination.Foto: Globe Guide Media Inc / Shutterstock

Plunge into BC’s snowy side for world-class winter sports.

If you really want to dive into winter fun, take a day or two to visit nearby Whistler. One of the most famous ski spots in North America, the mountain resort town hosted many of the events during the 2010 Winter Olympics. Here, there are more than 200 marked ski and snowboard trails winding through 8,171 acres (3307 hectares), as well as options for heli-skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, ziplining, dog sledding, and more. For a less strenuous visit, see the slopes from the PEAK 2 PEAK gondola, then explore the quaint town of Whistler and its ice skating rink in Olympic Plaza.

9. Celebrate at winter festivals

A float at Vancouver Pride in BC with lots of people celebrating.
There's a festival for everyone.Foto: LeonWang / Shutterstock

Time your visit for one of the city’s many winter celebrations.

To offset the chilly weather, Vancouver plans a lot of winter celebrations, including holiday lights festivals (see above), Christmas markets, and craft fairs. But the holiday season is just the beginning of the fun. In late January, check out the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, which includes workshops, artist talks, and youth programming. Dine Out Vancouver, which highlights the city’s food scene, and the Hot Chocolate Festival also take place around this time. Then, later in February, the city hosts both Vancouver Winter Pride and the VMF Winter Arts Festival.

10. Window-shop and snack in Downtown Vancouver

Tourists look at the famous clock in Gastown in Vancouver.
Vancouver's downtown is well-geared for visitors.Foto: i viewfinder / Shutterstock

Stroll through the heart of the city for some relaxed evening fun.

Vancouver’s heart is a neat grid of old streets dating back to the 1880's, and much of the area boasts a great combination of easily accessible shopping and nightlife options. For a lively evening, head to trendy Gastown, which is chock full of art galleries, shops, and restaurants. Or, if you’re staying downtown, browse the area northwest of Robson Square, which is full of stores and eateries, including outposts of Asian chains you won’t find in most North American cities. You can even go ice skating in the rink in Robson Square itself, which lights up—disco-style—at night.

More ways to explore Vancouver

1 / 5

Keep reading

1 / 5
Gör mer med Viator
En webbplats med över 300 000 reseupplevelser du kommer att minnas – direkt till din inkorg.
Håll koll