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33 Fun Things to do in Vancouver in Winter (2024 Guide!)

33 Fun Things to do in Vancouver in Winter (2024 Guide!)

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Vancouver, British Columbia is an awesome city. It’s well known for its great natural beauty and outdoor lifestyle along with tons of great cafes, restaurants, cultural attractions, and so many amazing things to do.

A lot of people will claim summer is the best time to visit (and, let’s be real, the summer is pretty amazing in Vancouver), but you shouldn’t forget about the winter! Vancouver has a mild climate that makes it ideal for sightseeing and exploration in winter too. 

In fact, I visit Vancouver a lot in winter just because I love the fact that the city is much quieter. Oh, and I can also get out to ski and enjoy other outdoor winter activities! Plus, I live in Edmonton, so Vancouver’s mild winter temperatures are very appealing in comparison.

Based on all the time I’ve been lucky enough to spend in Vancouver over the years, I’ve written this blog to share the best things to do in Vancouver during the winter to help your plan your trip. I’ve also included other important info for visiting Vancouver in winter so that you can be fully prepared for one epic winter holiday.

Don’t have time to read the full article? Our absolute favorite winter activities in Vancouver are:

  • Capilano Suspension Bridge – In the evenings the entire park is lit up with Christmas Lights. Purchase your tickets online here to secure your timeslot!
  • Visit Grouse Mountain – Take the gondola up Grouse Mountain for an epic view, and during December, lots of fun festivities! Book your gondola ticket online here!
  • Go hiking or snowshoeing – Enjoy the snow up in the mountains on a trail! If you don’t have snowshoes, book this tour!
  • Skating at an outdoor rink – Head to Robson Square to do some ice skating in downtown Vancouver
  • Eat ALL the food – There are some incredible restaurants in Vancouver, warm up with the best ramen at Danbo, or for real foodies, join this epic food tour to try all the best hidden gems.

Things to do in Vancouver in Winter

1. Hit the slopes

Mountain views from Whistler Blackcomb in winter
About to shred at Whistler Blackcomb after a night of fresh powder – Daniel partner never waits for me!

Skiing is the most quintessential Canadian experience, and Vancouver has no shortage of awesome options! 

If you don’t want to travel too far outside the city, check out the local North Shore mountains – Grouse (accessible by transit), Seymour, and Cypress. These three mountains are within 30 minutes of downtown Vancouver. A day of skiing or snowboarding costs around $85 CAD for adults and $25 for children depending on which resort you visit – that’s some of the cheapest skiing in Canada!

If you’re okay to drive a bit further, Whistler Blackcomb is an internationally renowned ski resort. It’s one of the biggest ski resorts in Canada with over 4,757 acres / 1,925 hectares of skiable terrain, 36 lifts, and over 200 runs! Whistler Blackcomb is suited to the novice skier all the way up to the pro.

It takes about two hours to drive from Vancouver along the scenic Sea to Sky Highway to make it to Whistler. Prices at Whistler Blackcomb aren’t cheap with lift tickets starting at $190 CAD for adults, $160 for teenagers 12 to 18, and $95 for kids ages 7 to 12. These prices do not include any early bird discount so if you know you’re planning to ski Whistler Blackcomb, book in advance to save money!

Related Read: Whistler is one of the best stops on the road trip from Vancouver to Calgary – find out what the others are!

2. Go ice skating at an outdoor rink 

Ice skating at Robson Square in Vancouver
The outdoor rink at Robson Square! Photo credit: Depositphotos edb3_16

Ice skating is a fun way to spend a winter afternoon in Vancouver. Indoor skating rinks are located throughout Vancouver, mostly at community and recreation centers. It usually costs under $10 CAD to rent some skates and enjoy the rink.

Robson Square in downtown Vancouver also has a fun outdoor skating rink set up temporarily during the winter months. It’s always decked out in holiday decorations and has a fun, festive environment. After, you can go to Robson Street for a hot chocolate and some shopping. It’s the perfect way to spend a winter’s day/night in Vancouver!

The Robson Square rink is open from December to February and is completely free to use. If you don’t have your own skates you can rent them there for around $5 CAD.

3. Visit the Capilano Suspension Bridge

On the Capilano Suspension Bridge at night during winter in Vancouver
At night the bridge and surrounding forest/treetop walk are lit up with Christmas lights!

The Capilano Suspension Bridge is a totally iconic landmark in Vancouver and is always recommended as one of the top attractions to visit in BC. But, it’s an especially awesome thing to do in Vancouver in the winter! 

It’s a great place to visit in the winter because there are usually fewer tourists and visitors, so you can explore at your own pace and have some time there by yourself. You might even be able to get a solo picture on the suspension bridge (check me out in the picture above!)

And although snow is not guaranteed in Vancouver, there are usually a few days or weeks of snow. So, if you’re lucky enough to be there when it does, it’s pure magic!

The Capilano Suspension Bridge also offers the Canyon Lights show in the winter, which makes for a really special, beautiful evening out. At this time, you can visit in the evenings and see everything lit up in Christmas lights!

The price to visit Capilano Suspension Bridge is $73 CAD which includes a free shuttle from downtown as well as parking. You should buy your tickets in advance as there are limited ticket sales. You can purchase your tickets online here!

Of course, a lot of the best sightseeing tours in Vancouver also pay Capilano Suspension Bridge a visit. If this sounds more like your style, you can book this highly-rated full day tour. Besides visiting Capilano, your guide will also take you to the popular neighborhoods of Gastown, Granville, Island, and Chinatown. You’ll also visit the Vancouver lookout and Brockton Point Totem Pole.

On the tour, your guide will provide tons of info so you can learn all about the area. Transport is completely taken care of as is your admission to Capilano Suspension Bridge and the Vancouver Lookout. This tour lasts for 6.5 hour and costs only $167 CAD per person. It’s a great way to see a ton in Vancouver in a short amount of time! You can read all about it and reserve easily online here!

If you still aren’t sure if you’d like to visit, you can read our honest review of the Capilano Suspension Bridge to see if it’s worth it for you.

4. Watch a hockey game

Vancouver Canucks in action at Rogers Arena
The Vancouver Canucks aren’t my team (go Oilers!) but I still love to watch hockey!

Okay, I know I said skiing was the quintessential Canadian experience, but I was wrong. Hockey is! When in Vancouver, you’ve got to catch a game and see the Vancouver Canucks in action at the Rogers Arena!

The Vancouver Canucks usually play a few times a week throughout the season when they are in town. Prices can vary with the day of the week and the location of your seat making the biggest difference. But whether you are up close to the ice or way at the back of the arena, grab a beer and hot dog and enjoy the game!

Getting tickets to an NHL game can be hard. My best advice is to buy tickets online here through the trusted booking system Viator. You can easily choose seats within your budget and know that you are purchasing legit tickets.

Alternatively, you can try Stub Hub for second-hand tickets or local Facebook groups such as Vancouver Marketplace (although risky if you have no experience buying them safely.)

If there are two Canadian teams playing such as the Oilers (my team) vs Canucks tickets are very hard to get. Look for games against USA teams. Tickets are also harder to find when the Canucks are having a good season and winning a lot.

5. Head to Whistler 

Whistler Village in winter
The gorgeous Whistler Village! Photo credit: Mardzpe Depositphotos

Ready for a road trip? Whistler is a two-hour drive away from Vancouver on the famous Sea to Sky Highway and is an amazing place to explore in the winter. Besides skiing and snowboarding, there are so many other amazing things to do in Whistler in winter

Whistler Village is fun to explore, with tons of great shops, restaurants, and bars. There are also fun cultural attractions and museums if you want to escape the cold indoors.

Whistler has outdoor activities galore and luxurious hotels and spas to indulge in. If you’re lucky enough to be visiting Whistler in December, then you can check out a range of festive events too!

One thing I recommended doing while in Whistler is visiting Scandinave Spa Whistler. It’s the perfect place to relax on a cold winter’s day.

Or, try an adventure activity such as snowmobiling! This snowmobiling experience is one of the most raved-about experiences in Whistler. You’re guide will take you on a three hour tour through the mountains, across frozen lakes, and even to the 2010 Olympics location. The tour includes instructions, all safety gear, and an expert guide for $282 CAD.

Another great option is this zipline tour. Yes, that’s right, you can zipline even in the snow here in Whistler. This particular experience operates all year around (sun, rain, or snow!) and it easily one of the best tours in Whistler. It costs $157 CAD and only lasts for 2.5 hours, so you can spend the rest of your day exploring!

Whether you go for a day trip or spend a few nights, you’ll love your time in Whistler! 

Getting to Whistler:

You can either drive yourself to Whistler, take a shuttle, or go on an organized day trip from Vancouver.

If you don’t have your own car already but want the freedom of your own wheels, you can easily rent a car.

Alternatively, book this shuttle transport from Vancouver to Whistler. It’s important to note that the shuttles do take longer, so they are better for multi-day trips in Whistler as opposed to just a one-day trip.

A organized tour is likely your best option if you’re short on time. This particular full-day tour combines your trip to Whistler with the Sea to Sky Gondola ride. It costs $214 CAD and includes your Sea to Sky Gondola ticket, as well as all of your transportation, with live commentary on board which I always think is great for first-time visitors.

You’ll also have several hours of free time in Whistler so that you can explore independently and check out the cafes, boutiques, and attractions that most interest you. If you’re not all gondola-ed out, then we highly recommend the Peak 2 Peak gondola as well!

What we also love about this tour is the fact that it includes a stop at Shannon Falls to check out this awesome feat of nature. Plus, it has a maximum group size of 30 so it doesn’t feel like you’re part of a massive herd. It’s also very well organized and everything runs super smoothly, so you don’t waste time hanging around when you could be exploring! You can book this day trip from Vancouver to Whistler easily online here!

Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, for more info, read our detailed review about Viator here.

6. Enjoy all the lights 

Some of the lights at the Capilano Suspension Bridge in Vancouver during winter
These are just some of the other lights at the Capilano Suspension Bridge!

Checking out some awesome light displays is a fun way to get into the holiday spirit! Vancouver has a lot of different lights set up during the winter for you to enjoy.

Capilano Suspension Bridge is known as a summer attraction, but they put on a pretty impressive light show during the winter. I went a few years ago and loved it. The bridge is much quieter at night and the lights are spectacular!

My favorite though is the Granville Island Festive Lights held every year from the start of November until the new year from 4 pm to 10 pm. It’s completely free to visit too.

The Stanley Park Bright Nights is a fun, family-friendly event to check out. You can go for a train ride and see some magical light displays. After, grab something hot to drink, check out the stalls to buy seasonal gifts, and just enjoy the festive environment! The price to attend is $10 CAD and it’s easily one of the best things to do in Stanley Park.

Finally, you can always spend some time driving around the streets of Vancouver, or even walk in a nearby neighborhood to enjoy the lights on houses and businesses! We Canadians really love Christmas lights, and you’re sure to see this as you drive around both downtown Vancouver and through suburban neighborhoods.

Related read: check out all of the best things to do on Granville Island

7. Explore Science World 

A animal display at Science World, Vancouver
There’s lots of see in Science World.

It’s no secret, but Vancouver can get pretty rainy during the winter months. So, when you need an inside day, head to Science World! It is immediately recognizable from its unique spherical shape that dominates the Vancouver skyline in False Creek. 

They have tons of interesting exhibits and shows about all things science. They have a lot of child-orientated activities so it’s a fun place to bring the family!

Science World is easily accessible by the SkyTrain (close to the Main Street station) and it costs $25 CAD to enter.

8.  Go snowshoeing 

Dog Mountain Trail near Vancouver in winter
Winter shouldn’t stop you from hiking Dog Mountain!

Vancouverites love to hike and there are a ton of awesome options in and around the city. Well, that same love for hiking can easily carry over into the winter with snowshoeing!

Snowshoeing is a fun winter activity and a great way to get some exercise. Both Seymour and Cypress mountains have extensive trail options that are well-marked and are good for all fitness and experience levels. Dog Mountain on Seymor is a very popular route that I’d recommend! 

If you don’t have your own, snowshoes can be rented from Yes Ski & Snowboard Rental Vancouver in the CBD for $20 CAD a day. They can also direct you to other trails and give you great tips.

Alternatively, go on this guided snowshoe tour. The tour includes pick-up from your downtown Vancouver hotel and takes you up into the mountains where there is loads of snow! You’ll strap on your snowshoes and get instructions on how to walk in them before you set off.

This tour really is for anybody who can walk – if you can walk you can snowshoe! It also includes warm drinks and snacks, as well as plenty of commentary about the area and the culture of the Squamish First Nation. It lasts for about 4 hours and costs $97 CAD per person. You can read all about it and book online here!

9. Enjoy the winter wonderland that is Grouse Mountain 

Winter views from Grouse Mountain, Vancouver
Grouse Mountain at sunset in winter… just beautiful!

Grouse Mountain is called the “Peak of Vancouver” because it has epic views of the city, ocean, and surrounding mountains at the top. While it’s a popular place to go skiing and snowboarding, there are so many more things to do at Grouse

Every trip to Grouse will start with a gondola ride to the top or a grueling hike. From there, you can check out options to go snowshoeing, skating, ziplining, or just walk around and enjoy the views or through the magical light walk! 

Grouse has a full-service restaurant and cafe, so you can really make a day of it and enjoy this winter wonderland. 

It costs $80 CAD to ride the gondola to the top of Grouse Mountain, which is the only way to get up there unless you want to tackle the extremely hard uphill climb. You can book your Grouse Mountain Gondola tickets online here.

10. Ride on the hop-on-hop-off bus 

Vancouver hop-on-hop-off bus in Gastown
Getting off the hop-on-hop-off bus in Gastown!

Taking a Vancouver city tour on a hop-on-hop-off bus might mark you as a tourist in the city, but it is definitely one of the best ways to see a lot of Vancouver in a short amount of time for an affordable price!

Especially during the winter when it can be cold and rainy, you’ll appreciate a warm bus to travel in!

The Vancouver hop-on-hop-off bus pass is valid for 24 hours, allowing you to explore the city at your own pace. There are over 30 stops, including popular locations like Gastown, Chinatown, Stanley Park, or the Robson Shopping District. All buses are equipped with headsets and audio commentary so you can learn more about the city and what you’re seeing.

The price for the hop on hop off bus is $65 CAD, and this allows you to ride as much or as little as you want all day! Tickets are limited though, so you should book your spot online in advance here!

11. Explore the Vancouver Christmas Market 

Ready for a little taste of Germany in the middle of Vancouver? The Vancouver Christmas Market is inspired by the classic Christmas markets in Germany and Europe, with delicious food, festive music, and shopping. 

The Christmas Market is located at the Jack Poole Plaza and starts at $13 CAD for adults and $7 for kids (online only, prices at the gate are more expensive) to enter. Once inside, you can explore the many different stalls with treats and handicrafts. I highly recommend treating yourself to some Glühwein (mulled wine) and schnitzel!

The market typically opens on November 20 until December 24 between 11:30 am and 9:30 pm except on Christmas eve it’s only open until 6 pm. However, you should check the event’s specific dates every year.

Related Read: For more Christmas events, check out our blog about visiting Vancouver in December!

12. Explore Stanley Park

Wandering Stanley Park while its raining in Vancouver
Walking in Stanley Park!

No trip to Vancouver is complete without spending at least some time in Stanley Park. This park is huge at 4km²/1.4mi ² and it’s located right in the heart of downtown! As you’d expect with such a large park, there are plenty of things to do in Stanley Park from walking the trails, golfing, visiting the brewery, bicycling, to visiting restaurants and the Vancouver Aquarium!

Although it is winter, Stanley Park is still open and accessible. Just do as the Canadians do, and wear a few layers. An umbrella is also handy during the rainy winter months in the city.

One of the best ways to explore Stanley Park is on a bicycle. Since the park is so large, it’s hard to get around the entire thing on foot, so a bike just makes sense!

The cycle trail around the Stanley Park Seawall is 12 kilometers/7.5 miles long and takes about 1.5 to 2 hours to cycle at a moderate pace. There are many different bicycle shops near the entrance to Stanley Park, where you can rent a bike. Expect to pay around $20 CAD for an hour-and-a-half rental.

You can also just join a bicycle tour in Stanley Park. Our pick is this particular bicycle tour that includes cycling around Stanley Park and going to a few other main attractions such as Gastown, Chinatown, and taking the Aqua Ferry over to Granville Island! And the best part? It is a full-day guided tour that doesn’t cost much more than you would pay for a bicycle rental for the day at only $88 CAD! You can book your spot on this tour here!

13. Wander the VanDusen Gardens

VanDusen Gardens lights during winter in Vancouver
The gorgeous VanDusen Gardens at night during winter in Vancouver!

The VanDusen Gardens are beautiful year-round, but they transform during the colder months and are one of the best things to do in Vancouver in winter.

During the winter months, the gardens transform into the magical Festival of Lights. All 10 acres of the gardens are decorated with over 1 million lights! There are themed light displays throughout the gardens with festive music playing in the background.

It’s a truly magical experience and a great way to get into the holiday spirit! The price is $14 CAD to enter the gardens.

14. Go snowtubing

Gnarly's Tube Park at Cypress Mountain
Gnarly’s Tube Park at Cypress Mountain. Photo credit: Cypress Mountain Resort

Vancouver is surrounded by local mountains and is a fun playground for residents and visitors alike. You can always go skiing or snowboarding, but if you’re looking for something that is all fun and requires no skill, try snow tubing!

Cypress Mountain has great snow tubing at Gnarly’s Tube Park that adults and kids alike will enjoy. Snowtubing is like tobogganing, but even more fun and comfortable in the big, comfy tubes. After you experience the thrill of rushing downhill at who-knows-how-many miles per hour, you can link the tube to a conveyer belt to pull you right back up.

Cypress is located in North Vancouver, about 30-45 minutes from downtown Vancouver. The price of the tubing is announced every year so be sure to check before you go.

Related read: Snow tubing is also one of best things to do in Calgary in winter!

15. Ride in a sleigh 

Grouse Mountain is called the “Peak of Vancouver” because of its epic views out around the city. It’s a wonderful place to visit with a bunch of fun wintertime activities. Going on a sleigh ride up at the top of Grouse Mountain is an experience like no other.

Admission to Grouse Mountain is around $80 CAD and includes the gondola to the top along with a sleigh ride to enjoy the wintery wonderland that is Grouse. You’ll be able to watch the downhill skiers do their thing, view some spectacular scenery, and hopefully see some wildlife! After your sleigh ride, you can head to the cafe or restaurant to get a bite to eat and drink and warm up. 

Be sure to go on a clear day as half the fun at Grouse Mountain are the views! You can book your pass to Grouse mountain online here!

16. Go on a food tour 

Food on our food tour through Gastown in Vancouver

One of the best parts about visiting a new city is trying different kinds of food! Vancouver is an awesome city to visit restaurants and bars, so definitely spend some time checking out something new. Because it’s a very international city, there are so many different types of cuisines to try out. 

A food tour through Vancouver is one of the best ways to try some delicious bites but also see more of the city. This tour by Secret Food Tours through Vancouver is a great option and I myself joined the tour on a winter visit one time.

For $129 CAD, you can join a small group for 3-4 hours, eating your way through the city. You’ll get to try diverse dishes like poutine, ice cream, and a “secret” dish. On top of that, you’ll visit the hidden gems only locals know about and can return to them after the tour. The food tour is through Gastown, which is the oldest and trendiest part of Vancouver.

The guide will also provide lots of information about Vancouver’s culture, history, and food. Just make sure to bring an appetite – you’ll need it. It is a small group, so booking your spot online in advance here is required.

17. Explore Granville Island

Eating at the Granville Island Food Court
Eating a hotdog at Kaisereck Deli on Granville Island!

Granville Island is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Vancouver, and I totally understand why. It’s a great stop on your Vancouver itinerary any time of the year. Winter is a great time to visit Granville Island because it will be less crowded with tourists, making it easier to explore and see all the sites. 

You can read about all the best things to do on Granville Island before you go, but some of the highlights include visiting the public market, grabbing a beer at the brewery, and browsing the many shops and art galleries.

Thanks to Vancouver’s mild winters, you can still enjoy the scenery by taking a walk and watching boats in the marina. To warm up, you can visit one of the excellent restaurants for a bite to eat and drink.

Of course, the Granville Island Public Market is one of the main attractions here. Luckily, it is an indoor market, so you can enjoy it as much as you want in the winter! While you can explore by yourself, there’s something great about taking this VIP market tour – especially if it’s your first time here. You’ll be shown around the market in a small group and get to taste some of the delights from the market’s best spots!

With so many vendors, it can be hard to choose what to try first. We’ve visited Granville Island Market countless times and have still not managed to try everything! 

This tour starts at 10:30 am and lasts for two hours, so it basically is like brunch and lunch combined! You’ll have an expert local guide along to tour you around the market as you sample at least 20 of the best culinary delights on offer. Think fluffy doughnuts, truffle salami, fine cheeses, chocolate, and even Thai food. My mouth is watering already!

This tour costs $186 CAD including all of the food you’ll sample. It has rave reviews (you can read our review here!) and is thought to be one of the best culinary experiences on Granville Island! In fact, it’s even received the designation as a Canadian Signature Experiences tour which basically means it has the tourism stamp of approval as an authentic Canadian travel experience. You can book your spot on this market tour online here!

Related Read: There are also some great tours on Granville Island with options for all seasons!

18. See Vancouver from above 

View of Stanley Park from a sea plane
Stanley Park is a highlight!

Vancouver is a beautiful city, with great views of the ocean and mountains from everywhere. But, it’s a whole other experience getting a birds-eye view over the city from up in the air! This Vancouver seaplane tour is guaranteed to be an epic, once-in-a-lifetime adventure!

The tour is about 30 minutes and will take you soaring up above the city of Vancouver, with epic views of the harbor, downtown city, and mountain peaks. The take-off and landing on the water are also pretty fun, and if you haven’t done it before, be prepared to get the heart racing!

Honestly, a seaplane tour in Vancouver was one of my most memorable experiences in the city.

The price for this tour is $167 CAD and is totally worth the splurge. You’ll be talking for days about this unique experience. And yes, this tour is totally doable in the winter months too! You can book your spot online here!

19. Go hiking

Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge
Seriously, Lynn Canyon is so beautiful!

When in Vancouver, do as the locals do and get outside! Hiking (year-round) is a popular outdoor activity in and around the city, and is a great option to explore some of the natural beauty while getting exercise! Plus, almost all of the parks in and around Vancouver are free to visit.

Because Vancouver has a mild climate, a lot of the low-elevation hikes can be done year-round without worrying about snow and ice. But, once you get up into the mountains – which is worth it for the views! – you’ll need to get some snowshoes. 

We have a whole roundup of some of the best hikes in Vancouver to get you started. However, one of my favorites is Lynn Canyon. Not as many people know about Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge when compared with Capilano, however, this one is free and, better yet, accessible by a gorgeous hike through the forest.

This one-way loop hike will take about 1.5 hours and is a fairly easy Vancouver hike. Due to its low elevation, you can enjoy it year-round. You will start at the parking lot of the Regional Park, and walk past the yellow gate towards Lynn Creek. You’ll then walk over the suspension bridge, so make sure to snap some pics and enjoy the water rushing under your feet.

The only downside to Lynn Canyon is that it is a little tricky to get there if you don’t have a car. Without a car, your best best is to join this Lynn Canyon tour that includes transport.

Some other great hikes with a low elevation include Quarry Rock over in Deep Cove, Stanley Park and Seawall, and the Fort-to-Fort Trail.

20. Try out Fat Biking

Bike riding in the snow in winter in Canada
Fat biking makes getting through the snow much easier!

First of all… just what is fat biking? A fat bike is a bike outfitted with large, oversized (i.e. fat) tires and rims. This allows the bike to be taken out on all kinds of different terrains. Fat biking is the perfect activity to try during the winter because you can cycle in the snow! 

If you know how to ride a bike, you know how to ride a fat bike! So, why not try out this fun activity and go for a snowy bike ride while visiting Vancouver in the winter. 

This fat biking is still gaining popularity in Vancouver, unlike in Canmore where it’s one of the best things to do in Winter. So, you have to do a bit of planning to find somewhere to try it. The main place to go fat biking is Squamish, which is about a 1.5-hour drive from Vancouver. Here, there are places to rent fat bikes, and an extensive network of trails to explore! If you’ve never tried it before, be careful, as it is a bit slippery and takes some practice. 

21. Go for a “Polar Bear Swim” 

So it’s winter in Vancouver – time for a swim in the ocean, right? I’m serious, though! There is a whole network of brave individuals who go for a swim in the ocean on New Year’s Day every single year. It’s called the Polar Bear Swim, and it’s definitely an experience to remember! 

If you’re not in Vancouver on January 1 to join the thousands of brave (or crazy?!) individuals, you can always test out your nerves and go for a swim on your own! Vancouver has some excellent city beaches like English Bay or Locarno Beach to give you a freezing cold wake-up swim.

22. Hit up a Cross country ski trail

Cross country skiing in Canada
Going uphill sure works those legs!

While downhill skiing might be the most popular wintertime activity, both in Vancouver and around the country, cross country skiing is another fun way to get outside during winter. Cross country skiing is also more accessible, as it is easier to learn and not as expensive as downhill skiing. 

A few of the local mountains have cross-country ski trails, but one of the best places to try the sport is Cypress Mountain’s Nordic Area. Here they have 19km of groomed trails, 7.5km of which are open for night skiing! There are also skiing lessons for beginners and on-site rentals. 

23. Breweries, breweries, and more breweries

Daniel and Bailey enjoy craft beer at Stanley Park Brewing in Vancouver
Just enjoying a pint at Stanley Park Brewing!

Despite Vancouver’s mild climate, you’re likely going to hit some cold and rainy days while visiting Vancouver in winter. What better way to warm up than visiting a brewery?

Vancouver is a hot spot for local, craft breweries, and there are honestly so many to choose from. If you’re new to the city or only here for a short time, we highly recommend joining a Vancouver brewery tour or reading our breakdown of the best Vancouver breweries to help narrow it down!

Some popular areas of the city to check out breweries include Main Street (Brassneck Brewery, 33 Acres Brewery, or Faculty Brewing Co.), Granville Island (Granville Island Brewing), Port Moody (Yellow Dog Brewing, The Parkside Brewery, Twin Sails Brewing, Moody Ales), or East Vancouver (Storm Brewing, Andina Brewing, Off The Rail Brewing). This honestly just scratches the surface – breweries are all over the city!

If you are a true beer lover and want some expert advice, you can join a beer tour such as this one. For $125 CAD, you can explore the Vancouver beer scene with a small group of new friends. Transportation, beer, behind-the-scenes tours, and a souvenir are all included! 

Related read: Want to know how to spend 1 day in Vancouver? Then check out our guide!

24. Visit the Fraser Valley on a wine tour 

the outside of Backyard Vineyards in the Fraser Valley
Let’s hit up the tasting room!
two glasses of samples of wine in Backyard Vineyards in the Fraser Valley
Are you more of a red or white person?

You’ve hit up some of the breweries in Vancouver, so time to switch gears and try some local wine. The Fraser Valley is a region located east of Vancouver, about an hour’s drive away. This agricultural region is home to some amazing vineyards and wineries. Joining a tour like this one is the perfect way to explore the area and try some delicious local wine!

The full-day tour includes hotel pick-up, transportation between wineries, and lots of great information about the wine-making process – you’ll even get a behind the scenes tour! And, of course, there will be lots of wine to try and bring home for later. Although the vines will be bare, the wine will still be flowing!

This tour costs $180 CAD and lasts for about 6 hours. The tour includes plenty of wine samples, transport, your guide, as well as lunch and snacks along the way. You book your spot online here!

Related Read: Although typically a summer activity, visiting wineries is still one of the best things to do in Kelowna in the winter months with most wineries open all year around! You can easily drive from Vancouver to Kelowna.

25. Go Shopping 

Shopping is both the perfect indoor activity for a winter day, but also a great seasonal activity, especially around the December holiday season. Luckily, there are tons of great options to go shopping in Vancouver!

If you’re a fan of high-end shops, visit Robson Street in downtown Vancouver, where many of them are located. There are also local stores here like Roots or popular chains such as Zara. If you prefer shopping in malls, Pacific Centre in Vancouver or Metrotown in nearby Burnaby are large malls with tons of options. Finally, you can check out outlet malls like McArthurGlen to score some deals. 

If you are in Vancouver after Christmas, make sure to check out the many, many Boxing Day and Week sales! You’ll definitely find something to buy as a gift or souvenir at a great deal!

Related Read: If you love to shop, be sure to visit the West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton, Alberta. It’s the biggest mall in Canada!

26. Explore the Vancouver Aquarium

A seal show at the Vancouver Aquarium
Entry isn’t cheap but all the shows are free!

The Vancouver Aquarium has been a mainstay attraction in Vancouver since 1956. Today, it houses over 65,000 different animals, with everything from fish, octopus, alligators, sea urchins, otters, seals, and even sea lions!

The Aquarium is committed to education and conservation, so they have an extensive marine mammal rescue program. It’s a family-friendly destination with tons of programs aimed towards children and adults alike to learn and explore all the amazing marine life. A visit to the Aquarium is $42 CAD per adult or $26.25 CAD per child.

And, of course, the Aquarium is the perfect place to go on a winter afternoon, as it’s warm and dry and offers hours of entertainment. If you’ll be in Vancouver for a while, consider a member pass to save money and go multiple times.

27. Eat fresh seafood

Close up of Lobster Roll from The Lobster Man, Granville Island
Lobster Roll from The Lobster Man!
Close up of Lobster Roll from The Lobster Man, Granville Island

As a coastal city, there are so many good seafood restaurants in Vancouver. It’s definitely worth prioritizing while in the city because it’s pretty hard to beat! Even just sushi – which you can find on every street corner – is fresh, cheap, and delicious. 

If you want to really experience some amazing seafood, you can check out some of the popular restaurants such as Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House, an upscale oyster bar and seafood bar, or the Captain’s Boil, for lobster and shellfish! 

For something a little less fancy, grab a lobster roll from the Lobster Man on Granville Island! Trust us, you won’t be disappointed.

If you want to see where all these amazing fresh fish is caught, Steveston (Richmond) is a cool area located along the water. You can walk down Fisherman’s wharf and actually see all the daily catches!

28. Day trip to Squamish 

The Sea to Sky gondola in winter
The gondola takes you up really high and there’s even this huge suspension bridge at the top! Photo credit – Sea to Sky Gondola

Squamish is a city located north of Vancouver and is a popular location for all things outdoors. It’s simply stunning and worth a day trip from Vancouver to visit!

You can drive yourself from Vancouver to Squamish along the epic Sea to Sky Highway, which is very scenic, and stop at the Sea to Sky Gondola located just outside of Squamish. Take the Gondola up to the top of a mountain and enjoy panoramic views, walking trails, and a cafe. You can purchase your gondola tickets online here.

If you don’t want to drive yourself, you can also join a tour! This specific private tour costs $600 CAD and will take you on a fun day adventure in Squamish. It provides all transportation and includes visits to Shannon Falls, the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, a ride on the gondola, and the Capilano Salmon Hatchery with lots of interesting commentary along the way! 

The truth is, there are plenty of fun things to do in Squamish, so be sure to check it out!

29. Sightsee at the Vancouver Lookout

Vancouver Lookout
Views from the Vancouver Lookout!

I don’t know how many times to say it – Vancouver is beautiful! So, naturally, you will want to take every opportunity to see the sights and enjoy the views. The Vancouver Lookout is the best way to do exactly that.

The Lookout is located right downtown, near the Vancouver Harbour. It opened back in 1877 and is 168 meters tall. You can access this view from a 40-second ride in a glass elevator, which in and of itself is pretty cool. The venue is also open for private gatherings and events, so you can dine in style.

It costs $18 CAD to visit the Vancouver Lookout and you can purchase your ticket online here.

30. Relax in a hot tub

After a few days of exploring Vancouver in the winter, you need a place to relax. So, get yourself to a spa in the city and chill out in a hot tub. The Fairmont Pacific Rim is an upscale hotel that has a large day spa as well as a heated outdoor pool and hot tub that you can soak in. 

Other options for a relaxing spa day include CHI, The Spa at Shangri-La or Sense, A Rosewood Spa. Many of the large hotels have spa services, so check them out and enjoy some peaceful R&R!  

31. Visit the Vancouver Art Gallery

Vancouver Art Gallery
Vancouver Art Gallery!

One of the best indoor activities in Vancouver to do on a winter afternoon is visit the Vancouver Art Gallery. Located in the heart of downtown Vancouver, this gallery houses some of the most amazing art collections. They have rotating exhibitions that often focus on local Canadian artists or commentaries on current events.

The Art Gallery is open daily and costs $24 CAD/adult to enter. If you happen to be around on a Tuesday night, you can actually enter by donation! Spend a few hours here and immerse yourself in the world of art.

32. Explore Canada on a simulated flight ride 

the outside of Flyover Canada in Vancouver
Ready to fly?! Photo Credit: FlyOver Canada

You might be in Vancouver, but did you know there’s a way to actually explore the whole country? FlyOver Canada is a simulated flight ride that gives you epic birds-eye views of Canada’s diverse and dramatic landscapes. The ride is eight minutes long and totally immersive. You are sitting in a seat that moves slightly over the screen, so you truly feel like you are flying.

From this “flight” you will see everything from the west to north to the east coast of Canada, including the plains of the Prairies, rivers, and lakes, and all the cities along the way. If Vancouver is your first stop in Canada, then this flight might be the perfect activity to help curate your Canada bucket list!

It costs $35 CAD for this epic experience. You can book it easily online here.

33. Learn all about historic Gastown

The Gastown Steam Clock in Gastown, Vancouver
The famous Gastown Steam Clock!

Gastown is one of the oldest, and most interesting, neighborhoods in Vancouver to explore. It is considered the historic heart of Vancouver and has beautiful cobblestone streets and architecture from the early twentieth century. It’s a place of history, but also a great place to eat, shop, and drink!

Luckily this historic neighborhood also has some of the best tours in Vancouver!

This Gastown walking tour is a great place to start exploring this neighborhood. You’ll learn all about the origins of Vancouver and all the juicy stories about what happened over 100 years ago. The tour is about 1.5 hours and costs only $38 CAD.

Where to Stay in Vancouver in Winter

Vancouver City from above
The beautiful Vancouver!

There are so many places to stay in Vancouver even I struggle to choose after over 15 visits to the city. I love staying close to Stanley Park on the West End but love the atmosphere of Gastown. Then there’s Yaletown, close to Granville Island and located on the beautiful harbor. I love walking the seawall here!

It’s safe to say you’re going to struggle to choose a great place to stay in Vancouver this winter, but I’ll try to narrow it down for you.

West End

The West End borders Stanley Park, is close to English Bay, and is still walking distance to the Granville Island ferry. It’s a downtown area that’s safe and inviting with lots of restaurants, bars, and cafes.

There’s not a lot for budget travelers in this area but those on a mid-range budget will love the Sonder at Revival. Or, those on a luxury budget The Westin Bayshore, Vancouver which overlooks Coal Harbour.


Gastown sits on the eastern side of the CBD not far from Coal Harbour. The area is best known for its amazing restaurants and bars but also its history. The area is also known to be a little rough around the edges but it’s safe and I often stay in this area.

If you’re on a budget The Cambie Hostel is in a great location with a social little bar attached to it. It’s also super convenient to book on either or

If you can spend a little more, stay at the EXchange Hotel Vancouver, or for luxury travelers, the Fairmont Pacific Rim is a top choice that sits on the border of Coal Harbor and Gastown.


Yaletown sits on the waterfront and is surrounded by green spaces. It’s arguably one of the nicest parts of the city and is close to the Granville Island ferry, David Lam Park, and Coopers Park. It’s a gorgeous area and the seawall is the perfect place to walk at sunset. Mainland Street, in the heart of Yaletown, is the perfect place to go for a drink and bite to eat and many of the best restaurants in Yaletown are located here.

For budget travelers, the Samesun Vancouver is the best choice. For the medium budget, I’d pick the GEC Granville Suites Downtown purely for its amazing location. Luxury travelers can have it all by staying at the Opus Hotel.

Other areas to stay in Vancouver include Coal Harbour (which I’ve kinda covered), and Mt Pleasant or Main street (not a great location in my opinion.)

For more detailed info on each area and the best hotels, read our blog about where to stay in Vancouver!

Getting Around Vancouver 

Aquabus or Water Taxi to Granville Island in Downtown Vancouver
This is a unique way to get around Vancouver!

Transportation and ease of navigating a new city are super important to consider when planning a trip. It will help you determine where to stay and what you’ll be able to visit while in the city. In Vancouver, there are a few different options for transportation in and around the city.


This is probably the best form of transportation if you want to explore anywhere outside of downtown Vancouver and participate in activities like hiking or skiing, which require getting a bit further away. Traffic in downtown Vancouver can be fairly busy, just like any city center.

There is ample parking available both on the streets and in parkades, though it can be expensive. Some hotels provide parking, so check ahead of time. 

If you can rent a car so you can explore Vancouver with ease! Just be prepared to pay for parking unless your hotel includes it.

Car share

A great option besides renting a car is using a car share service like Modo or Evo. These services allow you to rent a car and pay based on the time it’s used (i.e., pay for 30 minutes, two hours, or the full day, depending on how long you drive for).

You can pick up and drop off the car at specific checkpoints around the city and the best part is they get lots of free parking. This makes it super easy to use a car for just the time that you need it. 

Public transportation

Vancouver’s public transit system is not as extensive as many other major cities, but it is still a good way to get around to main attractions. The SkyTrain provides excellent access to some of the neighboring cities, such as Burnaby, New Westminster, or Surrey, so it offers a good option if you plan on exploring outside of downtown. It also runs from the airport, so again, a good option to get into the city from the airport. 

There are also many buses in the city that run frequently. Note that public transportation options are extremely limited overnight, with only a couple of night buses and no SkyTrian options after around 1:00 am. All public transportation is run by the company TransLink and is fairly affordable; a single trip costs $3.05, and a day pass costs $10.75 CAD.

Taxis and rideshares

Taxis are available throughout the city, as are Uber and Lyft. These are good options in the downtown core but can get pricey if you are going further outside of that region. For example, the taxi cost from YVR to Vancouver is about $30-50.


The Aquabus is one of the more unique ways to get around Vancouver. These small boats visit 8 locations in the harbor all the way from The Village to Granville Island. The Aquabus costs $17 for a full day pass or round trip tickets start at $3.85 but prices vary depending on the route you take. You can check out all their routes and prices here.

Walking and biking

Vancouver is a very walkable city, and it is possible to walk just about anywhere in the downtown core.

Biking is also a good option, as there are dedicated bike lanes throughout most of the city. You can rent bikes all over the city and pretty much ride everywhere you want to downtown. I love doing this, especially on a beautiful day!

Renting a Car in British Columbia

A rural road with Mt Currie in the background
Road trips are the best way to explore Canada!

If you’re arriving in British Columbia via plane, then I can’t recommend getting a rental car enough. British Columbia is a large province, and traveling between the best places to visit in BC requires transport. Although you can use public transport on some occasions, this means your trip will not only require more time but more planning.

Car rental in Canada isn’t relatively cheap, but it’s not that expensive either, especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with a pick-up and drop-off in different locations is around $100 CAD per day. The price does vary though, depending on the time of year. For car rentals, I use the website Discover Cars. It’s a search engine with lots of deals with good customer service. In fact, I’ve used Discover Cars all over the world, including in Chile, New Zealand, and Australia.

Another popular option is to rent a campervan or motorhome (only for the brave in winter.) Using Motorhome Republic, you can search hundreds of deals across multiple companies to pick a great vehicle and the cheapest price. Having a motorhome is a stunning way to see Canada, and using crown land and campsites, you can often camp for free or very cheap in the most beautiful places imaginable!

Thanks for reading!

Bailey at Lynn Canyon, Vancouver
Thanks for reading! Enjoy your time in Vancouver in winter!

While you may have to contend with a bit of rain in Vancouver, don’t let that scare you off. There are so many awesome things to do during the winter! Take advantage of the temperate climate and nearby mountains to explore this beautiful city. Vancouver is worth visiting at any time of year!

Thanks so much for reading! I hope this guide on the best things to do in Vancouver during winter has helped plan your upcoming trip. If it has, stay a while and check out more of my blogs such as:

How to plan the most romantic honeymoon in Vancouver

15 easy day hikes in Vancouver

Vancouver food tour review

The BEST Boat Cruises in Vancouver


Thursday 13th of January 2022

As a Vancouver local, I think there are a few places that you missed. Yaletown is great, lots of restaurants and by the Seawall. Coal Harbour is a prestige neighbourhood right by Stanley Park but everything shuts down at 9pm. The West End is steps to English Bay a beautiful beach with palm trees and feels like a vacation. Granville Street is where of most of the night clubs and bars are and is considered the centre of downtown Vancouver. Gastown is edgy but definitely be careful around Chinatown or stay away from Main & Hastings Street area. Main Street in Mount Pleasant (Main & Broadway) is super hipster with lots of restaurants, cafes & thrift shops. Kitsilano is a beach town also has a lot of shopping and restaurants! The Rosewood Hotel Georgia is voted one of the best in the world and Mode Hotel is a good budget hotel for a Yaletown location! Bring an umbrella ☔️ 😊


Thursday 13th of January 2022

Hey Syl!

Thanks so much for all that info! We have a lot to discover yet in Vancouver. I can't wait it is such a beautiful city!

I'll be sure to check out your suggestions and yes I should mention that people need to bring an umbrella!

Thanks Daniel


Wednesday 17th of November 2021

Wow! Very Informative! Thank You:D