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ULTIMATE Guide to Visiting Vancouver in December

ULTIMATE Guide to Visiting Vancouver in December

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Vancouver, British Columbia is a busy urban center with tons to see and do and is famous for its stunning natural beauty surrounding the city.

One of the best things about Vancouver is that it’s one of those destinations that’s fun to visit at any time of the year.

But the truth is, Vancouver is especially exciting in the month of December. December marks the beginning of winter in Vancouver, and while that means rain and maybe even a little snow, there’s plenty to do in Vancouver in December.

There are plenty of exciting activities at this time of year. That, combined with all the fun festive events, makes Vancouver the perfect December destination.

So, if you’re planning to visit Vancouver this December, then you’re in luck. We’ve also visited Vancouver in December (a couple of different times) and are here to tell you all about why this is one of the best months! This blog is your ultimate guide to Vancouver in December including info on the weather, events, things to do, where to stay, and more!

Why Visit Vancouver in December

Winter views from Grouse Mountain, Vancouver

Vancouver is an amazing December destination because it has a milder winter than other Canadian cities. But at the same time, you can still expect a beautiful winter wonderland with plenty of fun December activities.

Not to mention, there are a ton of festive events you can experience in Vancouver in December! Anybody who loves the Christmas season will particularly enjoy Vancouver at this time of year. There are lights everywhere, holiday markets, and plenty of things to do to get you in the holiday spirit!

Vancouver in December Weather

view of mountains near vancouver in december
The winter weather in Vancouver in December is pretty mild.

In comparison to other Canadian cities, you get to experience a much milder December in Vancouver. That being said, temperatures still hover above freezing.

You can also expect a bit of rain. December is one of Vancouver’s rainiest months. Luckily, there are lots of things to do in Vancouver when it’s raining too.

The average temperature in Vancouver in December typically ranges between 37-45 degrees Fahrenheit (3-7 degrees Celsius).

Events in Vancouver in December

 Stanley Park Bright Nights
The Stanley Park Bright Nights! Photo credit: BrightNightsVan

One of the best things about visiting Vancouver in December is the number of events you can find around the city. From Christmas lights to markets and more, there’s a ton of festivities just waiting to be explored!

Granville Island Festive Lights

Granville Island Festive Lights is one of my absolute favorite events in Vancouver in December! Take a stroll through Granville Island’s expansive grounds (nearly 40 acres), and enjoy a relaxed evening without crowds among the lights, restaurants, bars, and taprooms.

It’s 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.

Related Read: Find out about all of the other fun free things to do in Vancouver in our blog!

Festival of Lights

Check out the Festival of Lights at VanDusen Botanical Garden where you can experience one million lights decorating 10 acres. Holiday music, unique light features, and themed areas all in a magical outdoor garden setting.

This event is held every year from early December until early January (it is Closed on Christmas) from 4 pm to 9:30 pm.

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. It’s one event I’d definitely add to your Vancouver itinerary!

Stanley Park Bright Nights

One of the best parts about exploring a new city during winter is all the seasonal, festive decorations! And Vancouver has some really awesome holiday light displays during the winter. 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.

Vancouver Aurora Winter Festival

Fairground rides, ice skating, a Yuletide market, sparkling illuminations, and so much more holiday fun to be had at the Aurora Winter Festival! They even have fun characters, like Jolly Old Elf, walking around. It’s Vancouver’s own winter wonderland!

The event is held at PNE, and 2021 dates have not been released yet!

Winter Solstice Festival

Winter Solstice Festival isn’t exactly a Christmas festival, but instead, it’s a celebration of the darkest day of the year and old-world traditions. There is lantern making, entertainment such as music and fire performances, and food vendors. Sometimes they also feature a ticketed candle-lit labyrinth to walk around.

The Winter Solstice Festival takes place December 21 at 2-3 different locations each year. In Yaletown, at Granville Island, and some years in Chinatown at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden. The event is mostly free, some venues may be ticketed and donations are encouraged.

Also, if you want to participate in the Lantern Festival the lanterns cost between $15-25 CAD and require advanced registration.

20 EPIC Things to do in Vancouver in December

1. Go for a “Polar Bear Swim” 

So it’s December 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 public beaches like English Bay or Locarno Beach to give you a freezing cold wake-up swim.

2.  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 winter months like December with snowshoeing!

Snowshoeing is a fun December 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.

3. Wander the VanDusen Gardens

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

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 December.

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! Anybody visiting Vancouver on a romantic couple’s trip, or even honeymoon, will love going for a stroll here hand-in-hand.

The price is $14 CAD to enter the gardens.

4. 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: Traveling across Canada? Read about all the best things to do in Calgary in winter!

5. 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 December activity, both in Vancouver and around the country, cross country skiing is another fun way to get outside in the cold winter month of December. 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 (11.8 miles) of groomed trails, 7.5km (4.6 miles) of which are open for night skiing! There are also skiing lessons for beginners and on-site rentals. 

6. Seaplane tour

Seaplane ride in vancouver
Ready for take off!

If you’re looking for a new perspective of Vancouver, this seaplane tour is the way to go! You will soar high up above the city of Vancouver, with scenic, panoramic views of the city and surrounding area. It’s a small group tour, with just 14 people, and will take 30 minutes. The tour costs $145.95 CAD and will depart from the Canada Place harbor at multiple times of the day (2:30 pm included!)

You can also use a seaplane as a mode of transport. Instead of driving from Vancouver to Whistler, you can take this flight which will drop you off in Whistler. There are tons of awesome things to do in Whistler too, so it’s well worth visiting for a couple of days.

7. Relax at the Spa

the steam camber at Miraj Hammam Spa in vancouver
The high-intensity steam camber at Miraj Hammam Spa. Photo Credit: Miraj Hammam

The most relaxing way to spend one of your days in Vancouver in December is by hitting the spa. There are a few great options in Vancouver where you can treat yourself to a relaxing massage or facial. Here are the top choices: 

CHI, The Spa (Most Luxurious)

CHI, The Spa is located in the Shangri-La Hotel, as mentioned earlier. They offer a variety or spas, facials, and body treatments. Because this is one of the most upscale hotels and spas, you should expect to spend at least $150-200 CAD on a massage. It will be worth it for the total bliss experience! 
 

Smile Thai Wellness (Most Budget-friendly)

Here you will have a touch of Thailand in the heart of Vancouver. Smile Thai Wellness offers a number of services including a relaxing Thai oil massage, Thai Herbal Spa Treatments, and Massages. Prices begin at $100 CAD for a 60-minute massage. They are located right downtown in the shopping district of Robson Street.  
 

Miraj Hammam Spa (Most Unique)

This hammam is a Middle Eastern spa and the first of its kind in Canada. All treatments at Miraj Hammam Spa start with a hammam (steam room) and then move to a gommage (full-body exfoliation). After, you can receive a relaxing massage and then chill out in the Sultana Lounge. The spa is very opulent and beautiful with velvet beds and silk pillows. Prices start at $100 CAD and it is located just across the Granville Street Bridge from downtown on West 6th Avenue.  

8. Visit the Capilano Suspension Bridge

On the Capilano Suspension Bridge at night during winter in Vancouver
The bridge is only part of the attraction. The treetop walk is so stunning, especially in December!

By far one of the most popular attractions in Vancouver is the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Here, you can cross a huge suspension bridge conquering any fear of heights.

But it isn’t just one bridge. In fact, there are a series of bridges here and it is a full tree canopy walk that takes at least an hour to explore properly. You’ll admire some amazing views and enjoy being up high amongst some huge Canadian pine trees. It is one of the most popular things to do in Vancouver in winter!

If you’re visiting Vancouver in December, then consider visiting the Capilano Suspension Bridge at night when they light it all up in Christmas lights. Not only is this a unique and festive activity, but it’s also beautiful and romantic too!

The Capilano Suspension Bridge is located about 15-20 minute drive from downtown Vancouver, but they do offer a free shuttle that departs regularly from a couple of different locations around Vancouver.

9. Head up to Grouse Mountain

View from Grouse Mountain at sunset.
View from Grouse Mountain in December at sunset. Photo Credit: BigStock

Vancouver is surrounded by numerous mountains, many of which are popular ski and snowboard hills. Grouse Mountain is called the “Peak of Vancouver” and has the most epic view of the city and surrounding areas. To get up to the top of the mountain, you can either hike the Grouse Grind (a very intense hike!) or take the Gondola up to the top.

Admission and the gondola costs $61 CAD. In December there are activities like skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing. There is an awesome restaurant and café at the top of the mountain, so you can grab a snack or drink while soaking in the amazing view of Vancouver, the ocean, and the surrounding mountains.

10. Go on a Brewery Tour

A photo of the front of Brewing Co in Gastown, Vancouver, Canada
Vancouver is filled with amazing places to try unique and delicious craft beer!

Despite Vancouver’s mild climate, you’re likely going to hit some cold and rainy days while visiting Vancouver in December. 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. 

I personally love Granville Island Brewing. Not only do they have great beer and are located on Granville Island (a must-visit place in Vancouver) they also offer brewery tours. Tours run every day throughout the day and cost $12 per person. This fee not only covers your guided tour of the brewery but also a tasting flight of beer at the end!

For real beer lovers though, you need to go to more than just one Vancouver brewery. This behind the scenes craft beer tour will take you to a handful of different breweries around the city where you can try tons of local beer. At each brewery, you will get a behind-the-scenes look at how the beer is made – a super cool tour if you ask me! Plus, it includes transport so you can drink as much as you want without having to worry about a designated driver.

11. Join a Food Tour

Food samples on our food tour through Gastown in Vancouver, Canada
Yum!

Foodies will love Vancouver because there is so much amazing food to try! However, it can be hard to know where to even start. A food tour will let you in on all of the best local spots for amazing food.

When we went on a food tour in Vancouver we tried everything from sushi to poutine to ice cream (and more!) Our guide was a Vancouver local who had a passion for food and was excited to show us all of his favorite restaurants that took him years to discover.

We went on our tour with Secret Food Tours. Overall, we really enjoyed the tour and it was pretty cheap compared to other food tours we’ve done around the world (we personally recommend these guys.) We ate so much food that we were stuffed for days (well, not really – but pretty close!)

However, there are a few different food tour companies to choose from. Booking online in advance is also a great idea during December which can be peak tourist times as tours have limited spaces!

12. Explore Granville Island

view of vancouver and granville island from above
Head across the bridge to Granvile Island!

No trip to Vancouver is complete without checking out Granville Island. For those who don’t know, Granville Island is a small island accessed by either boat or car right in the downtown area. On Granville Island, there are a few different things to do and explore, my personal favorite though is the markets.

The markets offer fresh produce, meat and fish, souvenirs, as well as many stalls where you can have a tasty meal. There is literally so much food at the Granville Island Markets; it’s a great place to go for lunch!

You can get to Granville Island with a taxi or bus, but the most popular (and most fun) way to get to Granville is riding the Aqua Bus Ferry from the city center.

The ferry runs continually throughout the day and will pick you up from a couple of different stops in the city and take you right to Granville Island. The ferry costs $5 and only accepts cash. Not only is it a method of public transport – it’s a fun thing to do on its own!

13. Laugh out loud at Vancouver Theatre Sports Improv 

an improv scene at Vancouver Theatresport on Granville Island
There are some great shows you don’t want to miss! Photo Credit: Vancouver Theatre Sports

Are you ready to laugh the night away? Vancouver Theatre Sports Improv Comedy in Granville Island has some of the funniest shows in the city. They have been Vancouver’s top improv comedy company since 1980.

Since all their shows are unscripted improv, you won’t ever see the same thing twice. The actors and comedians engage with the audience to come up with ideas for the show. It makes each show totally unique and you’re guaranteed to laugh until your sides hurt!  

Tickets are between $15-$25 CAD and you can sit in theatre seats or at a table. 

14. Go shopping on Granville Island!  

Some fruit for sale on Granville Island, Vancouver
Yum!

Granville Island is a unique shopping destination because it has so many local, unique, and quirky shops. This isn’t your typical mall shopping experience!

Some of the more interesting shops to check out include Beadworks (more crafting beads than you’ve ever seen in your life!), the Hamuhk Hangout Place (a designated hammock store with options from Mexico, Brazil, and Indonesia), or the Granville Island Broom Company (handcrafted brooms of all different designs). 

This is just the tip of the iceberg of all the fun and creative shops in Granville Island. There are also many stores that sell Indigenous artwork or products, and so you can take home a piece of history and culture. You shouldn’t have any issue picking out a special souvenir to take home from your stay in Vancouver!

15. Check out the Vancouver Lookout

Vancouver lookout at sunset
Vancouver Lookout at sunset

The Vancouver Lookout is one of the best places to enjoy views of Vancouver’s skyline. Go up into the clouds 169m (559ft) above Vancouver and enjoy the panoramic views during the day, night, or at sunset!

To get to the top, you’ll jump into a glass elevator and take a 40-second ride up to the top viewing deck where you can see Vancouver from up above!

The Lookout is open from 9 am to 9 pm in the winter and from 8:30 am to 10:30 pm in the summer. It costs $18.25 for an adult. If you’re planning a special event you can also rent the space for weddings or events.

16. Vancouver Aquarium

A whale at the Vancouver Aquarium swims up to the glass
Look at that whale! Photo Credit: BigStock

Being on the coast, Vancouver sees its fair share of sea life. But it isn’t always easy to find these guys in the wild (especially in December) – that’s where an aquarium comes in!

The Vancouver Aquarium has more than 60,000 aquatic creatures including sea lions, dolphins, and whales. They have daily shows including the dolphin feeding and an IMAX presentation.

What I like most about the Vancouver Aquarium is that they are a conservation project. It’s actually a non-profit so your entrance fee goes towards a few really neat projects to help protect sea life!

Admission is $38 CAD for an adult, but you can often get a better deal booking online.

17. Go Wine Tasting in the Fraser Valley

About the taste wines in the Fraser Valley near Vancouver, Canada
About to taste wines in the Fraser Valley near Vancouver, Canada

This is one of my personal favorite activities to do in Vancouver in December! Anyone who knows me knows that I love wine, and the only thing I love more than wine is wine tours!

The Fraser Valley just outside of Vancouver is a beautiful wine region producing some really tasty wines. A wine tour to the Fraser Valley will take you around to some of the best wineries and you get to taste all of the wine for yourself! Sounds like a good day if you ask me!

This Fraser Valley Wine tour is a five-hour tour that takes you to five different wineries where you can try a variety of boutique wines. The tour will pick you up and drop you off at your Vancouver hotel so all you have to worry about is having a brilliant day!

18.  Visit a ski mountain

Lining up at the ski lift at Grouse Mountain
Lining up at the ski lift at Grouse Mountain

In December, you need to go skiing or snowboarding! The most popular and closest places for hitting the slopes in Vancouver include Mt Seymour, Cypress Mountain, and Grouse Mountain. You can rent gear and even just get a day pass if you only want to spend one day.

I personally really enjoyed walking the trails from the top of Mt Seymour. You can drive all the way to the top parking lot and then choose from a variety of different hiking trails from there. Mystery Lake is a great short hike that can be done in an hour or so!

19. 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 December 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.

20. 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 December. 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. 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 December day. Or, try an adventure activity such as snowmobiling or even ziplining!

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

Where to Stay in Vancouver in December

Vancouver City from above
Vancouver from above

Vancouver is one of the most popular cities in Canada. If you’re planning a trip in December the city books up in advance very fast! Booking your hotel or hostel well in advance is the only way to secure the best place to stay for you!

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

Some great hotels and hostels in Vancouver that we love are:

The Cambie Hostel Gastown – This budget hostel is an overall good budget choice. The location is in the heart of Gastown and close to lots of bars and restaurants and attached to the hostel is a very lively bar too. The rooms are clean but the bathrooms are a little cramped. It’s perfect for backpackers on a budget and is considerably cheaper than others offering comparable quality.

Times Square Suites – For a beautiful hotel close to Stanley Park you can’t go past the Times Square Hotel. It’s very hard to fault this hotel and the location is perfect. It is a good mix between being affordable as well as a very nice hotel.

Hyatt Regency Vancouver – For those wanting the perfect location halfway between Stanley Park and Gastown, the Hyatt Regency is a perfect choice. As you can imagine, it’s a luxury stay in a large hotel chain that is highly reviewed!

Click here to browse all hotels in Vancouver!

For more detailed information about the best areas to stay in Vancouver and the best hotels, read our blog about where to stay in Vancouver!

Getting Around Vancouver in December

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

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.

Driving

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.

Aquabus

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

You may not want to walk too much in the chilly month of December, but Vancouver is a very walkable city. It is very possible to walk just about anywhere in the downtown core.

Biking is also a good option (weather dependent), 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

Winter road in British Columbia, Canada
Get out and explore in a rental car. The views from the road are just as amazing as the destination!

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 cities and even just getting out to the best attractions within them 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 is relatively cheap especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with a pickup and drop-off in different locations is around $70 CAD per day. The price does vary though depending on the time of year. For car rentals, I use the website Rental Cars.com. It’s a search engine with lots of deals with good customer service. In fact, I’ve used Rental Cars.com 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!

Canada Winter Travel Essentials

A lady all dressed up in winter gear in Canada
All rugged up and ready to explore!

If you’re planning to visit Canada in winter then there are a few things you should pack – things we never travel without. Some you may already have, but others you may want to pick up before you leave. This is especially true if you want to enjoy some of the best outdoor activities!

Here are some of our must-have winter essentials:

Crampons/ Ice Cleats: This is the one item I have that I use so much. If you love the outdoors and enjoy short walks and hikes, crampons are a must! The best part is, the pair that I own is only $29 CAD. They aren’t the best pair out there but they’re perfect for the everyday explorer/traveler.

Insulated water bottle: In the summer you want to keep your water cold but in winter, you want to keep it from freezing. That’s why I always carry an insulated water bottle. This Iron Flask Water Bottle is perfect because it doubles as a thermos so it’s great for carrying hot water for those winter hot chocolates! I have the 32-ounce bottle in pink but I wish I had one of the multi-colored bottles!

Merino wool socks: Cold feet can ruin your time exploring the great outdoors during winter. Please do yourself a favor and get a good quality pair of socks. Even just one pair with come in handy but I myself carry three of these COZIA Wool Socks. They’re 80% Merino wool and really warm. The best part is they are only $15 each! When I’m skiing I can even double them up if it’s -30 °C.

Thermal layers: Staying warm begins from your first layer. Life outside during the Candian winter is much more comfortable with thermal layers. There are a lot of great products in this space but look out for Merino wool products – they’re the best in my opinion!

Ski Gloves: Did you know ski resorts in Canada don’t rent gloves? That means you’re going to need to bring your own. I get really cold hands so I love these new heated rechargeable gloves. They keep your hands warm in the coldest temperatures. Although expensive, you’ll never wear another pair of gloves again.

Polarized sunglasses/ ski goggles: People often forget that on a sunny day in the mountains, the sun can really hurt your eyes when it reflects off the snow. For around town, check out these polarized sunglasses and for in the mountains these ski goggles.

Buff: I love my buff! Seriously, I go nowhere without it both in winter and summer. During the winter though, it’s perfect for keeping my nose and cheeks covered from the cold especially when skiing or hiking. There are a few brands around but I always buy the original Buff (you know, the one from Survivor!) They’re a little more expensive but the material is good quality and both breathable and quick drying.

Before you go…

skiing in the winter
Thanks for reading!

Vancouver is an awesome city with so much to see and do, even in December! I hope this guide to Vancouver in December helped you plan your future trip! If you need more specific help, just reach out to us!

Before you leave, make sure to check out some other blog posts about other Canadian cities such as:

Guide to visiting Fernie in December

Things to do in Radium Hot Springs, BC

30 EPIC things to do in Golden, BC

19 Events & Things to do in Calgary in December
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