Canada Winter Activities You Just Cannot Miss!

Instead of dreading that first snowfall in Canada, embrace the white stuff and take up a new hobby or sport. This post will give you all the ideas you need to enjoy these great winter activities in Canada.

So instead of hibernating this winter, enjoy the great outdoors in Canada. Don’t forget to bundle up!

Canadian winter can bring many a Canadian down. Most people trudge through the snow to work waiting for the first signs of spring.

Though some may prefer to hibernate, there are others who do not wish to fall prey to the boredom of cabin fever during the long winter season.

These are the best winter activities in Canada to make you embrace the snow!

Things to do in Canada Winter

The sense of fun coupled with the spirit of adventure of winter enthusiasts has given rise to diverse outdoor activities that are truly entertaining.

Hence, to experience the excitement of the Canadian winter, you need to participate in the following activities.

Canyoning

banff winter activities johnston canyon
Johnston Canyon Ice Walk

Alberta is one of the best places to visit in Canada in winter. There are so many ways to enjoy snow and ice.

The sub-zero chill freezes the canyons, caves and crevasses in the regions of Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper in Alberta.

Winter transforms these resort towns into gateways of icy wonderland. Climb the glistening canyon walls and walk across vast sheets of ice to explore the beauty of locations that are seemingly inaccessible during summer.

Places to Explore frozen canyons in Alberta

Dog Sledding

canada winter activities | dogsledding

Dog sledding is a legendary Canadian winter adventure.

It is so popular that you can go mushing in all thirteen Canadian provinces and territories. However, the sledding period is determined by the climatic variations across the country.

For instance, Whitehorse in Yukon enjoys dog dog sledding from November to March, whereas Quebec’s mushing season runs from January to March.

Where to go Dogsledding in Canada

Ice Climbing

ice climbing winter activities in canada

Ice climbing is gaining increasing popularity among winter thrill seekers. It is a challenging and vigorous activity that demands sound physical fitness.

If you feel the urge to scale new heights on frozen waterfalls and towering slopes of ice, head to the Canadian Rockies.

Where to go Ice Climbing in Canada

  • Canmore Alberta is considered one of the best places in the world to go ice climbing with Yamnuska Outdoors
  • Quebec also has some of the best ice climbing in Canada with Parc de la Chute-Montmorency and Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaieb being the popular choices.
  • The Ghost River Valley, Bow Valley, Stanley Headwall and IceFields Parkway in the Rockies have attracted climbers from across the globe to scale the glittering ice in picturesque surroundings.

Skiing and Snowboarding

canadian winter activities | snowboarding

Canada is blessed with some of the best locations for skiing and snowboarding in the world.

In addition to the beautiful snow-clad mountains, visitors can also check illustrious ski resorts that offer excellent accommodation and facilities that complement the outdoor fun.

Where to go Skiing and Snowboarding in Canada

You can have the best skiing and snowboarding experience between Alberta and British Columbia, on the west coast of Canada.

  • There are many places in British Columbia with the most popular being Whistler Blackcomb, Revelstoke, Sun Peaks, and Big White
  • Alberta is another great place for skiing with Lake Louise, Sunshine Village and Marmot Basin being the tops.
  • In eastern Canada, Quebec is the place of choice with Mont-Tremblant, Mont Saint Anne, and Le Massif being favourites.

Watching the Aurora Borealis

the best winter activities in canada | northern lights

The Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights, is a natural display of light in the night sky.

This phenomenon is only visible in the Northern Hemisphere.

The native Cree people called it “the dance of the spirits”.

It will cost you nothing to gaze at the beautiful Aurora Borealis.

Great Places to see the Northern Lights

Head to Yellowknife, Goose Bay, the shores of Hudson Bay in Manitoba, and the prairie provinces of Canada to get the best view of the Aurora Borealis.

Cross Country Skiing

Winter Activities Canada | Cross country skiing

Canadian cross country skiing (also known as “XC skiing”) is a sport as well as an entertaining activity.

Since its inception over a century ago, cross-country skiing has earned its reputation as a significant component in the national tourism industry.

Cheered by professional athletes and winter enthusiasts alike, this activity is well-suited for races and competitions as well as for family fun and leisure.

Moreover, it is inexpensive compared to mountain or alpine skiing.

Where to go Cross Country Skiing in Canada

When it comes to cross country skiing in Canada, you can do this anywhere during the winter months.

  • Popular cross-country skiing trails stretch from British Columbia to Nova Scotia, with branches extending into Yukon and Newfoundland.
  • Lappe Nordic Skiing Center and Stokely Creek Ski Touring Center in Ontario.
  • The Huberdeau Trails and Parc National de la Mauricie in Quebec are considered as prime cross-country skiing locations.

When visiting each province in Canada search for their groomed cross country ski trails.

Snowmobiling

outdoor winter adventures in canada. | snowmobiling

If your legs cannot take the strain of skiing, you can gear up for snowmobiling.

Over the past decades, snowmobiling has etched its mark among popular winter activities in Canada.

Though it is physically less challenging compared to skiing or snowboarding, you can enjoy the speed and adventure of riding a snowmobile (also called as “skidoo”) in the vast snowy terrain.

Where to go Snowmobiling in Canada

From Newfoundland to Vancouver, there are numerous trails that offer the perfect snowmobiling experience.

Canada has gone beyond short trails by constructing the Trans Canada Trail, which connects one part of the country to the other over a 21,500 kilometer long trail.

There is an amazing snowmobile route in Quebec that leaves Quebec City and goes north to the Hudson Bay.

We’ve explored the trails of Haliburton in Ontario and the backcountry of Whistler in BC.

Ice Fishing

things to do in canada in winter - ice fishing northern ontario
Catching our food for the night – Ice Fishing

As the temperature drops, the fishing action heats up across Canada.

Ice fishing presents a unique fishing experience to locals and visitors alike. Stepping on a frozen lake, drilling a hole in the icy water, inserting a fishing line and waiting in anticipation to catch a trophy fish can be a rewarding experience.

Depending on the region, you can fish for trout, walleye, northern pike, whitefish, black crappie, perch and lot more!

We tried our hand in Northern Ontario during a winter expedition.

Where to go Ice Fishing in Canada

  • Lake Simcoe (situated 60 miles north of Toronto) is popular among anglers.
  • Tobin Lake in Manitoba
  • Renforth New Brunswick
  • British Columbia and Quebec are also good for ice fishing.

Snowshoeing

things to do in canada winter | snowshoeing

Snowshoeing is a popular activity among families, couples and fitness enthusiasts.

The technique of snowshoeing is easy to learn and it is an inexpensive activity.

Plan a hike in the winter forest, snowshoe across frozen lakes and ascend mountain slopes.

As a bonus, it acts as a great workout too.

As a matter of fact, many walkers, runner,s and hikers are choosing snowshoeing as their preferred winter activity because it burns many calories.

Where to go Snowshoeing in Canada

The most famous snowshoeing destinations are Callaghan County in Whistler, The Canadian Rockies, and parks of Northern Ontario

We’ve gone snowshoeing in nearly every Canadian province and the great thing about this winter experience in Canada, is that anyone can do it. Just strap on some snowshoes and hit the trail.

Skating and playing Pond Hockey

canada outdoors in the winter | pond hockey

By late December, most of the lakes and ponds in Canada are frozen. Public skating rinks and ponds are present in almost all Canadian cities.

The best part is that skating in public rinks is absolutely free. You can also skate on the lakes and lagoons located in parks.

Whether you are gracefully sliding on the ice floor or playing a game of hockey, you are sure to have fun on the ice.

Just watch out for the ‘Thin Ice’ signs.

Where to go Ice Skating in Canada

To have a memorable skating experience in a public rink, visit the Rideau Canal in Ottawa, Ontario.

  • It is the biggest outdoor skating rink in the world and Canadians simply love to skate on this canal.
  • Winnipeg has the longest skating rink in the world on the Assiniboine River
  • Also check out the most beautiful outdoor skating rink on earth at Lake Louise for outdoor pond hockey.

Building a Quinzhee or Igloo

Winter things to do in canada Camping
Our tent set up.

Building a quinzhee from a pile of snow or constructing an igloo from blocks of ice with your friends and family can be a unique and fun-filled experience.

Though it would take you hours in the snow to build your own cozy quinzhee or igloo, there is an overwhelming blissful feeling of crawling inside and resting within one.

They also make ideal forts during snowball fights. Moreover, you can keep yourself warm in the freezing outdoors.

If that feels like to much, instead try camping in a prospectors tent complete with a wood stove.

Sleigh Rides

A Sleigh ride around Lake Louise is a great canadian winter activity
A Sleigh ride around Lake Louise.

One of the most romantic outdoor winter activities in Canada is to take a sleigh ride.

We have hopped on a sleigh from east to west across this great country, and each has been as magical as the other.

With hot chocolate in hand, a blanket on our laps and incredible northern scenery, it’s an experience you’ll never forget.

Where to go on a Sleigh Ride in Canada

Hot Springs

alberta travel ideas for canadian winter

After all those winter activities, warm up your bones at hot springs. Canadians love to sit in the outdoor hot tub.

Nothing is quite as magical as having the snowfall all around you as the steam rises from the hot bath.

Best Places to enjoy hot springs in Canada

  • Banff Hot Springs in Alberta
  • Harrison Hot Springs in British Columbia
  • Takhini Hot Pools in the Yukon

Visiting Canada in Winter? Read these articles to help make your travels more comfortable.

Traveling to Canada? See more information on Canadian winter experiences in these articles.

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Author Bio –

This post was originally written by Vinay Shingornikar of Flight Network. It has been rewritten and updated by The Planet D.

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Leave a Comment

31 thoughts on “Canada Winter Activities You Just Cannot Miss!”

  1. Thanks for sharing such amazing experience and pics with us. You encourage me to travel the Canada and I am now start saving money for that.

    Reply
  2. Everyone should experience ice fishing at least once! Did you catch anything when you went? Be careful about the ice though, especially in the shoulder season. Safety first!

    Reply
  3. This is great and I am really excited about traveling to Canada this winter from Colorado, however it seems like the border is closed to nearly all foreigners, likely all winter while US COVID numbers soar. Is there actually a way in for us, without the 2-week quarantine?

    Thanks, Jeff

    Reply
    • Colorado is amazing too! Yes, sadly the border is still closed, even for us we have a 2-week quarantine when we return. Dave and I are in quarantine now because we travelled to the Caribbean. It’s tough, but it keeps people safe, but hopefully with news of the vaccine, we will be opening up soon and will be able to welcome you to Canada!

      Reply
  4. Though all this sounds amazing, I would personally be best tempted by the “build you own Igloo” activity. It might be a little time-consuming, sure, but once finished you have the best refuge that will protect you against the cold and snowballs!

    Reply
    • It is definitely an interesting experience to camp in the winter. You have to be prepared for bathroom outings in the cold for sure!

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  5. I could not make it in fall2010 but I have planned for this fall to open in Canada and do all these fall activities but I like skiing most.

    Reply
  6. Canada is definitely a great place to celebrate winter. You may want to add visiting an ice hotel and winter camping as one of the most popular outdoor activities in Canada every winter. Hope to read more from you travels!

    Reply
  7. Did some snowshoeing at Grouse Mountain today in Vancouver – perfect conditions and for December 5th that’s pretty sweet.

    Skating on the Rideau Canal is one of the activities I miss most in eastern Canada. Grew up in Ottawa when winter seemed to last longer than now and would sometimes skate 18 miles in a day.

    I hear there is a downhill skating (yes you read that correctly) race at the Quebec winter carnival in Quebec City sometime in March. Now that’s what I call crazy.
    .-= Leigh´s last blog ..Photos of the Week- South Winchelsea Island- BC =-.

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  8. Canada is a wonderful place to travel. Having live there my whole life, I know that it’s as filled with trees, mountains and beauty as you see in the pictures. I recommend taking a trip there! Thanks for sharing.
    .-= Mary [email protected] White Rock BC Hotels´s last blog ..22 Years of Travel Experiences Creates a Special Retreat for the Business Traveller! =-.

    Reply
  9. You really make me miss the snow, Ill I ever get is rain living in Seattle now. Banff is on my to visit list for sure. You might even inspire me to make the trip this winter. The view from the top of the ski hill is amazing. We might get some snow around here this winter is what I have been told so Im just crossing my fingers.
    .-= Michael´s last blog ..How To Create A Budget for Your Travel in Just 3 Steps =-.

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  10. Snow shoeing sounds like such hard work. I am moving to the snow in Japan soon for the season so I am hoping to improve my snowboard skills. Can’t wait to get to Canada though great photos!

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  11. Never even thought to go night skiing. Sounds lovely! Thanks for the suggestion, Davendeb!
    .-= Tran´s last blog ..Traveling Guyana on a Budget =-.

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  12. I’m a Canadian, but I will never be a poster child for winter. The one time I went skiing I ended up head first in a snow bank after getting hit with the chair lift……….(laugh…I am:):)
    Maybe that’s why I have spent the last ten winters in SEA.
    Nice post for those who like winter. Actually, I would like to go dog sledding sometime.
    .-= Nancie´s last blog ..Through the Sandbox Lens 18 &8212 The Raffles Hotel- Singapore =-.

    Reply
    • Haha Nancie. That is awesome. Getting off the chair lift causes people a lot of grief. We have seen many a pile up happening at the end of the chair lift. We haven’t spent many winters here in the past few years and we miss the fun in the snow. We actually enjoy winter activities, the best thing to do is get out of the house. We were part of an outdoors group lead by our good friend Nani. In the summers we cycled together in the winters we snowshoed. There is nothing better then getting out in the woods after a fresh snowfall. But I totally understand you spending winters in SEA, they can be brutal too. There is nothing worse than scraping the ice off the window at 6:00 in the morning when you have to go to work.

      Reply
  13. Can’t wait. Bring on the snow! Though I must confess I wouldn’t might a little scuba diving in Fiji! 😉
    .-= Cam´s last blog ..Photo of the Week- Split Harbour- Croatia =-.

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  14. What a fun list. One more thing we’d add is tobogganing – or as we say on Nova Scotia’s Authentic Seacoast, coasting. A perfect way to spend a glorious winter day. Afterwards there’s puzzles and board games, enjoying time with friends and families during the winter months. Here’s a list of our top winter activities from DesBarres Manor Inn http://www.desbarresmanor.com/packages/wintergetaway.html

    Reply
    • Great suggestion! We used to always toboggan. I like that you call it coasting. Puzzles and games with hot chocolate is an amazing way to spend a day. Aw, now I am sorry we are missing Winter!

      Reply
  15. I’m not a huge fan of winter but I do enjoy night skating with a mug of hot chocolate and Baileys.
    .-= ayngelina´s last blog ..Is Colombian El Corral better than McDonald’s =-.

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    • Ooh, that is perfect. I do enjoy night skiing. There is something magical about hitting the slopes when the wind dies down and you are cutting some curves under the lights. The Baileys is always a bonus.

      Reply