Situated in British Columbia approximately 120 kilometres north of Vancouver, Whistler is a year-round holiday destination. Popular for hiking and mountain biking in summer, the area is home to beautiful lakes & stunning alpine woods. In winter, Whistler becomes a wonderland, blanketed in white snow, the village comes to life with a range of seasonal activities including skiing and snowboarding and attracts visitors from across the globe. Due to the large amount of skiable terrain, easily accessible location and plethora of activities available, Whistler is one of Canada’s most popular ski destinations.
Whistler offers visitors a vibrant village atmosphere, a selection of activities both on and off the slopes and is also well known internationally for its après-ski scene, with plenty of places to enjoy a drink after a day of adventure. For food-lovers, there is no shortage of restaurants to tantalise the tastebuds and there are enough options to try something new every night!
Whistler is home to two ski resorts, Whistler and Whistler Blackcomb and the area itself has three main neighbourhoods to choose from. Accommodation is spread between Creekside, Upper Village or Benchlands and Whistler Village, each area has its own vibe and perks depending on what kind of snow holiday you would like to enjoy.
Whistler offers a selection of ski in, ski out hotel options as well as budget hotels and luxury resorts. Visitors love Whistler’s Village Stroll, a great hub offering plenty of options to unwind after a day on the slopes. Whistler is popular among both locals and international visitors from all corners of the worldwide skiing community. Make sure to book nice and early over peak times, especially if you are dreaming of a white Whistler Christmas or enjoying the New Year.
Whistler and Whistler Blackcomb sit side by side and collectively they make up 8,171 acres; which is connected by a one of a kind peak-to-peak gondola. Whistler Blackcomb is North America’s largest skiable area, with over 240 runs, 37 lifts and 5 terrain parks that cater to all levels of skier or snowboarder. The peak-to-peak gondola can be also be accessed on foot, which is popular for non-skiers who don’t want to miss out on the incredible views from the summit!
Winter or more specifically the snow season runs between late November & late March in Whistler, boasting an average annual snowfall of almost 12 metres at the top and 4.3m down in the village, with January through to March being the highest snowfall months on average.
Compared to some other Canadian ski resorts, Whistler actually offers quite mild winter temperatures and is a great option to introduce people who don’t usually visit the snow to winter. Another great feature are the long runs, reaching up to 11kms top to bottom, you are sure to end with some solid leg burn! Both Whistler and Blackcomb are skiable on one lift pass, so patrons can ski the closest lift or choose to explore as much of the terrain as possible during their snow holiday.
Getting Around Whistler:
Fly into Vancouver International Airport located in British Columbia, Canada. From the airport it will be approx. 1.5hrs to Whistler Blackcomb. There are Shared and private shuttle services from Vancouver to Whistler, or visitors can choose to hire a car and drive themselves.
Once you are in Whistler, there are free winter shuttle services that run loops to major attractions and the ski lifts. Depending where you choose to stay, there are often restaurants, bard and shops within walking distance.
Things to do in Whistler:
There is plenty to entertain and excite visitors around Whistler. Obviously skiing and snowboarding are the most popular winter activities, but there is so much more to do during a visit.
Thrill seekers enjoy all the expected adventures, try cat skiing, ziplining, heli-skiing, dog sledding and snowmobiling or for something a little different head to the Whistler Sliding Centre and try your skills on the bobsleigh.
Whistler is a great place for families, with a selection of family friendly activities such as horse and sleigh rides, ice-skating and tubing. At night enjoy Vallea Lumina, a magical illuminated walk through the forest, a visual treat for all the whole family. Whistler Olympic Plaza also offers family après sessions during winter. On Sunday evenings, make sure to check out the Fire & Ice shows at the Whistler Plaza to watch skiers and snowboarders preform tricks through a flaming ring of fire! To top it all off, Whistler has fantastic ski schools and child-minding facilities available to allow parents time to enjoy themselves too.
If you are more into relaxation, unwind at the incredible Scandanave Spa, these outdoor Nordic inspired baths are a definite must-do to soothe aching muscles. There is also excellent shopping to be done in Whistler, from high-end boutiques and quirky gift shops to all the usual snow sports brands and department stores.
Avid skiers and snowboarders that want to optimise their time on the ski fields will love the Fresh Tracks program, get up early and indulge in a buffet breakfast at the Roundhouse Lodge before beating the crowds for the freshest snow. During peak times Fresh Tracks does sell out, with a limited number if spots available.
Best Après in Whistler:
Whistler village is a hive of activity, with a great selection of après options to suit all budgets and musical tastes.
An institution, The Longhorn Saloon has a large outdoor patio at base of the Whistler and Blackcomb gondolas. Longhorn has a country feel and is a great option for cold beer and snacks and all-day après. Another awesome Whistler après spot is Merlin’s, make sure to get their famous nachos and if you are daring join in for some tabletop dancing. Situated at the base of the Wizard chairlift, Merlin’s run fun themed nights and karaoke as well. Another awesome spot is the GLC (Garibaldi Lift Company), drink cold beer or margaritas and listen to live music, the GLC has an excitable buzz in the air.
For a more laid-back après option, head to Cinnamon Bear Bar which is located under the Hilton Whistler Resort & Spa. This pub style venue has pool tables and has large screen tv’s which makes it popular for sports fans. If you want to dance the night away, hit up the biggest nightclub in town – Garfinkles.
Best Restaurants in Whistler:
Whistler has so many quality dining options to choose from, its hard to know where to start! You can enjoy everything from incredibly cheap meal deals through to exquisite high-end fine dining.
If you are craving wings or like the sound of $6 meals, don’t miss El Furniture Warehouse. Not only is food exceptionally well-priced, they play great tunes, and the music isn’t overpowering so you can still mingle and chat easily. Another great budget friendly dining option is Crystal Lounge, located under the Crystal Lodge in the heart of Whistler Village, they offer live music, daily meal deals, extended happy ‘hour’ and excellent wings. There is something enticing about wood fire pizza in winter, we love Pizzeria Antico for rustic traditions pizza at an excellent price.
Japanese lovers should not miss Sushi Village, the food is incredibly fresh, and our team love the sake margaritas! Sushi Village is super popular, so we highly recommend going before you get too hungry but promise it’s worth the wait.
For fine dining, you can’t miss the Rim Rock. The restaurants moody, cosy atmosphere is accompanied by a high-quality menu, and are especially well known for their incredible seafood, melt in the mouth venison, extensive wine list and large cellar. Another fine dining favorite is the Barefoot Bistro, their tasting menu is a delightful dining experience and guests also love the exclusive champagne sabering in the wine cellar.
Note: These are the best restaurants in Whistler, from our Ski Experts perspective. If you think have a favourite option and think we should add it to the list – feel free to email us!
Whistler is one of Canada's most popular ski resorts, so it's probably no surprise that locals from close-by often visit for weekends at the snow. If you are trying to avoid lift lines we highly recommend skiing mid-week and then using weekends to experience off-mountain activites or relaxing. Another awesome option to beat the crowds is Whistlers 'Fresh Tracks' program, which allows the first 650 people access to the Whistler Blackcomb before the lifts open to everyone else. Tickets can be pre-purchased and then you take the Gondola between 7:15am and 8am to the Roadhouse Lodge for breakfast before hitting the slopes. Make sure to arrive early to avoid missing out.
If you are not a skier or snowboarder, Whislter still has plenty of activites to enjoy including a ride on the Peak2Peak Gondola. This record-breaking Gondola travels 4.4km and is the highest of it's kind. Enjoy breaktaking views from the top, without worrying about having to ski back down.
Another awesome must-do activity is the the mountain-top Fondue Dinner at Crystal Hut, take a snowmobile or snowcat to the top of the mountain and then indulge in a fondue overlooking Whistler.