Canada is an amazing destination that calls out to all adventure, arts, and shopping enthusiasts! While Canada is famously known to be cold, the climate varies across the country. The best time to visit Canada depends on what you’re planning to do since it’s a huge nation with 9 different climates. The main climates you should consider include the warm humid continental in places such as Calgary and Ottawa. That’s contrasted by the warm-summer temperatures in cities like Vancouver and Richmond. Colder and wetter conditions are common in places such as Québec City and Regina.
With so many choices, you should take your time on deciding where to and when you’ll be visiting to enjoy the best time to visit Canada. Find the options that suit you best with this guide by Travelstart.
Weather & Seasons
To skip the crowds and higher prices, the best time to visit Canada is during the autumn months (September-November). The weather will be cooling down, but it will still be comfortable. The summer crowds will disappear, prices will drop, and the changing foliage that autumn is famous for will provide you with a stunning backdrop for a holiday. During this season, you’ll have one of the best times to explore the national parks while witnessing the changing landscapes. Treat yourself to scenic train rides through breath-taking canyons. There are even a variety of festivals that occur during autumn, such as the Toronto International Film Festival. On the other hand, the cities of Canada experience a variety of weather conditions throughout the year that will offer other advantages.
Canada has four distinct seasons throughout its many regions. Summer in North America (varies across the country) is a popular choice for visitors. But if you’d rather avoid the huge volumes of tourists, this may not be the best time for you. All four seasons in Canada offer a range of appealing activities for you to enjoy.
Summer in Canada gives you the perfect time to explore the country’s adventurous destinations as well as its vibrant urban settings. The season begins in late-June and lasts through to late-September. In the eastern Canadian cities such as Toronto and Montréal, hot, humid weather often arrives earlier and lasts longer. On the West Coast, in places like British Columbia (BC) and Edmonton, summers are more moderate, with less humidity and cooler evenings. The northern cities such as Yellowknife and Whitehorse have cooler summers, but they are sunny and generally comfortable.
Autumn (or “fall”, as it’s known in Canada) is a wonderful time to visit. Cities of central and eastern Canada, such as Toronto and Québec City offer cooler temperatures and a welcome relief from the heat and humidity of summer. The season generally lasts from September through to November. The leaves of the trees begin changing into orange, red and yellow, providing you with a visual treat. The weather is still pleasant enough during these months, and ideal for outdoor activities such as hiking, camping and even whale watching. Even Vancouver is a great place to visit during autumn; September is one of the months the city’s frequent rainfall levels drop considerably lower.
The winter in Canada is long and cold throughout most of the country, except for the coastline of British Columbia, where temperatures are moderate with a little snow. Vancouver rarely gets snow or sub-zero temperatures, while Montréal and Toronto would already be freezing cold in December with temperatures reaching well below 0°C! Winter usually occurs from December to February. Winter starts early in the east though, as early as November, and can last through to late March or even early April. North of BC, the town of Whistler gets plenty of snow and is a top ski destination during as late as May.
The spring season for most of Canada takes place from generally from late-March to late-June. On the West Coast though, spring arrives early, in February, accompanied by the blooming of tulips and average temperatures above 0°C. If you visit during this season, make sure to check annual weather reports in advance. It isn’t unusual for a place like Canmore in Alberta to experience a massive snowstorm in May! April usually sees the last of the snow of the winter, except in the higher altitudes like Banff and Whistler. Both places, being popular ski destinations, don’t see the winter season end until May.
Average temperatures around Canada
Winter: 08:45 – 16:45
Winter in Canada usually gives you daytime hours that may last a little more than 8 hours. With shorter days, make sure you’re up early to take advantage of the daylight and enjoy skiing, before relaxing in the evenings with a hot delicious meal at one of the restaurants. In the Alberta province, daylight can be shorter than 8 hours, while Toronto gets more than 9 hours!
Summer: 05:00 – 22:00
If you’re hoping for longer days, summer is the best time to visit Canada. The weather conditions vary across the country. Should you be in Grand Prairie, you’ll get more than 17 hours of sunlight! Other cities around the country get around 15 and 16 hours of daylight – perfect conditions for outdoor adventures!
What to pack
With the numerous climates around Canada, you’ll need to be flexible with your options. Make your decisions based on where you plan to go. Assuming you pick to go during any one of the four seasons, here’s what you should pack:
- Layers for considerable increases and decreases in temperature
- Thick coats for the sub-zero conditions and snowfall
- Comfortable shoes for walking/hiking
- Camera and charger
- Water bottle
- Backpack for your hiking explorations/day trips
How much are flights to Canada?
High Season: December – February/June – August
It may come as a surprise, but summer and winter are expensive times to travel around Canada. Both seasons offer much to travellers, in terms of events and activities including skiing adventures and exploring the national parks. The ticket prices certainly show this! Expect to pay around 80% more than during the rest of the year.
Popular Season: March – May
Building up towards the summer, spring sees an increase in tourist volumes arriving in Canada. Many arrive ahead of the summer to ensure they get the best deals. If you’re set on visiting during these months, make sure to book your flights and accommodation well in advance. You can expect to pay 90% more than other times of the year.
Low Season: September – November
If you’re hoping for pleasant temperatures, fewer crowds and lower prices, autumn is the best time to visit Canada. Despite the decrease in tourist activity, events still take place around the country, and outdoor conditions are perfect for exploring. Expect to pay 80% less than during the high seasons.
Popular annual events in Canada
A plethora of exciting festivals is what you can look forward to no matter when you choose to visit Canada. The country is all about its entertainment arts, and there are several events celebrating this part of the nation’s heritage. From spectacular firework displays to exciting musical festivals, there will definitely be something for you to choose to enjoy while in Canada.
Winterlude: early- to mid-February
Canada may be notorious for its cold winters, but the locals celebrate it with this vibrant winter festival in Ottawa and Gatineau. Marvel at the incredible ice sculptures during the International Ice Carving Competition, enjoy a party in the Snowflake Kingdom or treat yourself to thrilling skating adventures at the famous Rideau Canal Skateway!
Canadian Tulip Festival: mid- to late-May
As the founder of the Gatineau and Ottawa festival, Malak Karsh said, the blooming of the tulips in Canada during spring brought “colour back into a very grey world”. During one of the finest times to visit Canada, you can enjoy amazing musical performances, admire exquisite artworks and feast your eyes on the Victoria Day Fireworks!
Montréal International Jazz Festival: late-June to early-July
According to the 2004 Guinness Book of World Records, the Montréal Jazz Festival is the largest jazz festival. Every year, it draws around 2.5 million visitors to Montréal. One of the best parts of the event is that roughly two-thirds of the concerts are free! Other music genres tend to feature during the festival, including rock, pop, and related genres such as blues and reggae.
Honda Celebration of Light: late-July to early-August
Who doesn’t love fireworks? You’ll be in for a treat with this fantastic musical fireworks competition in Vancouver. Save yourself a spot in advance. Teams from around the world compete, ensuring amazing displays as they try to outdo one another!
Toronto International Film Festival: early- to mid-September
Movie enthusiasts should make sure not to miss out on one of the most popular film festivals in the world! It’s the place to discover hidden gems that don’t get marketed as much as more well-known commercial movies. Rub shoulders with filmmakers and critics, and even movie stars, who appreciate the low-key vibe!
Is Canada next on your bucket list? With the best time to visit Canada taken care of, book cheap flights to Canada!