Best Time to Visit Canada
Each of Canada’s four distinct seasons has its own special appeal – whether you want the warm, sunny days of summer for a self-drive odyssey sprinkled with wildlife watching; an autumn homage to fall colours, or a spring break to catch the blossom and bears. Even winter is a fine time to visit Canada. Just imagine mushing huskies through the Yukon under the glow of the northern lights…
When to visit Canada… at a glance
You can be almost certain to see polar bears in Canada’s Hudson Bay area in October and November. Every year the bears gather near the frontier town of Churchill as they wait for the bay to freeze over so that they can hunt seals across the ice. Alternatively, you can join an Arctic expedition voyage during the summer months (June to August) when it’s possible to see polar bears in the Canadian High Arctic.
Canada in spring (March-May)
Black and brown bears emerge from hibernation during spring; the cherry trees of British Columbia are blooming, along with tulips in Ontario. From May, it’s possible to see the first whales of the season, as well as icebergs drifting south along the Newfoundland coast. This time of year also offers fewer crowds and some great price savings.
Canada in summer (June-August)
Summer brings long days and the best weather. It’s the perfect time for independent exploration on a self-drive holiday. Humpback whales are busy feeding off the Newfoundland & Labrador coasts, as well as along the Inside Passage of British Columbia – where you can also spot orcas and grizzly bears. Wildlife lovers can swim with belugas in Hudson Bay during July, while expedition voyages head into the Canadian Arctic in search of polar wildlife.
Canada in autumn (September-November)
Early autumn offers mild days and fewer crowds, as well as the vivid spectacle of fall colours – from the golden yellows of the west to the scarlet maple forests of the east. Salmon spawning attracts grizzly and black bears to rivers and estuaries, while late autumn signals the return of polar bears to Churchill where large numbers gather, waiting for Hudson Bay to freeze over.
Canada in winter (December-February)
Winter snowfalls transforms alpine resorts like Whistler in British Columbia and Banff in Alberta into skiing meccas. Wilderness lovers can escape into the backcountry, dog-sledding or snow-shoeing in the Yukon or Northern Alberta where there is an excellent chance of witnessing the aurora borealis. Winter sports enthusiasts can also explore Ontario, Québec or the snow-covered Rockies.
Average daily temperatures in Toronto range from a high of around 22°C in July to -4°C in January. Quebec City has a more extreme range, while Newfoundland’s maritime climate moderates the summer highs. Over in West Canada, Vancouver has average daily temperatures of 17°C in July and 3°C in January. Calgary, meanwhile, ranges from around 16°C to -9°C.
The wettest place in Canada is Prince Rupert (around 2,500mm a year) where the temperate rainforest of British Columbia is influenced by humid air from the Pacific Ocean. However, it’s much drier along the west coast in summer than in winter. The Canadian interior and Arctic has low rainfall, while the Atlantic Provinces has around 1,250mm a year, distributed throughout the year.
- January or February: Quebec Winter Festival
- June and July: Festival de Jazz de Montreal
- July: Calgary Stampede