One of the most popular places to visit in Canada is Vancouver. It’s a city on the west coast of Canada and is a very popular cruise and tourist destination. With tons to see and do in the area, it’s no wonder Vancouver welcomes over 11 million visitors a year.
Besides being a massive stop for cruises, Vancouver is known for beaches, the great Canadian wilderness, and attractions close by Vancouver Island. However, no matter how nice it is, it’s still a part of Canada, and its shows in the weather.
Knowing when to go to Vancouver is half the battle of planning your trip. Ten months out of the year is the rainy season, and when it’s sunny, it’s packed with crowds and hefty price tags.
However, with a bit of planning and a lot of luck, you can beat the crowds while still getting some of that dream weather that makes the beaches perfect.
There are always places to see and things to do, so as long as you pack smartly, there should be no issues in visiting Vancouver, no matter the time of year.
Why You Should Visit Vancouver
Vancouver is known for outdoor activities like boating, skiing, and hiking, surrounded by mountains and the ocean. There’s certainly no lack of scenery or sports in the area. But Vancouver is a lot more than just the surrounding area.
The city is a massive draw, from the third-largest Chinatown in North America to endless shopping, beaches, attractions, museums, festivals, and parks – not to mention the friendly locals, excellent neighborhoods, and mouth-watering food.
The city has everything you could want in an urban destination, with cherry trees on top. And given the tremendously mild winters, there’s never really a wrong time to visit.
The city makes a great place to base yourself while you explore the surrounding areas or if you want to tackle the slopes at the Whistler or Grouse Mountain. Vancouver has a ton to offer as a tourist destination, from its history and people to its convenience and attractions.
Temperate weather and everything you could want to do equals one perfect getaway destination. However, you’ll still want to watch the sky while you’re there.
Even the dry season has the occasional downpour, and the problem is only exacerbated during the rainy season, which is the rest of the year.
Overall Best Time to Visit Vancouver
The best time to visit Vancouver is around July and August, which is the peak summer tourist season. Unfortunately, the best weather Vancouver sees all year is coupled with tons of crowds.
But that’s what you get when you want to visit the beach while it’s warm and sunny. If you can deal with the extra people and inflated prices, you’ll find that Vancouver shines this time of year.
July starts with Canada Day accompanied by fireworks and ends with the Celebration of Light, where each country tries to outdo others with an incredible fireworks display.
Summer is peak festival season with highlights like the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, Bard on the Beach, and Vancouver Pride Parade & Festival. That’s not even counting street fairs and more local events. You’ll never be at a loss for entertainment options.
If you’re tired of hitting the pavement, take a load off at the local beach or pool. Summer has temperatures in the low seventies, but that doesn’t stop anyone from putting on their swimsuits and lugging equipment to the beach.
Water sports are also popular in the area, including wind sailing, bogey boards, and surfing. Tofino, a nearby town, is famous for its excellent surfing.
Other water sports include rafting, kayaking, skiing, and diving. There’s no better way to enjoy summer than the sun and surf. Book a whale-watching tour if you’re more interested in the ocean than the land.
Summer is prime whale season, and several tours leave the docks to help tourists spot the rare orcas. And when you return, you can check the largest aquarium in Canada, the Vancouver Aquarium, to learn more about the stunning creatures.
If you’re tired of the city, a short car ride away is the excellent wilds where you can hike, bike, and wander to your heart’s content. Try to spot the grizzly bears before they spot you, and you’ll find some breath-taking scenes of the city from the mountains.
And best of all, you can do all this in warm weather with little chance of rain. July and August are the warmest and driest months of the year, perfect for anyone who wants to plan their trip without worrying about the weather.
You should plan it well ahead of time. Make reservations about a month out to get the best rooms and prices, and book any tickets or tours at that time. It’s unfortunate, but these are the busiest months of the year for Vancouver.
Cheapest Time to Visit Vancouver
Winter in Vancouver is the cheapest time to visit Vancouver. It’s when the city has the fewest visitors, so the hotel and attraction prices are at their lowest.
You are wrong if you think winter in Canada will be cold, snowy, and generally miserable. The temperature hovers in the forties during the day, then drops to around thirty degrees at night. Vancouver has some of the mildest winters compared to the rest of Canada.
Snow is rare, but it hardly ever sticks when it does come around. However, the one drawback of the winter is rain — lots and lots of rain. Chilly rain can soak into your socks and generally make you think that maybe four feet of snow would be better than this.
Indeed, there is little sun during the winter, but that is precisely what keeps the crowds away. And while the beach may be a distant dream, there are still plenty of activities to keep you entertained while waiting for it to return.
However, you can have the best of both worlds with this city. Enjoy the snow in the mountains and return to the warmer snow-less city when the snow seems like more trouble than it’s worth. That is if you can pry yourself away from the city.
Unlike most Canadian cities that hibernate during the winter, Vancouver stays in full swing with the Festival of Lights, Vancouver Santa Claus Parade, the Canyon Lights on the Capilano Suspension Bridge, and so much more.
There’s even a Polar Bear Swim on the first day of the year for those willing to plunge into the freezing water. When you add in all the museums and attractions that are still open, you’ll be so busy within the city that you won’t have time to contemplate leaving it.
With the money you’ll save by traveling during the off-season, you can stay here even longer to explore it all. The weather begins to warm in February, and the cherry blossoms may even bloom early.
Least Busy Time to Visit Vancouver
Technically, winter is the least busy time. However, if you’re looking for alternative summer options, you should consider visiting during the spring or fall.
They’re both shoulder season, so they’re not as busy as summer, but they can have warm weather and great temperatures without the crowds. As the days get longer and warmer, Vancouver residents like to get outdoors and enjoy the sunshine.
Spring, in particular, is a great time to visit. The city comes out of constant drizzle and clouds as the sun begins to peek through and give plants and animals renewed life.
February sees the beginning of spring, and by March, cherry blossoms are happily blooming on the trees. Spring is a great time to explore the surrounding area of Vancouver or take a stroll through the parks.
Birds return, and their songs fill the air as flowers begin to bloom. It’s a city of flowers, and the rain rewards those who are patient.
The wildlife comes out of hibernation, and tiny animal babies are introduced to the wide world for the first time. Birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts will love all the surrounding nature.
Spring is when the festivals kick off, with the Cherry Blossom Festival running the entire month of April. You’ll likely see runners preparing to strut their stuff in the Vancouver Sun Run, and families won’t want to miss the Vancouver International Children’s Festival.
As it warms, you can explore the coast and maybe even enjoy some time on a beach. Or, if you still want the chill of winter, head into the nearby ski resorts for one last run before the season ends.
The only drawback to this time is that the weather is still unpredictable. You’ll want to pack your umbrella and rain boots because you’ll probably see the rain coming down. But there’s enough sunshine to be had for you to enjoy your trip.
The fall is like the spring, with fewer crowds but with the addition of fantastic foliage and leaf-peeping to your itinerary. It’s perfect hiking weather, and there’s no better time to enjoy the bounty of the mountains.
Festivals during the fall include the Vancouver Writer Expo, Vancouver Halloween Parade and Expo, and the International Film Festival. If you don’t visit during a festival or holiday, you can get outside and enjoy the Indian summer days that pop up during the fall.
Worst Time to Visit Vancouver
There’s no wrong time to visit Vancouver, and every season has its drawbacks and advantages. It all comes down to what you want to do and see on your trip and, more importantly, how much rain you want to deal with.
- Summer has the best weather with the warmest temperatures and the least rain, but it has a lot of crowds. While all the attractions and festivals can dazzle you, you should book everything well to get the best prices.
- Fall is rainy, but it’s interrupted by bouts of sunny days perfect for hiking, enjoying the fall scenery, and exploring Vancouver. You can even get good weather to visit the beach or go boating.
Suppose the gloomy weather doesn’t get you down. Winter is the least crowded and cheapest time to visit, but it has enough rain to drown a donkey.
In that case, a trip during this period can be incredibly rewarding with warmer temperatures, winter sports, and several light festivals to make the season brighter.
Spring still has rain, but it gets sporadic as flowers push through the soil and signal a new beginning. Festivals bring a more lively atmosphere as everyone gets out to enjoy the sunshine.
Things to Consider
Rainy season aside, you should keep plenty of things in mind while planning a trip to Vancouver. Decreased sunshine during the winter, unpredictable weather, and sunscreen even in the fall is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Vancouver.
- Pack for the rain, even in the summer.
- Dress in layers.
- Bring sunscreen if it’s not winter.
- Plan sightseeing before nightfall, especially in winter.
- Practice sound safety. Petty crime is prevalent in Vancouver.
Frequently Asked Questions
There’s a lot to consider when planning a trip, and Vancouver is a destination that requires much forethought. However, if you do your homework, you can have a great time while getting everything you want to do done.
What is the rainy season in Vancouver?
The rainy season in Vancouver is September through June. Yes, that’s ten months out of the year. Vancouver is a part of the Pacific Northwest, which gets so much rain that it’s rainy most of the year.
It’s a part of the climate in that region and has to do with why winters are so mild. June and September aren’t as rainy as the other months, so they can be an excellent time to visit when the weather is still somewhat fair.
How many days do you need to visit Vancouver?
If you just want to see the big highlights of the city and not do anything else, three days should be enough if you’re planning on exploring the surrounding area or attending a festival plan for at least a week.
You can fill as many days as needed, but don’t forget to take breaks. You’ll get burnt out if you only spend time racing from one destination to the next.
Do you need a car when visiting Vancouver?
Vancouver has one of the most extensive public transport systems in Canada, and it hits all the major tourist attractions, so you don’t need a car, especially if you’re staying downtown.
A car is probably a good idea if you want to explore outside the city. It also makes getting places more convenient, and driving in the city is pretty safe.
When can you see whales in Vancouver?
Whales stay around Vancouver from March to October. That’s a pretty good chunk of the year, so you’ll likely get a chance to see them on your trip.
What is the best part of Vancouver to stay in?
There are a ton of excellent neighborhoods to stay in, but the best overall is Gastown, part of the downtown area. It’s happening, lively, and has everything you could need within walking distance.
So, When Is the Best Time to Visit Vancouver?
That’s up to you. Do you hate crowds? Go in the spring or fall. Love deals? Winter is your best bet. Or do you not want to deal with unexpected rain derailing your plans?
Summer has your name on it. Vancouver is great all year long, and if you get the chance to visit, you shouldn’t hesitate. Happy travels!