Canada’s a bucket-list destination with some of the best ski resorts in the world – think deep powder, national park scenery and amazing hospitality. And unlike in European resorts, all of the terrain in the area boundary is safe to ski, not just the marked pistes. If you fancy heading across the pond next winter, take a look at our top picks to find the right resort for you.
Best for scenery & intermediates: Lake Louise
As far as scenery goes, it doesn’t get more beautiful than this. The small village of Lake Louise sits on the edge of a frozen lake, surrounded by snow-covered forests in the middle of a national park. Everywhere you look you’ll see jaw-dropping views – the sight from the Top of the World Express chairlift is especially hard to beat.
The slopes are best suited to intermediates. Go to the top of the Front Side for a range of black diamond runs (the North American equivalent of reds) or cut over to the Back Side to play in powder-filled bowls. You can also jump on a bus to explore an extra 3,584 acres across Banff Sunshine and Mount Norquay, which are included with your Big 3 lift pass.
The village itself is quiet and charming, with a handful of hotels including the famous, castle-like Fairmont Chateau. Keep an eye out to spot some of the local wildlife, like elk and big-horned sheep, wandering around.
Best for a traditional town: Banff
If you want to stay in a proper North American mountain town, give Banff a go. It was developed back in the 1800s after hot springs were discovered in the area – and is still a real working town, with friendly locals and authentic bars and boutiques. For a true Western vibe, end your day at Wild Bill’s saloon where you can unwind with a drink and try your luck on the bucking bronco.
Banff’s surrounded by Canada’s first national park and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so the forests, glaciers and wildlife are all protected and untouched.
As for the skiing, you’ve got access to the Big 3 areas – Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise and Mount Norquay – which have 7,748 acres of terrain in total and are linked by buses. Experienced skiers will love the huge back bowls in Lake Louise and the mogul runs in Mount Norquay, like Lone Pine and Memorial Bowl. Beginners should start off in Sunshine Village, where there are loads of easy greens like the Banff Avenue valley run and long, aptly-named Green Run.
Best for variety & nightlife: Whistler
A short hop from Vancouver, Whistler is the biggest ski area in Canada. It’s got 8,171 acres of terrain – or about 160km of vertical piste, around the same as Chamonix in France – so this is definitely the place to be if you want variety. For first-timers, there’s a top-notch ski school, dedicated learning zones and a network of gentle greens across the whole area. Intermediates and experts will find lots of blue and black diamond runs too – not to mention 12 back bowls and plenty of off-piste. The mountains get smothered in around 12m of snow each year, so expect lots of light, fluffy powder whenever you go.
Whatever your ability level, you’ll catch the Peak to Peak gondola between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. It’s the longest unsupported lift in the world, with incredible 360-degree views, and you can even ride in a glass-bottomed cabin.
When the lifts close, the pedestrianised village really comes alive. Listen to DJ sets at GLC, belt out karaoke at Crystal Lounge or get up on the tables and dance at Merlin’s. Or for a different kind of après, you can join a Tasting Tour of Whistler’s best restaurants or fly through the trees on a ziplining adventure.
Best for families: Panorama
Fancy a family ski holiday to Canada? Look no further than Panorama. It’s a small, purpose-built resort so it’s really easy to get around and the whole upper village is ski-in, ski-out so you won’t have to walk to the lifts with your gear. The ski area’s relatively small at 2,847 acres so it’s not too daunting but there’s still plenty of piste to explore as family – and all of it is impeccably groomed. Kids can try their first turns in the PanoKids area, and then you can all get together to ski gentle greens in the Discover Zone or longer blues around Founder’s Ridge and the Sun Bowl.
There are loads of other winter activities to do too, like snowmobiling, fatbiking and ice skating. And Panorama’s famous for its free slopeside pools, where kids can splash around in the warm pool and adults can unwind in the bubbling hot tubs. Twice a week you can also cosy up by the campfire to sing songs and toast marshmallows.
Best for beginners: Tremblant
Tremblant is our closest North American resort, with a flight time of just 7 hours, so it’s a good pick if you don’t want to go too far for your first Canadian trip. The ski area is the smallest too at 665 acres and all of the runs lead back to the same place so it’s easy to find your way around. The friendly ski instructors will help beginners pick up the basics in no time, then you’ll have plenty of space to practise on the wide, quiet slopes. We especially love looping the Nansen green run, which is the longest one on the mountain at 6km. To top it all off, most of the accommodation is ski-in, ski-out so you won’t have far to go to get on the slopes.
Of course, this is Quebec, so the village is full of charm and you’ll hear the locals speaking both French and English. You can also see the French influence on the food, with lots of high-quality European dishes as well as Canadian favourites like steak and poutine. Wellness culture is big here too – for some adults-only relaxation, visit the Scandinave spa, which has hot pools, saunas and steam rooms tucked away in the woods.
Check out our Canada ski deals and get ready to explore the Great White North next winter.