When it comes to popular destinations in Canada, Whistler British Columbia is a well-known spot. Known for hosting some of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic sports, this mountain village is a favourite among Canadians and international travellers. With amazing hills for skiing or snowboarding, Whistler is best known as a winter destination and as such, prices will normally be highest during the winter months. However, this part of BC also has plenty of trails for hiking and scenic spots making Whistler a fun place to visit year-round. So, how much does it cost to go to Whistler, BC? Read on to find out.
Whistler is pretty small and usually visited in conjunction with a couple of other spots in BC such as Squamish and Vancouver. For this itinerary, I’m going to suggest a long weekend type stay in Whistler so 3 nights and 4 days. Please note that this guide is based on a single person during the winter season. If you are travelling as a couple, then make sure to double these estimates (except for hotels).
|Local transportation||$60 - $300|
|Food and drink||$228|
|Total||$2,588 - $2,828|
The above estimate is in Canadian dollars, so please use xe.com to find out the average costs in your home currency. If you’re looking to save, the summer is cheaper than the winter.
If you’re Canadian, you may want to consider applying for one of the best travel credit cards in Canada to help offset your costs by collecting points. For example, the American Express Platinum Card gives you a signup bonus of up to 85,000 American Express Membership Rewards points which have a minimum value of $850 (potentially more if you transfer your points to Aeroplan or Marriott Bonvoy). There’s also the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite card that has no foreign transaction fees and it comes with airport lounge access.
For those planning a trip to Whistler from outside BC or even outside of Canada, you’ll want to arrive at Vancouver Airport. From here, Whistler is about a two-hour drive, but there are a few sites along the way worth stopping at such as the Sea-to-Sky Gondola.
Vancouver, and BC itself, is popular-year round so there isn’t necessarily a ‘cheap’ time of year to fly. Your best bet is to keep an eye out for seat sales. Prices, of course, will depend on where you are flying from but note that even for Canadians, domestic flights are not cheap. For individuals coming from further east (i.e. Toronto), you can still expect to pay about $600 or more for a return fare to Vancouver.
Note that Canada now has budget airlines such as Swoop and Flair that offer cheaper rates on flights but you have to pay for all luggage (including carry-on). You may also have to fly into Abbotsford airport which is a one-hour drive to Vancouver.
How much does it cost to go to Whistler depends on when you go. Whistler is a resort/holiday village and as such accommodation isn’t the cheapest. That said, as a ski town, many of the hotels and resorts in Whistler offer suites instead of just small hotel rooms making them roomier and easier to share if you are travelling with a group. For a mid-range hotel in the peak ski season, you can expect to pay about $400 per night. Keep in mind, despite these high prices, Whistler village properties do fill up very quickly so it’s in your best interest to book as soon as possible. If you’re staying in the summer, rates are about $200 – $300 a night.
Looking for some ideas on where to stay? Consider the following:
Budget – Pangea Pod Hotel
Note: If you don’t mind not staying in the village itself, there are a few properties on the outskirts that are a little more affordable. These are best if you have a car, but you then need to worry about parking in the village.
If you have the right credit card, you can save a fair amount of money on hotels. Americans should strongly consider the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card since you can earn up to 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy points and $200 back at U.S. restaurants as a welcome bonus.
Canadians should consider the Marriott Bonvoy American Express which gives you up to 51,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. That’s enough points for up to five free nights at some hotels which could easily have a value of over $500. There’s also the BMO World Elite™* Mastercard®* since it typically has a sign up bonus worth more than $200 and the annual fee is normally waived for the first year.
You have two options for getting around Whistler. The first is to rent a car, which is often the preferred method, and the second is to use public transit.
Many people will rent a card from the Vancouver airport, but Avis also has a location downtown. Generally speaking, you’re looking at $60-70 a day for a car rental. That price doesn’t include any additional rental car insurance that you may need. Most hotels in Whistler also charge $30 + a day for parking, so you could easily be paying $100 a day. That said, there’s no denying the convenience factor. With a car, you can go anywhere you want, whenever you want.
If you don’t want to rent a car, you can get around by bus. From Vancouver (airport or city centre) you can book the YVR SkyLynx bus. This shuttle will take you directly to Whistler village with only a couple of stops. Round-trip tickets are $30 to/from Vancouver city centre.
Whistler has its own local bus system which has a pretty decent network and runs pretty early in the morning and late in the evening. The fares for local buses in Whistler are $2.50 per ride. You can buy 10 tickets for $22.50 or a day pass for $7. Transfer tickets can be requested depending on your route. Overall, if you relied just in public transportation, you might only spend $60 on local transportation.
As for Whistler village itself, it is a pedestrian village so you can easily walk around between your hotel and the shops and restaurants. Even the upper village is within walking distance from the main village.
Knowing how much does it cost to go to Whistler will depend on what you do. Attractions will vary by season and depend on what you want to see and do. If you visit during the winter, then no doubt you are coming to ski and snowboard. A 3-day ski pass for the 2021/2022 season is $314 for an adult.
In the summer, you can do the peak-to-peak scenic gondola which is $83 on weekends. Other fun activities you might be interested in include scenic seaplane or helicopter rides, guided sight-seeing tours (in summer, you can go look for bears), ziplining, mountain biking, and more.
To be on the safe side, if there is a lot you want to see and I would suggest budgeting about $400 for attractions in Whistler. That may seem like a lot, but it’s pretty reasonable. That said, you can also take advantage of free hiking trails and there are a few nearby lakes that you can swim in as well. Renting a bike is inexpensive and Whistler has paved trails that take you to all the major attractions.
Food and drink
Like every other tourist area, Whistler has tons of restaurant options for varying budgets. You’ll find everything from takeout pizza to high-end steak houses. There are also two grocery stores in the village which are really handy as well, especially since most rooms in whistler come with fridges and basic kitchen facilities. If you grab some groceries for a basic breakfast in your room, then eat out for lunch and dinner your meal costs will look something like this.
- Breakfast – $7
- Lunch – $15
- Dinner – $35
That works out to $57 a day or $228 for four days. If you plan on drinking alcohol, you’ll want to add a bit more. Beers are around $7 for a pint and cocktails average around $15. However, many places do have happy hour specials. Keep in mind that the $15 I’ve quoted for lunch is for smaller lunches or sandwiches. You could easily spend more. Dinner could also cost more if you get an appetizer or dessert.
You should always have a little extra cash on hand for random spending. A souvenir, an extra drink at the bar, warmer clothes if you didn’t pack properly, or even a more expensive meal during a night out. For your four days in Whistler, I suggest having an extra $100 just in case.
Whistler trip cost
So, how much does a trip to Whistler cost? Based on this estimate, you can expect to pay about $2,588 – $2,828 for four days. Keep in mind this estimate is based on winter prices as they are the most expensive. If you visit in the summer, you’ll be able to cut down on this budget. Whether you visit in summer or winter, Whistler is a beautiful destination that will let you experience some of the best of the Canadian outdoors.
Can I visit Whistler as a day trip?
Absolutely. If these costs seem a bit too high, you can drive up from Vancouver for the day. It’s about 2 hours both ways depending on traffic. There’s less of a worry about how much does it cost to go to Whistler when you’re just going for a day. The odds are you already have a vehicle and you’re just paying for attractions and food.
Is it best to rent a car in Whistler?
It depends on what you want to see and do. If you are coming in winter and are staying put to ski, then you don’t really need one. If you are visiting in summer and want to drive around for nearby hikes or even make some stops along the Sea to Sky Highway then it is best to rent a car.
Are there really bears in Whistler?
Yes, they don’t often come into the village, but they are definitely in the area. Bears hibernate in winter but if you visit spring-fall you need to be mindful. The biggest tip is not to feed them. Make sure while hiking that you properly dispose of all garbage, do not litter! There are plenty of signs on the trails of how to behave and what to do if you see a bear but if you are completely unfamiliar with this type of Canadian wildlife it’s in your best interest to do a bit of research ahead of time as well.