When is the best time to visit British Columbia?
British Columbia has four distinct seasons and as with most places, it’s typically warmer in the south and wetter along the coast. Because British Columbia is such a large province (four times the size of the U.K.) it has several different climatic zones so much of what you’ll experience depends on where you’ll be. Below is some basic information on what to expect in a year’s worth of weather in British Columbia.
- Spring (March – May): Spring in British Columbia is relatively mild. By the end of March, daily highs are usually around 50°F and lows are usually around 40°F. Yes, it rains rather frequently, but rainfall is typically light or moderate at worst. Spring is a great time to go if you want to be the first out on the golf course!
- Summer (June – August): Summer is quite comfortable in this part of Canada. In the interior of British Columbia, average daily temperatures are in the 80°s although they can occasionally reach 90°F. On the coast, temperatures are just a few degrees cooler. It’s pretty safe to say that you can get away with wearing shorts, skirts and sandals anywhere in British Columbia during these months. (For at least part of the day!)
- Autumn (September – November): In September, the average daily high in Vancouver is 65°F and 68°F in Whistler. Both cities have average daily lows around 50°F. Cool and comfortable is a great way to describe autumn in British Columbia. If you want to see the fall foliage at its peak, visit during late September and/or early October.
- Winter (December – February); While the Canadian Rockies are no stranger to snow, the winter temperatures are not as low as you may think—thanks to the Chinook winds that can bring in warmer air. Still, temperatures are often at or below freezing, so you’ll want to pack your winter gear. On the coast, things are more temperate and snow on the ground is a rare sight. That said, you’ll still want to pack warm clothing because Vancouver’s average high in January is 43°F.
Packing for a British Columbia Vacation
1. A Toque
Also known as a cap or beanie, a toque is a staple in any Canadian’s wardrobe. Locals wear them year round – so even if you’re planning on visiting in summer, you may want to bring a lightweight knit hat. It’s a must-have accessory in British Columbia.
2. Moisture-wicking Layers
Regardless of when you travel in British Columbia, you should always have a warm layer, and remember—when it comes to layers; it’s about quality, not quantity. The best fabrics aren’t cotton, but because of their properties, they’re worth every extra penny. Choose a fabric like merino wool which is soft, breathable and dries very quickly.
3. Hiking Socks
Believe it or not, if you’re going to be hiking in British Columbia, you should wear hiking-specific socks. Regular tube socks are okay, but for the best hiking experience, you’re better off with socks that are designed for the activity. Hiking socks are usually labeled light-weight, mid-weight or heavyweight, and you should choose the thickness that’s right for you based on how much cushioning you like and how your foot fits in your boot. As with layers, it’s best to avoid cotton!
Although British Columbia is in another country, it’s hard for us not to think of it as our backyard. There’s a lot to know about this beautiful province, so we won’t bore you with every minor detail, but here are a few tidbits of information that you may find helpful for your trip.
1. First Nations
British Columbia is home to many ethnicities including 198 First Nations. First Nations refers to the indigenous people we call Native Americans or Indians in the U.S. Few people know that British Columbia has the most diverse Aboriginal population in all of Canada!
2. Sea-to-Sky Highway Stops
If you travel with us, we’ll handle this part, but if you’re driving the Sea-to-Sky Highway solo, you should plan on stopping at kiosks 1-5 on your way north and kiosks 6-7 on your way south. The vistas that range from ocean (near Vancouver) to mountain (near Whistler) don’t disappoint!
3. Skip the Taxi: Take the SkyTrain
A taxi ride from the airport into downtown Vancouver could very easily set you back $50, but the same ride on the SkyTrain will cost you less than $10. And if you need to get somewhere during rush hour, taking the SkyTrain means you won’t be stuck sitting in traffic!