Western Canada is home to the beautiful provinces of Alberta and British Columbia.

From thrilling ski excursions to incredible wildlife adventures and more, you can enjoy the most luxurious Alberta breaks and holidays to British Columbia throughout spring, summer, autumn and winter. The varied landscapes give way to plenty of sightseeing opportunities and changing weather conditions mean you can take part in a range of experiences. As such, two holidays are never truly the same!

So, whether you're looking to catch the Banff ski season or watch bears awaken from hibernation at Vancouver Island, here are our Travel Specialists’ favourite highlights.

When to Visit Alberta & British Columbia in Winter

Although January is the coldest month, the best time of year to visit Alberta and British Columbia for winter is actually March.

The winter month averages snow depth as high as 22.8 inches in central areas, and the temperatures are more bearable for a luxury holiday. With that being the case, these provinces are a prime destination for snow sports such as skiing and snowboarding in Banff, Lake Louise, Whistler or Sun Peaks.

We recommend the following winter activities for an unforgettable holiday.

Go Snowboarding on Renowned Slopes in Whistler, British Columbia

Perfect for the colder months, Whistler features world-renowned slopes at some of the best snowboard and ski resorts in British Columbia.

The snowboard and ski season in Whistler dates between November and early May – even sometimes until early June. With 4,757 acres of skiable terrain, including 16 alpine bowls and over 200 marked trails, there are countless snowboarding opportunities all throughout.

Whistler and Blackcomb are ideal resort areas for all levels of skier or snowboarder. You'll discover fantastic beginner areas for learning the ropes and intermediate areas with a vast array of groomed runs. Following an exciting day of snowboarding, you'll even have chance to unwind in one of the many luxurious hotels.

Enjoy Skiing at Luxurious Resorts in Banff, Alberta

Skiing in Banff

Whether it's cross-country skiing, heli-skiing or just regular old skiing, ski getaways in Canada never go amiss.

The Banff ski season dates from early November to late May and brings with it some of the most phenomenal snowboard and ski holidays in Alberta. Experience endless turns paired with a diverse terrain and take in the marvellous backdrop of the Canadian Rockies as you cruise graciously downhill.

Take the ski lifts to the resort areas of Norquay, Banff Sunshine or Lake Louise and enjoy a variety of runs. Not only that, but along with your chosen luxury hotel, you can partake in excellent après ski. From multi-level dining options to dog sledding, snowshoeing and more, there’s so much to discover following your thrilling ski adventures.

Imagine Skating on a Frozen Alpine Lake in the Canadian Rockies

Ice Skating on Lake Louise

British Columbia is an awe-inspiring province, with beautiful lakes that become makeshift ice rinks when frozen. In winter, the large amounts of snow depth are cleared from the lakes in preparation for ice skaters across the region. So, whether you want to glide over Lake Windermere or dance across Columbia Lake Provincial Park, you can do so in style.

Alberta is also ideal for ice skating on the lakes. Between the iconic Lake Louise and Lake Minnewanka, your options are almost endless. Calgary’s phenomenal ice rinks are another alternative for city lovers, along with Edmonton’s well-maintained outdoor skating areas.

When to Visit Alberta & British Columbia in Summer

Featuring gorgeous sunny weather all around, the warmest month for visiting Alberta is July while British Columbia's peak summer month is August.

The average temperatures reach as high as 27°C in areas such as Vancouver Island or Calgary, with each day seeing over nine hours of spectacular sunshine.

We recommend the following summer activities for a remarkable visit.

Watch Whales from Vancouver and Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Whale sightings are a common occurrence from Vancouver and Vancouver Island during summer. The popular destinations boast an astonishing success rate for spotting the magnificent marine life, with many operators reporting sightings of 90% and upwards. When visiting during the warmest month of August, you can potentially see both humpback whales and orcas rising from the surface – all while you enjoy the fabulous weather.

During this time, you can even discover the wonders of the Salish Sea – home to two resident orca pods – and learn about the fascinating ecosystem where these animals reside. With whale sightings potentially being a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, be sure to capture the most picture-perfect images of these glorious creatures while you can.

Go Horseback Riding throughout the National Parks of Alberta

Horseback riding in Banff National Park

Alberta’s beautiful scenery is just begging to be explored. So, why not go horseback riding?!

The ranches provide an ideal space for beginners to learn the ropes while more experienced riders can travel throughout the national parks, rivers and backcountry with their trusty steed. As you gallop across the historic sites and trails of this stunning province, you’ll feel like a true cowboy or cowgirl adventuring the lands.

In the summer, this authentic experience is unlike any other. While you discover and disconnect, you’ll come to appreciate just how magical Alberta really is – from the Plain of Six Glaciers Trail to Crypt Lake Trail and more.

Hike the Rocky Mountains throughout Alberta & British Columbia

Hiking in the Canadian Rockies

Spring, summer and autumn are all perfect seasons to visit the Canadian Rockies. British Columbia provides breathtaking views of alpine lakes, glaciers and temperate rainforests, where you have chance to see elk, moose and mountain goats roaming in their natural environment. Whether you view them behind the wheel of a car or motorhome, on a motorbike, or even the luxury of a serene train journey, your experience will be unforgettable.

A Guided Signature Hike in Banff National Park is potentially the best way to experience these stunning mountains. With the help of your certified guides across four to six hours of eye-opening discovery, you’ll come face-to-face with limestone caves, luscious forests and even more incredible sights to behold. There are four "Signature Trails" to choose from, including Larch Valley, Consolation Lakes, Plain of Six Glaciers and Stanley Glacier.

Best Time to Visit Alberta & British Columbia in Autumn

In Autumn, the best time to visit Western Canada is later September going into October.

Alberta and British Columbia's autumn months mean cooler temperatures and gorgeous scenery. The leaves on the trees turn to warm hues of gold and red, while the array of immersive experiences are ideal for keeping families of any capacity entertained. 

We recommend the following autumn activities for a memorable break.

Head Out on the Open Road across Alberta

Autumn is an ideal time of year to travel via motorhome in Canada. There are fewer people on the roads and the peaceful nights beside the campfire can become leading highlights. Not only that, but there are luxurious motorhomes which you can rent for a comfortable stay – many fitted with divine queen-sized beds and graciously decorated throughout.

Expect first-class facilities, from an excellent kitchen area to a private bathroom and living space. Motorhomes have come so far over the years that you can now take a little bit of luxury everywhere you go – whether that involves the iconic Icefields Parkway through Banff and Jasper National Parks or The Crowsnest Highway.

Watch Birds along the Columbia Valley Bird Trail

Kootenay Rockies, BC: One of the largest contiguous wetlands in North America

Western Canada is great for bird enthusiasts or those looking for thrilling autumn excursions.

The Columbia Valley Bird Trail, in the Kootenay Rockies, is awash with different species, including black-throated grey warblers, soaring eagles and the rare chipping sparrows. As you head down winding paths to towns such as Canal Flats and Invermere, you'll come across many sightseeing opportunities and birding experiences. Fairmont Hoodoos is home to white-throated swifts while 19,925 birds were once counted in a single day at Wilmer Wetlands.

For active adventures, the 9km Old Coach Trail is friendly for both hikers and bikers alike. Just keep hearing out for the magnificent song of the forest birds populating the area.

Road Trip through the Small Towns of Alberta & British Columbia

A small town on the Cowboy Trail – Nanton

Although city trips have a certain je ne sais quoi, road trips through small towns in Alberta and British Columbia have their own individual qualities – especially during autumn. The endearing charm of Canmore is only matched by the alluring scenery of Turner Valley; you can even attend the Dark Sky Festival in Jasper during October.

The Cowboy Trail from Calgary to Waterton is also perfect for exploring small towns – many of which feature unique stores and antique shops. Between the sprawling foothills and incredible ranches, this gorgeous drive covers a host of individually breathtaking locations.

Road trips also make for thrilling family holidays. Starting from Vancouver, The Coastal Circle Route takes you to Vancouver Island on one of the most picturesque ferry rides before making a stop in British Columbia’s capital, Victoria. Head north and explore Duncan and the Cowichan Valley, then wind your way up the island to Comox. Hop on another ferry to the beautiful and serene Sunshine Coast and discover small towns like Lund and Gibson.

Best Time to Visit Alberta & British Columbia in Spring

Combining the best of winter and summer, May is the best time for a spring visit to Alberta and British Columbia. The sunny weather and few visitors at popular hot spots make for a peaceful holiday of relaxation and recreation.

We recommend the following spring activities for an incredible stay.

Practice your Golf Technique in Jasper or Banff, Alberta

Throughout the mountain towns of Jasper and Banff, you'll not only discover beautiful views of unique natural surroundings, but the golfing experiences are outstanding as well.

Imagine practicing your swing with the majestic Rocky Mountains as your backdrop or learning a thing or two from world-class players. The surfaces are perfectly manicured so you can take better shots and the hazards are expertly placed to give you a challenging session.

At Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, the 18-hole golf course proves to be one of the best in the entire country. Designed by Stanley Thompson, the course opened in 1925 and has since offered elevated tee boxes and dramatic bunkering situations.

At Fairmont Banff Springs, you’ll discover an excellent alternative in an 18-hole course that features panoramic views and unique optical illusions created by the mountain scenery.

Discover the Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia

The Sunken Garden at Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island

Spring is the best time to visit Butchart Gardens in Victoria, when the Spring Garden is at its peak. Thanks to ideal weather conditions, the daffodils and hyacinths start blooming at the end of March while incredible displays of tulips, cherry blossoms and dogwood trees come out mid-April. Take a stroll around and discover some of the most beautiful flora, from rhododendron to ornamental cherry and peony.

In addition, spring also welcomes well over 300,000 bulbs, which attentive staff members help to produce throughout the season. Displays vary year to year, meaning the one you visit is the only one of its kind, adding to the uniqueness of the gardens – and your experience.

Watch Bears Awaken from Hibernation in Alberta & British Columbia

Grouse Mountain grizzly bears

As soon as April arrives, grizzly bears and black bears awaken from their deep slumber with new-born cubs in tow.

Banff National Park and Jasper National Park are two excellent locations for spotting these magnificent creatures in Alberta. Watching them go about their routines and seeing how they interact with their surrounding environments is a magical experience to cherish forever.

Bear watching in British Columbia is available throughout the Great Bear Rainforest and Vancouver Island. The latter is home only to black bears, with the best way to see these glorious animals foraging along the shoreline being by boat. For grizzlies and the rare opportunity to see the unique ‘spirit bear’, visit one of the wildlife lodges dotted within the inlets of the Great Bear Rainforest – many of which are only accessible by boat or float plane.

Discover the Changing Landscapes of Alberta & British Columbia, Canada

At Inspiring Travel, we tailor-make holidays to Alberta and British Columbia. So, whether you want to experience these fabulous provinces in spring, summer, autumn or winter, speak to our Travel Specialists to create your ultimate luxury break.

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