UPDATED 2022 – Considering how often I’m asked about Whistler activities, you’d think I’d have written a Whistler Travel Guide ages ago. But alas, here are my Whistler recommendations of everything there is to see and do in Whistler, where to stay, and of course the best restaurants in Whistler.
Your Questions, Answered:
Is Whistler worth the trip?
YES. It’s not recognized as a world class destination for nothing. There is literally something for everyone here. Whether you’re a foodie, spa lover, dog owner, travelling with family, or adrenalin junkie, Whistler is worth the trip.
Check out my post for adrenalin junkies HERE.
How many days do you need in Whistler?
I recommend a minimum of 3 days in Whistler if you’re visiting in the summer, but ideally 5-7. If you’re skiing in the winter, plan to spend 7-10 days in order to get enough time on the mountain as well as exploring everything the resort has to offer. I promise that no matter how many days you spend in Whistler, it’ll never be enough.
Is Banff better than Whistler?
Banff and Whistler could not be more different. They also have different peak seasons, meaning Banff in busier in the summer and Whistler is busier in the winter. And resort/activity prices reflect this so bear that in mind when making your travel plans.
Looking for things to do in Banff in winter? See my post HERE for all the details you need.
How expensive is Whistler?
Like most resorts, Whistler is not a cheap place to visit. However, depending on where you stay and what you do, you can either save or splurge during your trip. If you’re travelling from the US or Europe, the exchange rate is very much in your favour so keep that in mind.
Why is Whistler so popular?
In short, it’s a beautiful destination with an abundance of activities near an international airport. And it’s full of super friendly people (yes, I’m biased). Read on for all of the activities that make Whistler so popular.
Whistler Travel Guide:
Where to Stay in Whistler
If you’re looking for a unique alternative to a hotel, then I highly recommend a little Canadian glamping in a yurt at Riverside Resort. This luxurious camping option provides all the essentials, from bedding to heat and electricity, in such a cool mountain setting. If rustic cabins or traditional tent camping is more your style, they offer that too! You can read all about my recent stay in a Whistler yurt here.
Things to Do in Whistler
No Whistler travel guide would be complete without a list of things to do.
Hit the Beach
My favourite way to spend an afternoon is exploring the 5 Lakes in Whistler. Follow the Whistler Valley Trail by bike or on foot to get to all of them. You can rent a bike almost anywhere in the village but Cross Country Connection is a great locally owned Whistler business (and they also offer bike lessons and tours). If stand-up paddling (SUP) is your jam, then head straight to Lakeside Park or Wayside Park, both on Alta Lake, to rent a SUP.
Check out Function Junction
One of my favourite parts of Whistler is totally off the radar for everyone but locals – Function Junction. It’s a cool industrial area on the south side of Whistler. There’s everything from art galleries to breweries, and everything in between, to check out.
Do Train Wreck Hike
From Function Junction cross over highway 99 to the Cheakamus neighbourhood and look for the sign (on the right) for Train Wreck. This is a cool hike to an abandoned train derailment from the 50’s that’s now covered in graffiti. Up until a couple years ago this hike was a hidden gem – literally – as you needed to find the trailhead by walking along the forested train tracks. Despite the warnings from authorities to stay off the tracks (for obvious reasons), the hike got busier so a suspension bridge was built over Cheakamus River to provide a safe trail for visitors. The hike is still cool with the new access point (and whobdoesn’t love a beautiful suspension bridge over a roaring river?) and it’s very accessible for all ages and abilities. Allow yourself at least an hour, more if you’re planning to take a lot of pictures.
See my full post about the Whistler Train Wreck Hike HERE.
Whistler Axe Throwing
Hit up Forged Axe Throwing, located in Function Junction. It’s a fun activity with friends and family – or a unique bachelorette party idea – and there’s a brewery conveniently located next door.
Vallea Lumina Night Walk
While it may not seem like something you’d typically do in Whistler, definitely check out Vallea Lumina. It just opened a couple years ago and become such a highlight for me. Positioned as a “multimedia night walk in pursuit of hidden wonders” it’s a cool, animated experience that guides you on a walk through the woods with stunning lights and campy songs that will stay in your head for weeks. BTW, it’s pronounced “va-LAY-ah LOOM-in-ah”.
Whistler Farmer’s Market
In the summer, be sure to wander through the Whistler Farmer’s Market. There’s an abundance of local farmers, entertainers, artisans, and bakers with their wares for sale. This is one of my favourite things to do literally every Sunday. There’s also a great kids adventure zone.
Hiking on Whistler Blackcomb
It might be best known for it’s skiing but hiking and sightseeing on Whistler Blackcomb is where it’s at. If you want to hike Blackcomb Mountain, then check out the Ascent Trail Hike which you can do from the base of the mountain or the Overlord Trail and Decker Loop in the alpine. If you’re hiking on Whistler Mountain then High Note Trail or Half Note Trail are a must. The views are STUNNING.
Whistler Scandinave Spa
The perfect post-hike activity is a visit to Scandinave Spa. The outdoor hot pools, cold plunge pools, steam rooms and saunas will ease any sore muscles you have. You can stay as long as you’d like however most people generally take 2-3 hours for their spa experience. And no, you cannot talk at Scandinave Spa. That’s part of the beauty of it.
You really can’t visit Whistler without ziplining but if you’re an adrenalin junkie like me, then you need to add bungee jumping and skydiving to the list too. Read about my favourite Whistler adrenaline activities here.
Sightseeing in Whistler
Whistler is such a pretty mountain resort, you’ll definitely want to have some time to just wander around and take in the sights. If you want to go sightseeing on Whistler Blackcomb, including experiencing the Peak 2 Peak Gondola, you’ll need to purchase a ticket from Guest Services.
Places to Eat in Whistler
I always say that we eat very well here. Considering the Whistler population is only 12,000 permanent residents, we are spoiled for choice of excellent restaurants. If you’re looking for a casual dinner option, head a few minutes north to Alpine Café or Cranked Espresso Bar, or into the village at one of these places where you don’t need dinner reservations in Whistler.
If you’re in Function Junction, you have a couple options. Grab a coffee at Camp Lifestyle and enjoy your cuppa next to the fire and waterfall outside on their patio in one of the comfy Adirondack chairs. Or head over to the Green Moustache which is a locally owned café offering 100% organic, plant based, gluten free meals that are insanely delicious. My fave breakfast item is the Smoothie Bowl but if you’re there for lunch, the Veggie Chilli is my go-to. Or the Pad Thai. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. Also, highly recommend you get some yummy raw, vegan treats, like the Bliss Balls, to go.
After hiking Train Wreck, treat yourself at the original Pure Bread. They have an abundance of the delicious home-style baked goods. Trust me when I say you cannot come to Whistler and not go to Pure Bread. You’ll thank me later. (There’s also a Pure Bread location in the main village near Olympic Plaza should you want to visit a more central location.)
If you really want to do it up like a Whistler local then you need to go to Sushi Village for dinner. The sushi is pretty epic but so are the strawberry sake margaritas. Consider yourself warned. Also, it tends to get a bit rowdy here so go earlier if that’s not your scene.
If you’re looking for great Sunday morning breakfast spots, try the Wildflower Restaurant at Fairmont Chateau Whistler or head over to their Clubhouse at the golf course for delicious breakfast with a view. For something unique in the upper village, visit the Thunderbird Cafe at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre.
Parking in Whistler
Parking can be tricky in Whistler. It’s a pedistrian village so your best option is to take a shuttle to Whistler and leave the car at home. Biking, walking or taking one of Whistler’s free shuttles are the easiest ways to get around.
However if you ARE driving and looking for the most affordable option, you’ll want to park at the Whistler Day Lots. Depending on the time of year (i.e. winter), you cannot always park overnight. Be sure to check current rates and dates HERE.
Read my post about Whistler High Note Trail and Half Note Trail hikes HERE.
Phew! Ok, I think I’ve covered most of my favourite places in Whistler. I could seriously go on and on I love this place so much but that’s why I live here after all. Have I missed any spots that you’d recommend in add to my Whistler Travel Guide? Drop me a line and let me know, or send me a note if you’ve visited any of these places and tell me what you thought!