Whistler Resort Guide

Ski holidays in Whistler tick everyone's boxes - it's fantastic, amazing, brilliant! Quite simply, if you've not been then you've got to go and experience all that Whistler has to offer.
Rupert Hatfield
Product Manager - Canada
Ski holidays in Whistler tick everyone's boxes - it's fantastic, amazing, brilliant! Quite simply, if you've not been then you've got to go and experience all that Whistler has to offer.
Rupert Hatfield
Product Manager - Canada

Why Whistler?

Why Whistler?

Whistler’s three distinct villages are one of the reasons this resort has such wide appeal. At the base of Whistler Mountain, Whistler Village is the main hub with the best choice of shops, restaurants and bars. Within walking distance, Upper Village sits beneath Blackcomb Mountain and still gives easy access to the main amenities but has a more secluded setting. Far quieter, Creekside is a ten-minute drive or bus ride away and, with a gondola, restaurants and shops it has everything on hand for a relaxing holiday.

Ten things we love about Whistler

  1. Largest ski area in North America - one of the world’s biggest ski areas has huge diversity. There’s an impressive amount for abilities here, with 12 alpine bowls, three glaciers and one mile of vertical, plus a thigh-burning seven-mile run.
  2. Canada’s longest season - Open from November to May, Whistler has some of the earliest opening and latest closing dates in North America, meaning that conditions are reliably good at Christmas and Easter.
  3. Record snowfalls - Great news if you’re planning to head off-piste, Whistler receives around 11 metres of snow each year, giving it one of the best snowfall averages in North America.
  4. World-class ski school - The quality of tuition is exceptional, whether you’re a complete beginner or an expert skier looking for an off-piste clinic, we can’t recommend the ski school enough.
  5. Child-friendly village - The pedestrian-only village areas have obvious advantages for families, and you can rely on a vast range of child-friendly hotels, eateries and activities. Just ask the parents in our team for more info.
  6. Canada’s best après bars - Whistler’s lively après vibe is arguably the best in North America. Expect live music and terrace parties followed by late-night drinking and dancing.
  7. Superb for non-skiers - With enough non-ski activities to fill a full week, choose from snowmobiling and ice-skating to shopping and helicopter tours. For us, the Olympic bobsleigh run and Scandinave Spa are favourites.
  8. Great value accommodation - Whatever your budget, Whistler offers some of North America’s best early booking deals throughout its vast range of properties, which all include Canada’s reliably high standards of service.
  9. Unbeatable variety of restaurants - With more than 100 eateries that span burger bars to fine dining restaurants, even the fussiest of eaters are happy here. You’ll also find plenty of grocery shops for self-catering.
  10. Perfectly placed for add-ons - Whistler is a short and scenic transfer from Vancouver city, which makes for an easy city add-on before you fly home. Vancouver’s excellent flight connections also make it easy to fly on to Hawaii for a ski & sun holiday.

The Skiing

The Skiing

With huge diversity across the two mountains of Whistler and Blackcomb, the resort has more than 8,000 acres of terrain – far more than you can ski in a week. Connected by the Peak 2 Peak Gondola, you can easily ski both mountains in the same day, and there’s genuinely something for all abilities, from rolling cruisers and back-country bowls, to glade runs and top-to-bottom blues. Add to this some of North America’s most reliable snowfall, and you can see why so many skiers, including us, have a soft spot for Whistler.

Happy Skier Whistler © Logan Swayze / Coastphoto.com

Our favourite runs

After more than two decades of skiing in Whistler, there are certain runs that, for us, really stand out. We think you’ll love them too.

On Whistler Mountain

Intermediate - Peak to Creek, Franz’s, Harmony Ridge, GS, Fisheye

Advanced - Bear Paw, Ratfink, Harmony Bowl, Dave Murray Downhill, Franz’s Meadows

Expert - Whistler Bowl, Cockalorum, Gun Barrels, Big Timber

On Blackcomb Mountain

Intermediate - Ridge Runner, Rock’n’Roll, Cruiser, Honeycomb, Cloud Nine

Advanced - Heavenly Basin, Arthur’s Choice, Xhiggy’s Meadow, Blackcomb Glacier

Expert - Pakalolo, Couloir Extreme, Ruby Bowl, Outer Limits

Whistler Deep Powder © Mitch Winton / Coastphoto.com

Ski lifts

Our tips to help you get the most from Whistler’s lift network.

Peak to Peak - Connecting Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, this fantastic gondola is your ticket to making the most of the resort’s vast ski area. The ride takes 11 minutes and there’s rarely a queue.

Fitzsimmons Chair - A great option if there are weekend queues at the Village Gondola in Whistler. Once up Fitzsimmons, take the Garbanzo Express to access the best ski areas.

Magic Chair - If you are staying at Blackcomb and need to reach the village, take the Magic Chair and ski across. Although obvious, it’s amazing how many people walk all the way, carrying their skis.

Creekside Gondola - The quickest route to the village from Creekside is to take the local gondola and ski down on the Expressway slope. It takes 20-mins if you get your skates on!

Whistler Chairlift Black Tusk © Mitch Winton / Coastphoto.com

Weather & Conditions

Tips and advice from our team to help you make the most of Whistler in all conditions.

Use Snowphone - A free service that gives you regular updates on snow conditions and weather. Dial 604 932 4211 from your hotel room.

Don’t queue on a powder day - It takes time for the ski patrol to make the mountain safe after heavy snowfalls. Rather than wait at the lifts, we always do a few lower runs first, or sneak into the trees to get first tracks in the powder.

Stay low when it snows - Ski below the tree-line if visibility is poor, as they hugely improve your spacial awareness and provide shelter from the elements. The Crystal area on Blackcomb, and Emerald area on Whistler are our favourite spots.

Head higher if it rains - Don’t be put off by the weather outside your window. Rain in the village often means snow up high, so head up the mountain for fresh tracks on the quiet slopes, while everyone else is getting wet.

Take the Peak chair on a clear day - The view of Black Tusk volcano is stunning when the sun’s shining. You’ll get the best vista from the top of the Peak chair.

Whistler Boarder Inspiration © Mitch Winton / Coastphoto.com

Getting Around

Getting Around

Free shuttles - Running from early morning to late evening, the service is very efficient. It follows several different routes to the lifts, village and Blackcomb (Upper Village), so there’ll always be a stop within walking distance of your accommodation in Whistler Village or Blackcomb.

Other buses - For a small fare, regular services run between the village, Creekside and other outlying areas. Family saver tickets are available.

Taxis - There are several taxi companies serving all areas, 24-hours a day. Cabs are used to carrying skis and snowboards, and mini-vans are available for groups.

Restaurants and Bars

Restaurants and Bars

Between our team, we’ve tested and tasted our way around a huge variety of Whistler’s eateries and bars. Here are some of our top suggestions.

On The Mountain

Canada’s mountain restaurants tend to serve fairly simple, carb heavy meals for fuelling-up at lunchtime. For something fancier with wine, these are our top suggestions:

  • Christine’s in the Rendezvous Lodge (Blackcomb) - serves classic dishes
  • Crystal Hut (Blackcomb) - delicious wood-oven specialities and Belgian waffles
  • Steeps in the Roundhouse (Whistler) - reliably good grill and wine-bar
  • Raven’s Nest - Whistler’s first vegetarian eatery and one of only a handful in North America.

Alternatively, head down to village level for a better value and more leisurely lunch. It’s also a great way to try the cheaper lunch menus at top-end restaurants.

Whistler Sunny On-Mountain Dining © Whistler Tourism / Mike Crane

In the Village

Whistler’s best eateries fill quickly, so it’s always best to book, especially during peak weeks. People tend to eat early, so ask restaurateurs or the concierge in your hotel for advice on particular restaurants. Most restaurants also deliver or, at the very least, do take away.

Our family favourites

  • Spaghetti Factory – very affordable, great for kids and always busy. You can’t book
  • Caramba – does tasty wood-oven pizzas and other dishes
  • Teppan Village – Japanese ‘teppanyaki’ dining on an iron griddle. Touristy but fun

Good all-rounders

  • Earl’s - very good chain restaurant with burgers, steaks and noodles
  • The Keg - authentic Canadian dining, with steaks, ribs, fish and more

High-end dining

  • Araxi - contemporary cuisine, rated consistently highly 
  • Trattoria di Umberto - traditional Tuscan dishes, very popular
  • Hy’s Steakhouse - great steaks, good fish and yummy cocktails
  • Bearfoot Bistro - champagne and oyster bar that’s one of Canada’s best
  • Rim Rock Café - (near Creekside) very popular with great seafood

Others

  • Sachi Sushi - very, very good and popular with locals. Arrive early
  • Elements - boutique tapas bar with good martinis. Breakfast is great here
Bearfoot Bistro

Best bars and clubs

Whistler’s free newspaper, The Pique has complete and up-to-date listings of all local après bars and nightlife. Find a copy in the resort to discover what’s on. Several bars play an après set at around 3.30pm, followed by an evening set from 8pm – try to catch a gig with local legends, The Hairfarmers. Wherever you end up, always remember to tip, even at the bar. Service staff rely on tips, and it encourages fast and attentive service

Best après bars

  • GLC (Garibaldi Lift Company in Whistler) - open till 1am, this famous venue has live music food and cocktails
  • Longhorn Saloon (Whistler) - longstanding and legendary après bar at Whistler base
  • Merlin's (Blackcomb) - very welcoming vibe and home of the resort’s best-known band, The Hairfarmers
  • Dusty’s (Creekside) - famous après bar with Wild West ambiance and tasty BBQ food

Best evening bars

Most of the best après bars are also good in the evenings, while other popular spots include:

  • The Dubh Linn Gate (Whistler) - this Irish bar has craft beers, hearty pub grub and live music. Open until 1am.
  • Cinnamon Bear Bar - a sophisticated sports bar in the Hilton (Whistler) with screens, pool tables and open fires
  • Citta’s Pub 
  • Amsterdam Pub (Whistler) - café style bar with a young crowd and big soundsystem
  • Savage Beagle (Whistler) – a bar with a club downstairs playing dance music
  • Tapley's Pub (Whistler) - locals’ pub with sports screens and live music
  • The Crystal Lounge (Whistler) - cosy, laid-back bar with sports screens. Serves tasty chicken wings
  • Mallard Lounge - at the Fairmount Chateau Whistler is a relaxing hotel bar that’s good for cocktails (deals on Fridays)

What to drink and nibble

  • Beer - Kokanee is the skiers’ beer. Sold everywhere, it’s actually very good. Also try Alexander Keith’s and Sleeman’s Honey Brown. Local beers include Whistler Pale Ale and the darker Black Tusk Ale.
  • Wine - Canada produces great wines, with the best from Okanagan Valley. With dessert, try Ice Wine made from grapes frozen on the vine.
  • Gluhwein - Sold in several village bars, or for a gluhwein on the mountain head to Pikka’s in the Roundhouse (Whistler).
  • Posh hot choc - For sophisticated après, try the Four Seasons Hotel and their fantastic hot chocolate menu.
  • Appies - Giant nachos, chicken wings and yam fries are all popular appetizers. For wings we like Crystal Lounge best, or try GLC for yam fries with balsamic sauce.
Merlin's Apres © Whistler Tourism / Mike Crane

Self-Catering

Supermarkets - There are two well-stocked supermarkets in the Village (the IGA and the Marketplace), a small convenience store at the Blackcomb base area (in the Club Intrawest), and a small supermarket at Creekside. If you’re self-catering, the pre-seasoned meats and fish are really good, and makes an easy evening meal. You can’t buy wine or other alcohol in the supermarkets – instead, go to the liquor stores in Whistler, Blackcomb or Creekside.

Activities

Activities

Whistler’s range of winter activities are some of the best we’ve experienced, and most are easily accessible from the village.

Whistler Tubing © Mitch Winton / Coastphoto.com

Adventure activities: our top five

Ziptrek Ecotours - Ride a series of cables and suspension bridges on a three-hour journey through the forested valley between Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, discovering the beauty of Fitzsimmons Creek.

Snowmobile adventure - Join Canadian Wilderness Adventures and go snowmobiling from Whistler Village on Blackcomb Mountain and in the beautiful Callaghan Valley.

Olympic bobsleigh - Visit the 2010 Olympic sliding centre and whizz down the bobsleigh track at up to 50 miles an hour. You could also try the skeleton, get tips from an Olympic skier or take a tour of the site.

Winter bungee jumping - Leap from a bridge above the Cheakamus River at BC’s highest year-round bungee venue. Close to the Village and surrounded by old growth forest and rugged basalt column cliffs it’s also a beautiful place to spectate.

Eagle viewing float tours - See bald eagles in their winter habitat during the peak viewing period, November to March. A short drive south of Whistler in Brackendale, you’ll float along the river where the eagles feed on salmon.

Whistler Ziptrek

Family activities: our top five

Coco Cola Tube Park - Fly down icy chutes on inner tubes, racing the rest of the family before taking the conveyor lift back to the top. Located at the Base 2 Zone on Blackcomb Mountain, the tube park is also open at night. Under 12 must be accompanied by an adult. Height restriction: 36" (for Mini Zone with mini-tubes).

Magic Castle and Tree Fort - The Magic Castle on Blackcomb and Tree Fort on Whistler are great if you’ve got little ones. Take off your skis or board and explore these two outdoor adventure play lands. Free and fun for all ages.

Dog Sledding - A real Canadian experience, join a professional musher to harness the dogs, learn the commands and handle the sled. Ride on the trails through the old growth forest of the Callaghan Valley, and have a go at driving the sled yourself.

Sleigh Rides - Ride on a horse-drawn sleigh ride that glides smoothly across the snow on metal runners. Snuggle up together under a warm blanket and watch the winter world as you slide past.

Snow Shoeing - Choose from guided tours for all ability levels, or rent your own snowshoes and head off on a family adventure.

Canadian Wilderness Adventure snowmobiling

Luxury activities: our top five

Heli-skiing/boarding - If you’re a confident skier or boarder, this really is the experience of a lifetime. Whistler Heli-Skiing has exclusive rights to 432,000 acres of big mountain terrain and offers packages for a variety of levels.

Heli-sightseeing Tours - Take a 30 minute tour with Blackcomb Helicopters for a spectacular birds-eye view of these beautiful mountains. From the Blackcomb base, head out past Green Lake, around Whistler and Blackcomb peaks, over Cheakamus Lake, then circle Black Tusk before landing on top of Rainbow Glacier for a stroll around to take in the heady vistas (very popular for proposals!) before heading back to Blackcomb base.

Scandinave Spa Whistler - Just north of Whistler and surrounded by a spruce and cedar forest, this unique spa overlooks incredible mountain vistas. Indulge in the hot baths and refreshing waterfalls, then book-in for a massage.

Whistler Tasting Tours - Join one of the regular evening dining tours through Whistler Village, following a local guide around several gourmet restaurants for a multi-course dinner. Collect a card at each venue ready for prizes at the end of the night.

Crystal Hut Fondue by Snowmobile - Drive your own snowmobile or share with a friend as your guide leads you up winding trails to the Crystal Hut on Blackcomb Mountain. Enjoy a traditional fondue dinner with wine, dessert and live music.

Private Ski and Snowboard Lessons - The fastest way to learn or improve your technique, book a one-on-one or friends and family lesson. If you’re already a confident skier, you could hire a guide instead and discover secret spots on and off piste.

We can book this directly for you - just call us on 01273 224063.

Kids in Whistler

Kids in Whistler

Childcare - With a range of programmes available for children from 18-months and over, ask our team for the best options to suit your family. Call us on 01273 224 060.

Children’s Learning Centre - The mid-station on the Whistler gondola is the main learning area for kids, and is where ski school lunches are provided. It’s a great facility, fun and stimulating for all ages. Blackcomb and Creekside also have smaller kids’ bases.

Babysitting and equipment hire - Whistler’s two babysitting services - Nannies on Call and Babysitting Whistler - offer hourly rates and flexible care. Babysitting Whistler also rents toys, games, cribs, high chairs, strollers and baby backpacks. Baby’s On The Go has cribs, strollers, high chairs and car seats for rent along with indoor and outdoor toys. They feature two Mountain Baby packages and can deliver and install the equipment at your accommodation before you arrive.

Kids’ ski lessons - Before their first lesson, you’ll need to register your children for ski school and collect their vouchers. It’s good to do this the night before, or early the following morning before the programme starts. Most ski schools meet at 8.30am in the morning, ready to start the programme at 9am.

Whistler Kids © Logan Swayze / Coastphoto.com

Kids’ winter activities

Whether the skiing doesn’t work out or you need more on-slope fun, Whistler has a huge range of child-focussed activities to up the excitement. Here’s a taster of some of the most popular:

Fire & Ice Snow Show - Part of the welcome night celebrations taking place every Sunday at 6:30pm by the Whistler Village Gondola base.

Indoor rock climbing - Children as young as four can join guided sessions at The Core’s 5500 square-foot wall.

Village 8 Theatre - Play video games or check out a movie at this local cinema

Ziptrekking - Fly high through the trees and across Fitzsimmons Creek on a zipline

Tubing - Slide down all the runs, from green to black diamond, at the Coca-Cola Tube Park

Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre - Learn about Whistler’s First Nations People and make traditional crafts

Ice Skating - Hire skates and slide on the rink at the Olympic Plaza between December and March

Tree Fort and Magic Castle - These kiddie play lands are perfect for little ones. Find the Tree Fort in Whistler or the Castle in Blackcomb

GS Race Centre - Good skiers can time themselves and race the rest of the family at this giant slalom course on Blackcomb

Terrain Parks - Several options for all ages, from kiddie jumps and rails at Terrain Garden (Blackcomb), to medium features at Habitat Terrain Park (Whistler), and larger jumps at Nintendo Terrain Park (Blackcomb)

Little Things Kids Lessons © Tourism Whistler / Mike Crane

Ski School, Courses & Clinics

Ski School, Courses & Clinics

Ski school

Whistler’s fantastic terrain attracts some of the world’s best instructors, making the resort’s only school - Whistler Blackcomb Ski and Snowboard School - one of the very best in North America. Whether you’re learning for the first time or perfecting your powder turns, the emphasis is on having fun, which creates an excellent foundation for gaining confidence and progressing fast. If you’re already confident on piste, book a powder or backcountry lesson - it’ll open up a whole new element to your skiing.

There are options to suit every age and level, from private lessons to five-day ski camps, so speak to our team who can advise you on the best options for your level and budget.

Kids’ ski lessons - Before their first lesson, you’ll need to register your children for ski school and collect their vouchers. It’s good to do this the night before, or early the following morning before the programme starts. Most ski schools meet at 8.30am in the morning, ready to start the programme at 9am.

Whistler Ski School © Whistler Tourism / Mike Crane

Ski coaching, tours and clinics

Alongside standard ski lessons, Whistler has an excellent selection of options from coaching, tours and guided skiing, tried and tested by us.

Free mountain tours - Free, guided 90-minute tours run daily to show you the best ski areas for your ability. Suitable for intermediates and experts, they meet at 11.15am by Whistler Mountain’s Guest Satisfaction Centre (top of Whistler Village Gondola); and at Blackcomb’s Guest Satisfaction Centre (top of the Solar Coaster Express).

Fresh Tracks breakfast trips - Be the first to ski enjoy Whistler’s slopes by taking the gondola up before 8am for a huge breakfast on the mountain. Pick untouched powder or freshly-groomed runs for your ski back down. Buy tickets from us in advance, or at the ticket office in resort.

Extremely Canadian camp - Geared towards expert skiers, these specialist clinics teach essential off-piste skills. From crevasse rescue to skiing steeps, it’s a great way to up-skill while exploring the backcountry.

Backcountry tours - Leave the lift lines behind and join a guided backcountry tour with the Whistler Alpine Guides Bureau.

Cat-skiing and heli-skiing - To maximise your downhill descents, we can arrange cat-skiing or heli-skiing.

Every holiday is tailor-made, just for you.

Call 01273 224060 for advice from our ski specialists.