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Best time to visit Canada

Jaw-dropping scenerySee Black BearNiagara FallsThe scenic tundra

Lizzie Frainier By Lizzie Frainier

Known for its natural beauty, Canada is a vast country with a climate that is as varied as it is extreme. Niagara Falls and the Rocky Mountain parks may be among the most visited attractions, but there is always more to explore here with many sprawling cities and the expanse of the great outdoors.

Winter sports are in their element from November to March, while the summer months are an ideal time to visit for warm temperatures, whether you’re heading to a culturally-rich region like Québec or exploring the wild beauty of the Atlantic Coast for whale watching and picturesque fishing towns.

Covering such an expanse of land, the weather is bound to vary considerably from one region to the next. Generally the coastal areas have less extreme weather, but there is more rainfall each month. The north has the shortest summer, sometimes only lasting a couple weeks, while the regions in the centre of Canada enjoy long hot summers from mid-June through to September. However, this is contrasted with harsh winter temperatures that sink well below zero.

The maximum temperature in Québec City over the winter months is -8°C while Vancouver’s maximum is a much more bearable 6°C. Vancouver has more rain during this period though with 20 days of rainfall, while Quebec has 17, and Toronto has just 12. In the summer, Toronto can reach heights of 27°C, while Quebec and Vancouver don’t get much warmer than 23°C. In most destinations there are 9 hours of sunshine in July and August, while November to January sees just 2 or 3 hours of daily sunshine. This highlights the extreme seasons in Canada.

Adam Brinklow, a travel specialist at Canadian Sky, says: “September on the West Coast of Canada is a great time as it is not as busy and the weather is still great. If you are looking to go to the Atlantic Coast, then the summer months are ideal.”

The ski season, along with most other winter sports, is from November to April. Locations along the West Coast, like Alberta and British Columbia, have longer ski seasons due to their more moderate climates. Alberta is also a great summer destination, especially with the annual Calgary Stampede, an annual rodeo held every June.

The winter season runs from November to April, and you can almost guarantee great skiing conditions throughout these five months. But you can also enjoy lots of other winter wonderland experiences, with activities such as guided ice-walks and mountain gondola rides included in this Banff & Lake Louise Winter Experience.

If you seek polar bears, Brinklow says: “‘October and November is the best time to view them because this is when the bears begin their move from their summer habitat on the tundra back to seal-hunting territory-the pack ice that forms every winter over Hudson Bay.”

You may also be able to spot bears in the summer months as they roam in search of food, particularly if you travel to Baffin Island. The summer there brings 24 hours of daylight. Another popular time to look for the bears is in March when the newborn cubs arrive.

Check out these Polar Bear encounters in Churchill.

* Our recommended holidays in Canada include a tour of the Rockies. Check out these wildlife, ranchingmotorhome holidaysself-drive tours and cruise holidays.

See polar bears in the wildTake the trainLife on the ranchToronto

Last updated: 15 October 2018

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