Whether you live in Canada or you’re on vacation, chances are you’ve added Whistler to your must-see list. For those local to B.C., this is an iconic destination frequently visited throughout the year for an indulgent weekend retreat, as an adventure playground or simply a place to find space and connect with nature.
A quintessential mountain town, surrounded by deep valleys, trails and turquoise lakes, Whistler has every outdoor enthusiast’s stamp of approval – and yours soon also.
Sold! Now how do I get there?
Whistler is located approximately two hours north of Vancouver along the Sea-to-Sky corridor. This scenic stretch winds all the way up through Squamish (keep an eye out for bald eagles here if travelling between November and February), right through to North America’s largest ski resort.
Beautiful to drive, but for those without personal transport, there are multiple options for you to get from downtown Vancouver or Vancouver International Airport (YVR).
Skylynx offers affordable bus fares to Whistler from just $20 one way, and children under six travel for free, making it even easier for families to visit. Whistler Connection offers shared or private shuttle transportation for those looking for smaller group sizes to travel as well as private charters specifically for wedding parties or events.
For those seeking more of a challenge, or to take a ride like no other, it is possible to cycle the Sea to Sky Highway – approximately 102km from Horseshoe Bay and including an elevation gain of 650m. But be warned, this is not for the faint of heart and we highly recommend not attempting unless you’re a seasoned cyclist and comfortable riding along a very busy highway.
To travel in full scenic mode, Harbour Air is an unforgettable seaplane transfer from either Richmond or Vancouver Harbour right into Whistler (with a complimentary shuttle to take you into the village on arrival should you need it).
If coming southbound into Whistler, the drive down through the Duffey Lake Road from Lillooet is a majestic route filled with scenic winds and switchbacks. In the spring and summer months, the wildflowers make it a beautiful sight to take in, while in the winter months, enjoy the striking snowy rivers and icing sugar-coated trees.
Whichever way you choose to visit Whistler, you won’t be disappointed.
Noted! Now when’s the best time to visit?
Known for its year-round terrain, bustling vibe, and plentiful activities, it is always a good time to visit!
Since we’re in winter, what can I expect?
Thrills run just as deep as the powder does in winter, with the biggest and best ski resort making up the backdrop to the village. Two large mountains (Whistler and Blackcomb), nestled side-by-side, are connected by the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola, making it accessible for those wishing to ski or ride down from the high alpine, or simply take in the 360° views atop both.
Locals often spend their days off during winter skiing or snowboarding on Whistler or Blackcomb Mountain and visitors will also make it a must tick-off activity. Lift tickets and season passes can be purchased online and it’s recommended to book them in advance to get the best savings. Lessons for adults and children (as well as a handy kids club) can also be booked in advance, and there are many locations for equipment rentals if you need to borrow some.
Whistler receives approximately three million visitors each year, with 45% of those visiting during winter. Yes, there’s a popular influx each year but thanks to a wide variety of hotels, condos, chalets, bed and breakfasts offering over 8,000 bedrooms, not to mention campsites, there is plenty of room to welcome those wishing to overnight.
With temperatures ranging between -8 and 3 degrees, it’s best to bring a warm wardrobe, but for anything that might be forgotten, Whistler Village is filled with over 200 retail shops, so you can always find what you need.
As the host of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, team up with others or take your friends and experience what it’s like to bobsled down the world’s fastest ice track at the Sliding Centre. If that’s a bit too racy (excuse the pun), another favourite is to take a scenic snowmobile tour with Canadian Wilderness Adventures, either as a single rider or double up and share the fun.
Activities are endless for both locals and tourists, from both adrenaline-filled adventures through to more relaxing options to wind-down. To warm up after a day skiing (or simply to fill a day feeling pampered), Scandinave Spa is Whistler’s Nature Spa offering bath and massage options amongst the local spruce and cedar forest.
Hot Tip: Right now, Vallea Lumina is back in winter operation. A story told by light along a secret trail amongst the trees high in the mountains, this is an enchanting experience for families and friends. Visit their website for tickets.
How about in the warmer months to start planning a visit?
Out of the three million visitors each year, that leaves the majority (55%) visiting in summertime. And what a time that is to visit!
Since Whistler is a true mountain playground, hiking is one of the most easily accessible activities with bountiful options in the area to choose from. Popular for the ski runs in winter, Whistler and Blackcomb Mountain are also renowned for their alpine trails – from short, family-friendly flats to more advanced hikes up to lakes, glaciers and meadows. You’re never alone on these hikes either as you’ll often have a friendly chipmunk or marmot pop its head up to say hello, but do keep a can of bear spray on hand in the warmer months – it is still Canada where many bears call home!
You will still need a pass to take the mountain gondola’s up in the summer months, but if your boots were made for walking, you can tackle Blackcomb from the base right up to the summit. The Ascent Trail will start you off beside the Upper Village gondola, but keep in mind you will still need a download ticket if you’re only wanting to hike the one-way. The views from any of the hikes on both mountains are absolutely worth it – your social media will be the envy of everyone not visiting with you.
Behold the lakes! Whistler has several public lakes, perfect for swimming, sunbathing, paddle-boarding or simply stretching the legs around (for you and your four-legged friends). Lost Lake is a popular spot to relax and can be reached by foot, bike, car or thanks to the free BC Transit shuttle that runs daily from June 19 through to Labour Day. Alpha Lake is another large lake that offers a sandy beach and docks, as well as volleyball and tennis courts to mix up the day’s activities.
To take in all the vibrant green and blue that the warm months offer, what better way to see it than by taking a sightseeing tour from above with Blackcomb Helicopters. From 15 through to 40-minute tours, you can see the wonders of Whistler from the sky as well as enjoy a unique mountaintop landing where you can hop out, stretch your legs and give your camera a workout.
Spend the days being active and the nights enjoying one of the many bars and bistros along the village strolls, join a Whistler Tasting Tour or if you’re young (or young at heart), enjoy the nightlife scene that starts to buzz at the various nightclubs, bars, pubs and lounges.
I’ve fallen in love with Whistler. What is the local property market like?
It’s no surprise that this is a frequent occurrence – people visit, and they don’t want to leave the mountains and the outdoorsy lifestyle. Due to its popularity, you may tend to find properties here valued on the higher side but investing in property here is a smart decision. Whistler properties yield a good return on investment and make for a great investment to live in or rent out during the year.
Values of property in Whistler has and will remain strong due to several factors, including its proximity and access to so many outdoor activities, a short, scenic drive to Vancouver and as the perfect location for owners to escape city life – either for short vacations, seasonally or to move permanently and be based year-round.
One thing to note with property in Whistler is that if you’re looking at buying an apartment or townhouse, you will incur strata fees. The cost of these varies but are usually monthly and go toward the upkeep and maintenance of the building, garbage and snow removal, and internal recreational facilities, which are looked after by a professional strata management company. The fee should be noted on any property listing that you consider.
What are some great areas to live in Whistler?
The original Whistler neighbourhood dating back to 1966 is often considered to be a smaller version of the main village, but more laid back and less busy. You’ll find the Creekside gondola here, an alternative transportation method to get you to the top of Whistler Mountain without having to go right into the village. Creekside has a beautiful little shopping area filled with restaurants, bars, coffee shops, gyms, retail stores, a gas station and a supermarket. It’s also where you’ll find Nita Lake Lodge – an accommodation and spa favourite right on the edge of Nita Lake. Guests and visitors are both welcomed.
One of the first neighbourhoods you’ll pass by on your way into Whistler from Vancouver is Function Junction, an industrial area that recently has been revitalized into a funky, popular spot for many types of business. From brewing companies like Whistler Brewing Co. and Coast Mountain Brewing, to vintage stores, restaurants and beautiful homewares stores, there’s pretty much everything you need in this neighbourhood and has easy bus access to the village for everything else (note: all neighbourhoods in Whistler have daily, accessible bus routes). You’ll find property options here as well as directly across the highway in the family-friendly neighbourhood of Cheakamus.
A unique community that has been carved out on the mountainside overlooking Green Lake and across to views of both Whistler and Blackcomb Mountain. Equipped with a supermarket, gas station, cafe, and fantastic trails to hike and explore in behind the housing developments, Rainbow is a great location. Here you’ll find everything from townhomes to luxury properties.
Whistler has its main lower village filled with retail stores, bars and restaurants, but venture a short 10-minute walk toward Blackcomb Mountain and you’ll find the Upper Village also boasting its own attractive array of bars, restaurants and stores along with some of Whistler’s most well-known hotel chains such as the Fairmont and Four Seasons. Here you can ski-in/ski-out directly from the base of Blackcomb and you’re approximately a 7-minute walk to Lost Lake. Here you’ll find a great selection of apartments and condos for sale, perfect to live in year-round, or as potential rental income investments.
Whichever type of #havn you’re looking for in Whistler, there really is something for everyone. Get in touch with your local Stilhavn agent today and have a chat about what type of property you might be looking for and let them help you track it down. In Whistler, any area is a great area, and our REALTORS® can show you around, visit the various neighbourhoods and help you to get a feel of what your new life will be like in the mountains.