- Best of Vancouver and Victoria
- Vancouver Island: High Tea to Low Tide
- Vancouver’s Totem Poles
- Vancouver’s Best Hiking
- Family Fun in Vancouver & Victoria
- Focus on Vancouver and Victoria
- Vancouver Weekend Getaway
- Victoria Weekend Getaway
- A Tour Through Time
- Inside Passage Cruises
- Outdoor Adventures
- Winter Fun in Vancouver & Victoria
Victoria boasts the mildest climate of all Canadian cities, with Vancouver a close second, but the mild climate comes with one drawback—it rains a lot. Most precipitation, though, falls in winter, and summers are relatively dry. Overall, the main contributing factor to the climate of both cities is the Pacific Ocean. The warm waters of the Japan Current radiate heat across the entire region, a natural heat conduction system that warms winters while the ocean keeps summer temperatures mild. Vancouver and Victoria have half the temperature range of inland prairies.
Precipitation is strongly influenced by the lay of the land, which means there is a large variation in rainfall across the region and even within the cities. For example, in the far south of Vancouver, rainfall averages just 900 millimeters (35 inches) annually, whereas North Vancouver, in the shadow of the North Shore Range, averages 2,400 millimeters (94 inches). Don’t be surprised if reported rainfall in Vancouver seems a lot less than what you experience during your stay. Official weather observations are made at Vancouver International Airport, which receives much less precipitation than downtown and half that of the North Shore.
Summer is by far the most popular time to visit Vancouver and Victoria. Daytime temperatures in July and August average a pleasant 23°C (73°F), while the hottest day on record in Vancouver reached 33.3°C (92°F). In summer, city paths come alive with cyclists, joggers, and in-line skaters; the beaches and outdoor pools with swimmers and sunbathers; and the nearby mountain parks with anglers, campers, and hikers.
Spring starts early in Victoria: Gardens burst with color in March and daffodils bloom as early as late February. Temperatures through both spring and fall in both cities are, naturally, cooler than in summer, but in many ways these are prime travel periods. June and September are especially pleasant, because crowds are minimal. The average daytime temperature during both April and October is 14°C (57°F).
Vancouver’s main winter draw is as a gateway to major alpine resorts, including Whistler/Blackcomb, which is open from early November, and three others within sight of the city. Winter temperatures remain relatively mild (on a few occasions each year, snow does fall in downtown Vancouver, but it melts quickly), with January’s average high being 5°C (41°F). Victoria’s biggest wintertime attraction is that it doesn’t feel like winter (well, to other Canadians anyway).
Most city attractions are open year-round, although summer hours are longer. Hotels and motels charge more in summer than during the rest of the year, reducing rates most in winter. Many Victoria accommodations, even some upscale downtown hotels, offer monthly rates. Outside of summer, many accommodations offer package deals, which, for example, may include meals and discounted admissions to theaters.
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition