The weather in Vancouver can be fickle and unpredictable, making it incredibly difficult for out of towners to know what to pack and what to plan for. As Canada’s third most rainy city, there are many drastic changes in weather throughout the year, and even day to day or hour to hour. It can be wonderfully helpful to have an idea of what you might expect during any particular month. Every season in Vancouver offers its own type of beauty and you can never get bored of the scenery here whether it’s in the sun, rain, wind, or snow. Check out what each season is like in Vancouver and find out when the best time would be for you to visit this breathtaking city.
Summer: Late June to August
Vancouver is really popular in the summer and it is loved by many tourists and locals during the months of June, July, August, and often right up into September. Very little rainfall is expected during the Vancouver summer months and the sun continues to stay shining until the middle of October when the rain returns. The city enjoys warm summers and a mild climate accompanied by plenty of rain in the winter. Visitors can lie around and picnic on Vancouver’s many beaches or even take a dip in the Pacific Ocean. The sunsets are beautiful in the evenings and the sunrises give you that extra burst of energy in the mornings. There are many activities to get involved in during the summer months, such as rollerblading, rowing, kayaking, biking, beach volleyball, basketball, and countless other exciting outdoor excursions.
Fall: September to November
Early autumn is one of the most beautiful seasons in the city and it is still mild enough to wear skirts and shorts until October. The trees and leaves change into bright reds, burnt siennas, and golden yellows as the air begins to feel a little crisp, yet remains milder than any other province in Canada. Visitors stroll along the seawall and keep active with outdoor fun and sports along popular beach areas such as English Bay and Kitsilano Beach. A visit to Stanley Park is best during the autumn and summer months as the luscious trees and colorful flowers will take your breath away.
Winter: December to March
The average rainfall in the city is around 50 inches per year, which is mostly spread throughout the winter months. The winter flows from December to March, when the largest amount of precipitation appears. This is when you can escape from the rain and head to the mountains for some skiing only 30 minutes from the city. During the winter, temperatures can drop as low as -5 degrees Celsius, which works out to 23 Fahrenheit, but it usually stays a good deal warmer than that. There is snow on the mountains, but it doesn’t always make its way into downtown Vancouver. There can be some snowfall in the city during the winter but it rarely stays and usually gets washed away by the rain. The snow on the coastal mountains usually begins to melt when June hits, and may remain a little longer in places like the Grouse Mountain or Whistler.
Spring: April to June
In late March the winter winds begin to die down and the sun begins to show itself. The cherry blossoms start to bloom and then by the month of March other flowers like daffodils, rhododendrons, and azaleas begin to appear. This is a fantastic time to visit because you can enjoy picturesque coastal views, budding flowers, glorious sunrises, and heartwarming sunsets. For the very best views of spring flowers and fresh blooms, check out the VanDusen Botanical Garden or the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.
Best Time to Go
Summer and autumn are the best seasons to visit Vancouver if you want to lie on the beach, enjoy the sun, colorful trees, summer festivals, and activities around the city. Winter and spring are great for snow and nature lovers when they can enjoy the ski slopes and watch as the cherry blossoms begin to bud and blossom. Vancouver is a wonderful place to visit any time of the year, but if you have your heart set on crisp autumn leaves, fluffy snow, blooming flowers, or hot, sunny weather, plan your visit accordingly. Keep in mind that Vancouver makes her own plans for the weather and you might find yourself enjoying a warm day of sunshine in the winter or an inconvenient downpour smack dab in the middle of the summer months.
What to Pack for Summer
In the summer you can wear anything from a bathing suit to shorts and tank tops. T-shirts, summer dresses, light sweaters, light pants, and sandals are the best choice for the warmer months. If you plan to dine out then bring a pair of dress shoes or high heels as some of the fine dining establishments enforce a dress code. Don’t forget sunscreen, a beach towel, sunglasses, and your camera.
What to Pack for Fall
Pack somewhat warmer for autumn. Bring cardigans or a warmer sweater for cooler evenings and for watching the sunsets on the beach. Pack jeans, shorts, running shoes, t-shirts, dress shoes, blouses, long sleeve shirts, and pants. You should also bring along a light jacket or rain jacket and definitely don’t forget your umbrella.
What to Pack for Winter
In the winter you will need to truly prepare yourself if you’re coming from a warmer climate. Bring umbrellas, winter jackets with insulation, scarves, gloves, cotton pajamas, hats, jeans, boots, warm sweaters, and wool socks. It’s always good to be prepared, even if the weather forecast looks like it won’t be too cold. Vancouver’s winters can be pretty wet so pack a good deal of water resistant materials and plenty of extra socks.
What to Pack for Spring
In the spring you should bring an umbrella, a warm jacket, light sweaters, long sleeved cotton shirts, warm socks, running shoes, comfortable walking shoes, and warm pajamas. It may look warmer, and you’ll probably have plenty of nice days, but you’ll still want the option to bundle up if the rain comes in.
Planning for the Weather
If you’re planning your trip well in advance, it can be really hard to say what kind of weather you’re going to get, regardless of the season. The summer months are typically very warm and beautiful, but rain can appear out of nowhere at any time of the year. July and August are pretty safe choices if you’re coming for the beaches and December is an amazing time to come if you’re heading up to Whistler. Just be prepared for anything and have a couple of backup plans ready in case the weather suddenly changes and tries to take you by surprise.