9 Ways To Visit Whistler On A Budget

Whether you’re visiting in the summer or the winter, Whistler is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. If you’re on a road trip through Western Canada or just want to hit the best ski slopes in North America, a trip to Whistler is a must-see. But that doesn’t mean it has to break the bank. I’m a relatively new local to Whistler, having moved here three years ago, and even so it’s expensive for us! With that being said, locals also know the places to get good deals, and where to grocery shop!

Where Is Whistler & How To Get There

Whistler is North America’s biggest ski resort. It’s the ultimate destination for skiing, snowboarding and Mountain Biking. Located in the province of British Columbia, Whistler is a 2-hour drive from Vancouver International Airport. 

There are several ways to get to Whistler. The cheapest way to get to Whistler is through Epic Rides. For $25 you can get a one way ride or $35 for a return! This option is good if you are already in Vancouver or looking at spending a couple days there first. Epic Rides doesn’t pick up at the airport, so if you are coming straight to Whistler from YVR, there are other transfer options. The Skylynx and Whistler Connection both pick up from Vancouver airport.

Is it possible to visit Whistler on a budget?

Whistler is an expensive place, especially during the peak seasons. Depending on what activities you want to do will affect what your budget will look like.  If you plan your trip right, you can avoid the crowds and subsequently, the high prices. As with most tourist areas – the more sought after time of year, the busier it will be. But, when are the busy times? When does the Mountain open and close? How Do I book a hotel on a budget? This guide will help you plan your trip so you can spend more time on activities and less on other things. This is how you visit Whistler on a budget…

Skyraker Bridge - Whistler On A Budget
The Skyraker Bridge on Whistler Mountain

1) Stay In A Hostel

Hotels in Whistler will set you back between $200-$600 per night during the peak winter season. If you book early enough you may be able to find deals under the $200 mark.

Another option is to stay in a hostel. The Whistler Lodge can be booked for as low as $40 per night while the HI Whistler can be booked for around $36 per person.

The Pangea Pod Hotel is a great alternative to hostels. If visiting on a budget this would be the hotel I would recommend. It’s in a fantastic location in the middle of Whistler Village and is the newest property in Whistler. For 2 people in December prices are on average $95 CAD – a little more than a hostel but for the location alone it’s worth the extra! (You may be able to find last minute deals, but booking in advance is always easier!)

Rainbow Mountain, British Columbia
Watching the sunset on Rainbow Mountain!

2) Stay In Squamish Or Pemberton

Staying in the nearby towns of either Squamish or Pemberton can save you money in the long run. Squamish is approximately 40 minutes from Whistler, while Pemberton is about a 30-minute drive. Groceries, restaurants and gas prices will be far cheaper in both towns. This could be an option if you aren’t able to find accommodation in Whistler.

Search For Accommodation In Squamish

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Cheakamus Lake - Whistler. How To Save Money in Whistler
Cheakamus Lake, Whistler

3) Book An Air BnB

Whistler is home to a multitude of Air BnB’s, if you book far enough in advance you can get studio apartments for $150 per night or less. Booking an Air BnB gives you more room than a hotel room or hostel. If you are visiting with a group of friends, an Air BnB would be a good option as you can share the cost! Many Air BnB’s also offer free parking so you’ll avoid the $25+ a day most hotels charge.

4) Cook Your Own Meals

If you opt for the Air BnB option, you can save on expensive meals by cooking your own! Stock up on snacks at the Independent grocery store in Rainbow to take out with you while on the mountain whether winter or summer. The summer months also make Whistler the perfect place for a picnic by the lake!

5) Grocery Shop In Squamish Or Rainbow

If you’re driving up to Whistler yourself, stopping for groceries or snacks will be far cheaper than the prices here. The Independent & Save on Foods are the cheapest options in Squamish.

If you’re coming to Whistler on a bus, you can always take the bus into Rainbow and pick up supplies at the Independent. It’s less convenient than buying from the grocery stores in the main Village, but in the long run you’ll save money! Especially if you opt to cook your own meals.

Tantalus Range - Squamish Canada
The Tantalus Mountain Range – Squamish, BC

6) Visit Whistler In The Dead Season

Whistler has two dead seasons throughout the year, Spring and Fall. The Spring dead season runs from end of April to mid-June while the Fall dead season runs from mid-September to the end of November. During this time Hotel prices decrease a lot in price! If you plan your trip right, you’ll also be able to catch the last of the Ski or Bike seasons just before the Mountain closes.

The other upside to the dead seasons is you can sample amazing food at a fraction of the price. Many of the fine dining restaurants offer fixed price menus for a limited time. Restaurants such as the Bearfoot Bistro, Araxi and Il Caminetto all offer fixed price multiple course menus at around $40 per person.

7) Know Where The Cheap Restaurant Deals Are

Even if you aren’t visiting in the dead season, there are still many inexpensive places to eat while in Whistler. Here are a few of my favourite “cheap eats” and some weekly deals that might help you save a few dollars!

  • EL Furniture Warehouse – All meals are $5.95 all day every day
  • Splitz Grill – The place to come for amazing burgers, between 11am – 3pm they offer $9.99 meals
  • Peaked Pies – Australian fayre in Whistler, most meals work out to $10-$12 dollars

For up to date restaurant deals and Happy Hour check out the Whistler Bites website!

8) Avoid Weekends

Weekends are incredibly busy in Whistler in comparison to the week days. If visiting during the high season make sure you avoid the weekends. Many people will making the journey up from Vancouver or Seattle just for the weekend. The highway on Sundays is usually super busy for this reason! Hotel prices will be higher on weekends and all restaurants will be fully booked or have long waits.

Snowmobiling in Whistler
Snowmobiling In Whistler’s Back Country

9) Book Your Whistler Lift Tickets In Advance

Is it possible to get discount lift tickets? The cheapest way to book your Whistler lift tickets is by purchasing them in advance. Usually if you buy before the start of the season you can take advantage of the deals on the Whistler Blackcomb website. This year (2019) if you book your tickets before November 15th, you’ll get 31% off! For example, a 3-day lift tickets is currently $337 CAD (Nov 2019) and can be used within 5 days. Buying in advance also means you get to skip the lines.

It’s no secret that Whistler is an expensive place to visit, but it is an amazing part of the world with some of the most stunning scenery. By planning your trip at the right time and taking these tips on board you’ll save money so you can ski/snowmobile/hike in one nature’s biggest playgrounds!

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How To Visit Whistler On A Budget

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