For the majority of people their Whistler vacation will start at the Vancouver International Airport (YVR). From there it’s approximately a two hour drive north along the magnificent Sea to Sky Highway to Whistler Village. The Sea to Sky highway offers excellent views and winds through Howe Sound past the Pacific Ocean before gaining elevation and making its way through coastal forest and canyons.
Some people may find it cheaper to fly into the Seattle International Airport (Tacoma) and drive to Whistler from there. It is worth checking into the cost difference between these two airports to see if it is worth the extra hassle.
Whistler can also be accessed by train or flights from Vancouver. See below for information how to train, fly or bus to Whistler from Vancouver.
Driving Distances to Whistler
Vancouver to Whistler: 2 hours
Squamish to Whistler: 45 min to 1 hour
Seattle to Whistler: 5 hours
Driving Directions to Whistler
To get to Whistler most people will start from Vancouver. Flying into Vancouver (YVR airport) is easy as it is an international airport that services most of the world. From there it is a two hour drive up the beautiful Sea to Sky Highway, an amazing scenic drive with the ocean, majestic mountains, a waterfall and fantastic view points along the way.
Driving directions from Vancouver to Whistler: From Vancouver Airport travel east and then take the Arthur Laing bridge north onto Granville Street. Travel north along Granville for about 15 minutes and you will get to the Granville Street bridge into Downtown Vancouver. Stay right and exit onto Seymour Street and continue north for about 7 blocks. Take a left on Georgia Street and travel west for about 8 minutes (or an hour if traffic is bad) until you get to the Stanley Park Causeway and eventually cross the Lions Gate Bridge. Stay left when exiting the Lions Gate Bridge and circle around to Marine Drive. Stay right after going round the circle and exit onto Taylor Way. Go up the hill of Taylor Way for a few blocks then stay left after dropping back down a small hill and going under the highway. Exit left off Taylor Way and onto the Upper Level Highway (TransCanada 1). Stay on this highway and make sure to take the exit to Whistler upon approaching Horseshoe Bay. Once on the Sea to Sky Highway it is a straight shot to Whistler while passing through Lions Bay and Squamish along the way.
Notable Stops along the Sea to Sky Highway:
Here are a couple worthwhile stops and viewpoints to check out on the drive to Whistler
Lions Bay: a small little town with nice views of Howe Sound. There is a small store and bakery located here that serves decent food and has a great view of the ocean.
The Chief: You can’t miss seeing the Stawamus Chief before Squamish. It is a huge 700 meter granite wall of rock that juts out right off the highway. Famous worldwide for excellent rock climbing the Chief is quite an amazing sight.
Shannon Falls: Located just before the Chief this spectacular waterfall can be seen right from the highway. There is an easily accessible turnoff and parking spot where viewers can get a close up view of Shannon Falls and the surrounding rock faces.
Squamish: The town of Squamish offers lots of amenities such as gas, groceries and food. Fill up your car here as it is much cheaper for gas than Whistler or Vancouver. There is also a small downtown area with a variety of cafes and restaurants worth checking out. Brackendale, just past Squamish also has some great little eating establishments and, if you are there at the right time, stop and check out the bald eagles.
Tantalus Mountain Range: About halfway between Squamish and Whistler you will drive past a jaw dropping mountain range that will appear on your left. There are multiple viewpoints to pull out and stop and get a good look at some of the spectacular peaks and glaciers that make up the Tantalus Mountains.
Brandywine Falls: Located approximately 35 minutes past Squamish is a turnoff for Brandywine Falls. The falls are about a 10-15 walk along a well marked and traveled forest pathway. The falls are definitely worth a look as they shoot straight over a large vertical cliff face and fall over 60 meters into a beautiful pool.
Callaghan Valley (Whistler Olympic Park): 15 minutes before you get to Whistler you will pass a turnoff for Callaghan Valley on your left. The turnoff travels about 15 minutes up a well paved road to the 2010 Whistler Olympic Park. This is where the Vancouver Olympic Nordic events where held. There are numerous cross country ski trails here that are open to the public. If you are feeling adventurous and have a 4 wheel drive you can continue past the Olympic Park to a rough gravel road that eventually winds its way up to Callaghan Lake.
Pemberton: Pemberton is a small farming town located at the base of the majestic Mt. Currie, 25 minutes past Whistler. Pemberton is definitely worth a visit for small town amenities, good food and nice scenery.
At our townhouse (the Snowflake Cabin) parking is free. However, if you are staying at another Whistler hotel expect to pay about $15-25 per day for hotel parking. For public parking options there are day lots next to the Village. The closer lots are pay lots while the outer lots are free. In addition Marketplace businesses provide and maintain a 2 hour free parking lot and the Creekside Base also has around 1,200 stalls of complimentary underground parking for those skiing at Whistler.
Transportation to Whistler
Car Rentals: There are numerous car rental companies in Vancouver and at YVR that will rent a car for Whistler. In the winter make sure there are good snow tires and room for your skis and snowboards.
Busing to Whistler: a number of bus companies go between Vancouver and Whistler. This includes
- PCL – between Vancouver Airport and Whistler Village
- Snowbus – picks up in various sport in Vancouver and Downtown and Whistler
- Greyhound – leaves downtown Vancouver and stops in Squamish and Whistler
Other Ground Transportation Options:
- Taxi to Whistler:
- Limousine to Whistler: Pearl Limo, Star Limousine Service
- Group transport or executive class vans (Perimeter)
Fly to Whistler from Vancouver: There is helicopter service between Whistler and Vancouver. Blackcomb Aviation and Whistler Air (Harbour Air division) are two top choices.
Train to Whistler: Rocky Mountaineer offers train trips to Whistler from Vancouver. The trip is quite beautiful and takes about 3.5 hours.