Here Are All The Ways to Get From Vancouver to Whistler, BC!
If you’re wondering how to get to Whistler from Vancouver, you are certainly not alone! No matter the time of year, Whistler is a destination for adventure seekers, nature lovers, spa relaxers, and everyone in between!
Since there a quite a few different ways to get to Whistler, our detailed guide covers all the different transportation options.
That said, some other options – such as flying in a seaplane – are shorter and more expensive, but may work better for you.
From the beautiful driving route and bus, to seaplane, helicopter, or day tour, there is (hopefully) a way to get from Vancouver to Whistler that works well for your itinerary, preference, and budget.
Vancouver to Whistler Transport Options
- By Car: As fast as 1 hour 45 minutes via BC-99 (Sea to Sky Highway)
- By Bus/Shuttle: 3 hours (or less) on the popular YVR Skylynx Bus
- By Private Transfer: 2.5 hours with hired car and driver from YVR
- By Tour: Enjoy a Day Trip to Whistler (with scenic stops!)
- By Air: As fast as 35 minutes with Harbour Air Seaplane from Vancouver Harbour to Whistler Airport
Table of Contents
Vancouver to Whistler by Car
One of the most popular ways to get from Vancouver to Whistler is by car. In fact, given that there is only one direct route (a major highway), driving from Vancouver to Whistler is a well-tracked route.
It is also known as one of the most scenic drives in the world. Watching the world turn from a busy city to a rocky coastline with the islands in Howe Sound, and then transition to snow-capped mountains towering above you is something to be experienced.
Self-Drive from Vancouver to Whistler
Eric did the drive with his dad in a rental car a few years ago (in the summer) and it was awesome.
If you don’t have your own car, you can rent a car in Vancouver to make this journey.
The highway – BC-99 N – was redone for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games. The drive is relatively easy with lots of gentle curves and rolling hills along the cliffs before turning more into forest and mountains.
How long is the drive from Vancouver to Whistler? The drive from Vancouver downtown to Whistler is as short as 1 hour and 45 minutes (with minimal/no traffic) covering a distance of about 120 kilometres (75 miles).
From Downtown, the Vancouver to Whistler drive would look something like this:
- Pick up Highway 99 as it leaves Downtown towards Stanley Park.
- Cross the famous Lions Gate Bridge heading for West Vancouver.
- Follow Highway 99 through West Vancouver to pick up the main part of Highway 99 N (part of the Trans Canada Highway).
- Take this north, passing the Ferry Terminal at Horseshoe Bay, and eventually pass through the town of Squamish.
- Drive another 45 minutes (about 60 kilometres) from Squamish to reach Whistler Village.
The drive itself is not boring and there are numerous stops you can make along the way once you get out of the city. The more stops you make, the longer the drive, but it’s worth it.
Here are some of the stops we have made in the past:
- Porteau Cove Marine Park – For seaside views of the sound.
- The Britannia Mine Museum – To learn about the history of the area.
- Shannon Falls Provincial Park – To experience BC’s 3rd highest waterfalls.
- The Sea to Sky Gondola – Just outside Squamish – with the famed Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge.
- The town of Squamish itself for supplies, lunch, or sightseeing.
- Tantalus Lookout – For incredible views of the mountain range.
If you were to drive to Whistler from Vancouver International Airport (YVR), the total travel time is closer to 2 to 2.5 hours.
This is because the airport is south of downtown Vancouver and the traffic through the heart of the city will most likely slow you down.
That said, YVR is the closest international airport to Whistler, so it’s a popular way in and out for many Whister-bound travellers.
Overall, it’s an awesome, scenic journey. However, driving does have its potential downsides. For starters, if you have a car, you have to consider parking costs and locations in Whistler.
Two other considerations for taking driving up the highway are conditions and congestion.
Because there is only one road in and out of Whistler back to Vancouver, incidents (such as accidents) can significantly impact travel time for everyone.
If you have a flight to catch, we’d recommend giving yourself lots of extra time if you’re coming back from Whistler (5-6 hours minimum).
The other thing is the weather and conditions. In the summer, the drive is lovely. In the winter, the closer you get to the mountains, the more snow you get. And bad conditions can grind things to a halt up there.
BC has strict winter driving regulations and winter tires are legally required on cars – including rentals. You can read more about Driving Conditions in BC here.
The drive in winter is definitely doable… but if you are at all uneasy, that’s okay. Winter driving isn’t for everyone. It’s a skill.
Perhaps consider the bus or shuttle (mentioned below) as a safer and more relaxed way for you to get to Whistler!
Ridesharing from Vancouver to Whistler
If you want to take a car but drive with other people, you might also look into ridesharing.
The drive from Vancouver to Whistler is pretty popular so there’s always someone with a car running back and forth. Use Poparide to search for available seats. It’s also a very affordable option, too.
Vancouver to Whistler by Bus
If you do not want to drive between Vancouver and Whistler yourself, there are plenty of bus options – some coach buses and some smaller shuttles – to help you make the journey.
Taking a bus from Vancouver to Whistler is a great idea because you don’t have to worry about the logistics of renting a car, driving there, parking, etc. You can just sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenery.
Buses or shuttles are also good options if you are just planning to spend time in Whistler only. Since many people typically fly into YVR, lots of companies make it a point to get visitors back and forth comfortably and efficiently.
Also keep in mind that no matter the bus type or company, the driving route to Whistler from Vancouver is the same for everyone.
This means you don’t have to worry about missing out on the amazing scenery on the way up because you booked with one company over another.
So, the Vancouver to Whistler bus options below for you to consider are the YVR Skylynx/BC Connector Bus or one of the many specialized shuttle services.
Each has its pros and cons so here are these bus options in more detail:
Likely the most popular – and well-rated – bus option to get from Vancouver International Airport to Whistler is the YVR Skylynx. This service is an official partner of YVR, which means they can pick up people right at the airport.
There are two services available: the YVR Skylynx Standard and the YVR Skylynx Express.
- The Standard makes stops in/around Downtown Vancouver (like the Pacific Central Station) and takes 3 hours total from the airport to Whistler Village Centre (Gateway Loop).
- The Express option picks up at YVR and heads straight for stops in Whistler (no downtown stops) taking about 2 hours and 15 minutes. It’s an extra $10 CAD for a one-way ticket.
In addition to these routes, you can choose a standard or flexible ticket option. Flexible tickets allow you to change the bus you take or refund the ticket in advance of the ride.
The buses are known to be clean, comfortable, and with amenities like WIFI and washrooms. The Skylynx buses are in partnership with/also bookable through the BC Connector Bus website.
This is the same company we took to get from Vancouver to Victoria (on the ferry) so we can vouch for their high-quality service, ease of online booking, handling of luggage, etc.
Unlike the route between Vancouver and Victoria, you cannot take public buses (via Translink.ca for Vancouver) up the highway to Whistler.
So, the YVR Skylynx is considered the best bus option to get from the airport to Whistler. They run multiple routes from the early morning into the evening. You can find their Kiosk located in the International Terminal Arrivals Area.
The buses typically leave from Bus Bay #9 outside the terminal doors.
Address for YVR SkyLynx Kiosk: 3211 Grant McConachie Way, Richmond, BC V6V 2G7
If you want to get on the bus downtown instead of at the airport, you can. There are two options: the Pacific Central Station (the main train station where ViaRail and Amtrak trains arrive) at Bus Bay #7 (usually). This is where we got on our bus to Victoria.
Address Pacific Central Station: 1150 Station St, Vancouver, BC V6A 4C7
The other option is right in the heart of Downtown Vancouver between Burrard Skytrain Station and the Hyatt Regency Hotel on Melville Street.
Address Downtown Location: 655 Burrard Street, Vancouver BC
Once in Whistler, there are a few drop-off points. The main bus terminal for shuttles and buses is the Gateway Bus Loop.
It’s right in Whistler Village off the main highway and you’re just steps from the Whistler Visitor Centre.
Location of Gateway Bus Loop: https://goo.gl/maps/8ZNxqwpx9gvrTEEG8
They also do a drop-off just before Whistler Village in Creekside Village and you can also book a door-to-door drop-off to specific hotels and accommodations around Whistler.
If you choose this hotel drop-off option when you book, you’ll automatically be put on the Express Shuttle (slightly more expensive than the Standard route) because it’s a smaller bus which is better for smaller hotel runs.
Overall, considering the year-round service, the ease of the booking process, the pick-up system, the ride itself, etc. Skylynx is worth the price.
Keep in mind that the fare includes the first two pieces of luggage to go under the bus for each passenger and one piece of sports equipment (skis, board, golf clubs). This makes it a great option for winter travel when gear bags take up a lot of room!
Given the popularity of the destination, there are a few (generally smaller) companies that specialize in taking you from Vancouver to Whistler.
Several other private companies offer scenic day tours between the two destinations, but we have mentioned these separately in the “Vancouver to Whistler Tours” section below.
The Vancouver to Whistler shuttle companies in this section are known for basically one thing: getting people to and from Vancouver (airport or downtown) and Whistler, and doing it well.
The following shuttle services have established themselves as solid options for getting you and your gear up to Whistler (and back).
- Whistler Shuttle – Operates both a Downtown and YVR Shuttle to and from Whistler.
- Epic Rides – Picks up from Downtown locations only (no airport).
Before you book a shuttle service, be sure to read through their details carefully. For example, the pick-up locations are not always standard.
Some do not pick up at YVR, but only in downtown Vancouver. Some will pick you up at the airport, but they may have baggage/luggage restrictions on their fare or charge a higher fare for luggage.
One advantage of using a smaller shuttle service is that they generally depart and arrive around flight times rather than standard times.
So, they usually track your flight – and potential flight delays – meaning you shouldn’t miss your bus ride from YVR.
For a helpful schedule comparison, you might look at Snowbus. This is a company that oversees bus bookings (from YVR Skylynx to private shuttle companies).
They also handle gear rentals and other bookable activities while in Whistler. Their website is useful during the winter months but you have to email them to book a summer shuttle.
Vancouver to Whistler Private Transfer
If you want to experience the drive without driving yourself – and without taking a larger shuttle – you can hire a car to take you there. For this specialized option, you’d take a taxi or a luxury transfer.
These are obviously more expensive than most of the other options (besides flying there), but you may want to ride in style at your own pace and choose this method.
You could take a taxi there. There’s a robust infrastructure of shuttle bus services but in case you can’t make it or you have a delayed flight, etc. a taxi can get you there.
One such example is Kimbercabs. Their rate is posted at $285 CAD so it’s not terrible but more expensive than booking a shuttle service (or the flight) in advance.
In addition to the taxi, you can also hire a private luxury transfer to take you to Whistler. Many of the options in this category revolve around a hired driver service offering higher-end transport options.
You might opt for a spacious SUV and driver for your group and your gear/bags up to Whistler. For this, there are companies like Luxury Transport Inc.
A private transfer would be more expensive than using one of the traditional shuttles (like YVR SkyLynx) but you’d have the added convenience of not waiting for other passengers when you arrive in Vancouver.
You’d also be able to control many aspects of the journey compared to a larger shuttle bus.
Another company in this space is Whistler Connection. They offer similar services to the shuttle buses but can be hired for private transfers.
They have smaller, more private transfers (minibus, sprinter van, or SUV) between YVR and Whistler.
Vancouver to Whistler Tours
One of the most popular and convenient ways to get from Vancouver to Whistler is to book a guided tour.
Given the proximity of Whistler to Vancouver – and all the natural beauty that can be experienced in any season – it’s no surprise that there are many day tour options to get you back and forth.
Tours are also a nice option if you are short on time but want to see Whistler. Hotel pick-ups around Vancouver are often (but not always) included so that’s a bonus.
When we visited most recently, this is how we got up to Whistler via the Sea to Sky Highway. We did this guided tour from Vancouver to Whistler and it was great.
With all the best roadside stops – and time to go up the Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish – it was a great experience.
We also had a really good guide who told us facts and kept us entertained the whole time.
Once we got to Whistler, we had a few hours to eat, explore, and generally enjoy the place. We went to lunch at Beacon Pub & Eatery and wandered the village, shopped, and explored the nearby trails.
If you do choose a Whistler day tour, a few things to consider when booking is the length of the tour (many last the whole day), which attractions are included in the price (if any), reviews, and more.
Here are some popular day tour options from Vancouver to Whistler:
More Whistler Day Tours
Vancouver to Whistler By Train
Technically speaking, there is a train that goes between Vancouver and Whistler. However, it is not a bookable train nor is it a commuter-type train you could just hop on one day and return another day.
The route is run by the Rocky Mountaineer (the famous Canadian luxury train company) as part of their Rainforest to Goldrush 3-day train tour. It runs from Vancouver to Jasper, Alberta and would be a lovely journey!
However, since you can’t just book one section of this tour, there is no practical train between Vancouver and Whistler.
However, there has been talk of reviving the Vancouver to Whistler train, so stay tuned in the future.
Vancouver to Whistler by Air
Last, but certainly not least, flying from Vancouver to Whistler is a possibility. The two places are very popular and with only one highway between them, delays can occur.
Taking to the air can help to minimize delays… and it’s shorter overall.
Given that Whistler is a smaller town, however, there are not nearly as many options to take to the air, as between Vancouver and Victoria (the capital of BC), for example.
There are two main ways to get from Vancouver to Whistler by air and these are seaplanes with Harbour Air or helicopter with Blackcomb Helicopters.
The seasonal option to fly on a seaplane is with Harbour Air Seaplanes. The flight from the big city into the mountains is something to be experienced.
Compared to other seaplane routes with Harbour Air between Vancouver, Victoria, Tofino, etc., the flight from Vancouver to Whistler is straightforward: there’s only one take-off point and only one landing point!
⇒ Book your Seaplane from Vancouver Harbour to Whistler (subject to seasonality).
Vancouver Harbour Flight Centre
Seaplane flights to Whistler depart from “Vancouver Harbour Airport”, the floating airport located on the water to the north side of downtown Vancouver.
It’s right beside the famous Olympic Cauldron and the Vancouver Convention Centre.
This Vancouver Harbour seaplane terminal is really handy if you are in or heading for downtown Vancouver.
Address of Vancouver Harbour Flight Centre: 1055 Canada Pl, Vancouver, BC V6C 3T4
The flight itself is 45 minutes long and there are one to two departures a day. One factor with the seaplane is that the flights operate on a seasonal schedule.
Flights operate in the summer months only, from the start of May to the end of September.
Good to know: “Whistler Air” was a company that got bought by Harbour Air. So, the plane might say Whistler Air but you book through Harbour Air.
Flying between Vancouver and Whistler by seaplane is a little more expensive than a shuttle but you do save some time. There are different fare classes so if you book in-advance fares can be more affordable.
Once in Whistler, the seaplanes land at the Whistler Sealane Terminal on Green Lake. This lake is located just 3 kilometres to the north of Whistler Village.
The terminal – like in Vancouver, Victoria, and Tofino – is floating on the lake. You will also find a restaurant here – Table Nineteen Lakeside Eatery – located at the adjacent golf course for a quick bite or drink before or after you fly.
You’re up in the mountains here, so it’s all very scenic and has a nice patio!
Address of Whister Seaplane Terminal (on Green Lake): 8069 Nicklaus North Boulevard, Whistler, BC, V0N 1B8
To get to where you’re going in Whistler – the Village, your accommodation, etc. – you have a few options.
Harbour Air runs a complimentary shuttle for pick-up and drop-off Friday through Monday. You have to request it, so contact Harbour Air (604-932-6615) in advance for this.
You could also take the bus. It would be a short walk to Highway-99 from the dock.
You could hop on any of the #10, 30, 31, and 32 routes (some winter-only) to get to Whistler Village or elsewhere around the village area. You can check the BC Transit site for Whistler schedules.
Our Tip: You can also make the most of taking seaplanes by going on a seaplane day tour from Vancouver to Whistler.
One thing to keep in mind with taking the seaplane from Vancouver to Whistler is that bad weather/high winds can affect flights.
You can check Harbour Air’s Flight Status Page if you have any questions.
If you don’t want to take a plane, you can take a helicopter between Vancouver and Whistler. Similar to a plane, the advantage of a helicopter is that you’d get stunning views of the surrounding city, coast, and mountains.
Blackcomb Helicopters operates a chartered route from two different helipad locations in Vancouver: one right downtown on the Harbour close to Waterfront Station.
Address of Vancouver Harbour Heliport: 455 W Waterfront Rd, Vancouver, BC V6B 5E8
The other heliport is down by Vancouver International Airport near the south terminal (close to Harbour Air’s Richmond Terminal).
Address of Blackcomb Helicopters Heliport near YVR: Hangar #5, 4360 Agar Dr, Richmond, BC V7B 1A3
While helicopter flights to Whistler are quick (about 30 minutes), they need to be chartered since they do not have a regular running schedule.
As such, these transfers are quite expensive (almost $4500+ CAD for one direction). But, it is an option that might work well for a group of up to 6 people, so we wanted to mention it. It would also be a stunning, scenic ride.
From both locations, you’d land at the same location in Whistler.
Address of Whistler Heliport: 9960 Heliport Rd, Whistler, BC Canada, V8E 0G5
The Heliport in Whistler is located just a 13-minute drive to the northwest of Whistler Village. It’s further up the highway than the seaplane terminal mentioned above.
So, you’d need to arrange transport to get to other places around Whistler. The Whistle! App (locally operated, good option) or a regular cab with Whistler Taxi (604-932-3333).
There is another company – Sky Helicopters – that can also take you up there on a chartered helicopter flight. Again, the price would be high but it might be worth it to you.
If you’re exploring Canada’s West Coast, check out these other helpful travel guides to help you plan your trip!
- Things to Do and See in Victoria, BC
- Victoria Accommodations Guide
- Vancouver Accommodations and Areas Guide
- Vancouver in One Day: Things to Do, See, and Eat!
- Our Tofino, BC Visitor’s Guide
And there you have it – our guide on travelling from Vancouver to Whistler. With so many great – and scenic – transportation options to choose from, we’re hopeful that you’ll find something that works for you.
As always, Happy Waddlin’,