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Canada in May: The Complete Guide

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Canada in May can be the perfect time to explore some of the country’s best attractions.

Canada is full of natural beauty, from the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic coastline. And there are also many historic sites that can provide a glimpse into what life was like for Canadians all those years ago. You can visit museums and galleries, or even stroll through old towns and villages – where you can still find people living just as they did 100 years ago!

If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-track experience, then look no further than Canada in May.

Visiting Canada in May: What to expect

Complete guide to visiting Canada in May

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What season is May in Canada?

May is springtime in Canada, and it is a nice time to explore the outdoors. In this month, the temperatures are mild and there are plenty of sunshine and rain showers to be enjoyed depending on the region you are planning to visit. 

Canada seasons: Canada has four distinct seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter. The monthly breakdown is as follows

Keep in mind that May is not summer and it is still chilly in many parts of the country, so don’t leave your layering pieces behind. Vancouver and Toronto have similar temperatures, while the higher regions including Banff are much colder at this time of year. 

Yukon in the spring. Canada in May
The evening before ice-break at Lake Laberge, Yukon Territory in the spring

The benefit of visiting in May in Canada is to beat the summer rush and steep prices!

Canada in May weather and temperatures

May can be a very temperamental month when it comes to the weather. You can expect to see a wide range of temperatures, from chilly mornings to hot and humid days in some places. 

Here are the temperatures in major cities in Canada in the month of May,

Compare Canada Weather in May: By popular cities 

PlaceAverage
High
Average
Low
Average
Rainfall (days)
Toronto20 C
60 F
9 C
48.2 F
10
Ottawa19 C
66.2 F
8 C
46.4 F
10
Vancouver18 C
64.4 F
11 C
51.8 F
15
Victoria16 C
60.8 F
9 C
48.2 F
5
Calgary16 C
60.8 F
4 C
39.2 F
7
Edmonton18 C
64.4 F
5 C
41 F
6
Banff National
Park
14 C
57.2 F
1 C
33.8 F
7
Quebec City17 C
62.6 F
6 C
42.8 F
10
Montreal18 C
64.4 F
10 C
50 F
13
Saskatoon18 C
64.4 F
4 C
39.2 F
5
Halifax14 C
57.2 F
6 C
42.8 F
11
Charlottetown14 C
57.2 F
5 C
41 F
11
Weather data source: Weather Spark

What to pack for a trip to Canada in May?

When packing for a trip to Canada in May, you’ll want to make sure to bring along clothes that will keep you warm and can be layered. 

It can still be chilly in May, especially at night or in the early morning. 

Pack,

  • Waterproof jacket (preferably fleece lining)
  • Cardigan or a hoodie
  • Scarf
  • Pack a few summery clothes – tops, blouses, dresses, skirts, when visiting cities
  • For hiking, carry hiking boots, moisture-wicking t-shirts, leggings, socks

If you are planning to indulge in winter sports at the slopes, you can rent equipment in resorts that are still open for spring skiing (early May). 

Edmonton in May, girl enjoying a picnic
Picnic in Edmonton in May

You’ll also want to pack sunscreen, insect repellent, and a hat, as the sun can be quite strong in Canada during the spring. 

Binoculars can come in handy for birdwatching, and a good camera is always important when traveling! We LOVE our Sony A6000 and Sony A7iii – and use them on all of our trips!

What can you expect to see in Canada in May?

The month of May is a perfect time for a trip to explore the wonders of Canada. There are fewer crowds in popular attractions and the weather is great for outdoorsy activities including road trips.

Here is what you can expect in various places in May in Canada, 

Places on the west coast or Western Canada are lovely for outdoor activities, particularly Victoria and Vancouver. In Vancouver, you can enjoy a lovely stroll or bike ride through one of the many parks in the city like Stanley Park, which has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It does rain in Vancouver during this month (but it is something that is commonly seen in the Pacific Northwest). 

Gardens in Victoria BC in spring
Victoria BC in spring

Victoria in British Columbia is a great visit in May, with lovely weather (and comparatively less rain). Many visitors often come from the United States via ferry for a weekend getaway to this city. 

This is a good time to go whale watching. Canada is home to a variety of whales, including the iconic humpback whale. There are many places along the coast where you can go whale watching, including Victoria and Halifax. 

You can still head to the slopes in the early days of May for some spring skiing. Some popular ski resorts are Whistler Blackcomb, Marmot Ski Resort, and Banff Sunshine Village. 

May in Canada is perfect for a road trip! All of the routes are open by May, and the weather is nice to venture on a cross country road trip, crossing many provinces and parks. 

You can drive along the scenic routes and take in the beautiful landscapes like the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, the Icefields Parkway in Alberta, and more. 

Girl in Alberta in May at the Mutthart Conservatory
Edmonton Alberta in May

And if you didn’t know this already, there are 38 beautiful national parks in Canada, each with its own unique features. Some of the most popular ones are Banff National Park in Alberta, Jasper National Park in Alberta, and Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland and Labrador. 

At the national parks, many of the campsites will be open, towards the end of May. The only thing to keep in mind is that many Tourist Information Offices may not be open. 

You can also visit one of Canada’s charming small towns. Some favorites include Lunenburg in Nova Scotia, Niagara-on-the-Lake in Ontario, and Canmore, a small town in Alberta.

You can also sample Canada’s culinary delights or hang out on a patio (of a restaurant). From poutine and maple syrup to Nanaimo bars and ice wine, there are plenty of delicious Canadian treats to try. So why not visit a local farmers market or go on a food tour?

Festivals in Canada in May

May is great for festivals as well. There are music festivals happening all across Canada this May, along with the iconic Tulip Festival in the capital city! 

Tulips in Ottawa in Canada in May
Tulips in Canada in May
  • Canadian Tulip Festival: This is one of the much-awaited spring festivals in Canada. It takes place in Ottawa, Ontario. The festival celebrates the Gift of Tulips and Canada’s Role in the Liberation of the Netherlands during the Second World War. You can check out over one million tulips here (it is visited by 650,000 visitors annually).
  • Victoria Day: Victoria Day is celebrated across the country. It falls on the last Monday preceding May 25 and was set so in honor of Queen Victoria’s birthday. But it is celebrated as the official birthday of Canada’s sovereign now. It is a federal statutory holiday, as well as a holiday in six of Canada’s ten provinces and all three of its territories.
  • Toronto Doors Open: Doors Open Toronto is an annual event in which over 150 buildings of architectural, and historic significance are open to the public for free for a visit. This is one of my favorite festivals!
  • Pouzza Fest: This is a punk rock music festival that takes place in downtown Montreal, in which 200 bands perform in 9 different venues (located close to each other). 

Plus there are many music concerts that you can check out here when you visit.

Where to go in Canada in May? Best places to visit in Canada in May

It’s no secret that Canada is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. With its icy mountain peaks, pristine lakes, and cosmopolitan cities, there’s something for everyone in Canada. 

If you’re looking for a breathtaking Canadian experience, May is a great time to visit! 

Here are some of the best places to visit in Canada during May, 

Ottawa

Ottawa, the capital of Canada, is a beautiful city situated on the Ottawa River in the province of Ontario. The city is home to many museums, including the National Gallery of Canada and the Canadian Museum of History. 

Ottawa in the spring in Canada: Canada in May

Ottawa is also home to Parliament Hill, where the government of Canada meets. In May, it is a beautiful city to visit, with many flowers in bloom and sunny weather. 

You must attend the Canadian Tulip Festival, which is held annually from the end of April to the beginning of May. There is an admission fee, but it’s well worth it to see the beautiful tulips in bloom. 

Accommodation: Find hotels and accommodation deals for Ottawa

Toronto and Niagara Falls

Visit Toronto in May, the largest city in Canada, with plenty to see and do, from museums and art galleries to trendy neighborhoods and restaurants. 

There are lots of events and festivals happening during the month, including the Toronto Doors Open event, and many dining and local events. 

Hit the Distillery District or the Harbourfront for activities. Toronto also has plenty of parks and green spaces to explore, and many restaurants and bars offering outdoor seating.

The city also has a thriving nightlife scene, with plenty of bars and clubs. 

You can also go on a day trip to Niagara Falls! The falls are spectacular in May when the river is high and the water is moving fast.

Accommodation: Find hotels and accommodation deals for Toronto

Vancouver

Make your way to Vancouver – a city with a diverse mix of cultures and neighborhoods, as well as plenty of activities and attractions to keep you busy. 

You can take a stroll or bike ride through one of the many parks in the city like Stanley Park, which has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Explore Granville Island Public Market by biking, walking, or public transit. You’ll be able to sample everything from artisan meats and cheeses, local produce, and fresh baked goods to wine and beer, plus so much more. 

Located on Granville Island near downtown Vancouver, you can enjoy live music performances, seafood, exhibits, and a farmers market here. 

Accommodation: Find hotels and accommodation deals for Vancouver

Victoria 

Victoria is located on Vancouver Island and is known for its beautiful scenery. You can visit parks, gardens, and other attractions like the Royal BC Museum and the stunning BC Legislature. 

You can enjoy a whale watching tour, or fly over Victoria for epic views. Plus there are also plenty of restaurants and shops in Victoria, so you’ll never run out of things to do.

Accommodation: Find hotels and accommodation deals for Victoria

Quebec City

Another great place to visit in Canada in May is Quebec City. Quebec City is the oldest city in North America and is full of history and culture. 

There are plenty of museums, galleries, and other historical sites to check out, as well as restaurants and shops. 

Plus, Quebec City is located in a beautiful setting on the banks of the Saint Lawrence River.

Accommodation: Find hotels and accommodation deals for Quebec City

Banff National Park 

If you’re looking for a more outdoorsy adventure, consider visiting Banff National Park in Alberta. Banff is home to some of the most beautiful scenery in Canada, with mountains, forests, and rivers all located within the park boundaries. 

There are also plenty of activities to enjoy in Banff, including hiking, biking, and fishing. Almost all the trails are open during this month. Some of the campsites may be closed, so do check before you begin planning. 

Finding accommodation in Banff in May is way better than in the summer months. If you are planning a trip to the Canadian Rockies, this is a good time!

Accommodation: Find hotels and accommodation deals for Banff

Nova Scotia (province)

May is a great time to visit Nova Scotia, as the temperatures are mild and the scenery is at its peak. Some of the things you can do in Nova Scotia include visiting the Peggy’s Cove lighthouse, hiking in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, and whale watching in the Bay of Fundy. 

There are also plenty of charming towns and villages to explore, such as Lunenburg, Wolfville, and Mahone Bay.

One of the epic things to do in Canada is to drive the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia – a winding road that takes you through some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.

Read: From chasing northern lights to epic road trips and wildlife, here is your ultimate Canada bucket list guide

More Canada Travel Tips for May

Is May a good month for Canada?

May is a great time to visit Canada, as the weather is usually mild and there are plenty of events and festivals taking place across the country. 

Plus almost all the road trips and hiking routes are open, and so are museums and indoor/outdoor attractions.

This is also the perfect time to visit before the summer rush that kicks in the summer months from June onwards (to August).

Is May a good time to visit Toronto?

The month of May is a great time to visit Toronto because the weather is usually mild and pleasant. There are also lots of fun events and activities going on in Toronto during May, so you can enjoy a diverse range of experiences while you’re there. 

Some of the highlights include the DOORS Open Toronto, Victoria Day celebrations, and many local food and dining festivals.

Does it snow in Canada in May?

Canada in May can be a great time to visit, with plenty of activities to enjoy. However, it’s worth noting that it can still be quite cold in some parts of the country, so you’ll need to pack accordingly. 

There is rarely any snow in major cities in Canada. But you may see some snow showers in the higher elevations (like the Rockies, Whistler, etc).

Is Toronto cold in May?

Toronto can be chilly in May, with temperatures averaging around 10 degrees Celsius. However, there are plenty of things to do in Toronto regardless of the weather. 

Some indoor attractions include the Royal Ontario Museum, the Hockey Hall of Fame, and the Toronto Zoo. 

There are also plenty of outdoor attractions, such as the Harbourfront Centre, High Park, and a trip to the Toronto Islands.

So if you’re looking for a wonderful, all-around Canadian experience in May, you can’t go wrong by visiting some of the places we’ve mentioned. 

Have any more questions about visiting Canada in May let us know – we love to chat!

And don’t forget to check out our other blog posts for more great ideas on what to see and do in Canada.

Pin: May in Canada Travel Guide: From holidays, sightseeing to essential travel tips 

Canada in May

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