Hi Everyone! Megan (@meghonan) here, with another incredible Canadian destination to explore with you. While everyone raves about the west coast and the major metropolises of Canada, this under the radar city should be at the top of your Canadian bucket list.
In the face of the global pandemic, travelers are seeking out more meaningful experiences right in their own backyard more than ever before. Which is exactly why Winnipeg, Manitoba is currently booming.
In the search of underrated (and crowd-free) destinations, travelers are swapping the traversed mountains of British Columbia and the pristine coast of Nova Scotia for a city of just 750,000 people. And why wouldn’t they when Winnipeg is home to a booming multi-cultural food scene, Nordic-inspired wellness hotspots and the warmest locals on the planet— after all, the province’s slogan is “Friendly Manitoba.” Here’s everything you need to know about planning a trip to Winnipeg, Manitoba.
The Ultimate Travel Guide to Winnipeg, Manitoba
What To Know Before Visiting Winnipeg, Manitoba
Getting to Winnipeg, Manitoba: The region is best reached by direct flights into Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport. Be sure to pre-arrange transfers in advance if you do not plan on renting a car yourself. Use Google Flights to find the cheapest flight options.
Currency & Money: Most vendors accept all major credit cards, though it is advised to keep some local currency on you. I’d recommend stopping at the airport for the lowest conversion rate.
Renting a car: Renting a car is incredibly easy and a great way to explore the province. Be sure to get full coverage insurance, if not already covered by your credit card.
Bring: If visiting during the warmer months, you’ll want to pack light and breezy outfits. If visiting during the winter––pack as many layers as possible, as the temperatures can drop well below 0ºF.
Frequently Asked Questions About Winnipeg
Is it cold in Winnipeg?
To be honest, yes, Winnipeg is one of the five coldest cities in the world, according to AccuWeather. But, one misconception about Canada is that it’s cold all year round. If you visit during the summer months of June, July or August, you can expect gorgeous 79ºF weather any day of the week. One thing about the locals, they embrace winter unlike any other place in the world with skating trials, winter festivals and incredible ice sculpture. Rest assured you’ll have an incredible vacation regardless of when you visit.
What is Winnipeg known for?
The city is incredibly diverse, representing well over 100 cultures and nationalities among its unique neighborhoods. Regardless of what area you choose to explore, you’ll find no shortage of international cuisine and colorful art galleries. Plus, expansive green spaces that are dedicated to hosting a myriad of festivals and exhibits throughout the year.
Is there a local dish to try?
Canadiana fare is often brushed over, but there are plenty of delicious signature dishes that shine. You simply can’t leave Winnipeg without sampling Bison, preferably in burger form. Another local favorite is Goldeye, a freshwater fish that is native to Winnipeg. It can be fried up a multitude of ways, so keep an eye out for it on the local menu. Finally, bannock, a type of flatbread that originates within Canada from the Indigenous community. It is best served fresh out of the oven with a side of jam.
Where to Stay in Winnipeg, Manitoba
Hotel recommendation: Inn at the Forks
If location is everything, then Inn at the Forks is home to prime real estate. Find this sleek, modern hotel nestled right in the heart of the city where the Assiniboine River meets the Red River. With shopping, culture, history and art just steps from the Inn at the Forks, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more central spot to call home during your visit.
Stop by the Canadiana SMITH restaurant tucked away on the main floor for Hudson Bay. Inspired booths, rustic antler chandeliers and sleek, modern bars make for an Instagram worthy brunch spot. Or perhaps stop off for a nightcap, selecting one of the craft cocktails from the ever-growing list to enjoy on the spacious patio.
The rooms truly reflect a modern, luxe boutique hotel feel with elevated furnishings that seem hand-picked straight from Scandinavia. While minimalist in style, the space evokes warmth with plenty of dimmable lighting and cozy built in bench setting. At night, snuggle up under the covers and take in the bustling downtown Winnipeg skyline, as you drift off to the best sleep of your life.
Where To Eat and Drink In Winnipeg, Manitoba
New to the local food scene, Passero features modern Italian cuisine from Chef Scott Bagshaw. Bagshaw puts a modern twist on the classics, resulting in a flavorful menu built on small plates. With choices clustering around several categories, you have salads, raw options, pasta, vegetables, meat and seafood. Watch the masters at work from the open-concept kitchen and don’t be shy to ask the expert staff for a wine pairing — they get it spot on every time.
Nestled away in Winnipeg’s historic Exchange District, this exceptional brunch spot is perhaps the hidden gem of the city. After walking down a set of stairs, guests are greeted to a bright and airy room. It features brick exposed walls, colorful neon signs and an exposed, open-concept kitchen where you can watch the magic happen. Sourced directly from local producers, the menu offers playful twists on brunch staples, like Braised Bacon Benedict and Fried Chicken on Toast — both finger-licking good.
Nonsuch La Brasserie and Brewing Co.
This mico-brewery feels anything but tiny, with an incredibly passionate and knowledgeable staff always on-hand. With a focus on Belgian-style beers, each batch is conducive to an elevated ABV for stashing away in your cellar for years to come. Yes, Nonsuch Brewing Co. crafted a beer that finally ages as well as fine wine. The small, but tastefully decorated taproom also excels at locally-sourced tapa style dishes. Don’t miss the Zinn Farms Rabbit & Pork Terrine, Endive Salad with pickled grapes and soft herbs, as well as a selection of house-made charcuterie options.
Patent 5 Distillery and Tasting Room
For craft cocktails, there is no better spot than this premium, small batch distillery. Housed within an old stable turned tasting room, this spot features much of the 20th-century original architecture that the Exchange District is known for. Utilizing 90 per cent Manitoban wheat and 10 per cent Manitoban barley, the spirits created here are as Canadian as it gets. For a unique twist on an age-old recipe, the distillery uses vapour infused botanicals within their gin, alongside Manitba-made bitters crafted from local rhubarb and cherries.
Feast Cafe Bistro
There are few Indigenous-owned and operated restaurants within Canada and lucky for Manitobans, Feast Cafe Bistro is one of them. Serving up First Nations cuisine, chef and owner Christa Bruneau-Guenther is a special talent who recently appeared as a judge on MasterChef Canada. Her menu is inventive, while creating the comforting feeling of a well-versed homemade meal. With a focus on local ingredients, you can’t pass on the dessert bannock, pickerel sliders, or elk stew.
Hargrave Street Market
If you can’t quite put your finger on what you’re in the mood for, head straight for Hargrave Street Market. This inventive food hall is contributing to the shift towards upscale European markets, with endless options to satisfy everyone. And we’re not talking about your run of the mill food chains here––no, Hargrave is home to some of the best chef’s in Manitoba all gathered under one roof. Satisfy your cravings with pizza, tacos, ramen, burgers, or perhaps…all of the above.
What To Do In Winnipeg, Manitoba
Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR)
Visit the world’s only museum dedicated to human rights education and awareness. You can discover the oldest forms of storytelling and the timeless power of art through interactive technology. With rotating exhibitions and events, no two visits to the museum are the same. This means guests can come back time and time again for a revitalized experience.
Stop by Manitoba’s number one tourist destination with unique winter and spring attractions. Like the Arctic Glacier park with on-land skating trails/rinks, crokicurl and warming huts designed by architects from around the globe. Inside The Forks, find a marketplace of delicious cuisine from across the globe, alongside a craft beer stand for sampling. If shopping is more your speed, find a collection of curated shops and maybe even grab a souvenir to bring home. Something like a locally crafted candle from Farmer’s Son Co.
Thermëa by Nordik Spa-Nature
Embrace the changing of seasons at Thermëa, a haven that features world-class thermotherapy facilities inspired by the best Scandinavian traditions. For the ultimate rest and relaxation experience, hop between the four outdoor baths ranging in temperature to help circulate blood flow. Then breath deeply inside the aromatic sauna to stimulate the senses. Immersed in a natural environment, guests are encouraged to kick back in the numerous rest spaces both indoors and outdoors. To top off a full day, be sure to grab a healthy meal from the on-site restaurant to enjoy al fresco, alongside a crisp glass of wine.
Qaumajuq, Inuit Art Centre
Recently unveiled in 2021, Qaumajuq is the world’s first purpose-built Inuit art centre. Inspired by the light and landscape of Canada’s great north, the domed structure is a masterpiece within itself. Built as an extension of the Winnipeg Art Gallery, visitors can immerse themselves in a full day of innovative works that weave together the story of the homeland of Canada. Currently running until the end of the year, exhibit INUA features the contemporary and early works of 90 Inuit artists. It is all housed within a 8,000 sq ft gallery, the largest space ever created dedicated solely to Inuit art and culture.
Assiniboine Park Conservancy
Just a quick drive from downtown Winnipeg will bring you up close and personal to animal species from across the globe at the Assiniboine Park Conservancy. Open all year round, the zoo is particularly known for its award-winning Journey to Churchill exhibit. Home to muskoxen, polar bears, wolves, Arctic fox and other northern species, the conservancy offers the most comprehensive northern species exhibit of its kind in the world.
Snap on some hiking boots or snowshoes to explore over 660-acres of reclaimed urban green space at FortWhyte Alive. Seeped in conservation and sustainability, the park is dedicated to encouraging visitors of all ages to practice understanding of the natural world. With plenty of on-going events, you never know what you’ll learn during a visit. Plus, during the warmer months you can pop by the summer market to sample homegrown, organic fruits and veggies.
Festival du Voyageur
While this is a seasonal activity, no Winnipeg guide would be complete without mentioning the famed winter festival. Embracing the cold, Manitobans celebrate the change of seasons every February with the Festival du Voyageur. Tucked away within Winnipeg’s French Quarter, Saint-Boniface, find some of Canada’s big name talent performing each and every night. Alongside, find good old Canadian fun––like ice sculpture contests, Caribou shots and heaping portions of poutine.