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Warm and welcoming snowbird destinations for Canadians

Discover the trending snowbird destinations across the world for Canadians to spend their winter vacation.

Though many of us need to stay home right now due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we still want to provide you with the information you need to plan your future travels. We hope to keep you inspired until you can get back out there again — but until that happens, we always recommend following your government guidelines and travel regulations.

Flocking south has always been a hugely popular trend among Canada’s retired population. From coast to coast, many have the means and opportunity to swap shovelling snow for long walks along the beach. They are also responsible for boosting tourism and bringing Canadian dollars into travel markets during slower periods of international travel.

Commonly referred to as “snowbirds,” these retired Canadians prefer to book a long stay in warmer climates for their winter vacation. In fact, over half a million Canadians would consider themselves snowbirds and make regular long-term trips during the cold winter months! Stats Canada reported that over 300,000 snowbirds returned from their vacation places in the US and Mexico last year alone. And throughout the years, snowbird destinations for Canadians have expanded to different parts of the globe.

a catamaran in the water
Warm and welcoming snowbird destinations for Canadians

When and where do snowbirds travel to?

Most snowbirds like to head to warmer places for up to six months at a time. From October/November to April/May, they escape the chill of snow and sleet back at home. Traditionally, snowbird vacations have been in the southern United States, with places like Florida still being one of the top snowbird destinations for Canadians. 

However, in recent years snowbirds have begun to stretch their wings (if you will) and have ventured further afield. While snowbird trips to the US have increased by 190% over the past twenty years, vacations to non-US destinations have seen a mammoth visitation growth of 553%.

These snowbird vacations have a bit of everything: affordability, warm climates, beautiful beaches, and intriguing cultures, so it’s no surprise that these are the top destinations that Canadian snowbirds are choosing to fly away to.

Canadians love these snowbird vacations

1. Arizona

grassland and cacti by sunset in the countryside of Arizona
Warm and welcoming snowbird destinations for Canadians

Snowbirds seeking warmer weather have been visiting Florida and Texas for years, but along the same Sunbelt lies Arizona. With its jaw-dropping vistas and stunning desert scenery plus plenty of golfing opportunities, Arizona is a solid winter getaway destination. Choose from Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tucson, or Sedona, all popular snowbird destinations with Canadians which offer long sunny days and lots of amenities. With bordering states of New Mexico, California, Utah, and Nevada, there are a lot of further travel opportunities just waiting to be explored.

2. Panama

bird's eye view of bridge in Panama City
Warm and welcoming snowbird destinations for Canadians

As prices in the US have started to climb, many snowbirds are looking for cheaper destinations, and Central America has become a big hit. In Panama, the Canadian dollar can buy you so much more. Go to see the historic Panama Canal for yourself and then stay for the friendly Panamanians, the outstanding natural beauty, and all the beautiful beaches. Look into applying for the Panamanian Pensionado visa which gives you a variety of benefits when retiring for a part of the year in Panama. It’s becoming an increasingly popular place to visit in Central America.

3. Cuba

street in Havana, Cuba
Warm and welcoming snowbird destinations for Canadians

Buying a home in Cuba is very complicated and tightly regulated by the government. While it’s not a conventional choice on our list of snowbird destinations, if you are happy to rent and potentially move to new properties each month, you’ll be able to see the country and benefit from a low cost of living in the sunshine. Canadians typically choose to stop and stay in Havana, and around the beautiful beach resorts by the Caribbean coast. You’ll need to pack a little humility and patience as Cuba has many infrastructure issues that can create challenges even if you only live there for part of the year. For many Canadians, the lifestyle and culture are more than worth it.

4. Portugal

beach on a sunny day in Portugal, a popular destination with Canadian snowbirds
Warm and welcoming snowbird destinations for Canadians

Those snowbirds wanting to travel even further away will find Portugal has everything they need at a fraction of the price of other European countries. Even with international flights, long-term stays in Portugal are incredibly affordable. Many Canadians choose to fly into Lisbon and explore the nearby coastal region combining a city break and beach experience. Gas is expensive here so you may choose to forego a car rental and get around by public transit instead. Wine, however, is very reasonably priced, so every cloud has a silver lining!

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