Dubbed "Chicago of the North" because of its impressive skyscrapers—many of which were designed by famous architects—Winnipeg is a pleasant surprise. What seems, on the outside, to be an innocuous prairie city, offers up one interesting attraction after another.
Flights to Winnipeg take you to a vibrant metropolis, albeit a relatively small one in comparison to other Canadian cities. With a population of just under 700,000, Winnipeg is a culturally diverse microcosm that offers tourists quaint neighbourhoods to explore, excellent ethnic cuisine to sample, and a wide range of artistic and cultural entertainment experiences to enjoy.
The city sits at the junction of the mighty Red and meandering Assiniboine rivers. On the shore, where these two waters meet, is Winnipeg's top attraction, The Forks, whose history as a gathering place spans thousands of years, continues to draw people from all over to shop, dine, listen to great music, and essentially get a feel for the soul of the city. You can visit the Royal Canadian Mint where the country's circulation coins are made. And, if you're lucky, you'll be in town at just the right time to get tickets for a performance of the esteemed Royal Winnipeg Ballet.
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Winnipeg is Manitoba's hub for Air Canada and WestJet, Canada's two national airlines. Other airlines that serve Winnipeg include Northwest Airlines, Delta Airlines, and United Airlines, as well as the charter airline, Air Transat, which flies to and from sun destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean. A host of smaller, regional airlines, such as Calm Air, First Air, and Bearskin Airlines offer flights to smaller cities and towns in the province, including Winnipeg flights.
It's never really difficult to find flights to Winnipeg, but since relatively few international airlines fly here, it's wise to book your international flights well in advance so you can obtain a flight with a good connection, either in a Canadian city like Toronto or Vancouver, or an international hub such as Chicago or London.
The four seasons of winter, spring, summer, and fall are very distinct here, and Winnipeg has the dubious distinction of being one of the coldest—that's in winter, of course—cities in the world and earning it the nickname "Winterpeg." But a ticket to Winnipeg in summertime takes you to one of the sunniest cities in Canada, with an average of 2300 hours of sunshine annually, so if you want to see what clear, blue prairie sky is all about, you'll see plenty of that here. Summer is short but pleasantly warm, with temperatures often reaching 25ºC in July and August. January is the heart of winter, with temperatures often falling well below -20ºC. A windproof jacket is a great item to pack for your flight, because the arctic and prairie winds love to blow here.
It makes sense, then, that summer is peak season for flights to Winnipeg, but don't worry about crowds or line-ups at any of the city's attractions, because there rarely are any. So, come in July or August if you can, or in the pleasant shoulder months of June and September when you will be able to fully enjoy the city's outdoor attractions and activities.
Winnipeg flights land at James Armstrong Richardson International Airport (YWG), which is about 16 kilometres from the city centre. From there you will have several ground transportation options:
Hotel Shuttle: When booking your Winnipeg hotel, bear in mind that some hotels provide a complimentary airport shuttle service. The airport's website provides a list of hotels offering this amenity.
Taxi: Taxis are easy to find at James Armstrong Richardson International Airport, and will take you anywhere you need to go. The average fare to downtown Winnipeg is $18 CAD, and takes about 15 minutes. Taxis are found outside the central terminal doors.
Car Rental: If you have places to go outside of downtown, the best option for getting around might be to rent a car to continue your journey once your flight to Winnipeg lands. Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz, and National all have locations at this airport.
Public Transportation: Winnipeg Transit provides two bus routes between the airport and downtown Winnipeg. Route 15 offers a relatively quick trip downtown, while Route 20 offers a longer ride, which you might enjoy if you aren't in a rush, because you'll get a little tour of some of Winnipeg's neighbourhoods along the way. Adult tickets are less than $3 CAD and discount tickets are available for youth and student passengers, while Children under 5 years of age ride free. At the airport, the bus stop is just outside the doors on the arrivals (ground) level of the terminal.