Located in Manitoba’s Interlake region, there are countless things to do in the lakeside town of Gimli.
Not only is this charming destination full of Icelandic culture (Gimli was founded in 1875 by Icelandic settlers, and the name means “Heavenly Abode”), but it’s also a great beach destination known for festivals, art, and incredible restaurants.
As a Winnipeg local, Gimli is one of my favorite day trips from the city as it’s relaxing, adventurous, and just an hour’s drive away.
In this article, we’ll cover:
- 👉 15 best things to do in Gimli
- 🚗 The best day trips from Gimli
- 🛏️ Where to stay
- 🚌 How to get there
- ❓ Gimli, Manitoba FAQ
Ready? Let’s go to Gimli!
Table of Contents
- 15 Best Things to do in Gimli, Manitoba (by a Manitoban!)
- #1 – Visit the Gimli Viking Statue
- #2 – Get Food at Kris’ Fish & Chips
- #3 – Visit the New Iceland Heritage Museum
- #4 – Go Swimming at Gimli Beach
- #5 – Rent a Jetski
- #6 – Walk the Harbour Wall
- #7 – Catch a Flick at the Gimli Film Festival
- #8 – Grab a Souvenir at H.P. Tergesen General Store
- #9 – Visit the Gimli Glider Exhibit
- #10 – Shop at Arnes Farmers Market
- #11 – Take a Class at Gimli Art Club
- #12 – Play Beach Volleyball
- #13 – Celebrate at the Icelandic Festival of Manitoba (Islendingadagurinn)
- #14 – Embrace Winter
- #15 – Take a Day Trip
- Where to Stay in Gimli, Manitoba
- Gimli, Manitoba FAQ
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15 Best Things to do in Gimli, Manitoba (by a Manitoban!)
#1 – Visit the Gimli Viking Statue
The official mascot of Gimli, Manitoba, the Viking Statue is a 4.6 meter tall (15 feet) statue of a Viking that was erected in 1967. It was designed by Gissur Eliasson of the University of Manitoba and unveiled by Asegeir Asgeirsson, the then-President of Iceland.
In 2017, a Viking park was landscaped around the statue, and today the area features gardens, pathways, and inscriptions of notable local Icelandic people.
The statue is one of Manitoba’s most famous roadside attractions and it’s worth the photo op.
#2 – Get Food at Kris’ Fish & Chips
Look, there’s a lot of great food options in Gimli, but I have to recommend Kris’ Fish & Chips.
Located at 78 1st Ave, Kris’ is where to go to get delectable local pickerel and chunky homemade fries. The location also serves burgers, salads, beer, and has a substantial hard and soft ice cream assortment.
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#3 – Visit the New Iceland Heritage Museum
If you’re interested in learning more about Gimli’s Icelandic heritage, then look no further than the New Iceland Heritage Museum.
Located in the Waterfront Centre, this museum contains permanent and temporary exhibits, workshops, programs, and special events. Their goal is to educate the public on the natural history of the Interlake region, the settlement and development of New Iceland, and the substantial fishing economy of the area.
There are guided tours in English, French, and Icelandic available.
#4 – Go Swimming at Gimli Beach
One of the best beaches in Manitoba, Gimli Beach is the perfect location for taking a dip.
In the summer, the water is warm and shallow and the sand is soft — it’s perfect for all ages.
#5 – Rent a Jetski
If you want a Gimli Beach activity that’s a little more upbeat than swimming, then rent a jetski!
There are jetski /seadoo rental options available right on the beach, although I would call ahead to make sure there is availability. This is a great way to see Gimli from the water and get up close and personal with Lake Winnipeg.
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#6 – Walk the Harbour Wall
One of the primary features of Gimli is the fabulous Harbour Wall — an outdoor art gallery that juts out into Lake Winnipeg near the marina and features a collection of 72 painted murals.
Established in 1977, the seawall stands at 1.8 meters (6 feet high) and 298 meters (977 feet long) and hosts murals depicting old-school prairie life, seafaring, seasonal scenes, and modern Manitoba.
The wall’s functionality is to protect the marina from the wind and waves of the lake, but it’s a favorite attraction for art lovers, photo takers, and casual strollers alike.
The gallery is open to the public from May through September.
#7 – Catch a Flick at the Gimli Film Festival
An annual affair, the Gimli Film Festival is Manitoba’s largest film festival and runs every July.
The festival showcases films from around the world with a special Manitoba focus and features film viewings, filmmaker Q&As, special events, streaming options, workshops, and panels.
#8 – Grab a Souvenir at H.P. Tergesen General Store
A historic site of Manitoba, the H.P. Tergesen General Store in Gimli was opened in 1899 by Hans Pjetur Tergesen and has since been run by three generations of his family.
The store is the oldest convenience store in Manitoba that’s still in operation and the interior still boasts many of its original features.
If you’re looking for a great Gimli souvenir then this is a great place to get it from!
#9 – Visit the Gimli Glider Exhibit
A Gimli attraction with a story, the Gimli Glider Exhibit recounts the evening of July 23, 1983, when an Air Canada Boeing 767 airplane landed on the abandoned Gimli airport runway with no warning.
The exhibit depicts the events that transpired on that day and includes eye-witness accounts, artifacts from the scene, and so much more. It’s a cool, educational visit!
#10 – Shop at Arnes Farmers Market
Located on Provincial Road 222 in Arnes, MB the Arnes Farmers Market is a quirky roadside stop and the perfect destination for homemade goods, crafts, and fresh fruits and veggies.
Located just 15 minutes north of Gimli, allot at least an hour inside the expansive market and then take a wander through the side yard — there are old cars and even a petting zoo to check out.
#11 – Take a Class at Gimli Art Club
Fancy immersing yourself in art while in Gimli? Then check out Gimli Art Club located right next to the marina.
The brains behind the seawall murals, the Gimli Art Club features an indoor gallery, art for purchase, and classes and events.
🔥 Hot tip: If you want to take an art class or workshop, you’ll have to book ahead on the club’s website as the events are based on interest.
#12 – Play Beach Volleyball
For something to do in Gimli that’s a little more active, bring along your favorite friends and trusty volleyball and get a game going on the beach.
Gimli beach features a few volleyball nets that are pretty close to downtown — just don’t forget your sunscreen!
#13 – Celebrate at the Icelandic Festival of Manitoba (Islendingadagurinn)
Celebrating the history of Icelandic culture in Canada, the Icelandic Festival of Manitoba was inaugurated in Winnipeg in 1890 and moved to Gimli in 1932. Due to this, the festival prides itself on being the second-oldest North American ethnic festival that has been continuously running.
Hosting festivities for the whole family, the festival typically runs during the August long weekend and features Viking re-enactors, Icelandic food and drinks, traditional costumes, fireworks, races, music, and so much more.
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#14 – Embrace Winter
To those who have never experienced it, winter in Manitoba is the stuff of legend.
The weather drops down to temperatures even Batman’s Mr. Freeze would scoff at, the days become incredibly short, and local Manitobans gear up for a long season of outdoor activities.
Some of the most popular winter activities in Gimli include the annual Ice Festival (car races on the lake, Viking battle demonstrations, a frozen fish toss, and fireside chats), cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and ice fishing.
Not to mention, the season features the Mercedes-AMG Winter Sporting event in which people can sign up to learn how to drift on frozen Lake Winnipeg. In this experience, you’ll get coaching, actual practice, and access to rear-wheel drive and 4MATIC vehicles.
#15 – Take a Day Trip
Feel like you’ve cased Gimli and want to see more of the area? Then take a day trip!
Some of the best day trips from Gimli include:
Day Trip #1 – Hecla / Grindstone Provincial Park
For a dose of island life near Gimli, head an hour up the road to Hecla/Grindstone Provincial Park. A cluster of islands located on Lake Winnipeg, Hecla was named after one of Iceland’s most famous volcanoes, Mount Hekla, and has hundreds of years of history via the native Anishinabe (Ojibwe).
While here, hike to the Hecla Lighthouse, check out the boardwalks at Grassy narrows Marsh, and take a guided wolf tour.
Day Trip #2 – Winnipeg Beach
Another awesome sandy destination, Winnipeg Beach is a 15-minute drive south of Gimli and is full of outdoorsy fun. Popular things to do include water sports, golf, hiking around the Provincial Park, and strolling the boardwalk.
Day Trip #3 – Winnipeg
An hour south of Gimli, Winnipeg is Manitoba’s most populous city and capital. While here, I recommend strolling the Exchange District, visiting the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, grabbing a bite at The Forks, and exploring the Winnipeg Art Gallery.
Where to Stay in Gimli, Manitoba
Gimli Hotel #1 – Lakeview Gimli Resort
A large hotel located in downtown Gimli, Lakeview Gimli Resort features 94 guest rooms, the Seagulls Restaurant, a pool, a business center, and a fitness center.
Gimli Hotel #2 – Inn On Centre
For something a little more boutique, the Inn On Centre is a beautiful 2-room hotel located at 35 Centre Street and offers a charming, homespun experience.
Gimli Hotel #3 – Aaron’s on the Lake Bed & Breakfast
A beachfront property located near Winnipeg Beach, Aaron’s on the Lake Bed & Breakfast is a localized B&B that offers Lakeview Rooms, Gardenview Rooms, and Pierview Rooms at affordable prices.
Gimli, Manitoba FAQ
How far is Gimli from Winnipeg?
Gimli is 89.4 km (55 miles) from Winnipeg, a 1-hour drive. The best way to get between the two towns is by car.
What is Gimli Manitoba Known For?
Gimli is known for being a lakeside community full of Icelandic culture, watersports, art, and museums.
What is there to do in Gimli in Winter?
Winter in Gimli features an Ice Festival, car drifting, ice fishing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and more.
Can you swim in Lake Winnipeg?
Swimming is completely safe in the Gimli region of Lake Winnipeg.
What is the population of Gimli, Manitoba?
The population of Gimli Manitoba was 2250 as of 2016.
Thanks for reading my list of the 15 best things to do in Gimli, Manitoba!
I hope this gave you a ton of inspiration for your upcoming trip — let me know if you have any Manitoba-related questions in the comments.
Have fun in Gimli!
Land acknowledgment: Gimli, Manitoba is located on Treaty 1 territory.