Complete Travel Guide to British Columbia
By: Canada eTA
British Columbia is one of the most well-liked travel destinations in Canada thanks to its mountains, lakes, islands, and rainforests, as well as its scenic cities, charming towns, and world-class skiing.
Vancouver, where most tourists to BC start their journeys, is a fabulous place from where you can start to explore the province. From here, you may reach Vancouver Island and Victoria, the provincial capital, by taking a short flight or ferry ride.
The resort town and ski resort of Whistler is less than a two-hour drive from Vancouver. The Okanagan Valley in the interior of British Columbia is another popular destination all year round because of the beaches on Okanagan Lake's shores, golf courses, and multiple ski resorts.
Keep reading our list of the top tourist attractions and activities in British Columbia for a more thorough breakdown and to assist in creating your itinerary!
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Haida Gwaii might seem otherworldly with its thick moss-covered jungle and ancient settlement sites.
Haida Gwaii serves as the Haida Nation's ancestral home. This 150-rocky island archipelago off the West Coast of British Columbia has been pummelling by storms, which only makes it more alluring. Everyone may learn something new from the region's rich plant and animal life (it is known as Canada's Galapagos), enormous poles, and longhouses.
With more than 500 archaeological sites, the islands are home to some of the world's richest cultural history, spectacular scenery, and an abundance of wildlife. The weather in Haida Gwaii results in lush foliage and a wide variety of fauna. Along Highway 16 (the Queen Charlotte Highway), herds of Sitka deer forage in the grassy clearings, and in the spring and summer, eagles can be seen soaring overhead, frequently in large flocks.
Mother Nature reaches out to everyone in Vancouver!
The city is well known for both its natural beauty and its diversity of cultures. The Coast Salish people have lived in the region that is now known as Vancouver for thousands of years, and their spirituality, reverence for the environment, and history are all deeply ingrained in the cultural fabric of the city.
Stanley Park in downtown Vancouver, with its old-growth cedar trees flanked by sea views and sandy beaches, and the Granville Island Public Market are top destinations for exploring. Chinatown, Yaletown, Gastown, and the West End are some further well-liked neighbourhoods.
You can see the Pacific Ocean or the rainforest-covered Coast Mountains from almost any place in the city; they are so close you could almost reach out and touch them. This is true whether you are strolling along the seawall, shopping on Robson Street, or touring ancient Gastown. Take a picturesque kayak tour through the canals, go hiking or skiing in the North Shore Mountains, or simply relax at the beach. At night, enjoy a supper prepared with regional ingredients on a riverside patio while taking in the scenery and getting ideas for the next day's adventure.
The Canadian Rockies
The Canadian Rockies are renowned for their alpine lakes, glaciers, and waterfalls, as well as mountain goats that cling to precipitous cliff faces and herds of elk that graze wildflower meadows.
This range - one of the biggest in North America - that spans British Columbia and Alberta is a top destination for hiking, climbing, animal safaris, skiing, and backcountry experiences. Travel by car, go whitewater rafting, camp, or book a luxurious resort.
The Rocky Mountains conjure up pictures of soaring, snow-capped peaks, azure lakes, tumbling waterfalls, and dense evergreen forests. The entire length of BC is covered in that breathtaking Rocky Mountain beauty, the kind that remains with you long after you have left for home.
Because of this breathtaking grandeur, UNESCO designated the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks as a World Heritage Site along the BC/Alberta boundary. The Burgess Shale fossil deposit, which depicts in astounding detail what the Earth was like more than half a billion years ago, is another reason why the region is important on a worldwide scale.
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Great Bear Rainforest
With more than six million hectares, the Great Bear Rainforest is the world's biggest coastal temperate rainforest (16 million acres). To preserve the area's biological integrity, the extraordinary biodiversity, which includes spruce and cedar trees that are more than a thousand years old, is preserved.
The Kermode, or "Spirit" bear, a black bear with all-white fur, lives in the rainforest. One in ten bears in the region is thought to carry the recessive gene that gives the beast its striking colour. The legends of the indigenous people who have lived in this region for countless years include bear stories.
Because it is inaccessible and has few roads, this region of the Central Coast of British Columbia gives visitors the impression that they are genuinely in the wilderness.
Since the First Nations of British Columbia have lived along this section of the shore for thousands of years, their influence is palpable. The aquatic life there is also in great numbers, including sea otters, dolphins, and whales. A visit to the Great Bear Rainforest is an experience unlike any other, especially given that it is the only area in the world where you may observe the endangered white Kermode (Spirit) bear.
It is easy to see why Whistler Blackcomb is frequently ranked as North America's top resort. The stunning PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola connects the summits of two renowned mountains - Whistler and Blackcomb - allowing skiers and snowboarders to access more terrain than anyplace else on the continent. In the summer, mountain bikers, golfers, hikers, and people-watchers fill the pedestrian village. The Sea-to-Sky Highway, which runs primarily along a breathtaking coastline, is the route from Vancouver.
The paths and old trees of British Columbia's backcountry call to casual explorers and outdoor purists alike just beyond the conveniences and cafés of Whistler. Spend the day mountain biking, hiking, or lounging by a lake after a morning of sharp turns on the mountain and an afternoon on the golf course.
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve
The West Coast Trail, an epic multi-day journey along what was formerly a rescue trail for shipwrecked sailors, the Broken Group Islands, a kayaker's dream made up of more than 100 islands and islets, and Long Beach are the three portions of this stunning park on the west coast of Vancouver Island.
The area comes to life in the summer when adventurers, families, and people of all ages enjoy the beach and go hiking in the old-growth rainforest. Tens of thousands of grey whales travel through these seas in the spring, while the fall and winter months offer magnificent storm viewing.
The rugged west coast of Vancouver Island is well known. The 75-kilometre, multi-day West Coast Trail may be found in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, which is located on British Columbia's swirling Pacific coast.
The Broken Group Islands, which include over 100 protected islets, are also popular for kayaking adventures. Popular vacation spots include Tofino and Ucluelet, especially for those who enjoy surfing, whale watching, and beach exploration.
Undoubtedly, travelling the Alaska Highway is a major undertaking, but the rewards are enormous. Literally. The first is the distance travelled; approximately 1,000 km (600 mi) of this ancient road is located in British Columbia alone. The backdrop includes the majestic Rocky Mountains and miles upon miles of pure wilderness that has been largely unspoiled by mankind.
And as for the animals, there is a good chance that you will encounter bighorn sheep grazing on the highway's mineral licks, herds of enormous bison ambling alongside the road, as well as maybe seeing mountain goats, moose, and bears. Oh my. Adventuresome travellers are unable to withstand the call of the wild when the road's fascinating building history is included.
Visitors can drive through some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the world on the Alaska Highway through British Columbia. This route is dotted with settlements that have a frontier history as well as jaw-dropping scenery and wildlife sightings.
This route, which starts in Dawson Creek's "Mile 0," travels beyond the upper reaches of the northern Rocky Mountains and across huge stretches of rolling prairie and boreal forest. The nearby Tumbler Ridge Global Geopark is home to distinctive palaeontology and geology, including dinosaur fossils and tracks. While the hot springs at Liard River are one of the most well-known sites on this illustrious journey, Muncho Lake Provincial Park provides excellent fishing and camping spots along the long, jade-green lake.
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Victoria, a vibrant metropolis on Vancouver Island, offers a seamless fusion of the past and contemporary. Whether you want to linger over a meal with an ocean view at one of the numerous cutting-edge restaurants or go out on the water in search of resident pods of orcas, BC's capital city Inner Harbour serves as its focal point. Victoria is renowned for its immaculately kept gardens and has the most bike pathways of any Canadian city.
Victoria, which is adorned with flowers and colonial architecture, is a haven for wanderers. Explore this bustling city where students and politicians alike commute by bike while taking in the ocean's splendour and thinking about the history of the region.
British Columbia's capital is home to trendy restaurants, craft brewers, stately hotels and museums, as well as gardens and coastal parks that pay homage to its English history. Additionally, it serves as a starting point for trips to southern Vancouver Island, where visitors may enjoy whale viewing, food and wine tours, and other maritime excursions.
One of British Columbia's top wine-producing regions, the Okanagan Valley is home to many vintages that have won awards.
Cycling the Kettle Valley Rail Trail and kayaking on Okanagan Lake are popular pastimes, in addition to wine tasting, festivals, and farmers' markets hopping. The valley is a centre for food and drink as well as lengthy, opulent days on the water. It is sunny and hot with aromatic sage, lavender fields, and vineyards sweeping the hillsides.
The Okanagan Valley's gorgeous lakes and soft sand beaches are bathed in the sun, creating the ideal setting for an unlimited variety of activities for both young and old. Go for a mountain hike or bike ride, play a round of golf at one of the numerous championship courses, or take a dip in the lake.
Need some food to eat? Numerous wineries in the Okanagan Valley provide lake-view dining that is influenced by the agricultural riches of the valley and has received significant national and international honours. There are many ways to enjoy the plentiful amounts of beautiful, fluffy snow that fall here in the winter.
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Things to do in British Columbia
From tropical rainforests home to enigmatic Spirit Bears to Rocky Mountain ski resorts where the snow dumps are deep enough to conceal a moose, Canada's magnificent outdoors are unlike anywhere else on earth.
The cities, cultural legacy, and culinary scene all rank highly, making BC a must-visit destination in addition to the natural beauty of the region. Check out our list of the best things to do in British Columbia if you are having trouble deciding what to do first because there are so many activities.
Activities in Vancouver
Vancouver is well known across the world, and for good reason - it is idyllically positioned between mountains and coastlines and benefits from some of Canada's mildest weather.
It is also one of the cities with the highest population density in North America, which results in thousands of fantastic eateries, pubs, and shops as well as a bustling lifestyle that is uncommon in cities. It also has a natural environment surrounding it, which strikes a good balance between the concrete jungle and the genuine outdoors.
Take a Stroll Through Stanley Park
We always visit Stanley Park when we travel to Vancouver, no matter how often. With more than 400 hectares of pristine West Coast rainforest, it was Vancouver's first urban park and continues to be the biggest. Beautiful beaches, regional fauna, important historical sites, and the Vancouver Aquarium - which we will discuss below - can all be found there.
Visit the Vancouver Aquarium
You might wish to visit the Vancouver Aquarium in addition to Stanley Park. With more than 70,000 lovely animals, including dolphins, anacondas, sea otters, sloths, and others, this is Canada's largest aquarium. The Vancouver Aquarium is a terrific site to learn about the marine life of the area and is renowned for its research and marine management.
The world arts and cultures are prominently shown in this research and teaching museum, which is part of UBC. The best permanent exhibit there is one on the First Nations of the Pacific Northwest. With more than 535,000 artefacts, this location can easily keep you occupied for a day.
Vancouver is one of the few places on Earth where you can ski, surf, travel back in time more than 5,000 years, see a pod of orcas play, or take a stroll through the best urban park in the world all in the same day. Vancouver, British Columbia, is indisputably West Coast, nestled between wide lowlands, a lush temperate rain forest, and an uncompromising mountain range. Learn about Tourist Guide to Must Visit Places in Vancouver.
Whale Watching In Vancouver
Even in close proximity to a major city, British Columbia is an excellent region to go whale watching. The old fishing community of Steveston, which is only 20 minutes from Vancouver, is where you can go whale watching.
We have enjoyed some incredible whale-watching excursions in and around Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island. Despite the unpredictability of nature, there is a very good probability that you will see them.
Possible Activities In Victoria And Vancouver Island
An adventurer's paradise, Vancouver Island. The variety of activities available on a single island is absolutely astounding. This is one of the best places in Canada for surfing, whale watching, and rainforest hiking.
Visit The Butchart Gardens
The Butchard Gardens, which get over one million visitors annually, are both a National Historic Site of Canada and a symbol of Victoria. There are 900 plant species, 26 greenhouses, and 50 full-time gardeners living in this stunning 55-acre garden! The Butchard Gardens should be on your itinerary when in Victoria, regardless of whether you're travelling alone, with family, or on a date with your significant other. It is simply a beautiful location to stroll about.
The Royal BC Museum
The Royal British Columbia Museum, established in 1886, is a fantastic resource for learning about BC's natural and human history. Inside are three permanent exhibits: the First Peoples Gallery, Becoming BC, and Natural History.
More than 750,000 specimen records from the province are found in the natural history collection alone. The IMAX Victoria theatre offers both commercial and educational movie viewing options, and it is conveniently close to the inner harbour.
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Go On A Food Tour Of Victoria
We he/uploads/image/ly recommend taking a Taste of Victoria Food Tour if you're searching for a way to experience both food and history while strolling through the lovely city of Victoria. While the cuisine was excellent, we really enjoyed learning about the background of Canada's oldest Chinatown and its numerous structures as we walked about with our helpful guide.
The experience of Craigdarroch Castle is unmistakably Victorian. It is a prime example of a "bonanza castle," opulent home constructed for businesspeople who prospered during the industrial period. Four levels of stunning stained glass windows, rich woodwork, and magnificent Victorian-era furnishings can be found in this storied Victorian mansion.
Port Renfrew, which is close to Victoria, is hospitable, reasonably priced, and wonderfully wild. You can go trekking on some of Canada's most well-known treks here, as well as to various beaches, whale watching, and other locations.
The Wild Renfrew Seaside Cottages, which are gorgeously rustic and open up to breathtaking views of the rough coastline, are located there, which is the best part. Nothing compares to waking up, entering the living room, and taking in the view of the ocean.
Adventures of the Orca Spirit
The little town of Port Renfrew is ideally situated for ecotourism, being at the intersection of the well-known West Coast and Juan de Fuca Trails, which are both known for their opportunities for whale watching and viewing marine animals. We had the best whale-watching tour of our lives here, despite the fact that wildlife is never assured.
In the course of a few hours, we witnessed dozens of humpback whales and Orcas. The humpbacks actually went so near to the boat that their blowhole even showered us! There is numerous other whale-watching cruises as well, however, this business was based in Victoria, British Columbia.
Snorkelling With Salmon
The opportunity to go salmon snorkelling is totally exclusive to the Campbell River region! You can do this by swimming above tens of thousands of them in a nearby canyon, or you can be braver and have a nice float down the Campbell River while passing by hundreds of large salmon.
A pretty cool experience that can be had on a tour or on your own with rental equipment. Our choice to rent our own equipment from Beaver Aquatics saved us a lot of money. But if you do not drive, you might not be able to do this.
Visit Wildplay Nanaimo if you are searching for an exciting experience. There are zip lines, adventure courses, and a 140 km/h primal swing in addition to the 150-foot bungy leap. The best place to put your concerns to the test is here. I was overjoyed to learn that there is an ankle-based Bungy jump in Canada. Even though it was my sixth time leaping off a bridge, it was still terrifying. It is authentic and a tonne of fun! great for both adults and children!
Vancouver Island is one of the most popular scuba diving locations in the world, despite the fact that few people associate Canada with diving. Of course, scuba diving here is different from what it is in tropical locales where it is more commonly practised.
To begin with, the water is chilly, and the marine life is very different. But right off Nanaimo, we went scuba diving and descended to a depth of 60 feet while observing colourful fish, wolf eels, and other marine life! Another memorable experience we had was snorkelling with seals.
Ontario is the home to Toronto, the largest city in the country, as well as Ottawa, the nation's capital. But what makes Ontario stand out is its extensive stretches of wilderness, pristine lakes, and Niagara Falls, one of Canada's most popular natural attractions. Learn about Tourist Guide to Must Visit Places in Ontario.
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