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Top 10 things to do in British Columbia
British Columbia or BC as it's more familiarly known, is an amazing province with its mountain backdrops, wonderful wildlife, adrenaline-fuelled outdoor activities and charming cities. We’ve picked our favourite things to do in the province….read on and see if you agree!
10. Inner Harbour, Victoria
Where: Victoria is the provincial capital of British Columbia, is located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island and its harbour is central to this charming city.
What: We may be biased, but we think that it’s one of the most beautiful harbours in the world. The harbour has had a long history, starting with its use by First Nations and now a place where recreational boats and small cruise ships can moor in the centre of this famous heritage city, just steps from its historic streets and downtown.
Highlights: The harbour is the starting point of wonderful whale-watching and wildlife spotting cruises. You will see floatplanes land and take off throughout the day, and it’s also the focus of festivals, shows and music. The Fairmont Empress hotel is one of the architectural highlights where you can enjoy a sumptuous afternoon tea in one of its elegant lounges.
Suggested Holiday: The Rockies Trail is one of our most popular escorted tours.
9. Golden Skybridge, Golden
Where: Two minutes from the Trans Canada Highway between Yoho National Park and Glacier National Park, just outside the town of Golden BC
What: The Skybridge is Canada's highest suspension bridge, 426 feet above the thundering river and waterfalls with epic views of the Rocky and Purcell mountain ranges.
Highlights: Enjoy the stunning panoramic views as you walk across one of BC’s newest attractions. There are two bridges to give you different perspectives and if you have time you can walk a lovely circuit through hiking trails in the forest and over both bridges. For the adrenaline junkies there is also 1,000-foot zipline for a thrilling ride across the canyon. From 500 feet in the air, you’ll be treated to an incredible birds-eye view of the waterfall and river below, alongside 360-degree views of the Columbia Valley.
Suggested Holiday: We'll tailormake this Self-Drive intinerary to suit your timescales and budget - Mountain Country
8. Royal BC Museum, Victoria
Where: Set back from the Inner Harbour of Victoria, next to the Provincial Parliament buildings.
What: Founded in 1886, the Royal British Columbia Museum is a natural and human history museum as well as home to the Provincial Archives. Its "Royal" title was approved by Queen Elizabeth II and bestowed by HRH Prince Philip in 1987.
Highlights: This is a fabulous reason to visit Victoria within its own right. Natural, human and modern history are all covered and there are numerous workshops, lectures and interactive tours taking place which are perfect if you're visiting with kids or knowledge-hungry adults. The museum's IMAX cinema shows are particularly worthwhile and if you're faced with a rainy day in BC then this is an excellent place to head to whilst things blow over.
Suggested Holiday: A truly Canadian experience - Vancouver and Victoria by Float Plane
7. Malahat Skywalk
Where: Located on Vancouver Island’s Malahat Highway (TransCanada Highway), a stunning 35-minute drive north of Victoria and one hour south of Nanaimo.
What: A newly created experience on Vancouver Island, the Malahat Skywalk is a graceful wooden structure, spiralling gently to 130 feet to provide panoramic views of the beautiful BC landscape.
Highlights: At the “Tree Walk2”, stroll along the wooden walkway rising gently through the treetop canopy. At the “Spiral Tower”, you will walk up a spiral ramp rising gradually to the “Sight-seeing Lookout” where you can enjoy 360 degree views of islands, fjords, forests and mountains across Canada and onto the USA. You can choose to return to ground level either by walking back down the ramp or taking an exhilarating ride on an enclosed spiral slide!
Suggested Holiday: Enjoy the freedom of the open road - Vancouver Island by Motorhome
Photo credit Malahat SkyWalk-Hamish Hamilton
6. Pacific Rim National Park, Tofino
Where: The Pacific Rim National Park is on the west coast of Vancouver Island, 3.5 hours drive from Victoria via Highway 4. Either base yourself in the surfers paradise of Tofino or the hidden harbour oasis of Uclulet to explore the area.
What: This beautiful National Park of rugged coastline and temperate rainforests is made up of three separate regions - Long Beach, the Broken Group Islands, and the West Coast Trail.
Highlights: The 50 mile long West Coast trail is considered to be one of the best walks on the planet – you can select a section of trail to suit your energy and fitness and park at one of the well sign-posted trailheads. Long Beach is as the name describes, and is utterly beautiful, backed by rainforest and is a magical place of sand and surf, sea lions and starfish. The Broken Group Islands consists of over 100 islands, islets and rocky outcrops scattered through Barkley Sound, and is haven for kayaking.
Suggested Holiday: Explore BC - Wildlife and Beaches of Vancouver Island
5. Sea to Sky Highway
Where: Running south from Vancouver, BC Highway 99 continues beyond Whistler to Highway 97 at Cache Creek, and is more poetically known as the Sea to Sky Highway.
What: Widely regarded as one of the most scenic road trips in the world, this route is a beautiful two hour drive running past shorelines, mountains and lakes. We recommend you take a whole day over it to enjoy the views and visit the beautiful places en route.
Highights: Beginning in Vancouver you’ll follow the shore of Howe Sound then onwards and upwards to Whytecliff Park by Horseshoe Bay to breathe in the ocean air and admire the gorgeous views of the Strait of Georgia. Continue on to Shannon Falls, leaving the car to take the lovely 10 minute stroll to the third-highest waterfall in BC. Passing Squamish you’ll reach the vast and stunning Garibaldi Provincial Park and a fabulous place to hike along one of the many trailheads to see sparkling lakes and mountain vistas. Reach Whistler and enjoy a few days of outdoor fun and world-class dining.
Suggested Holiday: A lovely combination of indulgence and the great outdoors - Experience BC - Wineries and Walks
4. Peak 2 Peak Gondola, Whistler
Where: The Peak 2 Peak Gondola is located in the mountain resort of Whistler under 2 hours drive from Vancouver, linking the Whistler and Blackcomb mountains.
What: It’s a tri-cable gondola lift linking Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain suspended 436 metres above the valley floor. If you get into one of the gondolas with a glass floor you’ll get a birds eye view of the forest below!
Highlights: Enjoy stunning 360-degree views of Whistler Village, mountain peaks, lakes, glaciers and forests. Once you reach the top you can either simply enjoy a drink and admire the view in the Umbrella Bar or the more energetic will enjoy taking one of the extensive hiking trails. With a total length of almost 3 miles and a capacity for over 4000 people an hour this is one of the most popular and best used gondolas in the whole of Canada and no matter what the time of year, there's no better way to spend 11 minutes so jump on board and enjoy the ride.
Suggested Holiday: Add a few days in Whistler to your western Canada holiday - Experience Whistler
3. Travel back in time at Historic Hat Creek
Where: On Highway 99 by the Highway 97 intersection, 1 hour west of Kamloops.
What: Historic Hat Creek is a living museum located on one of the few sections of the original Cariboo Wagon Roads still accessible to the public. The buildings stand as they did in 1901, with some built as early as 1860. It’s a fascinating and entertaining window into the 1860’s British Columbia Gold Rush.
Highlights: You can try your luck at gold-panning and stroll along the same dirt road that the miners and their wagon trains travelled on over 150 years ago. Explore the historic roadhouse built in 1861, where interpreters dressed in period clothing will take you on a guided tour of a bygone era. It’s a great stopping off point on a road trip of British Columbia and you can take advantage of the facilities including a restaurant.
Suggested Holiday: Explore BC - Mountains, Wilderness and Ranches
2. Strolling the Sights of Vancouver
Where: International gateway to British Columbia, Vancouver is a natural harbour located on the Burrard Peninsula in western Canada.
What: Whilst Vancouver is too big to explore all on foot, the key neighbourhoods are a joy to ramble through and you can mix it up with a bus, boat or bike when you get tired.
Highlights: Amble along the seawall from Canada Place to enjoy the sight of floatplanes taking off and landing with the backdrop of the North Shore Mountains. A visit to Granville Island is a must, to wander through the market and sample the local produce, browse the art & craft stores, loiter over a coffee – you can easily while away a day moseying around this lovely neighbourhood. Stanley Park is one of North Americas largest urban parks and the energetic can power around the dedicated walking lane for a loop of 5.5 miles. There is a shady past to Vancouver which can be discovered on the “Lost souls of Gastown” walking tour where you will be entertained with tales of its early days as a wild frontier town inhabited by vagabonds and hustlers.
Suggested Holiday: Experience Vancouver
1. Bear Spotting and Whale Watching
Where: The western coastline of British Columbia is a treasure trove of wildlife spotting opportunities.
What: The thrill of seeing a bear in its natural habitat or watching a whale swimming just beneath the surface of the ocean with its mighty tale fin cutting through the water are two “must-sees” of a trip to British Columbia.
Highlights: You can take a whale-watching cruise from Vancouver or Victoria and whilst the whale is the sought-after star, the enjoyment of seeing sealions noisily basking on the shores, seals swimming alongside and eagles soaring above, makes for a wholly wonderful experience. Bear spotting is more rarefied and therefore more expensive, but you can enjoy day excursions from various locations on Vancouver Island, such as from Tofino or Telegraph Cove. Or you can embrace the whole experience and stay at a wilderness lodge for a few days. These range from the popular Knight Inlet Lodge which includes bear-spotting along other all-Canadian activities; the Spirit Bear Lodge owned and operated by the Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nations people; and the luxurious Sonora Resort, a sumptuous Relais & Chateaux property where you can spot either Black Bears or Grizzlies depending on the season.