2023 British Columbia Visitors Guide
British Columbia is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful provinces in Canada. With the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Rocky Mountains to the east, British Columbia truly is the best of both worlds. With our guides, you can get to know the great province of British Columbia. Our travel guides will help you plan your exploration of this beautiful province in Western Canada. Select a destination in British Columbia and look for what to see, where to go, and what to do. Our guides feature detailed descriptions along with pictures of the favorite travel spots in British Columbia.
Get to know Vancouver, Whistler, Kelowna, Victoria, and more. Enjoy skiing the renowned Rocky Mountains, hiking in the majestic wilderness of the Kootenay Mountains, touring the first-rate vineyards of the Okanagan, and sailing among the pleasant water surrounding Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. Central and Northern British Columbia is recognized for its great fishing and hunting opportunities and offers a view into the aboriginal life and rural cultures of Canada. The Sunshine Coast and Fraser Valley both boast magnificent scenery.
British Columbia Destinations
Knight Inlet, British Columbia To spot black bears and grizzlies, head to the Knight Inlet, just northwest of Vancouver. The Knight Inlet Lodge operates from June to mid-October and offers three-day, four-day, and five-day holiday packages. A ferry takes guests to a strait overflowing with salmon and to the areas the bears visit.
Located slightly north of Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, this near-perfect coastal destination has everything a tourist could hope for: naturally sandy beaches, lush unexploited wilderness, a bustling cultural community, and small-town hospitality. Outdoor enthusiasts will relish the ample recreational opportunities, including The Sunshine Coast Trail, a 180-km (112-mi) hiking tour de force, which will delight hikers of all ages and abilities. Kayaking, canoeing, biking, golfing, and fishing are just a small sampling of the other activities available.
Urban dwellers will find themselves enticed by the plethora of funky shops and eclectic restaurants. Be sure to pay a visit to Molly’s Reach, a cultural icon in Gibsons, which was the set of a popular Canadian sitcom for 17 years. The Sunshine Coast also boasts an active art community that is strongly influenced by Aboriginal history and traditions, as well as numerous year-round festivals and events. One warning though: those who visit this gracious paradise often find it quite hard to leave.
Victoria is British Columbia’s capital city and is known worldwide for its temperate climate, stunning coastal setting, and awe-inspiring visitor attractions. Located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, Victoria enjoys mild temperatures year-round, which means the flowers are always in bloom. Read more Things to do in Victoria.
Princess Royal Island
Travel off of British Columbia’s coast to discover the untamed and stunning Princess Royal Island. Couples can experience this private island when the Lodge docks at its shores each year. Merging the very best of luxury and wilderness, the floating hotel offers couples adventures such as kayaking and fishing, mixed with ocean-view or wilderness-view suites and spa treatments; the Romance and Waterfall suites are highly recommended.
Some have named this fertile expanse of British Columbia the “Napa North” or “the Tuscany of Canada,” which features a temperate climate, with majestic rolling hills and copious nuts, fruits, and, of course, grapes. Vineyards are the major business now; with over 120 in the area, it is the perfect spot for wine tasting. Similarly, with Napa, the landscape and environment of the Okanagan Valley make it a fantastic area for biking, kayaking, and hiking. Access to the Okanagan Valley is via Kelowna, and the center of the wine region is a town called Naramata.
Salt Spring Island
Salt Spring Island, one of the Gulf Islands on the coast of British Columbia, hosts its yearly market overflowing with artists and farmers. Local artists and vendors sell their goods, chat about the island, and help create a relaxed and friendly environment to pick up a gift or just stroll around the lively tables. The one rule is that you must “make it, bake it, or grow it” yourself to sell there, so all products are handmade and produced locally.
The town of Golden lies just 40 miles from the Lake of Louise, This town is nestled within the peaks of the Rocky Mountains and forests, here you can enjoy the panoramic view of the Kicking Horse River flowing into the mighty Columbia. Golden thrives on mountain river activities such as snowmobiling, kayaking, fishing, rafting, and many more, The south of Golden is a popular gliding destination.
Atlin is a place of beauty in the extreme northwest of British Columbia with its beautifully painted houses, picturesque gardens, lush forests, and several glaciers. Atlin is simply stunning with its beauty and grandeur, winter enthusiasts love the place for snowmobiling, skiing and ice fishing just 10 km to the north of Atlin.
This beautiful place in British Columbia lies snuggled between the mountain ranges of Purcell and Selkirk and is one of the oldest towns in British Columbia, The buildings here reflect Victorian architecture and style. the delta region of the Kaslo River is a mirror image of Switzerland, if you are a sports lover, this is an ideal place to stay and enjoy, Kaslo offers several outdoor activities for all seasons, including hiking, mountaineering, and water sports, during the winter Kaslo has ideal skiing conditions.
Whistler, British Columbia
Whistler is famous for its ideal slopes and beautiful scenery, but look beyond those massive rock formations, and you’ll find an even wider range of off-hill activities. Check out the tubing park for family fun, undertake dog sledding, soar above the resort on a zip line eco-tour, or catch a horse-drawn sleigh for a truly unique Canadian winter experience. Read more Things to do in Whistler.
Alice Lake, British Columbia
Alice Lake, surrounded by a 400-hectare park of open grassy areas, dense forests, and impressive snowcapped peaks, is particularly good for canoeing, swimming, and freshwater fishing for small rainbow and cutthroat trout. Trails around the lake beckon hikers in summer and cross-country skiers in winter. A campground with showers and picnic tables is open year-round. The park entrance is only 13km north of Squamish.
Emerald Lake, British Columbia
Emerald Lake, one of the jewels of Yoho National Park, can be found in beautiful British Columbia, Canada. Covered by ice for most of the year, the lake is encircled by the mountains of President Range, as well as Mount Burgess and Wapta Mountain. There is a 5.1 km hiking trail circuiting the lake. Emerald Lake was discovered in 1882 by Tom Wilson.
Situated on the eastern shore of charming Vancouver Island, Ladysmith offers visitors all of the charm and hospitality of a small town. Ladysmith, BC, offers top-notch recreational opportunities, a well-known trail system through striking forests, shopping and restaurants in the center area, and waterfront activities at immaculate Transfer Beach.
Vancouver, BC is famous for the ‘West Coast Special.’ All in one day, visitors can play golf, go skiing, enjoy a world-class gourmet meal, and finish it off with an NHL hockey game. Vancouver has evolved into a major city along the west coast of North America with a diverse cultural history. Vancouver is constantly ranked among the top cities in the world. Vancouver offers a safe, clean downtown with numerous chic shops. The city is the ideal destination for a holiday, a day trip from Seattle, or to start a cruise to Alaska and more. See Vancouver in One Day
Tofino is one of the hidden gems on the quiet coast of Vancouver Island, the other gem being Ucluelet, which is a world UNESCO reserve. Pacific Rim National Park, one of BC’s most popular nature reserves, is just one of the attractions near Tofino and Ucluelet. Tofino is the gateway to discover the best of BC. Read more Things to do in Tofino.
Golden, British Columbia
713 kilometers east of Vancouver and roughly 260 kilometers west of Calgary in Alberta is where you will find Golden, British Columbia. The town was founded out of necessity due to the Canadian Pacific Railway and the logging industry. In modern days Golden’s economy is still heavily influenced by those two industries. Still, the construction of Kicking Horse Resort, as well as other adventure companies, has diversified the economy to include tourism. Just southeast of the town is Mt. 7, which is very popular with mountain bikers, hang gliders and paragliders.
Penticton, British Columbia
Between Okanagan Lake and Skaha Lake, you will find the city of Penticton, known as the peace city. During the summer months, the number of visitors to this city doubles the population to 60,000. Normally the winter months it’s very quiet, but because of the World Cup Freestyle Skiing, the winter scene is gradually picking up. From Vancouver, it takes about 4 hours, eight from Calgary, and 5 hours from Seattle or Spokane. Penticton is only about an hour’s drive south of Kelowna. The weather in Penticton is about as good as it gets in BC, with the city seeing 2000 hours of sun a year, which is more than Rio de Janeiro.
100 Mile House, BC
100 Mile House, BC, can be found in the middle of the South Cariboo and was the site of one of the first roadhouses that serviced British Columbia’s Gold Rush. The name “100 Mile House” comes from the distance to the Mile “0” in Lillooet. Located in a valley that looks out over Bridge Creek, 100 Mile House is known as a year-round outdoor playground that offers some of the best cross-country skiing in British Columbia. Camping, fishing, hiking, and mountain biking are all readily available in the summer months. Many years after serving as a pit stop for Gold Miners 100 Mile House remains a fantastic vacation spot for travelers in BC.
National Parks in British Columbia
British Columbia is home to some of the most breathtaking national parks in the world. From lush rainforests to towering mountain ranges, the province offers a diverse array of natural wonders waiting to be explored.
Yoho National Park
Located in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, Yoho boasts stunning turquoise lakes, roaring waterfalls, and majestic peaks. The must-see attraction in this park is the famous Lake Louise, known for its crystal-clear waters reflecting the surrounding mountain peaks. Take a leisurely stroll along the lake’s shoreline or embark on one of the many hiking trails that lead to panoramic viewpoints for an unforgettable experience.
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve
Located on the west coast of Vancouver Island, this park offers a unique blend of ancient coastal rainforests, rugged shorelines, and pristine sandy beaches. Explore the famous West Coast Trail, a challenging multi-day hike that winds through old-growth forests, across suspension bridges, and along breathtaking cliff edges. Keep an eye out for the diverse wildlife that calls this park home, including whales, sea lions, and bald eagles.
Glacier National Park
As the name suggests, Glacier National Park is characterized by its icy glaciers, towering mountains, and stunning alpine meadows. Lace up your hiking boots and embark on the famous Illecillewaet Loop Trail, a moderate hike that takes you through lush forests, across alpine meadows adorned with colorful wildflowers, and up close to the impressive glaciers that define this park.
Kootenay National Park
Located in the southeastern part of the province, this park is known for its dramatic landscapes and rejuvenating hot springs. Spend a day hiking through the dramatic Marble Canyon, where turquoise waters flow through deep limestone canyons, or soak in the soothing waters of Radium Hot Springs, a natural mineral pool that offers relaxation amidst stunning mountain views.
British Columbia Outdoor Adventures
British Columbia is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a plethora of unforgettable adventures that will leave you in awe of its natural beauty. From soaring mountains to pristine lakes and rugged coastlines, this province has it all.
Renowned for its world-class skiing and snowboarding, this mountain resort offers thrilling slopes for all skill levels. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, you’ll find your perfect run here. In the summer, Whistler transforms into a mountain biking mecca, with countless trails to explore and stunning views to admire.
Great Bear Rainforest
This remote wilderness is home to an incredible array of wildlife, including grizzly bears, wolves, and bald eagles. Embark on a guided tour to witness these majestic creatures in their natural habitat, and immerse yourself in the tranquility of this untouched rainforest.
Coastal city of Tofino
This charming town is famous for its pristine beaches and world-class surfing conditions. Whether you’re a seasoned surfer or a novice, you’ll find the perfect wave to ride here. Take a leisurely stroll along the sandy shores, breathe in the fresh ocean air, and marvel at the stunning sunsets that paint the sky in vibrant hues.
Garibaldi Provincial Park
This park boasts breathtaking alpine scenery, turquoise lakes, and towering glaciers. Lace up your hiking boots and embark on the challenging but rewarding hike to Garibaldi Lake, where you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views that will take your breath away.
From the old-growth forests of Cathedral Grove to the rugged coastal trails of Pacific Rim National Park, Vancouver Island offers endless opportunities for outdoor exploration. Kayak through the calm waters of the Broken Group Islands, go whale watching in the Pacific Ocean, or simply relax on the sandy beaches and soak in the island vibes.
Useful tips and resources for a memorable vacation
To help you make the most of your trip, we have compiled a list of useful tips and resources that will ensure you have a memorable vacation in British Columbia.
- Research and Plan Ahead: Start by researching the different regions and attractions in British Columbia that align with your interests. Whether you are into hiking, wildlife spotting, or exploring cultural landmarks, there is something for everyone in this province. Make a list of must-visit places and create an itinerary to maximize your time.
- Pack Accordingly: British Columbia experiences a variety of climates, so it’s crucial to pack appropriately for the weather conditions. If you plan to explore the coastal areas, pack rain gear and layers to stay comfortable in unpredictable weather. If you’re venturing into the mountains, pack warm clothing and sturdy footwear for hiking adventures.
- Transportation Options: British Columbia offers various transportation options to get around. If you prefer the freedom to explore at your own pace, renting a car is a popular choice. Alternatively, public transportation, such as buses and trains, can be an efficient and scenic way to travel between cities and regions.
- Outdoor Safety: British Columbia’s wilderness is renowned for its beauty and adventure, but it’s essential to prioritize safety. Familiarize yourself with the area’s wildlife and follow guidelines for encounters. Be prepared with essential items like a first aid kit, extra water, and appropriate clothing for outdoor activities.
- Local Cuisine: British Columbia is a food lover’s paradise, with a diverse culinary scene showcasing fresh seafood, farm-to-table dining, and international cuisines. Don’t miss the opportunity to indulge in local delicacies, visit farmers’ markets, and try craft beers and wines from the region.
- Connect with Locals: One of the best ways to truly experience British Columbia is by connecting with locals. They can provide insider tips, recommend hidden gems, and offer unique perspectives on the region. Engage in conversations, join local tours or activities, and immerse yourself in the local culture.
- Online Resources: Take advantage of online resources to enhance your vacation planning. Visit the official British Columbia tourism website for up-to-date information on attractions, accommodations, and events. Travel blogs and forums can also provide valuable insights and personal experiences to inspire and guide your journey.
We hope you enjoyed our comprehensive guide to exploring the best of British Columbia. From the majestic mountains to the stunning coastline, this province offers a wealth of natural beauty and exciting adventures for every traveler. Whether you’re seeking outdoor pursuits, cultural experiences, or simply relaxation, British Columbia has it all. Use this ultimate vacation planner as your go-to resource for creating an unforgettable trip. So pack your bags, embark on your British Columbia adventure, and make memories that will last a lifetime.