Canada’s western region of British Columbia stretches from the vibrant city of Vancouver up to the Rocky Mountains in the North. It offers fascinating culture, tranquil beaches, and some of the highest peaks in North America. With skiing and snowboarding in the winter and hiking and sunbathing in the summer, British Columbia makes for a great year-round destination.
One of the main highlights of British Columbia’s largest city is Stanley Park. From beaches and an aquarium to tennis courts and botanical gardens, you’ll find everything you need in this huge recreational area.
|Stanley Park is a great spot to relax in Vancouver.
If you’re after something more chilled, relax along Vancouver’s 18 kilometers of coastline. Alternatively, head to trendy neighborhoods like Yaletown and Main Street for bars, restaurants, and boutiques.
Once you’ve finished exploring the city center, take a day trip to the nearby mountains. Grouse Mountain, for example, is just a 20-minute drive from downtown Vancouver.
|Grouse Mountain is located just 20 minutes from Vancouver.
While there, you can take to the three-kilometer-long Grouse Grind hiking trail or try out one of the 26 ski runs. Alternatively, head to Cypress Mountain, which offers 52 ski runs alongside fantastic hiking and biking trails.
A 40-minute drive from the city will take you to the Sunshine Coast region. With hikes up Pender Hill, Soames Hill, or the more challenging Mount Elphinstone (1,260 m), this area is perfect for outdoor activities. The Whistler region, meanwhile, offers unbeatable ski runs in Whistler Blackcomb, North America’s largest ski resort.
|Whistler Blackcomb is North America’s largest ski resort.
Alternatively, head to the Fraser Valley region for 30 impressive wineries, the gorgeous Cultus Lake, and the relaxing Harrison Hot Springs.
Of the hundreds of islands off British Columbia’s southwest coast, Vancouver Island is the most popular. Choose from a range of exciting activities, including skiing and surfing, or explore the island’s main city, Victoria. There, you’ll find historic architecture in areas like Bastion Square and Fort Street, as well as peaceful strolls along Fisherman’s Wharf.
|Take a walk along Fisherman's Wharf on Vancouver Island.
Alternatively, choose a less popular island, such as Galiano, where you can explore ancient forests, pebble beaches, or hike up Mount Galiano. Salt Spring Island is also a great option if you’re looking for vibrant markets, clean beaches, and dense rainforests. Newcastle Island, meanwhile, is a protected marine park with lots of unique wildlife, ancient totem poles, and hot sandstone cliffs along its coast.
The main base for visitors in Thompson Okanagan is the city of Kamloops. Alongside art venues and wineries, you’ll find the Sun Peaks Resort for skiing and the Paul Lake Provincial Park for hiking, fishing, and camping.
|The city of Kamloops is a great starting point for hiking, fishing, and camping.
Travel further out to find the 155-kilometer-long Okanagan Lake, which is perfect for a boat trip or a relaxing day on a lakefront beach with a mountainous backdrop.
The neighboring Cariboo Country is also fairly quiet but still absolutely breathtaking. The region’s highlights include Bowron Lakes Provincial Park, where can canoe through a 116-kilometer-long chain of lakes and waterways.
|Cariboo Country is fairly quiet.
There’s more natural beauty to be found in the Ten Mile Lake Provincial Park, with three sandy beaches and various hiking routes, which transform into ten kilometers of cross-country ski trails in the winter.
The best way to explore the North of the region is from either the Alaska Highway or the Stewart-Cassiar Highway. The former passes the Tumbler Ridge Global Geopark, where fascinating dinosaur tracks and fossils have been recovered. You can also fish in the jade-green lake at the Muncho Lake Provincial Park or chill out in the hot springs at Liard River.
|The Alaska Highway is a great road trip to explore the North.
The Stewart-Cassiar Highway, meanwhile, will take you past Boya Lake Provincial Park, home to stunning islands and bays. You’ll also see the collection of lakes, falls, and canyons in the Iskut River Valley and could spot grizzly bears and mountain goats in Todagin South Slope Provincial Park.
For more natural beauty, venture into the Rocky Mountains, which stretch into the USA. The most prominent mountain in the Columbian Rockies is Mount Robson, with a peak of nearly 4,000 meters. It’s located inside the Mount Robson Provincial Park, which is home to more than 40 mammal species, including black and grizzly bears, deer, coyotes, and more.
|Mount Hobson is the most prominent peak in the Columbian Rockies.
The Columbian Rockies also offer impressive water features, like the 90-meter-high Pyramid Creek Falls and Kootenay Lake, formed by huge ice fields.
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British Columbia is an amazing province in Canada, full of natural beauty and kind people. I highly recommend a visit to the many parks, lakes, ski resorts and wineries spread around the beautiful cities!