Western Canada is one of the world’s quiet corners, where the animals are wild and the landscapes magnificent. Start by learning the history of the First Nations peoples who settled this land in Vancouver before tying up your laces and hiking around the mountain towns of Jasper and Banff. Explore Vancouver Island from top to bottom, via frolicking seals and roaming bears. For nature lovers, there’s no better destination.
Vancouver is, and always has been, entwined with nature. In this city you can go from sandy beach to Grouse Mountain in a single day. It’s not hard to see why it’s consistently voted one of the world’s happiest places to live. Bike ride through Stanley Park, at four times the size of Hyde Park this temperate rainforest comes with its own rose garden and railway. End a day chowing down on Pacific sea bass as the sunsets over the English Bay.
Penticton gets its name from a word in the Okanagan language translated as "a place to stay forever." Hike Munson Mountain Park for a view across the lake of Blue Mountain before enjoying a barbecue of fish on Okanagan Lake Beach. End a day sipping a glass of Cabernet Franc produced at a winery you’ve toured earlier, and gaze across tranquil lake waters.
Drive northeast through the mountains to the quaint town of Revelstoke, a great location for the explorer in you. Craving more outdoor adventure? Head out of town to try your hand at downhill mountain biking on the Begbie Falls trails. If you’re after a fix of history, then head on to the Revelstoke Railway Museum, a beloved local institution that chronicles the development of British Columbia from the 19th century to the present day.
Banff National Park offers you limitless opportunities for trail hiking, mountain biking, and wildlife spotting. Explore this dramatic landscape of jagged mountains, turquoise water, and verdant forest. You’ll share this idyllic setting with moose, elk, and the beloved Canadian grizzly, so keep a look out for four-legged friends. Refuel in a log cabin tavern by an open fire, or camp under the stars in one of Canada’s brightest night skies—either of which are priceless moments.
Ascend into the Canadian Rockies and arrive at the alpine town of Jasper. Located in the sprawling Jasper National Park, this town rests among Canada’s most inspiring landscapes. Take the Skytram to Whistler’s Peak, where the fresh air smells of pine. Gaze down on the Pyramid Mountain and Athabasca River Valley before settling in for the night in a cosy log cabin.
6. Prince George
Drive west into British Columbia towards the city of Prince George. Get a serving of local and Inuit art at the Two Rivers Gallery, whose exterior and interior are furnished with spruce wood. Wander the town’s cosy centre, popping into one of the many timbered bookshops and enjoy a freshly brewed coffee as you browse. Views of Rocky Mountain with a tasty beverage in hand are a match made in heaven.
Next, drive into the heart of the Bulkley Valley and arrive at Smithers. Beneath the hulk of Hudson Bay Mountain, enjoy a spot of fishing, hiking, or camping, as you wish. But don’t miss out on the local wildlife: great blue herons, coyote, and bears live in harmony with a town that loves its local wildlife.
8. Prince Rupert
This port city on Kaien Island is brimming with First Nations culture and nature-spotting opportunities. Check out the local Tsimshian ceremonial headdresses in the Museum of Northern British Columbia and the totem poles that dot the city. Make sure to take a “flightseeing” tour of remote coastal villages on the island before swinging by the grizzly and black bear sanctuary in Khutzeymateen Valley—it’s quite the sight.
9. Port Hardy
Port Hardy, your first stop on Vancouver Island, is a mecca for wildlife travellers. Kayak around the peninsula from Bear Cove keeping an eye out for black bears and bald eagles. Pull on your goggles for a scuba dive, witnessing wolf eels and pacific octopus among the submarine kelp forests. In the evening, enjoy an indulgent platter of locally caught salmon and lobster as you finish a day in one of Canada’s most beautiful port cities.
Victoria is Vancouver Island’s largest city, and it maintains a charming flavour of Blighty. Take a stroll through Victoria’s handsome city centre, taking a look at the majestic Empress Hotel and the Gothic Revival St Andrew's Cathedral. Head down to Beacon Hill Park to catch a game of cricket—yes, they really do still play cricket. After watching an innings, head to one of the harbourside cafés for afternoon tea and cake.
Return to Vancouver to finish off your amazing trip. Get one last taste of the mountains and forests by heading to the Dog Mountain trails, or dive into the Museum of Anthropology, one of North America’s finest. Don’t miss the huge collection of the First Nations works, including Bill Reid’s Raven and the First Men. End your trip with dinner in Vancouver’s vibrant Chinatown, reminiscing over your Canadian memories that will last a lifetime.
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