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Mountains, waterways, and the cities of the West
The Western Route
We help plan your trip
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Your journey in Western Canada hits all of the region’s major cities and natural marvels: from Vancouver Island to the Inside Passage, you’ll discover the mountains, rivers, and waterways which have made British Columbia one of the best regions for exploring nature in North America.
The Western Route
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Few cities mix nature and urban thrill like Vancouver does. Known as the Pearl of the Pacific, your trip starts here, in a city that has consistently been ranked one of the world’s most liveable cities. Bike the perching trails of Stanley Park and take a break at one of its rose gardens, or have a bite to eat in the city’s buzzing Chinatown. Don’t miss out on the artsy Granville Island, too: it’s the perfect place to see the evolution of a city that keeps evolving.
Surrounded by two freshwater lakes and rolling hills, Penticton gets its name from a word in the Okanagan language translated as "a place to stay forever." The town stretches throughout Okanagan Valley, surrounded by a majestic, chiselled mountainous landscape. Walk by the Skaha Lake and Okanagan Lake—the perfect spot for fishing and boating—and make sure to catch a sunset here.
This laidback town will be one of your next destinations, a charming pause in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. Historical museums such as the Revelstoke Railway Museum, which explores the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, or the Three Valley Gap Ghost Town heritage village, which explicates the Gold Rush epoch of the 19th century in Western Canada, are perfect ways to understand the historical development of this region. A stroll to the city centre will charm and delight, in case you have a case of wanderlust.
As you venture deeper into the natural wonders of Canada, you’ll stop at Banff, a town that is a thrill for the senses. Surrounding the city are 4,000 miles of protected park reserve, home to hundreds of local species including moose, elk, sheep and the famous Canadian grizzly bear. But the town of Banff has its charm, too: the city is laden with cute cafes, boutique stores, and restaurants—the perfect way to cool down after exploring its titular national park.
The alpine town of Jasper is your next stop as you move evermore into the Canadian Rockies. A railway town in the middle of the Jasper National Park, Jasper is a year-round getaway that is perfect for exploring the natural surroundings of the Albertan Province. Its serenity is unparalleled—let loose, breathe in the fresh air, and look up at the snow-capped mountains that surround it.
As your route now begins to turn to the west again, a stopover in Prince George, nicknamed the “Northern Capital” of British Columbia, will remind you that the charm of this part of Canada is endless. Make a date with the Prince George Symphony Orchestra, visit Two Rivers Gallery to see a variety of Canadian artwork on display. The Exploration Place, an exhibition with a focus on history, science and nature, is also an apt way to explore this delightful town.
With the enchanting snow-capped Hudson Bay Mountain as its backdrop, the small northern British Columbian town of Smithers (population 6,000) is as welcoming as its vistas. Situated in the Bulkley Valley, the surrounding rolling hills, farmlands, creeks, lakes and forests lend themselves to fishing, boating, camping, hiking, biking, skiing and wildlife spotting (mainly bear and moose). Wander around town, too, and find the town's cosy centre.
This port city on Kaien Island is brimming with things to see, places to go to and a variety of must-do activities. Enjoy a stroll through the historic downtown shopping district and pop into the art galleries and craft shops before indulging in delicious West Coast fusion fare at one of the local restaurants. And make sure to take a ‘flightseeing’ tour of remote coastal villages on the island, as well as the grizzly and black bear sanctuary in Khutzeymateen Valley, and the Cambria Icefields.
Nestled on the edge of the Queen Charlotte Strait at the northern tip of Vancouver Island lies Port Hardy, with a population 4,500. The Cape Scott Provincial Park, North Coast Trail and British Columbia Marine Trail offer spectacular wilderness adventures, including kayaking, caving, world-class scuba diving, fishing, wildlife charters and camping. Black bear and bald eagles’ sightings and a host of other fauna and birdlife add the final touches—so keep your eyes open.
Victoria is often described as having a “British” charm. Red double-decker buses, flowers, and the city’s carriages may recall the stately presence of the old British empire, but the city today has grown into its own skin. As you walk down the streets of this charming city, make sure to revel in the presence of the Government House, Fairmont Empress Hotel, and the Royal B.C. Museum. No matter where you wander, the Garden City is bound to charm you into its rhythm.
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