George Vancouver took possession of this westernmost of Canada’s provinces in the name of the British crown in 1792. Admirers of natural beauty will find the forests, lakes and peaks are unsurpassed while lovers of the outdoors will discover a hiker’s paradise. Add the city of Vancouver, rated one of the most livable in the world and we have a heady combination.
Vancouver is the province’s largest city as well as the nation’s third largest after Toronto and Montreal. The skyscrapers of the downtown area give the city a business feel, but it is the city’s natural setting and surroundings that will seduce you. Nestled between the sea and the mountains, Vancouver has managed to grow and prosper while preserving its many green spaces nurtured by the mild ocean climate. Stanley Park, located next to downtown, is recognised as one of the great urban parks of the world with its 1,000 acres of greenery, walking trails, lagoons, statues and monuments. There are quiet areas, bike routes and a miniature railway; a world away from the world.
You can best appreciate Vancouver’s ideal location between the water and the mountains by taking a stroll on the trails along the ocean coastline and the edge of the bay. The city also offers a number of architectural points of interest, museums and unique neighbourhoods, such as Yaletown, a trendy and upscale renovated warehouse district.
From nearby Tsawwassen, you can take a 90-minute ferry ride to reach Vancouver Island and discover beautiful Victoria, the largest city on the island and also the capital of British Columbia. There is a distinctly European feel and atmosphere to Victoria. Her renowned Inner Harbour is dominated by the Empress Hotel, the city’s iconic symbol and also a designated National Historic Site of Canada , and by the Legislature Buildings . Victoria’s main visitor sights are based on seafaring and the Maritime Museum of British Columbia offers an insight into Pacific maritime history and culture, ocean exploration, the shipbuilding industry and a collection of seafaring vessels.
The prime shopping area is around Government Street and Market Square. Just behind the square is Canada's oldest Chinatown. About eight miles north of downtown Victoria is Mount Douglas Park. From the summit, the 360º lookout offers spectacular views of the surrounding countryside and of Victoria. And if beautiful houses with a Victorian flavour attract you, don’t miss a trip along Dallas Road just south of downtown along the water’s edge.
Equally unmissable, 20 minutes north of central Victoria, are Butchart Gardens. These world-renowned botanical gardens covering 55 acres bring a wonderland of floral displays, gardens from around the world and gorgeous vistas at every turn.
Vancouver Island and its 2,150 miles of coastline offer whale watching, dolphins and sea lions. A number of small towns are also worth a visit. Nanaimo, located on the Strait of Georgia 70 miles northwest of Victoria boasts an attractive shopping street with numerous ‘watering holes’ in Old Nanaimo. Further up the sheltered east coast at the town of Campbell River you’ll discover the ‘the Salmon Capital of the World’. From the saltwater fishing pier, Discovery Pier, you can admire the Strait of Georgia and enjoy beautiful views of the mountains. In the centre of the island is Strathcona Provincial Park, the largest on the island blessed with lakes, glaciers, forests and the highest waterfalls in Canada, the Della Falls.
Returning to the mainland and to the Rocky Mountains, North America’s major mountain range whose peaks reach almost 13,000 feet. This region of nearly 14,000 sq. miles is located across the three provinces of British Columbia, Alberta and Yukon and is renowned for its breathtaking panoramas. The flora and fauna are protected in a number of national parks such as those of Mount Robson, Yoho and Glacier. Bordering Jasper National Park in Alberta, Mount Robson Provincial Park has the highest point in the Canadian Rockies, Mount Robson. Amongst the most beautiful hikes is the one around Kinney Lake at the foot of Mount Robson. Yoho National Park owes its great beauty to Emerald Lake with its cascades and stunning rock formation. Finally, Glacier National Park, to the west of Yoho, covers over 500 sq. miles. The 420 glaciers in the park are an impressive and unforgettable sight.
Other British Columbia highlights include Whistler, located at the foot of the Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, a mountain resort town known for alpine skiing. In summer there are many outdoor activities such as mountain biking, golf and trail hiking. The village boasts superb hotels as well as the Village Stroll, a stone, pedestrian-only causeway lined with shops and restaurants. Much further to the east, along the Thompson River you’ll find the city of Kamloops, surrounded by breathtaking natural scenery.
Don't forget the Sunshine Coast, one of BC's hidden gems. Just north of Vancouver, it's a pacific paradise of quirky waterfront shops, friendly people and an easygoing lifestyle. From strolling the endless miles of windswept seashore to sailing up Princess Louisa Inlet, you'll find it hard to shake the inescapable feeling that they're in on a secret the rest of the travelling world has yet to discover.
British Columbia is prime bear viewing territory and home to half of Canada's grizzly bears, a quarter of the country's black bears and the elusive White Kermode Bear, known as the Spirit Bear. So naturally, the province offers a wide choice of wilderness and wildlife resorts, many of which are located in the Great Bear Rainforest. Here you can choose to stay in peaceful hideways, small retreats or impressive floating lodges all surrounded by the most spectacular scenery. All of this accommodation is accessed by boat rides, or short scenic float planes trips, making getting there part of the overall adventure!
For a limited period we've got some maps of Western Canada that we'd love to share with you. Please email us your address and we'll pop one in the post today. We will also sign you up to receive our FREE ideas and inspiration on holidays to Western Canada with Bon Voyage.
In the meantime, for holiday suggestions please check out our itineraries. All Bon Voyage trips are tailor made, and we would love to discuss your plans with you. Simply call the team of experts at Bon Voyage on (0800) 316 3012 and we'll take care of the rest.
Where you stay is the heart of your holiday. Location reigns supreme but do you prefer resort facilities or unique and boutique? Historic and old world or modern and shiny?
We aim to present choices across the spectrum but there are many hundreds of places to stay and not room to feature them all. Do speak to your Bon Voyage travel consultant and click the video for our take on this important topic.
We would rate the Bellagio as one of the best hotels we have ever stayed in. Fabulous, glitzy, exciting. We loved having breakfast at the poolside café... one of our best experiences ever. If it hadn't been for you we wouldn't have had the suite or cabana and we loved them. We both agreed that the hotel was the best for us and you had suggested that so well done!Leonore & Mike Rumford