A lot of sunshine, whales, the Rockies, breathtaking national parks and delicious wine country are just some of the things you'll enjoy in British Columbia. To find out more about this unique westernmost Canadian province, the places you absolutely cannot miss there and the things you should try there, continue reading this article. Check Contents to directly jump to the desired place.
Quiz about British Columbia
Take our small quiz to check how well you know BC.
*Check the answers in the articles or check them here!
What is the largest city in BC?
BC is famous for
a) mild winters and warm summers
b) cold winters and warm summers
3. Housing in Vancouver is
a) the most expensive across Canada
b) as expensive as in Toronto
4. Victoria, the capital of BC was named after Queen Victoria
5. Tuff City is the nickname of
6. Which region is called the Canadian Tuscany?
a) the Okanagan
b) Fraser Valley
7. Okanagan Valley is known for
8. What does Yoho (as in Yoho National Park) mean in the Cree language?
9. Where can one find out how much they’d be worth if they were a salmon?
b) Haida Gwaii
10. Gabriola Island was initially named Gabiola Island
11. Which of the Gulf Islands used to be called “Little Hell”?
a) Gabriola Island
b) Mayne Island
c) Saturna Island
12. How many hours of sunshine does Sunshine Coast annually get?
13. Renowned Gibsons from The Beachcombers is located in
a) Sunshine Coast
b) Vancouver Island
Things to Do in British Columbia
#1 Discover Vancouver - the largest city in BC
You cannot skip on vibrant Vancouver if you’re going to explore the warm province of British Columbia. The largest city in BC literally has everything for a multifaceted vacation. From sakura blossoms in spring to summer sandy beaches, green parks and all-year-round mountain views, the natural scenery is breathtakingly beautiful. And the best part is that you can usually reach top nature destinations in half an hour from the city centre after you’ve enjoyed some urban life. From cozy parks and lush Botanical Gardens to the artsy life of Grandville Island and historic neighbourhoods of Gastown, you’ll be packed with places to visit and things to do in Vancouver for at least 2 days.
Vancouver has some unique means of transportation, i.e., sea buses (which will take you from downtown Vancouver to the North part of the city ) and water taxis that can take you from Yale Town to Granville Island.
#2 Enjoy the Fairy Tale life at Enchanted Forest
Enter the world of fairy tale magic! The lush green forest near Revelstoke is brimming with many kinds of huge trees and joyful folk art figurines. Let your kids find Winnie-the-Pooh, Goldilocks and The Three Bears, Captain Hook and many other characters from fairy tales and nursery rhymes. We bet, with all these small statues, greenery and BC’s tallest tree house, you’ll experience as much enchantment as your kiddo.
The forest has some seasonal activities on offer. Say, in fall, you’ll be able to enjoy seeing the migration of salmon.
**Good to Know
There’s an adventure park just near the enchanted forest where both adults and kids will be able to enjoy some outdoor activities like sky gym, treetop courses, zip lines and more.
#3 Go Skiing in Whistler + Other activities on offer!
We’re not likely to surprise you if we say that Whistler is considered the #1 ski resort in North America. However, do you know why? Located in a charming pedestrian-only village, Whistler boasts of 11-meter+ snow layers, a ski school for all ages, a super long ski season that spans from November to May and the Guinness World Record Breaking Peak 2 Peak Gondola that offers unparalleled views.
With your day ticket, you can go skiing on both Whistler and Blackcomb which offer more than 100 runs together. Also, heli-skiing is available.
OTHER POPULAR ACTIVITIES TO ENJOY IN WHISTLER
#4 Visit Vancouver Island
From old-growth trees and gigantic whales to sandy beaches, powerful waves and various hiking trails, Vancouver Island is a place that brims with numerous activities. Here you’ll find the charming capital of BC, Victoria, the renowned surfing village Tofino and its serene rival Ucluelet. Have you ever stumbled on a picture from BC where you can see goats grazing grass on the top of a shop? Take your own picture while in Coombs! Besides, the pastime on Vancouver Island is about hiking and whale watching.
#5 Visit Tofino
If you ask a local for some travel advice, they’ll definitely mention Tofino. This small surfing village has become popular in 2009 after an International competition - The O’Neil Cold Water Classic. With 35 km of shoreline, there are dozens of beaches for surfers of different levels and those who enjoy water. Kayaking, wildlife watching, supping, sandy beaches with their bonfire parties and marvellous tide pools are among some of the best things to do in Tofino. Hiking enthusiasts will love the bounty of trails “the Tuff City” offers. That could’ve been it, however Tofino features a unique off-grid homestead floating off the coast of Tofino. The homestead, that was completely built by a couple who keep living and offering tours there, annually attracts myriad of tourists from around the world.
#6 Capilano Suspension Bridge Park or Lynn Canyon Park
Probably everyone who comes to BC has Capilano Suspension Bridge Park on their must-visit list. The majestic 140-meter-long suspension bridge also called a Laughing Bridge, will take you on an adrenaline-pumping experience in the lush rainforest above the Capilano River. Due to its popularity, the park annually opens its doors to over 800,000 tourists. While some people prefer tranquil ambiance, which can hardly be achieved at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park due to the number of tourists, many prefer Lynn Canyon Park, which also boasts of an amazing 50-meter-long suspension bridge that stretches across a charming canyon.
to escape big crowds, you can come to the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park in the morning or late in the evening before the Park closes. If you come in the evening, you’ll also save some money on the ticket price.
!NB: Which park to choose?
Here are some points to consider before making up your mind.
Visiting Lynn Canyon Park is free of charge while Capilano Suspension Bridge Park costs CAD $62.95 for adults as of the summer of 2022 (Check current admission fees here).
Capilano Park definitely has more activities on offer, the question is whether you need all of them or not. At Capilano Park, you’ll be able to enjoy the cliff walk, treetop adventures, kid’s explorer program, totem poles of the First Nation’s people at Kia’palano and of course the suspension bridge itself.
At Lynn Canyon Bridge you can swim in Rice Lake or at the pool after the bridge, enjoy the waterfalls and enjoy the suspension bridge.
Both parks have a cafe to enjoy a meal and refuel your energy levels.
#7 Okanagan Valley aka the Canadian Tuscany
The Okanagan or Okanagan Valley is one of the most picturesque places to visit in BC. It’s also called the Canadian Tuscany and the scenery here mesmerizes your eye. While there are many outdoor activities you can enjoy on Okanagan Lake, Okanagan Valley is commonly known as a winemaking area in BC. Come here for local wine and farm-to-table dining, for quaint cities like Kelowna and Vernon and the only Canadian dessert Osoyoos which can also bring you closer to the culture of Indigenous People.
#8 Go Wine Tasting in Kelowna
Situated in the mountainous region near Okanagan Lake, Kelowna is the biggest city in the Okanagan Valley with lots of outdoor activities on offer throughout the year. Skiing enthusiasts come here in winter while mountain bikers enjoy the city in summer. Except for skiing you can enjoy tubing, snowshoeing, dog sledding, Nordic skiing and sleigh riding. In warm seasons, Kelowna is also about chasing waterfalls, enjoying water activities, vineyard touring, learning about the culture of Indigenous People and exploring the natural attractions on different hikes. Most important though, is the round-the-year wine tasting and sipping ice wine. Check on wine festival schedules before planning your trip to Kelowna. They will profoundly enhance your experience. Check the ins and outs of touring Kelowna here.
#9 Feel the British Vibes in Victoria- the Capital City of BC
We all know of the historical connection between Canada and the British Empire. Well, Victoria is the city which probably has most of its influences preserved till today. Even the fact that the capital city was named after Queen Victoria, hints at the connections. Double-decker buses, historic castles built by the Brits, European-like Parliament Building - all of them give you a feeling that you’re somewhere on the British Isles. The Canadian features weren’t taken over, though. For instance, Victoria is one of the best places in Canada to go whale watching. It has its own Niagara Falls and breathtaking trails that will make for a perfect date idea (make sure to visit Dallas Waterfront Trail for some romance). Last but not least, the world-famous Butchart Gardens (planted by a Canadian family) attract millions of tourists every year.
#10 Visit Squamish
Most people come to Squamish for a Sea to Sky Gondola ride which is for a reason. However, if you have some spare time, you should stay longer and take your time to explore the outdoor recreational capital of Canada because it really is a paradise for outdoor lovers. Via Ferrata, rock climbing, kayaking, mountain biking and hiking, Shannon Falls Provincial Park, Rope Runner Aerial adventure park, snowshoeing and tubing are some of the things you should add to your itinerary. While most people love coming here in summer, it really is a 4-season destination for most of the activities.
#11 Reconnect with Nature at Yoho National Park
Whether you’re a seasoned backpacker or simply an ardent nature lover, Yoho National Park will let you explore the Canadian Rockies in their all variety. In fact, Yoho means amazement or awe in the Cree language and this is what you’re going to experience there. Have a chilling walk around the deep green waters of Emerald Lake, look at the ancient life through Burgess Shale Fossils and finally behold the dizzying peaks of majestic mountains while having a rest on one of the red chairs.
Check more activities available at Yoho National Park.
#12 Go Fishing in Steveston
Looking for day trip ideas? Steveston is a perfect destination, especially if you’re a fish lover. The fishing community was once a large fishing port with a big number of canneries. Although there are no canneries left today, you’ll be able to visit a delicious Fisherman’s Wharf and even find out how much you’d be worth if you were salmon. Looking back at the history of Steveston, you’ll find out that there were many Japanese immigrants here, who constituted more than half of the whole population before 1942. So, today, you’ll feel some Japanese flavor while in Steveston. From the Japanese Garden named Kuno to many Japanese artifacts in local museums and even a calligraphy brush to master some Japanese characters.
#13 Take a Drive along the Sea to Sky Highway
If you’re exploring BC by car, the Sea to Sky Highway is absolutely unmissable. The majority agrees that this is one of the most scenic drives in Canada. Driving along this Highway is not only an enjoyable ride full of sights to behold but also a way to get to Whistler from Vancouver in 2 hours.
Make several stops on your way to stretch your body and take in the surrounding beauty or plan a road trip along the Sea to Sky highway. Stops that are so worth making:
- Britannia Mine Museum
- the Shannon Falls
- Sea to Sky Gondola
- Stawamuss Chief Provincial Park
- Tantalus lookout
- Garibaldi Provincial Park
- Brandywine Falls
TIP: to enjoy the serenity and avoid crowds, spring or fall should be your choice.
#14 Gulf Islands
One of the hidden gems of BC, the place of intense tranquility and untouched natural beauty is all about the Gulf Islands. The group of islands consists of 15 of them, each of which is a place to behold and experience some local culture. Visit Gabriola Island for art and wildlife, choose Salt Spring Island for scrumptious meals and savory markets or Saturna Island for a remote and relaxing stay.
Some of the most visited islands are:
Salt Spring Island: this one is the biggest and famous for its farmer’s markets, the Cheese Company, street and flea markets and of course stunning natural surroundings like mountains, beautiful parks and a lavender farm. You can check more things to do on Salt Spring Island here.
Gabriola Island: The island of Gabiola which turned into a Gabriola island because of the mistake of British cartographers is a place where you can clearly follow the traces of the past. Spectacular petroglyphs of snakes, lions and other mythological creatures are scattered throughout the island. Although they’re a bit blurred now, it is easy to notice them even around natural beauty of forests and beaches. Gabriola’s natural wonders are complemented by local arts. In fact, this island accommodates more than 200 artists. So, visiting local museums and galleries is a worthy item to add to the list of things to do on Gabriola Island.
Saturna Island: if you’re looking for an idyllic place to enjoy nature, Saturna Island is a perfect choice. With just 350 residents, you’ll be able to escape the crowds and have some time on your own (or with your fellow). A lot of the Island’s territories belong to the Gulf Islands Natural Park Reserve and thus you’ll find many amazing natural attractions to behold and outdoor activities to enjoy on the Island.
Mayne Island: once a busy commercial and social centre of the Gulf Islands, which was even called “little Hell”, Mayne Island is now one of the most relaxing places in the world. You can often stumble upon titles like “Doing Nothing on Mayne Island” which is absolutely true with its hypnotic scenery and wildlife. However, it doesn’t mean that there’s nothing to do there. Indeed, Mayne Island has amazing hiking trails that will take you through amazing natural surroundings, colourful Japanese Gardens built to honour the first immigrants from Japan that contributed a lot to the Island’s development, sandy beaches where you can enjoy the sun or start your kayaking adventures and quaint buildings that speak loudly of history. Check the detailed info about things to do on Mayne Island.
#15 Wells Gray Provincial Park
When it comes to chasing waterfalls, Wells Gray Park takes the central stage in BC. With 41 impressive waterfalls and astounding natural surroundings, Wells Grey Provincial Park is the place to enjoy a new bold off-grid adventure. One-day trip or a stay with a sleepover is up to you. One more option is to take a road trip along the Wells Gary Corridor that will occupy your whole day. From the Corridor, you can also access some of the waterfalls, picnic areas, hiking trails and even heritage sites. Still not sure whether this Provincial Park is for you, learn the nuts and bolts of the state park here.
#16 Sunshine Coast
Victoria and Vancouver are great but you feel up to retreating to an idyllic place surrounded by nature and enjoy the sunny weather? A weekend getaway to the Sunshine Coast, which gets 2, 400 hours of annual sunshine, could be your perfect option. Tour some of the most popular cities in the territory (Sechelt, Powell River, or Gibsons - yes this one from the Beachcombers) and learn about more of the local culture or lifestyle.
In Sechelt, you’ll enjoy fishing for crabs, soak up the views of nature and learn about the thousand-year traditions of the Shishalh people and their modern lifestyle (Pay a visit to the tens Sway Museum).
Come to Powell River for quaint hulks, modern Westview, peaceful strolls along the pier and Canada’s oldest working movie theatre - the Patricia theatre.
Remember Gibsons? Yes, the small old village from the series. Well, it’s quite modern and unrecognizable today. Visit its breweries, galleries and museums and enjoy the beach.
If you love waves and have time, stop at Skookumchak. If you don’t have time, definitely allocate some for the breathtaking soothing views of rainforests and wild waves where kayakers and surfers try their luck.
Neither a big city nor pure natural surroundings are your option right now, the Kamloops might be just the thing. Located on the junction of the North and South Hampton, Kamloops offers lots of outdoor and cultural activities alike. From the all-loved mountain biking at the renowned Bike Ranch to a less popular waterbike riding at Riverdale Park, Kamloops has lots of activities!
Go rafting, spend a sunny day at the beach or go skiing on thickly snow-covered mountains, try indoor rock climbing at Cliffside Climbing Gym, explore the downtown and go to the narrow streets outside the city centre to see the mural art.
#18 Fort Langley in Fraser Valley
If you’re tired of active pastime but eager to see and listen to some history, the national historic site Fort Langley should be your next destination. This tiny oasis is home to blacksmiths, galleries, breweries, vintage shops, an original 1840 storehouse and cozy cafes. Even those who are not super interested in history admire the charm of the quaint atmosphere that pervades the National Historic Site.
I bet you're already excited about BC because this province has so much to offer! Don't hesitate and start planning your vacation there.
When to Go?
Not surprisingly, the tourist season in BC is in summer. However, if you wanna save some money and escape overcrowded places, come in late spring or early fall. It’s still warm outside and pleasant to explore new places. Remember to bring your umbrella (while it’s warm in BC, it tends to be rainy as well).
Bucket-list places in BC for tourists
- The Okanagan Valley and Kelowna
Fascinating Facts about BC
1. BC is Canada’s westernmost and third largest province
**2. 7 of Canada’s National Parks are located in BC.
3. The highest waterfalls in Canada, Della Falls, is situated in BC.
At 440 m in height, Della Falls is the highest waterfall in Canada. The beautiful cascading waterfall is named after Joe Drinkwater’s wife who discovered the waterfall. Getting there is rather easy and not for beginner hikers since you have to overcome a 37 km boat ride and then brave a 16-km hike.
4. Vancouver is the birthplace of California roll … according to one of the versions.
Chef Tojo from TOjo’s restaurant in Vancouver is reportedly the one who first developed the technique of inside-out Tojo Roll, which is commonly known as a California roll. In fact, credible sources like Britannica provide other plausible versions. The most commonly accepted version states that it was a Japanese chef in LA who noticed that Americans dislike the idea of eating seaweeds and raw fish and consequently invented the inside-out type of sushi roll.
5. Vancouver is the largest city in BC.
Besides, Vancouver is the 3d-largest city across Canada where there live more than half of all the residents of BC
**6. World’s largest hockey stick in preserved in Duncan, BC.
The stick is 40 times as big as the normal hockey stick used for playing.
7. The world’s largest totem pole is kept in Alert Bay, BC
The totem pole is 173 feet high and depicts the carved figures of different animals, sea creatures as well as mythological creatures. Since the totem pole was built from 2 pieces instead of one, some people argue that it is actually the tallest one.
8. BC is home to the longest-running movie theatre in Canada.
Patricia’s Theatre at Powell River has been operating since 1913.
**9. Half of Total Canada’s Wine production is made in BC
Along this, 20% of all Canadian wineries are located in BC.
**10. The rainiest places in Canada are in British Columbia.
According to the latest news (as of September 2022), Abbotsford in BC is the rainiest city in Canada with 1538 mm of precipitation annually (ca. 179 days per year).
11. Winters here are mild, the mildest in Canada
In comparison to other parts of Canada, winters are mild and temperatures rarely go below zero. The climate also results in warm summers.
12. Canada’s Centennial Baby Pamela Anderson was born in Ladysmith, BC.
She was the first child born in Canada (4.08 ) on the 100th anniversary of Canada.
13. Peak to peak Gondola is a technological Success, says Guinness Record Book
The cable cars that take you from Whistler to Blackcomb and offer breathtaking aerial views are the highest cable car above the ground and also the longest unsupported span between two cable car towers.
14. Vancouver is ranked as the most expensive city in the world, according to Insider.
The average cost of housing in Vancouver is $1.4 M.
You can now become a tour guide in BC, aren't you? For more interesting facts, stories and picturesque places, come to BC. And don't forget to check our experiences in BC.