Vancouver is one of Canada’s most beautiful and attractive cities, with a youthful spirit and a lively atmosphere. A stunning place for any traveller to visit, the city is a wonderful jumping-off point for a road trip across Canada, or an amazing destination at the end of a Vancouver cruise up the West Coast of North America.
While the city itself is a treat, there is also an incredible treasure trove of sights and experiences within touching distance of Vancouver. The remarkable landscapes of British Columbia and the beautiful coastline of Vancouver Island mean that quick day trips or slightly longer overnight stays from Vancouver open up an extraordinary world of possibilities, and some truly gorgeous scenery and wildlife.
So if you are lucky enough to find yourself in the city with a day or two to spare, throw a few things into a small bag and get out into the great outdoors, to discover some of the natural wonders just a few hours drive from the centre of Vancouver.
Vancouver Island is the largest island in the Pacific east of New Zealand, and has an enormous amount to offer the adventurous traveller. Victoria, the state capital of British Columbia, is a real gem, full of delightful architecture and some amazing culture underpinned by the area’s rich indigenous history. The West Coast Trail follows Vancouver Island’s magnificent, rugged coastline, offering up whale watching opportunities as well as some stunning hiking. The rest of the Pacific Rim Natural Reserve is fairly mind-blowing as well, with picturesque islands and inlets as well as temperate rainforests forming an eye-opening 511 square kilometers of glorious and surprising natural beauty.
The drive from Vancouver to Whistler is almost worth the trip on its own. The magnificent Sea to Sky Highway is one of the most beautiful stretches of road in Canada, with amazing places along the way to stop and take in, like the Sea to Sky Gondola, Howe Sound, Shannon Falls, Squamish, and a number of exquisite suspension bridges.
Whistler itself is one of the best skiing destinations in North America. Whistler Blackcomb is the largest resort in North America, with some extraordinary slopes, and the apres-ski in Whistler Village is just as impressive, with world-class restaurants and lively bars and nightclubs. For non-skiers the mountains are full of alternative adventures, with impressive hiking and biking trails, zip lines, crystal-clear lakes, a golf course, and even a Scandinavian-style spa.
The Okanagan Valley
Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley is pure heaven for foodies and gourmands. Kelowna is known for its farm-to-table eateries, and its location on the Okanagan lakefront is a dream. Heading out of town, the Okanagan Valley is full of picturesque spots, charming ski resorts, and some truly exceptional orchards and wineries. Stop off at Mission Hill Winery, dubbed the “Valley Versailles” for its splendid buildings and delightful views of the Okanagan Lake. Whatever you do, don’t miss out on tasting icewine, the Canadian specialty made with grapes which have frozen on the vine.