The Top 10 Experiences in British Columbia
Any top 10 travel list is inherently personal to the writer, and this is something many publications don’t openly admit. Here at Landsby, we have worked in the Canadian tourism industry for many years and we have all-time-favourite spots that are non-negotiable for us, but they are our personal favourites, and other people’s opinions will vary greatly. British Columbia is one of the most special provinces in Canada, with verdant farmland, dense forests, and unique islands. This isn’t THE official top attractions/experiences in BC — because that list doesn’t exist — but it is a carefully considered collection of experiences created by us — a boutique Canada tours specialist dedicated to championing the very best of BC. And if anything here inspires you to start planning a trip, you might like to explore our BC Experiences and BC Accommodation.
10) Embark on a Wine Odyssey in BC’s Okanagan Valley
Canada produces some of the best new-world wine. And the Okanagan Valley in BC is one of Canada’s richest and most valuable wine-producing regions, with countless vineyards scattered throughout this verdant landscape, making it ideal for oenophiles who like to try new wines surrounded by the beautiful land that produced them! If you’d like to know more, take a look at our Okanagan Bespoke Adventure.
9) The Royal BC Museum
Founded in 1886, this is one of Canada’s oldest museums and it houses many of the country’s most valuable and culturally significant artifacts. Found in Victoria, on Vancouver Island, this museum is dedicated to conserving “natural and human history, safeguarding them for the future and sharing them with the world”. If you’d like to embrace the rich and varied history of British Columbia, then the Royal BC Museum is an absolute must.
8) The Great Bear Rainforest
While it’s difficult to argue that 6.4 million hectares of rainforest could be considered a single attraction, people usually decide to visit the Great Bear Rainforest as a whole, so we’ll talk about it more generally here. The largest coastal temperate rainforest in the world, this unique landscape is strikingly beautiful, with large spruce and cedar trees offering a kind of wilderness few have experienced before. But it’s the wildlife that makes BC’s coastal rainforest so special; opting for something like our Great Bear Rainforest Sailing Trip will afford you the opportunity to spot grizzly bears, wolves, eagles, and the completely white spirit bear. And there is a wealth of marine life too, including otters and various large sea mammals — most notably, the humpback whale.
7) Drive the Sea-to-Sky Highway
If you’re itching to head on the road trip of a lifetime, the Sea-to-Sky Highway is arguably Canada’s greatest driving route — or at least it is Canada’s most iconic driving route. It is officially named the BC Highway 99, but everyone calls this legendary route by it’s more evocative moniker because you drive from Vancouver’s beautiful coast (the sea) all the way up to Whistler’s majestic mountains (the sky). Every Canadian needs to drive the Sea-to-Sky Highway at least once in their lives. If this kind of trip interests you, take a look at our BC RV Road Trip Experience.
6) Hike Whistler and Lake Garibaldi
While Whistler is of course famous for its ski resorts, offering some of the best winter sports opportunities in the world, it is significantly less lauded for its hiking and outdoor adventures. However, the area around Whistler offers some of the most strikingly beautiful hikes in North America, with a huge range of powerful waterfalls, serene lakes, and mighty mountains, all packed into a relatively small space, making it possible to see many incredible sights on our 3-Day Gorgeous Garibaldi Lake Backpacking Adventure.
5) Visit Quadra Island
We recently wrote a travel guide to visiting Quadra Island, explaining that it’s like a giant playground for adults who love going out in nature. This large island close to Vancouver Island is rich with plant and animal life, but it’s the slow, easy pace of life that brings people back over and over again. Explore the coast on a sea kayak or hike the stunning Chinese Mountains. Then, once you get home, realize that you’re already planning your next trip to Quadra Island. And let the loop continue…
4) Visit Victoria on Vancouver Island
Vancouver Island is approximately one third the size of the entire island of Ireland. This means there is simply far too much to see and do for us to possibly cover everything here. But you can look forward to several Landsby travel guides dedicated to Vancouver Island in the future. For now, we’ll focus on Victoria, the island’s biggest city and the capital city of British Columbia. This is one of the most picturesque cities in Canada, with its harbour usually stealing the show. The city’s architecture is distinct and consistently beautiful, but no photographs can possibly do Victoria justice; you really have to see it for yourself!
3) BC’s Cariboo Region
The Cariboo Region in British Columbia is worth visiting in its own right. And, like pretty much every other part of BC, it’s the natural beauty that makes Cariboo so special. Unlike other parts of BC, however, you can take part in the Echo Valley Ranch and Spa, an official Canadian Signature Experience. More than just a vacation, visiting Echo Valley feels as though you’re coming home, re-embracing your connection to nature with mindfulness, hiking, archery, fishing, forest bathing, yoga, and more.
2) Visit Vancouver
We can’t talk about Vancouver Island without giving mention to the city of Vancouver. This is, admittedly, a big divergence from all the other spots on this list as Vancouver is particularly modern and metropolitan. However, Vancouver manages an impressive balance of man-made structures and parkland. In fact, with 230 parks, 11% of the city consists of parks. Vancouver’s tall, elegant architecture, clean, open streets, and its famous Stanley Park, are all reasons to visit the city. It’s also worth noting that it’s very easy to travel to Vancouver Island by ferry or to visit Whistler, driving the Sea-to-Sky Highway, making Vancouver an excellent base for any BC vacation.
1) Whale Watching Along the BC Coast
While it may seem a little strange to cite the many thousands of whales off the coast of British Columbia as a specific attraction, whale watching in BC is simply too extraordinary for it not to find a place on our list. For many, few things compare to the first time they see a whale breach the water and a whale-watching tour either off the coast of Vancouver, Vancouver Island or, indeed, along the Great Bear Rainforest is guaranteed to leave a lasting impression. You will be surprized at how close you can get to nature’s giants! Depending on where you go along BC’s coast, you can look forward to seeing Dall’s porpoises, beluga whales, white-sided dolphins, humpback whales, grey whales, orcas, and many other different species of marine mammals at different times of year. For a truly unforgettable adventure, try our Eco-Cultural Wildlife Experience, which combines whale watching with nature hikes through the Great Bear Rainforest, allowing you to tick two things off this list on one incredible trip.