Coast or mountains, land or water, there’s more than one way to explore British Columbia’s spectacular terrain. There’s an itinerary for every traveller in B.C whether you want to take it fast or slow. We’ve showcased five modes of transportation – by foot, bike, kayak, car and boat – so you can pick and choose how you’d like to explore according to your mood. The only problem? Fitting them all in!
If you’ve got a weekend: Mount Revelstoke National Park
Known as a top spot for hikers, this National Park along the Trans-Canada highway offers something for everyone, from short, easy boardwalk trails for novices to steep summit climbs for the ultra-fit. Backcountry campsites at the end of several trails allow for overnight excursions.
If you’ve got a week: The Sunshine Coast Trail
With multiple entry and exit points, this 180-km route on either side of the town of Powell River offers everything from family-friendly day hikes to multi-day excursions. 12 huts along the trail – some fully winterized – also allow for easier overnighting, and there are plenty of nearby B&Bs and inns for those who prefer a real bed.
If you’ve got a weekend: The Kettle Valley Railway
This 900-km trail converted from a railway could keep you busy for far longer, but it’ll fit perfectly in a weekend outing too. Penticton-based Hoodoo Adventures will set you up with all the gear you need as well as suggestions on the best sections to experience, be it through historic mountainside tunnels, across towering trestle bridges – or past some of the Okanagan’s top distilleries.
If you’ve got a week: Hut-to-Hut Mountain Biking in the Chilcotin
Multi-day tours with Tyax Adventures let you experience B.C.’s backcountry on two wheels without worrying about the logistics – or setting up tents. Expect to see massive mountain vistas (and probably a few bears) as you traverse the region’s endless singletrack, with a camp host welcoming you – and preparing dinner – every night.
For boat lovers:
If you’ve got a weekend: Shuswap Lake Houseboating
The perfect antidote to crowded beaches, houseboats let you take your cabin with you, dropping anchor and diving in the lake whenever you desire. And don’t think you’ll be roughing it. Modern houseboats come with plenty of amenities, from the practical – hot water heaters and furnaces – to the fun, like waterslides and hot tubs.
If you’ve got a week: The Inside Passage Ferry
This 16-hour journey from Port Hardy on northern Vancouver Island to Prince Rupert near the border with Alaska has to be the ultimate ferry ride. While it’s an overnight trip during the winter, in the summer, you can sign up for daylight cruises, which give you plenty of chances to spot lighthouses and watch for bald eagles and orcas. There’s also no cell service (except for a short stop in the hamlet of Bella Bella), just plenty of premium scenery and all the burgers and fries you can eat.
If you’ve got a weekend: Explore Hotham Sound
All you have to do is get to the town of Egmont, just two hours north of Vancouver, for this all-inclusive kayaking getaway on the Sunshine Coast. Guides from Indigenous-owned Talaysay Tours will lead the way, set up camp and prepare all your meals while you enjoy the wilderness – like the 1,450-foot Harmony Falls across the way. Pay attention during dessert: guides will share traditional stories and songs from their shíshálh, or Sechelt, First Nation.
If you’ve got a week: Tour Vancouver Island’s coast
Based in Port MacNeill on northern Vancouver Island, Kingfisher Adventures offers a range of kayaking outings to help visitors get to know the local nature and wildlife. On the six-day Orca Waters Explorer tour, for instance, you might spot orcas, humpback whales or black bears as you paddle past ancient village sites and beaches.
If you’ve got a weekend: The Sea to Sky Highway
You can drive from Vancouver to Whistler in a little over 90 minutes. But by making a beeline, you’re missing out on the spectacular to-dos along the way. One must-visit town is Squamish, a longtime adventure sports destination with plenty to offer gentler folk, too. Take the Sea to Sky Gondola, for instance, for a bird’s-eye view of the valley and year-round access to backcountry trails.
If you’ve got a week: The Hot Springs Circle Route
All of B.C. is a geothermal hot spot dotted with natural hot springs (it’s the upside to being an earthquake zone). If you’re a hot springs junkie, the southeastern Kootenay region offers the most bang for your buck, with everything from full-fledged resorts to the rustic Lussier Hot Springs, close to 20 km down a gravel road – but worth it for the envy-generating photos you’ll take.