Things to do in British Columbia

Things to do in  British Columbia

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Coastlines, mountains, and forests abound in British Columbia, Canada's westernmost province. Amid these striking natural landscapes lies cosmopolitan Vancouver, the capital city of Victoria, Whistler—arguably the world's best all-season resort—and a host of smaller towns and cities. Make Vancouver your launch pad in order to watch whales in the Atlantic Ocean, cross the exhilarating Capilano Suspension Bridge, stroll through Butchart Gardens, and see the snowcapped peaks of the Rocky Mountains. In March and April, visitors might even catch a glimpse of the northern lights illuminating the sky over Whitehorse's arctic wilderness.

Top 15 attractions in British Columbia

Stanley Park

Vancouver’s Stanley Park enjoys a stellar natural setting, surrounded on three sides by the Pacific Ocean and set against the backdrop of the snow-capped North Shore Mountains. At nearly 1,000 acres (405 hectares) in size, it offers a combination of coastal red-cedar forest, lakes and lagoons, and scenic meadows. A walk along the public park’s seawall is an essential Vancouver experience.More

Downtown Vancouver

Surrounded by water on three sides, downtown Vancouver is the place to go for sea views, bright lights, and action. The city’s commercial core, it encompasses several distinct areas including shop-lined Robson Street, the green expanse of Stanley Park, historic Gastown, and one of the largest Chinatowns in North America.More

Granville Island

Overflowing with art studios, theaters, restaurants, and kid-friendly activities, Vancouver’s Granville Island is a popular spot for both tourists and locals. The “island”—really a small peninsula—is an ideal getaway from the bustle of city life, with waterfront views, scenic alleyways, and a thriving food and art culture.More

Whistler-Blackcomb Mountains

The biggest ski resort in North America and mountain host of the 2010 Winter Olympics, Whistler-Blackcomb Mountains feature 8,171 acres (3,306 hectares) of terrain and over 200 trails. With lift-accessed mountain biking, hiking, and more in the spring, summer, and fall, Whistler-Blackcomb is a world-class resort year-round.More


One of Vancouver’s oldest and buzziest districts, Gastown is packed with Victorian architecture and cobbled streets. Named after John “Gassy Jack” Deighton, an English mariner who opened a saloon in the area in the 19th century, the district is filled with heritage buildings now hosting boutiques, coffee shops, hip restaurants, and bars.More

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

Admire Vancouver's natural beauty at the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, a quintessential British Columbia experience and one of the Pacific Northwest's most popular attractions. The highlight includes walking out onto the 450-foot (137-meter) suspension bridge as it sways between the temperate rain forest over the rushing Capilano River below. With plenty more to see and do besides, it’s a must for adventurous visitors in Vancouver.More

Lions Gate Bridge

The impressive Lions Gate Bridge spans the Burrard Inlet, connecting North and West Vancouver with the downtown area. This suspension bridge originally opened in 1938, and is designated as a National Historic Site of Canada. At the bridge’s south end is leafy Stanley Park, another major attraction in Vancouver.More

Canada Place

Opened in 1986, Canada Place is hard to miss: The complex was built to look like a ship, and its five large fiberglass “sails” are visible above the Vancouver waterfront. This is the city’s main cruise ship terminal, and the complex is also home to a convention center, a hotel, and FlyOver Canada, a flight-simulation ride.More

Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens, established in 1904, treat visitors to an enchanting floral show that changes with the seasons. Covering 55 acres (22 hectares) on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, the botanical space is intricately laid out into separate themed gardens with landscaping that impresses and inspires gardeners and nature lovers alike.More

Port of Vancouver

Vancouver Cruise Port serves as the home port for Alaska-bound cruise ships, as well as for vessels traveling south to locations along the Pacific Coast and Hawaii. Located on the Vancouver Harbour waterfront, the Canada Place Cruise Terminal is right in the heart of the city, providing easy access to downtown and to the North Shore Mountains.More

Porteau Cove Provincial Park

Stretching over 56 hectares of Howe Sound, North America’s southernmost fjord, the Porteau Cove Provincial Park makes a tranquil retreat from nearby Vancouver, and is renowned for its diverse array of marine life. Taking its name from the French ‘Porte d’Eau’ or ‘Water’s Gate’, the protected area offers a serene expanse of ocean, fringed by a pebble beach and dotted with campsites, swimming spots and lookout points.While holidaymakers come for the glittering waters and dramatic sunsets, the star attraction lies beneath the ocean – an underwater playground for scuba divers, with artificial reefs, sunken shipwrecks and a diver’s float providing habitats for a colorful population of starfish, anemone and octopus. Windsurfing, kayaking, canoeing and boat tours are also popular activities.More

Vancouver Chinatown

Established in the 1890s by migrant workers, this Vancouver neighborhood is now among the biggest and most vibrant Chinatowns in North America. It’s packed with Asian grocers, Chinese herbalists, dim sum restaurants, trinket stores, and meat shops filled with tempting displays of hanging char siu and roast ducks.More

Shannon Falls

Tumbling 1,099 feet (335 meters) over granite framed by evergreen trees, Shannon Falls are a scenic highlight of the Sea-to-Sky Highway linking Vancouver to Pemberton. The hike to the falls from the parking lot is a beautiful way to get some fresh air and stretch your legs.More

Sea to Sky Highway

This scenic stretch of British Columbia’s Highway 99 extends from Horseshoe Bay to Pemberton, an 83-mile (134-kilometer journey past Howe Sound, Squamish, and Whistler’s rugged peaks. It’s not just a pretty drive; with so many stops along the way you could spend a week exploring hiking trails, towering waterfalls, and the region’s First Nations cultures.More

Stawamus Chief Provincial Park

Squamish’s Stawamus Chief Provincial Park is home to one of British Columbia’s most iconic landmarks: The Chief. The popular rock­-climbing and hiking destination towers 2,300 feet (700 meters) above Squamish and is the second­-largest granite monolith (freestanding piece of rock) in the world. Though it might be hard to believe from looking at the steep rock face, hiking to the top is a relatively moderate, two­-hour hike. The Chief doesn’t get as much snow during the winter as the other nearby mountains and so enjoys a fairly long hiking season. The summit is usually clear of snow in the early spring, making The Chief a great warm­up hike for the summer months ahead. There are three peaks, each accessible from the single trailhead. You can hike up each one individually, or summit all three if you’re feeling ambitious. Hikers should be prepared with sturdy footwear, clothing, food and water.In addition to being a popular hiking destination, Stawamus Chief Provincial Park is a rock-climber’s paradise. There are hundreds of granite walls and multi-­pitch crack climbing routes, the most well­-known being The Apron and The Grand Wall. Even the most advanced rock climbers come from all over the world to be challenged during the busy summer season by these routes.More

Top activities in British Columbia

Whistler and Sea to Sky Gondola Tour
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Vancouver Seaplane Tour
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Vancouver Seaplane Tour

Vancouver City Sightseeing Tour: Capilano Suspension Bridge & Vancouver Lookout
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Victoria and Butchart Gardens Tour from Vancouver
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Gastown Historic Walking Food Tour
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Gastown Historic Walking Food Tour

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Vancouver City Sightseeing Tour: Granville Island & Stanley Park
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Zipline Adventure in Whistler
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Zipline Adventure in Whistler

Vancouver City Tour Including Capilano Suspension Bridge
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Seaplane Tour with Admission to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
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Vancouver City Hop-on Hop-off Tour

Vancouver City Hop-on Hop-off Tour

Ultimate Marine Whale & Wildlife Tour
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All about British Columbia

When to visit

With temperate winters, BC’s coast stays mild year-round; inland is where you’ll find chilly winters and warm summers. For budget travelers, shoulder seasons (April–May, September–October) may be the best time to visit British Columbia, while those visiting the province’s mountainous national parks may wish to stick to June–August. Long winters—like at the Olympic hot spot Whistler Blackcomb—shine whitest December–March for the snowhounds.

Getting around

Road trips are a classic way to see the massive province—RV, rental car, or otherwise. Most visitors base themselves out of Vancouver, which has an excellent public transit system, including a superb ferry network that goes to spots such as Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, and the Sunshine Coast. VIA Rail and the Rocky Mountaineer chug, chug, chug visitors to the Canadian Rockies, too.

Traveler tips

Have you heard of storm watching? The popular activity on Vancouver Island—specifically its west coast—involves simply watching the weather rage outside your window in fall and winter. Of course, if you’re brave enough, put on those rain boots and a weatherproof jacket and brave the elements until they stir your soul or send you back inside for warmth and cover.

Local Currency
Canadian Dollar (CA$)
Time Zone
PST (UTC -8)
Country Code

People Also Ask

What is British Columbia known for?

Canada’s westernmost province, British Columbia is known for the beauty of its temperate rainforests, the vibrant culture of its Indigenous people, and its laid-back communities. With easy access to nature from Vancouver, the province’s largest city, you don’t need to sacrifice urban comfort to immerse yourself in the outdoors.

What special attractions does British Columbia have?

British Columbia gives you the chance to go from the ski slopes to the beach on the same day. Between skiing and canoeing, you can marvel at 800-year-old trees in Vancouver Island’s Cathedral Grove, the historic Victoria Harbour, and the bustling Granville Island Public Market in Vancouver.

How many days do I need in British Columbia?

Three to four days in British Columbia allows you to see the mainland and the islands off the coast. Vancouver Island is home to the province’s picturesque capital city of Victoria, while tight-knit communities thrive on smaller Gulf Islands. There, explore pristine examples of the province’s famous coastal rainforests.

What is the most visited place in British Columbia?

The town of Whistler is popular in all seasons, with more than 2 million annual visitors. It hosted 2010 Winter Olympics events, and when the snows fall, the town fills with skiers and snowboarders. Hikers and mountain bikers arrive for summer, and the town’s restaurants and galleries entertain year-round.

What is there to do in BC in the summer?

BC’s remote islands and expansive coastline keep summer interesting. Scuba dive, sail, and surf the Pacific, and peruse local produce at bustling farmers markets. Vancouver is full of summer festivals such as the Vancouver Folk Music Festival and the Vancouver Pride Parade, so you can party in the sun.

Is British Columbia worth visiting?

Yes, BC is a blend of the natural beauty and multicultural warmth for which Canada is known, and it’s worth a visit. Its largest city, Vancouver, offers access to the outdoor wonders that make the province special. You’ll learn about the land, grounded in Indigenous culture, as you travel.

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