Best of Vancouver and Victoria
- Best of Vancouver and Victoria
- Vancouver Island: High Tea to Low Tide
- Vancouver’s Totem Poles
- Vancouver’s Best Hiking
- Family Fun in Vancouver & Victoria
- Focus on Vancouver and Victoria
- Vancouver Weekend Getaway
- Victoria Weekend Getaway
- A Tour Through Time
- Inside Passage Cruises
- Outdoor Adventures
- Winter Fun in Vancouver & Victoria
If you don’t know what you want from your vacation to Vancouver and Victoria, this itinerary may help you out. It includes all of the highlights, with time allotted for some interesting sights that many visitors overlook. It combines natural wonders with historical must-sees to create a tour that appeals to all tastes.
This itinerary assumes you have your own vehicle or will be reserving one for pickup at Vancouver International Airport.
Head north from the airport and loop around Point Grey to the Museum of Anthropology, a wonderful introduction to the human history of the region. Duck through the old-growth forest behind the museum to get a feel for the city’s natural splendor.
Spend an hour or so exploring the historical streets of Gastown, and then hail a cab to Chinatown. Spend the rest of the morning soaking up the sights and smells of this colorful precinct. Head to Granville Island for an afternoon kayaking tour. Make VanDusen Botanical Garden, famed for its formal gardens, your final sightseeing stop of the day.
Leave the city behind and head north to the resort town of Whistler. In summer go mountain biking on the lift-served slopes; in winter strap on skis for a downhill adventure. Whistler has an excellent selection of restaurants and accommodations, making an overnight stay enjoyable.
Returning to Vancouver, rent a bike and follow the seawall around forested Stanley Park to the hip beachside suburb English Bay. Take lunch in one of the many good eateries and then make the short hop back to Robson Street to return the bike. Spend the afternoon at your leisure—shopping on urbane Robson Street, visiting the Vancouver Art Gallery, or taking the elevator to Vancouver Lookout for sweeping city views.
Take your pick from the following North Shore attractions: Capilano Suspension Bridge, Grouse Mountain Gondola, or hiking in Cypress Provincial Park. Drive to Tsawwassen in time for a midafternoon ferry ride to Vancouver Island. You’ll arrive in Victoria after the last of the bus tours have left Butchart Gardens—a perfect time to visit this famous attraction.
Today is a walking day, so leave your vehicle at your accommodation and make your way to the Inner Harbour. For its modern interpretation of natural and human history, the Royal BC Museum is a must-see; historical Market Square and the surrounding streets are interesting to explore; and Barb’s Place, built on a floating wharf, is the perfect place for fish and chips.
Rise early and take Dallas Road through James Bay to Oak Bay. Make as many stops as you wish along this scenic drive—for a walk along Ogden Breakwall, to search out historically important graves at Ross Bay Cemetery, or simply to stretch out in the sun on one of the beaches. Spend the early afternoon walking the forested trails of Goldstream Provincial Park, returning in time for afternoon tea at Point Ellice House.
Head north from the capital and jump aboard a ferry for my favorite of the Southern Gulf Islands, Galiano Island, where the highlight is kayaking along the sandy shore of Montague Harbour Provincial Park. Return to the mainland and drive cross-island to Tofino, where an evening walk along the beaches of Pacific Rim National Park is a fantastic way to end your day.
Tofino is Canada’s best-known surf town, so join the locals by hitting the local waves (rentals and lessons available). In the afternoon, go whale-watching, then head back to Nanaimo, on the island’s east coast.
Catch an early ferry to Tsawwassen, from where you head out to the historical fishing village of Steveston for lunch at one of the harborfront cafés.
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition