British Columbia is the most westerly province in Canada, and it sits between the Pacific Ocean and the Rocky Mountains. When you think of the province, one of the first things that will come to mind will be its natural beauty as it is home to some spectacular and diverse landscapes.

It should come as no surprise that as British Columbia is on the doorstep of the wild as well as being home to many vibrant cities, it is a hugely popular destination to visit on a fly drive Canada holiday.

Janice and George, the writers behind the blog Sand In My Suitcase, are from British Columbia and they spoke about some of the things they love about their home province: “We have magnificent mountain ranges (meet the Canadian Rockies!), epic national parks, sandy beaches, thousands of lakes and ancient temperate rainforest hugging much of the rugged coastline.

“So, it’s a hard job coming up with a list of the most special and best places in British Columbia to visit!”

But what is British Columbia famous for? Here, we’ve compiled a guide to some of the different things this magnificent province is famed for.


Powder skiing on a sunny day in British Columbia

British Columbia is a unique destination as it is one of the only places in the world where in the morning you could hit the slopes and enjoy world-class skiing and snowboarding and then in the afternoon you can enjoy sea kayaking.

Skiing in Whistler is on the bucket list of many winter enthusiasts as the resort is picturesquely located in the Coastal Mountain range. The resort of Whistler consists of two mountains that you can ski: Whistler Mountain and the Blackcomb Mountain, and with the Peak2Peak Gondola, you are able to ski both mountains in one day.

Whistler is North America’s largest ski resort, and it offers so much more than you could ever want from a ski resort as not only will you get to enjoy some of the best slopes in the world for skiing and snowboarding, but you can experience the famous après, dining and nightlife scene.

Whilst Whistler might be the most famous resort, there are other ski resorts in the province. Tucked on the west side of Canada’s Rocky Mountains in the heart of British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley lies Big White Ski Resort. This popular resort offers skiers and snowboarders the choice of 118 designated runs, and the largest ski-in, ski-out accommodation in Canada.

The Wandering Wagars, who are a travel-loving family, have been skiing at the Big White Ski Resort and Kevin Wagar spoke about his experience skiing some of the bigger runs at the resort.

He said: “If you love powder, Big White is a paradise, receiving an average snowfall of 750 cm per year.

“I made my way to the Bullet Express, a fast-moving quad chair that brings you to about 3/4 of the way up the mountain and got my gear set up, pausing to take in the breathtaking view of the Big White Snow Ghosts (the tops of trees covered with snow so they look like ghosts floating above the landscapes).

“I had time for about 4 good runs down the mountain, switching between tree-filled runs with soft, pillow-like powder and larger, more populated runs which even though they were considered “busy” rarely had more than a couple of people within view until you got down towards the village.”

READ MORE: Canada ski holidays vs ski holidays in Europe: which one suits you?

The Rocky Mountains and its lakes

Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park

The Canadian Rockies is one of the jewels in Canada’s crown and has been attracting visitors for well over a century. The Rocky Mountains is home to alpine lakes, glaciers and waterfalls, mind-boggling peaks that soar up to almost 4,000 metres, as well as wildflower meadows.

The Canadian Rockies spans British Columbia and Alberta and is regarded as one of the top places in Canada for hiking, climbing, wildlife safaris, skiing, white-water rafting and backcountry adventures. There is so much you can do here that you could easily spend a few weeks just in the Canadian Rockies.

From the most famous lake in British Columbia to its incredible wildlife that includes bears and herds of elk, there are so many places you can visit and things to see. The Emerald Lake is arguably the most famous lake in British Columbia and this picturesque lake in Yoho National Park has lots of walking trails around it so you can enjoy some spectacular views too. It is also just a 20-minute drive from Lake Louise in Alberta.

Cameron Seagle and Natasha Alden, who are the founders of The Banff Blog, say the Emerald Lake is well worth a visit and is easy to get to.

“Visiting the lake on a summer day is one of the finest natural scenes in all Canadian Rockies, a mountain range far from being short of incredible vistas. Access to the lake is surprisingly easy as it’s just a few kilometres off of the TransCanada highway that sees thousands drive past Emerald Lake every day.”

There are so many ways you can explore the Canadian Rockies and one of the best is by driving along some of the spectacular routes that criss-cross its diverse landscape. You can do this by booking one of the Canada Self Drive Tours we offer. You can also experience the famous Rocky Mountaineer train journey, providing style and comfort along with spectacular scenery.

Okanagan Valley

Image credit: Destination BC, Andrew Strain
St Hubertus & Oak Bay Estate Winery

The Okanagan Valley is renowned for producing some fantastic wine and the area is home to more than 200 vineyards and 150 wineries. The superb growing conditions allow the area to make some of the best wine as its different microclimates, each with distinct soil and growing conditions, mean you can try sun-ripened reds, crisp cool whites, and a plethora of unique fruit wines.

Okanagan Valley might be famous for producing wine but on top of finding award-winning vintages on its hillside vineyards, you can also enjoy busy farmer’s markets, festivals and can take in the beautiful scenery by cycling along the Kettle Valley Rail Trail. The Okanagan Lake also offers you the chance to try a whole host of water sports or you can instead relax on one of the beaches.

If you are a foodie and are looking for famous food in British Columbia, then Okanagan Valley should be high up on your bucket list as it is a hub for food and drink.

Paola from A Luxury Travel Blog highly recommends visiting Okanagan Valley just to taste the wine produced here:

“Vineyards and wineries are dotted along the 135-km-long Okanagan Lake, with the town of Kelowna being the hub of the winemaking industry. Many local wineries offer free tastings and tours throughout the year and the Okanagan Wine Festival has three editions taking place every spring, summer and autumn.”


A panoramic view of downtown Vancouver

Vancouver has a bit of everything as it is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in Canada and is rated as one of the most liveable cities in the world.

Vancouver is home to some of the most famous landmarks in British Columbia and some of its highlights include the iconic Gastown neighbourhood, Grouse Mountain, and the Capilano Suspension Bridge. The city is also home to some of the country’s most popular sports teams including the Vancouver Canucks in the NHL, the Whitecaps in the MLS, and the Vancouver Stealth which are a lacrosse team.

Travel blogger, Elisabeth, who runs the Sidetracked blog, says visiting Grouse Mountain is a must: “There are two ways to reach the top of Grouse Mountain. If you’re in decent shape, I would recommend you hike the Grouse Grind, which has been aptly nicknamed ‘mother nature’s stair master’. It’s not that long of a hike, but it is quite steep and you will sweat buckets.

“The other, less physically taxing, way of reaching the top is to buy a round trip gondola ticket for $40 which will conveniently get you up to the top in less than five minutes. If you do however choose to do the hike, the gondola ticket to go back down is only $10 and can be purchased at the Guest Relations desk.”

READ MORE: 48 hours in Vancouver

Vancouver Island

Surfer at Tofino Beach on Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island is also one of the most famous places in British Columbia as this island, which is the size of Scotland, is a natural paradise. It is sparsely populated and much of it is protected with great wildlife watching opportunities on offer.

There are so many places you can visit on Vancouver Island, and we’ve listed some popular places you can visit below:

  • Tofino – a surfing hotspot which is home to world-class beaches and stunning coastlines.
  • Pacific Rim National Park – You can explore the parks spectacular coastline by kayak and hike through the ancient rainforest via one of the well-marked trails.
  • Victoria – The largest city of Vancouver Island and capital of British Columbia, Victoria has plenty of historic architecture you can explore such as parliament buildings, Bastion Square, and Fort Street.

Rhonda Krause, who is one part of the team behind Travel Yes Please, has been on a road trip around Vancouver Island and she has spoken about visiting Tofino: “Literally at the end of the Pacific Rim Highway, you will find the small village of Tofino. A timber and fishing town, Tofino is now a popular spot for visitors wishing to take in the beauty and adventure of Clayoquot Sound. Tofino offers a world-class local food scene, thrilling physical adventures, stunning natural beauty and rich community heritage.”

READ MORE: What is Canada famous for?


Bear watching at Tweedsmuir South Provincial Park in British Columbia

Imagine photographing a grizzly bear as it stalks salmon or watching a grey whale as it breaches the water, there are unrivalled wildlife-watching experiences to be had in British Columbia.

You’ll definitely want an expert guide to help you find some of these incredible animals and on wildlife holidays in Canada, you can explore the likes of the Great Bear Rainforest with an expert who has lived in the region their whole life and knows the area like the back of their hand.

Some of the animals you can see in British Columbia are:

  • Grizzly, black and spirit bears
  • Humpback whales
  • Orcas
  • Tufted puffin
  • Bighorn Sheep
  • Caribou
  • Bison
  • Elk
  • Moose

READ MORE: Where are the best places to see wildlife in Canada?

These are just some of the things that British Columbia is famous for and if you have been inspired and want to book a holiday to Canada, then our experts will be able to create the perfect trip for you. For more articles like this, check out the blog section of our website.

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