Are you planning a trip to Canada to see Vancouver, Vancouver Island and the Canadian Rocky Mountains? Here’s a suggested 15 day itinerary. It’s tried and tested too as we followed this on our last visit.
The route starts and finishes in Vancouver. You’ll definitely need to hire a car and enjoy travelling large distances during the trip.
Day 1 – Vancouver
Take in some of Vancouver’s famous attractions. A great place to start is at the Vancouver Lookout for amazing views of the city. Then have a look around Gas Town with its fascinating shops, cafes, bars and of course the steam clock.
Next visit Chinatown and see Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. Nearby is Yaletown and False Creek. Get a water taxi from False Creek to Granville Island public market to buy some of the delicious looking food that’s on offer.
There’s a lot more to see in Vancouver when you return at the end of this trip.
Day 2 – Vancouver Island
Once you’ve picked up your hire car, take the car ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo. When you arrive on Vancouver Island set out for Campbell River following Highway 19A all the way. In Campbell River have a relaxing walk around the waterfront and historic Pier Street. Make sure you try out Dick’s Fish and Chips too, very tasty!
Day 3 – Vancouver Island, Telegraph Cove and Port Hardy
Make your way from Campbell River to Port Hardy with some nice scenery along the road. You may even see a bear like we did! Stop in Telegraph Cove, a beautiful fishing village with wood cabins and boardwalks.
Have a walk around Port Hardy and see the town clock before having an early night.
Day 4 – The Inside Passage
Wake up at the crack of dawn for the Inside Passage cruise to Prince Rupert. It’s a spectacular trip and you may even spot a whale! The coastline changes gradually en-route and you’ll see lots of impressive mountains, isolated light-houses and fishing boats along the way. The route gets narrower towards Prince Rupert which makes it even more magnificent. There’s a restaurant on board for refreshments.
Day 5 – Prince Rupert
After a long day travelling the inside passage have a quieter day to see some of the things Prince Rupert has to offer. As well as a nice town there’s a lovely waterfront area with a few eagles flying around. In the afternoon spend some time in the Museum of Northern British Columbia.
Day 6 – drive to Smithers
Follow highway 16 to Smithers. You’ll travel through Terrace, Hazleton and Morricetown. It’s quite a scenic drive, especially along the Skeema river. When you arrive in Smithers make a short trip to Twin Falls. These are as the name suggests two waterfalls flowing side by side over a cliff.
Day 7 – drive to Prince George
It’s a long 370 km journey to Prince George. It’s not the most interesting drive to be honest, but you have to do it to set up the rest of your trip. There are some places to stop for a rest along the way such as Burns Lake and Vanderhoof.
Day 8 – drive to Jasper
A much more alluring drive awaits you along the Yellowhead Highway to Jasper. The landscape really does start to become dramatic as you enter the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Along the way you’ll see McBride, Mt Robson and Moose Lake before you cross the Alberta border.
In Jasper walk around the town to see the shops, bars and restaurants.
Day 9 – Jasper
After two days of driving to the Canadian Rocky Mountains, spend some time exploring Jasper and the surrounding area. You can take the Jasper Skytram to Whistlers Mountain for truly incredible views of Jasper National Park. In the afternoon take a bit of a diversion to Medicine Lake and then Maligne Lake. The latter is known for the colour of its water.
Day 10 – Icefields Parkway, Canadian Rocky Mountains
Leave early for the trip along the Icefields Parkway. This trip through the Canadian Rocky Mountains has got to be one of the world’s most breathtaking drives. You’ll have so much to see including Athabasca Falls, Sunwapta Falls, Athabasca Glacier, Bow Lake and remarkable terrain around every corner.
When you arrive at Lake Louise you’ll be memorised with its beautiful setting, chateau and mountainous backdrop. You’ll definitely notice how blue the waters are too.
By the time you arrive in Banff you’ll definitely be worn out and need a rest.
Day 11 – Banff and drive to Golden, BC
First thing in the morning head to Banff hot springs for a dip and then have a look around this exclusive town centre. In the afternoon drive to Golden through Yoho National Park and take in its striking landscapes. You can stop along the way to see the visitor centre in Field. Nearby is Natural Bridge, a natural rock formation over the Kicking Horse river.
Day 12 – Golden to Kamloops
Another long day of driving, but there are some tremendous things to see on your journey from Golden to Kamloops. Firstly drive through Glacier National Park where you’ll go through Rogers Pass. There’s a visitor centre here with an interesting wildlife exhibition.
Next head to the city of Revelstoke for a coffee and a look around. Then drive to the summit of Mt Revelstoke for some nice views of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. From here make the last leg of your journey to Kamloops via Salmon Arm.
Day 13 – Kamloops to Vancouver
This should be your last day of significant diving. Leave Kamloops and onto the Coquihalla Highway, a steep section of road that links the towns of Merritt and Hope. Take a break in the town of Hope before heading back into Vancouver.
Day 14 – Capilano Suspension Bridge and Grouse Mountain, Vancouver
Before returning your hire car head out to North Vancouver to see Capilano Suspension Bridge and park. In the afternoon take the Skyride to the top of Grouse Mountain for the best views of Vancouver.
Day 15 – Vancouver Aquarium, Stanley Park and last walk around
On your final day in Vancouver visit the aquarium to see dolphin and beluga whale shows. Then walk along Stanley Park promenade back into downtown Vancouver. In the afternoon have a final walk around this awesome city.