Flanked by the Pacific Ocean and the Rocky Mountains, British Columbia is one of Canada’s top travel destinations. It’s a place where you can surf and snowboard in one day, see National Geographic-level wildlife, and explore bustling world-class cities.
From jaw-dropping mountain vistas in Whistler to rolling vineyards in Kelowna, all the way to the rugged coastline of Tofino, BC destinations are extraordinary. It’s known to have one of the mildest climates in Canada and is home to a laundry list of unique flora and fauna. BC plays host to some of the best of North America’s great outdoors—it’s not called Beautiful British Columbia for nothing!
Over the last few years, we have spent months exploring BC in our camper van and hitting some of the coolest spots across the province. We’ve summed up our favourite destinations and must-see spots in the list below! So start planning your trip around these top places to visit and things to do in British Columbia.
Best Time to Visit BC
We love British Columbia because it’s a year-round destination with endless outdoor activities. The summer months are the most popular time to visit the province, with peak season in July and August.
Thanks to the mild climate, the shoulder season from May-June through September/October is a great time to avoid the crowds during your visit. You’ll see wildflowers on mountaintops and lively wildlife in the forests and ocean.
Winter travel in BC offers its fair share of challenges, but that doesn’t mean that you should not go. Snow bunnies flock to the ski hills of Whistler, Gros Mountain and other ski resorts and winter destinations across the province in search for fresh powder and the thrills that come with winter activities.
Getting Around British Columbia
Most of the top attractions in British Columbia are best reached by car. The roads are maintained and well connected, but do be prepared for some mountain driving.
To link up with all the beautiful places in BC, you can drive, fly, and take ferries. Floatplanes offer scenic flights between coastal destinations and bus services, like the Tofino Bus, are scattered around tourist hotspots.
In our opinion, the best way to explore BC is on an RV or campervan trip. The province has an abundance of great campsites and opportunities to wake up in nature, accessible only to those, lucky enouch to travel in a home on wheels.
Best Places to Visit in BC, Canada
We’ve had so much fun discovering all that British Columbia has to offer from its history to spectacular scenery. So if you’re wondering where to go in British Columbia, look no further than these incredible destinations.
Vancouver is long known to be one of the most livable cities, striking a perfect balance of nature and city life. It’s got everything you could dream of within an hour radius of the city, from lush forests and mountaintops to amazing sushi and great tea.
Spend your time exploring the downtown core and cruising the restaurants and funky shops of its many neighbourhoods. You can get your heart pumping on a Grouse Mountain climb or join a yoga class on Kitsilano Beach. However you choose, Vancouver in itself is a great reason to visit British Columbia.
Top Things to Do in Vancouver
- Explore the shops and waterfront of downtown Vancouver that offer great views of the North Shore Mountains
- Visit Stanley Park, Vancouver’s largest urban park that’s steps from downtown. Walk the sea wall and end the day and enjoy the sunset.
- Stop by Granville Island for lunch and shopping at the Granville Island Public Market. Don’t miss a chance to take home some fantastic tea from the Granville Island Tea Co.
- Visit Capilano Suspension Bridge Park and immerse yourself in the forest on a tree-top adventure walk.
READ NEXT: 30 Top Things To Do In Vancouver
Home to the provincial capital of Victoria, Vancouver Island is one of the most beloved outdoor playgrounds in British Columbia. It’s a mecca for surfing, hiking, and whale watching. Thanks to its spectacular coastline and old-growth forests, it has incredible scenery and plenty of activities to do to out in nature.
Top Things to Do on Vancouver Island
- Visit Campbell River or Tofino for a taste of true wilderness or uncover BC’s natural history at the Royal BC Museum in Victoria.
- Visit Butchart Gardens National Historic Site and walk among flowered paths in the Japanese Garden or Rose Garden
- Explore Victoria’s Inner Harbour and get a dose of history at the Royal British Columbia Museum
- Go on a whale-watching cruise in Tofino, Campbell River, or Telegraph Cove or kayak the Broken Group Islands in Ucluelet
- Discover the hiking trails of Pacific Rim National Park or spend a week conquering the West Coast Trail
READ NEXT: 20 Best Things To Do In Vancouver Island
Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains
Whistler is one of the most world-famous British Columbia tourist attractions. It’s a must-see in BC if you’re a fan of dramatic mountains and of course – skiing.
But Whistler has more to offer than just ski slopes—it’s become one of the top vacation places in BC for spas and dining too. The cobbled streets of Whistler Village are an idyllic place to shop and the views from the Peak 2 Peak Gondola are breathtaking.
Top Things to Do in Whistler
- Go skiing or snowboarding at Whistler Blackcomb
- Eat your way around Whistler Village at top restaurants like Araxi Restaurant + Oyster Bar and Rimrock Cafe
- Get panoramic mountain views on the Peak 2 Peak Gondola—no ski gear required!
- Take a drive along the Sea to Sky Highway from Vancouver to Whistler and admire the views along the way.
Squamish is an adventure town nestled halfway between Vancouver and Whistler. It’s got a roster of outdoor activities to last a lifetime, from hiking to mountain biking, and fishing to rock climbing. It’s home to one of the most popular tourist spots in British Columbia for hikers, Stawamus Chief Provincial Park. Plus, Squamish boasts an up-and-coming dining scene that’s sure to top off an adventure-packed day.
Top Things to Do in Squamish
- Hit the many hiking and biking trails scattered around the surrounding mountains
- Lounge on Newport Beach while soaking in views of the snow-capped mountains and sparkling ocean
- Climb the Stawamus Chief
- Fish for salmon in the Squamish River or dine on fresh seafood in downtown Squamish
Sea to Sky Highway
British Columbia tourism is all about celebrating the province’s natural beauty and the Sea to Sky Highway is one of the best places to admire BC’s most stunning landscapes. The 120 km journey is known to be one of Canada’s most scenic drives. Spanning from North Vancouver to Whistler, the drive takes you through mountains, lakes, waterfalls, and more. It’s truly a highlight reel of the best of British Columbia.
Top Things to Do on the Sea to Sky Highway
- Hit several of the most beautiful places in British Columbia on a day-long or multi-day road trip
- Soak in gorgeous views of Howe Sound from the Sea to Sky Gondola
- Visit stunning waterfalls at Shannon Falls and Brandywine Falls
READ NEXT: Vancouver To Whistler Drive: 11 Stops Not to Miss
Joffre Lakes Provincial Park
Joffre Lakes looks like something straight out of a postcard. The landscape has quintessential British Columbia scenery with snow-capped mountains and glacier-fed turquoise lakes. It’s a great spot for hiking, fishing, rock climbing, and backcountry recreation. The park is located close to Pemberton, about 1 hour north of Whistler and is a must-see!
Top Things to Do at Joffre Lakes Provincial Park
- Hike to one or all three of the lakes. Lower Joffre Lake is an easy walk, and although the trek to Middle and Upper Joffre Lake is a challenge, it offers spectacular views.
- Fish for trout in the lakes – Middle Joffre Lake is known to be the best spot
Formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands, Haida Gwaii is high on the list of cool places in BC. The remote archipelago is made up of over 150 islands covered in a temperate rainforest that’s teeming with wildlife. The largest islands are Graham and Moresby, which have hiking trails, beaches, and stunning hand-carved totem poles.
Top Things to Do in Haida Gwaii
- Visit SGang Gwaay Llnagaay (Ninstints) to explore the former Haida village and see the totem poles
- Explore the beaches and trails of Naikoon Provincial Park
- Visit local artisan studios and shops on Graham Island
Bella Coola and Great Bear Rainforest
Located on the central coast of BC, Bella Coola is the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest. It’s an amazing place to see wildlife in their natural habitat and get a glimpse into the area’s rich First Nations history. A visit to Tweedsmuir Provincial Park highlights the best of BC when it comes to nature and wildlife. Seeing grizzly bears is definitely one of the coolest things to do in British Columbia, Canada!
Top Things to Do in Bella Coola
- Join a grizzly bear safari at Tweedsmuir Park Lodge
- Hike Tweedsmuir Park’s many trails through the Rainbow Range and Burnt Bridge
- Join other eco-tours like a Wilderness River Drift or Birdwatching Tour
READ NEXT: Wilderness Escape At Tweedsmuir Park Lodge
Hunlen Falls is a highlight of any Cariboo Chilcotin Roadtrip and is one of the lesser-known BC attractions. The waterfall is the highest in Canada and can only be reached by plane or a steep hike. This all adds to the adventure and the views are remarkable!
Top Things to Do in Hunlen Falls
- Take a scenic flight over the falls from Nimpo Lake for panoramic views of pristine nature
- If you’re feeling brave, hike the steep 16 km trail for a different view of the falls
READ NEXT: Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Roadtrip
Cariboo Mountains Provincial Park
For a taste of rugged wilderness, visit the Cariboo Mountains near Quesnel, BC. These soaring rocky peaks are surrounded by glaciers and wetlands with great camping and lake access. The park is rich in wildlife and is home to a number of lakes, making it an awesome place for fishing and water activities.
Top Things to Do in the Cariboo Mountains
- Canoe around Ghost Lake while camping at Ghost Lake Recreation Site
- Fish for sockeye, coho, chinook, bull trout, and rainbow trout
Wells Gray Provincial Park
Home to 41 different waterfalls, nature lovers can not miss a visit to Wells Gray Provincial Park. If you’re wondering what to see in British Columbia, a visit to the park will tick many things off your list. With hiking, kayaking, birdwatching, river rafting, mineral springs, and more, the list of activities is endless.
Top Things to Do in Wells Gray Provincial Park
- Visit Helmcken Falls and Spahats Creek for waterfalls and panoramic views of the Clearwater Valley
- Hike to alpine lakes on Trophy Mountain
Fishing Highway 24
Though you may not find it on the cover of a BC tourism magazine, Highway 24 is a great detour in the Cariboo region. Known as the Interlakes Highway or the Fishing Highway, this region spans from the towns of 93 Mile to Little Fort and is surrounded by lakes. Fishing your way around the lakes is among the fun things to do in BC for all levels of anglers.
Top Things to Do along Highway 24
- Go fishing! Fish for rainbows and bull trout in Latremouille Lake and Lac des Roches
- Walk the Bridge Lake Ice Caves Trail to explore small caves in the forest
Kamloops is one of the coolest things to see in British Columbia because it’s so different. It’s right on the Trans Canada Highway and shows a different side of beautiful BC that’s less rainforest and more desert. It’s got plenty of hiking and mountain biking trails, lakes, and in winter – skiing, and other winter activities.
Top Things to Do in Kamloops
- Go mountain biking in Kenna Cartwright Park for 40 km of trails overlooking the city
- Paddle around Kamloops Lake on a SUP or kayak
- Visit Sun Peaks Resort for winter skiing or summer hiking
Kelowna & Okanagan Valley
You can’t travel British Columbia without trying some of the province’s best wines. Visiting the Okanagan Valley and for wine tasting is one of the top things to do in British Columbia. Kelowna shares a similar desert-like appearance to Kamloops thanks to the mountain valleys and endless sunshine. The region is famed for its abundance of ripe fruits and neverending vineyards. Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley are must-visit places in British Columbia for any wine lover.
Top Things to Do in Kelowna & the Okanagan Valley
- Sip on local wines at the many vineyards and wineries. Some of our favourites are Summerhill Pyramid, Mission Hill Family Estate Winery, and Black Hills Estate.
- Cool off in Okanagan Lake and enjoy swimming or boating
- Cruise the many farmers markets in the area. The Okanagan is one of the best places to visit in BC in summer because there’s so much fresh produce available.
READ NEXT: 18 Top Things To Do In Kelowna, BC: A Complete Guide 2021
The Canadian Rockies are without a doubt some of the best British Columbia attractions around. Southeast BC is home to 4 of the 7 national parks in the province and some truly epic scenery. From Mount Revelstoke to Glacier and Yoho to Kootenay National Park, this region has some major British Columbia landmarks.
Top Things to Do in BC’s Rocky Mountain Region
- Visit the aptly named Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park for beautiful views, hiking and paddling
- Explore the peaks of Glacier National Park before walking the new suspension bridge in Golden. It’s called the Golden Skybridge and towers 426 feet above a canyon for incredible views.
- Ski in Revelstoke or explore the interesting shops in town
- Soak in the mineral pools of Radium Hot Springs
One of the lesser travelled British Columbia destinations, Northern BC is a hidden gem. See BC in its wild, untamed glory with rugged mountains, hot springs, and alpine meadows. When it comes to cool places to go in BC, the north has lots to offer.
Top Things to Do in Northern British Columbia
- Go horseback riding at Muncho Lake Provincial Park
- Soak in the Liard River Hot Springs along the Alaska Highway
- See the northern lights
- Take a walking tour around the historic town of Dawson Creek for a glimpse of pioneer and World War II history
Have you ever explored BC? What do you think are the best places to visit in British Columbia?