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Explore British Columbia: Savour natural thrills between the mountains and ocean

Destination Canada is opening up our horizons by rail, road and boat from coast to coast to coast for jaw-dropping views, meeting welcoming locals and experiencing awe-inspiring encounters around every corner of Canada. Next stop: British Columbia. Let’s go!

Destination Canada is opening up our horizons by rail, road and boat from coast to coast to coast for jaw-dropping views, meeting welcoming locals and experiencing awe-inspiring encounters around every corner of Canada. Next stop: British Columbia. Let’s go!

British Columbia – BC to residents and friends – attracts Australians for lots of reasons. There’s the epic ski resorts, surf beaches, rainforest and wildlife for starters. Not to mention exciting cultural cities such as Vancouver and Victoria and the easy access from Australia. So, what are you waiting for?

Fast and fun facts

  • How to get there: Air Canada and Qantas fly direct from Australia to Vancouver, BC’s largest city.
  • When to go: BC is a four-season destination with temperate coastal winters and bumper ski seasons, pleasant spring and autumn months and warm summers.
  • Where is it? Located on Canada’s west coast, BC is the gateway to Canadian adventures in every season.
  • Did you know? BC is home to seven national parks: Pacific Rim, Gulf Islands, Mount Revelstoke, Kootenay, Glacier, Yoho and Gwaii Haanas.
  • Yum fact: The delicious layered Nanaimo bar hails from Nanaimo, BC and is a must-try for sweet tooths.
  • Did you know? BC’s Great Bear Rainforest is the world’s largest intact temperate rainforest and the only place where you can spot the rare Kermode (Spirit) bear with its signature white coat.
  • Ski fan? BC is home to 13 major ski resorts from the big (Whistler Blackcomb) to the exciting (Sun Peaks).

Located 45 minutes’ northeast of Kamloops and about 4.5 hours’ drive from Vancouver, Sun Peaks Resort is a community shaped by a shared love of the mountains and outdoors. Tourism Sun Peaks’ Colin Brost explains why his hometown is so welcoming and why Aussies should visit.

Advisors! Read on to find out how to win a spot on one of two famil trips to Canada and get among it all firsthand.

Experience BC’s culinary delights and natural sights on an epic road trip loop through The Okanagan Corridor, best savoured over three to seven nights.

Start your Journey in Vancouver

Vancouver ©Destination Vancouver/Barbershop Films
Vancouver. Image: Destination Vancouver/Barbershop Films

Start and end your trip in BC’s largest city Vancouver (1), a cosmopolitan hub between the North Shore Mountains and the Pacific Ocean with distinct neighbourhoods to discover.

Gastown (2) is Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood where the city grew from a single tavern established in 1867. The charming area still teems with activity, attracting visitors to experience its cobblestone streets and Victorian details as well as the many restaurants, boutiques and entertainment options.

The Granville Island Public Market sells a tasty assortment of food and produce. Image credit: Destination BC/Hubert Kang
The Granville Island Public Market. Image: Destination BC/Hubert Kang

Continue your historic and gastronomic exploration on Granville Island(3), a short ferry ride away. Here you’ll find an international public market of eats and treats created by local artisans alongside a children’s market, artist studios and performance hubs amid hints of the city’s maritime heritage. Granville Island also plays host to major festivals and events throughout the year.

Kelowna

Kelowna, BC. Image: Thompson Okanagan/Darren Robinson

Now that you have a taste for indulgence and adventure, it’s time to embark on a road trip through the Okanagan Valley wine region. From Vancouver, head north on the scenic Highway 3 aka the Crowsnest Pass, stopping at Keremeos (4). Known as the ‘fruit stand capital of Canada’, this is the ideal pit stop to shop the family-run stands lined along the highway and take your pick of freshly harvested fruit.

Continue on to Kelowna (9), the start of BC’s Okanagan Valley wine region. Here, you can easily spend a couple of days wining and dining with plenty of vineyards, breweries, cideries and gourmet fare on tap while exploring the lake country.

Myra Canyon in Kelowna. Image: Thompson Okanagan/Allen Jones

Try various activities such as golfing and boating on the lake in summer or skiing in winter. Take it up a notch with active adventure such as cycling or hiking the tunnels and trestle bridges of the reclaimed Kettle Valley Rail Trail in Myra Canyon (6) in summer. In winter, explore the area by fat-biking, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.

Penticton

‘Sup? Okanagan Lake Beach at Penticton. Image: Thompson Okanagan/Melissa Barnes

From Myra Canyon, cross the bridge over Okanagan Lake (7) and head south on Route 97 for the hour-long drive to Penticton (10). Winding past vineyards that hug the shoreline, stop at the beachy towns of Peachland (8) and Summerland (9) for a different side of BC and enjoy the seaside vibes before heading onto Penticton in the heart of wine country.

With more than 180 wineries in the region, Penticton has been dubbed the ‘Napa Valley of the North’ for good reason. Sample the fruits from cellar doors and let someone else take the wheel on a guided wine tour for local insights into the 75-plus grape varietals produced here.

Osoyoos

Kettle Valley Rail Trail between Penticton and Naramata. Image: Destination BC/Kari Medig

Veer north again as more wineries await in Naramata (11), just 20 minutes away from Penticton. This time, put pedal to metal and bike through sun-kissed vineyards via Little Tunnel, part of the Kettle Valley Rail (KVR) Trail, stopping at tasting rooms such as Hillside Winery.

More active types can tackle the hiking trails and world-renowned rock-climbing routes at Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park (12) for awe-inspiring views.

En route south to Osoyoos (14), stop in at the self-proclaimed Wine Capital of Canada, Oliver (13), and spend some time in the wineries, distillery, brewery and restaurant at District Wine Village – the first of its kind in Canada.

Nk’Mip Cellars. Image: Indigenous Tourism BC/Spirit Ridge

Just under 20 minutes’ drive away, Osoyoos showcases more of BC’s diverse landscapes and an authentic Indigenous experience. Highlights of ‘Canada’s desert’ include boating, swimming and kayaking on Ooyoos Lake; multiple wineries, such as Nk’Mip Cellars – North America’s first indigenous-owned winery; and the multi-sensory Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre with indoor and outdoor cultural exhibits.

Kayaking in Similkameen Valley. Image: Similkameen Valley/Darren Robinson

On the journey back to Vancouver, take Highway 3 again to Similkameen Valley to visit the organic orchards and award-winning wineries, cideries and breweries of this bucolic area and then onto EC Manning Provincial Park (16) to see wildflowers bloom in expansive meadows between the stunning Cascade Mountains. From here, it’s a two-hour trip back to the city.

Vancouver

Stanley Park.

Arriving back in Vancouver, you can explore a city surrounded by nature. Stanley Park (17) is one-fifth larger that NYC’s Central Park and easily enjoyed on foot or by biking around the famous Seawall. There’s plenty of activities on offer all year round, including the Vancouver Aquarium, totem poles, parks, beaches, sailing and much more.

Just a quick trip from downtown, the 137m-high Capilano Suspension Bridge (18) is a must-visit, hanging 70m above the surging Capilano River. Take a walk on the natural side through the rainforest canopy and enjoy themed events throughout the year.

Grouse Mountain, North Vancouver, British Columbia © Grouse Mountain
Grouse Mountain. Image: Grouse Mountain

Also only 20 minutes from downtown, Grouse Mountain is Vancouver’s playground in winter and summer. Hit the slopes for skiing, snowshoeing and ice-skating in a winter wonderland. In the summertime, meet resident rescue grizzly bears Grinder and Coola and enjoy hiking the mountain.

From cultural sights to culinary delights and nature all around, there’s plenty to whet your appetite for an epic BC road trip.

Psst. Travel advisors, sign up for the Canada Specialist Program and WIN!

Black bears and a Spirit bear in the Great Bear Rainforest. Image: Ian McAllister/Pacific Wild

Travel advisors who are registered in the Canada Specialist Program will go in the draw for two upcoming Canada famils in September and October 2023.

Join the Canada Specialist Program to learn more about the diverse landscapes and experiences, gain access to exclusive content and valuable tools to help you promote and sell Canada plus network with other agents via the closed CSP Facebook group.

Click here to sign up by the end of July 2023 to be in the running to win a spot on a Canada famil.

Keen for more BC? Head here for extra info and inspo.

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