Destination Guides

British Columbia

General   Weather   Airports   Attractions   Activities  


Berg Lake ©Jeff P

Canada's most westerly province, British Columbia is sandwiched between the Rocky Mountains on the east and the mighty Pacific Ocean on the west, bordered to the south by the USA and to the north by the Northwest and Yukon territories. Its location on the Pacific Rim ensures that British Columbia has a rich blend of cultures, together with the area's own rich indigenous heritage, this makes for interesting towns and cities with a cosmopolitan ambience.

The combination of sea and mountains, together with the broken coastline sporting hundreds of islands and inlets, gives the province a diverse set of natural attractions and recreational opportunities, from world-class winter sports to sailing or hiking in tall forests. It is especially attractive to travellers who enjoy the great outdoors, particularly because a good transport infrastructure of ferries, charter boats, trains and well-maintained roads makes it possible to access all the best wilderness spots in British Columbia with ease and comfort.

British Columbia is home to four national parks, seven provincial heritage sites, many nature reserves and the scenic Cariboo Chilcotin Coast. The coast has a number of beautiful fjords, and is a popular destination for canoeing. The volcanic mountains of Tweedsmuir Provincial Park provide trekking opportunities, and the Kootenay Rockies boast some of the best skiing and snowboarding in Canada.

The provincial capital of British Columbia is the city of Victoria, situated on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, but its largest and most populated city is Vancouver, known as Canada's 'emerald jewel' because of its green-blue vistas of mountains and sea.

Climate Info

British Columbia's climate is very varied due to its diverse topography.

The coastal region has a comparatively mild winter climate, with lots of rainfall. November and February tend to be the wettest months, while May and September are probably the best times to visit the coast.

Vancouver enjoys a maritime climate, with relatively mild winters and warm summers. Although winters can be notoriously rainy, there are often long periods of continuous sunshine in the summertime, when visitors come to explore the region's natural beauty. Snowfall is rare in the city, but is more than adequate for the ski slopes on the Coast Mountains to the north.

The interior to the east of the Coast Mountains has a much drier climate, with warm summers and cold winters. The Rockies enjoy a warm to hot summer from May to September, with heavy snowfalls during winter. The northern part of the province has generally much colder winters and cooler summers than the rest of British Columbia.

Getting Around

The integrated Translink public transport system is both highly efficient and good value. The computerised SkyTrain (light rail) has underground downtown stops as well as an elevated track. Its latest addition, the Canada Line, now connects downtown to Vancouver International Airport. The Translink system also includes buses; electric trolley buses; West Coast Express trains (weekdays only); and SeaBus passenger ferries that connect downtown to North Vancouver. The network reaches every part of the city, including the beaches and ski slopes. After midnight the regular bus system is replaced by a limited night bus service on main routes. Fares are based on a zone system and tickets are valid for buses, the SkyTrain and SeaBus with transfers valid for 90 minutes from the time they are validated. Taxis are easy to come by at taxi stands, hotels or by telephone, but can be difficult to hail outside of the downtown area. Vancouver's traffic and road network is fairly well-ordered, but hiring a car is not necessary in the city because the public transport is more than sufficient.

Vancouver International Airport (YVR)

LocationThe airport is located eight miles (13km) south of Vancouver.
Time DifferenceGMT -8 (GMT -7 from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November).

Tel: +1 (604) 207 7077.

Transfer terminals

A courtesy shuttle is available to the Airport South terminal.

Getting to city

The Canada Line connects the airport to downtown Vancouver in about 25 minutes. The service runs every 8-20 minutes. Scheduled buses are available to downtown Vancouver, Whistler, Vancouver Island and Washington State. Courtesy shuttles transport passengers to the Long-Term Parking Lot, South Terminal, local hotels and other destinations near the airport. Public bus services to Vancouver, Richmond and further afield are available at the Airport Station Bus Terminal.

Car Rental

Car hire companies Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Hertz, National and Thrifty are represented next to the terminal building on the ground floor.

Airpor Taxis

Metered taxis are available around the clock outside the terminals. Look for the green signs which indicate a taxi pick-up position. Prices and journey time are higher during rush hour. A tip of 10 to 15 per cent is expected.

Airport Facilities

The main terminal has ATMs, bureaux de change and a bank. There is a selection of bars, restaurants and fast food outlets scattered throughout the airport, as well as a variety of shops, including duty-free, baggage storage and a medical centre. Children's play areas are also available.

Car Parking

Vancouver International Airport offers a range of parking options in the parkade directly opposite the terminals. Hourly parking starts at C$8 per hour, but reduced daily and weekly rates are also available.

Abbotsford International Airport (YXX)

LocationThe airport is located two and a half miles (4km) from Abbotsford city centre.
Time DifferenceGMT -8 (GMT -7, March to November).
Getting to city

Shuttle services are available to transport passengers to and from the airport to the city centre. Shuttles can also be booked in advance. Local bus and limousine services are also available from the airport to the city centre.

Car Rental

Car rental companies represented at the airport include Avis, Budget and National.

Airpor Taxis

Taxi services are available between the airport and various points in southwestern British Columbia.

Airport Facilities

Airport facilities include a bar and bistro, shopping (including a duty-free shop) and ATMs.

Car Parking

Short-term and long-term parking is available at the airport. Short-term parking is available next to the terminal building and offers travellers easy access to the airport. It can be used for up to three hours and costs C$2 for the first hour and C$1 per hour thereafter for a maximum of three hours. Long-term parking costs C$9 per day and C$54 per week.


Kamloops Airport (YKA)

LocationThe airport is located six miles (9km) from Kamloops city centre.
Time DifferenceGMT -8 (GMT-7 from the first Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November).
Getting to city

Taxis are available from the airport to the city centre. The Airporter Shuttle also offers a door-to-door service to and from the airport.

Car Rental

Car rental companies represented at the airport include Budget, Enterprise and National.

Airpor Taxis

Taxis are available from the airport to the city centre and surrounds via Kami Cabs and Yellow Cabs.

Airport Facilities

Airport facilities include a cafe, lounge and parking.

Car Parking

Short-term and long-term airport parking is conveniently located near the arrivals and departures areas. Parking is charged at C$9.50 per 24-hour period.


Stanley Park

The pride of Vancouver's network of parks and gardens, Stanley Park, covering 1,000 acres (405 hectares), is one of the largest parks in any urban centre in North America. Situated in the heart of Vancouver's densely populated West End, stretching out on a peninsula and surrounded on thr
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Stanley Park seawall, Vancouver ©Judith Duk

Museum of Anthropology

In the west of Vancouver, at the University of British Columbia on the cliffs of Point Grey, totem poles mark the way to the Museum of Anthropology, world-renowned for its displays of Northwest Coast First Nations art. One of its main features is the world's largest collection of works b
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Museum of Anthropology ©Mark Koester


Vancouver's Chinatown is not only a strong, established ethnic community, but also a popular tourist attraction and prosperous commercial district. Its bustling streets are full of colour and commerce; even the pagoda-topped telephone booths add to the atmosphere. Shop displays spill ont
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Chinatown ©mertxe iturrioz


The fascinating little historic enclave of Gastown, in the central core area of Vancouver, alongside Chinatown, transports visitors back in time to envision the city in days of old, with its cobbled streets, antique gaslights, Victorian architecture and maze of narrow alleys, courtyards
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Gastown ©Todd Van Hoosear

Grouse Mountain

On Vancouver's north shore, just a 15-minute drive from the downtown area across the Lions Gate Bridge, is the year-round mountaintop playground of Grouse Mountain. Ascending the mountain is part of the adventure in the Super Skyride, a passenger tram that glides up the steep mountain sl
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Grouse Mountain ©Paul Williams

Queen Elizabeth Park

Transformed from an ugly stone quarry in the 1950s, the exquisite Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver now boasts lush gardens bursting with flowers, live theatre, the Bloedel Floral Conservatory, a restaurant, a Pitch and Putt course and much more. The park receives about six million visit
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Queen Elizabeth Park ©WriterGal39

Granville Island

What was once a run-down industrial area in Vancouver is now a thriving entertainment and shopping centre, with a vibrant market central to the island's activities, as well as the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, a theatre and brewery. The island is easily accessible, located in t
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False Creek ©Harshil Shah

Lonsdale Quay

Situated in North Vancouver, Lonsdale Quay offers spectacular views of downtown Vancouver and its harbour, as well as the north shore mountains, and a variety of shops, restaurants and an excellent public market.

The best way to experience the quay is to catch the SeaBus from
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Lonsdale Quay ©GoToVan

Capilano Suspension Bridge

Built in 1889, the Capilano Suspension Bridge is one of Vancouver's oldest and most popular tourist attractions, with plenty of activities and sights in the park for visitors to enjoy, besides the bridge itself. Stretching 450 feet (137m) across and perched 230 feet (70m) above the Capil
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Capilano Suspension Bridge ©David Davies

Vancouver Art Gallery

Established in 1931, the Vancouver Art Gallery boasts thousands of national and international exhibitions by a range of artists, sculptors and photographers, housed in a turn-of-the-century heritage building in the centre of downtown Vancouver. The building also houses a cafe and shop. N
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Vancouver Art Gallery ©Cord Rodefeld

Vancouver Lookout at the Harbour Centre

Perhaps one of the best ways to begin one's visit to Vancouver is with a trip up the Harbour Centre Tower to the Lookout, where one can enjoy a 360 degree view of the city, Greater Vancouver, the North Shore mountains and on a clear day, even neighbouring Vancouver Island.

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Vancouver Lookout at the Harbour Centre ©Brian Chow

VanDusen Botanical Garden

With 22 hectares (55 acres) and roughly 11,000 different plant species, VanDusen Botanical Garden is a spectacular showcase of the natural world, right in the heart of Vancouver. Landscaped gardens are laid out exquisitely and specific areas are cultivated to demonstrate botanical relati
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VanDusen Botanical Garden ©Brian Chow

Commercial Drive

Commercial Drive is as non-commercial as it gets, one of Vancouver's most eclectic, and increasingly trendy, neighbourhoods. What started out as a skid road for the lumber industry in the late 1800s, swiftly became a neighbourhood of English tradesmen and shopkeepers with the birth of th
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Commercial Drive ©Lee Down

Gulf Islands

Tucked in the Strait of Georgia, in between Vancouver Island and the mainland, are the picturesque Gulf Islands. More than a dozen of these long, thin islands, and numerous islets, can be found on Canada's West Coast and each island has its own character and beauty, making them well wort
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Gulf Islands ©BCIT School of Business International Exchange Program

Butchart Gardens

With well over a million visitors a year, the hundred-year-old Butchart Gardens remain a favourite, and one of Vancouver Island's principal attractions. Situated about 14 miles (21km) north of Victoria, the gardens were begun in the early 1900s by Jennie Butchart (wife of industrialist R
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Butchart Gardens ©TravelingOtter

Fairmont Empress Hotel

One of the iconic images of Victoria is the much loved and well-visited Fairmont Empress Hotel, a fully restored Edwardian treasure that has seen visits from royalty, celebrities and travellers from around the world. Set on the banks of Victoria's Inner Harbour, the Empress is a grand an
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Fairmont Empress Hotel ©Tom Mascardo

British Columbia Parliament Buildings

Built in 1893, the British Columbia Government Parliament Buildings were initially criticised as an unnecessary expense, but now constitute a major tourist attraction in Victoria, as well as serving as the legislative centre for the province.

Designed by 25-year-old architect
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San Juan Islands

The San Juan Islands form one of the best boater paradises in the world. The hundreds of islands are separated by nationality but are part of the same scenic and rugged archipelago, located off the northwest coast of Washington State. Much of the area is in a rain shadow behind Vancouver
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The San Juan harbour ©Rob Annis

Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre

Home to a vast array of aquatic mammals and animals, at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre you'll find sea otters, penguins, dolphins, sharks, whales, sea lions and many more exciting creatures.

Exhibits, displays and programmes are geared towards kids, including Cl
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Clown fish ©Robert Young

Greater Vancouver Zoo

Animal lovers of all ages will have a fabulous time exploring the Greater Vancouver Zoo. Boasting more than 500 animals from about 140 species, including lion, giraffe, black bear, bison, spider monkeys, coyotes, cheetah, hippo, lemurs and caracals, just to name a few. Children will simp
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Lion ©Corey Leopold

Othello Tunnels

Just outside the town of Hope, about an hour's drive east of Vancouver, lies the Coquihalla Provincial Park, home to the celebrated Othello Tunnels.

This quintet of railway tunnels, which traverse the spectacular, steep-sided Coquihalla Gorge, were built for the Kettle Valley
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Othello Tunnels ©Roddy Keetch

Travel Guide powered by www.wordtravels.com, copyright © Globe Media Ltd. All rights reserved. By its very nature much of the information in this guide is subject to change at short notice and travellers are urged to verify information on which they're relying with the relevant authorities. Globe Media and UNIGLOBE Travel does not accept any responsibility for any loss or inconvenience to any person as a result of information contained above.

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