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British Columbia Tourism Information
Why British Columbia?
British Columbia is the most visited province in all of Canada so it’s no surprise that BC tourism is the second largest industry in BC. Why does that matter? Because that means that no matter where you travel in BC, you’re sure to find exceptional experiences, incredible service and breathtaking beauty. Whether you’re an avid hiker, looking for new, challenging biking trails, want to experience some world-class golfing or alpine experiences, BC has all this and so, so much more.
About British Columbia
BC is the westernmost province in Canada and is bordered by Alberta to the east, and the Pacific Ocean to the west. There are ten mountain ranges in the province, most notably the Rockies and Coastal Mountains and ancient temperate rainforests run along the coastline and cover Vancouver Island. Between the Rockies that run along the border between Alberta and BC and the glittering Pacific Ocean on the edge of Vancouver Island, there are rolling hills, grasslands, desert ecosystems, glaciers, island archipelagos and thousands of lakes and rivers. With approximately 14% of BC’s land protected by the province’s national and provincial parks service, it’s no wonder that in BC, you can find abundant wildlife on land and in the sea, massive, ancient trees, untouched glacial lakes, and pristine coastlines. With such diverse, expansive, and breathtaking landscapes it’s no wonder we call it Super, Natural British Columbia.
For an estimated 10,000 years, Indigenous People have called BC home. Before the arrival of the first Europeans to this part of Canada in 1778, First Nations communities lived and thrived across the province, each with its own language, customs, and traditions.
When Europeans began settling in BC, trading posts were erected and two gold rushes had prospectors, hopeful merchants and pioneers looking to carve out a life in the wild west coast flocked to BC.
Today, BC is still home to over 200 First Nations communities who honour their Indigenous cultures as well as being a multicultural province with people from all over the globe calling this province home.
Generally, weather is influenced by latitude, mountain ranges, and the oceans and while British Columbia is thought of as having milder weather compared to the rest of Canada, the vastness of the province means that different areas have very different weather throughout the year. For BC this means that you will find mild and rainy weather on the coast, warmer weather to the south and colder to the north.
There are numerous ways to travel to and around BC. From highways and rail systems to ferries and airports, no matter where you’re travelling from – or where you’re travelling to in BC, there are a lot of options!
Both Vancouver International Airport (YVR) and Victoria International Airport (YYJ) are the two main gateways to British Columbia both nationally and internationally with dozens of smaller airports throughout the province. You can also find helicopter and seaplane services along the coast.
If you’re travelling from Washington or Oregon in the USA, you can reach Vancouver via the Amtrak Cascades train. While you’re in BC, there is the VIA Rail that runs from Vancouver or Prince Rupert through BC and all the way to Toronto on a multi-day trip with other optional stops along the route. The Rocky Mountaineer is a unique and scenic train ride with routes from Vancouver to both Jasper and Banff in the Rockies. In Metro Vancouver, you can find the extensive SkyTrain rail system operated by Translink that services almost all of the Lower Mainland and is one of most popular public transit options in the area.
If you are visiting the British Columbia’s coast or Vancouver Island, you’ll find yourself frequently using BC Ferries. With almost 50 ports of call, BC Ferries is the province’s main provider of ferry service and the only provider of vehicle transportation from Vancouver Island to the Mainland. There are free passenger/vehicle Inland Ferry services provided by the BC Government to cross lakes and rivers that are not spanned by bridges.
In both Metro Vancouver and Greater Victoria, you can find an extensive network of bus services that cover almost every area of these two major cities. In Metro Vancouver, the buses are operated by Translink and in Greater Victoria and the rest of the province, buses are operated by BC Transit. You can check these operator websites to find information on purchasing tickets, routes, and schedules.
There are other specialty buses that operate between popular destinations in the province:
- Pacific Coach – two routes from Vancouver to Whistler and Vancouver to Victoria
- BC Ferries Connector – route is from downtown Vancouver to downtown Victoria
- Tofino Bus – routes to many communities on Vancouver Island – ideal for longer distances.
- SNOWBUS – route from Vancouver International Airport and Whistler with pick-up and drop-off points in Vancouver and North Vancouver.
- Rider Express – route from Vancouver to Calgary with pick-up and drop-off locations along the way
- Ebus – route from Vancouver and the Okanagan
- Adventure Charters – routes from Prince George and Surrey and between Williams Lake and Kamloops
- BC Bus North – covers many communities in Northern BC.
For more travel information including travel guides and for comprehensive maps of BC check Destination BC’s Road, Ski and Campsite maps page!
Areas of British Columbia
Vancouver is the glittering, multicultural metropolis on the coast. As the biggest city in BC, it’s probably no surprise that it’s here where you can find incredible dining, shopping, events, attractions, year-’round outdoor adventures and so much more. Bordered to the west by the ocean and to the north by mountains, Vancouver offers big city amenities with a backdrop of stunning natural beauty.
The capital city of British Columbia, Victoria, surrounded by natural beauty has a distinctly old-world charm and slower pace of life compared to Vancouver. With a vibrant dining and arts scene and seemingly endless breathtaking views, it’s no wonder that Victoria is known as the jewel of BC.
Just north of Vancouver tucked away in the Coastal Mountains, Whistler is a world-class alpine resort. People from across the globe come to Whistler to enjoy mountain sports in a pristine, five-star setting.
From wine tours and golfing to epic hiking and incredible dining, the beautiful little city of Kamloops has it all and more! Nestled on the banks of the Thompson River in British Columbia’s Interior, Kamloops is a place where you can get away from it all.
If you’re looking for the perfect place for family fun or a romantic getaway in BC’s wine country, Kelowna is the place to be! Built right on the edge of the Okanagan Lake, Kelowna offers fun water activities for kids of all ages, remarkable dining and shopping and a quaint, walkable town centre to explore!
- Victoria – capital city of BC, southernmost city on the Island
- Langford – fastest growing town in the Greater Victoria and where Bear Mountain resort is located
- Sooke – stunning small town on the far west coast
- Cowichan Valley – Vancouver Island’s wine country and where you can find Duncan, the town filled with Coast Salish totems
- Nanaimo – the beautiful Harbour City a haven for outdoor adventures and incredible breweries
- Parksville & Qualicum – these twin seaside towns offer visitors resort-style amenities and white sand beaches
- Courtenay – quaint town where you can really get away from it all and reconnect with nature
- Tofino & Ucluelet – surf capital of BC where you can find wind-blown beaches and incredible sunsets
- Alert Bay – important Indigenous cultural location with incredible, rugged beauty and fascinating history
- Port Hardy – the remote and wild end of Vancouver Island and a adventurer’s paradise
- Port McNeil – the northeast side of Vancouver Island known as the gateway to the Broughton Archipelago
Vancouver and Coast Mountains
- Metro Vancouver – includes Vancouver and surrounding areas such as North Vancouver, Richmond, and Burnaby
- Whistler – world-class alpine resort north of Vancouver
- Fraser Valley – the mainland’s agricultural area flanked by steep mountains
- Thompson Valley – ski at Sun Peaks, visit a ranch, fish, or visit beautiful Kamloops in the mild, dry, and stunning Thompson Valley
- Okanagan Valley – British Columbia’s most well-known and extensive wine country and home to the pretty city of Kelowna
- Similkameen Valley – the orchard capital of BC with a focus on organic production
- Shuswap – a favourite recreation site for families in the summer with a large houseboat community, sandy beaches, and festivals around the water
- Wells Gray & Mount Robson – beloved outdoor adventure sites boasting unbelievable waterfalls and the tallest mountain in the Canadian Rockies
Kootenays & Canadian Rockies
- Kootenays – find backcountry adventures, natural hot springs, and incredible mountain-top vistas in BC’s mountain playground
- Canadian Rockies – largest mountain range in Canada that spans BC and Alberta
Northern British Columbia
- Northern Rockies & the Alaska Highway – drive the Alaska Highway through frontier history and see some of the most jaw-dropping scenery and once-in-a-lifetime wildlife sightings all the way from Dawson’s Creek to the Northern Rockies
- Stewart-Cassiar – remote and mysterious, this remote region is dense with wilderness and wildlife
- Haida Gwaii – the ancestral home of the Haida people this storm-battered island has soaring cliffs and is home to more than 500 archeological sites
Cariboo Chilcotin Coast
- Great Bear Rainforest – this incredible, protected forest comprises a quarter of the world’s coastal temperate rainforest and is home to BC’s Kermode or “Spirit” Bear – a black bear with all white fur
- Cariboo & Gold Rush Trail – following the path of prospectors who came to find their fortune today this area is home to Bakersville – a historic town with actors dressed as they would have during this time.
- Chilcotin – with stretches of golden grasslands this is BC’s wild west, home to modern day cowboys and a fierce frontier spirit.
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