Get in touch with nature as you spend a week exploring British Columbia on this self-drive tour. Reach new heights at Grouse Mountain's summit for extraordinary views of Vancouver, the sea, and the mountains. Go ziplining above the treetops near Whistler and observe black bears in the alpine mountains. Go whale watching off Tofino's coast. Then make your way through the old-growth forests of Vancouver Island to Victoria, where you'll finish your journey with a visit to the famed Butchart Gardens.


  • See Vancouver's highlights before climbing Grouse Mountain for superb views
  • Go ziplining above the treetops and cross suspension bridges near Whistler
  • Observe bears in the mountains before exploring countless hiking trails
  • Go whale watching off Tofino's coast and drive through old-growth forests

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Vancouver, Visit Grouse Mountain Vancouver
Day 2 Drive to Whistler, Ziptrek Ecotours Whistler
Day 3 Bear Watching Tour, Alpine Hiking in Whistler Whistler
Day 4 Drive to Tofino, Optional Activities in Ucluelet Tofino
Day 5 Whale Watching off Tofino's Coast, Take in the Surf Culture Tofino
Day 6 Drive to Victoria, Visit the Butchart Gardens & Explore Victoria Victoria
Day 7 Depart Victoria  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Vancouver, Visit Grouse Mountain

Arriving in Vancouver
Vancouver's downtown

Welcome to Vancouver, western Canada's coastal metropolis, where the sea and mountains meet. Upon arrival at the airport, pick up your rental car for the easy 20-minute drive downtown to your hotel. The influence of First Nations, Asian, and Anglo cultures enriches this cosmopolitan and modern city. It's easy to explore on foot, and a great place to start is a walk along the Stanley Park Seawall, a 6-mile (10 km) paved loop with views of the mountains, ocean, forest, and city. At the park, visit the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Center, one of the five largest aquariums in North America.

You'll have the option of getting a glimpse of Vancouver on a "Hop-On, Hop-Off" bus tour. A local guide will provide an insightful perspective on the city's history as you pass through the vibrant downtown and its must-see highlights. The tour passes by the Canada Palace, Coal Harbour, Chinatown, Stanley Park, and more. You can choose where to get off and how much time to spend at each attraction.

If you're looking for something a little more adventurous, climb the Grouse Grind Trail (known as "Mother Nature's Stairmaster") up to the towering local landmark of Grouse Mountain. Popular year-round, Grouse Mountain is just 15 minutes from downtown. If you'd prefer to skip the hike, take the Skyride Gondola to the Peak of Vancouver for breathtaking views or enjoy distinctly British Columbian cuisine while overlooking the grandeur of the Lower Mainland, some 3,700 feet (1,128 m) below. 

Day 2: Drive to Whistler, Ziptrek Ecotours

A segment of the Sea-to-Sky Highway
Hit the road and head north to Whistler along the Sea-to-Sky Highway, one of the country's most iconic drives. This scenic route from the sea to the mountains offers several beautiful spots worth stopping for during the drive. Stop in Squamish, a popular access point for outdoor activities and adventure, and see the area's most famous peak from the highway: a sheer granite rockface popular with skilled climbers known as "The Chief." You can either hike to the summit or take the Sea-to-Sky Gondola up the mountain for excellent views of Howe Sound from Summit Lodge, where you can also grab lunch.

In the afternoon, you'll reach Whistler, an upscale, chalet-style village built around the twin peaks of Whistler-Blackcomb. Once checked in at your hotel, explore the village, pamper yourself in one of the town's many spas, or ride to the Peak-to-Peak Gondola. The world's longest unsupported cable car runs between the summits of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. Later, experience a high-flying adventure with Ziptrek's ziplines and suspension bridges. Walk through the treetops, or soar across a network of ziplines. You'll have a choice of six guided zipline tours or a treetop adventure.

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Day 3: Bear Watching Tour, Alpine Hiking in Whistler

Bear Watching Tour
Be on the lookout for black bears

Leave the crowds of Whistler village behind as you venture into the wild in style in one of the world's most capable 4WD vehicles. This intimate excursion focuses on the Whistler Olympic Park resident black bears and their cubs and the famed 2010 Olympic venue itself. Later, lace up your hiking boots and transport yourself to an out-of-this-world destination aboard the Guinness World Record-breaking Peak 2 Peak Gondola, then set out on a 360-degree hiking experience.

After riding up the Whistler Blackcomb's chairlifts and gondolas, you'll have access to over 31 miles (50 km) of summer trails that wind through a volcanic landscape surrounded by jaw-dropping vistas, ancient glaciers, alpine lakes, and wildflower-filled slopes. 

Day 4: Drive to Tofino, Optional Activities in Ucluelet

Clayoquot Sound

Hop in the car and return south to Vancouver before traveling west toward today's Pacific Ocean. Follow the Sea-to-Sky Highway to Horseshoe Bay, where you'll catch the ferry to Vancouver Island and the coastal city of Nanaimo. Then, drive west across the island on one of Canada's most spectacular stretches of road, passing through a landscape of old-growth rainforests, waterfalls, and rivers. As you reach the island's west coast, you'll get settled in at your hotel in the laid-back town of Tofino, located on a narrow strip of land overlooking the tranquil Clayoquot Sound.

The rest of the day is free to relax by the sea or participate in the many optional activities for discovering nearby Ucluelet. Take a trip to the geothermal baths to enjoy these natural springs' benefits. You could also go for a hike along the Wild Pacific Trail. This network of trails offers several paths that are easily accessible. Take the Artist's Loop to discover the cliffs. The Cedar Path is more in the forest, as its name suggests, or take the Large Beach to observe the ocean and its eddies. The Lighthouse Loop goes to the Amphitrite Point Lighthouse, recognizable by its square shape.

Day 5: Whale Watching off Tofino's Coast, Take in the Surf Culture

A breaching humpback whale off the coast of Tofino
Whale watching off the coast of Tofino

Head out in the morning on a whale watching tour from Tofino, one of the most popular activities on Canada's Pacific Rim. Prime whale watching season follows the whales' migration schedules, which run from spring through summer. You'll have the chance to spot gray and humpback whales and the orcas that frequent these waters year-round. Tours are done in a small, 12-seater zodiac boat, giving you an intimate, up-close look at these magnificent creatures.

With sandy beaches, waves, palm trees, and cold water surfing, it will be clear that you're in Canada's surf capital. With 22 miles (35 km) of beaches and an exposed coast, surfers of all skill levels have access to year-round surf in Tofino. MacKenzie Beach, Chesterman Beach, and Cox Bay beach are some of the best beaches for catching waves. Whichever you choose, even the most inexperienced beginners can join in and participate in the town's strong surf culture.

Day 6: Drive to Victoria, Visit The Butchart Gardens & Explore Victoria

Trail through the old-growth forest of Cathedral Grove
A trail through the old-growth forest of Cathedral Grove

Today, you'll return east to Victoria. Drive through the Cathedral Forest and its giant pines before reaching the murals in Chemainus and the Native American Museum in Duncan, with its intriguing totems. Visit the famous Butchart Gardens, comprised of 54 acres (22 ha) of beautiful gardens, thousands of colorful flowers, attractive fountains, bronze statues, a first-class restaurant, and unbelievable views. Butchart's botanical highlights include its Rose Garden, Japanese Garden, Italian Garden, and, most significantly, its world-famous Sunken Garden.

Then continue to Victoria, the capital of British Columbia. This sophisticated city has an English character as much in its architecture as in its traditions. Once you've checked in at your hotel, you'll have free time to stroll around the city. Highlights include its picturesque marina, outdoor public market area, and parliament buildings. Head to the Royal Museum for a deep dive into British Columbia's rich culture and history. Don't miss a stroll down Canada's narrowest street—the atmospheric Fan Tan Alley in Chinatown. Later, have afternoon tea at the famous Fairmont Empress Hotel.

Day 7: Depart Victoria

Farewell Victoria
Farewell Victoria!

Your adventure draws to a close today as you enjoy a final morning in Victoria. Make the 30-minute drive to Victoria's airport to return your rental car and catch your departing flight. Safe travels!

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Map of Explore British Columbia's Nature: Whistler, Ucluelet & Victoria - 7 Days
Map of Explore British Columbia's Nature: Whistler, Ucluelet & Victoria - 7 Days