Spend a week in and around Vancouver, where you'll find something for everyone on this well-balanced, self-drive trip. Start in Vancouver to visit Granville Island and cross the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Traverse the Strait of Georgia to Vancouver Island to explore Victoria with its gardens and totems. Hike along Ucluelet's shores after a whale watching trip off Tofino's coast. Return to Vancouver and finish your trip with a dip in Harrison Hot Springs' healing mineral waters.


  • Walk across Vancouver's forest canopy along Capilano Suspension Bridge
  • Discover Victoria's Butchart Gardens, totems, and picturesque parks
  • Go hiking along Ucluelet's many trails after whale watching off Tofino's coast
  • Discover Vancouver's beautiful beaches, soothing hot springs, and aquarium

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Vancouver, Visit Granville Island Vancouver
Day 2 Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, Beaches in Vancouver Vancouver
Day 3 Drive to Victoria, Explore Victoria Victoria
Day 4 Visit the Butchart Gardens, Drive to Ucluelet Ucluelet
Day 5 Optional Activities in Ucluelet, Whale Watching off Tofino's Coast Ucluelet
Day 6 Drive to Vancouver, Visit Vancouver Aquarium & Harrison Hot Springs Vancouver
Day 7 Depart Vancouver  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Vancouver, Visit Granville Island

Vancouver's spectacular waterfront setting
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, and it's an easy 20-minute drive downtown to your hotel. The influence of First Nations, Asian, and Anglo cultures enriches this cosmopolitan and modern city. Its compact center is easy to explore on foot, with highlights like Stanley Park, Chinatown, and historic Gastown all within easy reach. If you're hungry, head to Granville Island's vibrant waterfront market, where you can sample local specialties in a buzzing, open-air atmosphere.

In the 1970s, Granville Island began its successful transformation from an industrial wasteland to one of Vancouver's favorite public spaces. As Vancouver's premier artistic and cultural hub, located in an urban waterfront location and steeped in a rich industrial and maritime heritage, the island's charm lies in its unexpected mix of uses. The famous Public Market is home to over 50 independent food purveyors and contributes to the Island's appeal as a renowned culinary destination. In the Net Loft Shops and Railspur District, you'll find many of Canada's best artists and designers. 

Day 2: Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, Beaches in Vancouver

Views across the treetops from the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
Views across the treetops from the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
This morning you'll hop on a 15-minute shuttle leaving downtown to head for the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. Cross the iconic suspension bridge across the raging Capilano River, then climb to Treetop Adventure and walk through the forest canopy on a series of suspended footbridges set 110 feet (30 m) up. Continue to the nearby Cliffwalk to traverse a granite precipice along the river, navigating a labyrinth-like series of narrow cantilevered bridges, stairs, and platforms. When you return to the city, you'll have the remainder of the day to explore the beach.

South of the West End, you'll find the waterfront urban environments of English Bay and Sunset Beach, a 30-minute walk from downtown. Here you can rollerblade, stroll with an ice cream in hand, and have picnics. Visit Kitsilano Beach, known as "Kits Beach" to locals, which is like California's Venice Beach. Buff and bronzed bodies are sure to make their rounds, but you'll also find joggers, stroller-pushing families, sun-worshippers, and your everyday loungers. There's also Kits Pool, where you can enjoy an outdoor, heated salt-water pool with panoramic views of the city, ocean, and mountains.

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Day 3: Drive to Victoria, Explore Victoria

Victoria's beautiful harborfront
Fisgard Lighthouse on Victoria Island

Leave Vancouver behind as you head to the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal for the 90-minute ferry ride to Vancouver Island, known as the "Island of Eternal Spring." Upon disembarking from the ferry with your car, you will begin your tour with the First Nations people of the Cowichan tribe. Admire their many totems and learn more about their traditions before stopping for an educational visit to the Quw'utsun Cultural Center.

Once you've checked in at your hotel, discover more of the island with a walk around the provincial capital of Victoria. 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.

Day 4: Visit The Butchart Gardens, Drive to Ucluelet

The Butchart Gardens
The Butchart Gardens

This morning, visit Butchart Gardens, comprised of 54 acres (22 ha) of beautiful gardens, thousands of colorful and fragrant flowers, attractive fountains, a first-class restaurant, and unbelievable views. Butchart is a flower lover's paradise and a photographer's playground. Botanical highlights include its Rose Garden, Japanese Garden, Italian Garden, and, most significantly, its world-famous Sunken Garden. After your garden visit, it's time to leave for Ucluelet, where you'll spend two nights. Drive toward the Pacific Rim, where Clayoquot Sound is visible through the pine forest.

You'll follow along the Strait of Georgia, which separates the mainland from Vancouver Island. Visit Duncan, a town known for its many totem poles that have earned it the nickname ''City of Totems.'' Take time to admire these wood carvings, which recall the presence of the First Nations population in this region. Several parks are worth a detour, including Stamp River Provincial Park, its river in the heart of the forest, and Canal Beach. When you arrive in Ucluelet, you can admire the Pacific Ocean stretching as far as the eye can see.

Day 5: Optional Activities in Ucluelet, Whale Watching off Tofino's Coast

Whale watching off Tofino Coast

Set 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.

There are many optional activities for discovering Ucluelet. Take a trip to the geothermal baths to enjoy the benefits of these natural springs. 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 6: Drive to Vancouver, Visit Vancouver Aquarium & Harrison Hot Springs

Vancouver's famed aquarium
Nanaimo, Vancouver Island

It's time to return to Vancouver as you head north to the Horseshoe Bay Terminal for the two-hour ferry ride back to the mainland. On the road in the direction of Nanaimo, take the opportunity to explore nearby parks. See Neck Point Park with its pebble beach and Cable Bay Trail along the shores of Hemer Provincial Park with its forest. Take advantage of your visit to taste the famous local Nanaimo bars made with chocolate, nuts, and vanilla. Taste beer produced on-site in one of the city's many micro-breweries. You'll cross the Strait of Georgia and spend your final night in Vancouver.

For your last day in the city, you could head to Vancouver Aquarium for an immersive look at the underwater world. Home to 60,000 amazing aquatic creatures, such as sharks, sea otters, penguins, and sea lions, you'll find exhibits highlighting ocean diversity from the Amazon to the Arctic. If you are looking for relaxation, visit Harrison Hot Springs, known for its healing mineral waters. The two hot springs hover around 40°C (104°F) and 62°C (145°F), and water is pumped from one of the springs and cooled to provide a mineral hot springs pool that can be enjoyed at a soothing 38°C (100°F). 

Day 7: Depart Vancouver

Aerial view of Downtown Vancouver
Farewell Vancouver!!

Your adventure draws to a close today as you enjoy a final morning in Vancouver. When the time comes, you'll head to the airport to return your rental car and catch your departing flight. Safe travels!

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