Spend 11 days driving across British Columbia to visit five iconic cities, starting in Vancouver with a self-guided city tour. Drive to Whistler via the scenic Sea-to-Sky Highway, ride the Peak 2 Peak Gondola and look for bears in the Olympic Park. Hop over to Vancouver Island, where you can hike the Rainforest Trail, look for whales in Tofino, and take a seaplane in Victoria. You'll finish with a relaxed couple of nights in Vancouver, enjoying the city's attractions at leisure.


  • Experience Vallea Lumina, a multimedia night walk, in Whistler
  • Hike, ski, or snowboard on Blackcomb Mountain
  • Sample local specialties on a foodie tour in British Columbia's capital, Victoria
  • Brave the Capilano Suspension Bridge, just outside of Vancouver

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Vancouver, Self-Guided City Tour Vancouver
Day 2 Drive to Whistler, Evening Visit to Vallea Lumina Whistler
Day 3 Ride the Peak 2 Peak Gondola to Whistler or Blackcomb Mountain Whistler
Day 4 Bear Watching in the Olympic Park, Canoe the River of Golden Dreams  Whistler
Day 5 Drive to Horseshoe Bay, Ferry to Nanaimo, Drive to Ucluelet Ucluelet
Day 6 Whale Watching Tour, Explore Tofino at Leisure Ucluelet
Day 7 Drive to Victoria, Food & City Tour, Panoramic Seaplane Tour Victoria
Day 8 Explore Salt Spring Island, Visit the Butchart Gardens Victoria
Day 9 Drive to Vancouver, Enjoy a Free Afternoon Vancouver
Day 10 Grouse Mountain Gondola Ride, Visit Capilano Suspension Bridge Park Vancouver
Day 11 Visit Vancouver's Chinatown, Transfer to the Airport, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Vancouver, Self-Guided City Tour

Bustling Vancouver is backed by the towering coastal mountains 

Welcome to Vancouver! This bustling coastal city is fringed by the Pacific Ocean and backed by the Coastal Mountains. Upon arrival at the airport, pick up your rental car and drive to your downtown accommodation. When you're ready, head out on a self-guided tour: a great place to start is Stanley Park, one of North America's largest urban parks. Wander along the seawall and enjoy panoramic views of the city skyline, or venture along one of the winding trails through dense forests and verdant meadows that lead to tranquil lake views.

Within the park, you'll also find the Vancouver Aquarium on the shores of the picturesque Coal Harbour. Step inside to see the different marine habitats, from the lush coastal rainforests of British Columbia to the coral reefs of the tropics. Discover interactive exhibits featuring otters, dolphins, and sea lions while learning about the aquarium's conservation efforts. If you visit on a Friday between May and September, head to the Shipyards Night Market. Stroll through the rows of vendors selling handmade goods or sample an array of local and international street food to end the night.

Day 2: Drive to Whistler, Evening Visit to Vallea Lumina

The imposing Stawamus Chief Mountain is a highlight of the Sea to Sky Highway Drive to Whistler

Today, you'll hit the road for a two-hour drive to Whistler, home to one of the largest ski resorts in North America. Though the city is known for its world-class skiing and snowboarding terrain, it offers year-round adventures for outdoor enthusiasts, including mountain biking, hiking, and ziplining. Drive along Highway 99, better known as the "Sea-to-Sky Highway," as the road takes you from the Pacific Coast to towering alpine heights.

If you want to stop en route, consider Stawamus Chief Mountain or Shannon Falls Provincial Park for a hike or Squamish to ride on the Sea to Sky Gondola. Arrive in Whistler and either relax at your hotel or check out the pedestrian-only Whistler Village. Later, as dark falls, make your way to Vallea Lumina, a multimedia night walk through the forest that runs year-round. Follow the winding 0.9-mile (1.5 km) trail illuminated by dazzling light installations, soundscapes, and immersive storytelling to unravel the secrets of the ancient valley. 

Day 3: Ride the Peak 2 Peak Gondola to Whistler or Blackcomb Mountain

Ride the Peak 2 Peak gondola from Whistler to Blackcomb Mountain or vice versa

Enjoy a free day to explore Whistler at your own place. A good place to start is the Peak 2 Peak Gondola, which holds the Guinness World Record for the longest unsupported cable car span in the world. Aptly named, the gondola connects Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain, so you can choose to depart at either peak. Glide 2.7 miles (4.4 km) across the sky, looking out at snowcapped peaks, dense forests, and alpine meadows. If you want to take advantage of the snow, the Blackcomb terminal is best for skiing or snowboarding.

If you're visiting in summer and want to go hiking, end at the Whistler Mountain terminal to access trails such as High Note Trail or the Harmony Lake Loop. From here, you can also walk across the Cloudraker Skybridge, one of the world's highest and longest suspension bridges at 1,427 feet (436 m). 

Day 4: Bear Watching in the Olympic Park, Canoe the River of Golden Dreams 

Go on a search for black bears in the 2010 Whistler Olympic Park

This morning's guided excursion is sure to be a memorable one, with an off-road Jeep adventure within the Whistler Olympic Park. Accompanied by an expert park ranger, you'll look for the bears that now call the 2010 Olympic venue home. Traverse the forests, keeping your eyes peeled for signs of bear activity, such as tracks and tree scratch marks. Along the way, your guide will share their knowledge about bear behavior, ecology, and the conservation efforts to protect them. When you finally spot the bears, observe them forage for food, take care of their cubs, and lounge in the sun.

After a few hours in the park, enjoy some free time in Pemberton, a charming town that's just 30 minutes away and home to three great provincial parks: Joffre Lakes, Birkenhead Lake, and Nairn Falls. Only Joffre Lakes is open year-round, so plan your self-guided tour accordingly. Alternatively, visit the Pemberton Distillery to learn how artisanal spirits are created in this award-winning distillery. After a tour of the production facilities, you'll sample a range of handcrafted products, from vodka to gin and whiskey, which encapsulate the essence of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

In the afternoon, you'll go to Alta Lake, your starting point for a canoe ride along the River of Golden Dreams to Green Lake. Paddle across the tranquil water and look out at the towering Coast Mountains. You may spot black bears foraging along the water's edge or ducks paddling along the shoreline, so keep your eyes peeled. Let the gentle current take you down the river until it opens to the glacier-fed jade-colored lake. Wildlife sightings are common here, from bald eagles soaring overhead to trout darting beneath the surface.

Day 5: Drive to Horseshoe Bay, Ferry to Nanaimo, Drive to Ucluelet

Beautiful forests and splendid rocky shores await in Ucluelet

Leave the mainland behind today as you drive one hour to Horseshoe Bay on the west coast, ready to catch a 1.5-hour ferry to Vancouver Island. Disembark in Nanaimo and drive 2.5 hours across the island to Ucluelet, a charming coastal municipality. Check into your hotel and freshen up, then enjoy the rest of the day at leisure. The area's beaches, Wickaninnish Beach and Tonquin Beach, are ideal for a coastal stroll or an afternoon relaxing on the beach or swimming in the ocean if the weather permits.

Those who want to stretch their legs should follow the Rainforest Trail through old-growth forests, alongside babbling streams and past ancient cedar and hemlock trees. Wildlife you can spot here includes black bears, deer, and bald eagles. If the weather isn't playing ball, visit the Ucluelet Aquarium instead to learn about the marine life of the Pacific coast. Unlike traditional aquariums, exhibits feature animals collected from the nearby waters that are returned to their natural habitat at the end of each season, helping you learn about the importance of marine conservation in a sustainable way. 

Day 6: Whale Watching Tour, Explore Tofino at Leisure

If you're lucky, you may spot a whale breaching on your boat tour

Today's activity is sure to be a memorable one as you set off on a boat cruise (available between April and October) to spot whales. Drive 30 minutes up the coast to the small town of Tofino, where you'll board a small boat and set sail in search of humpback, gray, fin, minke, and orca whales. Your captain will take you to common feeding areas to increase your chance of spotting these incredible creatures up close. You may also spot sea otters, seals, sea lions, and various seabirds along the way. After 2.5 hours on the water, return to shore to explore the town. 

Tofino is renowned for its surf breaks, so head to Cox Bay or Chestermean Beach if you're searching for waves to catch. If surfing isn't your thing, explore the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve instead. This protected area encompasses an array of ecosystems, including temperate rainforests, expansive beaches, and marine habitats teeming with life. Discover the network of scenic hiking trails, such as the famous West Coast Trail, relax on the pristine beaches, or look for wildlife like black bears, deer, and raccoons. After spending the day in Tofino, drive back to your hotel in Ucluelet.

Day 7: Drive to Victoria, Food & City Tour, Panoramic Seaplane Tour

Board a seaplane at Victoria's harbor and fly over Vancouver Island

This morning, your road trip takes you to British Columbia's capital, Victoria, on the south coast. Break up the four-hour drive with stops in Chemainus to see over 40 murals adorning the walls of downtown buildings and Duncan's impressive collection of totem poles scattered across town by the Coast Salish people. Check in to your hotel, then head out on a privately guided food and walking tour. Start with a light snack at the Steamship Terminal, then stroll along Victoria's harbor and learn the history of the Fairmont Empress and Legislative Assembly of British Columbia.

Pause at seven foodie locations to sample an array of specialties, like halloumi and kale salad, Korean corn dogs, local cheeses, and artisan wine. You'll end the tour with a local dessert of decadent chocolate and fresh macarons. The adventure doesn't stop there as you return to the harbor to board a seaplane for a scenic ride over the island. Enjoy aerial views of Victoria's downtown, waterfront, and sandy beaches, then glide above the rugged coastline to marvel at the Olympic Mountains. After 30 minutes in the air, return to the harbor for a memorable landing on the sea.

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Day 8: Explore Salt Spring Island, Visit the Butchart Gardens

Explore the striking and colorful Butchart Gardens at your own pace

Leave the city behind for the day as you make your way to Swartz Bay Terminal to catch a 35-minute ferry to Salt Spring Island, located in the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. Wander through the charming villages dotted with art studios, galleries, and boutiques showcasing locally made crafts. Then, explore more of the island on a hike, bike ride, or kayak. The island is known for its farm-to-table dining, with farm stands, markets, and restaurants offering fresh, organic fare.

In the afternoon, take a ferry back to Victoria, then drive 30 minutes to Butchart Gardens, which you may have glimpsed from the air yesterday. Spend a relaxing couple of hours strolling the colossal grounds that showcase various floral displays in themed gardens, like the Japanese Garden or Rose Garden. Pause to admire the ornate fountains and sculptures or catch a breather in one of the serene gazebos. Treat yourself to afternoon tea in the on-site restaurant, and then return to the city for dinner and drinks along the waterfront. 

Day 9: Drive to Vancouver, Enjoy a Free Afternoon

 Gastown's Steam Clock sounds every 15 minutes, and if you're lucky, you might catch a whistling symphony

Bid farewell to Vancouver Island this morning as you return to the Swartz Bay Terminal for a 1.5-hour ferry to the Tsawwassen Terminal. It's a 50-minute drive back to Vancouver, where you can enjoy the rest of the day at your own pace. The VanDusen Botanical Garden is a great option if you're after a nature fix, with tranquil ponds and themed garden areas. A highlight is the Elizabethan hedge maze, made of 3,000 pyramidal cedars. 

Afterward, marvel at the wonders of the universe in Science World. Visit the planetarium, conduct experiments in the Tinkering Space, or learn about the natural world in the outdoor Science Park. End your self-guided tour in Gastown, the city's historic district. Wander down the cobblestone streets lined with Victorian buildings, trendy boutiques, and bustling restaurants. Grab a bite to eat or stop at the Gastown Steam Clock, which chimes every 15 minutes. If you haven't yet tried poutine, Canada's national dish of fries topped with cheese curds and gravy now's a good time to do so.

Day 10: Grouse Mountain Gondola Ride, Visit Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

Don't miss the Cliffwalk cantilevered walkways in the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

Begin your penultimate day in British Columbia with a self-guided tour of Grouse Mountain, just 15 minutes outside the city. Take a scenic gondola ride to the top, where you can enjoy panoramic views of Vancouver's skyline, the glittering ocean, and the surrounding mountains. From here, you can access a range of activities, including hiking trails, watching a lumberjack show, visiting a wildlife refuge, ziplining through the treetops, or skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing in the winter. 

On your way back to the city, stop at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park to cross the 450-foot (137 m) long swaying bridge above the Capilano River. After conquering the bridge, the park has an array of walking trails, treetop adventures, and interactive exhibits that showcase the region's flora, fauna, and First Nations culture. Don't miss the Cliffwalk, a series of cantilevered walkways clinging to the granite cliffside. Enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding rainforest, canyon, and river below through the sections of glass flooring before returning to your hotel in the city.

Day 11: Visit Vancouver's Chinatown, Transfer to the Airport, Depart

Explore the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden in the heart of Vancouver's Chinatown

Although your 11-day road trip across British Columbia is drawing to a close today, why not spend your last few hours in Vancouver exploring one of North America's largest Chinatowns? Wander through the narrow streets lined with traditional Chinese shops, herbal medicine stores, and souvenir shops. Stop in the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden or sample Asian delicacies, like steaming dim sum or handmade dumplings, before dropping off your rental car at the airport in time to catch your flight home. Safe travels!

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Map of Ultimate British Columbia Road Trip: Vancouver, Whistler, Ucluelet, Tofino & Victoria - 11 Days
Map of Ultimate British Columbia Road Trip: Vancouver, Whistler, Ucluelet, Tofino & Victoria - 11 Days