British Columbia Road Trip Itinerary

British Columbia Road Trip Guide [Epic 7 Day Itinerary]

A British Columbia road trip is one of the best driving itineraries you can take in Canada.

Not only does British Columbia have an incredibly beautiful coastal region, but it’s also home to the rocky mountains, glaciers, wineries, forests, ski resorts, festivals, and some of the friendliest, most laid-back people in the country.

I’ve been to, and road tripped through, British Columbia (BC) loads of times. As a Canadian, this is one of my most favorite provinces!

Ready to get planning? Here’s what this post covers:

Let’s dive in!

British Columbia Road Trip (10 Day Itinerary)

A red canoe floats in a glacial blue late among mountains in British Columbia, Canada

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Days 1 & 2 – Vancouver

Vancouver - Canada. Yaletown and the Burrard Bridge in False Creek in the city of Vancouver in British Columbia on the west coast of Canada.

To begin your British Columbia Road Trip, I recommend flying into Vancouver Airport (YVR) and renting a car. From there, there are a million and one things to do in this cosmopolitan city.

If you’re a first-timer to Vancouver then I recommend renting some bikes and cycling around Stanley Park, exploring Gastown, eating all the goodies in Chinatown, kayaking Deep Cove, exploring eclectic Granville Island, and hiking Lynn Canyon.

What’s so incredible about Vancouver (other than its widespread diversity) is that it’s a stone’s throw from nature. Perched at the foothills of the Northshore Mountains, and on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, Vancouver is a great way to get your nature and city fix all in one go. 

🚁 Fun alert!: This City & Mountains 30-minute helicopter tour is a highly-rated, unique way to see Vancouver!

🛏️ Where to Stay in Vancouver

Day 3 – Vancouver Island

Woman sits on fallen tree stump in Cathedral Grove, Vancouver Island.
Cathedral Grove

From Vancouver, I recommend hopping on the ferry from Tsawassen to Swartz Bay and making your way over to check out the many things to do on Vancouver Island. Keep in mind that if you’re traveling in the summer you may have to book your ferry in advance — it gets busy.

When you dock at Swartz Bay you’ll be in the city of Victoria. I recommend spending an afternoon here — grabbing lunch and exploring Beacon Hill Park and the Butchart Gardens — before driving up the coast.

There are honestly so many amazing places to go on Vancouver Island, but some of the top things to do are going on a whale watching tour, hiking to Ammonite Falls, salmon fishing in Campbell River, shopping at the Old Country Market, exploring Elk Falls Provincial Park, hiking Cathedral Grove, and going surfing in Tofino.

🐋 Want to get out on the water? Check out this great whale-watching tour from Victoria.

🛏️ Where to Stay on Vancouver Island

Day 4 – Kelowna / Okanagan Valley

Train trestle on the Kettle Valley Railway near Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada
Kettle Valley Railway

About a 4-hour drive from Vancouver (take highways 1, 3, and 97), Kelowna sits in Canada’s famed Okanagan Valley and is in the middle of forests, vineyards, lakes, and mountains. 

📝 Note: Alternatively, you could head north along the Sea to Sky highway, over to Kamloops, and then down to Kelowna. This is a beautiful drive, but it’s only recommended if you have more time.

With over 40 wineries operating near Kelowna, exploring wine country via a tasting tour is one of the most popular things to do in this region. They have everything from small mom-and-pop vineyards to huge, sprawling estates. No matter your taste, you’ll have lots to choose from. This Kelowna wine tour will show you the best of the vineyards and surrounding area.

Wine not your thing? There are also plenty of breweries and distilleries to choose from too!.

But Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley isn’t just for the alcohol-minded. I also recommend going on a farm-to-table food tour, renting a bike and riding along the Kettle Valley Railway, hiking the Myra Canyon Trestles, visiting Okanagan Lake Provincial Park, and checking out the Kelowna Mountain suspension bridges. 

🛏️ Where to Stay in Kelowna

Day 5 – Revelstoke

Small waterfall in a forest, Mount Revelstoke National Park near Revelstoke.

Two and a half hours from Kelowna, Revelstoke is a small town located in the Columbia Mountains Natural Region and is one of British Columbia’s most scenic hubs.

The town is perhaps best known for being a ski mecca with Revelstoke Mountain Resort at the center of the action. Trust me, alongside Fernie and Whistler, this is one of the best places to shred powder in BC (but more on that later).

Yet, winter sports lover or not, there are so many things to do all year round in this stunning town. While you’re there, drive the Mountains in the Sky Parkway, relax in the hot springs (Canyon, Halfway River, and Halcyon are three top ones), go hiking, ride the gondola, go paragliding, check out the waterfalls, and ride the infamous pipe mountain coaster.

Speaking of which, the Pipe Mountain Coaster 🎢 opened in 2016 and is a one-person cart rollercoaster attached to a monorail track. You’re strapped in of course, as once you’re launched you can hit up to 40km/25mph. Each trip takes about 3 minutes, which honestly feels way longer when you’re racing through the mountains in a teeny (yet totally secure) cart. 

🛏️ Where to Stay in Revelstoke

Day 6 – Yoho National Park 

Canoes on Emerald Lake. Yoho National Park. British Columbia, Canada.
Canoes on Emerald Lake

Two hours from Revelstoke is Yoho National Park, located in British Columbia’s east-end rocky mountains. A fitting name, Yoho is the Cree First Nations word for awe and amazement — two things you’re going to be full of in this park.

While in Yoho National Park, visit Lake O’Hara (considered to be one of the most iconic sites in the park), Takakkaw Falls, Wapta Falls, Emerald Lake, Burgess Shale Fossil Beds (a UNESCO world heritage site), and Kicking Horse Pass National Historic Site.

To be honest, this is one of the most primarily-outdoorsy national parks in Canada (meaning there aren’t a lot of indoor experiences to be had). But in an area this jaw-dropping, it’s hard to pass up!

🛏️ Where to Stay in Yoho National Park

  • Honestly, there aren’t a ton of stay options within the park itself, but there are some camping opportunities. During the summer months, there are over 150 amazing campgrounds with all sorts of amenities. Alternatively, I recommend spending the night in Kootenay, which isn’t too far away (and is our next stop anyway!).

👉 Side Note: I should mention too that just across the provincial border from Yoho is Banff. Check out my list of the Best things to do in Banff National Park for all you need to know if you want to extend your trip!

Day 7 – Kootenay National Park / Hot Springs

Radium Hot Springs, British Columbia, Canada - Sign welcoming visitors to Radium Hot Springs in the winter

Now that we’re one week into the British Columbia road trip, it’s all about relaxation in the Kootenay Rockies.  Just a half-hour drive from Yoho is Kootenay National Park. An under-rated park in my opinion, some of the best things to do in Kootenay are exploring Floe Lake, Numa Falls, Egypt Lake, the paint pots, and Sinclair Canyon.

That said, I personally think the springs are the shining star of this area, especially after a long day of exploring. There are a few famed hot springs in this area: Radium, Ainsworth, Canyon, Fairmont, Halcyon, Lussier, and Nakusp.

🛏️ Where to Stay in Kootenay National Park

British Columbia Road Trip Tips

Recreational Vehicle RV on empty road of Alaska Highway, Alcan, in boreal forest taiga landscape south of Fort Nelson, British Columbia, Canada

Where to Rent a Car in BC

To rent a car in BC I recommend booking with Discover Cars. Their customer service-oriented platform will help you choose a car, get the best rate, and outfit you with insurance. You can view reviews and compare prices across many different BC car rent agencies.

Or, if you’re looking to do a campervan trip through British Columbia, then check out Motorhome Republic. They’re one of the largest, most reviewed sites for booking motorhomes, campervans, and RV’s. 

🚙 Need an RV but on a budget? – Check out Outdoorsy! It’s like an Airbnb for renting private campervans from owners.

Driving in British Columbia

Road trips in British Columbia can be either a laid-back cruise or a white-knuckle adventure, all depending on when and where you go.

The summer months (roughly May – September) are most popular for taking a BC road trip. Overall, driving here in the summer is easy due to long, warm days, and you’ll be able to get around without much hassle. 

However, if you plan to take a winter (October – April) British Columbia road trip, then prepare yourself for snowy mountainous driving.

Winter in BC is an absolute wonderland and the province has some of the best ski resorts in the world, but roads can be slick and icy, there are avalanche risks, and you’ll 100% need winter tires on your car (having chains at the ready is advisable too). Not to deter you from a winter BC road trip, I’ve done it before and have lived to tell the tale, but you should know what you’re getting yourself into, road conditions-wise. 

Additionally, I should mention that in order to road trip British Columbia’s beautiful highways, you may need an international driver’s license depending on where you’re coming from.

Here is a good driving in Canada resource that will help you with the specifics.

For another Canadian road trip guide, check out our Alberta Road Trip Itinerary.

What’s the Best Time of Year to Road Trip British Columbia?

People walk across the Capilano Suspension Bridge in Vancouver,Canada, surrounded by lush greenery
Capilano Suspension Bridge in Vancouver

Winter is the season for all snowboard, snowshoe, and skiing activities. Visiting areas like Whistler or Fernie in the winter is absolutely magical.

That said, I would advise against visiting Vancouver or Vancouver Island in the winter. These areas tend to not get much snow, but they are notoriously rainy. Not that there’s anything wrong with coastal BC in the winter, but you’ll have a much drier, sunnier visit in the summer.

More Things to Do in BC

Hike to turquoise waters of picturesque Garibaldi Lake near Whistler, BC, Canada. Very popular hike destination in British Columbia.

If you plan on staying in British Columbia Canada for more than a week, then I gotta say, lucky you! 

One week taking road trips in BC is really the tip of the iceberg and there is so much more to see and explore along the way. To stretch out your stay a bit longer, I recommend basing your trip around some of the most iconic things to do in BC. 

Check Out BC’s Iconic Ski Resorts

Red car of the aerial tramway connecting two high peaks at Whistler Mountain in British Columbia, Canada with blue sky and white clouds

If you’re an avid skier/snowboarder, then you’re probably well aware that British Columbia is home to some of the best slopes on the planet. 

People come from all over the world to explore this area, and they even have some cool “winter student” programs if you’re looking to come to Canada and make some extra money while working at the resorts. 

The most famous ski resorts in British Columbia are:

  • Big White Ski Resort
  • Fernie Alpine Resort
  • Whistler Blackcomb
  • Summit Lake Ski Area
  • Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

Enjoy a Festival in British Columbia

Fireworks light up the Vancouver Skyline above the water.

British Columbian festivals are something else altogether. As with all of the Canadian provinces, BC has its own unique culture — one that I can only describe as laid-back, natural, bohemian, and welcoming. 

A direct reflection of its culture, BC festivals can be a whole lot of fun.

Here are some of the most popular festivals in BC:

  • Shambhala Music Festival (Kootenay)
  • Vancouver Island Music Fest
  • World Championship Bathtub Race (Nanaimo)
  • Vancouver Folk Fest
  • Celebration of Light (Vancouver)
  • Vancouver International Film Festival
  • Spring Okanagan Wine Festival

***

That’s it for our 7 day British Columbia road trip itinerary!

I hope this gave you a ton of inspiration for your next trip to BC.

For more travel tips, check out all my Canada travel guides:

Have fun in British Columbia!

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