I´m travelling with my husband from South America to Canada in May for the first time. We want to see the most and spend the least! First we visit the east coast (which I have fairly organized) and then we fly to Vancouver. We have 11 days to visit Vancouver and the Rockies. Is it OK if we stay 5 days in Vancouver, go on a 1- day-tour to Vancouver Island? Then we have 6 days for the Rockies, any advice on how to get there, what to visit and where to stay?
We fly back to S America from Vancouver. Thanks for your help!
I just came back from Vancouver 3 weeks ago. Luckily I have family there to take care of me. I've gone back yearly for the past 3 years. Here's what you could do:
North Vancouver & Grouse Mountain (1 day)
- take a seabus from Waterfront heading to North Vancouver. After stepping out of the seabus landing in Lonsdale Quay, scope out the place. After sightseeing, go back to Lonsdale Quay and take a bus up to Grouse Mountain. There you can take a gondola up to to the top or you can do the Grouse Grind, where you walk up the mountain. It really is a workout and it took me over 90 mins to walk up with rests in between. Bring water and pack really light when walking up the mountain. I carried my small digital camera around my neck and it felt like it weighed 10 lbs. Take the gondola back down. Tip: Use fanny pack to store your stuff and purchase a Day Pass for $6 to use the seabus, bus, skytrain.
- MetroTown: a huge mall with a ton of stores, you can literally spend a whole day in this mall with the overwhelming number of shops inside and outside the mall
- Retail shops on Robson Street
- Retail shops on Broadway Street
Sights to see in Vancouver area
- Chinatown (3rd largest Chinatown after San Fran and NY)
- Waterfront, Canada Place
- English Bay
- Jericho Beach, Second Beach
- Science World: I would just walk outside the complex. Not worth the money to pay to go inside
- Stanely Park: I would suggest rollerblade or rent bikes for the trails
- Aquarium in Stanely Park
Victoria (1 day)
- I can't remember where to catch the bus, but if you're around downtown Vancouver ask around on trying to hop on Bus #601-Ladner Exchange Express. At Airport Station, transfer to Bus #620-Tsawwassen Ferry. The #620 will take you to the ferry docks. At the docks, you buy tickets to which island you want to visit. After landing in Victoria, take a bus to downtown Victoria. In Victoria, check out Parliament, nature trails, parks, beach, shops. you can also board another ferry going to Seattle USA. Check the schedules, I believe the last ferry to the mainland leaves before 8pm
Another place to check out is White Rock but you have outside of Vancouver to check it out.
Hope you have fun on your trip.
wow, that's some detailed information from MarleneMax - nice work!
I am not going to give you the same level of detail I'm afraid, but look at your time estimates. Vancouver is a great city don't get me wrong but 5 days is total over kill unless you really want to get very familiar with the city. I'd give it 1-2 days max, stick to the highlights MarleneMax pointed out (Dr Chen Chinese garden is also good) and instead spend your time elsewhere.
You could spend a good week on Vancouver Island. It is huge! and some of the more remote areas (the north) are hard travelling by land or requires a boat so takes a while to get there. In addition to Victoria, worth seeing are Tofino (whale watching, surfing for the brave) and Nanaimo. My uncle lives on Gabriola Island and that place is simply amazing for NA wildlife (seals, raccoons, golden/sea eagles, otters, draft dodgers). Give yourself 2-3 days atleast.
Then you could either fly out to Calgary (cheap $$$!) or make your way over land through the Rockies. Must sees in the heart of the Rockies are Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, Banff, Jasper & Glaciers, try camping (with bears), a spot of fishing for fresh water trout. Hire a car to travel around as the scenery is amazing!!! no, out of this world!
These places are a good 18 hour continous drive from Vancouver tho. You could instead head north from Vancouver up through Squamish to Whistler to see one of the biggest and best Ski Operations in the world. It'll be the tail end of the season and perhaps Blackcomb Mountain will still be open (some times till May 20th) so you might be able to ski for a day. The scenery around Banff is more spectacular in my opinion.
It's truly one of the greatest places on earth, have a great trip!
I agree with Phileas, 5 days in Vancouver is too much. With so much natural beauty and destinations all around BC and Alberta, you are better off limiting your Vancouver visit to 2-3 days.
As for touring the Rockies, hiring a car and driving is certainly an atttractive option, but you may also want to consider taking at least one portion of your Canadian Rockies vacation by train. I took that trip with my mother last year and both us thoroughly enjoyed the experience - I especially liked avoiding the stress of driving long distances.
You are going to have an amazing trip! Enjoy it!
Thanks very much to Marlene, Phil and Peter! You convinced me of staying less in the city of Vancouver and staying for 2-3 days on Vancouver Island (we love natural scenery). Are there any hotels or bed & b to recommend in both places? Private bathroom and clean linen is all I expect. Perhaps we´ll fly to Calgary and there rent a car to visit Banff up to Jasper, any accommodation to recommend in those areas? (not camping, I can´t take so much baggage, I live in Uruguay, South America). I suppose I need to have reservations for every place I go, is it high season at this time of the year? (21 May to 6 June). The train from Vanc to the Rockies sounds great but I think it´s very expensive, I couldn´t check the price on the page you gave me Peter. Tks to all,
I have to agree and disagree with the previous posters. In 2/3 days in Vancouver you are NOT going to see much of the city. There are a lot of great things to see and do.
Vancouver Island is GREAT for nature however, though I really would spend more time inland than on Vancouver Island. The Okanagan valley is beautiful, full of lakes and fruit and wine plantations where you can sample all sorts of great things.
Lots of good advise posted, but I think Vancouver Island maybe a "little" over hyped. Not that you couldn't spend a whole week there and see a lot of beautiful sites (Tofino is a touch touristy, but it is a must see if you do go that route), but there are a lot of other great things to see around Vancouver and around BC proportionally.
Marlene again. I hope you can get into Canada as early as possible because Victoria Day occurs on May 21 and there may be some special events going on in town. As for Bed & Breakfast, you can try Between Friends.
I myself never have tried it but I see this BB all the time because my cousin just lives on the next street and we walk past it all the time. Excelllent spot because, within 3 minutes of minutes of walking, you're at the Second beach and a few minutes away, English Bay, Stanley Park, bus stop just around the corner, nice restaurants and shops steps away. If walk along Second beach towards Jericho Beach, you'll see all the multi-million dollar homes. It takes 15 minutes walk to over the Burrard Bridge and into downtown Vancouver, Granville is close by.
I think I should take my cousin's advice to quit my job and move to Vancouver and take up work as a tour guide. cheesygrin:
11 days is not much time but it’s possible to get a good sense of the west following a similar agenda as listed bellow. Staying at B&BS or Hostels to keep the cost down. The details of all this can be quite easy with google and the net.
Rent a car drive Hwy # 1 to Kamloops go up Hwy # 5 over night at Dutch Lake. Continue on to Mt Robson Provincial Park lunch, and then finish at Jasper Alberta.
Tour up to Maligne Canyon and Maligne Lake, then late afternoon soak at Miette Hot Springs. Next day Icefield’s Parkway Athabasca Glacier finishing in Banff. Spend a day around Banff & Lake Louise area. Drive west on Hwy#1 onto 3 Valley Gap BC stay overnight, then west to Hwy 97 south to Kelowna BC, do a winery and orchard tour. Next day 97c to hwy 5 back to Vancouver leaving a few days to relax in Vancouver. If you want to see Victoria take a day bus tour over. 11 days is real short but possible!
Thanks Marcel for your advice, although driving round trip Vanc Rockies and back maybe it´s too tiring! I´m thinking of flying Calgary-Vancouver for the return.
Yeah, and 1 day on the Island is definitely not enough. So much of that time will be taken up by the ferry, you'll want at least 2 days.