Vancouver is a special city for what surrounds it, so get out and appreciate the beautiful countryside as much as you can. If you don’t have a car, many of these places are accessible by public transport. Having a car is a massive bonus and will give you access to more and more beautiful locations around the city. If hiking is not your thing then just go chill out at a lake!
If you love the outdoors then perhaps consider investing in the Backroads Map Book as it’s a very useful tool. It includes all logging roads and plenty of campsites, hikes, fishing spots, 4×4 ski touring and more.
Nestled in the mountains up north of Vancouver, Whistler is both a summer and winter wonderland. This world famous tourism destination is only around 2 hours by car (2.5 hours by bus) along the beautiful Sea-to-Sky Highway.
In the winter you can enjoy some of the best terrain and highest snowfall in the world at this famous ski destination. People love Whistler because it offers European-style “après ski” atmosphere and a great nightlife. Even if you don’t ski or snowboard, you can still ride the gondola and travel across the Crankworx, an international mountain biking festival held on the third week of July each year. Whistler is also renowned for its network of hiking trails and beautiful lakes.
Hostel accommodation is scarce and hotels are expensive. Try renting an apartment as they can be much more reasonably priced.
One of the best things about being in Vancouver is that you’re so close to the beauty of Vancouver Island. Before you even go there you will sense the excitement in peoples’ voices when they speak of the magic of the island. The ferry rides are scenic, with great views of the city and the mountains, and if you’re lucky you might even spot some seals, dolphins or even orca whales en route.
Tofino & Ucluelet offer scenic beaches, amazing seafood and friendly locals — the trademark of the island. Victoria, the Capital city of British Colombia, is a quaint town. Vancouver Island is worth dedicating weeks of traveling time as the options are endless; you could head north to Port Hardy or visit the many islands off the east coast of the island.
This is the road less traveled, as most people overlook the remote beauty of the Sunshine Coast. A quick ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay takes you to Langdale, and the coast offers some amazing villages, beaches and national parks. The beautfiul towns of Gibsons and Sechelt are surrounded by national parks and coastal views. Another scenic ferry north will take you to remote Powell River. The tiny village of Lund and Savary Island make the trek worthwhile.
Things to do in Vancouver: Hiking
British Columbia is a hiker’s paradise so get out and explore the scenery this place has to offer. For a complete list of hiking trails please refer to Vancouver Trails.
Trail Peak offers a really great search function that allows you to scan trials by difficulty and location if your unsure of where you want to go.
We strongly recommend:
- The Chief (easy)
- Garibaldi Lake (medium)
- Black Tusk (difficult)
- Cypress Mountain (easy)
- The Lions (medium)
- Howe Sound Trail (medium)
- Cheakamus Lake
The Stawamus Chief is a giant rock face looking out over the town of Squamish along the Sea to Sky route to Whistler. It’s about a 40-minute drive from Vancouver and visible on the right side of the road. The Chief hike is about a six-hour round-trip and easily accessible to anyone. The views from the top are amazing and make it worthwhile.
Situated just south of Whistler, Garibaldi Lake offers breathtaking scenery. It’s around a 1 hour 45 minutes drive from Vancouver to Rubble Creek (signposted for Lake Garibaldi). The best way to get there is the nine kilometre-long Light House Park.
For those looking for a mindblowing full-on hike, then try Black Tusk. The peak is a remarkably abrupt pinnacle of volcanic rock located in Garibaldi Provincial Park. The trail is 29 kilometers long and takes 10-12 hours depending on your pace. The last section is extremely vertical, so it’s not for the faint-hearted. The 360-degree view from the peak cannot be matched, as you can see Whistler, Vancouver Island and the interior of BC. Push yourself, it’s worth it! If you want to make a weekend of it, then you can camp at Taylor Meadows or Garibaldi Lake. It’s first come, first served, so arrive early.
Light House Park
Located in West Vancouver, Light House Park is one of Vancouver’s most accessible trips into the adjoining countryside. It’s around 40 minutes by car or bus and offers some light hiking around various trails with views of Vancouver city and the harbour.
Most people are more familiar with this place in the winter months, but it also offers great hiking and views of the city during the summer. You can hike the slopes and choose either Black Mountain (there’s a lake at the top) or Cypress Mountain. Black bears are often spotted around here during the summer.
Things to do in Vancouver: Camping
You are spoiled for choice in terms of camping location around British Columbia. The provincial parks have top class facilities with each camping unit offering parking spots, an area for your tent, fire pits (fire bans operate), picnic bench, shared bathroom facilities with electricity. Forestry campgrounds tend to be a little more isolated, less family friendly but offer fantastic facilities across remote locations around the province.
White water rafting
Day trips or weekend trips are available all summer long.