There are plenty of reasons to hit the road and get out of the city. Below, some inspiration for tours and day trips from Vancouver.
What surrounds Vancouver is part of what makes it special, so get out and appreciate the beautiful countryside as much as you can. Even if hiking is not your thing, then just go chill out by a lake!
Having a car is a huge bonus and will give you access to beautiful day trips from Vancouver. If you don’t have a car, many places are accessible by public transport, or you can avail of an Evo or Car2Go membership to visit surrounding areas.
A 30-minute drive from downtown, this small bay in North Vancouver is a popular spot for hiking and kayaking. Quarry Rock is a favourite trail among locals. There are some cute shops and restaurants nearby too, including Honey Doughnuts (favoured by Kate Winslet).
Nestled in the mountains north of Vancouver, Whistler is a wonderland in both summer and winter. This world-famous tourist destination is around 90 minutes by car (up to 2.5 hours by bus) along the beautiful Sea-to-Sky Highway. Close enough to be considered for this list of day trips from Vancouver, but far enough away for you to feel like you’re in another world.
In winter, enjoy world-class ski conditions at Whistler Blackcomb resort. In summer, there’s world-class mountain biking and hiking trails. The European-style après ski atmosphere and great nightlife are another big draw.
Even if you don’t ski or bike, you can still ride the record-breaking Peak2Peak Gondola or take in Crankworx, an international mountain biking festival held in July. This outdoor playground is also the place for white-water rafting, bungee jumping, zip lining, golfing and much more. Spending a day at Scandinave Spa any time of year isn’t a bad idea, either.
Hostel accommodation is scarce and hotels are expensive. Apartment rentals can be much more reasonably priced.
- Photos: take a look at winter in beautiful Whistler.
- Visit our complete Whistler destination guide.
The ultimate in Vancouver tours: a trip to Vancouver Island
One of the best things about Vancouver is its proximity to the beauty of Vancouver Island. Before you even travel there, you will sense the excitement in people’s voices when they speak about the magic of the Island. The ferry rides are scenic, with great views of the city and the mountains, and lucky passengers may even spot seals, dolphins or orca whales en route. There’s a reason so many commercial Vancouver tours have the Island on their itinerary.
Tofino and Ucluelet are a 5.5-hour drive away (including a ferry ride), so make a weekend of it. The ancient rainforest and beautiful beaches, perfect for surfing, storm watching, hiking and whale watching, make this a much-loved spot. Tofino is laid-back, and is home to some great food and drink options. The town of Ucluelet is only 40 minutes away from Tofino by car, and offers cheaper accommodations.
Victoria is the capital of British Columbia, and a rather quaint city. If you’re looking for a faster way to travel than ferry, a seaplane departing from Vancouver’s Coal Harbour will take you there in 35 minutes.
You could also head north to Port Hardy, or visit one of the many islands off the eastern coast of Vancouver Island.
With regular ferries and air services, visits to the Island can be reliably done in a day. But in reality, it’s worth dedicating weeks of travelling as the options are endless.
The Gulf Islands are only accessible by ferry or seaplane, so travel time varies based on destination. The closest of the Gulf Islands is Bowen Island, just a 30-minute ferry ride from the mainland. Salt Spring Island is a popular destination, thanks to its hippie-artist vibe and bustling outdoor market.
When it comes to day trips from Vancouver, sometimes it’s the journey that makes it all worthwhile, not just the destination.
This is the road less travelled, as many people overlook the remote beauty of the Sunshine Coast. The area refers to 139 km of forested coastline, so travel time varies depending on your final destination. This area can only be accessed by ferry or seaplane. A quick ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay takes you to Langdale, a jumping-off point for amazing villages, beaches and national parks.
The beautiful 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.