· ·

The perfect holiday itinerary for the ultimate West Canada adventure

Western Canada is a destination that should be on your wish list! The sheer size and scale of the place is awe-inspiring and there are so many things to fit into your trip. When visiting Western Canada, you need to experience what Alberta and British Columbia, the two most western provinces, have to offer. The snow-dusted mountains, milky blue lakes and thick taiga forest are beefy in size but also big on beauty, all of which can be explored by plane, train and automobile.

Each offers box-office views in wild corners of Canada like the national parks of Jasper and Banff in Alberta. Neighbouring British Columbia is similarly blessed with scenic splendour. If you go down to its woods one day you’re sure of a spectacular surprise, for this is prime bear country and a selection of remote lodges allow you nose-to-snout encounters. Whistler’s mountains are picture-perfect peaks, both for sunny summer hiking and as a premier ski destination, and coastal Vancouver drips with effortless urban cool and hip culture. It’s both city break and base for the wilderness beyond, such as Vancouver Island and tiny Tofino, which promise laid-back charm, ancient rainforest and whale-watching.

Both provinces are beautiful and offer so much to do which is why we’ve put together this incredible Canada adventure holiday itinerary to help you explore the of best West Canada.

Day 1-3: Fly From London to Calgary, Canada

You can fly from London to Calgary, landing at midday, which gives ample time to reach the Rockies and the small frontier town of Banff by late afternoon. Whether you are staying in the town of Banff itself or just outside, a more delightful collection of independent restaurants, cafes, craft breweries, distilleries and shops would be hard to find. Stop in at the Rocky Mountain Soap Company to stock up on locally made beauty and health products, grab a bag of freshly popped toffee pop-corn from Mary’s, enjoy a stone-baked pizza from the Bear Street Tavern and treat the sweet tooth to a COW’S ice cream on the way home.

Surrounded by towering peaks and almighty views, take a trip up a gondola to experience the breath-taking panoramas and get a true sense of place in the landscape you’re in. A day trip to Lake Louise is an absolute must too, and the colour of the lake is incredible…

Perhaps one of the Rockies top attractions, during the summer months its beauty is somewhat dampened by the thousands of tourists who flock to the lake shores for a selfie or three. So, how to see this natural wonder on your own? The answer is to set an early alarm, grab a coffee to go and get there before anyone else. Not only can you have the view to yourself, the magnitude of the surrounding mountain vista is simply breath-taking.

Day 4-6: Take A road trip from Banff to Jasper and see Canada’s famous Icefields Parkway

The drive between Banff and Jasper takes you north up the famous Icefields Parkway, a journey on which you can enjoy countless stunning stops along the way. The midway point is the Columbia Icefield, where you can see and walk on the incredible Athabasca Glacier. If you’re brave enough, you can then step out on the Icefield Skywalk, a suspended platform where glass is all that separates you from the rugged and wild terrain. 

The sleepy and less-frequented town of Jasper lies just shy of 200 miles north of Banff. Travel by car or train through a majestic land intricately shaped by its glacial past. The Columbia Icefields Parkway tops the charts year in, year out as one of the world’s most iconic drives, boasting over a thousand visible glaciers and hundreds of milky turquoise lakes, which show their azure colours as soon as the snow begins to melt each spring. The Athabasca Glacier is perhaps the most impressive and accessible of the lot, and there are a number of companies providing glacial walk and buggy experiences to visitors wanting to get up close and personal.

The town of Jasper is a hidden gem and one of the world’s largest dark sky reserves. For many it’s the point of departure for one of the most epic rail journeys in the world, onboard either the Rocky Mountaineer or Canada’s national rail line, VIA Rail, travelling west to the cosmopolitan city of Vancouver, the entry point to beautiful British Columbia.

The Canadian Pacific Railway connects Canada, sea to sea. Until the late 1960s, the railway was the primary mode of long-distance transport in Canada, especially to cross the mountains from the prairies. Today, much has changed of course, but the railway remains a lifeline of Canada and its history is a huge attraction to visitors from all over the world. If you take the Rocky Mountaineer, you’ll make your way through some of the most stunning mountain landscapes in the world, whilst sitting in the most comfortable and opulent surroundings. Sip on a glass of something sparkling, whilst enjoying a la carte fine dining, all while taking in the epic backdrop of the snowcapped Rocky Mountains, viewed through the glass-domed carriage.

Day 7-10: Enjoy a seaplane adventure to Whistler

After a couple of days exploring the cities highlights, you can take a seaplane flight over the coastline and north shore mountains to Whistler. It’s the accessibility of Whistler and its surrounding area which makes it so unique. Easily weaved into a Rockies road trip or wilderness lodge itinerary, to escape the city for a few days or as a stand-alone mountain holiday, it ticks every box. The village itself is split into the upper and lower village – each with their own selection of cafés, bars, restaurants and of course – every adventure shop under the sun.

As huge as skiing is in the winter, mountain biking is the allure in the summer, with cycling festivals and endless trails to enjoy. The Peak 2 Peak Gondola offers a thrilling journey to the top of both Whistler and Blackcomb Mountain, suspended above the valley floor, 1,400 feet below!

Day 11-15: Fly from Whistler to Vancouver Island and see Great Bear Rainforest

From the mainland, fly west to Vancouver Island and spend a few days in the Great Bear Rainforest, at the fabulous Farewell Harbour Lodge. This is a chance to spot and learn more about some of Canada’s iconic wildlife including some Orcas frolicking in Black Fish Sound whilst at the lodge.

Finish your journey with a couple of nights in Tofino on Vancouver Island’s wild west coast. The age-old hippie hangout of Tofino, on Vancouver Island’s central west coast, draws visitors from near and far to indulge in the abundance of water and land-based activities for which it is so well known.

Since Highway 4 was built in the 1980s, linking the town with the outside world and enabling access to the area’s jaw-dropping coastline, Tofino has become a go-to eco-chic holiday hotspot. The Cornwall of Canada, with the addition of a national park and once-in-a-lifetime wildlife-viewing experiences, Tofino really does boast some of the best beaches we’ve ever seen so a morning spent sea kayaking on the glassy waters of the inlet is the perfect way to round things off. Tofino is also the hub for a number of fantastic adventure companies who specialise in whale-watching and black bear tours.

Overall, there’s plenty of epic adventures to be had in Western Canada and this itinerary is the perfect way to explore them. One thing is for sure, if you’re an adventure lover, we’d urge you to add Western Canada to your travel bucket list!

Did you enjoy this article?

Receive similar content direct to your inbox.

8 Comments

  1. A very useful piece. We’ve always wanted to do West Canada but the reality is that we’ve probably been too overwhelmed by the sheer immensity of the place to even start putting a plan together.

  2. A seaplane is one of the types of travel that I’ve still got to tick off on my travel bucket list. And what a beautiful place to do it too.

  3. That image of an empty road stretching towards the mountains is a classic. You almost don’t need to use any other images.

  4. That image of an empty road stretching towards the mountains is a classic. You almost don’t need to use any other images.

    Though I’m not sure that a nose to snout encounter with a bear will be a big selling point for everybody. I like my bears best at a distance.

  5. There’s only so much wilderness that I can take and after a few days I feel the urge to see a city which makes this a pretty good itinerary for me.

  6. This itinerary for the ultimate West Canada adventure is fantastic! The mix of stunning natural landscapes and vibrant city experiences seems perfect for a well-rounded trip. I’ve been considering a visit to Canada for a while, and your detailed guide has convinced me that West Canada is the place to start. Can’t wait to explore these amazing destinations—thank you for sharing such a helpful and inspiring post!

  7. My friends did the Icefields Parkway last year and they are still talking about it, must be a spectacular journey.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *