This self-drive itinerary is packed with some of the west coast’s ‘must sees’, and where better to start than in Banff where you’ll have the natural wonders of Banff National Park at your fingertips. With 25 peaks that rise over 3000m and a series of shimmering lakes, it is impossible to travel through the park and not be filled with awe. You’ll also have time to explore the Icefields Parkway, an astonishing highway peppered with snowy mountains, sweeping valleys and deep green forests.
In Jasper, Whistler and Tofino you’ll find a plethora of activities suitable for all interests and ages, from rafting along serene stretches of water to incredible zip lining adventures. Of course, no west coast itinerary would be complete without encountering the wonderful wildlife that British Columbia is renowned for. Exploring the pristine waters of Clayoquot Sound, you’ll have the opportunity to observe foraging black bears, gray and humpback whales, sea lions and porpoises.
London – Calgary – Banff
Check in at London Heathrow for your flight to Calgary. Pick up your hire car from the airport and make your way to your 4-star hotel in Banff, a world-famous resort town nestled in the heart of the spectacular Banff National Park.
This region of dramatic peaks, turquoise lakes and bubbling hot springs is packed with activities suitable for all the family. You can hike with local guides to Stanley Glacier, Healy Pass, Ha Ling Summit and the fabulous Plain of Six Glaciers; explore the beautiful Lake Louise area or float quietly along the Bow River, observing beavers, elk and ospreys.
Stay: Three nights in a rooftop suite at The Moose Hotel & Suites – room only
Your journey to Jasper is incredibly scenic, featuring dramatic valleys, brilliantly coloured lakes and deep green woodlands. Why not stop on the way to see the impressive Columbia Icefield – the largest ice mass in the Canadian Rockies at 365 metres thick. From your five-star hotel in Jasper you can explore the nearby Patricia and Pyramid Lakes and the Maligne Valley – home to bears, moose, elk, deer, big horned sheep and fabulous birds like eagles and osprey. Take a guided rafting tour along the Athabasca River and you’ll gain a great insight into the region’s natural and human history.
Stay: Two nights in a court view cabin at Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge – room only
Alpine Meadows, Clearwater
Now it’s time for a two-night stay at the peaceful Alpine Meadows Resort, situated on the shores of the beautiful Hallamore Lake in the midst of lush forests and snow-topped mountains. You’ll have the great outdoor adventure that is British Columbia at your doorstep, and a warm and cosy log home – complete with a private deck and fully equipped kitchen – to retreat to in the evening.
Stay: Two nights in a log suite at Alpine Meadows Resort – room only
After a five hour drive you will arrive in Whistler, where you will be ideally situated close to the vibrant and pedestrian friendly Village of Whistler. Your stay will include a thrilling zip lining experience that will take you over the forested valley between Whistler and the Blackcomb Mountains, revealing the hidden beauty of the Fitzsimmons Creek.
Stay: Three nights in a deluxe mountain view suite at Westin Resort and Spa Whistler – room only
Drive to the Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal in time to board your boat to Nanaimo. Once there, it is a three-hour drive to your accommodation in Tofino.
Wildlife viewing is a highlight of any stay here. Touring the fjord inlets and pristine waters of Clayoquot Sound will show you foraging black bears as well as gray whales, humpback whales and resident bald eagles. Those more adventurous can take a kayak out to explore the quiet inlets and ancient coastal rainforests. The waves of Long Beach attract surfers from around the world, but its sandy shoreline is also great for leisurely strolls. The bubbling hot springs north of Tofino are perfect for rejuvenating tired muscles.
Stay: Three nights in a deluxe suite at Water’s Edge Shoreside Suites – room only
Hop back on the ferry to Vancouver, where you will drop off your hire car. Considered one of the world’s most scenic cities, Vancouver is an appealing mix of beaches, bustling streets, trendy neighbourhoods and natural spaces. Your last two nights will be spent at a four-star boutique hotel in the heart of the city’s hottest shopping destination.
Encounter orca whales, porpoises, seals and sea lions on a 90-minute whale watching experience, or embark a cycling tour of Stanley Park to enjoy fabulous views of water, mountains, sky, and majestic trees along the park’s famous Seawall. In the evening, escape by seaplane from downtown Vancouver’s vibrant Coal Harbour to tranquil Horseshoe Bay for a memorable seaside dinner.
Stay: Two nights at L’Hermitage Hotel – room only
Vancouver – London
A private vehicle will take you to the airport in time to catch your overnight flight back to London Heathrow.