British Columbia is a province known for its breathtaking scenery, cultural richness, and warm hospitality. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a history buff, or simply seeking a relaxing getaway, British Columbia has a destination that suits your interests.

From stunning natural landscapes to its vibrant urban centers, this region is a must-visit. In this guide, we will take you on a journey of the best places to visit in British Columbia, providing insights and recommendations for an unforgettable trip no matter the season. Let’s delve into the top cities and towns that should be on your itinerary in winter and summer.

Top 5 British Columbia Cities

British Columbia — Canada’s westernmost province — boasts a diverse tapestry of cities that showcase the area’s natural beauty, cultural richness, and economic vitality. From the vibrant hub of Vancouver to the charming capital city of Victoria, the adventure paradise of Revelstoke, the sprawling suburb of Surrey, and the wine country gem of Kelowna, each of these five cities offers a unique blend of experiences that encapsulate the essence of British Columbia.

1. Vancouver

The waterfront in Vancouver.

Vancouver, often referred to as the “Jewel of the West Coast,” is the largest city in British Columbia. This vibrant metropolis boasts a stunning natural backdrop, including the North Shore Mountains and the Pacific Ocean.

In Gastown, Vancouver’s historic heart, cobblestone streets wind through the district, leading you to the iconic Gastown Steam Clock, a quirky and fascinating engineering marvel. The area is also home to charming boutiques and cozy cafes, making it an ideal place to take a leisurely stroll and soak in the city’s unique atmosphere.

Favorite Local Spots in Vancouver:

  • Get your morning grind at Prototype Coffee.
  • For a truly memorable dinner, head over to Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House. No frills at this joint, just mouth-watering steaks, chops, and seafood. Start with some Oysters and consider the Pork Chop for dinner.
  • And for a great cocktail to finish up the evening, head over to the Diamond. For something refreshing, try a French Riviera.

Favorite Things to Do in Vancouver: One of the unique attractions in Vancouver is Stanley Park, a vast urban oasis that’s larger than New York City’s Central Park. Here, you can explore scenic seawall pathways, lush gardens, and encounter the world-famous totem poles, offering a glimpse into the rich indigenous culture of the region. For art and culture enthusiasts, Granville Island is a must-visit, featuring artisan shops, galleries, and the bustling Public Market, where you can savor delicious local treats.

Where to Stay in Vancouver

The West End is one of the top neighborhoods for vacation rentals in Vancouver. This mid-range area is known for its hospitality and accessible prices. Look for deals on rentals in the area during the fall months.

Looking for something a bit more adventurous by way of cuisine? Consider staying in the heart of Chinatown, and indulge in some of the most inventive restaurants in the city. Prices here are very accessible and will leave you with plenty of cash leftover to taste all the food this area has to offer. And finally, if you’re looking for something a bit more upscale, why not take a look at South Granville? High-end boutiques and tons of fine dining await you and your travel companions in this classy area.

2. Revelstoke

Skiing at Revelstoke Mountain Resort.

Revelstoke, a hidden gem in British Columbia, is a paradise for adventure seekers. Nestled in the Selkirk and Monashee Mountain ranges, this picturesque town offers thrilling outdoor activities in every season.

During the winter months, Revelstoke is renowned for its deep powder skiing and snowboarding. Revelstoke Mountain Resort boasts some of the best terrain in North America, drawing avid winter sports enthusiasts from around the globe. The surrounding backcountry areas provide opportunities for heli-skiing and snowmobiling adventures that will leave you awestruck.

In the summer, Revelstoke transforms into a hiking and mountain biking haven. With numerous trails that wind through ancient forests and lead to breathtaking alpine vistas, there’s a route for every level of outdoor enthusiast. Don’t forget to explore Mount Revelstoke National Park, where you can witness colorful wildflower displays and spot diverse wildlife.

Favorite Local Spots in Revelstoke:

  • Get your morning coffee fix at Dose Coffee.
  • Grab a plate of sophisticated comfort food at Old School Eatery.
  • And for drinks and fun, head over to Chubby Funsters Kitchen & Cocktails.

Favorite Things to Do in Revelstoke: Revelstoke is home to one of the coolest train museums in all of Canada. Check out the Revelstoke Railway Museum and learn about how the indigenous populations helped shape the area.

Where to Stay in Revelstoke

Looking to stay in the heart of all the action? Find your vacation rental in downtown Revelstoke. You’ll be surrounded by the city’s best restaurants and nightlife, not to mention gorgeous views of the Columbia River.

If you’re traveling with little ones, consider finding the perfect spot in Arrow Heights. This kid-friendly neighborhood is loaded with walking trails and parks, not to mention Revelstoke vacation rentals. The entire area is extremely green, and rental prices are very accessible. And lastly, for those looking for something a bit more luxurious, consider finding your vacation rental in Columbia Park. You’ll have fast access to the golf course, too!

3. Victoria

Pond with overhanging red Japanese maples during springtime in Victoria, BC.

Victoria, the charming capital of British Columbia, is located on Vancouver Island and offers a captivating blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Often referred to as the “Garden City,” Victoria is known for its stunning floral displays and lush gardens.

One of the most enchanting places in Victoria is Butchart Gardens, a world-renowned botanical garden that showcases an array of vibrant blooms, serene pathways, and intricate sculptures. Exploring the garden’s themed sections is a sensory delight, and it’s a perfect spot for a leisurely stroll or a romantic picnic.

Favorite Local Spots in Victoria:

  • Start the day off right with a little java from Hey Happy Coffee.
  • Head to Il Terrazzo for some amazing Italian.
  • And to wrap up a lovely evening in Victoria, check out Clarke & Co. for a tasty nightcap.

Favorite Things to Do in Victoria: For history buffs, the Royal BC Museum is a treasure trove of knowledge, with interactive exhibits that bring the province’s past to life. Victoria’s Inner Harbour, lined with historic buildings, restaurants, and shops, is another must-visit destination. You can take a leisurely walk along the harbor, dine at waterfront restaurants, and even embark on whale-watching tours to witness these majestic creatures up close.

Where to Stay in Victoria

For the adventure-seekers, check out the neighborhood of Fernwood. This area offers a ton of basement suites and garden cottages, making it a very affordable area for Victoria vacation rentals. You’ll also be close to downtown.

If you want to be close to the coffee shops and pubs, find a great spot in Cook Street Village. And finally, look into Downtown/Inner Harbour. This area is pricey, but offers the best views of the water along with tons of fine dining options.

4. Surrey

Beautiful clear sky, sunny morning with a clear view of the mountains.

Surrey, one of British Columbia’s fastest-growing cities, is a vibrant multicultural hub with a rich tapestry of communities and experiences. Located just a short drive from Vancouver, Surrey offers unique attractions that showcase its diversity.

One standout feature of Surrey is the Surrey Central SkyTrain station, which is home to the famous “Spirit of the Children” statue. This monumental bronze sculpture celebrates the indigenous heritage of the area and serves as a powerful symbol of reconciliation.

Favorite Local Spots in Surrey:

  • West Village Café is the spot for your morning cup of joe.
  • For elevated pub fare with tons of brews on tap to choose from, check out the Tap Restaurant.
  • And to finish off the evening, grab a stool at the bar, order up some fried calamari, and sip on a tasty libation from Browns Social House.

Favorite Things to Do in Surrey: Surrey’s Historic Stewart Farm is a window into the region’s history, where you can explore a beautifully preserved farmhouse and immerse yourself in the pioneer lifestyle of the 1800s. The city is also known for its numerous parks and green spaces, such as Redwood Park, which features towering groves of coastal redwood trees, a rare sight in Canada.

Where to Stay in Surrey

Finding the perfect vacation rentals in Surrey is easy. Traveling with the whole family? Look for your ideal spot in the Guildford neighborhood. This family-friendly area offers tons of shopping, trails, parks, and playgrounds.

Looking for great restaurants and cute boutiques? Consider staying in City Centre. This downtown spot is full of parks and will offer a ton of entertainment and live music during the summer months. Newton is another area to consider. Look for good deals on single-family homes in this area.

5. Kelowna

A wine glass on a ledge overlooking vineyards.

Kelowna, nestled in the heart of the Okanagan Valley, is a true delight for wine enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. This picturesque town is renowned for its vineyards, orchards, and stunning lakes, making it a must-visit destination for those seeking a blend of relaxation and culinary exploration.

Wine tours are the heart and soul of Kelowna. With over 40 wineries in the region, you can embark on wine tours that take you through lush vineyards, where you can sample award-winning wines and learn about the winemaking process. Whether you prefer reds, whites, or rosés, Kelowna’s wineries offer a diverse selection to tantalize your taste buds.

Favorite Local Spots in Kelowna:

  • For a fun cup of coffee, check out Pulp Fiction Coffee House.
  • Looking for a tasty meal? Check out Salt & Brick for some delicious food and a huge selection of wine.
  • And to polish off the evening, head to Micro Bar & Bites. This spot boasts the best cocktails in the city along with a ton of small plates to share over conversation and libations.

Favorite Things to Do in Kelowna: If you’re looking to take in the scenery and try some of the local creations, head to Mission Hill Family Estate. Taste some wine and enjoy the fresh breezes of the Okanangan. Okanagan Lake, stretching over 135 kilometers, also offers a playground for water enthusiasts. You can enjoy swimming, boating, paddleboarding, kayaking, and even jet skiing on the pristine waters of the lake. The surrounding beaches, such as Gyro Beach and Rotary Beach Park, are perfect for picnics and soaking up the sun.

Where to Stay in Kelowna

Traveling with the whole family and looking for family-friendly Kelowna vacation rentals? Consider staying in Glenmore. This area boasts a ton of parks, trails, and orchards. You’ll be just a quick 10-minute jaunt to downtown Kelowna.

Looking for luxury? Check out Wilden, a planned community with high-end amenities for you and your travel companions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

A beautiful expanse of wilderness in British Columbia.

As you prepare to embark on your journey through the top cities and towns of British Columbia, Canada, you might have some lingering questions. In this FAQ, we’ve compiled answers to the most common inquiries travelers often have.

What is the best time to visit British Columbia, Canada?

The best time to visit British Columbia depends on your preferences. Summer (June to August) is ideal for outdoor activities and festivals. Spring and fall offer milder weather and fewer crowds. Winter is perfect for skiing, snowboarding, and other snow sports.

Is British Columbia a safe destination for travelers?

Yes, British Columbia is generally considered safe for travelers. However, like any destination, it’s essential to take precautions such as safeguarding your belongings and being aware of your surroundings.

How do I get around British Columbia?

British Columbia has an efficient transportation system, including buses, trains, and ferries. Renting a car is also a popular option for exploring the province independently.

Explore These Lovely Cities in British Columbia

So, pack your bags and get ready to explore the top cities and towns of British Columbia, Canada. Unearth hidden gems, embrace the natural wonders, and immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of this extraordinary province. Your adventure awaits, and British Columbia is ready to welcome you with open arms.