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Ultimate Road trip Canada for First-Timers

Guest Post by Susanne Maier

So you love to go on road trips? Is traveling to Canada still on your bucket list? Good! Same here! Time to plan a road trip Canada! So when I finally got the chance to travel to Canada this summer, I tried to figure out how to experience some of the best of Canada’s magnificent landscapes, wild animals and outdoor activities all in one ultimate road trip. So here is part one of my route for a three-week adventure on the road you will never forget:

Part 1 – Vancouver to Tofino

Road trip Canada – Ultimate Tips for First-Timers

Day 1: Arrival in Vancouver

Ride the skytrain into Downtown and take a stroll along historic Gastown and Chinatown. Rent a bike in Stanley Park and cycle along the promenade for great views of Downtown and North Vancouver. Don’t forget to check out the park’s array of totem poles and their stories, and bring a picnic! Vancouver is a beautiful city with mountains surrounding the city. There is a great food scene due to the large Asian population that lives in Vancouver.

Vancouver skyline over water with a mountain in the distance and white clouds

Day 2: Vancouver

Explore neighborhoods. SoMa (south of Broadway and Main Street) has become a trendy district where you’ll find cool indie shops and eateries. Kitsilano, former home of hippie culture and Greenpeace founders, boasts one of the city’s most popular beaches with great views of the bay and Downtown, and little shops and restaurants in West 4th Avenue. Try the burgers at Romer’s burger bar. If you’re there on summer weekends: check out the Asian night market in Vancouver’s ‘new Chinatown’ Richmond (especially the food stands)!

Day 3: Off to Vancouver Island

Rent a car and take the ferry to Victoria on the south end of Vancouver Island. The capital of British Columbia is a lovely British-style town with a lot of heritage architecture, cool little shops and pubs. Loved the Victorian-style Munro’s bookshop and the totem poles and native art in the Royal BC Museum.

Day 4: Victoria – Tofino

After some yummy breakfast at Willie’s Bakery, continue on your road trip Canada across the island to the West Coast to find huge and empty wild beaches, little islands and – no kidding – rainforest.

old totem pole with several animals topped with an eagle
wooden path leading through a forest

Days 5-7: Surfing and Whale Watching in Tofino

You’ll arrive in a small town in the middle of the wilderness of the Pacific west, a former hippie hangout and now a popular tourist destination, best known for being a surfer’s hotspot and whale watcher’s mekka. And that’s exactly why you’re here! Take surfing lessons (ladies, check out Surf Sister) and go whale watching (best in a zodiac!). Sightings are for sure as whales live there throughout the year.

whale tail emerging from the water in a splash

Day 8: Pacific Rim National Park, Sea Kayaking

Tofino is located in the Pacific Rim National Park, where you can follow short trails to wild beaches and through the coastal, temperate rainforest with ancient trees covered in moss and lichens. One of my favorite experiences of the trip, though, was sea kayaking in Clayoquot sound, peacefully exploring inlets and islands of ancient forest, surrounded by sea lions, bald eagles, wild salmon, and starfish. I will be back…

Drift wood on a beach in the Pacific Rim National Park an essential stop on any Road trip Canada

Day 9: Tofino – Nanaimo – Vancouver

Cross the island and drive back to the east coast. There, take the ferry back to Vancouver from Nanaimo.

Day 10: Off to the Rockies!

This is the beginning of your Rocky Mountain road trip Canada tour!

Read also part 2 of my route – “Vancouver to the Rockies” and back.

women smiling with a life jacket on and boats behind her

Susi is a media evaluation consultant and a university and travel buddy of Yvonne. She is inspired by big cities, rough landscapes and medieval stuff, and loves travel that involves cars. Follow her on twitter @blackdotsws.