Introduce the kids to outdoor playground of the spectacular Rocky Mountains on this family holiday to Canada. Together, you’ll drive and hike through stunning national parks, cruise over sparkling alpine lakes, and stand on a glacier and learn how ice has shaped Canada’s rugged landscapes. On the west coast, kids will be enthralled by the bear and whale-watching safari from a zodiac boat! Finish up with a few days of downtime on the Sunshine Coast, where hikes through the rainforest and harbour-side walks will finish off your road trip to Canada in style.
Depart the UK from your chosen airport. You’ll arrive in Calgary on the same day, where you will pick up your rental car and drive to the hotel and check in for one night. Spend the evening resting before beginning your drive tomorrow or head into the city for a dinner of ‘poutine’ – a Canadian speciality of chips, cheese curds and gravy!
This morning you can explore Calgary at your leisure, so why not take a wander through the city before driving west towards Banff National Park, only a couple of hours away. On arrival you’ll check into your hotel for two nights and set off to explore this beautiful area of the Rockies.
Spend the whole day hiking and driving through one of the finest landscapes in Canada – the Rocky Mountains. We’ve included the Ultimate Rockies Explorer Pass, so you can take the cable car to the top of Sulphur Mountain and enjoy the breath-taking panoramic views from the summit. The whole family will love exploring Banff, whether you’re hiking around the bright blue waters of Lake Louise, kayaking on Moraine Lake or finding a cosy café for a hot chocolate at the end of the day. If you want to explore further afield then the adjacent park, Yoho National Park, is home to Emerald Lake – a wonderful place to walk and even swim away from the crowds – although be warned, even in midsummer the water is cold!
Today you’ll drive north along the Icefields Parkway towards Jasper. The drive itself is only around 3.5 hours but you’ll want to spend all day on the journey as there are so many things to enjoy along the way.
First stop is the Colombia Icefield, where you’ll head out onto the ice and the kids can learn about how glaciers are formed and stand on ice made from snowfall over 400 years old. A few minutes up the road is the Glacier Skywalk, where a 500-metre boardwalk with a glass floored observation deck extends over the Sunwapta Valley – children will love the views beneath their feet over the forest landscape.
The day will quickly go by as you enjoy the scenic drive up to Jasper and on arrival you’ll check into your hotel for two nights.
Jasper National Park is another beautiful area along the spine of the Rocky Mountains. Make sure you visit the Athabasca Falls where you could enjoy white water rafting and Beauvert Lake where you could go kayaking – there are so many family friendly activities here so if you want us to book you some tours, just ask!
Deep in the heart of the national park lies Maligne Lake. Here, we’ve included a cruise that will take you through the deep blue waters as the whole family falls in love with the magnificent views across the water.
Spend the morning hiking or cycling before heading south around lunchtime towards Clearwater, a small town that sits on the edge of Well’s Grey National Park, where you’ll check in for two nights.
This stunning area of the Rockies is full of roaring rivers and wildlife just waiting to be found. We’ve given you a whole day to explore this lesser known park so spend your time hiking, horse riding, cycling or just admiring the crashing waterfalls and pine tree vistas that fill the landscape.
It’s a long drive today down south to Vancouver so set off early and you can enjoy the journey, maybe even swinging into the alpine town of Whistler if you want to take a slightly longer way round. No matter your route, you’ll eventually end up in Vancouver, where you and your family will check into the hotel for three nights and settle down to sleep, ready to explore the city over the next couple of days.
Vancouver is a fresh, outdoors-y city – no matter the weather you’ll want to get outside and explore. Start in Gastown, where you can roam the historic streets popping into tiny art galleries and boutique shops before moving on to Chinatown where you can introduce the kids to a delicious dim sum lunch. After taking in these two iconic neighbourhoods, head to Stanley Park for the afternoon. The best way to get around is cycling, so why not rent a bike head to see the colourful totem poles at Brockton Point or English Bay Beach to relax in the sun?
There are plenty of museums to enjoy if you are interested in the history of this region (the Museum of Anthropology is especially good for First Nations artefacts) or if you love food then head down to Granville Island Public Market, where you can browse the stalls, picking up all sorts of goodies from local BC cherries to freshly-baked pastries. Getting out of the city here is easy – make sure you visit the Capilano Suspension Bridge as it hangs precariously over the river in the North Shore.
Today you’ll catch the ferry with your car from Vancouver over to Victoria, a very English city in the eastern corner of Vancouver Island. Spend your day here playing with your kids in the Butchart Botanical Gardens before grabbing a delicious seafood lunch on the waterfront and exploring the museums and parliament buildings – this is, after all, the capital of British Colombia. If you want to explore outside the city, why not drive out to Fisgard Lighthouse for pretty views across the ocean.
Spend the morning in Victoria taking a final walk along the waterfront or having coffee in a cosy café before embarking on the long drive across Vancouver Island to Tofino, a small town that clings to the edge of the continent amongst rugged beaches and endless wilderness. On arrival you’ll check into your hotel for two nights.
Today is an exciting one and the kids will be raring to go as you set off for your bear and whale safari. Split into two halves of the day with a break on dry land in the middle, you’ll will set off to discover where the bears forage along the seashore after their long winter hibernation. Being so close to the ocean means the bears can be reliably seen from the 12-seater zodiac boats as well as sea otters and sea lions on the outer islands. Whales also make their way to this stretch of water after spending the winter in Hawaii and Mexico, so look out for gray and humpback whales as well as the resident orcas. This will be a wonderful day of wildlife watching with your family – a day none of you will ever forget!
Spend the morning in Tofino, wandering along the windswept beaches or hiking a trail through the rainforest before making the long drive over the island to Parksville where you’ll check into your hotel for one night, on your way to the Sunshine Coast.
This morning you’ll take the ferry over to the Sunshine Coast and finish your journey before arriving at the Painted Boat Resort where you’ll check in for two nights.
This area is full of sparkling lakes, mossy trails through the rainforest and endless lonely beaches where starfish and hermit crabs make their homes. It’s the perfect place to spend your last full day in Canada – a day of exploring and hiking with your family before enjoying a delicious meal at the lagoon restaurant, watching the sunset as you toast a fantastic family holiday to Canada!
Today you’ll drive back to Vancouver Airport in time to catch your flight home.
Summer runs from mid-May to early-September offering little rainfall and warm temperatures - great for outdoor activities so tourism peaks at this time. Spring is pleasant as the cherry blossoms bloom and the winter clouds make way for sunny skies. Temperatures drop during Autumn bringing chilly days and increased rainfall. Winter in Canada may only appeal to the brave, but British Colombia has the mildest winters in the country and the close proximity to some world class skiing brings a fair number of outdoor enthusiasts so if you do brave the elements you are likely to find reduced room rates.
If you'd like to get a feel for this trip, read our blog post the most scenic drive of your life: a Canadian Rockies road trip written by one of our consultants who's been there.
This itinerary is purely a suggestion, and can be tailor-made to your requirements, so please contact us with your dates and requests and we’ll put together a bespoke quotation for you.