All roads lead to nature when travelling through Canada’s beyond-beautiful provinces of British Columbia and Alberta. Canada isn’t a country to simply fly in and out of. Its unfettered beauty is best experienced from ground level, where you can freely access the mountains of snow-flecked pine, spruce and fir and lakes of cool, blue beauty.
Whether you choose to cruise, hit the road or ride the rails (or go for the trifecta and try all three with a company like APT) the greatest hits of Western Canada can be found in a box set of unparalleled beauty.
There’s a reason Vancouver consistently rates highly on the World’s Most Liveable Cities list: it’s fresh, whip-smart and ridiculously good looking. A natural high achiever, Vancouver delights in acing its report card in everything from geography to sport and congeniality.
Whether you’re freewheeling around Stanley Park on a bike, propped up on a bar stool or lining up outside Fritz with scores of other desperadoes in need of poutine, genuine locals can be found at every turn. The city is even home to a National Hockey League team, the Vancouver Canucks, ensuring that you can catch all the frenetic action of one of Canada’s national pastimes while you’re in town.
Vancouver Island is very different. Vancouver Island: Canada’s Wild West
Take a ride on BC's sky wonder. British Columbia’s Sea To Sky Gondola Opens A Once Unreachable World
A Star Is Born
An eight-hour drive along the Trans-Canada Highway will deliver you to one of the most photographed lakes in the world: Lake Louise. No Photoshop skills are necessary to take a good snap here as Lake Louise is perfect from every angle.
Depending on when you visit, bear spotting, hiking and rock climbing are popular pursuits, although sitting quietly and communing with nature seems to be the order of the day when I visit. Lake Louise has that knack of being able to quieten a crowd with one flash of its still-life, turquoise tones.
About 30 minutes’ drive from Lake Louise, the chocolate-box town of Banff nails the small-town vibe with cute cafes and smiles all round.
Warning: While Banff has a good supply of accommodation, if you stay anywhere but the Fairmont Banff Springs you will be afflicted with a case of hotel envy.
But Banff isn’t all about nursing a single malt by the fireplace. Banff Upper Hot Springs is worth leaving the warm arms of the hotel. I visit at the height of winter, so the walk from the change room to the outdoor thermal pool feels bone-achingly long but makes dipping into the warm waters even more satisfying.
This is what Canada does best. It uses alchemy to blend the outdoors and the indoors, delivering equal parts adventure and discovery, with a side order of sneaky indulgence.