British Columbia is home to 52 cities and plenty of smaller communities as well. The most well-known cities in BC are Vancouver and Victoria but there are many other great cities in the province to explore. From a technical perspective, a community needs to have 5000 residents in order to become a city, but there are other ways to actually get a city designation. Here are some of the best cities in British Columbia and what makes them unique, along with a notable activity to do in each
Best Cities in BC
Vancouver is a vibrant, multicultural city located on the west coast of Canada. It’s surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and majestic mountains, offering a blend of urban and outdoor experiences. Stanley Park, a large urban park, is a must-visit, featuring scenic trails, a seawall for cycling or walking, and the Vancouver Aquarium.
Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia and is located on Vancouver Island. It exudes a charming, old-world feel with its historic architecture and well-preserved neighborhoods. A highlight is the Butchart Gardens, a stunning collection of gardens featuring a variety of plants, flowers, and sculptures. It is especially unique in the winter months when the gardens are transformed into a light spectacle. You can find more information on Victoria at Christmas. When planning a trip, use this three day Victoria itinerary.
Situated in the Okanagan Valley, Kelowna is known for its beautiful lakes, vineyards, and outdoor recreational opportunities. It is one of the best places to visit in BC. You can explore wineries, enjoy water sports on Okanagan Lake, or hike in nearby Myra Canyon with its famous trestle bridges. While in town consider not only a wine tour, but a food tour!
Hyatt Place Kelowna is a popular place to stay for those visiting Kelowna
Whistler is a world-renowned resort town located in the Coast Mountains. It’s a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering skiing and snowboarding in winter, as well as mountain biking, hiking, and zip-lining during the warmer months. The Peak 2 Peak Gondola offers breathtaking views at any time of the year.
Nestled in the Thompson Valley, Kamloops is a hub for outdoor activities. It’s known for its numerous parks, including Kenna Cartwright Park, perfect for hiking and mountain biking. Take a wildlife tour to spot bighorn sheep and other local fauna.
Vancouver Island’s rugged west coast and pristine beaches are part of what draw visitors one of the best cities in BC, Tofino. What awaits them is one of Canada’s best road trips, a drive past lakes, over mountains, and through old-growth forests, not seen in much of the rest of British Columbia. In 2020 Tofino saw a huge growth in visitors, and it has now slowed down since. What used to be a summer season town now sees a lot more visitors year-round. But if you haven’t been yet, don’t despair, Tofino is still a hidden gem for even many Canadians, and now is the perfect time to explore this natural paradise on Canada’s west coast.
Tofino is full of amazing places to eat! It is perfect for West Coast foodies. Check out where to eat in Tofino when you are planning your getaway!
A super unique idea is to book a local photographer on your weekend getaway! It is easy! If you believe that memories make the best souvenirs, then book a photo shoot before your trip! If you use the code LINDSAY you will get $25 off your booking as well! Click here to search and book a photoshoot while in Tofino (or many other locations in BC)
This small city is located in the Kootenay region and is characterized by its artsy atmosphere and stunning mountain backdrop. You can explore the vibrant local art scene, hike or bike in the nearby Selkirk Mountains, and enjoy a leisurely walk along Baker Street.
Harrison Hot Springs
Harrison Hot Springs is known as one of the best day trips from Vancouver, but it is also one of the great getaways in BC that you can easily visit in a weekend. The drive from Vancouver is about 90 minutes (except in the afternoon rush hour where you should add at least 30 minutes to your drive. Friday of a long weekend, add an extra hour!)
The Harrison Hot Springs Resort is a popular choice to stay in and offers great amenities for family travelers. Whether you are visiting Harrison Lake with friends, as a romantic getaway, or with your family, you will find plenty of activities to keep you as busy as you would like to be! This weekend trip from Vancouver boasts watersports including boating, fishing, or paddling. Harrison Hot Springs also offers spas, golf courses, and great hikes!
If you are visiting Harrison Hot Springs in the summer, you have got to try the inflatable course on the lake! It is a ton of fun (make sure you get the wet suit rentals as the lake is very cold, even in the summer!) Harrison eco-tours is the place to rent e-bikes or take a kayak tour! Read more things to do in Harrison Hot Springs
Prince George is the largest city in northern British Columbia. For those interested in forestry and regional history, the Central British Columbia Railway and Forestry Museum is a fascinating stop. The nearby Ancient Forest is home to impressive and rare inland temperate rainforest.
Abbotsford is known for its agricultural heritage and is often referred to as the “Raspberry Capital of Canada.” Visit the seasonal Abbotsford farm festivals or explore the countryside for fresh produce and artisanal goods. Pumpkin patches are just one of the reasons people visit this growing city.
Located on Vancouver Island, Nanaimo is famous for its delicious Nanaimo bars and its proximity to beautiful natural attractions. Newcastle Island offers a serene escape with hiking trails and cultural history, while the Harbourfront Walkway showcases stunning waterfront views.
Each of these cities offers a unique experience, showcasing the diverse beauty and culture of British Columbia. Whether you’re into outdoor adventures, cultural exploration, or simply enjoying the local cuisine, you’ll find something to love in these remarkable cities.
Other cities in British Columbia include:
Fort St. John
Municipalities and Regional Districts in BC
There are currently 162 municipalities, ranging in population from just over 100 to over 630,000 people. An example would be the Township of Langley (which is different than the City of Langley).
Municipalities can be classified as either a town, village, district or city depending on the size of their population and geographic area. An older classification, township, is still referenced in the names of some municipalities; townships are currently classified as districts.
Lindsay Nieminen is the creator of UncoveringBC.com. She grew up and still lives in the suburbs of Vancouver with her family. She aims to inspire inform, and educate others about traveling in her home province of British Columbia. She is also the creator of carpediemourway.com which aims to show parents how to seek out adventure at home or abroad, with their children in tow!