British Columbia climate
As can be expected of an area as large as that of BC, the climate here is varied. Areas along the coast boast the most temperate weather in Canada. The relatively warm Pacific Ocean ensures temperatures remain above freezing for much of the winters that plunge most of the rest of the country into a deep freeze.Further inland, a continental climate rules with warm summers and cold winters while the areas to the north of the province (but away from the coast) feature considerably cooler climes as the summers tend to be short and the winters harsh.The areas in the mountainous east of the province feature snowbound peaks that keep their white covering throughout the year.
When to fly to British Columbia
There's not really a bad time to take cheap flights to British Columbia. High season and off season really depends on what you are into. For the beaches, the summer months are, unsurprisingly, peak. For city trips, spring and fall are lovely times to visit. In the spring, the cherry blossom adds a splash of colour to the city streets and the weather is usually pretty good. In early fall, the foliage is stunning. The rains usually set in about November-time. September and October can sometimes have blazing sunshine - an Indian summer.
For skiers and snowboarders, the winter months are peak.
The weeks immediately following Christmas are usually a good time to seek discounted flights to British Columbia.
Getting around British Columbia
BC is very easy to get around. The type of transportation you take will depend on the type of visit you are making. If it's a couple of days in Vancouver, SkyTrain and bus are the most economical ways of getting from A to B. The SeaBus is a memorable way of crossing the Burrard Inlet. Step on the bus at the SeaBus terminal, near Waterfront Station, and step off, 15 minutes later, at the Lonsdale Quay Public Market in North Vancouver.
If you wish to visit Vancouver Island, you'll need to catch the ferry at Tsawwassen or Horseshoe Bay. BC Ferries also sail to the Northern Gulf Islands (if bound for Campbell River, Powell River or Comox), Southern Gulf Islands (for Gabriola, Salt Spring, Pender or Mayne islands), the Inside Passage (for the Queen Charlotte Islands or Prince Rupert) and the Discovery Coast Passage (summer service between Port Hardy and Mid-Coast ports Bella Bella, Shearwater, Klemtu, Ocean Falls and Bella Coola).
VIA Rail offers three routes in BC, all special sight-seeing trips. "The Canadian" is a three-day trip that links Vancouver and Toronto, via Kamloops, Clearwater, Valemount and Jasper, Alberta. "The Skeena" takes two days, and connects Jasper and Prince Rupert, via Prince George, Smithers and Terrace. "The Malahat" is a Vancouver Island route. It connects Victoria with Courtenay via Chemainus, Nanaimo, Parksville and Qualicum Beach.
While your flights to British Columbia will likely touch down at Vancouver International Airport, there are several other airports around BC. These include: Abbotsford International Airport, Victoria International Airport on Vancouver Island, Kelowna International Airport in the Okanagan, Williams Lake Airport on the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast, and Prince George Airport in Northern BC. See our Airports section, below, for a full listing.
British Columbia insider information
- If you're planning to take cheap flights to British Columbia between May and September, pencil in a hike to Tsusiat Falls. The remote falls are located on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Start at Port Renfrew and head towards Bamfield; the falls are about 25km from Bamfield. Tsusiat Falls cascade straight onto the beach, offering weary hikers a wonderful, outdoor shower.
- Deep Cove is a lovely little town at the entrance to Indian Arm, off Burrard Inlet on the edge of the North Shore. It's notable not least for being the place where Malcolm Lowry wrote Under the Volcano.
- The Capilano Suspension Bridge may be better known, but the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge and Ecology Centre is worth a visit. Located in Lynn Canyon Park, the suspension bridge is free to cross. Nerves of steel may be required, the bridge sways and swerves in the breeze.
- The town of Gibsons is where Beachcombers, the television show, was filmed. Molly's Reach, the restaurant from the series, is the place to go for hearty fare such as halibut and chips. From Gibsons, vacationers can make side trips to Gambier or Keats islands.
- Avalon Dairy, in southeast Vancouver, is the oldest continuously operating dairy in BC. Every September, the Avalon Country Fair takes place there. Dairy tours, a petting zoo, birdhouse paintings and raffle draws promise fun for all the family.
- Apex Mountain Resort, a 30-minute drive from Penticton, in the heart of the Okanagan, is an under-discovered downhill skiing resort. There are almost 70 marked runs of differing terrain and deep, deep powder. The resort also boasts cross-country skiing trails, ice skating and a beautiful alpine village.
- There are almost 100 wineries and more than 2,000 hectares of vineyards within a 60-minute drive of Penticton. On winery tours visitors can sample, sip and savour these wines and buy some to take back home.
- Joffre Lakes Provincial Park was established as a recreation area in 1988 and named a Class A park in 1996. It's an awesome area of towering peaks and deep turquoise lakes. There's a great hiking trail that takes in the Lower, Middle and Upper Joffre lakes.