One of the most epic road trips you can do in Canada is the drive from Vancouver to Calgary. Towering mountain peaks, blue lakes, and vineyards as far as the eye can see are just a few of the landscapes you can expect.
But besides being an incredibly scenic drive, a Vancouver to Calgary road trip offers a ton of exciting things to do and places to explore! There are some really iconic attractions that you won’t want to miss along the drive.
That’s why, in this blog, I’ll give an ideal Vancouver to Calgary road trip itinerary including the absolute best places to stop along the way. After reading, you’re sure to enjoy some of Canada’s best towns, cities, and attractions while having a truly memorable road trip.
Note: This road trip itinerary also works in reverse order if you are driving from Calgary to Vancouver.
Vancouver to Calgary Road Trip itinerary
Start in Vancouver
Vancouver is the perfect place to start your epic road trip adventure in Western Canada. With a huge international airport and tons of things to see and do, it’s no surprise that Vancouver is one of Canada’s most famed and visited cities.
Depending on how much time you have, you could easily spend a week in Vancouver. However, it is also possible to spend just a couple of days too checking out the highlights.
What to do in Vancouver
Some of the best things to do in Vancouver include:
Explore Stanley Park – Rent a bike and ride along the Stanley Park Seawall, or just go for a stroll. There are tons of walking and riding trails through a beautiful forest and along the ocean’s edge. Visit beaches, viewpoints, and stop in at one of the cafes.
Visit Granville Island – Granville Island is one of the most unique places in all of Vancouver. This tiny little island is home to incredible markets, street performers, restaurants, and of course, the very tasty Granville Island Brewing! Stop in for a craft beer tour and tasting.
Enjoy the nightlife and food – There are some really incredible places to eat and drink in Vancouver. Join a food tour to really get a feel for a variety of different places to eat, or just wander Gastown. At night, Davie Street is a popular place to go for vibrant nightlife, clubs, and events.
Capilano Suspension Bridge – Summer or winter, this is an epic attraction. Walk the huge suspension bridge up into the treetops with amazing views – it is a treetop and skywalk that’s really special. In the winter months, they light up the entire walk with Christmas lights which makes it a great holiday activity. Although the bridge is located outside the city center, free shuttles are available from downtown when you pre-purchase your tickets.
Drive from Vancouver to Kelowna
The drive from Vancouver to Kelowna is 390 kilometers long and should take about four hours. This route travels the infamous Coquihalla Highway (Highway 5) which climbs up to 1244 meters above sea level. It is an incredibly scenic drive and you should allow some extra time for photo stops at various viewpoints and pull-over bays along the way.
Kelowna is one of my absolute favorite places in all of Canada. I might be a little biased since I grew up just down the road from Kelowna, but regardless, I’m sure that once you visit for yourself you’ll love it too.
In the summer months, enjoy the lake and various watersports. In the winter, hit the slopes at Big White. And all year round, drink lots and lots of local wine. Kelowna is one of Canada’s most famed wine regions and people come from all over the world to tour the vineyards here.
And if wine isn’t your thing, don’t worry, they grow tons of amazing fruit near Kelowna and you can try local cider or simply just pick fresh berries to take home with you too.
What to do in Kelowna
The truth is, there are lots of things to do in Kelowna. Spend at least a night or two at least to enjoy some of these highlights:
Wine tour – As I said, there are tons of amazing wineries in and around Kelowna. A guided wine tour is the best way to check them all out without having to worry about securing a designated driver.
Kelowna Farmers and Craft Market – This award-winning market happens every Sunday and Wednesday morning. You’ll find handmade souvenirs and gifts, lots of locally grown produce, and even plenty of food trucks.
Visit Big White – In the winter, be sure to hit up Big White for some skiing and snowboarding. In the summer months, you can also visit Big White, just this time for sightseeing, hiking, and downhill mountain biking. They also offer horseback riding tours here.
Enjoy the lake – Head to the beach, rent a speed boat or pontoon boat, or even explore on a kayak! Kelowna sits right on the edge of Okanagan Lake and in the summer months, Kelowna is all about enjoying this absolutely stunning body of water.
Drive from Kelowna to Vernon
This drive is short, but it sure is beautiful. Highway number 97 Connects Kelowna with a smaller town called Vernon. This road is 50 kilometers long and takes about an hour to drive.
Along the way, you’ll pass through an area that is called Lake Country. You’ll understand where this name comes from and you wind your way along various lakes. The views from the road are breathtaking.
For a great view, stop at Arrowleaf Cellars, a winery located only a few minutes off the main highway. From their tasting room, you’ll have amazing lake views (pictured above.) You can also sample their wine or have a snack here before hitting the road again.
In all honestly, Vernon is a smaller city and although there are a few fun things to do in Vernon, there isn’t a ton. This town is mostly about relaxing at the beach in the summer or skiing at SilverStar Mountain Resort in the winter.
For this reason, you can choose to either spend a night or two in Vernon as a quick stopover or just pass on through and continue on to our next stop, Revelstoke.
What to do in Vernon
If you do decide to explore Vernon, be sure to check out some of the best attractions in the area including:
Davidson Orchards – This place is great for buying lots of locally grown fruit, petting farm animals, and eating delicious baked goods. The views from here over the valley are also beautiful.
Go to the beach – Locals love Kalamalka Beach right in town, or for something a little more remote, head out to Ellison Provincial Park.
Enjoy downtown – Mainstreet in Vernon is actually super cute. Historic buildings are covered in paintings and the boutique shops and restaurants make for a fun way to spend a few hours. Have a coffee, visit the local Marten Brewing Co., or do a little shopping!
Drive from Vernon to Revelstoke
At 150 kilometers long, this drive is another decently quick one that most complete in under two hours. One thing you’ll notice on this drive is that the rolling hills quickly turn into towering mountain peaks. In the winter months, you’ll probably notice a lot more snow as you get closer to Revelstoke too.
One of my favorite stops on this drive is at D Dutchmen Dairy. This locally owned ice cream shop is located right off the highway near the town of Sicamous. It is actually a petting zoo and believe me when I say, you won’t taste better ice cream anywhere else! Allow about an hour for this stop, but if you have more time, you can visit the Go-Kart track too that’s just across the road.
One of my favorite places to stop on a road trip from Vancouver to Calgary is without a doubt, Revelstoke. This tiny town has tons to offer tourists all year round. Outdoor and adventure enthusiasts will likely find themselves never wanting to leave.
What to do in Revelstoke
I recommend spending at least two nights in Revelstoke as a minimum. However, if you can spare a few more nights then do it – I promise you won’t run out of things to do and see.
Some of my favorite things to do in Revelstoke include:
Visit Revelstoke Mountain Resort – You can’t visit Revelstoke and not visit Revelstoke Mountain Resort at least once. In the winter, it is a huge ski field offering the single longest groomed run in all of Canada! It also sets records for its powder dumps and is considered one of the best ski resorts in Canada, if not the world! In the summer, the gondola still operates and you can ride it for sightseeing, hiking, or biking. Plus, they have the Pipe Mountain Coaster which is a ton of fun (believe me, it is a blast!)
Go Hiking – Revelstoke boasts some of the best hiking trails in Canada! Even if you’re not an experienced hiker, with a few basic hiking tips you’ll be able to explore some amazing trails including those in Mount Revelstoke National Park and Glacier National Park. For an easy hike, do the Giant Cedars Boardwalk Trail, for something a little more challenging, try Eva Lake. In the winter, the Seven Bridges Trail is a favorite amongst locals.
Visit Downtown Revelstoke – Revelstoke has a vibrant downtown area. With tons of restaurants and bars, you’ll want to hit the downtown area one evening at the very least. Check out the Village Idiot for some drinks (you can’t beat a classic Canadian Ceasar), or visit Nico’s for delicious pizza. There are also lots of unique stores that are well worth a wander.
Mt Begbie Brewing Co – The craft beer scene in Western Canada is huge, and in Revelstoke, they have their own local brewery. Mt Begbie Brewing Co. Produces some really tasty beer! Head to their shopfront and tasting room to try a few or buy some to go.
Drive from Revelstoke to Golden
This drive is one not to miss. In fact, it is a highlight of any road trip from Vancouver to Calgary.
The road passes through both Mt Revelstoke National Park and Glacier National Park on what is called Rogers Pass, the most notorious road in Canada. This route passes through the Selkirk Mountains as you drive next to steep cliffs and through tunnels. It is a very scenic drive through the mountains with tons of amazing hikes to explore along the way (including the one pictured above.)
It is important to note that this drive is steep and windy. There are sometimes accidents forcing delays or road closures. In the winter, this pass sees a lot of snow and you are required to have either winter tires or snow chains to drive it. Allow plenty of time for this drive and take it slow and cautiously.
After your epic drive through the mountains from Revelstoke, the first town you’ll reach is Golden. Similar to Revelstoke, Golden is an outdoor lover’s paradise. With various outdoorsy things to do all year round and national parks on its doorstep, this town is one not to miss!
What to do in Golden
Some of the things you should do in Golden include:
Visit Kicking Horse Mountain Resort – Kicking Horse Mountain Resorts offers visitors a ton to do! In the winter, it is a ski field that is known as the “Champagne Powder Capital of Canada.” You can also do snowmobile tours here. In the summer, visit the rescued Boo the bear, do some hiking, or test your skills with some intense downhill mountain biking.
Explore Yoho National Park – Yoho National Park is right next to Golden. Within the park, there are various activities you can do including hiking (consider the Iceline Trail or Paget Peak), visit Emerald Lake for some canoeing, go whitewater rafting, or even try Via Ferrata.
Drive From Golden to Banff
By now you’re probably sick of my telling you about how gorgeous the drives between destinations on this road trip are, well, I may have just saved the best for last. These next two stretches of road on your drive from Vancouver to Calgary are undoubtedly the best.
From Golden, you’ll drive through Yoho National Park to Banff National Park, make sure to stop at Emerald Lake before getting to Banff. The first main destination in Banff National Park you’ll reach is Lake Louise. Here, you can choose to spend a night or two if you want, or simply stop and drive through. For a quick stop to stretch your legs, visit the Lake Louise foreshore and go for a little walk around the lakeshore.
After Lake Louise, you’ll continue on through the mountains towards Banff. For an extra-special journey, skip the TransCanada and instead opt for the scenic drive along the Bow Valley Parkway. Although slightly longer, you’ll enjoy spectacular views of Castle Mountain and even have a chance to stop at the photogenic Morant’s Curve.
From Golden to Banff the drive is 140 kilometers long. Without stopping, you could complete this drive in as little as an hour and 40 minutes. However, I recommend giving yourself a full day to visit attractions along the way.
Banff Town is your next stop. Expect to spend a decent amount of time here, I’d recommend 4 days or more to explore all of the amazing things to do in Banff.
With endless hikes, towering mountains all around you, and a town so vibrant you’ll likely feel overwhelmed chances are you’re going to falls in love with Banff.
What to do in Banff
Where do I even start?! After visiting Banff on countless occasions I still have more exploring to do. Use the Town of Banff as your base for exploring all the amazing things Banff National Park has to offer including:
Lake Minnewanka – Just on the outskirts of Banff is the huge Lake Minnewanka. In the summer, go for a scenic cruise on the lake. In the winter, go wild ice skating.
Hit the slopes – Skiing is one of the best things to do in Banff in the winter. With four different ski resorts nearby you’re spoiled for choice. The closes ski resorts to Banff are Sunshine Village and Mt Norquay. In the summer, you can still visit them for sightseeing and hiking.
Adventure activities – There are tons of adventurous activities in Banff! Go rock climbing, try Via Ferrata, white water rafting, horseback riding, kayaking, and so much more!
Banff Upper Hot Springs – One of the most famous attractions in Banff is the Banff Upper Hot Springs. For only a few dollars you can relax in a hot pool with mountain views. Do be warned though, the hot springs can be very busy so it’s best to visit in the evening when they are the least busy.
Drive from Banff to Calgary
This is the last leg of your road trip from Vancouver to Calgary. This short drive takes you out of Banff National Park and past Canmore and Kananaskis Country to the vibrant city of Calgary.
This drive is only 126 kilometers long, so you can easily stop and explore a few places along the way if you make a day of it. Check out some of the best things to do in Canmore or enjoy a hike in Kananaskis. Along the drive, there are some trails that are easily accessible including Heart Mountain Creek Trail and Heart Mountain Loop Track (pictured above.)
End in Calgary
And finally, you’ve arrived! After exploring some of the most amazing places in Canada on your road trip you’ve made it to Alberta’s largest city. Here, you can explore some of the best activities in Calgary or continue on exploring.
What To Do In Calgary
Go Up the Calgary Tower: The tower itself provides the best views of any building in the city, and once inside the tower, the multimedia tour includes a virtual presentation that delves into Calgary’s location – from its skyscrapers to its Rocky Mountain range, and everything in between.
Attend the Calgary Stampede: One of the best things to do in Calgary is attend the world famous Calgary Stampede. Every two weeks in July visitors from all over the world come to enjoy a party in Calgary. Think rodeo events, concerts, amusement rides, fair food, local brews, and so much more.
Studio Bell: Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre is a non-profit museum and performance venue. You can check their website to see what is going on, but it’s also fun to go to Studio Bell and check out the impressive architecture!
Renting a Car in Canada
If you don’t have your own car it’s best to rent a car in either Vancouver or Calgary. You can rent one at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) or Calgary International Airport (YYC). Although rates tend to get a bit cheaper once you get away from the airport and into the city. We like to use Discover Car Hire to find the best deals. See our best rental car tips before renting!
If renting a campervan and doing more of a self-sufficient style road trip check out Outdoorsy for campervan rentals!
Calgary to Vancouver and Vice Versa Map!
About the Author
Bailey is a lover of mountain peaks, craft beer, and of course, travel! As a Canadian-born blogger, Bailey is lucky enough to have traveled Canada and countless other countries around the world extensively. Alongside her pattern Daniel, Bailey is always in search of her next adventure to share on their blog, Destinationless Travel. You can also follow them on Instagram.