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Honeymoon in Canada

Hi all,

I'm getting married in early June 2019. My fiancée and I are wanting to go to Canada for our honeymoon but can't decide between Vancouver and Banff/Calgary. Any thoughts on which to spend about a week in? I know it would be a challenge to do both, so any help in the decision-making would be appreciated! (Flying to Canada from Texas)

Posted by
5561 posts

What, no Niagara Falls? :)

Congratulations on your nuptials.

Really, it's simply a question of whether you want primarily a big city experience (albeit a fairly nice one, with plenty to see and do in/around it), or a primarily Canadian Rockies mountain experience (along with a perhaps slightly smaller and maybe less dramatic city). There's nothing wrong with Calgary, but I think most folks would say Vancouver is a bit more snazzy and (pardon the expression) chic and worldly. But the mountains are quite spectacular - so a trade-off.

Either way you get a nice city and nice surroundings. Both are great (though they're quite different - Vancouver is decidedly "Pacific Rim" while Calgary is more cowboys-and-oil-rigs...a vast oversimplification, but with a grain of truth). Fortunately, there are no bad or wrong choices.

Posted by
5782 posts

Flying from Texas. Alberta and Calgary are more like Texas and Dallas while British Columbia and Vancouver are more like Northern California and San Francisco. Different but not necessarily better. One difference between Alberta and Texas are the Rocky Mountains on the BC/Alberta border that make Texas mountails look like hills.

If you are looking for an urban experience pick Vancouver and/or Victoria. If you are looking for a outdoor national park experience pick Banff National Park with luxury hotels like The Fairmont Banff Springs and Chateau Lake Louise.

Posted by
31465 posts

Andrew,

First of all, congratulations!

Obviously I'm biased and my suggestion would most definitely be to celebrate your honeymoon in Vancouver and area. IMHO it will provide better "bang for the buck" and a far more interesting and memorable trip in an area which also has spectacular scenery.

A few activities you could enjoy in Vancouver.....
- close to the city: Grouse Mountain, Capilano Suspension Bridge, Granville Island Market or venture out towards Whistler and experience the Sea to Sky Gondola or the Britannia Mining Museum.
- Restaurants! Vancouver is quite a "foodie" city now and there are a lot of great restaurants.
- Hotels: there are lots of great hotels in the city in various price ranges. With the current cost of real estate, hotel prices have gone up, but as you'll be getting a currency exchange discount, they should be tolerable.
- Day Trips: you could take a day trip to Victoria using Harbour Air (a bit expensive but it's much easier and faster than the ferries as the planes travel downtown-to-downtown). There's also the Helijet if your budget will allow. You could also take a day trip to Whistler or take a flight from Vancouver to the beautiful Okanagan Valley and enjoy some wine tasting, golfing or hiking. You could (for example) stay in the luxurious Sparkling Hill or Predator Ridge resorts. You could also head over to Tofino and stay in the beautiful Wickanninish Inn and do some surfing.
- Vancouver has some great "flightseeing" tours such as this one - https://www.seairseaplanes.com/seaplane-tours/overview/ .
- Concerts: If you happen to be in Vancouver on June 13th, Andrea Bocelli is performing at Rogers Arena. There may be other big acts during that month also, but they haven't been posted yet.

There are so many possibilities. This may give you a few ideas - https://www.tourismvancouver.com/ .

Posted by
8594 posts

Going to Vancouver gives you the option to spend a few days at Whistler, which is only a short drive, and let you have two different experiences.

EDIT-- At approx 75-80 miles from Vancover, Whistler should be about a 90 minute drive; 2 hrs if traffic is nasty getting out of Vancouver

Posted by
11450 posts

Both are lovely.. however as pointed out , you could go to Vancouver.. but take a drive to Whistler for a few days( I think its only about 3 hours, on a very scenic drive ) .. and experience both the city and the wilds...so it would be my pick.

Posted by
3789 posts

'A week' 7 days, or can you do a Saturday to following Sunday to give you 9 days? If so, I would suggest considering how you want to spend your time and actually look at 2 locations. Fly in to Calgary, shuttle directly to Banff for a few days, take the train through the Rockies to Vancouver and fly home. The train through the Rockies is magnificent. Or reverse. Need to check Viarail schedule to see which gives more daylight hours in Rockies.
My suggestion means missing Calgary as anything other than an airport stop, but the other 2 are more dynamic.

Posted by
5450 posts

We did an Alaska cruise from Vancouver in 2016 and flew into that city first, spent several days there, then took a great four day bus tour of the Canadian Rockies with a firm called Key West Tours. It was only about $600 pp. Originally, we were looking at taking the Rocky Mountaineer train there, but the cost of a four day trip was three times the bus tour.
Why not do both?

Posted by
6617 posts

This is really a choice between nature and urban isn't it? Its like choosing between Vail and Denver. We did Banff, as there is so much to do there, or do nothing. From there you can visit, glaciers, hike around Lake Louise, visit hot springs, see bears, picnic at beautiful mountain lakes, go rafting - all sorts of things. The downside is crowding and the expense. Vancouver is a nice enough city, but its just another city.

You could spend the whole time in Whistler as well.

Posted by
6868 posts

Vancouver is absolutely gorgeous and you can easily get to Vancouver Island from there. Consider a side trip to Victoria on Vancouver Island, it's very charming. Don't try to do both Vancouver and Banff - one week is not enough time. This is a good planning resource for Vancouver: https://www.tourismvancouver.com

Posted by
11 posts

Thanks, everyone! For those saying Vancouver, what do you recommend doing/seeing while we’re there?

Posted by
6868 posts
  • Stanley Park
  • Granville Island and Granville Market
  • Walking around downtown and checking out all the neighborhoods
  • Kitsilano Beach
  • Museum of Anthropology at UBC
  • Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
  • VanDusen Botanical Garden
  • Whistler, if you have a car (you can also get there by bus since many tours go there)
  • Grouse Mountain and Capilano Suspension Bridge
  • Richmond for Chinese Food/ Night Markets
  • Steveston village (easiest with a car)
  • Bowen Island (via ferry from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver)
  • Trip to Victoria on Vancouver Island (don't miss Butchart Gardens while there)

The guidebooks and Trip Advisor cover everything very well. You basically don't need a car at all except for a few places which are easier/faster with one.

Posted by
2526 posts

Banff versus Vancouver, with good advice from others. During my last visit to Banff, a sardine in a sealed tin had more personal space. If you want to visit the Rockies, an alternative is to fly into Glacier Park International Airport (code FCA) and visit Glacier National Park. It is magnificent and includes romantic lodges. The amazing Going to the Sun Road may or may not be fully open given your calendar. See also Whitefish with many lodging and dining options, with much to offer otherwise.

Posted by
5782 posts

Agnes has a good list. Vancouver is very transit and bike friendly. With a downtwon hotel we didn't need a car. Downtown sights (Sun Yat Sen Garden, Chinatown, Gastown etc are very walkable. A lot of nice resturants in the Yaletown district of downtown.

We rented bikes on one day and rode to Stanley Park along the NE waterfront, c'clockwise around Stanley Park, the along the SW waterfront crossing the bridge to Granville Island for lunch.

VanDusen Botanical Garden (and Queen Elizabeth Park) was a bus ride away from downtown.

Posted by
795 posts

As Bruce notes, Banff can be very crowded, especially if you are there later in June. If you’re there at the beginning, it might not be too bad. So instead of Banff you might want to consider Jasper. It is drop dead gorgeous and not as crowded or touristy as Banff. Check out Tekarra Lodge, just a few blocks outside the town of Jasper overlooking the Athabasca River. And from Jasper you can see Maligne Canyon, Peyto Lake, the Columbia icefields and Lake Louise

Posted by
352 posts

If you decide on Vancouver with a side trip to Vancouver Island (Victoria) - just a note if you are driving. Be sure to get a ferry reservation. As a foot passenger you won't need a reservation but as a driver you will. If you need more info, PM me - I live in Victoria and work for BC Ferries.

Posted by
5242 posts

Congratulations to you and your bride, Andrew! I'll just join the free-for-all for a minute.....

Some posters have contrasted Vancouver with Banff as water vs. mountains. In fact Vancouver is ringed on three sides with mountains, maybe not the Canadian Rockies but still spectacular. Some of them right in your face as you look north from the city.

I don't know what snow conditions are like in the Banff-Jasper area in early June, but they might inhibit hiking beyond the towns. Worth checking into anyway. No such problem with Vancouver and its lowland surroundings. I'm assuming that you don't expect to ski in June.

Jasper is smaller and more scenic than Banff, I think, so might be a better choice in the Rockies. Not far up the very scenic Icefield Parkway from Banff. But see above re possible snow issues in June (not the roads, the trails).

Not really my business, it's your honeymoon, but I'd pick one or the other area instead of trying to split between Vancouver and the Rockies. And, after all, neither is hard to get to in the future.

Posted by
14881 posts

I spent a week on Vancouver Island and wish it had been two. Victoria has a definite English flavor, with traditional afternoon tea, gardens, Buchart Gardens are outstanding, museums, great restaurants, and doesn't feel like a big city. Rent a car and spend as much time as possible exploring the rest of the island - wildlife, First Nations sights, scenic coast, and more.