Australia to Canadian Rockies: Ultimate Travel Guide

A step by step guide on getting from Australia to the Rockies

Welcome to our comprehensive guide designed to make your journey from Australia to the stunning Canadian Rockies seamless and enjoyable. Whether you’re planning your first trip or returning for another adventure, we’ve got all the information you need about flights and hotel bookings in Vancouver. Let’s dive in and help you plan an unforgettable trip!

Couple standing on the skywalk overlooking Columbia Icefields

Preparing for your trip to the Rockies

Clothing to Bring During Summer Time

The summer months in the Canadian Rockies (June to August) are warm but can be unpredictable, with temperatures ranging from 10°C (50°F) at night to 25°C (77°F) during the day. Here are some clothing essentials:

  • Layers: Bring lightweight, breathable layers such as t-shirts, long-sleeve shirts, and light sweaters. Layering allows you to adjust to changing temperatures throughout the day.
  • Hiking Gear: If you plan to hike, pack moisture-wicking socks, sturdy hiking boots, and comfortable hiking pants or shorts.
  • Casual Wear: Comfortable casual clothes for exploring towns and cities, as well as slightly dressier options for dining out.

Documents

Ensure you have all the necessary documents prepared before your trip:

  • Passport: Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your planned return date.
  • Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA): Australians need an eTA to enter Canada. Apply online and ensure it is linked to your passport before boarding your flight.
  • Travel Insurance: Comprehensive travel insurance that covers health, travel delays, and cancellations is highly recommended.
  • Accommodation Reservations: Print or save digital copies of your hotel or accommodation bookings.
  • Driver’s License: If you plan to rent a car, bring your Australian driver’s license.
a waiter serving food to a couple of women

Customs and Etiquette

Familiarize yourself with local customs and basic phrases in French (useful in Quebec) and English.

  • Tipping Etiquette: Tipping is customary in Canada. Here are some general guidelines:
    • Restaurants: 15-20% of the total bill before tax is standard.
    • Hotels: $1-2 per bag for bellhops, and $2-5 per night for housekeeping.
    • Taxis: 10-15% of the fare.
    • Tour Guides: $5-10 per person for half-day tours, and $10-20 per person for full-day tours.

Technology and Connectivity

  • Phone and Internet: Check with your mobile provider about international roaming options. Alternatively, consider purchasing a local SIM card upon arrival.
  • Adapters: Canada uses Type A and Type B electrical outlets. Bring a suitable power adapter for your devices.
  • Travel Apps: Download helpful travel apps for maps, translation, transportation, and weather updates:
vancouver airport check in area

Flights from Australia to Vancouver

Several airlines offer convenient routes from Australia to Vancouver, whether you’re looking for direct flights or prefer a stopover. Flight times vary depending on the city you are departing from, ranging between 13 and 18 hours. 

Flight Information
From Price Flight Time
From Sydney from $2,049 14h 35min
From Brisbane from $2,226 13h 45min
From Perth from $2,952 22h 0min+
From Adelaide from $2,504 18h 40min+
From Melbourne from $2,248 17h 55min+

Direct flights from Australia to Vancouver are available from major cities like Sydney, and Brisbane. Air Canada offer direct routes that provide a seamless travel experience.

If you’re open to connecting flights, you can find more options that offer cost savings. Airlines like Quantas, United Airlines, Delta, and Cathay Pacific provide one or two-stop routes to Vancouver.

Tips for Finding Deals

Booking in Advance

Booking your flight well in advance can often lead to significant savings. Aim to book your tickets at least three to six months before your planned departure to get the best rates.

Comparison Websites

Using flight comparison websites can help you find the best deals. Websites like Skyscanner, Google Flights, and Momondo allow you to compare prices across multiple airlines and booking platforms.

Arriving in Vancouver: What to Expect

Vancouver International Airport (YVR)

Vancouver International Airport is one of Canada’s busiest and most well-connected airports. Upon arrival, you’ll go through customs and immigration. Please be sure to be prepared with your passport, visa, and any necessary documentation.

sky train travelling over bridge in Vancouver

Transportation to the City

Once you’ve cleared customs, you’ll have several options to get into the city:

  • Taxis and Ride-Sharing: Taxis are readily available outside the arrivals area. Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft also operate from the airport.
  • Public Transit: The Canada Line SkyTrain provides a convenient and affordable way to get from the airport to downtown Vancouver.
  • Airport Shuttles: Many hotels offer complimentary shuttle services to and from the airport. Check with your hotel in advance to see if this option is available.

Top Hotels in Vancouver for Every Budget

Luxury Hotels

For those seeking luxury and exceptional service, Vancouver offers several top-tier hotels.

  • Fairmont Pacific Rim: This five-star hotel offers stunning views of the harbor and mountains, luxurious rooms, and top-notch amenities.
  • Shangri-La Hotel: Located in the heart of the city, Shangri-La provides opulent accommodations and a world-class spa.
  • Rosewood Hotel Georgia: A historic hotel that blends old-world charm with modern luxury, right in downtown Vancouver.

Mid-Range Options

If you’re looking for a balance between comfort and affordability, these mid-range hotels are great choices.

  • Pinnacle Hotel Harbourfront: Offering beautiful views and excellent amenities, this hotel is perfect for both business and leisure travelers.
  • Blue Horizon Hotel: Located on Robson Street, this hotel provides comfortable rooms and easy access to shopping and dining.
  • The Burrard: A trendy boutique hotel with a retro vibe, The Burrard offers a unique stay experience in the city.

Budget-Friendly Stays

For budget-conscious travelers, Vancouver has several excellent options that don’t compromise on quality.

  • YWCA Hotel Vancouver: Affordable and comfortable, this non-for-profit hotel supports local programs and provides excellent service.
  • Sandman Hotel Vancouver Downtown: Located close to the vibrant entertainment district. Guests can enjoy the on-site restaurant, fitness center, and indoor pool.
  • Rosedale on Robson: Situated in the foremost shopping district in Vancouver, Rosedale on Robson is a convenient and exciting option for tourists looking to splurge.

Exploring British Columbia

Once you have settled in and made yourself comfortable, it’s time to explore! Vancouver and the surrounding areas offer a diverse range of attractions, from the bustling urban landscape to the serene outdoors.

bikers enjoying the vancouver skyline

Vancouver

The jewel of the west coast, Vancouver is consistently ranked as one of the best places to live in the world. Check out the locations that make it so famous:

  • Stanley Park: Stanley Park is a must-visit when in Vancouver. This 1,000-acre park offers beautiful walking and biking trails, stunning views, and several attractions.
  • Granville Island: Granville Island is a bustling hub of shops, markets, and dining options.
  • North Vancouver: Confront your fears at the Capilano Suspension Bridge, enjoy the Lonsdale Quay Market, or take a gondola up Grouse Mountain.

Check out this fully guided tour of North Vancouver!

Whistler

Whistler is a premier destination that offers a unique blend of natural beauty and vibrant village life. Renowned for its stunning landscapes and world-class amenities, Whistler provides an unforgettable experience for every visitor. Here are some highlights you won’t want to miss:

  • Shannon Falls: Witness the spectacular 335-metre waterfall, one of the tallest in British Columbia. The sheer power and beauty of Shannon Falls make it a must-see stop on your journey.
  • Sea to Sky Gondola: Enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, valleys, and the Howe Sound fjord.
  • Whistler Village: Explore the charming, pedestrian-style Whistler Village. With its unique shops, cozy cafes, and vibrant atmosphere, the village offers a perfect blend of relaxation and excitement.

For a comprehensive experience of this scenic route and its highlights, consider joining our Whistler + Sea To Sky Gondola Tour.

a man and woman walking on a sidewalk

Victoria

Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia, is known for its stunning coastal scenery, rich history, and beautiful gardens. A visit to Victoria offers a perfect blend of natural beauty and cultural experiences. Here are some highlights you won’t want to miss:

  • BC Ferry Ride: Enjoy a scenic 3-hour return ferry ride across the Strait of Georgia from Vancouver to Vancouver Island. Keep an eye out for seals, whales, and other marine wildlife.
  • Butchart Gardens: Stroll through the world-famous Butchart Gardens, where vibrant flowers bloom throughout the seasons.
  • Victoria’s Inner Harbour: Explore the historic sites of Victoria’s Inner Harbour. You’ll have free time to wander and take in landmarks like the Empress Hotel and the B.C. Parliament Buildings.

For a comprehensive experience of Victoria’s greenery and coastal scenery, consider joining our Victoria + Butchart Gardens Tour.

Heading to the Rockies

Once you have settled in and made yourself comfortable, it’s time to explore! Vancouver and the surrounding areas offer a diverse range of attractions, from the bustling urban landscape to the serene outdoors.

Car travelling along the Icefield Parkway during fall

Vancouver to Jasper:

  • Route: Trans-Canada Highway
  • Highlights: Fraser Valley, Hope, Kamloops, Mt. Robson
  • Details: Check our Vancouver to Jasper Guide
  • Alternative Transport:
    • VIA Rail: This 2-day overnight route runs from Vancouver to Jasper, providing a relaxing and scenic journey. Click here for more information.
    • Rocky Mountaineer: This daylight train travels for two days, with an overnight stay at a hotel. Learn more about Vancouver to Jasper train here.

Vancouver to Banff:

  • Route: Trans-Canada Highway through Yoho National Park
  • Highlights: Spiral Tunnels, Kicking Horse Pass, Emerald Lake
  • Details: Check our Vancouver to Banff Guide
  • Alternative Transport:
    • Rocky Mountaineer: Enjoy a luxurious daylight train journey with panoramic views and gourmet meals, traveling for two days with an overnight stay at a hotel. Learn more about Vancouver to Banff train here.

In the Rockies

Jasper National Park

Jasper National Park, the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies, is renowned for its stunning landscapes and abundant wildlife. It offers a diverse range of activities and natural wonders that make it a must-visit destination.

  • Maligne Lake: Crystal-clear waters and Spirit Island
  • Columbia Icefield: Guided tours onto the Athabasca Glacier
  • Wildlife: Opportunities to see elk, bears, and other native species

Icefields Parkway

The Icefields Parkway is one of the most scenic drives in the world, connecting Jasper to Banff. This stretch of road offers breathtaking views of glaciers, waterfalls, and mountain peaks, with numerous opportunities to stop and explore.

  • Connecting Jasper to Banff
  • Scenic Stops: Athabasca Falls, Peyto Lake, Bow Lake
Moraine Lake in Canadian Rockies
Moraine Lake

Banff National Park

Banff National Park, Canada’s first national park, is famous for its stunning mountain scenery, hot springs, and vibrant town. It provides a mix of outdoor adventures and relaxation, making it a perfect destination for all types of travelers.

  • Lake Louise: Iconic turquoise lake surrounded by towering peaks and the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
  • Moraine Lake: Stunning glacially-fed lake with brilliant blue waters
  • Banff Upper Hot Springs: Relaxing thermal baths
  • Johnston Canyon: Scenic hiking trails with waterfalls and deep gorges
  • Sulphur Mountain: Offers hiking trails and panoramic views from the summit

For a comprehensive list of must-see destinations, visit our Top 5 in Canadian Rockies article.

Finishing in Vancouver or Calgary

Finishing in Vancouver

Travel Time: Approximately 10-12 hours by car, depending on stops and route.

  • Mode of Transport:

    • By Car: Driving back to Vancouver offers flexibility and the opportunity to revisit some scenic spots along the way. You can take the Trans-Canada Highway through Yoho National Park and the Fraser Valley.
    • By Train: VIA Rail offers a comfortable overnight journey from Jasper to Vancouver. The Rocky Mountaineer from Banff or Jasper to Vancouver
    • By Air: Flights from Calgary to Vancouver are frequent and take about 1.5 hours.
  • Pros:

    • Scenic drive with opportunities for stops and sightseeing.
    • Flexible travel schedule.
    • Experience vibrant city life of Vancouver.
  • Cons:

    • Long travel time by car.
    • Potential for road fatigue on a long drive.
road passing through downtown calgary
Downtown Calgary

Finishing in Calgary

Travel Time: Approximately 1.5-2 hours by car from Banff to Calgary.

  • Mode of Transport:

    • By Car: A short drive from Banff to Calgary offers a quick and convenient end to your trip. The drive takes you through the beautiful landscapes of Banff National Park and the foothills of the Rockies.
    • By Bus: Several shuttle services and buses operate between Banff and Calgary, providing a comfortable and hassle-free option.
    • By Air: Calgary International Airport offers numerous flights to various destinations, making it a convenient departure point.
  • Pros:

    • Quick and easy access to Calgary.
    • Calgary offers a vibrant downtown area with cultural attractions and dining options.
    • Convenient access to Calgary International Airport for onward travel.
  • Cons:

    • Shorter scenic drive compared to the route back to Vancouver.
    • Less opportunity for extended sightseeing along the way.

For a comprehensive list of must-see destinations, visit our Top 5 in Canadian Rockies article.

Conclusion

To cover all the sites in the Rockies that we suggested, take our Rocky Mountain Bus Tours, which provide an immersive experience with knowledgeable guides who bring the region’s natural history and heritage to life.

If you prefer a luxurious rail journey in addition to exploring the Rockies sites, explore our Rocky Mountaineer Select Tours.

Start planning your adventure today and let us help you create the trip of a lifetime.

Photos Courtesy of Travel Alberta.

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