Despite the Pacific Northwest‘s (PNW) large size—made up of two U.S. states and a Canadian province—the incredible region is packed with man-made and natural sights of the region that cannot be fully explored in just two weeks. But if that’s all you have, our itinerary through four major cities will get you the best bang for your buck. (Note: travel by car is recommended, and accommodation is available near each location, though camping is often an option worth considering.)
Day 1: Vancouver
Vancouver is a solid place to find your bearings before heading off into the wild. Explore the food joints and shopping on Robson Street, or wander through Stanley Park. Alternatively, check out our suggestions for spending 24 hours in the province’s largest city.
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1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Day 2: Pacific Rim National Park Reserve
Wake up on the early side (generally recommended throughout this itinerary), and take the first of this trip’s ferry rides to Vancouver island. It takes five hours to reach the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, so the earlier you get going, the more time you’ll have to explore the area.
Day 3: Victoria
Depending on where you stay the night, Victoria could be up to another four hours away. Some ideas of things to check out in the PNW’s oldest city include the Butchart Gardens, Craigdarroch Castle, and afternoon tea at the Fairmont Empress Hotel.
Days 4–5: Olympic National Park
Catch a ferry from Victoria, British Columbia to Port Angeles, Washington—do not forget your passport. A mere two hours over the national border will bring you to the outskirts of the incredible Olympic National Park, the only destination where you’ll be spending two days. Dip into the Olympic Hot Springs (if you dare!), admire and explore the Olympic Mountains, and whatever happens, do not miss the Hoh Rainforest. To streamline travel, make sure to spend your second night on the south end.
Day 6: Portland
If you’ve seen Portlandia, you pretty much know all there is to know about the PNW’s second largest city. Still, why not see it for yourself? Check out the International Rose Test Garden and Powell’s City of Books while following your nose from one restaurant to the next, or check out our 24-hour Portland guide.
Day 7: Oregon Coast
Today is for driving to Bandon, but it’s just a place to spend the night—the part to enjoy is the scenic coast on the way there. Faster routes involve less time on the coast, so we suggest cutting west through Corvallis then following signs for US Highway 101. It’s a 5.5-hour drive, but you’ve got all day, so take your time and stop to enjoy the beach (or several beaches).
Day 8: Crater Lake
Head out early for a four-hour drive to Crater Lake National Park, which offers tons to explore. Other than the park’s namesake, which is the deepest lake in the U.S. and seventh deepest lake in the world, the park has over 40 caves and plenty of hiking options.
Day 9: John Day Fossil Beds
After four and half hours of driving, arrive at the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument with three units, all with trails to explore. Check out the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center, located in the third unit, for fossil exhibits about the rare preservation of past ecosystems in the area.
Day 10: Columbia River Gorge
Only three hours away, the Oregon side of Columbia River Gorge includes a section of the Mt. Hood National Forest, with beautiful waterfalls and hiking trails. Heading west along the gorge (back towards Portland) only takes an hour and a half to drive through, offering plenty of time to get out and explore on foot over the course of the day.
Day 11: Mount St. Helens
Just two hours from Portland, incredibly unique Mount St. Helens violently erupted in 1980, killing 57 people. Today, it has risen from the ashes, once again becoming a play spot for tourists and locals alike. Check out the Science and Learning Center at the National Monument as well as some of the area’s stunning hikes.
Day 12: Mount Rainier
Let’s manage those expectations right away—you will not reach the top of Mount Rainier in a single day. After driving three hours from Mount St. Helens, however, it is certainly worth trekking along one or more of its incredible trails to take in all the region’s highest mountain has to offer.
Day 13: Seattle
It’ll take an hour and a half to get to Seattle from Mount Rainier, so get going bright and early to arrive by 7a.m. and explore Seattle in a day (and miss morning traffic). No energy for a full day of tourist-ing? Hit Pike Place Market for lunch, go to the Space Needle, and call it a day.
Day 14: San Juan Islands
Saving the slow-paced, laid-back islands for last, enjoy the last 3.5-hour ferry ride (before the return journey) to the San Juan islands—keep your eyes peeled for possible orca sightings. Enjoy one or all of the four islands accessible by ferry, and even kayak to a smaller one if you’d like. From here, both the Vancouver and Seattle airports are 3.5 miles away; all that’s left is booking return ferry tickets.
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