Canada: NEED TO KNOW
The cheapest fares between Dublin and Vancouver are with KLM via Amsterdam. Return flights from €480. Contact Trailfinders on 01-677 7888 or trailfinders.ie.
American Holidays (01-673 3800; americanholidays. ie) has a package with three nights in Vancouver, two nights in Victoria, returning to Vancouver for one night and then boarding the Rocky Mountaineer for one night on the Red Leaf Service (including an over-night in Kamloops).
It also includes a night in Calgary, Lake Louise and Banff plus four days' car hire (vehicle to be collected in Calgary and returned to Calgary Airport). The itinerary is based on travel in May 2012 and costs €2,699 per person, including flights and taxes.
Chic and understated, the Loden (from $269/€198 plus tax per room; 001 604 669 5060; theloden.com) is a quiet enclave from the action in Vancouver.
It's impossible not to feel welcome at the Harbour House Hotel on Salt Spring Island (from $99/€73; 001 250 537 5571; saltspring harbourhouse.com.
FIVE GREAT THINGS TO DO
Get on your bike in Vancouver. Cycle City Tours offers a fantastic four-and-a-half-hour trip with stops at Stanley Park, Granville Island and Chinatown ($80/€59 plus tax; cyclevancouver. com). Or take a kayaking tour with Ecomarine (from $59/€43; 001 604 689 7575, ecomarine.com).
Hang out with celebs. Vancouver boasts the third-largest movie industry in North America. Actors filmed there include Brad Pitt and Halle Berry.
Go outside in Alberta. Whether it's hiking, biking or canoeing (the people at Blue Canoe Rocks will kit you out), outdoorsy types will enjoy Banff National Park.
Drink beer with dinner. The chef at Spinnaker's Gastro Brewpub in Victoria has a regional tasting menu, including oysters, spot prawns and homemade truffles, that goes just as well with beer as it does with wine.
Do as the locals do. We tried caribou at the Buffalo Mountain Lodge, elk and bison at Calgary's River Café and cheese and charcuterie with Irishman Sean Heather in his Salt Tasting Room in Vancouver's Gastown.
And we fought over the last spoonful of dessert at The Teahouse in Stanley Park.
For more information, check out BritishColumbia. travel; bcferries.com and myalbertaadventure.com.