So you’ve planned your trip to Nanaimo! Maybe you are here for a day, a week, or for even longer. You are probably wondering what you can do and see in this historic town. For your enjoyment, here is a list of some of the most fun things to do in Nanaimo and the surrounding area:


  1. Island Hopping:
    Right from downtown Nanaimo, take a ferry to one of three (or all three!) islands. Relax on the gravel beaches of Newcastle Island, visit Canada’s only floating pub on Protection Island, or shop and even stay on Gabriola Island. Each island is just a short trip away, and it is possible to walk from Newcastle Island to Protection Island at low tide.
  2. Water Activities:
    Nanaimo has a vibrant waterfront with many activities for visitors to check out. Rent a boat or yacht for fishing or leisure, or take a swim or a kayak close to the shore. Every day lots of people cruise around Nanaimo’s waters in guided boat tours. If you prefer to be a little farther off shore, scuba diving is also a popular activity.
  3. Parks and Trails:
    For those who like to hike, walk, or bike, Nanaimo has 200 green spaces for you to enjoy. Discover hidden waterfalls and peaceful swimming spots in Nanaimo’s National parks, which have both advanced and lower level trails. Go for an active hike, or just take a leisurely stroll.
  4. Festivals:
    Nanaimo is one of the best cities in British Columbia to find festivals. From February to November the city holds events to celebrate local heritage. Some of the most famous festivals are the World Championship Bathtub Races (late July), the Maple Sugar Festival (late February), the Dragon Boat festival (mid July), and the Festival of Trees (late November). With its packed festival listing, there is sure to be something for everyone.
  5. Performances:
    Jazz and Blues are at the heart of Nanaimo which makes it a great place to catch a performance. The cafes, clubs, and restaurants of the city host live musicians almost every night, but if you prefer a more classic performance check out the Vancouver Island Symphony. There are also multiple theatre groups in Nanaimo that perform regularly as well.
  6. Eating and Dining:
    The restaurants and bars of Nanaimo are not to be missed! The local area holds many wineries and craft breweries which you should be sure to try. In the downtown core, there are lots of restaurants, cafes, and pubs to try (Nanaimo has the highest amount of pubs per capita in the country!). Seafood is a local feature, so whether you are dining casual or high class, don’t miss out.
  7. Historic Sites and Museums:
    The historic city of Nanaimo has many stories to share with its visitors. With two art galleries and a brand new downtown museum, there is lots to discover. Depending on the time of year, visitors may also be able to witness or participate in Aboriginal ceremonies.
  8. Wildlife Sightseeing:
    British Columbia is known for its lush nature and its thriving wildlife. Due to the high number of green spaces in Nanaimo, it is a perfect place to catch a glimpse. Local wildlife sightseeing tours include whale watching and bear watching.

Nanaimo is certainly a city that has plenty to offer all who are visiting. Enjoy!