Vancouver is one of the few cities in the world to be privileged with mountains, forests and sea. It is not only rich in natural resources but it is without a doubt, a cosmopolitan city. This is reflected in a very obvious way in an endless number of restaurants with an equal variety of authentic food – Chinese, Greek, Indian, Italian, vegetarian and vegan – but above all sushi and fresh ingredients. Aware of this privilege, people make the most of it. Vancouver is a city of athletes, runners, cyclists, Yogis, skiers, snow surfers, lovers of the kitchen (foodies) and amateur agriculture. In Metro Vancouver, there are more than 150 gardens in schools, residential complexes, and community centres where all kinds of vegetables and fruits are planted. There are endless options of events, activities and festivals throughout the year – here we have included just a few.
Vancouver was recognized as the top city in Canada in Travel + Leisure magazine’s 2014 World’s Best Awards.
Vancouver International Airport (YVR), just 30 minutes from downtown Vancouver, has received several awards around the world for its architecture, art and functionality. A second international airport – the Abbotsford International airport, is located about an hour from Vancouver by car offering additional options for visitors.
Skytrain & Buses
Vancouver has an extensive transportation network operated by the BC Provincial Transit System. An electronic ticket can be used on the bus, skytrain and people ferry systems for 90 minutes for the same price. To consult timetables, services, routes, maps and costs you can visit the web site in the links section.
On Foot & Bicycle
Vancouver is considered to be one of the best cities designed for bicycling, walking, or moving by public transport. The Stanley Park Seawall promenade offers access to beaches, parks, ports, marinas and you can even take your bike or walk on the water-taxi to Granville Island, a major destination for tourists and locals alike.
Beaches & Lakes
The most visited beach in Vancouver is English Bay, located in the neighbourhood of the West End in the heart of the city. Other very popular, large beaches are Kitsilano on the opposite side from Stanley Park and traveling towards the University of British Columbia are Jericho beach and Spanish Banks beach.
One hour by car from Vancouver, to the Northeast, is Buntzen Lake which is also considered one of the most beautiful beaches outside of the city with a crystal blue lake surrounded and fed by majestic, glacial mountains. To visitors, this is a typical, Canadian, natural paradise for visitors and locals alike.
Skiing, Snowboarding & Snowshoeing
There are three, popular, local mountains that are just 20 minutes from downtown Vancouver. At Grouse Mountain not only can you can ski, but you can ice skate outdoors. There are enough trails of all levels of difficulty for both skiers and snowborders. Cypress is ideal for beginners, since it has a “magic” carpet in the children’s area and a “bunny hill”, which is a low hill for new skiers, young and old. Cypress also has a park for snow tubing where families can enjoy themselves for hours!
Whistler Blackcomb is one of the top, world renowned ski resorts. In fact, it was one of the venues of the 2010 Winter Olympics. In the winter it is obviously a paradise for skiers and ‘boarders’ with two mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb, which offer more than 200 skiing trails. Imagine spectacular mountains receiving an average of 1,164 cm. of snow a year!
In the summer the mountains are ideal for hiking or mountain biking. The Gondola “Peak to Peak”, offers a spectacular 360 degree view to mountains, glaciers, forests, lakes and the village of Whistler.
In the city of Whistler, many festivals are held throughout the year and there are restaurants of all kinds with price levels and shops for all tastes. Whistler is also well known for its nightlife with a broad choice of bars and nightclubs. As you will see, both the village and the natural attractions offer an endless number of activities throughout the year.
Throughout the Metro Vancouver area, (in the city and outside), there are plenty of options for hiking and here are only three as a sample;
Capilano Canyon River Regional Park offers trails of almost 3 km, passing through streams and stunning views of the mountains.
Lynn Peak located in Lynn Valley is a favorite choice of residents in Vancouver where you can enjoy spectacular views to Seymour mountain, the City of Vancouver and even the State of Washington in the United States.
Joffre Lakes, three hours from Vancouver in the City of Pemberton, is one of the most beautiful hiking trail network in BC and is relatively easy to access in comparison to other Alpine Lakes.
Cruises and Boat Tours
To see the city from another point of view there are several options – you can rent boats of any size and price, independently, shared or by private charter. There are companies that offer these services at the following marinas: Granville Island, Coal Harbour and False Creek in Vancouver, New Westminster, West Vancouver, North Vancouver and Steveston, in the City of Richmond.
A Short Seattle Trip
The city of Seattle, a neighbour of Vancouver, is located in the State of Washington in the United States. It is located just 229 kms to the south or a 3.5 hour drive by car. It is a short trip which can be made on the same day, so it is quite common for “Vancouverites” to escape for a day or the weekend to shop in the nearby outlet malls, to visit beautiful Mount Baker, or to get up to the City of Seattle proper to visit Pike Market where you will find the 1st Starbucks coffee shop ever opened.
Located in the heart of downtown Vancouver, this 400 hectare park is literally an oasis in the city. Stanley Park is the largest park within any city in the world, where, as opposed to Central Park in New York City, Vancouver is a natural forest. The trees, flowers and animals are the main characters in the park, however, there are also several beaches where people enjoy swimming or sunbathing in the summer. On the nine kilometer waterfront, at any time of the year, there are people running, walking or cycling. Further inside the park sits the Vancouver Aquarium, the largest in Canada. There are also restaurants with views and spectacular dishes, and several children’s play parks.These are some of the attractions of the park which are free for all. You have to visit it to see it and believe it!
A tiny island in the middle of the city, with restaurants, galleries, shops, artists’ workshops and theatres, Granville Island offers leisure areas for families and children and a world-renowned food market. It is truly a charming experience whether just walking around or trying the traditional soup with puff pastry, burgers or fish and chips.
The oldest neighbourhood in the city, Gastown is where the city was founded and began to develop. It is currently a neighbourhood with many restaurants and trendy bars, clothing, furniture and interior design boutiques.
Yaletown was formerly an industrial area dominated by warehouses and train depots. In the 1980s the City began to allow the construction of residential buildings with the most “luxurious” keeping an original, industrial style. It is another area that offers many choices of restaurants, bars and cafés, as well as pleasant walks through the streets full of shops, boutiques, spas, beauty salons, and more. Through Yaletown you can also access the boardwalk, called the “seawall”, that surrounds the city.
Robson & Alberni Streets
Always considered the most famous shopping street, Robson is now joined by Alberni Street which is considered to be the city’s new, upscale, retail “hotspot” – like Rodeo Drive. With the largest number of shops both national, international, chains and luxury boutiques such as Tiffany & Co.,Tory Burch, Versace, Moncler, Prada and more – there are options for every budget!
This is the city’s largest residential area. In fact, this neighborhood has the highest population density in the country. Its perimeter is bounded by four streets that form a rectangle: Granville, Robson, Denman and Davie. Life on the streets of the West End, especially on Davie and Denman streets where there are a lot of restaurants and bars is active and fun and they form the entrance to beautiful Stanley Park.
Although there are new generations of people with Chinese ancestry living throughout the Vancouver area, the country’s largest Chinatown neighborhood retains its traditional character. As you might expect, there are many culinary options to choose from – whether it’s to enjoy authentic Chinese cuisine from all regions, or a fusion of old and new. The neighbourhood still has traditional Chinese shops with hundreds of types of teas, herbs and other natural remedies and markets and shops with fresh and cooked meats and salted or fresh seafood, nuts, and in general, any type of Asian delicacy. While in Chinatown, it is also worth visiting the classical Chinese garden – Dr. Sun Yat-sen – which is the first Chinese or “scholars” garden built outside of China.
Also known as Kits, this neighbourhood is very representative of the lifestyle in Vancouver. At any time of the day and at any time of the year, you will see runners, cyclists and Yogis on the beach and the seawall. There are 17 parks in this area. Some of its most famous residents are the environmentalist David Suzuki, Actors Ryan Reynolds, and Jason Priestley and several professional Hockey players.