Vancouver effortlessly combines the excitement of a modern city with the rejuvenating spirit of the great outdoors. Often voted nicest place to live in the world, is perhaps even nicer to visit. Nature and city come hand in hand. On one side, you have wild Vancouver Island, shielding the city from the Pacific. On the other side, the mountains are ripe for exploring.
The city itself is a grid of glassy towers: explore the areas by lunching in historic Gastown before an afternoon in the Classical Chinese Garden. Outdoorsy types will flourish in the forests and foodies will love the craft beers and generous Canadian-American food. Holidays in Vancouver have some of the mildest weather in Canada and neighbouring Vancouver Island is even more temperate. But many who come to this friendly city are seeking something more extreme. Some might be cruising on to Alaska, but you can seek adventure in the Rocky Mountains or drive two hours north, where Whistler's ski slopes, biking, hiking, and mountains of cheesy chips await. Book flights to Vancouver and get ready to explore.
Founding fathers are often remarkable characters. Vancouver’s are no exception. Though British explorer George Vancouver gives the city its name, it was Gassy Jack who set up the first tavern in the region. His mottled bronze likeness stands down the road from the town clock, which runs on steam and spouts it like a kettle. It is in this area that you’ll find plenty of restaurants. Photographers, head to Vancouver Lookout for views of the city harbour and take a picture of Hotel Europe, which resembles New York’s Flatiron Building.
Named after the prestigious university, Yaletown has an air of sophistication. The neighbourhood runs along the sea wall on Vancouver’s south side. There are some lovely interior décor stores here, including The Cross Décor and Design, which also sells art and prints. Go here to shop among the sophisticated residents, and grab a beer at Yaletown Brewing Co. Across the bridge you’ll reach Granville Island, with the famous food market and great shopping in South Granville.
With thirty per cent of Vancouver’s population being of Chinese descent, it’s not surprising that Chinatown is an important part of the cultural make-up of the city. Here, buy loose leaf tea in the street markets and stroll into the Classical Chinese Garden – the first of its kind created outside of China. You can have a magnificent dim sum lunch by picking from a trolley of delicacies and dumplings in a restaurant. The nightlife scene is exciting, too.
Between busy downtown and Stanley Park, West End has a bit of both the country and the city about it. First off, there are two great public beaches: English Bay beach, which hosts summer fireworks and Sunset Beach. Then there’s Davie Village, the epicentre of Vancouver’s LGBT community and then Robson Street, one of the best streets for shopping and people watching in Vancouver. So start your day with a run in Stanley Park, hit the shops and then paddleboard along busy English Bay Beach in the evening, when the crowds are leaving.