When to visit
- Very Favourable
What to do
- Worth the detour
- Must see
Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the majestic Coast Mountain Range, Vancouver is a vibrant metropolis of unrivalled beauty. It is a cosmopolitan city perched on the edge of nature, with unlimited opportunities for outdoor recreation and a great cultural diversity with its European, Asian and First Nations heritages. Vancouver has it all, for seasoned travellers and the less adventurous seeking a peaceful, reassuring destination.
There is no need for a car in Vancouver. This is a city that is best explored on foot or by bike, at your own pace.
Stanley Park is such a vast natural environment that it is easy to forget that one is in the middle of the city. This lush jewel has so much to offer: the scenic Seawall walking path, biking, beaches, swimming, and much more. The park also offers a number of activities for kids, including pony rides, water games and a miniature train. Older visitors will want to tour the spectacular flower gardens.
Stanley Park teems with an amazing variety of wildlife. At least 500 species are known to live in the park. Some of the must-see landmarks: Lost Lagoon, Hollow Tree and Siwash Rock.
This is the birthplace of Vancouver, with historic cobblestone streets and Victorian buildings. The epicenter of independent design, culture, food and fashion, Gastown delivers one-of-a-kind experiences to visitors and locals alike.
In other words, Gastown is the trendiest neighbourhood in Vancouver! A must-see for art and culture lovers.
The Vancouver Aquarium is not just an aquarium: it is a unique non-profit marine science centre dedicated to the conservation of aquatic life. It is Canada's largest aquarium, with 11 different exhibits and galleries presenting different aquatic ecosystems. Adults and kids alike will love the entertaining and educational "encounters" program, which allows visitors to go behind the scenes and get up close and personal with the animals and the people who train them.
Open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. (10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in low season). In peak season, the best time to visit is before 11 a.m. or after 4 p.m.
845 Avison way ( Stanley Park), Vancouver / 604-659-3474
Museum of Anthropology
Widely considered to be one of Vancouver's finest museums, the UBC Museum of Anthropology houses a number of permanent and temporary exhibitions. The permanent collection features a magnificent collection of First Nations art and objects, including totem poles and traditional houses.
The cutting-edge temporary exhibitions focus on arts and culture from around the world. Allow at least two hours for a good look at everything on offer! Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (to 9 p.m. on Thursdays). Closed Mondays in low season.
6393 NW Marine Drive, Vancouver / 604-827-5932
Granville Island is not actually an island, but a large peninsula connected to the mainland by the magnificent metal spans of the Granville Island Bridge. Removed from the hustle and bustle of downtown, it is a great place to spend a quiet afternoon. Granville Island is very lively on weekends, with its street performers and fish & chips vendors!
The island boasts many restaurants, bars, theatres, artists' studios and craft boutiques. With its wide range of local produce and products, the Granville Island Public Market is the perfect place to prepare your picnic lunch! Open daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Robson Street and Broadway Avenue
In the mood for some shopping? Robson Street, in the West End, and Broadway Avenue, in Kitsilano, are two shopping destinations that are popular with locals and tourists alike, offering fashion and more for everyone and every budget.
In fact, two well-known Canadian brands originated in these areas of Vancouver a number of years ago: Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC), Canada's largest supplier of outdoor equipment, and Aritzia, an innovative women's fashion boutique.
Take an exhilarating 6,000-km journey across Canada, from east to west, discovering some of the country's most spectacular and iconic locations without ever leaving Vancouver! The film is projected on a 20-metre spherical screen. Special effects, including wind, mist and scents, combine with the ride’s motion to create an unique, unforgettable experience. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., with projections every 15-20 minutes.
201-999 Canada Place, Vancouver / 604-620-8455
Capilano Suspension Bridge
Just outside of Vancouver floats the Capilano Suspension Bridge, built in 1889! The 137m long, 70m high bridge offers a stunning view of the oh-so-green forest of Capilano River Regional Park.
Within this park, Treetops Adventure takes guests of all ages more than 30 feet above the forest floor on seven suspension bridges attached to old-growth Douglas fir trees! Open April 21-May 18 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., May 19-Sept. 3 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sept. 4-Oct. 8 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (opens later and closes earlier in low season).
3735 Capilano road, North Vancouver / 604-985-7474
Capilano River Hatchery
Capilano River Hatchery, a government-run fish farm, is located a few minutes from the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Juvenile salmon are released into the river in the spring. Mature fish return in the fall to spawn, climbing the fish ladders by jumping from one pool to the next. From July to November, it is possible to see adult coho, chinook or steelhead salmon.
This free activity is educational and very popular with the kids. Open in May and September from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and June-August from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (closes earlier in low season).
4500 Capilano park road, North Vancouver / 604-666-1790
Grouse Mountain, located less than 15 minutes from North Vancouver, has something for everyone: helicopter rides, paragliding, ascent to the top of a wind turbine, gondola rides, a lumberjack show, a demonstration of free-flying birds of prey and a tour of a wildlife refuge (home to bears, wolves, owls and other small animals).
Not to mention the gruelling 2.9-kilometre Grouse Grind Trail, an invigorating workout for seasoned hikers! The mountain is accessible daily from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Where to eat
- $ Inexpensive
- $$ Moderate
- $$$ Upscale
- $$$$ Fine dining
Maenam is one of Vancouver's best Thai restaurants, offering refined, beautifully-presented, authentic cuisine prepared using the best seasonal and local ingredients. The menu includes familiar classics like the sweet and sour tom kaa soup, curries and pad Thai. Open for lunch Tuesday-Saturday from noon to 2 p.m., and daily for dinner from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
1938 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver / 604-730-5579
Salmon N’Bannock ($$-$$$)
British Columbia is known for its high quality wild salmon! This small restaurant showcases Aboriginal cuisine with a range of menu items inspired by a variety of First Nations culinary tradition. The homemade bannock, or flatbread, is one of the house specialties! Open Monday-Thursday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday-Saturday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
7-1128 W. Broadway, Vancouver / 604-568-8971
Bao Bei ($$-$$$)
This cozy, modern Chinese brasserie is a far cry from the Chinese restaurants of old. You will be charmed by the fresh ingredients, friendly staff, trendy atmosphere and the impeccable presentation. In a city that has long embraced Chinese cuisine as part of its culinary heritage, Bao Bei exemplifies the changing face of Chinatown. Open Monday-Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to midnight and Sunday from 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.
163 Keefer Street, Vancouver / 604-688-0876
L’Abattoir Restaurant ($$$)
The restaurant was built in the 19th century on the site of Vancouver’s first jail. The French influenced West Coast fare is prepared and served with flare for a unique dining experience. A meat-lover's paradise! Open Sunday-Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday-Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
217, Carrall Street, Vancouver / 604-568-1701
Blue Water Cafe & Raw Bar ($$$$)
Blue Water Cafe is the ultimate fine dining experience for lovers of fresh seafood. This warm and inviting restaurant offers impeccable service and an abundance of the freshest seafood, prepared in a multitude of ways: sushi, oysters, caviar, fish, and so much more. The menu also includes meat and vegetarian options. Wine-lovers take note, they carry over 1,000 labels and have a cellar of 14,000 bottles! Open daily from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. for dining; the bar is open from 4:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.
1095 Hamilton Street, Vancouver / 604-688-8078
Where to sleep ?
Dragon boat Festival
Dates: June 22 to 24, 2018
Dragon boating is quickly becoming a favourite pastime in Vancouver, a city that is a natural haven for water sports. The annual Dragon Boat Festival attracts over 100,000 people and close to 180 dragon boat teams from the area and around the globe.
Festival d’été francophone
Date: June 16, 2018
Founded in 1990, the Festival d’été francophone is one of the most important cultural and musical francophone events in Western Canada.
Vancouver International Jazz Festival
Dates: June 22 to July 1, 2018
Vancouver comes alive to the sound of jazz music of all kinds during this internationally renowned music festival as the world's best jazz, funk, Latin, fusion, & world music artists perform at venues across the city. There are many free outdoor concerts in addition to paying concerts.
Vancouver Folk Festival
Dates: July 13 to 15, 2018
This annual three-day festival features folk music from around the globe, performed in a beautiful outdoor venue. One of Canada's most popular folk music festivals, it attracts some 30,000 folk music fans every year and features 30 to 40 concerts on eight outdoor stages.
Celebration of Light Fireworks Festival
Dates: July 28, August 1 and 4, 2018
Celebration of Light is an international musical fireworks competition. Competing countries light up the sky with spectacular fireworks, carefully synchronized to music. Whether you watch it from the shore or from a boat out on the water, this festival is a delight for all ages.
Date: August 5, 2018 (Pride Parade)
Like Montreal, Toronto and many other big cities across the globe, Vancouver celebrates diversity. A week of festivities culminates in a flamboyant parade stretching along two kilometres of city streets and attracting close to half a million spectators and participants.
- Very Favourable
A hive of activity with so much to see and do!
We spent nearly a week in Vancouver and there was still more to see and do! Shop, dine, explore! We even found a shop specialising in quality Australian boots from home, so it is great to see that Canadians know good quality! We ended our trip to Canada with a virtual "Fly Over Canada" experience in Downtown Vancouver which gave us a taste of more to see in this wonderful country. We hope to be back one day to explore more!