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, at your own pace.
WHAT TO DO
* = Interesting ** = worth a detour *** = worth a trip
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. 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.
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!
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!
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.
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 Suspension Bridge Park. Within this park, Treetops Adventure takes guests more than 30 feet above the forest floor on seven suspension bridges attached to old-growth Douglas fir trees. It is accessible to guests aged 2 to 92.
Capilano Salmon Hatchery*
Capilano Salmon 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.
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!
Where to eat
- $ Inexpensive
- $$ Moderate
- $$$ Upscale
- $$$$ Fine dining
WHERE TO EAT
Lolita’s South of the Border Cantina ($$)
This popular West End restaurant serves delicious food in a cozy atmosphere. The menu features classic Mexican dishes such as fish ceviche, homemade plantain chips, enchiladas and tacos. Their luscious cocktails will make you feel like you are hanging out on the beach!
1326 Davie Street, Vancouver, V6E 1N6 / 604-696-9996
Salmon n’Bannock Bistro ($$$)
British Columbia is known for its high quality wild salmon! This small restaurant showcases Aboriginal cuisine with a range of menu items inspired by a variety of First Nations culinary tradition. The homemade bannock, or flatbread, is one of the house specialties!
7-1128 W. Broadway, Vancouver, V6H 1G5 / 604-568-8971
Bao Bei ($$)
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.
163 Keefer Street, Vancouver, V6A 1X4 / 604-688-0876
Where to sleep ?
Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival
Date: March 21 to April 17, 2016
Description: Did you know that the streets of Greater Vancouver are home to 37,000 cherry trees? The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival is a free event that celebrates the beauty of the blossoming cherry trees every spring. Activities include city-wide viewing programs, musical performances, and fine art and craft exhibitions.
Festival d’été francophone
Date: June 18 to 27, 2015 (2016 dates to be confirmed)
Description: Founded in 1990, the Festival d’été francophone is one of the most important cultural and musical francophone events in Western Canada.
Vancouver Folk Festival
Date: 15 au 17 juillet 2016
Description: 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.
Dragon boat Festival
Date: June 17 to 19, 2016
Description: 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 200 dragon boat teams from the area and around the globe.
TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival
Date: June 24 to July 3, 2016
Description: 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.
Date: July 31, 2016 (Pride Parade)
Description: 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.
Celebration of Light Fireworks Festival
Date: July 23, 27 and 30 2016
Description: 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.
Vancouver Chinatown Festival
Date: August 8 and 9, 2015 (2016 dates to be confirmed)
Description: Vancouver's Chinatown is a historic district that is home to the third-largest Chinese community in North America after San Francisco and New York. The Vancouver Chinatown Festival is a family-friendly multicultural celebration whose activities include shows, food tasting, an open-air market, and guided tours of Chinatown.
- Very Favourable