Majestic mountains, sparkling ocean, rainforests and beautiful foliage throughout all four seasons make Vancouver one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Add to this a relatively mild Pacific Northwest climate, an energetic restaurant and nightlife scene, world class shopping and a unique mix of cultures and it's easy to understand why Vancouver has recently been named by Lonely Planet as one of their 'Top 10 cities to visit in 2020" and should be high on any traveller's wish list.
Vancouver's oldest neighbourhood, Gastown, grew from a single tavern founded back in 1867. Today, the district retains its historic charm and independent spirit with Victorian architecture housing boutiques, galleries and some of the best culinary fare in the city. Get a bird's eye view of the area from the Vancouver Lookout, which is located in the Harbour Centre and rises 553 feet to give visitors a 360º panorama of the city.
If you do have a head for heights make your way to the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park and appreciate nature from three breathtaking perspectives. The swaying Capilano Suspension Bridge, which stretches 450 feet across a canyon and the Capilano River 230 feet below, has thrilled visitors since 1889; Treetops Adventure takes you 100 feet into the mid-story of a coastal rainforest on seven suspension bridges attached to old-growth trees; and the Cliffwalk, which is not for the fainthearted, follows a granite precipice along the Capilano River on a labyrinth-like series of narrow cantilevered bridges, stairs and platforms through rainforest vegetation.
Adjacent to Downtown Vancouver is the magnificent green oasis of Stanley Park. Featuring huge trees, ever-blooming gardens and lovely beaches all encircled by a six mile paved seawall making it easy to explore on foot or by bicycle. Within the park attractions range from the totem poles at Brockton Point to a pitch 'n' putt golf course and the marine life at the Vancouver Aquarium.
Vancouver's Chinatown has been buzzing with activity for more than a century. Rich in history and architecture, this area boasts North America's third largest Chinatown and has plenty of classic speciality stores, dim sum restaurants and apothecaries. When you require some sanctuary, head to Dr Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, with covered walkways and beautiful pavilions this incredibly manicured garden was the first authentic classical Chinese garden ever built outside of China.
When you think of Vancouver, beaches may not spring to mind, but the city has several options when you're looking for somewhere to relax, particularly during the summer months. Kitsliano Beach is a particular favourite as along with the stretch of sands you'll find Kits Pool, a large outdoor heated salt-water pool with a wrap-around view of the city, ocean and mountains.
The city's best known shopping precinct is Robson Street, and a must-stroll area for visitors. Being right in the heart of the downtown core, you'll find yourself amongst locals on their way to the office or heading to a game at the BC Place Stadium. There's also plenty of casual eateries, well-priced Asian restaurants and fine dining options too.
Take the ferry across False Creek to Granville Island and once you're there, the biggest attraction is the indoor Public Market, with seemingly endless rows of stalls. Outside of the market, there are theatres, art galleries and craft studios, or for outdoor types kayaking and paddleboarding tours can be found here.
Another nearby attraction is the vast alpine playground of Grouse Mountain, just 15 minutes from the city's downtown core. Take the iconic 8 minute gondola ride from the Valley Station to the summit and enjoy the jaw-dropping majestic nature of British Columbia as it unfolds around you.
GMT -8 hours
The flying time from the UK to Vancouver is about 9 hours.
Vancouver enjoys mild winters (January to March) so outdoor enthusiasts need not hibernate although mountain slopes are 20 minutes away. Spring is sunnier while summer (July-September) sees pleasant warm temperatures. Things cool down in Autumn but the changing colours of the leaves make it a spectacular time to visit.
Granville Island is perfect for lovers of food, art and culture. During this two hour tour, savour a variety of fine food from independent farmers and food artisans throughout Vancouver and beyond. Available selected days year round.
This half day tour includes numerous points of interest within Vancouver and makes a stop in Stanley Park en route to the Capilano Suspension Bridge in the North Shore rainforest. Cross the 450 foot long bridge over a spectacular canyon. Later, visit Granville Island. Available selected dates Apr-Oct.
Sit back and enjoy spectacular views and scenic stops during this full day tour. Highlights include Brandywine Falls, Sea to Sky Gondola admission and four hours of free time in Whistler before returning to Vancouver in the evening. Available selected dates Jun-Sep.
Hop aboard the semi-covered Express Cruiser for a fully guided half day whale watching and wildlife viewing excursion. View several different whale species as well as an assortment of sea birds and other marine wildlife. Available selected dates Apr-Nov.
Experience the exhilarating scenery and picturesque charms of historic Victoria. This compact pedestrian-friendly city features eclectic shopping, superb cuisine and wonderful attractions. Includes return ferry from Vancouver and admission to Butchart Gardens. Available selected dates May-Oct 20.