Surrounded by Coastal Mountains and one of Canada’s busiest natural harbours – Vancouver is ranked one of the most liveable cities in the world for a number of years.
Flanked by majestic mountains, sparkling ocean, rainforests and beautiful foliage, Vancouver makes it a four season destination.
With its friendly multi-cultural population – there are many distinct neighbourhoods to be explored, from colourful Chinatown & Gastown, hip and vibrant Yaletown & West End, to Granville Island for the foodie enthusiast to the shopping mecca of Robson Street – it’s all waiting for you here.
Explore Summer & Winter trip ideas below!
Vancouver is full of activities for those who want to enjoy life to its fullest. Nestled between the mountains and the ocean, there is plenty on offer to keep the whole family entertained. From suspension bridges, aquarium, watersports, bike and running trails, and exploring the many neighbourhoods, there’ll be no shortage of attractions and sights to bore even the fussiest of traveller!
Capilano Suspension Bridge Park & Grouse Mountain One of the most popular tourist attractions in Vancouver and just minutes from downtown Vancouver you’ll find the awe-inspiring experience of the Capilano Suspension Bridge, the Cliffwalk and the Treetops Walk – all blended in with the sounds of nature, beautiful gardens and time-worn British Columbia First Nations totem poles at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. Just north of Capilano Suspension Bridge Park brings you to Grouse Mountain – known as the Peak of Vancouver. Take the Skyride to the top of the mountain for spectacular panoramic views of downtown Vancouver and enjoy the numerous attractions varying throughout the season from skiing and snowboarding in winter, to ziplines and lumberjack shows in the summer. Grouse Mountain offers you the scenery and the excitement!
Stanley Park & Vancouver Aquarium Stanley Park, Vancouver’s first, largest, and most beloved urban park! Designated a national historic site of Canada, Stanley Park is a magnificent green oasis in the midst of the heavily built urban landscape of Vancouver. Explore the 400-hectare natural West Coast rainforest and enjoy scenic views of water, mountains, sky, and majestic trees along Stanley Park’s famous Seawall. Discover kilometres of trails, beautiful beaches, local wildlife, great eats, natural, cultural and historical landmarks, along with many other adventures. The park offers a wide range of unforgettable experiences for all ages and interests. Located inside Stanley Park, you’ll find Canada’s largest aquarium. The Vancouver Aquarium connects hundreds of thousands of Aquarium visitors with the natural world. With over 50,000 animals and unique opportunities to come up close with some of the world’s most elusive creatures, every visit is an unforgettable one.
Granville Island In the early 1900s, Granville Island was home to factories, plants and sawmills. At one time, its official name was actually Industrial Island. Things are a little different today, Granville Island is both a locals’ favorite and a huge draw for visitors. It is centred around the Granville Island Public Market, a bevy of merchants selling seafood, fresh produce, cheese and breads. The island’s offerings are much more diverse than just one of North America’s best markets, with theatre, culture, restaurants and unique attractions drawing millions of people each year.
Yaletown & West End This False Creek waterfront community has experienced some serious revitalization since its rebirth as host of Expo ’86. Formerly a warehouse district where textile shops and train yards provided little in the way of beauty or entertainment, Yaletown has been transformed into one of Vancouver’s hippest areas, filled with sidewalk cafes, trendy restaurants, a thriving nightlife scene and intimate boutique hotels. Following from Yaletown is the West End neighbourhood. It’s organized around Denman Street between Robson and Davie streets and bordered to the south by English Bay. Primarily a residential area, this is one of the most densely populated areas in all of Canada, with 40,000 people living in high-rise condominiums and apartments. Coffee shops, fine-dining restaurants and plenty of shopping will keep you entertained in this area, with several beautiful parks and beaches perfect for taking a leisurely stroll after an evening meal.
Gastown & Chinatown Gastown, the City’s oldest neighbourhood and the epicenter of independent design, culture, food and fashion; Gastown delivers one-of-a-kind experiences to visitors and locals alike. Merging from Gastown, you’ll also find Canada’s largest Chinatown. As one of the earliest communities in British Columbia, Vancouver Chinatown hosts some of the cities’ most famous sceneries and historical buildings.
Shopping If you’re looking for a little retail therapy, Vancouver is sure to please even the most ardent shopper, with everything from artisan markets to international designers. Browse the offerings on your own, or take a guided shopping adventure. Downtown’s Robson Street and Pacific Centre Mall offer well-known brands and high-end boutiques, while Gastown is home to some of the city’s hippest new ateliers and galleries. Colourful markets such as Granville Island will find you shopping for culinary finds alongside the locals.
Dining Well known for fresh seafood, West Coast fusion cuisine and a thriving dining scene, Vancouver’s chefs use the best of what’s in-season, combining fresh ingredients with traditional techniques and multicultural influence to delicious effect. Home to the 100 Mile Diet, Vancouver is known for sustainable options on the plate – look for the Ocean Wise symbol indicating sustainable seafood choices on the menu. Pair it all with internationally-acclaimed wines from BC’s Okanagan Valley, and locally micro-brewed beers to get a unique taste of the city. And don’t let the evening end when your table is cleared: Vancouver has a vibrant cocktail scene worthy of exploration along with nightlife options to suit all tastes. Whether your preferences lean towards a jazz performance, dance clubs, catching a game at a sports bar, or a quiet nightcap, you won’t be disappointed. A wide range of culinary walking tours take you to some of the city’s tastiest neighbourhoods, giving you an insider’s glimpse into Vancouver’s hottest spots, cultural history, favourite purveyors and current trends. For the ultimate combination of cuisine and sightseeing, try a floatplane “fly and dine” tour: soaring over the modern metropolis, majestic mountains, fjords and ocean before landing on the water to savour West Coast flavour with an oceanfront seafood dinner.
There are plenty of everyday activities in the Vancouver area to keep most anyone busy, but the city has a festive side too. There was also that whole Olympic party that just took over the region and showcased both the urban and natural beauty to the world. Vancouver doesn’t stop there: It has a host of annual events that celebrate myriad great aspects of the city. From theatre to wine and food to holiday celebrations, here are some annual events that keep the city festive:
Tourism Vancouver’s DineOut Vancouver Festival – January / February This two week event is Canada’s largest restaurant festival. It’s not uncommon for a city to hold a restaurant week or two each year, where local eateries set affordable prix fixe menus and local foodies snap up reservations quicker than a professional speed eater swallows hot dogs
Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival – February / March A weeklong event, the International Wine Festival features dozens of seminars, tastings and food pairings with wines from all over the world. This event is so popular that many of the sessions sell out in advance.
Vancouver International Jazz Festival Mid June – Early July For the past quarter century, an exceptional collection of jazz, funk, Latino and fusion music has taken over parks, concert halls, clubs and other venues each summer in downtown Vancouver. The Vancouver Jazz Festival offers signature music festival and expects more than 1,800 musicians to play for more than a half million people. There are even 130 free concerts, including the Gastown Jazz street festival on opening weekend.
Celebration of Light on English Bay – Three nights in July & August Sometimes English Bay needs a little extra colour – like the type provided by fireworks. We’re not talking about everyday fireworks, though. The Celebration of Light doesn’t do typical! It does extravagant. 3 non-consecutive spectacular nights (usually held at the end of July and early August) showcases international, pyro-musical firework displays in the world for more than 1 million people lining the shores of the bay.
Bard on the Beach – May to September Shakespeare is the world’s great playwright, and his words have lived on in countless community theatres, festivals and various other productions over the centuries. Bard on the Beach is one of the largest non-profit, professional Shakespeare companies in Canada. Each summer it produces dozens of performances in beautiful Vanier Park. With two stages, including the 520-seat Main Stage tent that provides striking mountain views, the festival offers classic theatre to tourists and Vancouverites alike. And they’re welcoming it with open arms: The 20th iteration in 2009 brought more than 90,000 visitors.
Vancouver Pride Parade – August More than 650,000 people come to the Vancouver Pride Parade to celebrate diversity and the city’s LGBT community. This parade started as a small protest through Davie Village in 1978 but is now a full-scale party that draws people from all over the world, spans 20 blocks and celebrates Vancouver’s lively gay community. Colourful floats compete for prizes such as Best Little Float, Brightest Rainbow and Sin-sational Crowd Stimulators. The parade can be a bit wild, which may be a little much for children.
Vancouver International Fringe Festival – September Don’t take the name of the Vancouver International Fringe Festival to heart. The theatre at Fringe isn’t all the way out of the realm of popular culture. Rather, the point of the festival is to be inclusive to the arts community. Basically, there are no limits or censorship of ideas or scripts. Expect profanity and edge in one performance and something more traditional in the next. This festival is British Columbia’s largest
Vancouver International Film Festival – September / October There are so many fantastic reasons to attend the Vancouver International Film Festival – it’s big! One of the five largest in all of North America, in 2012, the festival saw nearly 140,000 attendees and over 380 films from 75 countries. The festival features big-name movies, plus many undiscovered gems. It is also the largest showcase in the world for Canadian films, as well as for East Asian films outside of Asia.
Bright Nights in Stanley Park – November – January Don’t bother stringing up a few hundred holiday lights on your house. There are professionals hanging millions of lights each year in Stanley Park as part of Bright Nights held end of November to early January. This holiday tradition since the early 1990’s is free, although there is a small price for tickets to certain parts of the park, including the Bright Nights Train and Children’s Farmyard.
Warmed by Pacific Ocean currents and protected by a range of mountains, Vancouver’s weather is mild year-round.
From high 70’s Fahrenheit (low 20’s Celsius) in summer to a mild mid 40’s Fahrenheit (0º to 5º Celsius) in winter, the climate is always hospitable. Our winters are wet, but it rarely snows, except on our local ski hills.