Oh, Canada, how we love you. Let’s explore one of the jewels of Canada’s crown, the beautiful city of Vancouver. It has the 4th largest cruise ship terminal in the world. Home to Canada’s longest pool. Measuring 137.5 meters (451 feet), it is nearly the size of three Olympic pools.
Vancouver is a utopia set at the foot of a masterful mountain range with a beautiful bay. It’s the perfect combination of big city living meets natural wonder. In fact, so much so, that the best way to think of Vancouver is a delicious cocktail: a healthy pour of natural beauty and a cutting mixer of metropolitan fun.
There’s a lot to occupy your time in V-Town, so here’s a few of our favorite things to do and places to go, sleep, eat and drink in Vancouver.
Get Lost in Stanley Park This is unlike any park in any major city in the world. That’s mainly because it doesn’t feel like a park at all and more like a nature reserve, with the occasional view of a city skyline. It’s been voted in numerous lists of Top Parks in the World. It’s hard to mention everything you can do in Stanley Park in so little space but whether you want to walk along Vancouver’s coastline, swim, golf, cycle, or stroll through a forest, you can do it all and so much more at the earth’s most popular city park.
Commute like a Vancouverian on the Aquabus If you find yourself near False Creek (and if you’re doing Vancouver right, you will), make sure to make the most of the Aquabus, which is exactly what it sounds like it is. A delightful bus that’s not actually of the wheeled variety but instead cruises charmingly along the water. It’s a great place to start your Vancouver trip as the no-frills bus provides scenic views of the whole city.
Take it All in at the Vancouver Lookout While not as famous as the crown that adorns Lady Liberty or the viewing platform in the Space Needle, the Vancouver Lookout provides stunning 360° views of the city. Helpful guides are also at hand to show you important sights, so it makes for a perfect starting point for your Vancouver trip. Drinks and food are also available up top, but make sure that you book in advance!
Get Trendy in Gastown You’ll know when you’re in the chic area of Gastown when you stumble across the steam clock that marks Vancouver’s oldest neighborhood. The popular neighborhood grew from ‘Gassy Jack’s’ tavern into a thriving independent area. Whether its galleries, boutiques, fashion, delicious food or independent bars that you’re after, Gastown is a great place to get into the spirit of the city.
Say Hi to Vertigo at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park Vancouver’s natural surroundings are one of the biggest reasons that it’s a dream vacation destination and one of the biggest of them all is the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. You’ll need to pack your GoPro for this one; whether you want to walk across the fairly terrifying Suspension Bridge, or take in the Canyon lights and Tree Top adventures, you’ll be able to make your trip here one that you’ll never forget. It’s just a short, free shuttle ride away from the city center and something you really can’t miss.
Visit Granville Island, an Island in the Middle of the City This delightful little island in the middle of Vancouver is packed with restaurants, culture and fun for the whole family. The quirky and cute little houseboats are worth the trip alone but you can also grab a bite, visit a gallery or watch a show on the island which has become the de facto artistic center of the city.
Get Studious at Science World Now as much a part of Vancouver’s skyline as any other building in the area, the Science World building just so happens to be a world-class science museum…go figure. Worth a visit anytime and the perfect place to take little ones if you’re bringing the family on your Vancouver stay.
Take a Dip in English Bay Vancouver has it all and that, of course, includes a delightful series of beaches. The best of the best can be found alongside the Instagram hashtag-friendly English Bay. If you’re visiting in summer take a dip; if you’re visiting in winter, probably don’t. The stunning bay is perfect for a few outdoor strolls or cycle rides with awe-inspiring views around every turn.
Hit the Slopes Cypress Mountain Ski Area Out of season to swim along Vancouver’s beaches? That’s OK, as there’s a reason they have a highway that’s called “Sea to Ski”: why not hit the stunning slopes at the Cypress Mountain Ski Area? You can see the gorgeous mountains from every angle of the city, but they aren’t just for sightseeing as the skiing around the area is world-class. Well, world-class enough to host the 2010 Winter Olympics, which is as world-class as it gets. All this is a mere 30-minute drive from the middle of Vancouver.
Take on the Beautiful Baden-Powell Trail This is a 5-hour hike located in North Vancouver; you won’t want to do it when the weather turns nasty but it really is one of the most stunning treks in North America. You’ll walk through stunning forests whilst dodging creeks and ascending mountains. It’s not easy, but just know that getting back to the city center and a well-earned beer is just a few miles away.
Need a place to rest your head whilst exploring everything that Vancouver has to offer? Never fear, they’ve got some amazing and unique accommodation to suit every budget. Here are a few that we love at BUCKiTDREAM.
High-end If you don’t know what a budget is and you’re happy commuting to your hotel via a specially-chartered flight out of the city center to a remote island resort then the Clayoquot Wilderness Resort is the only choice for you. This stunning eco-safari resort is the epitome of glamping.
Medium The Westin Grand just so happens to be shaped like a piano, which is why it’s our favorite of a wide range of mid-priced hotels across the city. It’s in the heart of the city’s entertainment district and is the perfect base camp for exploring everything the city has to offer.
Budget Vancouver is one of the friendliest cities in the world, so if you’re on a real budget and not familiar with the concept of couch surfing, it’s the perfect place to give it a try. You’ll get to stay for free and meet some pretty awesome people in the process, but this is best if you’re traveling solo or with friends as your space and privacy will obviously be limited. There is also a wide range of bargain hotels that can be found on booking sites for under $50 a night.
What to Eat in Vancouver
Due to the abundance of natural resources that surrounds Vancouver, you can rest assured that you’ll eat fresh and you’ll eat well. The city prides itself on four elements of food:
West Coast Seafood – mussels, oysters, wild salmon, crab, prawn and much more fresh from the sea and straight to your mouth.
Sustainable ingredients – In Vancouver sustainability is as important as taste and you’ll find numerous restaurants throughout the city that detail exactly where each ingredient comes from.
Variety – From high-end to food trucks, no matter where you eat in this city the one thing you’ll struggle to find is bad food.
The cultural mashups – Like any big city, Vancouver is proud of its diversity and with that comes some excellent food cultural clashes with delicious results.
It’s not cheap, it’s not easy to get a reservation, but the Bauhaus restaurant in Gastown is to die for. The restaurant provides a contemporary take on German classics and is run by a Michelin-starred chef, so besides the price, there really is no downside.
Where to Drink in Vancouver
If you’re drinking beer then you can’t go wrong with The Alibi Room, where you’ll find a wide variety of the finest local and imported craft beers starting at the staggeringly reasonable $4.75 per drink. If you’re more of a cocktail connoisseur, head to Prohibition in the basement of the Rosewood Hotel. It’s a glitzy 1920s’ dream, with bespoke crafted cocktails good enough to make you swoon.
Big night out?
One of the best things about Vancouver is the nightlife and you can’t go wrong bar-hopping on the hip Granville Street. If you’ve still got some gas left in the tank after pinging between the excellent pubs and bars, you’ll probably want to end up at one of the following clubs: Celebrities, Var None or the Roxy, which all put on unique nights suitable for any taste.
Specialty Drink Just for Vancouver The Canadian Car Bomb tastes as lethal as it sounds, but less so if you insist on a touch of maple syrup to cut through the rye whiskey and beer!
Tips & Culture
Most of the population speaks English, although French is also one of the official languages
Make sure to stock up on Canadian dollar as opposed to U.S..
Pack appropriately for the season. It’s cold in the winter, but not as cold as you might think, and nice and warm during the summer and spring months.
Everything you need to know about Vancouver’s transit system can be found here.
100,000 locals make the steep climb up Grouse Mountain every year but for those of you less willing to take on the heart attack-inducing climb, there is an alternative option in the form of the Skyride. For the daredevils among you, there’s also the new and incredibly unique option to “surf” on top of the Skyride. Whether you choose the easy or VERY difficult option, the view that you’ll get from the top and on the way up is one that you’ll never forget.
Vancouver is a dream destination and one of Canada’s jewels, but don’t just dream about making the trip – start to make it happen. Use the BUCKiTDREAM app to talk to members about their experiences and learn how you can turn your dream trip into a reality.