Clocks powered by steam, colonial style streets lined with lively pubs and beer drinking areas — all are situated in the area called Gastown, the part of Vancouver where traders first settled. Elsewhere, many famous forested parks, craft shops and educational museums top the itinerary of every traveler who wants to admire the sights and sounds of Vancouver. This city also makes a fantastic home base for skiers and snowboarders looking to test the ski paths at Grouse Mountain.
When To Go:
The perfect times to visit Vancouver are from March to May and from September to November; at these times the climate is mellow and lodging can be found at ideal rates. Summer is the most popular time because warmer temperatures are guaranteed. In case you’re arranging an excursion, make it a point to reserve your accommodations at least a few weeks ahead of time.
If you are a winter-sports fan, then don’t let the freezing temperatures discourage you. In winter, the valley offers hiking trails that you will certainly share with squirrels. In the spring, it has the cherry blossoms that are gorgeous! In summer, it has beaches, rose gardens, and marvelous sunsets.
Here are the top
things to do
when in the city of Vancouver…
offers a breathtaking view and a relaxing walk along the seawall. It is especially recommended at sunset when the shadows lengthen and the colors are tinged with red. You can enjoy watching yachts and seaplanes in the ocean on one side, and witness one of the most beautiful skylines ever as it lights up with each passing hour. The Seawall spans the entire city and always offers great views. The most wonderful sights are between Coal Harbor and Stanley Park.
This is one of the ideal places to stay and stroll when in Vancouver. Here you can really relax and enjoy the fascinating atmosphere of the harbor and the many restaurants that offer excellent and varied menus. It is a unique experience that you cannot miss, and a great attraction for young and old. A popular way to enjoy this area is by bike, and there are several bike rental companies at the Georgia Denman street corner located on the right side at the park entrance. It is a must-see attraction when in the city of Vancouver.
VanDusen Botanical Garden
It is well worth a stop to enjoy this beautiful garden in the middle of the city. Inside the garden, there are many species of well-maintained flowers and trees and from the entire world (not to mention ponds and ducks). It is a botanical garden like many other gardens that exist in Canada but what differentiates this one is the opportunity to see flora species of the temperate climates. It is located almost in downtown Vancouver with a variety of plants, trees and flowers worthy of the finest botanical gardens in the world.
You can walk past rose gardens as well as Mediterranean plants and trees of considerable size. Everything is kept in perfect condition — and if you are interested, two pretty “grannies” are waiting to accompany you (free) to explore all the plants. The best time to visit this attraction is during Christmas time when you can see all the colorful lights in the evening. The festival of lights is wonderful as the beautiful colors combined with the Christmas songs played all around making it really look like a winter wonderland fairy tale. The ground might be a bit cold and the wet, and the entrance fee is a little high — but you will not be disappointed.
Museum of Anthropology
Museum of Anthropology
contains an excellent collection of artifacts and a lot of exhibits that are entertaining for both adults and children. It is a very well-organized museum, and a visit here makes it possible to learn the way of life, customs and culture of the Native Canadians. The collection of artifacts and tools is abundant and complete with details and dates. Do not miss checking out the most useful and clever part of the museum that allows a comparison with the ancient peoples in various parts of the world.
The museum is exceptional, interactive, and when you return home, you can continue your visit on the website. All the exhibits are there, with complete descriptions. The garden outside has totems and a large number of costumes and works of art from the First Nation — with its sad tale of the destruction of the people. It is deeply moving and makes this place one of the most-visited attractions in Vancouver. The building itself is worth attention: in fact the “room” of the totems has walls that are almost 50 feet high, all made in glass so the light passes in from the outside environment. This creates a truly magical atmosphere and makes visitors appreciate even more the magnificent sculptures created by early Native Americans.
One of the best things to do in Vancouver is to take a ride on board the fully automated Sky Train. These city trains are controlled automatically, meaning without the aid of a driver. It is very convenient that you can buy a ticket on a credit card, unlike the local buses. (Buses can only take metal coins.) Sky Train has fare zones and ticket costs for one zone are about $2.30 Canadian dollars. The ticket is valid for approximately 1.5 hours, but if you need to move from zone to zone, you will have to purchase another ticket. The tracks are mostly high above the houses and neighborhoods offering a panorama of the city.
You can see different scenes, from prestigious areas to dubious byways. But this is the main interest, because to see it all otherwise would not be possible. This way gives tourists a chance to expand their ideas about Vancouver. So if you have the opportunity to ride the Sky Train – choose it!
is gorgeous and every detail of its paintings shows the greatness and all the enlightenment and appeal of this “old” theater. It is worth knowing that inside it is one of the most beautiful places to discover in Vancouver. The whole ceiling is detailed, and truly a sight that must not be missed. From outside you cannot imagine the beauty and sophistication of the interior.
The ceiling is elaborate, the lighting is perfect, there are also indirect lights, and the elegant stairs give an imposing air. Try to find the choir room, it is even more beautiful than some of the other rooms you will find. Enjoy a concert with the music provided by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. In this theater there are also several special performances that are shown all throughout the year, and you can book in advance. The theatre has a very impressive structure, well preserved, and with good acoustics in its performance halls.
Queen Elizabeth Park
This is a very nice park with fountains and stunning views of Vancouver; there is no admission charge and you can walk there at any time of the year. The
Queen Elizabeth Park
also has a small nature reserve where for a nominal fee you can watch tropical birds flying free at arm’s length. This idyllic garden in the open air offers an infinite variety of flowers and colors; it is all well groomed, and gives a spectacular view of the downtown area and a mountain where there are tropical plants and parrots in abundance. You will also find there a talented artist who in a few minutes will make you a beautiful portrait in charcoal for just $10.
And then there are the wonderful fountains that flow to the rhythm of music. This attraction is ideal for families with children. On top, you can find the Blödel Conservatory, a glass dome that contains a transplanted tropical environment with plants and birds of various kinds.
Entrance is free and you will be able to have a little guidance and a paper for children to write down what has been observed. A little trivia: in this park is where you can find the huge water storage that serves the entire city of Vancouver.
is a place that is definitely worth an entire day’s visit if you are in Vancouver. There is a famous food market where you can find products from all over the world. The island is easily accessible by public transportation and by a number of small boats that go around the bay. It has rows of very cute shops and a line of fine dining restaurants (some offering fresh fish and seafood at very reasonable prices). There is also the possibility of more extended boat trips, as well as a beautiful view of downtown Vancouver.
It is a very tourist-oriented island in the heart of Vancouver but the food market should be seen for the absolutely great variety of fruit, fish, and meat. Outside the market there are many bars, pubs, and souvenir shops where you can spend a bit of time nicely. Grandville overlooks the nearby bay area where you can see passing boats of all kinds and the very nice and colorful sea bus. Try not to go after 7 pm as you will find almost everything already closed.
The steam clock is probably the most famous feature of this area; it plays every quarter of an hour. It is fun and unusual, and the place itself is full of character (and is one of the most commercial areas with several souvenir shops.) Gastown is perhaps it is one of the most beautiful and historic areas of the city with typical streetlights, low houses, old beer pubs, and shops.
is considered as the starting point and the birthplace of the city of Vancouver. This old part of town has many brick buildings, which contrast sharply with the business district and its buildings of glass and steel. It is a very lively and very friendly neighborhood. Do not miss the spectacle of its steam clock ringing at all hours, and be sure to check out all the clubs. Then you can enjoy your shopping for souvenirs.
is a young city with a very strong Asian population. The city is very clean, with impressive buildings. It has the old cathedral on Georgia Street, many shopping streets and large commercial centers, a Starbucks coffee shop every 10 steps, the famous steam clock, and its smiling and friendly citizens. The main attraction is the water that surrounds the city center, where guests can see a variety of activities and scenery.
Visit the Olympic ski resort of Whistler or the trail that is closer to the small station leading to Cypress Mountain — where you can discover a small authentic village. It’s great to stroll in downtown Vancouver because all tour sites have easy access and you can walk around easily. There is much to see and many places that offer beautiful views. You will love the English Bay, the area of the harbor, Gastown, Chinatown, Yaletown, and the Granville Island.
The English Bay is a very nice place built for pedestrians and cyclists who want to wander along the beachfront area. You can take excellent pictures beside a dozen statues (Inuit art) of men laughing. The gray sand beach is very narrow and there is a continuous line of ships at sea. The beach is close to Robson Street where you can relax and enjoy a coffee purchased at Starbucks — while sitting on a tree trunk. The beach has a very close proximity to the city center, so it is possible to go for a swim at English Bay to enjoy the Pacific while being just minutes from various quality hotels.
One can walk along the bay on the seawall reserved for walkers and joggers, where a double bike path is created to avoid any risk of unexpected encounter between the two. The bay is lined with modern buildings overlooking wooded and flower-filled squares. In the evening, at sunset, there are plenty of people who come to sit and see the sun disappear into the ocean. This afternoon activity in English Bay is a must if you are in Vancouver.