Located on Canada's west coast, Vancouver is wrapped by water on three sides, making it one of the best places in the world to spot migrating whales, including the magnificent killer whale. A stone's throw from the sparkling waters, you’ll discover a city surrounded by stretches of sandy beaches and rugged mountains, boasting more than 200 parks in between.
While officially incorporated in 1886, the city's history spans much further back, having been home to indigenous people for thousands of years. Vancouver was founded by a character known as “Gassy Jack” because of his talkative nature and ability to tell a good story. He put together a makeshift drinking tavern for local sawmill workers, today, the historic Gastown neighbourhood. The lumberjacks are now long gone, but it’s still a great place for a drink. Amble along the cobbled streets to check out at the unusual steam clock, browse a few shops or enjoy a wild night out at one of the many nightclubs.
Today’s cosmopolitan Downtown is Vancouver’s business district, and at its heart, lies the city's most famous shopping destination, Robson Street. A short stroll away is one of the largest Chinatowns in the world and the historic Yaletown, where you’ll find more great places to eat, drink, shop and party.
Visit Stanley Park where you can see Native American artwork and totem poles, hop on the miniature train to explore the coastal rainforest, or trek to beautiful lakes and beaches. The pod of beluga whales and touch pools at the Vancouver Aquarium provide hours of family fun. For a view of the sea, walk or pedal along the Seawall, a 22-kilometre path lining Vancouver’s picturesque waterfront. Continue south along this path and you’ll catch sight of the breathtaking English Bay and Granville Island, well-known for its Public Market, colourful array of shops, art galleries and studios. Pedestrians can stroll along as far as Kitsilano Beach Park on the Seawall, but cyclists can pedal further to the University of British Columbia. At the university, visit the Museum of Anthropology, an architectural masterpiece showcasing indigenous art from around the world.
Ten minutes north of Downtown Vancouver is the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, where you can cross a deep canyon on suspension bridge towering 70 metres above the Capilano River, or traverse the lush forests through the many walking trails. Venture upwards onto Grouse Mountain for panoramic views of the city and unparalleled photo opportunities. Scale the skies in the Skyride Gondola which whisks you 1,100 metres above forested mountains for a bird's eye view of Vancouver.
Despite having a warmer climate than most of Canada, the city is still a haven for snow sports. Ski the slopes at Sun Peaks Resort in the morning and be back in time for dinner in Chinatown or a concert in the historic Orpheum Theatre. Finish off with a nightcap in one of Yaletown’s bars before calling it a day in one of the most liveable cities in the world.