Voted ‘Best city in the Americas’ by Conde Naste Traveler magazine, visit Vancouver and get a unique destination that packs in big city lifestyle and outdoor adventure in equal measure.
Vancouver is located on the south-western shore of British Columbia, Canada and is blessed with a multicultural history that explains its huge diversity. Variety is the spice of life and whether you want to scale mountains, hop on a jet-ski or simply sip cocktails by the pool, Vancouver is bound to have something to grab your imagination.
In terms of activities, the city boasts a thriving watersports scene, with 11 beaches perfect for swimming, boating and canoeing. The rich diversity of marine life in the local waters also makes Vancouver a scuba diver’s dream – and the current winter season is a perfect time to go as reduced plankton levels and increased visibility means divers can usually see for about 20 metres.
Several areas – notably the Queen Charlotte islands and the Fraser and Thompson rivers – are also renowned fishing hotspots, and the waters off the western coast are prime whale watching sites, with killer and pacific grey whales making regular appearances as they run north in spring and south in autumn.
Skiing, of course, is high on the menu as Vancouver is surrounded by ridges. Grouse Mountain, the closest slope to the city centre, is known to offer atmospheric night skiing, while Cypress Bowl, Hollyburn and the swanky Whistler resort all boast high quality powder and good facilities.
Those of a more cultural persuasion will also be spoiled for choice. The Vancouver Art Gallery, a renovated old court house, has been a world-renowned centre for both historical and contemporary art for 75 years. Located in the heart of downtown Vancouver, the gallery showcases a variety of exhibitions and is currently displaying work from Brian Jungen, Takao Tanabe and the British Masters.
History buffs will be keen to dive into the Maritime Museum, where visitors can immerse themselves in the history and rich maritime traditions of the Pacific Coast. There’s the opportunity to step back in time to 1944 and get on board the St Roch, Canada’s celebrated RCMP schooner, while children will be entertained in the museum’s Discovery Centre.
The braver traveller with a stern stomach will be keen to get on board the Lookout – a glass elevator that shoots guests 169 metres up to a futuristic viewing area, from where the fantastic 360° panorama of the city uncurls. Educational plaques and free tours provide information to illuminate the vast glow beneath your feet, giving a real sense of the city’s history and scale.
Before hitting the town and indulging your senses in the cuisine and buzzing local nightlife, there’s no better way to lower the pulse for a restful afternoon than a visit to Vancouver’s Dr Sun Yat-Sen classical Chinese garden, the first uniquely Chinese horticultural space to be developed in the Americas and a soothing oasis amidst the hubbub of the downtown. Stone-laid paths, jade pools and shaded pavilions contribute to the garden’s restful air and visitors will leave feeling relaxed, tranquil and at peace.
Finally – the food. No holiday is complete without some good old fashioned gorging, and if seafood’s your thing you’ll be in for a real treat. That isn’t to say the cuisine is based solely on fish, however – there’s a huge variety of things to eat, with the surrounding fertile farmland producing some real wholesome treats. Wash down the meal with some locally fermented Okanagan Valley wine and you’ll be in the mood for more!