One of the world’s most beautiful cities, Vancouver is centred on a glitzy down-town, fringed by water and set against a spectacular backdrop of mountain peaks. Its setting and surroundings make it an outdoor-lover’s paradise, and locals barely have to move to take advantage of the countless recreational opportunities afforded all year round – whether it’s sailing or swimming in crystal-clear English Bay, biking or Roller-blading in vast Stanley Park, skiing or boarding on the mountains, or wandering through the forests and canyons on the city’s northern shore. Vancouver also has plenty that contributes to a cultured atmosphere: top-notch museums, superb restaurants – arguably the best in North America after New York and San Francisco – countless cafés, great parks and gardens, and any number of hip bars and clubs.
Summer and winter it’s all hedonism and healthy living, typically West Coast obsessions that spill over into its sophisticated arts and culture. Vancouver claims a world-class symphony orchestra, as well as opera, theatre and dance companies at the cutting edge of contemporary arts. Festivals proliferate throughout its mild, if occasionally rain-soaked, summer, and numerous music venues provide a hotbed for up-and-coming rock bands and a burgeoning jazz scene.
Some idea of the city’s outlook can be gleaned from a slew of lifestyle surveys which show that, per capita, its inhabitants read more, drink more wine, smoke less, spend more on outdoor gear and support more bars and restaurants than do residents of any other Canadian city.
1 Canada Place
Stroll by day or night around the walkways of this striking convention centre, hotel and cruise-ship terminal for wonderful views of Vancouver’s port.
2 The SeaBus
The city’s principal ferry links Downtown with Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver, offering superlative vistas of the city skyline and Burrard Inlet.
3 Marine Building
The city’s maritime heritage is celebrated in the motifs adorning Vancouver’s only surviving Art Deco skyscraper.
4 Granville Island
Fabulous food shops and teeming market stalls are the main attractions of this hugely popular enclave, easily accessible from Downtown.
5 Vancouver Art Gallery
See the imaginative, aboriginal-influenced works of Victoria-born Emily Carr, the highlight of Vancouver’s principal gallery.
6 Stanley Park
North America’s largest urban park is a green oasis of woodland, ancient forest, marshes, beaches and peaceful trails.
7 Museum of Anthropology
Bill Reid’s The Raven and the First Men is one of countless outstanding pieces of aboriginal art in Vancouver’s most compelling museum.
This former warehouse district is now a dynamic mixture of funky stores, bars and excellent restaurants.
9 Dr Sun Yat-Sen Garden
Chinatown’s cultural showpiece is the only full-scale classical Chinese garden in the Western Hemisphere.
10 Grouse Mountain Skyride
The largest cable cars in North America offer a breathtaking way to reach the top of Grouse Mountain, the city’s finest viewpoint.
11 Vancouver Museum
Fronted by an eye-catching fountain, this eclectic civic museum presents a lively account of Vancouver’s history, from its earliest aboriginal inhabitants to the burgeoning city of today.
12 Seaplane ride
Leaving from the Downtown waterfront, the seaplane affords glorious panoramas of the city and its surroundings.
13 Kitsilano Beach
While away a summer afternoon at this popular South Vancouver beach.
Photo by duanestorey on Flickr