Vancouver is a vibrant, metropolitan city buzzing with arts, culture and shopping. But did you know that it’s unique in the way that it is surrounded by nature? There’s no other city quite like it. The city is like a peninsula, with Vancouver Harbour on one side, False Creek on the other and the Burrard Inlet leading straight into the Pacific Ocean. At the city’s back, the North Shore Mountains provide a stunning backdrop and all around you’ll find lush woodland thick with towering cedars. You’re starting to realise that a city break in Vancouver will be a holiday with a difference.
You can still do all the usual city activities in Vancouver – it has world-class shopping and arts, lively dining and bars as well as top sporting teams. But beyond that, you won’t truly appreciate the beauty of Vancouver until you get into its great outdoors. We’ve rounded up our favourite way to experience the ocean, mountains and natural splendour surrounding Vancouver.
1. Sea Vancouver from the water
Zip up your waterproofs, climb into a zodiac boat and set off for a thrilling ride from Vancouver’s harbour. With a Sea Vancouver boat tour, you’ll zip up the Burrard Inlet and explore the waterways surrounding Vancouver’s Coal Harbour, Northshore, English Bay, False Creek and Stanley Park. It’s an unbeatable way to get a different perspective of the city, taking in the skyscrapers, parks and beaches from a new angle. Plus, it can be a great way to orientate yourself when you first arrive! Throughout the tour, your passionate skipper will share everything they love about Vancouver, with fun facts and plenty of information.
2. Ride the Grouse Mountain Skyride Surf
Grouse Mountain is the best known of Vancouver’s North Shore Mountains, looking straight down onto the city. It has a famous hike to the summit (the Grouse Grind), skiing in winter and even a wildlife sanctuary. If you don’t fancy the punishing Grind, a much more scenic (and leisurely!) way of getting to the top is on the aerial tram. It’s worth the trip for those stunning views alone. In summer, you can even “surf” on top of the tram itself! There are plenty of activities on offer once you reach the summit, and one of the highlights of Grouse Mountain is the zip line network. A dual-line, five-line circuit soars across the peaks and canyons of Grouse and Dam Mountains. The rush is incredible, and the views are unparalleled.
3. Taste your way around town
Vancouver’s incredible multiculturalism makes it a special destination for food. There are plenty of different influences at work here, resulting in a vibrant and varied foodie scene. Plus, the city is blessed with incredible locally-grown and fished produce straight from the Pacific coast and BC farmyards. From Japanese-influenced sushi to Mexican-inspired fish tacos, your mouth will water everywhere you go. One of the best ways to whet your appetite and try a little of everything delicious is to join a foodie tour. You can walk the city with friendly guides who are happy to share their insider knowledge of the top dining spots. Along the way you’ll stop and sample some of the finest fare in Vancouver, from locally-cured meats in Granville Island Market to the best food trucks in downtown.
4. Cycle the Seawall
For 28 glorious kilometres, the world’s longest uninterrupted waterfront path skirts the edge of Vancouver’s Stanley Park. The Stanley Park Seawall stretches along the coast, smooth and alluring, flirting with beaches and waves along the way. It’s one of the most scenic and relaxed ways to appreciate Vancouver’s coastal position. Plus, it’s a great way to see Stanley Park which is one of the jewels in Vancouver’s crown. This green, 400-hectare oasis is larger even than New York’s Central Park.
5. Spend a day on the beach
Vancouver has an incredible NINE beaches along its seafront. How many cities can boast that? Eight are by the ocean, one is by a freshwater lake and all are brilliant spots to sunbathe, swim, play beach volleyball and meet the locals. Each has a different character, as you’ll soon learn from the friendly Vancouverites who hang out there. English Bay has kayak rentals, swimming rafts and volley ball, while laid back Jericho Beach boasts picnic tables, tennis courts and a sailing centre. Visit Kitsilano Beach (kits) for coffee culture or Locarno for some off-the-beaten-track peace and quiet.
So, are you tempted by Vancouver’s unique nature? Check out our latest Vancouver flight deals or have a look at our Vancouver city break for a package with hotels. You’ll be soaking up the Pacific in no time.