Nicola is our talented Communications Executive, and is an honorary Vancouverite after living in the city for two and a half years. She’s shared her insider’s tips for a dreamy Vancouver summer.
There’s every reason to get excited about Vancouver in any season, but come summer the city comes alive. Vancouverites love to be outside making the most of their beloved city, so when the city basks in sunshine, everyone heads outdoors to do the same. On your next holiday to Vancouver prepare to spend lots of time enjoying the fresh air; make sure you soak up the beautiful surroundings and laid back atmosphere; and of course, dine al fresco at every opportunity.
Simply put, if you are planning your trip across to Vancouver this summer, you’re in for a real treat!
Here are our 5 reasons to get excited for a visit in 2017…
Canada Day – July 1st
This year it’s bound to be bigger as the country celebrates the 150th. Having spent Canada Day in Vancouver on a ‘normal’ Canada Day, I can highly recommend getting involved in the action. While the sheer crowds can be a tiny bit intimidating, don’t let it put you off because the atmosphere is worth it. Plus, Canadians are renowned for being friendly and will be thrilled that you’re celebrating their country with them.
Canada Place is transformed into a hive of activity, with loads going on inside the gigantic ‘sails’ and musical performances taking place outside. The area is all pedestrianised so you’re completely safe to wander around soaking it all in.
Beaches and pools
Summer in Vancouver can get hot so having somewhere to cool off can make your holiday even more enjoyable. While some hotels have incredible, scenic pools – I’m looking at you Fairmont Waterfront and Pan Pacific – if you’re staying in an apartment or just like being at the water, then the beaches and outdoor pools are perfect!
Lazy beach days
One of the real gems of Vancouver is the proximity between downtown and the beaches. Yes, you can finish your shopping on Robson Street, hop on a bus or enjoy a stroll and be on the white sandy beach at English Bay in 20 minutes or less.
For a slightly quieter beach, walk around the seawall to the inventively named Second and Third beaches – both are smaller but equally beautiful!
If, like me, you would rather stay in contained water then the outdoor pool at Second Beach is just perfect. For starters, it’s huge and has areas for lane swimming, slides for kids and space to splash around so it’s suitable for the whole family. Plus, it overlooks the ocean so you still get the ‘seaside’ experience.
One small hint: even on the hottest day, take a blanket or a big towel to cover up as the wind coming straight from the water can sometimes be a bit on the cooler side.
Awesome ice cream
When Mother Nature gives you fresh berries with such beautiful natural colours we all fall in ❤️ with 🍦 and the summer☀️☀️☀️! Our strawberry, raspberry and veryberry (blue, rasp and straw) gelato. We only make 40 servings at a time, sell out and make a fresh batch! #artversusproduction #smallisbeautiful #qualityoverquantity #localfarmersarecool #berryseason #yummyandhealthyispossible #iwant #youdeservebetter #youdeservethebest #bellagelateria
I’m a foodie at heart and a firm believer that no summer holiday is complete without a good helping of frozen goodness. Thankfully Vancouver has a lot of fantastic choices for ice cream!
For a truly special taste sensation, join the queue at Bella Gelateria, on the corner of West Cordova Street and Burrard Street. There’s a very good reason why there’s always a line outside. It moves quickly and you won’t regret the wait when you’re tucking into the most deliciously smooth gelato.
There are incredible flavours such as dulce de leche, salted hazelnut and banana bread to name just a few that I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying. Purely for research purposes of course! Once you’ve got your scoop, head across the road to Canada Place to enjoy your ice cream with a view. Perfection!
Over on the other side of town, just a short stroll from Olympic Village, is the fantastic Earnest ice cream. In true Vancouver style, you can indulge in vegan options such as vegan chocolate and vegan mint chip. But there’s plenty of delicious full-dairy options too such as butter pecan, whiskey hazelnut and London Fog.
Take your treat back to Olympic Village – it’s a lovely area to wander around with lots of seats where you can sit and enjoy the view over False Creek and the mountains.
Vancouver is very much an outdoor city – locals love to make the most of their stunning surroundings, and quite rightly so! The views and landscapes are just too spectacular not to get out and explore, and Vancouver offers some of the best kept hiking trails in the world* (*not scientifically proven, but we’d guess they’re up there!) From Vancouver, your hiking options are vast.
Conquer the Chief
If you’ve got a car, just under an hour’s drive up the Sea-to-Sky Highway takes you to Squamish, home to The Chief. I wouldn’t recommend this for beginners as it’s not an easy hike, but you can take it at your own pace and the views from the top make it worthwhile.
There are three peaks to choose from. I went for Option Two – the first is normally the busiest and I didn’t feel like we could quite make it to the third peak. There are parts of the route where you have to pull yourself up the rocks with chains and a ladder (not as awful as it sounds!) Every bit of effort is worth it as the views over Squamish, the surrounding mountains and Howe Sound are incredible!
Discover Deep Cove
For an easier hike with beautiful views, hop on the Seabus at Waterfront Station next to Canada Place and sail over to the North Shore, then catch a bus to Deep Cove (check out the Translink website for help planning your journey).
Upon arrival, walk down to the water and along the front to the start of the Baden Powell Trail. The hike up to Quarry Rock takes around an hour and a half and is an easy hike. The views from the rock are beautiful, overlooking Deep Cove and surrounding islands. Take a picnic with you and sit awhile.
Outdoor cultural events
The scenery and backdrop of Vancouver lends itself perfectly to outdoor events – it simply adds to the overall effect.
For fans of Shakespeare, the annual Bard on the Beach Festival shouldn’t be missed. Running from early June until mid-September, the festival takes place in Vanier Park, directly opposite English Bay and the North Shore mountains. It’s certainly the most picturesque theatre I’ve ever been to! This summer the performances are Much Ado About Nothing, The Winter’s Tale, The Merchant of Venice, and The Two Gentlemen of Verona. The four shows alternate over different evenings, with two performances every evening.
While I’ve never had myself down as a huge fan of dragon boating, the Vancouver Dragon Boat Festival is a brilliant weekend of fun at False Creek. As well as the races, there’s live music and other entertainment. It’s a great opportunity to relax in the sunshine with a great atmosphere.
A dazzling display
Every year English Bay hosts The Honda Celebration of Light where some of the world’s best firework technicians compete to be crowned the winner. This year it’s a competition between the UK, Canada and Japan. There’s always a fantastic party atmosphere and the fireworks can be viewed from all around the Bay. My favourite viewing spots where you can get away from the main crowds are Granville Island, or about a 15-minute walk along from Granville Island at Vanier Park. Both provide great views and you can listen to the accompanying music on the radio.
One for the bucket list…
Vancouver will never disappoint and if it’s on your list, then I really couldn’t recommend it highly enough. The scenery, the atmosphere and the whole laid-back lifestyle make it a unique destination for a holiday in Canada to remember.
Our fantastic team is always on hand for any recommendations or hints for what to do while you’re away so please do get in touch. Or if you’ve got friends or family heading to Vancouver this year, why not share this blog post with them, to help make their holiday even more special.