Vancouver is a bustling seaport on the west coast of Canada, located in the beautiful and epic province of British Columbia. This major Canadian city is beloved by visitors and locals alike, featuring incredible scenery, myriad activities, abundant nature, and diverse culture. There are so many ways to explore the city’s delights, whether by foot, bike, public transport or a Vancouver car hire, allowing you to experience all that this special location has to offer. If you have heard of Vancouver and are wondering what all the fuss is about, in this guide, we highlight just some of the major things that this spectacular city is known for, hopefully inspiring you to check it out for yourself.

It's beauty

Vancouver BC Canada Cityscape at sunset

Scenic view of Vancouver

Vancouver is known for being one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Located on a peninsula, Vancouver is surrounded by majestic mountains and sparkling water, along with glorious rainforests, providing an incredible contrast to the modern skyscrapers of the city itself. The vistas of its leafy parks with the waterfront walkway, make for endless photograph opportunities and inspiring scenery to soak in as you enjoy the city.

There are unending places to take in Vancouver’s breathtaking beauty, from high vantage points in Queen Elizabeth Park to the shores of one of its many beaches. English Bay is known as one of Vancouver’s premier beauty spots, a beloved location to watch the sunset over the water and mountains adorning the bay.

If you are looking for great views of the city, Jess from the travel blog, A Passion and a Passport, has been to Vancouver and recommends heading to West Vancouver: “Just over the Lion’s Gate Bridge in Stanley Park is West Vancouver and Lighthouse Park. Here lives some of the best views in the tri-city area. You can enjoy magnificent scenes looking back at the city of Vancouver over the water, coastal islands, boats, birds and maybe even some whales!”

The largest Chinatown in Canada

Chinatown in Vancouver
Chinatown in Vancouver

Vancouver has a large Chinese population and is known for having the largest Chinatown in Canada, as well as the second largest in North America. As a result, if you want to experience the rich diversity of Vancouver’s culture, heading to its Chinatown is a great idea.

You can visit one of the many amazing Chinese dim sum restaurants for some of the best Chinese food you will ever have, head to a local cocktail bar, drop by a tasty Chinese bakery, enjoy the tranquil paths and pavilions of the Classical Chinese Garden, or stop by the Chinese Cultural Centre to absorb the culture, art, and history.

Nature and outdoor activities

View of the Seawall of Vancouver
Seawall around Stanley Park in Vancouver

One of Vancouver’s greatest assets is its natural areas and easy access to Canada’s magnificent outdoors. Stanley Park, with its half a million trees, is a prized possession, known for its beautiful scenery and dense forests. One of the best ways to enjoy the park is via the famous seawall, where locals and visitors alike love to cycle along the coast, take in the fresh air on a walk, or try their hand at rollerblading.

Katie, from the travel blog, The World on My Necklace, has spent time in Vancouver and when speaking to us recommended walking or biking along the seawall as a top outdoor activity: “The Vancouver Seawall and Stanley Park, in general, are unique as they are located right in the middle of a built-up urban area yet are wild. You can hike through old-growth forests, see bald eagles soaring above, swim at rugged beaches, and watch seals and otters playing along the shoreline, all while being surrounded by epic views of the surrounding coastal mountains.

“A walk or bike ride around the seawall is my number one recommendation for visitors to Vancouver. If you do this, you are sure to fall in love with this epically beautiful city.”

Hannah, from the travel blog, Eat Sleep Breathe Travel, shared with us this glowing praise for Vancouver as an outdoor oasis: “I think what makes Vancouver stand out as a great nature destination is the variety of things that you have access to all within such close proximity of each other. One day you can do a day trip to Whistler and explore the mountains (be sure to check out the Train Wreck trail!) while the next you can be snorkelling with seals or scuba diving in Howe Sound. All while using the city of Vancouver as a base. From mountains to the ocean to forests, the landscape here is so varied that it appeals to nature and adventure lovers of all types. There’s something for everyone.”

The amazing nature and outdoor activities don’t stop there, however, as nearby Vancouver Island is another excellent option. With a car hire from Vancouver, you can explore everything from deep ocean inlets, wilderness parks, untamed beaches, hiking routes, camping, and British Columbia’s capital city, Victoria.

If you are willing to hit the road during your Vancouver visit, then taking to the famous Sea to Sky Highway from Vancouver to Whistler is a must, known for its spectacular winding route and exciting pitstops. Before you leave Vancouver, however, consider heading to Cypress Mountain, the city’s biggest ski resort, a 30-minute drive from downtown, and Canada’s most popular cross-country skiing area.

READ ALSO: Top attractions & things to do in Vancouver

Film productions

Film crew in Vancouver
Film production in Vancouver

Vancouver is one of the premier film production locations in the world, becoming in recent years almost like a second Hollywood. With scores of movies and TV shows shot and produced here each year, the city is a hub of activity for the creative arts. The likes of Deadpool, Star Trek, Godzilla, Watchmen, X-Men, and Mission: Impossible have all been made in Vancouver.

The film industry in Vancouver has contributed a massive $26.1 billion to British Columbia’s economy, millions of which have been paid to locals as salaries and wages. Vancouver is such a popular filming location for many reasons, including its 16 hours of daylight in the summer due to its high altitude – a precious commodity to any film crew. It’s also a beautiful location that any movie would love to have as its backdrop. When you add this to the expert crews and studios that call Vancouver home, it’s easy to see why Hollywood has all but moved in.

Laidback atmosphere

English bay beach Vancouver
English Bay Beach in Vancouver

Vancouver is famous for being one of the best places in the world to live. The city is known for its liveability and laid-back atmosphere, making it an attractive place to visit and take up residence in. The locals are known for their friendliness (as are Canadians in general), and part of Vancouver’s charm is exploring a city that feels more relaxed than your typical urban environment. It’s clean, modern, and easy to navigate. You can walk the streets without feeling rushed, enjoy the relaxing sea breeze, take in the mountainous landscape, and soak in the city’s eclectic culture at one of the local cafes.

Hannah, from the travel blog, That Adventurer, lived in Vancouver for nearly six years and really misses it. She spoke to us about her top advice for those who want to soak in the city’s atmosphere: “I think the best place to take in Vancouver's laidback and friendly vibe if you're visiting in summer is by watching the sunset on Sunset Beach in the West End. In the summer, Vancouver comes to life and people head to the beach after work, getting there by bike, rollerblades, walking or running along the Sea Wall. Sitting on the beach with a takeout while watching the sunset is the best way to feel part of Vancouver city life while enjoying one of the best beaches, right in the heart of the city!”

It’s a gateway to Alaska

Holland America Line ship cruising Glacier Bay in Alaska
Cruise ship cruising Glacier Bay in Alaska

Vancouver is a fantastic location for a holiday in its own right but part of the appeal is the access it gives you to other incredible destinations. For example, Vancouver is a gateway to Alaska, being a famous seaport where cruise ships set sail for the far north. After exploring BC by car, you can board a luxurious vessel with all the amenities and depart for the rugged wilderness of Alaska. This allows you to enjoy the majesty of the Inside Passage, and encounter bears, remote towns, as well as snow-covered national parks.

Nicole, from the travel blog, Go Far Grow Close, has spoken to us about what she enjoyed most about her cruise to Alaska from Vancouver: “Vancouver is a stunningly beautiful city filled with world-class restaurants (including 8 newly crowned Michelin star restaurants), exciting indoor and outdoor attractions, and fantastic shopping. In addition, it is only 120 km from Whistler along the Sea to Sky Highway, one of the most breathtaking drives in the world. Both Vancouver and Whistler are amazing destinations to visit on their own, but it is an extra bonus that you get to explore both when you cruise to Alaska from Vancouver.

“One of the most memorable memories that you will have when you cruise to Alaska from Vancouver is the spectacular views. From the moment your cruise leaves the Port of Vancouver, you are surrounded by magnificent mountains, the Pacific Ocean and the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. And the views never stop. The dramatic mountains plunging into the ocean, the amazing wildlife in the water, up in the sky and on the shores, and the emerald green forests almost everywhere you look, are seemingly endless and make for hours of entertainment.”

If all that isn’t enough, you can combine an Alaska cruise with a Rocky Mountaineer holiday, where you board the famous Rocky Mountaineer train from Vancouver to explore the Canadian Rockies before or after you set sail for Alaska.

READ ALSO: City, Sea & Mountains: 3 Days in Vancouver

What is Vancouver known for?

  • It's beauty
  • The largest Chinatown in Canada
  • Nature/outdoor activities
  • Film productions
  • Laidback atmosphere
  • It’s a gateway to Alaska

We hope that this guide to Vancouver’s famous attributes has inspired you to visit for yourself. If you would like to arrange a trip, our Canada travel experts can tailor-make your dream Canada holiday.

For more tips, guides, and advice, make sure to visit our blog.

Latest Articles

Let's make your dream holiday to Canada a reality

Our expert team have travelled Canada from coast to coast and can't wait to share their personalised recommendations with you.

Get in touch

Our commitment to responsible travel

We are committed to sustainable travel from carbon offsetting to supporting local communities and so much more.

Find out more

Follow Us for offers & inspiration