10 Reasons Why You Should Visit Vancouver
Visiting Vancouver is lots of fun. Stunning nature. Friendly locals. Big city. Vancouver has it all!
I’ve visited Vancouver countless times as a tourist, before finally moving there myself in 2010. And wow… what a place!
I’ve got to say that it’s not the cheapest place to live, quite the contrary, it’s one of the most expensive cities in the world! But the costs can be worth it. Where else can you go for a hike in the forest, boating on the ocean, skiing in the mountains, or shopping in a high end boutique – all in the same day?!
Here are 10 reasons why you should travel to Vancouver!
1. The People
Canadians are known across the globe for their hospitality and friendliness. Vancouverites are no exception! Although Vancouverites can be stereotyped as yoga wearing-latte sipping-hipsters, living on the west coast breeds a certain type of laid back and warm culture.
Vancouver is full of diversity – people have immigrated here from China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Philippines, Germany, England, Ireland, Portugal, Italy, Ukraine, and Greece.
Vancouver also has a large gay community in the downtown West End neighborhood of Davie Village. You’ll know once you’ve arrived when you see the lovely rainbow crosswalks on Davie Street. Vancouver is home to one of the Canada's largest annual gay pride parades.
To sum it up, the people in Vancouver are friendly, open, and helpful!
2. The Mountains
Vancouver has got to be one of the most picturesque cities in the world! The North Shore Mountains are stunning, especially in the winter when their sharp peaks are covered in glistening snow.
In winter time, head to one of many ski resorts that are easily accessible from downtown Vancouver. Cypress, Grouse, and Seymour are close by, while Whistler (home of the 2010 Winter Olympics) is only a two-hour drive away at the end of the incredibly scenic Sea to Sky Highway.
During summertime hike the trails in Lynn Canyon, get sweaty climbing up Grouse Mountain, or conquer The Chief near Squamish. There are endless possibilities to explore the mountains around Vancouver!
A short drive away from Vancouver you will find numerous turquoise glacial lakes that funnel down from the ice fields in the mountains.
My favorite alpine hike: Garibaldi Lake. Drive the Sea to Sky Highway past Whistler and watch out for the Garibaldi Lake Provincial Park signs on your right. The first hour of the hike is purely uphill and bit grueling, but once you arrive at the beautiful lake you’ll see why it was all worth it.
Want to see the glaciers and lakes without putting in the sweat and effort of reaching them on foot? Sign up for a scenic flight tour with Harbour Air! A glacier tour by air has long been on my bucket list!
3. The Ocean
I love the Pacific coastline - the ocean, the animals, the water breaking on the rugged shoreline, the long beaches, tide pools, beach combing, everything!
Explore the beautiful coast of British Columbia by driving along the Sunshine Coast or visit Vancouver Island. Sail up the Inside Passage with BC Ferries to experience the whole coastline between Vancouver and the northern tip of Vancouver Island.
If you want to immerse yourself in wildlife go on a whale watching tour. There are numerous tour companies that operate out of Richmond, Steveston, or downtown Vancouver. There's nothing better than seeing Orcas in the wild!
Plenty of other activities are available as well: kayaking, paddle boarding, renting a motorboat, sailing, and swimming to name a few. I would highly recommend that you go kayaking in beautiful Deep Cove, a short drive outside of North Vancouver.
4. The Big City
After all this nature talk, it’s almost difficult to picture Vancouver as a cosmopolitan city, but it actually is.
If you’re not into the Great Outdoors you’ll find that downtown has everything from five star hotels, trendy restaurants, extensive shopping possibilities, theatres, art galleries, concerts, sporting events, and nightlife.
Enjoy the Vancouver Symphony at the Orpheum, catch a musical or opera at Queen Elizabeth Theatre, laugh until your belly hurts at The Comedy Mix, or listen to your favorite band play at The Commodore Ballroom.
5. The Food
One of the many joys of living in Vancouver is that I can eat a different ethnic cuisine every night if I want to (but I won’t or I’ll be broke!). You can find tons of places that serve Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Mexican, Ecuadorian, Italian, Greek, Ethiopian, or German cuisine, to name a few.
Some of my favorite restaurants are:
- Taste the best pizza in the city at Marcello on Commercial Drive.
- Head to Stepho’s on Davie or Robson Street for budget friendly Greek food. The portions are huge!
- You can find the largest and freshest sushi rolls at Samurai Sushi.
- La Casita on Cordova Street is a Mexican restaurant that serves the best and most authentic tortilla soup. Yum!
- Try delicious Indian cuisine on Commercial Drive at Sula Indian.
- The best donairs in Vancouver can be found at World Wrap Place in Gastown.
6. Stanley Park
An 8.8km seawall, 400-hectare rainforest, beautiful beaches, wildlife, and restaurants make this huge public park hard to beat. TripAdvisor rated it as the “#1 public park in the world” in 2014. Stanley Park truly has it all and is the perfect escape from the big city.
You can spend an entire day in Stanley Park and not have experienced everything. Scratch that, you could spend several days and not have seen it all. It’s the perfect place to get lost in and explore.
Take a tour of the park by bicycle, walk one of many nature trails, take a horse-drawn carriage ride, swim in the outdoor swimming pool, play golf with your family and friends, or sunbathe on the beach. You can read my full post about what to see and what to skip in Stanley Park here.
7. The Weather and Climate
You may have heard that it rains often in Vancouver. This is true; Vancouver is Canada’s third most rainy city, with over 161 rainy days per year!
So why am I listing the weather as a reason to visit Vancouver? Simply put, the summers are gorgeous. The average temperature in the summer hovers around 25C and from June-August there is hardly any rain. It’s no wonder we get the majority of international visitors during these months!
The mild weather also makes for an enjoyable winter. The city rarely receives any snowfall, but if you love the cold just go for a short drive into the mountains to experience a snowy winter wonderland.
Walk down the cobble stoned streets and discover the birthplace of Vancouver! The majority of downtown is filled with modern skyscrapers that have earned Vancouver the nickname "the city of glass", but in Gastown you will find century old brick buildings that have been preserved to save the area's rich history.
Gastown was established in 1867 when John "Gassy Jack" Deighton, a barman, opened the first saloon here. “Gassy Jack" received his nickname for his talent in telling tall tales and talking without end. Eventually Gastown was named after him.
The old heritage buildings in Gastown have been restored making this neighborhood a one of a kind mix of old and new. You’ll find lots of cool restaurants, trendy clothing and furniture stores, cozy cafes, and hipsters here.
9. The Seawall
Nearly a century old, the Vancouver seawall is the world’s largest uninterrupted seaside path! Totaling 28km, you can walk, bike, or run the seawall.
It starts at Canada Place, wraps around Stanley Park, winds past English Bay and the high rises in downtown, surrounds False Creek, before ending at Spanish Banks in Kitsilano. Try doing that in one day!
Find North America’s third largest Chinatown in downtown Vancouver. Walk through the colourful area and you'll see street signs and shop names in Chinese, beautiful red lanterns, elaborate street lamps, and indefinable foods for sale in sidewalk stalls.
There are several things you should do when visiting Chinatown. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Visit a traditional Chinese herbalist.
- Try a coconut bun, steamed bun, or other delicacy at one of many Chinese bakeries.
- Eat dim sum at a restaurant.
- If you're visiting during Chinese New Year (late January or February) check out the celebrations and parades.
Spend some time in the serene Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, the first garden of its kind to be built outside of China! The garden was constructed using traditional techniques and authentic materials from China to incorporate Ming Dynasty architecture.