Vancouver is one of the few cities in the world which can boast that you can sail and ski in the same day thanks to its’ stunning location. Sitting right on the Pacific Ocean and surrounded by mountains, Vancouver has beaches and rainforests right on its doorstep setting it apart from other cities and making it one big playground. It is, of course, also a vibrant city full of great restaurants, galleries and multicultural neighbourhoods. But its’ location makes it so unique. So when visiting this great Canadian city make the most of its natural charms and get outside into the rainforests and mountains and enjoy the beaches and islands.
One of the most popular places in the city for both locals and tourists to hang out is Stanley Park. The park is right next to Downtown Vancouver and juts out into the ocean. The biggest draw is definitely the nearly 9km-long Seawall path that encircles the entire park and provides the most wonderful trail for walkers, cyclists and roller bladers. With the ocean to admire as well as the Lion Gate Bridge and views across to the North Shore, it makes for a stunning trail. Away from the Seawall, the park is a dense forest with almost 28km of trails criss-crossing it and the park is also home to beaches, playgrounds, water parks and totem poles, so there’s loads to do and see and it’s a great way to get a feel for the city and its’ diversity. To hire bikes, head to Denman Street where there are plenty of places with all types of bikes available.
Another ‘must do’ whilst you’re in the city.
You must go to the top of the famous Grouse Mountain right on the North Shore. There are free buses to the base of the mountain from Canada Place and city centre hotels. In winter, it’s all about skiing and snowboarding, but when the snow has gone there’s still plenty to entice you up there. If you’re fit and up for a challenge then take the Grouse Grind which is an almost vertical 2.8km climb up to the top of the mountain, however, if you’d rather not hike up then the Skyride gondola will whisk you up to the summit in about four minutes. At the top you’ll be greeted by spectacular views over the coastal rainforest and across the city. There are also wild bird demos, zip lines, restaurants, helicopter tours and even a couple of resident grizzly bears (safely in their own fenced environment!) to admire.
The North Shore is also the place for great canyon walks
The most famous canyon walk is the Capilano Canyon, with its dramatic suspension bridge. Claiming to be one of the world’s longest and highest suspension bridges, it is pretty hair-raising as it wobbles and shakes as you walk over it. From May to September you can get a free shuttle bus from downtown to the Canyon but you have to pay to cross the bridge. Another less known suspension bridge in the same area is across the Lynn Valley Canyon. The bridge isn’t as long, but its free and the hike around the canyon is equally as stunning taking in waterfalls and pools. Cypress Creek is also nearby and in winter is an easy to reach ski resort, however, Whistler is also only about an hour away from Vancouver with some of the best skiing in the world.
The waterfront right in the city centre is another stunning area to enjoy.
With a marina at Coal Harbour and plenty of seaplanes taking off and landing just behind it, there’s always something to watch even if you don’t want to get out on the water yourself. The seaplanes offer a regular taxi service to Victoria only 30 minutes away on Vancouver Island. The historic town with its Victorian buildings are reminiscent of the fur trade days when the town became the capital of British Columbia. Back to the waterfront in Vancouver and you’ll find plenty of restaurants and bars with lively atmosphere, offering delicious fresh Pacific seafood and local steaks – just what you’ll need after an activity-packed day in Vancouver!