There’s a lot of cities around the world that I love visiting but few I’d move to (if I got the chance) but Vancouver is one of them. It’s consistently voted one of the most liveable cities in the world and it’s not hard to see why, I think the only downside is the cost of living. We only had a weekend here as part of a bigger Canada trip (see full post here) but tried to pack in as much as possible.
1. Sea Plane Tour
It’s a really obvious thing to say that the scenery in Canada is incredible. But I’ll say it anyway – it really is incredible and whilst the Rocky Mountains are breathtaking, the scenery around Vancouver of the North Shore mountains is not to be overlooked. The best way to see it is from the air. We went with the Vancouver Classic Panorama Tour with Harbour Air Seaplanes, which is a 20 minute flight and because small planes make me feel sick it was the perfect amount of time – oh and that it shows you the best of Vancouver from the air.
Prices start from $139 for adults and $79 for children and there are many different routes, tours and places you can visit if you have more time. They run a commuter service from Vancouver Island so it’s a fairly busy port.
2. Cycle round Stanley Park
This is a must, cycle hire is cheap, starting at $11/hour at Spokes but they have different offers on so worth checking the website. The park boarders downtown Vancouver and offers some great views of the city.
The seawall cycle route is just under 9km and you could easily spend the day at the beach, taking a carriage ride, eating at one of the restaurants or taking the park train.
3. Capilano Suspension Bridge
I wrote about this in a previous post (here). It’s about a 10 minute drive from Downtown Vancouver and worth the trip. We started our itinerary in North Vancouver on our way up to Whistler, taking advantage of waking early with jetlag I’d highly recommend getting here for opening at 8am. It’s free from other tourists and peaceful to say the least. As well as the suspension bridge, there is the cliff walk and tree tops adventure and it was a great introduction to some of the nature Canada has to offer. Tickets are $54.95 for adults. www.capbridge.com
4. Wander round Gastown
Gastown is Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood and grew up around a tavern founded by John ‘Gassy Jack’ Deighton in 1867. It was my favourite neighbourhood in Vancouver, largely due to the range of independent retailers, coffee shops, bars and restaurants. The architecture here is largely Victorian which is a good contrast to the highrise glass buildings of close by.
5. Visit Chinatown
Another great neighbourhood, and bordering Gastown is Chinatown. Established over 100 years ago there is a nice buzz to the area mixed with the smell of the most amazing cuisine. Take a few hours out to wander round the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden before heading to Sai Woo for the best Szechuan Black Pepper Beef you’ll ever have.
6. Hop on the Aquabus to Granville Island
There are several places you can get on the Aquabus to Granville Island. From the downtown area, walk to one of the False Creek Ferry or Aquabus docks at the Aquatic Centre, Yaletown, Science World, the foot of Hornby St., or the foot of Davie St. Hop. It’s around $6-8 dollars return for an adult and they set off every 15 minutes.
The Public Market is the focal point, filled with a huge range of individual stalls from food to handcrafted products and gifts.
Food and drink is second on the list and we waited for a table with a view at The Sandbar, a great fish restaurant overlooking the city.
8. Brunch at Jam cafe
Honestly if you’d told me to wait an hour for brunch I would have refused. Point blank. I mean, it’s breakfast. And a small part of me hates to admit it was worth it, but it was.
The menu is extensive and it’s something of an institution in Vancouver. We got there for opening and still waited all that time. It’s not the cheapest but you definitely won’t need anything else until dinner. Jam Cafe should be on your list.
9. Stay at the Rosewood Hotel
This hotel is heaven. One of the most luxurious and glamorous city centre hotels we’ve stayed at. The Rosewood Hotel combines the elegance and grace of the 20’s with contemporary design. The Garden Terrace is a great spot for drinks before dinner and the spa definitely worth making time for.