Vancouver is a vibrant city nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the coastal mountains. Known for its stunning natural beauty, diverse culture, and outdoor adventures, Vancouver offers something for every traveller - whatever the season. With so much to see, we can’t possibly share everything it has to offer in one blog post, so consider this the highlights.

When to visit Vancouver

Summer (June to August)

Summer is peak tourist season in Vancouver, thanks to warm temperatures and a full calendar of events and festivals. Outdoor activities like hiking, kayaking, and beach outings are in full swing during this time. Just be prepared for larger crowds and higher accommodation rates, especially in July and August.

Autumn (September to November)

Autumn brings cooler temperatures and colourful leaves, making it a picturesque time to explore Vancouver's parks and outdoor spaces. September is particularly pleasant, with mild weather and fewer crowds compared to summer. Plus, you might catch the tail end of the whale watching season.

Winter (December to February)

Winter in Vancouver is mild compared to other Canadian cities, but it offers plenty of opportunities for winter sports enthusiasts. Hit the slopes at nearby ski resorts like Grouse Mountain or Cypress Mountain, or embrace the festive spirit with Christmas markets and events throughout the city.

Spring (March to May)

Spring is a delightful time to visit Vancouver as the city comes alive with blooming cherry blossoms and budding foliage. Temperatures begin to warm up, making it ideal for outdoor activities like hiking and cycling. Keep in mind that spring showers are common, so pack accordingly.

Top tip
: Packing for all weathers is essential when visiting Vancouver as the weather can be unpredictable. An umbrella, raincoat, and comfortable shoes should be on your list.

Where to stay in Vancouver

Downtown

Experience the heart of Vancouver by staying downtown, where you'll be within walking distance of top attractions, restaurants, and shopping. 

North Shore

Made up of North Vancouver and West Vancouver, the North Shore offers a peaceful retreat from the city bustle, just a short drive from downtown. Stay in North Vancouver for easy access to attractions like Grouse Mountain and Lynn Canyon Park.

Kitsilano

Known for its laid-back vibe and beautiful beaches, Kitsilano (or ‘Kits’) is a popular choice for visitors seeking a relaxed atmosphere. 

East Vancouver

Accommodations near popular areas like Commercial Drive and Main Street put you amidst eclectic shops, eateries, and craft breweries. Explore ‘The Drive’ for its vibrant atmosphere and diverse cuisine. Don't miss Main Street's range of boutiques and local events like Italian Day for a memorable stay.

Yaletown

This trendy waterfront neighbourhood offers upscale dining, boutique shopping, and a lively nightlife scene.

Getting around Vancouver

Getting around Vancouver is a breeze thanks to its efficient public transportation system, including buses, the SkyTrain, and ferries. Hop on the SkyTrain for a quick and convenient way to explore the city, or rent a bike and pedal your way through Stanley Park. For those who prefer to take in the sights at a leisurely pace, walking is a great option, especially in central areas like Gastown and Yaletown. If you're staying outside of the areas mentioned above or planning day trips, consider renting a car for added flexibility and convenience.

Must-see attractions

Stanley Park

Spanning over 1,000 acres, Stanley Park is a haven of natural beauty in the heart of the city. Walk, bike, or rollerblade along the seawall, stopping off at the iconic totem poles and Prospect Point lookout en route.

Granville Island

This vibrant cultural hub is home to a bustling public market, artisan shops, galleries, and theatres. Sample local delicacies at the market, browse unique handmade crafts, and catch a live performance at the Granville Island Theatre.

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

Experience the thrill of walking across the swaying Capilano Suspension Bridge, suspended 230 feet above the Capilano River. Explore the park's lush rainforest trails, test your nerve on the Cliffwalk, and marvel at the towering Douglas firs in the Treetops Adventure.

Grouse Mountain

Just a short drive or Skyride gondola ride from downtown Vancouver, Grouse Mountain offers year-round outdoor adventures. In the winter, hit the slopes for skiing and snowboarding, while summer visitors can enjoy hiking and ziplining with panoramic views of the city below. Don’t leave without seeing the resident Grizzly bears, Grinder and Coola.

Fun fact
: Granville Island used to be an industrial manufacturing area until the 1970s when it was transformed into the lively cultural destination it is today.

Cultural gems

Vancouver Art Gallery

Housed in a striking neoclassical building in the heart of downtown, the Vancouver Art Gallery is home to an impressive collection of Canadian and Indigenous art, as well as rotating exhibitions from around the world.

Chinatown


Explore North America's third-largest Chinatown and immerse yourself in its rich history and vibrant culture. Wander through bustling markets, visit traditional herbal shops, and indulge in authentic Chinese cuisine at one of the many restaurants lining the streets.

Museum of Anthropology

Located at the University of British Columbia, the Museum of Anthropology showcases the diverse cultures of British Columbia's Indigenous peoples through art, artefacts, and interactive exhibits. Don't miss the iconic Bill Reid Rotunda and the breathtaking collection of First Nations totem poles.

Top tip
: Admission to the Vancouver Art Gallery is free on the first Friday of every month from 4-8 pm. 

Outdoor adventures

Whale watching

Take a whale watching tour from Vancouver's waterfront and you’ll have the chance to spot everything from orcas and humpback whales to seals, otters and eagles in their natural habitat.

Kayaking in False Creek

Rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard and explore the calm waters of False Creek, offering unique views of the city skyline, Science World, and Granville Island.

Hiking in Lynn Canyon Park

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and immerse yourself in nature at Lynn Canyon Park in North Vancouver. Hike through lush rainforest trails, cross the suspension bridge spanning the canyon, and cool off with a refreshing swim in the natural pools below the waterfalls.

Winter sports

During winter, Grouse Mountain, Cypress Mountain, and Mount Seymour become havens for winter sports including skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing. Lessons are available for beginners and equipment can be hired.

Fun fact
: Lynn Canyon Park is home to the iconic Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge, which is 50 meters (164 feet) long and offers incredible views of the canyon and surrounding forest.

For the foodies

Food trucks

Vancouver's food truck scene is a melting pot of flavours from around the world. Head to popular food truck destinations like Robson Square or Olympic Village to sample everything from gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches to authentic Korean barbecue.

Seafood

With its proximity to the ocean, Vancouver is a paradise for seafood lovers. Indulge in fresh local oysters, wild salmon, and Dungeness crab at acclaimed restaurants like The Sandbar Seafood Restaurant and Blue Water Cafe.

Farmers markets

Experience the best of BC's bounty at one of Vancouver's farmers markets, where you'll find fresh produce, artisanal cheeses, handcrafted goods, and more. Don't miss the bustling Granville Island Public Market or the laid-back Trout Lake Farmers Market.

Fun fact
: Poutine, Canada's iconic comfort food, is a delicious concoction that originated in Québec in the late 1950s. Consisting of crispy fries, gravy, and cheese curds, it’s become a beloved staple across the country.

Best day trips from Vancouver


Bowen Island

Just a short ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver, Bowen Island feels like a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Explore quaint shops and galleries in the charming village of Snug Cove, hike through lush forests in Crippen Regional Park, and savour locally sourced cuisine at waterfront restaurants like Doc Morgan's and The Snug Cafe.

Whistler

Experience world-class outdoor adventure in the picturesque mountain resort town of Whistler, located just two hours north of Vancouver. In the winter, hit the slopes for skiing and snowboarding on Whistler Blackcomb, the largest ski resort in North America. In the summer, enjoy hiking, mountain biking, zip-lining, and more amidst breathtaking alpine scenery.

Victoria

Step back in time and explore the historic capital city of British Columbia with a day trip to Victoria. Take a scenic ferry ride across the Strait of Georgia to Vancouver Island, then wander through the quaint streets of downtown Victoria, visit the iconic Parliament Buildings, and stroll through the blooming gardens of Butchart Gardens.

Squamish

Embark on an outdoor adventure in the outdoor recreation capital of Canada, just a short drive from Vancouver. Hike the iconic Stawamus Chief Mountain for panoramic views of Howe Sound, test your skills on the world-class rock climbing routes, or take a ride on the Sea to Sky Gondola for sweeping views of the surrounding mountains and fjords.

Did you know?
Victoria has more restaurants per capita than any other city in Canada.

Must-knows when visiting Vancouver

Tipping culture

In Vancouver, tipping is customary in restaurants, bars, taxis, and for other services such as haircuts and spa treatments. It's generally expected to tip around 15-20% of the total bill for good service. However, always check your bill first, as some restaurants automatically include a service charge.

Respecting Indigenous culture

Vancouver is situated on the traditional territory of the Coast Salish peoples, including the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. As a visitor, it's important to respect Indigenous culture and land. Seek out opportunities to learn about Indigenous history, art, and traditions, and support Indigenous-owned businesses and initiatives.

Driving regulations

If you plan to rent a car and drive in Vancouver, keep in mind that British Columbia follows the right-hand traffic rule, meaning you'll drive on the right side of the road. Be mindful of speed limits and parking regulations to avoid fines.

Currency and payment methods

The currency used in Vancouver is the Canadian Dollar (CAD). While credit and debit cards are widely accepted, it is advisable to carry some cash for smaller transactions, especially when visiting local markets or food trucks. When using public transit, you can tap your debit or credit card for fare payment, but be aware that using your regular card may incur additional fees. Consider travel-friendly options like Monzo, which offer fee-free transactions abroad, to avoid these charges.

What’s your favourite spot in Vancouver? Share it with us below in the comments.

Comments

Caroline M said:

What a great article and a great way to promote Madlug. I’m travelling to Vancouver soon, having not been there for a number of years, and this is just what I needed. More travel features please!

Nannie J said:

I loved reading this blog. My son lives in Vancouver and owns a Gin distillery there. We took our Foster Children (Grandchildren) there last year they loved it and want to go back! My favourite places are Grouse mountain and Horseshoe Bay, we love watching the Ferry Boats in and out of the harbour.

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