Visiting Vancouver - What to See and Do
(Vancouver International Airport YVR, Canada)
Set between the Pacific Ocean and the soaring Coast Mountains of British Columbia, the Canadian city of Vancouver is surrounded by spectacular natural beauty. Split into three huge areas, Westside, City Center and Eastside, each containing diverse districts, Vancouver
is the perfect destination for a combination holiday of sightseeing, outdoor activities and sheer relaxation in a friendly environment.
Vancouver's harbor and natural seaport rocketed into prominence as a vital part of the Orient, London
and Eastern Canada trade route after the transcontinental railroad arrived in 1887. Nowadays, Port Metro is still the busiest in Canada
and serves as North America's most diversified. The city's traditional industry, logging, is its main earner, with tourism coming a close second. In recent years, the city has earned itself the nickname of 'Hollywood North', through its burgeoning movie industry.
The central core of Vancouver is dense and easily walkable, and holds many of the landmarks and attractions for which it is justly famous. Cycling is a popular way to get around and public transportation is an integrated mix of bus lines, rapid transit Sky trains and passenger ferries, stretching as far south as the US border and to the north and east at Lions Bay, Maple Ridge and Langley. All of these plentiful transportation options provide inexpensive access to historic buildings, museums, shopping hubs, theaters, and restaurant and nightlife districts.
Ten things you must do in Vancouver
- The Central Business District is the heart of the city and holds a good number of architectural delights, including the Art Deco Marine Building, the Victorian Hotel, Canada Place - known for its distinctive sails, the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Vancouver Convention Center. Close by is the Coal Harbor Walkway.
- Gastown is the oldest district in the city, with its original 19th-century architecture giving it a unique character in this ultra-modern metropolis. Although it is considered by some as too touristy, its wide sidewalks, pretty stone and brick homes, and on-street patios give a fascinating glimpse of the early days of the city.
- Chinatown lies adjacent to Gastown and is one of the largest Chinese compounds in North America, being known for its ethnic shops and eateries, as well as its buzzing summer Night Market offering exotic Asian artifacts and other bargains. A visit to the Chinese Cultural Center and Museum gives an overview of the history of the Chinese in Vancouver.
- A must-see in Chinatown is the traditional Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden, designed in the Imperial Ming Dynasty style with traditionally constructed pavilions, a lake, curved footpaths, and authentic trees and plants. The entire garden takes up a single block, but gives the illusion of a much larger space, and is a haven of peace and oriental beauty in this bustling city.
- The best views of the stunning cityscape can be enjoyed from the ocean as part of a day or evening harbor cruise. Dining cruises, sunset cruises and a trip through one of the region's spectacular mountain fjords are all offered, along with a lunchtime cruise to Silver Falls. In summer, fireworks cruises are the best fun of all.
- The amazing domed building which holds the Science World Museum is well worth seeing in its own right, and this museum is a great place for families. Interactive displays, feature exhibitions, live science demos and mega-movies in the Omnimax theater all make for a fun day out. Set on the edge of the ocean, the complex has a restaurant with superb views across to the downtown district.
- Stanley Park in the city center is Vancouver's most-visited attraction, with its huge green space packed with things to see and do. Beaches, many miles of walking and hiking trails, Canadian Indian totem poles, the Vancouver Aquarium and 1,000 acres / 405 hectares of greenery, a lagoon, hanging gardens, two swimming pools and the city's famous Seawall are all here.
- The Vancouver Aquarium is home to many thousands of examples of marine life, from reptiles and fish to mammals. This is a Marine Science Center, with its favorite attractions being the daily shows featuring dolphins, whales, seals and other watery inhabitants. A unique feature is the Animal Encounters program - a trip behind the scenes guided by a professional aquarium trainer.
- Vancouver's version of London's famous Oxford Street shopping district is found along Robson Street, the best place for shopping and dining in the city. Prices are mid-range and the wide variety of things to buy and places to eat delights all visitors. Everything from unique Canadian fashions, homewares and leather goods to eateries serving international and typical Canadian cuisine are here.
- Granville Island is a tiny peninsula found under the Granville Street Bridge, close by the False Creek, where it is famous for its public market offering fresh produce, flowers, seafood, local cheese and other deli products, as well as a food court with a great selection of ethnic cuisine. The False Creek Seawall is here and is a favorite location for rollerblading, cycling and walking.