Extraordinarily attractive Vancouver

Sparkling, vivacious Vancouver is an extraordinarily attractive city of soaring skyscrapers and mountains surrounded by shimmering ocean. It’s a city where you can ski, sail, cycle and hike; eat top-notch food or track down cutting edge fashion or next season’s snowboard. So what should you do if you only have 24 hours?


There’s no excuse for slouching in Vancouver – the great outdoors is right on your doorstep, so kick start your day with a sightseeing-exercise combo.

Grouse GrindCanopy of trees on Grouse Grind

Option one is the Grouse Grind: a 2.9km (1.8 miles) lung-busting hike up Grouse Mountain on the North Shore. Your reward? Breathtaking (literally) views of the city, sea and beyond to Vancouver Island. Not forgetting the added bonus of a cable car ride back down.

Option two is the Stanley Park seawall: hire rollerblades on Denman Street in the West End and glide 8.8km (5.5 miles) round the edge of Vancouver’s magnificent downtown park. Between May and September, finish with a refreshing dip in Second Beach Pool, a heated outdoor swimming pool on English Bay.


If you could capture Vancouver’s essence, it would probably reveal a hint of conifer and a whisper of sea salt blended with a powerful dose of coffee. Vancouverites love their caffeine lift – even late at night, there’s a culture of socialising in coffee shops. Ignore the global chains and head instead to Central Bistro (1,072 Denman Street) for your morning pick-me-up and a mean range of frittatas, eggs benedict and yummy banana bread.


Amble along colourful Davie Street, the heart of Vancouver’s vibrant gay and lesbian community, with its quirky cafés, designer clothes shops and bars. Stroll down to the Aquatic Centre at Sunset Beach and hop aboard one of False Creek Ferries’ dinky blue boats to Granville Island. It’s worth spending a couple of hours pottering amid this regenerated assortment of galleries, restaurants, theatres and unique stores.

Granville MarketEnticing Granville Market
Jason Pier in DC

The pièce de résistance is the public market, packed to the gunnels with fresh seafood and multicoloured mounds of top-quality British Columbia farm produce along with crafts, specialist foods and handmade soaps. Explore on your own or take a tour with culinary experts Edible Canada. If you have tots in tow or small relatives to buy for, leave time for the Kids Market featuring 30 shops selling everything from clown supplies to remote control toys. There’s even a children’s hairdresser where kiddies can opt for a stylish snip aboard a mini Thomas the Tank Engine.


Stay put and stock up on mouth-watering picnic ingredients from the market. Stop by the Oyama Sausage Company for a gargantuan range of pâtés, prosciuttos and salamis, and Benton Brothers Fine Cheese for a pungent panoply of cheeses complemented with olives, Turkish apricots or toasted almonds. Find a sunny bench outside and soak up the lively street entertainment.

Wash your lunch down with a chilled bottle of Cypress Honey Lager or silky English Bay Pale Ale from Granville Island Brewing. Canada’s original microbrewery began creating craft beers here in 1984. The newly revamped Taproom offers tours and tastings thrice daily.


Grab a bus, travel west through hip neighbourhood Kitsilano and continue to the University of British Columbia (UBC), whose extensive campus sprawls across a vast swathe of the Point Grey peninsula.

Within the grounds you’ll find the fascinating Museum of Anthropology or MOA (6393 NW Marine Drive)), a fabulous Arthur Erickson-designed building housing intricate First Nations totem poles and carvings, a 600-piece European ceramics collection and the Multiversity Galleries displaying over 10,000 artefacts from around the world. Outside are two traditional Haida houses and a serene reflecting pool.

Totem VancouverFirst Nations totem pole
Andy Grellmann

Next, wander along the university’s Main Mall until you reach the Beaty Biodiversity Museum (2212 Main Mall). Vancouver’s natural history museum opened in 2010 and exhibits a veritable treasure chest of intriguing specimens gathered between the 1910s and the present day, including mammals, reptiles, plants, fish and insects. Dominating the entrance hall is Canada’s largest blue whale skeleton.

Next, visit the wonderful UBC Botanical Gardens (6804 SW Marine Drive). Saunter among conifers and local maple species in the BC Rainforest Garden or tick off 400 varieties of rhododendron in the Asian Garden. Take a deep breath and wobble, bounce or creep along the brilliant and vertigo-inducing, 308m-long (1,010ft) Greenheart Canopy Walkway, an aerial trail system suspended 15m (49ft) above the forest floor.

The Museums and Gardens Pass allows entry to both museums, the botanical gardens and the nearby Nitobe Memorial Garden, an exquisite traditional Japanese tea garden.


On your way back, fill up on scrummy salmon burgers, melt-in-your-mouth fish tacos or good old-fashioned fish and chips at The Galley Patio and Grill (1300 Discovery Street). This beachfront eatery boasts one of the city’s best patios, with mesmerising views of Downtown’s skyscrapers, Stanley Park, the ocean and the North Shore mountains. From here you can join a sunset paddle with Ecomarine (www.ecomarine.com) and meander along the shoreline by kayak.

Alternatively, make your way to trendy Yaletown. With its must-have loft apartments, swanky new residential towers, elegant boutique hotels and chic restaurants, this buzzing former warehouse district exudes style. Sip cocktails and chow down on steaks the size of a small country at Glowbal Grill (1079 Mainland Street) or tuck into Japanese tapas at Hapa Izakaya (1193 Hamilton Street).

Between late May and late September, finish off your night with a world-class Shakespeare production at Bard on the Beach. Performances take place in huge open-ended tents in Vanier Park with the sea and the mountains providing a spectacular natural backdrop.

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