Hosting the 1986 World’s Fair and the 2010 Winter Olympics transformed Vancouver into a cosmopolitan destination that still offers easy access to pristine nature. Minutes after sipping a cappuccino on swanky Robson Street, you can hike through an evergreen forest on Mount Seymour. The city skyline soars higher every year with new condos and hotels, and high-end restaurants and designer shops proliferate. Yet the bears and eagles are never far away.
When to Go
In a city famed for its greenery, spring brings mild temperatures and magnificent cherry blossoms, tulips, and rhododendrons to Queen Elizabeth Park and VanDusen Botanical Garden. This West Coast metropolis heats up when the National Hockey League’s Vancouver Canucks compete in the playoffs.
Spanning three nights in late July and early August, the spectacular annual fireworks displays in English Bay attract more than a million spectators as various nations compete for supremacy. For culture-seekers, the Vancouver International Film Festival and Vancouver Writers Fest overlap in early October.
What to Eat
Cedar-planked wild BC salmon and the BC Roll—a Vancouver-invented sushi roll with barbecued salmon and cucumber—are the go-tos. Kale salads also delight Vancouver’s health- and fitness-crazed population of 2.5 million.
Souvenir to Take Home
Visit the bustling Granville Island Public Market to score boxes of smoked salmon. The Inuit Gallery of Vancouver, marking its 40th anniversary in Gastown (Vancouver’s oldest neighborhood) in 2019, offers handcrafted Pacific Northwest native sculptures, masks, and jewelry. Or buy a Canucks jersey or cap with the hockey team’s Haida-style whale logo.
Sustainable Travel Tip
On the safe public transit system, zoom around on SkyTrain, which can take you from the award-winning Vancouver International Airport and the high-energy Asian malls of Richmond to the underrated craft beer mecca of Port Moody and the charming heritage buildings of New Westminster. The SeaBus ferry offers a smooth 12-minute trip across Burrard Inlet to the North Shore. The downtown core is bikeable and walkable.
On a sunny afternoon, head to Kitsilano Beach to capture the panorama of the downtown skyline, lush Stanley Park, and the North Shore Mountains.