The Voya guide to Vancouver, a city of bohemian sophistication.
Vancouver is most people’s first stop in Canada, and it is a great introduction to this beautiful country. The city of Vancouver offers a great taste of what Canada has to offer, with rolling mountains, outdoor spaces, and breath-taking water views. If you stay a little bit longer, it is also a fantastic gateway for Whistler, Vancouver Island, and some fantastic winter sports in Grouse Mountain.
An indisputable fact about the residents of Vancouver is they are huge foodies! The city abounds with farm to table restaurants, fresh seasonal seafood, and food markets. Great news for vegans, vegetarians and celiacs, being a health-conscious city, you will have no problem finding delicious options too. If Ramen and Korean food are your thing, then head to Denman and Robson Streets for mouth-watering food. The restaurants are so popular here that they will have a queue, so don’t come ravenous. For your ice-cream fix in Summer, head to Marble Slab by Stanley Park. They serve the classics but also some unique flavours, such as key lime pie and pumpkin cheesecake.
During the day there are plenty of things to do, whether you’re looking for culture, history, adventure, or just a bit of quirkiness. Be sure to head to one of Vancouver’s famous landmarks, the Steam Clock which emits steam every 15 minutes. Timing your visit for midday will be well worth it, trust us. If it rains while you are in Vancouver, then head to one of the many museums and art galleries in the city. We recommend the H.R Macmillan Space Centre, which is full of interactive exhibits, live demonstrations, and a planetarium. Even if you are not a sports fan, you need to see an ice hockey game while you are in Vancouver; it is practically a religion in Canada. The season runs October until June, tickets sell out quickly, so book them as soon as possible.
For such a relaxed city, the nightlife is buzzing in Vancouver. No matter what sort of nightlife you are looking for, Vancouver will have it. There are plenty of classy cocktail bars for early evening drinks, quirky or unique bars to make your friends jealous, and clubbing if you fancy making a night of it. We love the secret bar at D6 Bar & Lounge; it is accessed through a bookcase. Otherwise, you can’t go wrong visiting Davie Street, which is the hotspot for Vancouver’s LGBTQ community. Drop into the Junction for a live drag show, or 1181 where there is always a DJ and new cocktails to discover.
Vancouver is a great all-year-round destination. In Winter, it is great for water sports and cosy little wine bars. April to October is the best time to go, the days are long, there are summer festivals, and the temperatures are mild. In spring and summer, the city comes alive with outdoor activities; yoga in the park, jogging, andVancouver is a rainy city all year round, so be sure to pack a jacket.
Vancouver’s official language is English, and the majority of the population will speak English as a first or second language. Many people will also speak French as a first or second language. Vancouver is a very multicultural city, though, so you are likely to hear a number of languages around you as you explore.
VOYA’S FAVOURITE PLACES TO VISIT INCLUDE
Stanley Park is somewhere you must visit if you are in Vancouver. It is a huge 1000 acre park on its own peninsula. We recommend hiring a bike to explore the numerous gardens, the mountain views, and the historical landmarks. There are also lovely beaches around the park, perfect for cooling off after all that cycling. Be sure to visit the First Nations totem poles at Brockton Point; they are the highlight of any visit to Stanley Park. You can even book a guided tour with a First Nation’s guide for a cultural experience.
The Capilano Suspension Bridge is our favourite day trip out of the city. It is a 450 feet long suspension bridge that hangs above Capilano River. Walking the bridge is an exhilarating experience; you are above the Douglas Firs and can hear the sound of the river raging below. At the Capilano Suspension Bridge, there is also a Cliffwalk, and Treetops Adventure if you want to try a few more activities. There are also educational activities, like guided nature walks, the Story Centre for the history of the area, and the Kia’Palano First Nation educational area.
VOYA'S FAVOURITE PLACES TO STAY INCLUDE
Skwachàys Lodge is a boutique indigenous art hotel in the centre of Vancouver. All of its 18 rooms are decorated by local indigenous artists. Each room is unique in design and incorporate elements of the outdoors such as wood, and animal imagery to give it more of a lodge feel. On the ground floor they have an art gallery featuring local artists, and they often employ local musicians for events.
Opus Hotel is another beautiful boutique option in downtown Vancouver. It is located in the upmarket neighbourhood of Yaletown, just ten minutes’ walk from the beach. The hotel is modern and funky with luxurious touches. The higher room types have heated floors and deep-soak bathtubs. Even if you don’t end up staying here, be sure to check out Opus Bar, it is a popular stop for celebrities visiting Vancouver.
VOYA'S FAVOURITE DISHES TO TRY
Even though it is not a traditional Canadian food, if you go to Vancouver, you must try the sushi! People in Vancouver love sushi, and there are over 600 sushi restaurants to prove it. Due to the high-quality seafood available in the city, be sure to try some of the seafood rolls. The prawn nigiri and aburi rolls are particular favourites of ours. The sushi in Vancouver is experimental though; you will find mango and pistachio toppings, egg crepe wraps, and even some on baguettes.
If you have a sweet tooth then you simply must try a Nanaimo bar, it is a desert from nearby Vancouver island. While there are many variations and flavours of the bar, it is traditionally a crumbly biscuit base, custard icing in the middle, and a chocolate top. You can find Nanaimo bars in most bakeries in Vancouver.