Overview

Gas Town, Vancouver
Gas Town, Vancouver © Judith Duk

Nicknamed Hollywood North for the ever-present film crews, Canada's west coast gem of Vancouver is young, thriving, and diverse. It boasts the perfect combination of wild natural beauty and all the modern conveniences.

Named after Royal Navy sea captain George Vancouver who sailed into the Burrard Inlet on the British Columbian coast in 1792, Vancouver was barely even a town 100 years ago. Today, more than two million people call it home, and the shiny futuristic towers of Yaletown and the downtown core contrast dramatically with the snow-capped mountain backdrop, providing ample beauty among the bustle of Canada's third biggest city.

Approximately the same size as the downtown area, the city's green heart is Canada's largest city park, Stanley Park, covering hundreds of acres filled with lush forest and crystal clear lakes. Visitors can wander the sea wall along the exterior of the park, catch a free trolley bus tour, a horse-drawn carriage ride, or visit the Vancouver Aquarium housed within the park.

The city's past is preserved in historic Gastown with its cobblestone streets, steam powered clock, and quaint feel, though this is combined with expensive souvenir shops and galleries aimed at tourists. Neighbouring Chinatown, with its weekly market, Dr Sun Yat-Sen classical Chinese gardens, and restaurants adds an exotic flair. For some retail therapy or celebrity spotting, there is always the trendy Robson Street.

During the winter months, snow sports are the order of the day on nearby Grouse Mountain. It's perfect for skiing and snowboarding, although the city itself gets more rain than snow. Vancouver's incredible ethnic diversity and combination of mountains, sea, and city offers visitors an endless supply of things to see and do, no matter the budget.


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