Vancouver is a beautiful International Gateway and Canada's third largest city. Vancouver is a city full of natural attractions, elegance and unlimited recreational opportunities. Vancouver is laid back and cosmopolitan and is easily explored on foot or by bike, it's a fascinating city offering endless and exciting holiday experiences.
Vancouver Holidays & City Breaks: Vancouver provides a natural and warm welcome to all and is ideal for a relaxing city stay or romantic city break. Vancouver is a great holiday destination for both culture lovers and adventure seekers, or for those planning a Canadian muti-centre itinerary or as a stopover on a West Canada road trip.
Read on to discover some of Vancouver's top attractions, including: Stanley Park, Gastown, Vancouver Aquarium, Granville Island, Grouse Mountain and lots more, let the journey begin.
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Visiting Vancouver: Daily direct flights operate between London and Vancouver. Direct flights take just over 9 hours flying time, making Vancouver an ideal gateway for touring western Canada, or as part of a multi-centre itinerary or as a stylish city break or short stay adventure.
There are lots of attractions to explore in Vancouver, if it's your first visit to British Columbia you'll need to plan your sightseeing itinerary carefully. For sightseeing tips and information on what to see and do, check out the Flight4 Vancouver attractions and transport guides below.
When is the best time of year to visit Vancouver:
Vancouver is a great city to visit anytime of the year, as each season will surprise and delight with its own reward. The majestic North Shore Mountain range overlooks Vancouver and forms an impressive and striking backdrop, as well as protecting the city from Canada's harsh winters. Further east you have the start of the mighty Rockies, the starting point for Canada's most thrilling outdoor adventures.
Spring (April - June): Spring is when the cherry blossoms start to bloom and Vancouver springs into life. And while it's still winter on the ski slopes of Grouse Mountain and Mount Seymour (45 minutes outside of Vancouver) the average temperature downtown is around 12°c to 16°c.
Compared to Summer months Spring is a less expensive time to visit, in Spring hotel rates are usually cheaper and visitor attractions are more affordable and less busy. As the city starts to warm up Spring Break is an ideal time for families to visit. Spring is also the start of west coast activities, including an interesting line-up of arts and community events.
Summer (July - September): Summertime in Vancouver is a time for celebration and motivation and with the arrival of warm and sunny skies Vancouver moves outside for the summer. You'll find plenty going on such as: Hiking, mountain biking and wildlife watching, plus major summer festivals and events including: the Celebration of Light (annual fireworks festival & competition), plus major international music, art and film events.
Average temperatures are around 19°c to 27°c with little rain and it's usually never scorching hot, there's also a frequent and pleasant sea breeze. The downside to visiting during the peak summer months is more crowds and higher prices for hotels and attractions. Top Tip: Don't forget Vancouver's coastline is full of beautiful golden sandy beaches, many with incredible mountain and city backdrops and within easy reach of downtown. There are several nearby beaches to choose from with English Bay Beach being one of the most popular.
Autumn or Fall (October - December): As October approaches the temperature starts to drop to around 6°c to 12°c but never too frosty as Vancouver tends to have a milder climate compared to the rest of western Canada. Autumn is time for change and at Vancouver's many parks and open spaces we see a spectacular wave of new colours as the leaves change to a bright orange-yellow.
Fall is one of the wettest times of the year but there's plenty of indoor attractions to keep you entertained, including museum visits, art galleries and great shopping. As December approaches Vancouver moves into festive mode with plenty of Christmas decorations, local celebrations and Christmas markets, making Autumn a perfect time for a festive shopping break.
Winter (January - March): Wintertime in Vancouver is exciting, especially if you ski or snowboard. Although snow in the city is rare there's an abundance of quality deep snow in the surrounding mountains, with renowned resorts and slopes high-up on Grouse Mountain, Mount Seymour and Cypress Mountain just a 30 minute car ride away.
The city in winter is perfect for shopping and entertainment with first class dining, theatre and clubs to keep you entertained. Top Tip: Check out the 'Dine Out Vancouver Festival' that takes place in late January early February. Average winter temperatures for Vancouver are around 3°c to 7°c and it tends to rain rather than snow in the city, so don't forget your brolly.
Places to Visit in Vancouver:
Gastown: Visit Gastown Vancouver's oldest commercial district located next to Chinatown east of downtown Vancouver. Gastown is great to wander around, here you'll find lot's of old world charm with plenty of cobbled streets, Victorian architecture and quaint courtyards with fashionable cafes, hip restaurants, trendy boutiques, indie art galleries and modern interior design shops.
Interesting places to visit in Gastown include the Lamplighter Pub with a century old heritage, it's Gastown’s oldest and liveliest watering hole serving local craft beer. You will also find the world's first steam clock which plays the Westminster chimes every 15 minutes on five brass steam whistles inside its bronze case. Top Tip: Book onto one of the Historic Walking Tour's of Gastown. There's the 'Haunted Guided Walking Tour' exploring a forgotten plague, Vancouver’s great fire and gruesome unsolved murders explained.
Granville Island: A visit to Granville Island is highly recommended, it's fun to stroll around and you can get there by hopping on the No.50 local bus taking just 25 minutes, or by ferry boat or taxi, opening hours are daily from 9am - 6pm. The Island was once a rundown industrial park that has now been transformed into a thriving arty shopping and entertainment centre, full of cafes and interesting craft shops and bookstores plus a small theatre and tasty refreshing brewery.
The island is best known for its quality and very colorful market, that boasts fresh produce, meats and fish, vegetables and fresh pastries along with trendy fashion stores and craft shops. Take a break at one of the many eateries or take time-out at the marina where the picturesque houseboats are moored. Top Tip: Arrive early as it starts to get very busy from mid-day onwards, head down to the marina for great views and photo op's, skip breakfast and have an extra tasty pastry or two. Try a toasty 'beef pot pie' made fresh at A La Mode located on the Island.
The Harbour Centre Lookout: The best way to start your Vancouver adventure is to take a trip 168m above ground to the 'Lookout' panoramic observation deck at the Harbour Centre Tower. Here you will enjoy fantastic 360 degree views of the city, the North Shore Mountains and on a clear day all the way to Vancouver Island. A glass fronted sky-lift whisks you to the top of the tower in under 45 seconds.
Cultural Vancouver: Vancouver is a very cultural city, with a host of first class museums and art galleries, most notable is The Museum of Vancouver which is part of a trio of museums located on the waterfront of Vanier Park, an ideal location for a rainy afternoon. Alternativelyvisit the Museum of Anthropology at UBC, renowned for its displays of world arts and excellent examples of Northwest Indian art and artifacts. Vancouver Art Gallery is located in the former provincial courthouse for Vancouver, a beautiful 15,300-square-metre neoclassical building, recent art works on display include works by Yoko Ono.
The Vancouver Jazz Festival: The Vancouver International Jazz Festival is an annual summer event and is regarded as one of the most important musical celebrations in the world. The Festival attracts close to 1800 artists and over half a million jazz enthusiasts, with top names in jazz and blues playing at various venues throughout the city. The Festival takes place during the last few weeks in June and usually consists of over 300 concerts over the course of two weeks.
Vancouver's Public Transport Network: The Vancouver public transport system is accessible and efficient, it reaches most parts of the city and offers a great way for visitors to explore Vancouver's main attractions and landmarks. TransLink Metro Vancouver's transportation network provides public Bus, SkyTrain, Ferry and SeaBus services.
Vancouver's SkyTrain Network: Vancouver’s SkyTrain is a completely automated light rapid transit system that runs on both elevated track and underground, it provides a fast and efficient service between downtown and Metro Vancouver’s suburbs. SkyTrain services consists of 3 lines, the Expo Line and the Millennium Line, plus the Canada Line which connects the airport to Downtown Vancouver. Most of Vancouver's top attractions are accessible within zone one.
Vancouver's SeaBus Service: SeaBus is a passenger ferry service that connects the downtown Waterfront station with Lonsdale Quay on the North Shore. The ferry departs every 15 or 30 minutes depending on time of day with a journey time of 13 minutes. The ferry route takes you across the Burrard Inlet and provides great views of the city and mountains. Top Tip: Buy a return ticket and use the ferry serviceas a mini scenic sightseeing cruise.
Vancouver's Buses: Vancouver's Bus network is extensive and covers most tourist attractions, there's also a smaller community shuttle service for smaller groups that carry passengers to specific and popular areas of the city.
Buying Tickets and Fares: Zones make up the fare structure and the one ticket is valid on most modes of transport. Greater Vancouver is divided into 3 zones for SkyTrain and SeaBus services, while Bus services are charged at a one-zone rate regardless of the distance travelled. You can transfer across to an alternative mode of transport, however your ticket is only valid for a maximum of 90 minutes from when first used. The type of ticket you purchase will be determined by how many zones you need to travel through to reach your destination, convenient Travel Passes are also available.
Travel Pass: Travel passes are available with the day pass being amongst the cheapest allowing unlimited transport across all zones. The Compass Card smart card is a very convenient way to travel across the transport network. The card is loaded with credit and the fare is deducted for each journey made. Compass Cards can be purchased at vending machines at SeaBus, SkyTrain and West Coast Express stations and at dedicated retail outlets.
How to use a Compass Card: To pay for a fare you tap your Compas Card on the electronic card reader when you enter and exit the bus, SkyTrain or SeaBus station.
Bicycle and Taxi: Vancouver has an extensive network of bicycle paths which are a fun way to explore the city and enjoy the view and fresh air. Taxis are readily available throughout the city, they are friendly and reasonably priced.
Shopping in Vancouver: Check out man made Granville Island for trendy shops, markets, street musicians and trendy cafes. Try the cities underground mall, which offers 4 blocks of good value shopping. Visit trendy Robson street for great shopping and a bit of celebrity spotting.
Vancouver Airport (YVR). Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is located eight miles (13km) south of downtown Vancouver.
Airport Transport and Shuttle Services: Transfers information from YVR Airport to downtown Vancouver. Convenient transfers are provided by rapid transit rail services. The Canada Line operates a fast service connecting YVR to downtown Vancouver in under 30 minutes and to downtown Richmond in 18 minutes.
Trains are accessiblefrom both the International and Domestic Terminals as the station is located centrally between the two. The Canada Line is accessible by elevator from both arrivals and departures levels. You can plan your rail journey and other public transport network services at the Translink.ca website.
Taxi and Bus Services: Taxis are available at taxi stands from outside both the Domestic and International arrivals terminal located on Level 2. Bus services to Downtown Vancouver depart from the Airport Station Bus Terminal.
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