Vancouver is a wonderful yet surprisingly underrated city in the Pacific Northwest, just over the Canadian border from the delights of Seattle in the US. It’s an intensely laid back yet fun-loving and exciting city, and its glorious setting of mountains and sea make it a beautiful place to visit.
A cruise to Vancouver up the West Coast of America is a great experience, and allows you to add this excellent city to a Pacific Northwest itinerary. But the city is not the only highlight in this corner of Canada, as the delights of British Columbia are well worth exploring as well.
We’ve pulled together some of the best bits of Vancouver and British Columbia which we think you will truly enjoy, and we hope will help you make the most of your Canadian adventure.
Vancouver’s Stanley Park is a great place to start exploring the city. It is one of the largest city parks in North America, almost entirely surrounded by water, and with some of the best views of the city across the water. Overshadowed by its bigger brother but also well worth a look is Queen Elizabeth Park, which as well as offering similarly spectacular mountain views also has a gorgeous Conservatory and indoor tropical garden.
Vancouver is a real cultural centre, full of museums and galleries. The Vancouver Art Gallery is the largest in Western Canada, and a real haven for lovers of contemporary art. The Museum of Vancouver is the perfect place to discover a little more about the history of the area, and has some fantastic First Nation collections.
For drinking and dining, head to Vancouver’s Gastown district. It’s the city’s most historic neighbourhood, just a stone’s throw from downtown, and is absolutely stuffed with excellent restaurants and great little bars and cafes.
No trip to British Columbia would be complete without exploring the natural beauty of Vancouver Island, which has one of the most stunningly beautiful coastlines in North America. It is the largest island in the Pacific east of New Zealand, and alongside its remarkable landscapes it boasts charming architecture, high culture and a rich First Nation cultural heritage.
The West Coast Trail hugs the south coast of Vancouver Island for 75 kilometres, and is a truly breathtaking route for hikers and explorers. Make sure you’ve packed sensibly, as some parts of the trail are quite remote.
Vancouver Island is a paradise for lovers of wildlife, and offers the chance to get up close and personal with nature. A boat tour around the island in spring is a great chance to see black bears, when they emerge from hibernation. Vancouver Island is also a superb base to set off on a whale watching trip, and seeing these immense and majestic beasts in the wild is an unforgettable experience.
Vancouver makes a wonderful holiday destination, as it combines a dynamic, exciting and cultural city with jaw-dropping landscapes and wild natural adventures. The city is a great place for sightseeing, while Vancouver Island and British Columbia take you exploring the great outdoors in all its glory.