Vancouver is an exciting city with an incredible range of attractions for sightseeing, education and leisure.
From Gastown and Granville Island to Stanley Park and Science World, there’s always something to see in Vancouver. Our city is the first choice for many international students to come to study and learn English at a language school. But when the school day ends or the weekend arrives, it’s time to see the sights.
Vancouver’s mild climate allows residents to enjoy the most active lifestyle in Canada. From swimming and kayaking to skiing and golfing, visitors can enjoy sports all year round. Just make sure you bring comfortable shoes and get plenty of sleep because this city has a lot to offer.
Places to See in Vancouver
Designated a national historic site of Canada, Stanley Park is a magnificent green oasis in the midst of the heavily built urban landscape of Vancouver. Explore the 400-hectare natural West Coast rainforest and enjoy scenic views of water, mountains, sky, and majestic trees along Stanley Park’s famous Seawall. Discover kilometres of trails, beautiful beaches, local wildlife, great eats, natural, cultural and historical landmarks, along with many other adventures. The park offers a wide range of unforgettable experiences for all ages and interests.
The Seawall is a scenic 22 km path that lines Vancouver’s waterfront. Perfect for a walk, cycle or jog, it is the most popular recreational spot in the city.
As Canada’s largest aquarium, the Vancouver Aquarium connects hundreds of thousands of Aquarium visitors with the natural world. With over 50,000 animals and unique opportunities to come up close with some of the world’s most elusive creatures, every visit is an unforgettable one.
Walk across the beautiful Lions Gate Bridge and stop midway for a bird’s-eye view of Burrard Inlet and the North Shore mountains. The bridge was built and paid for by the Guinness Brewing Company in order to give people access to the North Shore and property owned by the Guiness family.
High above the Lion’s Gate Bridge, to the north, are two distinct mountain peaks, resembling a camel’s back, overlooking Vancouver’s harbour. These are The Lions, named as a remembrance of statues of two lions in London’s Trafalgar Square.
Vancouver has the largest and busiest port in Canada and on North America’s West Coast. Take a ride across Burrard Inlet on the SeaBus, and view the cargo ships up close.
A hundred years ago it was so quiet on Burrard Inlet you could holler across to call a ferry to come over and get you. Back then, the “ferry” was actually a rowboat.
Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver’s horticultural jewel, is a major draw for floral display enthusiasts and view-seekers, and as a popular backdrop for wedding photos. At 152 metres above sea level, it’s the highest point in Vancouver and makes for spectacular views of the park, city, and mountains on the North Shore. The 52-hectare park is home to the stunning Bloedel Conservatory. There is also a gorgeously landscaped quarry garden, the arboretum with its collection of exotic and native trees, sculptures including one by internationally renowned artist Henry Moore, and diverse recreational offerings such as tennis, lawn bowling and pitch & putt. The park is also the perfect setting for fine dining at Seasons in the Park, a picnic or stargazing!
Officially named Telus World of Science, tThis is Vancouver’s number one destination for science education for children and adults. It is located at the end of False Creek, and features many permanent interactive exhibits and displays. In addition, it is one of Vancouver’s most recognizable landmarks.
The Gastown area of Vancouver was named for a talkative Yorkshire-born saloon owner, John Deighton, nickname Gassy jack.
Gassy Jack showed up with a barrel of whisky on the south shore of Burrard Inlet, and told the mill workers there they could have all the whisky they could drink if they helped him build his saloon-which they did. It only took 24 hours.
Today, Gastown is a mix of “hip” contemporary fashion and interior furnishing boutiques, tourist-oriented businesses, restaurants, nightclubs, and different types of housing. In addition, there are law firms, architects and other professional offices, as well as computer and internet businesses, art galleries, music and art studios, language schools and acting and film schools. You can hear the Gastown Steam Clock whistle every hour on the hour. It is the only one of its kind in the world.
Imagine an island in the middle of a city. See? You’re already curious. Now picture a place moulded by a fascinating history, buzzing with a colourful artistic community. A living, breathing urban oasis filled with fine waterfront restaurants, theatres, galleries, studios, unique shops, cafes and the most spectacular fresh food market you’ve ever seen. Add a vibrant and diverse mix of people and activities, and you have a destination so dynamic, no visit to the city is complete without spending at least a day here. Just think of Granville Island as Vancouver’s Town Square. Where locals and visitors come together to be inspired, to be entertained or simply to breathe in some of its unique atmosphere.
Sports in Vancouver
Vancouver residents are the most active and healthy people from across Canada. We’ve got everything from biking along the seawall to golfing at Stanley Park’s pitch and putt to kayaking in False Creek. With our mild climate and accessible sports venues, you can be active all year round. Here are a few activities you can include in your visit to Vancouver:
Whistler Resort is a ski lover’s paradise. The number one ski resort in North America is just a 2.5-hour drive from Vancouver. If you prefer to try another hill, the Vancouver area has more than 16 downhill ski resorts within a five-hour drive of the city limits. Some are as close as 15 minutes – right over on the North Shore.
You never forget how to ride a bike. And that’s a good thing because you may want to jump on one and tour around during your visit. Bikes are commonplace in this city and Vancouver has numerous cycle paths and bike routes, ranging from easy, flat terrain around Stanley Park to over-night trips around the Gulf Islands. Cycling is perhaps the best way to explore Vancouver and the superb natural beauty.
Vancouver’s moderate climate makes it possible to cycle almost year round. If you choose to tour around by bike, please be advised that Vancouver has a mandatory helmet law.
There’s no better place for the boating and fishing enthusiast than Vancouver with its stunning coastline and endless waterways. Charter a boat from any number of charter boat companies and head out for the open water. The largest concentrations of these charter companies are located at Granville Island, Horseshoe Bay and Coal Harbour. They can also advise you where the fish are biting.
Vancouver’s natural beauty and mild climate are a perfect fit for duffers and pros alike. The Greater Vancouver area boasts a number of excellent golfing facilities from pitch and putt to C.P.G.A.-rated golf courses. Most golf courses are easily accessible and daily transfers are available for those who want to venture out a little further. The golf season typically runs from April to October but many are open year-round.
Vancouver’s dramatic profile is Mother Nature’s own, as towering mountains soar thousands of vertical feet above the city at water’s edge. The summits of The Lions, Mount Hollyburn, Grouse Mountain, Mount Seymour, Golden Ears, Cypress Mountain and Garibaldi Provincial Park are all accessible to healthy, relatively experienced hikers who can follow instructions from a trail guide and are fit enough to carry a daypack containing the “ten essentials” of mountain safety.
Stanley Park has become the most popular destination for skaters. The more adventuresome, however, are drawn to North Vancouver’s Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve. In-line skates can be rented at numerous locations.
There is no finer place to pound the pavement than Vancouver’s picturesque Stanley Park seawall. The flat, 10-kilometre (6.2 mile) path goes around the circumference of the park. On hot summer days, however, the cool shade of the towering Douglas Fir and cedar trees in the interior trails provides a welcome shade from the heat. Other favorite spots for running include the University of British Columbia Endowment Lands and Pacific Spirit Regional Park, the seaside bicycle route, and Central Park in nearby Burnaby.
Most people think of the tropics when they think of scuba diving but Vancouver has some of the best cold water scuba diving in the world. Scuba divers plunge the frigid waters between Vancouver Island and the mainland to view spectacular marine species like wolf eels and octopus, as well as a brilliant red coral found few other places in the world. Cates Park in Deep Cove and Whytecliff Park near Horseshoe Bay are popular diving sites, and many Vancouver scuba enthusiasts get their feet wet here first.
Any day of the week on the water of Burrard Inlet you will find, among the cruise ships and freighters, sea kayaks gliding along the shores. Sea kayaks are the smallest and most maneuverable craft on the water.
Vancouver’s two most popular paddling destinations are equally unique. The placid waters of False Creek, ringed by bustling Yaletown to the north and Fairview Slopes and Granville Island to the south. On the North Shore, kayakers paddle from Deep Cove to explore Indian Arm.
Even though Vancouver has a mild climate and snow seldom falls in the city, Vancouverites enjoy some of the best downhill and cross country ski facilities in North America. Step out your back door and gaze at the twinkling lights of Grouse Mountain, Cypress Bowl and Mount Seymour.
Ski hills so close you can almost reach out and touch them, just minutes from downtown. Many of the city’s residents strap on snowboards or skis and flee the stresses of urban life. You can leave work early and get a few runs in or hit the slopes after dark for a few hours of night skiing
Dive into aquatics at Vancouver’s nine indoor and four outdoor pools during the summer. Get a full body workout swimming lanes or taking an aquafit class, relax after a busy day in the hot tub, steam room, or sauna and make a splash with family by taking advantage of facilities with beach-style entry, spray features, slides, lazy rivers, inflatables and convenient family change rooms.
Did you know that you can play tennis at one of 180 tennis courts in city neighbourhoods? That includes free and paid courts in Stanley Park! Vancouver’s Park Board offers classes to all ages and skill levels all year. Take a lesson, register for a program, or join a drop-in class at a community centre near you..
Looking for a wild adventure? The Thompson, the Nahatlatch, the Squamish, the Elaho and the Chilliwack Rivers are calling your name. Ride the roaring current in a rubber raft. Get your feet wet and the adrenaline pumping. It’ll be the most fun you’ve had in a long time. West Coast salmon run the rapids, why shouldn’t you?
Would you like to learn how to windsurf? Try English Bay or Jericho beaches where beginners can rent windsurfers and take lessons. For those who want the challenge of high-wind sailing, Squamish offers some of Canada’s best windsurfing conditions. In the summer months, strong thermal winds blow down the valley and create ideal windsurfing and kite boarding conditions. For more advanced windsurfers and kiteboarders, Acadia Beach and the westernmost shores of Spanish Banks are popular with on days with strong Northwest winds. On the windiest days the wind can stir up the seas with wave heights reaching over 2 meters. During the busy summer months (June, July, August) Kiteboarding is not allowed on Vancouver Beaches, but there is typically very little wind in the area during these months anyways.