Over the winter last year, we spent a couple of weeks in Vancouver, and from the moment we stepped off the plane to the moment we left ground on the flight back, our trip to Vancouver was truly enchanting – and I’m already looking to go back! What made it so special though – apart from knowing it was recently named the city with the fifth best quality of life in the world ?
With breath-taking landscapes and jaw-dropping skyscrapers all in one camera shot, Vancouver brings the best of nature and man together in the most beautiful way. You really do have to see it to believe it, but seeing a skyscraper shadowed by a snow-capped mountain is an image that stays with you.
Taking in the natural beauty
After getting over the stunning scenery and enjoying a cup of the famous Tim Horton’s coffee, it was time to discover what Vancouver had to offer for the entire family.
First and foremost, if you’re going to visit Vancouver, you can’t miss a trip to Stanley Park. It’s a Canadian National Historic Site, and despite being one of the city’s main attractions, boasts a range of hidden features we loved. Stanley Park is home to a large range of beautiful gardens, so it won’t be hard to find a haven away from the hustle and bustle of tourists. Take a picnic, a bottle of wine and relax in idyllic surroundings; there aren’t many quiet places in the City, so make the most of it!
You can visit the aquarium, cycle round the park and enjoy views of the Salmon River. Oh, and not forgetting the totem poles at Brockton Point. They may be well-visited, but offer a perfect photo opportunity. As the Park is surrounded by water, you may also be able to take advantage of water taxis and cruises that depart from this location or nearby – the Golden Princess from Princess Cruises, being one that sets sail next year.
If you’re looking for a beautiful location a little off the beaten track, you could head over to New Brighton Park or even Hastings Park. Both areas offer natural beauty, with Hastings Park featuring Italian and Japanese Gardens or if you’re looking for something a little more exhilarating, try the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge.
Vancouver’s Punjabi Market
A little-known secret of Vancouver is its beautiful Punjabi market. Situated on South Main Street, Vancouver’s ‘Little India’ offers any visitor the chance to experience a different culture’s food, fashion and music. Definitely worth a visit one morning, although you may find yourself spending most of the day here!
Top of Vancouver revolving restaurant
One of my favourite things about Vancouver is its views, and there’s no better way to take them in than by enjoying a fine meal in the top of Vancouver Revolving Restaurant. Panoramic views of a fine city, coupled with delicious, succulent food. This was my meal of the year, by far – and I love my food… I’m still dreaming about the steak I had! Because of its resemblance to a control tower, we found that this restaurant wasn’t too hard to get into.
Hitting the slopes
It’s hard to visit Vancouver without hitting the slopes. Whether you’re an experienced skier, or you’re just starting out (like I was), you’ll be well looked after. We rented a car and drove down to Whistler for a day; and despite it being very busy, it was magical. The atmosphere, the ambience – whatever you want to call it – it was perfect, and I would highly recommend a visit. Not just for the resort itself, but for the drive to and from the resort. You get to see so many amazing things on the drive: wild bears (not too close to the road, though!), eagles and some of the most impressive snow sculptures!
If you don’t fancy driving while you’re away, North Vancouver has plenty of slopes to meet your needs. You’ve got Grouse Mountain and Mount Seymour (we love it here), to name just two. They’re both worth a visit and you can really get to know the locals while you’re there; you may even get to share a lift down the mountain with them.
If you’re looking for somewhere a little out of the centre, but still want to experience Vancouver’s stunning views, I’d advise heading down to Deep Cove. We stumbled upon this place by accident (we stayed on our bus for too long!), but we’re so glad we did. Beautiful lakeside views backed by rolling residential streets, and a few boutique shops and cafes to keep your energy topped up throughout the day.
We spent our time walking the streets of Deep Cove, but there are other things to do. If you’re into water sports, for example, their canoe and kayak centre is well-equipped for those of all abilities. For all it’s worth, I’d say Deep Cove was my favourite place in Vancouver simply because of its hidden location and truly enchanting views.
So, there you have a brief account of what this wonderful city has to offer. Like anywhere, it’s not going to be for everyone, but if you’ve got a bucket list, add a trip to Vancouver to it right now!
My thanks for this article by Nick Boyle, brought to you by Cruise 1st . If you want to see the latest cruise deals in 2013, both to Vancouver and around the world, please visit their website.
More places to visit in Canada and the USA
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