New York may have the world’s most famous urban oasis, Central Park, but it's Vancouver that’s blessed with the most naturally beautiful park – Stanley Park. The best way to see the park is on two wheels and there are plenty of places to hire a bike nearby. Head off along the 17-mile Seawall and stop off at view points and beaches along the way. The whole of Vancouver is a cyclist’s heaven and you can join our featured Grand Tour of Vancouver by Bike which is a great introduction to the city
This is a real Vancouver bucket-list experience and once the summer months roll around, whale-watching season is in full swing. The waters of the Strait of Georgia are teeming with marine mammals such as seals, sea otters, humpback whales and orcas and on a half-day cruise you’ll head out in search of these beautiful animals in their natural habitat.
The North Shore Mountains, which rise from the northern edge of the Burrard Inlet, are where you’ll find a handful of the city’s main attractions. These include the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, which is home to a 140-metre long and 70-metre high bridge which crosses the Capilano River, and the cantilevered Cliff Walk which extends out over the river canyon.
The 1250-metre high Grouse Mountain is another of the North Shore’s highlights. From the top you’ll have fantastic views out over the city and beyond – it’s up to you how you get up there though! There’s the Skyride Gondola which will whisk you to the peak in just 8- minutes and then there’s the Grouse Grind hiking trail – a serious series of steps and switchbacks up the side of the mountain.
Back down at sea- level (perfect if you don’t have a head for heights) is Granville Island Public Market, one of the city’s most popular destinations. Join the locals and the chefs from many of Vancouver’s restaurants as you go from stall to stall browsing the offerings of local farmers and producers and perhaps buy yourself some lunch to enjoy on the wooden decking overlooking the city skyline.
Hiring a kayak or paddleboard is another fantastic option if you want a few active experiences during your holiday. Getting out on the water gives you a different perspective of the city and should burn off a few calories that you consumed on Granville Island! If you’re really lucky, you may even see some of the region’s marine wildlife on your trip.
If all this activity and moving around sound a little too much, it’s OK – there are plenty of places to head for some down time. The most famous Vancouver beach is English Bay; Sunset Beach is another popular spot, as is Stanley Park’s Third Beach. This is also a great place to stop as you cycle along the Seawall. Further afield there’s Kitsilano, Spanish Banks and Jericho. The views of the North Shore Mountains from these three beaches is reason enough to visit.
We’ve saved the best for last: the ultimate Vancouver bucket-list experience of soaring above the city skyline in a float plane. The sensation of a water take-off and landing really needs to be felt to be believed and the views you’ll get from the air are unforgettable. There are sightseeing tours available, such as the Fly ‘n’ Dine to Bowen Island dinner experience, as well as scheduled flights to Victoria on Vancouver Island or Whistler in the Coastal Mountains.
This feature was published on 3 September 2018. The information within this feature is correct to the best of our knowledge at the time of print.