Discover Vancouver

Sophisticated, sporty and spectacular in any season, Vancouver is a city, sea and mountains experience that makes every day of your holiday amazing.

Air New Zealand flies non-stop between Auckland and Vancouver. Domestic connections are available from Air New Zealand serviced airports.

Here's our quick guide for what to see and where to go.

Things to do in Vancouver

Vancouver delivers urban sophistication, gastronomical decadence, local wines and exciting outdoor activities, all wrapped up in a picture-perfect parcel. It doesn't matter what time of year you visit, because every season comes with its own collection of stand-out sightseeing attractions, things to do and places to go.

Vancouver sparkles in spring

Spring is a gorgeous time to visit Vancouver. Flowers are blooming, the whales are on the move and the city's people are embracing the joys of warmer weather. You can explore Stanley Park, the green jewel of inner-city Vancouver. Or catch a floatplane to Vancouver Island for walks around historic Victoria, followed by a Cowichan Valley wine tour. It's always a great time to head up to Grouse Mountain for sky-high views and bear photos, or a visit to the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Gardens in the historical Chinatown neighbourhood. Another popular attraction is the FlyOver Canada virtual flightseeing tour, which delights passengers of all ages.

Summer is a festival of life

In summer, Vancouver glows with happiness. At the beaches in Kitsilano and English Bay city residents are swimming and basking. Night markets are enjoying extended daylight hours to serve tasty street food and a side dish of live entertainment. There are festivals for jazz, folk and other genres of music. And it's a great time to go beyond Vancouver with a trip up to Squamish for a rafting trip, Whistler for extraordinary mountain views and hikes, or a coastal village for a wildlife safari.

Autumn is awesome in Vancouver

Autumn, or fall to be correct in Canada, is beautifully photogenic in Vancouver. Trees fringing the city shoreline are turning on a splendid show and the botanical garden is alive with late-blooming flowers and the full spectrum of foliage colours. As the days get shorter, there's more time for having fun after dark.

A 'forbidden Vancouver' walking tour of Gastown after dark, dinner at the Top of Vancouver revolving restaurant or watching an ice hockey game are just a few of the autumn nightlife options in this exciting city.

Snowflakes and ice skates in winter

Compared to the rest of Canada, Vancouver has a mild winter – it seldom snows in the city. However, locals are proud to talk about how they can leave their office and be cutting z-shapes down a mountain through pristine white powder snow within the hour. Grouse is the closest mountain for snow satisfaction, or you can venture a little further to Cypress and Mt Seymour. If skiing isn't your thing, Vancouver has ice rinks where you can glide serenely in circles, taking in the lights, mist and smiles. You can also walk the Festival of Lights at the VanDusen Botanical Gardens and wonder at the Canyon Lights on Capilano Suspension Bridge.

Local and global flavours

In every season, Vancouver's food and drink scene serves up tastes that will have you in raptures. The local craft brewing culture is going full steam ahead, friendly markets are full of exotic and Canadian-style street food, and the innovative restaurants of Yaletown are constantly trying to outdo each other with flavour and style.

Make sure you order some icewine with your dessert. It's a British Columbian indulgence that's so good, you'll never want to stop sipping. To get a full appreciation of Vancouver's eating and drinking scene, book a Vancouver Foodie Tour.

Let Michelin stars lead you to the best restaurants in Vancouver. The Michelin Guide lists more than 70 Vancouver eating places where quality and creativity always come first. From cost-effective Bib Gourmand eateries, such as Farmer's Apprentice and Fable Kitchen, to One-Star establishments, like Barbara and AnnaLena, you'll find a Michelin-endorsed restaurant that matches your food mood.

Fun times for families

If you're visiting with kids, you'll never run short of fun things to do in Vancouver. As a family you can enjoy Capilano's Rainforest Explorer programme, the Vancouver Aquarium, BC Sport Hall of Fame, Science World and the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre. And don't forget to take a frisky stroll along Vancouver's famous seawall walk alongside Stanley Park. At 28 kilometres in length, it's said to be one of the longest in the world.

Day trips and overnighters just beyond Vancouver

From Vancouver you can branch out further into British Columbia to get a real feel for the Canadian outdoors. Whether you like your adventures mild or wild, it's easy to find an add-on that works.

Day-trip to Squamish for the Sea-to-Sky gondola, hiking and mountain biking. Or go a bit further to Whistler for all kinds of mountain activities and famously-good restaurants. For a longer add-on, pick Pemberton. It's a perfect base for days filled with hiking, biking, fishing and hot springs.

Just over the Strait of Georgia is Victoria, Vancouver Island's historic capital city. On an overnighter you can visit the Royal BC Museum, admire the heritage architecture, stroll the Inner Harbour and wander Butchart Gardens.

East from Vancouver you can follow the Lougheed Highway to Hope for river and mountain scenery, plus lots of opportunities for hiking, biking, fishing and golf. Also in this area is The Fraser Valley, which is packed with winemakers, craft brewers, beekeepers, chefs, bakers and baristas.

Road and rail trips from the rainforest to the Rockies

The ultimate add-on for your Vancouver holiday is a journey from the Pacific Coast rainforest to the Canadian Rockies. Hire a car and follow Highway 99 from Vancouver to Lillooet, then on to Kamloops and Mount Robson – the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. Or follow Highway 1 to Hope, the Fraser Canyon, Kamloops, Revelstoke, Golden and Yoho National Park. Both these routes are packed with opportunities for mountain walks, sightseeing, Canadian cuisine and discovering local culture.

If legs are your preferred mode of transport, the Kettle Valley Rail Trail runs through a series of historic mining towns for nearly 500 kms from Midway and Hope, home to an extensive recreational trail. Or bite a chunk off the big one – the Trans Canada Trail, the longest network of biking and hiking trails in the world.

Another tempting option is to catch the Rocky Mountaineer, a luxury train service that lets you see the Canadian Rockies in style, and where breathtaking scenery is matched by gourmet dining and exceptional service.

Essential information

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Best time to go

Planning a trip to Vancouver means understanding the seasons. Summer is the driest season with an average daytime temperature of 20° Celsius. Autumn comes with a comfortable 15° average and glorious fall scenery. Winter is snow sport and ice skating time, with an average daily temperature of 5° in the city. Spring is beautiful, with a daily average of 10° and total splendour happening in the gardens.

Keep exploring Vancouver

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How much will it cost?

Not including air travel and hotels, you should allow about CAD $150 to $200 a day per person for food and entertainment.

Redefining the long haul experience

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Aerial shot of Vancouver image courtesy of Tourism Vancouver and Albert Normandin; Vancouver panorama image courtesy of Tourism Vancouver; Capilano suspension bridge image courtesy of Tourism Vancouver and Capilano Suspension Bridge Park; Dine Out Vancouver event image courtesy of Tourism Vancouver and Rob Gilbert Photography; Secret supper tram image courtesy of Tourism Vancouver and Vision Event Photography