Here's our quick guide for what to see and where to go.
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.
Things to do in Vancouver
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. You can also throw in a road or train trip to the Rockies for good measure. Another popular attraction is the FlyOver Canada virtual flightseeing tour that delights passengers of all ages.
In summer, Vancouver glows with happiness. At 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 head up to Squamish for a rafting trip, Whistler for extraordinary mountain views and hikes, or a coastal village for a wildlife safari.
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, dinner at the Top of Vancouver revolving restaurant or a burlesque show are just a few of the nightlife options in this exciting city.
A 'forbidden Vancouver' walking tour of Gastown after dark, dinner at the Top of Vancouver revolving restaurant or a burlesque show are just a few of the nightlife options in this exciting city.
Winter is certainly the season for skiing, boarding, tobogganing and snowshoeing. After all, this is the city where locals 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 further to Cypress and Mt Seymour. However winter in Vancouver is not all about snow sports. There are city ice rinks where you can glide serenely in circles, taking in the lights, mist and smiles. You can walk the Festival of Lights at the VanDusen Botanical Gardens and wonder at the Canyon Lights on Capilano Suspension Bridge.
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, including local knowledge about the best restaurants in Vancouver, book a Vancouver Foodie Tour.
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 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.
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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.
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.