Top 10 relaxing things to do in Vancouver

If you're a first-timer to Vancouver, here's our heads-up on top things to do and see.

This top 10 list covers off food, wildlife, walks, shopping and sightseeing. We've also included some unexpected activities, like a sightseeing flight that never leaves the ground!

Much of Vancouver's hotel accommodation can be found in the Downtown area of the city. From here you'll find it easy to get around on foot or by catching the exciting Sky Train - an automated rapid transit system that runs above and below ground. If you ever get lost while trying to find one of the suggestions on this list of what to do in Vancouver, ask a local - they're famously friendly.

1. Take a scenic flight without taking off

At FlyOver Canada in Vancouver you get a virtual flightseeing tour of the best Canadian scenery, complete with wind in your hair, mist on your skin and the smell of outdoor air. You won't get that on a real flight! From the Prairies to the Atlantic Ocean and back to Vancouver, this experience is totally uplifting.

2. Enjoy a beer in Yaletown

For an ale and a casual meal, seek out the Yaletown Brewing Company. This place has been voted 'Best Brewpub in Canada' several times and the food's just as delicious as the beer. In spring and summer you can enjoy your meal on the outdoor patio.

3. Shop at Granville Island Public Market

If your accommodation has a fridge or kitchen, Granville Island Public Market is the place to stock up with snacks and ready-made local delicacies. As well as artisan edibles and drinks, this market has a community of crafts people and musicians. You'll find something unique to take home while you enjoy some great sounds.

4. Meet the bears at Grouse Mountain

Almost everyone who visits Canada wants to see bears in their natural habitat. At Grouse Mountain, which is just half an hour from the CBD, you can meet Grinder and Coola, two grizzly bears who live in a protected wildlife refuge. This is also where you can see a live 'Birds in Motion' show starring owls, hawks and eagles and a vulture.

5. Walk the Seawall

When you feel like stretching your legs, the Seawall tops the list of free things to do in Vancouver. Choose the nine-kilometre stretch that runs around Stanley Park and you’ll get fantastic scenery in every direction. To make the trip go faster, hire bikes or skates. Keep your eyes out for sea otters and seals in Vancouver Harbour.

6. Eat a dozen oysters

Oyster houses and bars can be found in abundance around the Downtown area, because no seafood is more Canadian than oysters. Whether you like your edible Vancouver attractions au naturel or fried, ordering a few varieties will add another dimension to your tasting experience. Some establishments offer as many as 10 species.

7. Wobble across Capilano Suspension Bridge

In North Vancouver, on the way to Capilano Lake, is a bridge with a whole lot of history. Known as Capilano Suspension Bridge, it was first built back in 1888 from hemp rope. Today's incarnation of the bridge is somewhat sturdier, although it still provides an entertaining sway and bounce as you make the 137-metre crossing. This is one of the best things to do in Vancouver when you want a break from the city.

8. Order an ice wine accompaniment

When you're dining at one of Vancouver's best restaurants, ask the waiter to match a dish to ice wine from British Columbia. Some people swear that ice wine is the perfect accompaniment to Thai curry, while others insist that a chocolate dessert is required for the perfect pairing. Ice wine is made by leaving grapes to freeze on the vine, to concentrate the flavours and sugars.

9. Stroll Van Dusen Botanical Garden

This public garden is magnificent at any time of the year. Plants and trees from all over the world have been carefully combined and cultivated for maximum impact. Fish, turtles, butterflies and dragonflies add to the scenery, along with ponds, lakes and sculptures. You might also see squirrels.

10. Visit Victoria on Vancouver Island

A short floatplane flight or a half-day boat cruise will get you to the historic city of Victoria on Vancouver Island. You might want to overnight here, because there's a lot to see. The Fairmont Empress Hotel, Parliament Buildings and Craigdarroch Castle have all been lovingly preserved for your enjoyment, while down at Fisherman's Wharf you can feast on the freshest seafood.

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