I lived in Vancouver for over a year. It’s a beautiful city with an enviable location on the Burrard Peninsula – with Burrard Inlet to the north and Fraser River to the south. The north shore is punctuated by snowy peaks while spectacular Vancouver Island lies across the Strait of Georgia to the west. Although you can’t see the whole city in a day, you can get a good feel for some of its wonderful outdoor spaces.
Head downtown for a big Canadian breakfast (…of course.)
Then cycle (or walk) some of the Stanley Park seawall – you can hire bikes very easily from Denman Street and since Stanley Park is one of the biggest urban parks in the world (1000 acres), you may be glad of some pedal power to help you enjoy it. There are some great views from Prospect Point towards Lion Gate Bridge which connects downtown with the North Shore, and you can visit the totem poles at Brockton Point.
For culture vultures make time for the Vancouver Art Gallery downtown before heading to Granville Island – the perfect place for lunch.
Granville Island is located just over the Granville Street Bridge from downtown. A scenic and affordable way to reach Granville Island is to hop on the Aquabus. The island is home to a huge public market with rows of vendors selling everything from fresh fruit and veg to seafood and pastries. You can get a multitude of different cuisines at the huge food court, including good old fish and chips – watch out for the eager seagulls! You can hire kayaks if you fancy time on calm waters of False Creek in the afternoon or hop back on the Aquabus and head to Olympic Village where there’s a Craft Beer Market along with a waterside walk offering great views of the city.
Make sure you find time to hang out on one of the city’s glorious beaches in the late afternoon – you can stay in the downtown area (English Bay, Sunset Beach) but I lived in West Van and prefer Kitsilano and Jericho beach – they are perfect for a stroll and some people watching around sundown. You can admire the city skyline with mountain peaks beyond, and hang out like a local. For the best sunset views it has to be beautiful Wreck Beach slightly further to the west bordering the university – find a log, take a seat and watch the sun sink into the ocean.
Gastown, the heart of ‘old’ Vancouver is atmospheric after sundown and there are lots of restaurants and bars to choose from with Victorian facades, cobbled streets and glowing lanterns to light your way. End the evening with a few cocktails.