Flights to Vancouver: Pacific coast jewel
Who says you can't have it all? Holiday in Vancouver and discover a glittering city downtown rising up to snow-capped mountains. Posh shopping boulevards march toward the Pacific shore and world-class salmon fishing beckons just moments from award-winning theatres. At the end of your day, toast Vancouver’s diversity with a crisp British Columbian rosé or smooth Asian bubble tea.
Back to nature
Black and white orcas surf Vancouver Island's Pacific swells surrounded by whale-watching boats laden with shutter-bugging tourists. Paddlers ply the tranquil waters of Indian Arm, an 18-kilometre fiord that cuts deep into thick British Columbian pine forest. In summer, sport your teeny bikini or board shorts along the strand at Kitsilano Beach. Or leave them behind for clothing-optional Wreck Beach.
Book a flight to Vancouver and discover the city's prolific cultural mix. Feel the spirit as First Nations dancers spin and chant behind vivid-coloured, hand-carved face masks at Klahowya Aboriginal Village. Find tranquillity along the gurgling brooks and immaculately-groomed footpaths of the Japanese Nitobe Memorial Garden. Get colourful at Punjabi Market, where Bollywood dance tunes resonate in the streets and smiling shopkeepers beseech you to buy saffron-coloured silks and tinkling bangle bracelets.
Eat and drink
Tuck into smoked king salmon within view of icy English Bay where your fish likely lost its battle with an angler just hours before. The vendors at Granville Island Public Market promise picnics with panache: organic heritage tomatoes, melt-in-your-mouth duck prosciutto and artisan chèvre cheese. Food carts cook up alternative take-away treats – Korean tacos and Japanese hot dogs included – just call it fusion confusion. Local ice wines and ginger-garnished martinis add zing to the nightlife in Vancouver’s warehouse district, Yaletown.
Population: 2.3 million residents call the greater Vancouver area home, making this the third largest metropolitan area in Canada.
Key dates: British Royal Navy explorer Captain George Vancouver sailed to the Pacific Northwest in 1792. In 1886 Vancouver was incorporated as a city, thus 2011 marked the city's 125th birthday.
Did you know? More than half of Vancouver's school-age children have been raised speaking a language other than English. Among the most common are Chinese, Punjabi, German, Spanish and Tagalog (Filipino).
Getting about: The high-speed SkyTrain light rail whisks visitors from the airport to stops throughout Vancouver. For water travel, climb aboard the electric, rainbow-coloured Aquabus ferries.
Want to spend your Vancouver holiday in the great outdoors? Or immerse yourself in the designer shops of Robson Street? Our accommodation picks set you in the middle of both worlds, and pedestrian-friendly Vancouver means you can move easily between the two.
Whether they meet a pauper's budget or charge a king's ransom, Vancouver restaurants worship local produce and fresh-as-can-be Pacific seafood. Sample this fare in simple, unadorned sandwich shops, Asian-inspired bistros or sophisticated, linen-and-crystal dining rooms overlooking the water.
Shopping in Vancouver
If the weather dampens your spirits, cheer yourself by scooping up funky foul-weather gear at the Umbrella Shop. The latest one-off Canadian fashions fill the racks at designer mecca Obakki, while Granville Island sells everything from souvenir candles to smoked salmon.
Vancouver's charms don’t quit just because the sun sets. For your evening entertainment choose soaring classical airs at the Vancouver Symphony or irreverent barbs at late-night comedy clubs. After all that, get loose over a smooth BC pinot or a Vancouver mixologist's cocktail du jour.
Pedal your way through Vancouver's Stanley Park on a rented bicycle. Or do the 'Grouse Grind', a form of self-punishment some describe as a 1.5-hour walk up Grouse Mountain. After you’ve burned off last night’s dinner, try the laid-back art galleries on bustling Granville Island.