Don’t let Vancouver’s proximity to the US border fool you into thinking that it’s just another North American city full of commercialised tourism and high-rise buildings. Vancouver may not immediately come to mind in your list of top 10 travel destinations, but it is definitely underestimated in what it has to offer.
Vancouver provides the unique experience of combining the hustle and bustle of a city with the green expanses of Stanley Park; at 1000 acres Stanley Park is the third largest city-owned park in North America and alongside the park lies the famous city beach, English Bay. With the addition of Grouse Mountain and nearby Whistler attracting tourists from all over the world during ski season, few cities can boast such a variety of attractions throughout the year.
The diversity of the landscape and the natural beauty surrounding Vancouver makes for breath-taking views in every direction. With the peninsula of Downtown Vancouver set to a backdrop of snow-capped mountains, the city has a skyline like none you have ever seen before. And it’s not just the diversity of the landscape which sets ‘Vancity’ apart from the rest. Downtown is easily navigated and each neighbourhood has its own characteristics so the exploring tourist truly experiences the personality of the city. From the high-end, high-style living of North Shore and Yaletown, to the hipster vibes and vintage boutiques of Gastown, the city literally has a place for everyone.
The artistic hub of the city is on Granville Island, set on the waterfront of False Creek under the bridges which link the suburbs to Downtown. The island bursts with life and colour with the huge indoor public market at its centre. Selling everything from fruit and flowers to local favourites such as squid, jellyfish, and Vancouver’s famous snack: Poutine (their posh term for chips covered in gravy and cheese). The island also promotes individual artistic talent with pop-up shops and artisan studios for painters, jewellers and sculptors, all which make for beautiful and unique gifts and souvenirs to take home.
The jewel of Vancouver has to be its seawall. Spanning almost 9km around Stanley Park the walkway hugs the edge of the city peninsula on one side and meets the lapping ocean and mountains on the other. Both tourists and locals enjoy the path’s suitability for cycling, jogging or even rollerblading, making this stretch of waterfront a thriving attraction where the city meets nature on the edge of the Pacific.
Vancouver’s variety and diversity of landscape, attractions and population truly make it a unique place that every traveller, seasoned or beginner should visit. For a relatively new city, Vancouver’s reputation as a tourist destination is growing, but it still remains an idyllic and underrated gem of North America.