Vancouver is blessed. This modern city, with its glittering high-rise downtown, is ringed by some of the most beautiful water and mountain scenery on the planet. Visitors love the laid-back and outdoorsy lifestyle: You can ski in the morning, chill on the beach or paddleboard in the afternoon, and spend the night people-watching on a patio overlooking superlative mountain views. Vancouver also appeals to foodies, thanks to world-class restaurants, some of the best sushi outside of Japan, and a cutting-edge cocktail scene. Gateway to the Olympic-class mountains of Whistler, the Asian malls of Richmond, and Canada’s most English city, Victoria, there’s adventure all around this Pacific Northwest paradise.

Suspension bridge in a park in Vancouver Canada hovering over a lush, green forest.

Cayetano Gil / Unsplash


When’s the best time to go to Vancouver?

Sure, Vancouver has a reputation for rain—it’s even nicknamed Rain City, or Raincouver, by the locals—but that’s how it gets such gorgeous blooms from spring to fall. No matter when you visit, make sure you bring an umbrella. Year-round the climate is pleasingly mild. During winter it rarely snows except on the local ski hills, and the temperatures hover around 40° to 50° Fahrenheit. Spring arrives early in February or March, and summer ramps up around June but lasts till late September, with temperatures just above 70° Fahrenheit and long, lingering sunsets. The city fills with cruise-going tourists throughout July and August, so canny travelers come in September to enjoy those balmy late-summer days without the crowds.

How to get around Vancouver

Vancouver’s nearest airport is Vancouver International Airport (YVR), which connects in 30 minutes to the city by the cheap and efficient Skytrain on the Canada Line. If you’re coming from Seattle or Portland, the Bolt Bus is a budget option, dropping off at the central Pacific Station; there’s also a Greyhound terminal there. Pricier but fantastically scenic is Amtrak’s Cascades route from Seattle, which hugs the coastline along the way.

Vancouver’s downtown core is easily explored by foot, bike, or public transit. The latter is plentiful and well-connected, with options including the sea bus to the North Shore, the Skytrain, and buses. Car share companies Car2Go, ZipCar, Moda, and Evo are all very popular with Vancouverites. There are also water taxis who ply their trade around False Creek to such attractions as Granville Island and Science world.

Can’t miss things to do in Vancouver

Nothing says “Vancouver” more than a cycle along the 22-kilometer Seawall. Wrapping around Downtown and including Coal Harbour, False Creek, and Stanley Park, you can snap selfies against a truly dazzling backdrop of mountains, sea, and glittering glass high-rises.

Food and drink to try in Vancouver

Vancouver is a cosmopolitan, multicultural city. After English and Chinese, the most common mother tongues are Punjabi, German, Italian, French, Tagalog, and Spanish. This translates into a thrillingly diverse dining scene that benefits from the first-class produce grown in the fertile lower mainland and Fraser Valley, as well as from the superb seafood harvested from the waters nearby. Vancouver’s Asian food scene is second to none, with excellent sushi bars, ramen joints, and izakayas in every neighborhood. You’ll also discover award-winning BC wines, a thriving craft brewing scene, and distilleries creating uniquely Canadian spirits with local ingredients.

Culture in Vancouver

The Museum of Anthropology at the UBC campus is home to one of the world’s best collections of First Nations peoples’ carvings, totem poles, and artifacts. Chinatown’s Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is a must-see, as is the Bill Reid Gallery and the Vancouver Art Gallery. The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra have their home at the ornate Orpheum Theatre, and the city has a lively dance, opera, and theater scene.

Vancouver has more than its fair share of summer celebrations, from the cultural Bard on the Beach Shakespeare-fest, to the three-day Celebration of Light fireworks extravaganza, to the annual Seawheeze Half-Marathon, where 10,000 Lycra-clad yoga fans arrive for a weekend of running, partying in the park, and sunset yoga. But you’ll find something fun to take part in no matter what time of year it is, including winter’s Talking Stick Festival, which celebrates First Nations culture, and the spring Cherry Blossom Festival.

Local travel tips for Vancouver

Vancouver (or Lotus Land, as it’s sometimes called) really does deliver on the hype implied by its regular inclusion on those best places to live lists.
- The city’s inhabitants know there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes—so don’t let a spot of rain scare you away.
- Free shuttle buses run throughout the summer to Grouse Mountain and the Capilano Suspension Bridge, so get out into the mountains and enjoy the dense, incredibly green forests, no matter the weather.
- Also dive into BC’s incredibly diverse wines, brews, and spirits while you’re here—very little gets exported, so it’s a rare chance to soak up the local flavors.

Practical Information

- Vancouverites are an English-speaking bunch, with just a smattering of French and other languages tossed into the mix.
- On the appliance front, all of Canada runs on the same standard voltage of 110-120 v as the United States. Your hair dryer will work just fine, no adapter necessary.

Guide Editor

Read Before You Go
Resources to help plan your trip
Vancouver’s cocktail bar scene is top notch, featuring award-winning bartenders, excellent hospitality, and some truly innovative cocktail lists. If you want to go really local, ask your bartender to use a BC-made spirit in your drink. The area’s microdistilleries are producing some of the world’s best liquors. Of course, the wine and craft beer scene offers plenty of delights too. Oh, there are plenty of happy hour spots worth popping into too if you’ve got food and drink on your mind. Stay an extra week. You’re going to need the time.
For such a young city (Vancouver was founded in 1886), Vancouver packs a punch when it comes to culture, with excellent museums, art galleries, and cultural events. From world-renowned First Nations art to Shakespeare on the beach, fans of cultural pursuits will find plenty to keep them busy once they visit.
This lively, cosmopolitan city in British Columbia is cradled by extreme natural beauty. It’s also home to Canada’s mildest climate, making it a destination for outdoor fun like skiing Grouse Mountain and watching the world’s rarest orcas. Whether you choose adventures extreme—crossing the Capilano Suspension Bridge—or far more gentle—touring the Vancouver Aquarium, you’ll find your place in the city.
Just because the days are short—and, let’s face it, probably gray and rainy—doesn’t mean that Vancouver isn’t still a fun city to visit in the winter. The holiday season is packed with exciting events, and January and February are a time to indulge with Dine Out and the Vancouver Hot Chocolate festival. From skiing and boarding the nearby city mountains to skating in the heart of the downtown core, we’ve got winter wrapped up.
Vancouver shines throughout the summer months as the city fills to bursting with visitors, cruise passengers en route to Alaska, and language school students. There are festivals and celebrations to suit all kinds of travelers, from the cultural Bard on the Beach, to the gloriously hedonistic Fair at the PNE, to the hugely popular fireworks festival, The Celebration of Light. It’s a time to enjoy beautiful wild nature in and around the city, to get out on the water, and to stay up late...
Vancouver boasts its fair share of big name brands and department stores along Robson Street, but the city also has popular shopping areas loaded with independent stores, clothing boutiques, and art galleries, especially around Gastown, Main Street, and West 4th.
From Quebec to British Columbia, check in to one of these quaint and design-forward boutique hotels in Canada.
Celebrated worldwide for its culinary chops, Vancouver tops the list of British Columbia’s best stops for food-loving travelers. The city blends the freshest ingredients (oh, the sushi) with daring, modern techniques. Favorite dining stops include Blue Water Cafe, Cafe Medina, Kissa Tanto, and Vikram Vij’s well-named Vij’s. But those restaurants are just the start. A leader of the sustainable seafood movement in the Pacific Northwest and beyond, the city plays with a big palette, looking west to Asia for flavor inspiration.
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