Stylist’s travel editor (and Canada superfan) Lizzie Pook finds the coolest places to stay and the best things to eat, drink and do in Vancouver.
Bursting with the buzzy restaurants, arty neighbourhoods and coffee shops you’d expect from a metropolis, yet just minutes from some of the world’s most stunning mountains, Vancouver is consistently voted one of the world’s best cities to live in. And now, with the “Meghan and Harry effect” in full swing following Team Sussex’s move to Canada, this ocean-fringed city is in the spotlight more than ever.
There’s no shortage of ways to spend your time here, whether it’s eating your way through the finest dumplings in Chinatown, picnicking on some of the city’s urban beaches or latte-hopping through the brick-lined streets of trendy Gastown. That’s not to mention the glut of fantastic hotels where you can rest your head after a busy day of exploring.
But even if city breaks aren’t really your thing, wherever you stay in Vancouver you’ll be within easy reach of the great outdoors - bears, wolves and cougars, oh my! - Giving you the very best of both worlds.
Temperatures in the rest of Canada can plummet to eyelash-freezing levels but the climate in Vancouver remains relatively mild throughout the year - pretty similar to the UK, in fact - so you’ll find plenty to do whenever you visit.
Here’s my selection of the best things to do in Vancouver, where to stay and, most importantly, where to eat.
Best places to stay in Vancouver
The EXchange hotel
Set in the meticulously-restored old stock exchange building, this art deco hotel – which sits at the corner of Howe St and Pender St in the heart of Vancouver’s Central Business District – has something of a ties-and-briefcases feel. It’s also a lovely, calming place to escape to after a day spent stomping around the city.
Rooms - which, rather impressively, are entirely heated and cooled by rain water - come with Egyptian cotton sheets, underfloor heating and little nods to its past life as a financial hub scattered throughout. Downstairs, you’ll find Hydra restaurant - tales of Greek myths and legends play out over the bathrooms’ speakers - serving up fresh fish and hearty Mediterranean dishes under marine-themed chandeliers. From £113 per night.
Fairmont Pacific Rim
Best things to do in Vancouver
Cycle the Stanley Park Sea Wall
The meandering Stanley Park seawall loops for 10km (or 13,123-steps) taking in everything from the city to the sea. It provides the perfect opportunity for stretching your legs and seeing what the city has to offer (you may have to contend with enthusiastic early morning joggers and roller-skaters, just FYI).
The park was once home to many indigenous peoples and remains an important cultural site for Canada’s First Nations people today. Now you can hire bikes from Spokes and swoosh past beaches, monuments and swathes of nature (keeping your eyes peeled for bald eagles above and harbour seals bobbing about in the surf).
Visit the eye-opening Police Museum
Take a water taxi to Granville Island
Brimming with arty little nooks, intriguing backstreet studios and boutique shops, Granville Island – accessible via Vancouver’s charming rainbow water taxis – is a great place to while away an afternoon. You could spend hours in the shoreline bars and restaurants, but the island’s main draw is the bustling Public Market, which pulls in locals, tourists and the city’s top chefs, who source local ingredients from a dazzling array of stalls selling fresh produce and gourmet goodies.
You’ll find a feast of quirky shops, art galleries and cafes in Gastown, one of Vancouver’s coolest neighbourhoods that is ripe for exploring on foot. With cobblestone streets and slick refurbished Victorian buildings, it’s also one of the best-looking spots in town, and it’s here you’ll find the famous Gastown steam clock (one of only a few in the world), which toots and whistles every 15 minutes. Craft beer and good food abounds here, and there are plenty of restaurants that are well worth a visit, including La Taqueria, Peckinpah and Tacofino.
Go cocktail-hopping in the city’s best bars
Best places to eat in Vancouver
For more information, visit hellobc.com
Images: courtesy of venues