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Vancouver Travel Guide

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Welcome to Vancouver, Canada

Introduction

Vancouver is the gateway to Canada, the world's second largest country, and America's beautiful Pacific Northwest. Vancouver, Canada's most beautiful city, has stunning vistas from its mountainous terrain overlooking the city and ocean. The climate is mild and the city has a warm, friendly atmosphere to attract visitors. Whistler is one of North America's top ski resorts, host of the 2010 Winter Olympics, and only 2 hours from Vancouver on the Sea to the Sky Highway, one of the most scenic drives in the world.

Vancouver Hotels

The City Center is centrally located and has the bulk of Vancouver's accommodation, including most of the high-end hotels and backpackers hostels. There are smaller boutique hotels just outside of the central business district that are cheaper than the four and five star accommodation in downtown.

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Vancouver Weather

Vancouver has the mildest climate of any major city in Canada with the best time to visit between June and October when the weather is excellent. Summer (June to August) daytime temperatures typically average 25C (77F) and Vancouver is very dry. During the winter there is cloudy weather with high rainfall but the temperature rarely goes below freezing. The rainy season often starts in the middle of October. February is the best time to visit for a ski holiday.

Travel to Vancouver

Vancouver International Airport (YVR) Is serviced by Air Canada and many other major international airlines. The Domestic and International terminals are connected and you can easily walk between them. The South Terminal (which is the base for prop, small jet, and seaplane service to 'local' communities in British Columbia and Yukon) is not attached and requires separate transport to reach it.

Public Bus is the cheapest option to the city. Take bus number 424 to Airport Station and change to the "98 B-Line" bus. The bus is frequent and the trip takes about 40 minutes and will cost $4 weekdays and $3 in evenings and weekends. Exact Canadian coin fare is required (no change given, notes are not accepted).

YVR Airporter Shuttle Bus is more convenient than public transit if you are staying at or near the hotels in downtown that the 'Airporter' services. The cost is $13 one way or $20 return and the service runs about every 20 minutes between 8:00AM-10:00PM.

Taxi into the city will cost about $25-$30 and should take up to 30 mins. All taxis that serve the airport are required to use the meter and accept credit cards.


Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is an alternative option to Vancouver Airport. However, a US visa may be required. The bus or train from Seattle to Vancouver takes about 5 hours and driving time is approximately 2.5 to 3 hours.


Greyhound Coaches connects Vancouver with all other cities in North America.

Quick Coach connects Vancouver with Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in USA.

Pacific Coach Lines provides connection services between Vancouver and Victoria.


Trains arrive at Pacific Central Station, located at 1150 Station Street (east of downtown off Main St). The train station is a short taxi ride into the City Center, or visitors can take the SkyTrain at the Main St/Science World station two blocks away.

VIA Rail provides the Canadian train service which runs from Toronto to Vancouver with three weekly departures.

The Rocky Mountaineer operates trains between Vancouver and Banff, Calgary and Jasper three times a week from April to October.

Amtrak operates a daily train service between Seattle and Vancouver.

Vancouver Transport

TransLink is the regional transportation authority operating buses, ferries and the SkyTrain.

SkyTrain is an elevated rapid transit system that connects Vancouver's City Center with some of its eastern suburbs with two lines - Expo and Millennium.

Bicycle - The city of Vancouver is a very bicycle-friendly city. In addition to the extremely popular seawall bicycle routes along Stanley Park, False Creek and Kitsilano, there are a whole network of bicycle routes that connect the whole city.

Vancouver Attractions

Vancouver Canada

City Tour is a morning or afternoon tour that is a great introduction to the city of Vancouver. See all the most popular and famous sites of Vancouver including Gastown (Historic area of Vancouver), Chinatown, Robson Street high fashion shopping area, Canada Place Alaska cruise ship terminal, Stanley Park, English Bay, Vancouver Harbor, Granville Island (artists' studios, craft galleries and the Granville Island Public Market).

North Shore Tour is an experience of Vancouver's beautiful surroundings on the North Shore. After crossing Vancouver harbor via the landmark Lions' Gate Bridge, you'll cross the Capilano Suspension Bridge the world's longest suspension footbridge, experience the "Treetops Adventure" forest canopy walkway, learn about the life cycle of the Pacific Salmon at the Capilano Fish Hatchery, view the Capilano Reservoir - source of Vancouver's drinking water, take a ride on the Grouse Mountain Skyride to the chalet on top of Grouse Mountain, 1,200 meters (3,700 feet) above the city of Vancouver, for great views, see grizzly bears in the Refuge for Endangered Wildlife and see Native Indian totem pole carvers at work.

Capilano Suspension Bridge Vancouver Capilano Bridge is only minutes away from downtown Vancouver. Capilano Suspension Bridge is 136 meters long and crosses 70 meters above the Capilano river and takes you to the natural splendor of British Columbia. Breathe in the cedar-scented rainforest air as you make your way across Vancouver's famous landmark. Walk along rainforest trails through magnificent evergreens and the unique perspective of Treetops Adventure, a walk high in the trees and the first venue of its kind in North America, offering a squirrel's eye view of a thriving coastal forest. Visitors venture from one magnificent Douglas fir tree to another on a series of elevated suspension bridges, some reaching as high as 100 feet (30meters) above the forest floor. Visitors are well informed with interactive displays, fun facts and "what's that tree?" identification clues. Bug boxes show creepy crawlies at work in the soil. The giant "Naturalist's Notebook" panels illustrate life in the ponds and the world of a fallen tree. Join a friendly eco guide for a complimentary 20 to 30 minute tour of Capilano Suspension Bridge's West Coast rainforest. Discover the mysteries of an old growth forest and its life cycle; learn about the flora and fauna found in our ecosystem; and identify various trees and plant life unique to Vancouver, Canada.

Lynn Valley Suspension Bridge is also on the North Shore and is similar to the Capilano Bridge with fewer people, several excellent walking trails and free of charge.

Vancouver Trolley Tour showcases the best of Vancouver in a classic turn-of-the-century Vancouver Trolley. Your Trolley Ticket is your passport to fun and excitement while you're in Vancouver, and can be used over two consecutive days. Take the entire tour in two hours or hop-off the trolley at any of the 24 stops or 3 flag stops, to visit Vancouver's major downtown attractions, go shopping, or dine out. The tours includes live commentary and operates year round. April to October trolleys depart approximately every 20 minutes, November to March trolleys depart approximately every 40 minutes from each stop.

Vancouver Art Gallery features artwork from Vancouver's internationally renowned artists including Emily Carr, Ian Wallace and Stan Douglas.

H.R. MacMillan Space Centre features includes exhibits dealing with space artifacts, the feeling of being in space, astronomy, space explorations, and a space-flight simulator.

The Vancouver Museum focuses on Vancouver's history. It is located in the same building as the Space Centre.

Telus Science World is located five minutes from downtown Vancouver in the landmark geodesic dome building. It showcases hours of interesting Science exhibits and shows.[1455 Quebec Street, open 10am to 5pm, Adults $20, OmniMax cinema only, Adults $10]

Stanley Park is located in the City Center. It includes the Vancouver Aquarium, gardens, beaches, a putting course and miles of walking trails.

Harbour Centre Tower has a fantastic 360-degree view of Vancouver and the majestic North Shore Mountains. The best time to visit is late afternoon to view Vancouver in the daylight and watch nightfall to see the city illuminated at night. Located at 555 West Hastings St. [8.30am-10.30pm, Adult $13].

Grouse Mountain where North America's largest aerial tramway system takes visitors on a one mile journey high above the alpine forest to the top of the mountain plateau 3,700 feet (1,100 m) above sea level for amazing views over Vancouver. The views are breathtaking - the city skyline, ships in the harbor, the glittering Strait of Georgia, and far-off Vancouver Island. There are scenic chairlifts rides, mountain ziplines that traverse a canyon at 80km/hr, paragliding, hikes, lumberjack show and helicopter flights. Choose from a fabulous array of restaurants where Grouse Mountain chefs will delight you with the finest selections of west coast and specialty seafood dishes. From fine dining in the Observatory to the casual fare at Altitudes Bistro, there is a menu to please any palate. Enter Grouse Mountain's mile high Theatre in the Sky to see a high definition video presentation "Born to Fly". Experience British Columbia from an eagle's perspective on an aerial adventure exploring the natural wonders of the Pacific Province.

Vancouver Aquarium is a world class aquarium famous for its marine life research and rehabilitation. Visitors come face-to-fin with Arctic beluga whales, giant Amazon arapaima, tropical reef sharks and the fascinating dolphins, sea lions and otters of British Columbia. Daily shows and animal feedings are a popular highlight at Vancouver Aquarium, an attraction the whole family will enjoy. [Adults $20, Seniors/Youths(13-18)/Students $15, Children(4-12) $12, 845 Avison Way, 9:30am to 7pm]

Whistler Day Tour Whistler Canada is an experience not to be missed. Although well known for being a great North American ski destination, the beautiful alpine village of Whistler is great fun in the summer as well! The Whistler adventure starts with a 2 hour drive across the famous Lions' Gate Bridge and onto the Sea to Sky Highway. Hugging the side of the coastal mountains and overlooking the Howe Sound, the drive is worth the trip all by itself. After stopping at Shannon Falls and Brandywine Falls you'll arrive at Whistler in time for a leisurely lunch. After lunch, enjoy some free time to explore Whistler village or visit the top of the ski area via the high speed gondola. The highlight of Whistler is hiking and exploring its spectacular scenery. When you are ready, the tour will take a leisurely return drive into the sunset arriving back in Vancouver in the early evening.

Vancouver to Whistler Train Tour Ride the rails from Vancouver to Whistler on the spectacular Whistler Mountaineer train, passing through some of the world's most rugged fjords and mountains. The train experience includes interpretive commentary of features along the route and access to the Heritage Observation Car for fresh air and unrestricted views of the spectacular scenery. The day trip to Whistler includes free time to explore Whistler Village, one of North America's most popular ski resorts and host of the 2010 Winter Olympics. On your return drive to Vancouver, you'll stop at Shannon Falls, the third highest waterfall in British Columbia. Take a guided walk through an old-growth rainforest to see 1,000-year-old cedar trees with trunks measuring 35 - 40 feet (9-12 meters) wide, then return to Vancouver by mini-coach on the Sea-to-Sky Highway. [This tour is seasonal and only operates from April to October]

Whale-Watching Tour Take a whale-watching tour from Vancouver to spot whales, seals, sea lions and other wildlife amid Canada's spectacular West Coast scenery. You'll be accompanied by a trained naturalist, who will provide enlightening commentary about the eco-system you are visiting. You'll also learn about the wildlife you see as you sail across the water in fully equipped comfort in a covered high-speed boat. You might spot Dall's porpoises or even Minke whales and sea elephants. There's a very high chance you'll spot whales on your whale-watching tour, however, if you don't, your next trip is free.

Sea Kayaking Experience a unique ocean eco-systemwith spectacular British Columbiasceneryon a short, guided kayak adventure from Vancouver. Spot local wildlife and enjoy a salmon barbecue lunch served on the beach. With a maximum of 6 participants, you are assured of a personalized small group adventure. Climb into comfortable two-seater sea-kayaks and paddle into some of British Columbia's most breathtaking scenery. Glacial fjords resemble the beauty and calm of mountain lakes, while the rocky shores are covered with barnacles, mussels and crabs. Harbor seals often pop their heads above the water, curious eyes following your every movement. Exposed by extremely low tidal drops, the shores attract a myriad of water birds and eagles at different times of the year. Stop for lunch at a small, uninhabited island with great views of the inlet. There is time for a swim on a hot day, a walk through the woods or just nap in the sun before you return to Vancouver rejuvenated, invigorated and recharged. Qualified and knowledgeable guides will help spot the wildlife around you on your sea-kayaking adventure, and make sure your trip is safe and memorable. Note that kayaking experience or fitness are not required for this trip.

Fjords and Villages Seaplane Tour is a discovery of the rugged Fjordland and picture-perfect villages north of Vancouver on a tour by seaplane. Depart from Vancouver Harbour to explore and enjoy panoramic views of the city and surrounding mountains as you fly north from Vancouver. You will have a short 30-minute stop at the spectacular West Coast Wilderness Lodge. Set amongst majestic cedars and firs, you can experience crisp salt air and breathtaking views of the Pacific Coast. Enjoy a tasty British Columbia lunch including smoked salmon and local wine before flying back to Vancouver. This is a small group tour with a maximum of 14 passengers. The stop at West Coast Wilderness Lodge is only made during the summer months. During winter (October to April), you'll enjoy a longer scenic flight up the sunshine coast for additional sightseeing.

Howe Sound Sea Safari Cruise takes you on a 2-hour adventure to the spectacular scenery and wildlife which make coastal British Columbia world famous. Grab a seat on a custom-designed, high-speed, 28 ft. rigid hull inflatable. With an experienced guide at the helm, you won't miss a thing as you speed across Horseshoe Bay to The Strait of Georgia. You'll find yourself racing beside steep cliffs, exploring caves, and spotting harbour seals at play. A highlight of the cruise is Pam Rocks, popular with Harbour Seals and majestic bald eagles soaring overhead. Cruise out into The Strait of Georgia to see awesome views of Vancouver. On your return to Horseshoe Bay you'll view spectacular waterfront homes around West Vancouver. The Howe Sound Sea Safari Cruise is fast but safe. The aluminum hull design with inflatable tubes makes it comfortable in calm or rough water.

Vancouver Island is the largest island off the west coast of Canada. The island has the mildest climate in the country and the geography is scenically varied with a large mountain range running down the centre of the island, its snow capped peaks rising above the woods and many lakes and streams. Vancouver Island also has a diverse bird life with over 440 species including the bald eagle. Victoria, the capital of British Columbia and second largest city is located at the southern tip of Vancouver Island. Victoria has interesting history, architecture and famed gardens and parks.

Victoria and Butchart Gardens Tour takes visitors on a 1.5-hour cruise to Vancouver Island for a full day guided tour through the capital city of British Columbia. Take a scenic drive through exclusive residential areas and parks on the way to downtown Victoria. You'll be given an overview of downtown Victoria and will then have free time to explore on your own. Admission is included to any ONE of the following downtown Victoria attractions Royal British Columbia Museum, Maritime Museum of BC, Miniature World, Bug Zoo, Wax Museum. Before heading back to Vancouver, you'll have the opportunity to visit to the world-famous Butchart Gardens. The public area of the Butchart Gardens covers 55 acres (22 hectares) and is one of the world's premier floral show gardens.

Nightlife and Entertainment

The Granville Mall area, located in the City Center, is Vancouvers bar and nightclub district and is an extremely popular place.

The "Downtown Eastside" including Chinatown is rough at night and tourists are advised to avoid Chinatown after 8pm.

Shopping

Robson Street in the City Centre is the premium shopping area of Vancouver hosting many up-market stores.

Pacific Centre is an underground shopping centre hosting more than 150 shops, restaurants and services. The shopping centre begins at Sears on the north end at Robson Street, and stretches all the way to Pender Street.

Beyond Vancouver

Canadian Rockies offer amazing scenery from spectacular glacier covered peaks to aquamarine alpine lakes. It's a perfect place to relax and enjoy the beautiful landscape and wildlife.

Whistler is 2 hours drive north of Vancouver.

Banff was Canada's first official wildlife sanctuary, Banff Park, and the town is one of the nations resort spots. Banff's glorious turquoise Moraine Lake is one of Canadas most idyllic natural attractions. Connecting Banff and Jasper parks is the Columbia Icefield, the largest body of ice south of the artic circle made up of about 30 glaciers and a remnant of the last Ice Age. Banff offers wildlife walks, caving, camping, hiking, canoeing, hot-springs and mountain climbing.

Lake Louise Lake Louise Canada is located 60km northwest of Banff and is known as the 'Jewel of the Rockies'. This stunning lake is a very popular tourist attraction as it sits in a small glacial valley surrounded by snow-capped mountains.

Calgary is home to the annual 'Calgary Stampede' rodeo every July when cowboys thrill the crowds with riding skills, calf roping and steer wrestling. In the evening there is a stage show where hundreds of singers, dancers and musicians put on a fantastic wild west extravaganza. Calgary is also famous for its Olympic Park and Fort Calgary, the original home to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Jasper is set amid some of the most rugged peaks in the Rockies and is the gateway to the Jasper and Banff National Parks.