Vancouver is a vibrant city, with beautiful buildings and a plethora of things to do. It is a rare blend of big-city lifestyle and outdoor adventure. Where else can a person ski, sail and dance the night away, all in one single day? Not to mention all the hotels readily available for your vacation! The Vancouver region has more than 25,000 guest rooms, with about 13,000 alone downtown. They range from economical to boutique…..you are sure to find one that suits your budget and taste. The cities attractions are set in a blessed location with mountains, ocean, islands and even farmland within short reach. A new city in many ways, Vancouver is still changing and growing
If you are looking for a hotel near the port, you have many options. Some of our favorites are the Pan Pacific Waterfront (located on the pier), the Fairmont Waterfront (directly across the street) and the Fairmont Pacific Rim (an easy walk). There are many wonderful hotels available, but be prepared….prices are high! If you want to stay further from downtown, there are excellent transportation options available.
Traffic in Vancouver get be very busy. We have used a taxi from the airport in the past, but now use the SkyTrain…a fully-automated, driverless, light rapid transit system with three integrated routes serving the Metro Vancouver area. The Waterfront Station is just across the street from the port. Taxis are also readily available. http://www.translink.ca
I strongly suggest arriving at least a day prior to your cruise. Give yourself time to rest from traveling and explore the city. There are so many things to see and do in Vancouver!
If you are arriving at the end of your cruise and need a place to store your luggage while you explore the city before a late flight, you can store bags directly at the pier. They are open between 8am and 5pm. No bags can be left overnight. https://www.portvancouver.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/WCS-Bagdrop.pdf
Whale watching tours are popular from April through October. These are the ideal whale watching months. You have a very good chance of spotting whales, including both transient & resident orcas, humpback, Minke, & gray whales! There are many excellent tour operators available downtown.
Just north of downtown along the northern peninsula lies Gastown…..a fun and easily walkable area to explore and is Vancouver’s oldest neighborhood. It grew from a single tavern, which was founded by John ‘Gassy Jack’ Deighton back in 1867. Today, it is a gathering place for stylish locals and an ideal neighborhood to explore on foot. The Victorian architecture houses a thriving fashion scene, impeccably curated décor boutiques, one-of-a-kind galleries and some of the best culinary fare in Vancouver. Don’t miss the Steam Clock and vintage lampposts. At the end of Water Street, there is a statue of the man who started it all, Gassy Jack Deighton. Architecture and history buffs can take organized walking tours of the area.
Seaplanes are used in British Columbia daily for transportation. You can watch them land in the harbor at the seaplane terminal located in the heart of Vancouver, where business and leisure floatplane travelers have immediate access to the city. Better yet….why not take a seaplane tour and soar above the city while enjoying a bird’s eye view of its picturesque harbor and nearby mountain peaks.
A fun way to explore Vancouver is by bike. There are several bike rental companies located around the city. http://bikesonrobson, http://EnglishBaybikes and urbanwavesbikes are just a few of them. Rates run approx. $8/hour, $24/half-day, $32/full day or $40/overnight (2022 rates). Many of the activities listed below are easily accessible by bike.
Stanley Park is Vancouver’s first, largest and most beloved urban park. It is a magnificent green oasis in the midst of the urban landscape. You can explore the 400-hectare natural West Coast rainforest and enjoy scenic views of water, mountains and majestic trees along the famous Seawall. The park offers a wide range of unforgettable experiences for all ages, including Canada’s largest aquarium, the Vancouver Aquarium. The Aquarium is home to thousands of incredible ocean species and amazing aquatic life, including otters and beluga whales. Recently, due to the ongoing pandemic and loss of revenue, it faced permanent closure. Luckily, it was sold in 2021 to a US entertainment company and remains open. Due to limited capacity, it is recommended that you book ahead .
If you enjoy parks, the beautiful Queen Elizabeth Park in downtown is not to be missed. The 52-hectare park is home to the Bloedel Conservatory. There is a gorgeously landscaped quarry garden, the arboretum with its collection of exotic and native trees and sculptures, including one by internationally renowned artist Henry Moore. If you’ve been to Victoria, it may remind you of Buchart Gardens.
Just across False Creek from downtown Vancouver and under the south end of the Granville Street Bridge is Granville….a peninsula that was once an industrial manufacturing area. Today, it is a hotspot for Vancouver tourism and entertainment. Some Vancouver based tour companies, such as Discover Vancouver Tours and Vancity Tours, offer stops at Granville Island.
Granville Island provides amenities such as a large public market, an extensive marina, a hotel, various performing arts theaters, fine arts galleries and variety of shopping areas. The farmers’ market has day vendors and artists offering local Vancouver goods. There are 50 permanent retailers and typically more than one-hundred day vendors in stalls throughout the market selling a variety of artisan cottage-industry foods and handmade crafts on a rotating schedule.
Fun fact…This location was used in the finale of the film Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011).
Whistler mountain is just under two hours from downtown Vancouver. The site of the 2010 Winter Olympics, Whistler Blackcomb ski resort provides year round activities….including skiing! You can hike, visit Whistler Village or rent bikes and explore the numerous trails.
If you have several days, a visit to Victoria is worth the trip. The capital of British Columbia, it has abundant parkland and is known for outdoor activities. The city’s British colonial past shows in its Victorian architecture, including stately Craigdarroch Castle mansion. Butchart Gardens, with 55 acres of vivid floral displays, plus statuary, water features and a carousel, is one of many formal gardens in the area. https://zest4travel.net/2022/01/30/lets-visit-victoria/
No matter what you decide to do or where to stay, a visit to Vancouver is wonderful. Each time we go, we find something new and wonderful to explore!