Following the huge success of our “Top 10 Reasons to Visit London”, it became apparent that we all love browsing through quick lists to give us recommendations on what to do when visiting a destination. Our recent trip across the border to Canada gave us the opportunity to visit the gorgeous city of Vancouver, so what better way to continue our “Top 10” series that by sharing our top 10 reasons to visit Vancouver.
After reading this post, I am convinced that if you haven’t already visited Canada’s third biggest metropolis, you will be eager to book a trip there in the near future!
People are always asking us, “Why do you visit this location?” There is no simple answer though our curiosity and desire to explore new places is a good enough reason for me! What’s more, whenever I visit a new destination I am always eager to find a number of reasons that make me want to go back.
I love just how beautiful Vancouver is. I mean, everywhere you look it’s just mountains and ocean. – Emma Bell
Despite the inclement weather conditions, we experienced a myriad of landmarks and exciting adventures that immediately took Vancouver near the top of our favorite cities list around the world. Of course, we wouldn’t have had it any other way visiting the perfectly named “Rain City” though we did encounter one gorgeous day which was perfect for some outdoor adventures (more on that later)!
As with all top 10 posts, these are purely our opinions and I encourage you all to share your top reasons to visit Vancouver in the comments below.
1. FlyOver Canada
An all-new experience located on Vancouver’s Canada Place is an amazing simulation known as FlyOver Canada. Purchase your tickets online to save on the admission price but definitely take the time to experience Canada in a nutshell by visiting FlyOver Canada.
This breathtaking ride takes you on a journey across Canada in just 8 minutes. Don’t be fooled though by the short time you are experiencing this simulation because you leave with awesome memories and vivid images in your mind of Canada’s stunning landscapes and diverse cultures. The final part of the simulation takes you on a brief journey in and around Vancouver, providing you with incentive to get out and start exploring.
We headed to FlyOver Canada on our first morning in Vancouver and this really set the tone for the remainder of our time here as it gave us the impetus to explore everything this city has to offer.
2. Stanley Park
One of the focal points for Vancouver locals is Stanley Park, which is their equivalent of Central Park or Hyde Park. Located on the edge of Vancouver’s city center, Stanley Park covers over 1000 acres and is unique in the respect that it is surrounded for the most part by the Pacific Ocean. Of course, these surroundings provide the perfect backdrop for stunning scenery and offer a flawless hub of relaxation for visitors.
There are an abundance of points of interest inside Stanley Park, none more popular than the Totem Poles, which are one of the most visited attractions throughout British Columbia. Another popular attraction in Stanley Park is the Vancouver Aquarium which hosts beluga whales, penguins among other marine life.
3. BC Sports Hall of Fame
Home of the 2010 Winter Olympics, a trip to Vancouver wouldn’t be the same without exploring the BC Sports Hall of Fame to experience the sporting history that has evolved throughout the British Columbia province.
Located in BC Place Stadium, home of the Vancouver Whitecaps, the Hall of Fame is a great experience that takes you through the history of a variety of summer and winter sports and also provides an interactive experience with opportunities to test your hockey skills or taking a penalty kick against a virtual screen.
The most intriguing exhibit throughout the museum is the history of Rick Hansen who set out in 1985 on a 40,000km Man In Motion round the world trip by wheelchair. I was particularly impressed to read about this feat in addition to all of his other accomplishments throughout his career.
One of the most thriving communities throughout Vancouver is Chinatown, largely because of the large population of Chinese individuals in this part of Canada. There have been several Chinese immigration bursts over the last several decades and this is certainly reflected in the community.
The main area denoted as Chinatown is a relatively aging populations but there are certainly younger Chinese populations starting to emerge in different regions in Vancouver.
The most intriguing focal point of Chinatown is Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden – A Ming Dynasty Scholar’s Garden. A comparatively small garden but a distinctive hub of relaxation for Chinese locals and tourists alike. From colorful plant arrangements to symbolic yin and yang representations, this Chinese garden offers an array of intriguing characteristics worthy of your time.
Named after John “Gassy Jack” Deighton who setup a saloon in this part of Vancouver, Gastown became the city’s commercial and shipping hub. Today this community is host to many of the leading restaurants in Vancouver along with bars, premiere shops and galleries.
Of course, an iconic symbol in Gastown is the Steam Clock, which is one of only a few remaining functioning steam clocks.
6. Capilano Suspension Bridge
Situated in North Vancouver across the Lions Gate Bridge, Capilano Suspension Bridge Park provides breathtaking scenery, lookouts and experiences for daring visitors. The 450-foot span suspension bridge that looks more like a rope bridge, especially when you cross over and you encounter the swaying from side to side.
You can also test your nerves by walking around the Cliffwalk that is suspended around the cliff above the Capilano River Canyon. This attraction provides Vancouver with a real outdoor, adventure experience without having to venture too far away from the city center.
If you are exploring downtown Vancouver, hop on the free shuttle that leaves a variety of locations including Canada Place and the Hyatt Regency among others. Check the Vancouver Tourism Board for times as these vary depending on season.
7. Vancouver Lookout
Vancouver is a pretty spectacular city to look at from a variety of locations but none more so than at the summit of the Vancouver Lookout. Standing at 553ft, this observation deck provides breathtaking views around Vancouver and beyond, providing the perfect birds eye view of the city so you can prepare your assault on exploring everywhere.
Admission to the Vancouver Lookout provides you with full-day access so feel free to venture to the summit during the day and then return later for an evening view of the city.
8. Queen Elizabeth Park
If heading to the top of a skyscraper isn’t your idea of fun but you are still seeking out spectacular views of Vancouver, check out the horticultural jewel that is Queen Elizabeth Park. Due to its height above sea level, this is the highest point in Vancouver and provides stunning scenery of the park, city and nearby mountains.
This park is also home to the Bloedel Conservatory, an attraction providing tropical ecosystems, exotic birdlife and a myriad of exhibits for all the family to experience.
9. Granville Island
One of the hidden gems in Vancouver has to be Granville Island. Located across False Creek from downtown Vancouver, this peninsula is a shopping district infamously known to locals for the local public market that houses fresh produce among many other delicacies.
The shopping experience is not the only attraction here as Granville Island is home to a local brewery and wine merchant. This is definitely a must-see place, especially if you want to experience a true, authentic Canadian marketplace atmosphere.
Just like other global cities, Vancouver is home to a variety of museums, each offering a unique collection of exhibits that may interest you depending on your taste. During our visit to Vancouver, we experienced the Vancouver Art Gallery that was housing The Forbidden City collection.
Other museums of note that are worthy of catching your attention include the Vancouver Maritime Museum and Museum of Vancouver.
There you have our top 10 reasons to visit Vancouver, Canada! I am sure there are many more attractions worthy of being included on this list, so what would you add? What are your experiences in Vancouver?
Disclaimer – We would like to thank Tourism Vancouver for providing us with a media pass to visit many of these attractions. The content of this post are solely our personal opinions/experiences and we were not financially compensated for this post.