Your Trip to Vancouver: The Complete Guide

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Two hours away from world-class ski resort Whistler / Blackcomb and perched on the Pacific Ocean coast, the city holds appeal for soft to extreme adventure lovers.

Vancouver is surrounded both by water and mountains and its proximity to nature gives residents a love of the environment and a laid back charm and friendliness. And although Birkenstocks are more the norm than Manolos, this cosmopolitan city also has upscale shopping, fabulous restaurants and a happening nightlife.

Vancouver is on the south west coast of British Columbia, Canada's most westerly province. It is about a 3-hour drive from Seattle Washington.

The City of Vancouver is one of more than 20 municipalities that makes up Greater Vancouver and sits on the edge of the Strait of Georgia, which separates it from Vancouver Island - home to the provincial capital of Victoria.

Vancouver's location is beautiful as it is surrounded by water and tucked into the slopes of the BC Coast Mountain Range.

Weather & Climate

Vancouver is the Canadian city with the best climate and the worst weather according to writer Allan Fotheringham. Vancouver is infamous for the amount of rain it receives; however, the weather is mild year-round. From high 70's Fahrenheit (low 20's Celsius) in summer to mid 40's Fahrenheit (0° to 5° Celsius) in winter, the climate is seldom unpleasant. Winters are wet, but snow is rare, except on local ski hills.

When to Go

Summer is typically high travel season in Vancouver; hotel rates and flights will be more expensive at this time of year. But the extra cost does assure you of better weather (generally speaking, August is the least rainy month). Whilst summer has plenty of festivals, including the incredibly popular Honda Celebration of Light fireworks display, there's always something amazing happening in Vancouver — from fall foliage to winter snow sports or springtime whale watching. 

Use these Seasonal Guides to get a taste of what climate, activities, and events to expect in Vancouver throughout the year:

Getting There

By Air:

The Vancouver Int'l Airport (YVR) is 25 min by car to downtown. Airport bus service is frequent. Seattle, WA, airport is a 3-hr drive.

By Train:

Rocky Mountaineer Tours go through the Rockies between BC and Alberta. ​Amtrak Cascades travels between Seattle and Vancouver. Check ​VIA Rail.

By Bus:

Greyhound Lines serves Vancouver from numerous cities in the US and Canada.

By Water:

Clipper Ferry and ​BC Ferries sail between Seattle and Vancouver via Victoria.

By Car:

Highway 1, the Trans-Canada Highway, reaches Vancouver from points east. If driving, allow 12 hours from Calgary and five days from Montreal. Vancouver is three hours north of Seattle. Take Interstate 5, which becomes Highway 99 at the U.S.-Canada border.

Where to Stay

Vancouver has a lot of options when it comes to accommodations. There are luxury hotels, romantic hotels, budget hotels, hostels, and AirBnB rentals (including apartments and houses).

The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver is an elegant, historic favorite. The Listel Hotel is a smaller, art-infused downtown hotel with many perks, and the Sandman Hotel is a perfectly acceptable less-expensive alternative.

Whether you're traveling with family, friends or a romantic partner, use these guides to find the perfect accommodations for your next trip: