Vancouver Travel Guide

City Profile for Vancouver, British Columbia

Vancouver's Top Attractions | Cheap & Free Stuff To Do in Vancouver | Local's Guide to Everything Vancouver

Vancouver is great to visit if you love the outdoors, but also want the convenience and benefits of a city.

Two hours away from world-class ski resort Whistler / Blackcomb and perched on the Pacific Ocean coast, Vancouver 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 Manolo Blahniks, this cosmopolitan city also has upscale shopping, fabulous restaurants and a happening nightlife.

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    Yaletown at sunset, Vancouver BC Canada
    Kevin Schafer/Photodisc/Getty Images

    Vancouver is on the south west coast of British Columbia, Canada's most westerly province. It is about a 3 hr 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.

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    Snowy Vancouver, BC skyline
    Image Courtesy of Tourism Vancouver / Clayton Perry
    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.
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    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.

    More Places to Stay in Vancouver

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    Where to Eat in Vancouver

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    From museums to hiking trails, Vancouver has a wide range of activities and attractions for visitors.

    Want to get out of the city? Here are 12 of the best Vancouver day trips.
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    Shopping in Vancouver

    Photo courtesy Tourism Vancouver
    • Robson Street has an array of trendy shops, such as American Eagle Outfitters, Guess, and Bebe, plus more upscale offerings, such as Armani Exchange.
    • Yaletown has a hip, edgy feel. Shop here for vintage and other clothing.
    • Gastown is a historic, gentrified neighbourhood flush with trendy bars, restaurants, boutiques and furniture stores.
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    Vancouver Nightlife

    Close-up of young bartender serving cocktail in nightlife bar
    gruizza / Getty Images
    • Granville Street is a hot-spot of activity at night and the Roxy at 932 Granville is one of the most popular hangouts for the 20-something crowd.
    • Richards on Richards is always a party.
    • Check out the Vancouver jazz scene.
    • Since the ​1920s, the ​​Commodore Ballroom has been a live music Vancouver classic. The venue has general admission for about 900 and is famous for its big, bouncy dance floor.​
    • See the Vancouver Travel Guide's Top 10 Nightclubs in Vancouver.
    • See what's happening in Vancouver's gay social scene.
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    Vancouver was host to the Olympic Winter Games in 2010. Event venues stretched over a wide area, from south of Vancouver to the spectacularly beautiful resort of Whistler / Blackcomb.

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    Vancouver Events & Festivals

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    Getting to Vancouver

    Map courtesy Tourism BC

    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.

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    Vancouver Maps & Pictures

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    Good to Know about Vancouver

    Photo courtesy Downtown Eastside Revitalization

    Vancouver, like so many Canadian cities, is relatively safe. Nevertheless, some parts of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside are notorious for high incidences of drug use, prostitution and crime. While gentrification is underway in this area, most notably in Gastown, and other communities like Chinatown continue to thrive, Main & Hastings is home to a legal supervised drug injection site and is thus a popular hangout for drug users.