Known affectionately as “The Garden City,” “Vansterdam,” “Rain City,” and—my personal favourite—“Hongcouver,” Canada’s third largest metropolitan area has a lot to offer beyond leafy terraces and freezing beaches. I’ve spent weekends, evenings, and mid-week days enjoy everything the city has to offer.
Here is my ideal way to pass 5 days in Vancouver:
Day 1: Check in, walk out.
Beaches and parks litter Vancouver’s suburban streets, colliding Lulu Lemon-clad runners with hipster city strollers. Large logs are scattered across English Bay, welcoming loungers and cute couples. This is the perfect place for people watching.
There are plenty of restaurants and cafes around, so when your stomach starts grumbling try a place you’ve never heard before and grab a seat with a sea-side view. Watch the sun go down and hide from the incessant drizzle under a Foulton umbrella. Soak in (haha) Canada’s favourite city and take the time to aquire your taste to the most Canadian drink, the Ceaser.
Day 2: Get Artsy
Take the ferry or wander across the bridge to Granville Island, where you will find a bustling market, quiet galleries and more unique souvenirs than you could ever imagine.
Admission to Vancouver’s Art Gallery is by donation on Tuesday nights. The large, impressive building lingers on the edge of Robson Square.
Day 3: Take a hike.
Grouse Mountain lingers amongst the Pacific Ranges in North Vancouver. It exceeds 1,200m and offers over 26 skiing runs and a 2.9km hike in summer.
The lift is open year-round, with skiers overtaking the mountain from November near into June. The more adventurous can by-pass the gondola and do the Grind.
I conquered the Grouse Grind in August 2015, exactly one year and one day after my second back surgery. Although my boyfriend can scale the stairs in 45 minutes, it took me an hour longer – but the feeling (and chocolate-covered Beavertail) at the summit was worth it.
At the top, you will come face-to-face with not one, but two full grown grizzly bears, held back by nothing more than a thin electric wire. In the summer months, owls and various birds of prey are displayed in wildlife shows. Although the views are peaceful and serene, this mountain is anything but quiet.
Day 4: Listen up.
Whatever your fancy—art shows, concerts, hockey games, club nights—a little research goes a long way. On my Thursday in VanCity, a local radio station released free tickets to a concert featuring Stars and Feist.
After the event, we headed to Gastown for a well-deserved locally-brewed beer. Guilt & Co is a dimly-lit cave bar that often features live music and expensive (yet creative) cocktails. I was comforted by the squeaky mistakes and offbeat rhythm of the rather talented local band, and I quickly discovered that perfection cannot outweigh reality.
Day 5: Try something new.
Whether it’s a run through Stanley Park along the Sea Wall, an educational visit to the Vancouver Aquarium, or lacing up your skates at the vividly lit Robson Square Skating Rink, Vancouver is a fantastic place to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. With stretching mountains, glossy buildings and a horizon of sea, Vancouver is a city even non-city-lovers (like me!) can enjoy.