Monday: Outdoors inspiration
Life in Vancouver revolves around the great outdoors. You’re just as likely to find the locals jogging along the harbour or picnicking in the park as nursing a skinny latte in one of the city’s famous cafés – and the best way to fend off the jet lag after that long flight is to join them. If the weather permits, grab a towel and make a beeline for Kitsilano Beach. This strip of sand lends itself to swimming, sunbathing and general lounging about, with glorious views of the nearby mountains to admire. Another outdoors oasis within Vancouver’s urban limits is Stanley Park, which comprises around a thousand acres of preserved rainforest as well as beaches, the Vancouver Aquarium (845 Avison Way) and a freshwater swimming pool.
Tuesday: Art attack
You could spend a week exploring Vancouver’s stellar selection of art galleries, but with just a day to spare, make for the VAG (750 Hornby Street). Enjoy the museum’s array of contemporary exhibitions and travelling shows, and save some time in the afternoon to visit some of the city’s smaller and more offbeat galleries. The Access Artist Run Centre (222 East Georgia Street), Centre A (229 East Georgia Street) and Catriona Jeffries Gallery (274 East 1st Avenue) are all worth a look in.
Wednesday: Eat, drink and make merry
All good Vancouverites start the day with a coffee and a catch-up. The city has hundreds of fabulous independent cafés, including hipster venue Revolver (325 Cambie Street). When you’ve drunk your fill of flat whites, head for Vancouver’s Chinatown – the largest in Canada – to soak up the vibe and grab yourself a spot of lunch. Bao Bei (163 Keefer Street) is a local favourite, serving Asian tapas with a Western twist, while Ba Le Sandwich Shop (633 Main Street) offers scrumptious Vietnamese subs at bargain prices. Continue cultivating your inner gourmand with lunch at a lauded new opening such as Ask for Luigi’s Italian (305 Alexander Street), and book a dinner table at Le Crocodile (909 Burrard Street) for classic French cuisine with a Canadian twist.
Thursday: Hit the pistes
Snow junkies can ski up a storm in Vancouver anytime between November and late April, with Grouse Mountain, Cypress and Mount Seymour offering pistes almost within the city centre. The world-class attractions of Whistler Blackcomb are also within day-trip distance.
Friday: Shop ‘til you drop
Looking for a souvenir to take home? You’ll find big-name designer and high street stores concentrated in Robson Street and Downtown, while the Metropolis at Metrotown mall (4700 Kingsway) is home to more than 400 outlets. Track down kooky independent stores in South Granville, historic Gastown and Main Street.
Weekend: Island hopping
You could opt to stay in central Vancouver for the weekend and enjoy the city’s vibrant nightlife scene, but a more adventurous option is to escape to Vancouver Island. A 1.5-hour ferry ride from the mainland, this stunningly beautiful rural retreat is famous for its surfing, scenery and whale-watching opportunities. Base yourself in Victoria, the island’s biggest and prettiest city, and while away a glorious weekend exploring the Pacific Rim National Park, discovering Victoria’s museums and restaurants, and spotting humpbacks and dolphins on a whale-watching trip from the harbour.
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