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24 Hours In… Vancouver

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Ski in the morning, surf in the afternoon and then dine in a foodie paradise in the evening. Welcome to Vancouver.

Known by many as the foodie capital of Canada, Vancouver is a culinary delight, made even better by the very walkable nature of the city and its distinct neighbourhoods and flavours. With the blessed location as a gateway to mountains, beaches, islands and coastline, Vancouver has both the cosmopolitan cool vibe of Pacific Northwest cities such as Seattle and Portland, and the outdoorsy nature that Canada is so famous for.

Vancouver is a great base for exploring the delights of western Canada, including the arty and colourful Vancouver Island and the stunning Canadian Rockies. And while the saying is true that Vancouverites can ski in world class resorts in the morning (the internationally famous Whistler Blackcomb resort is just two-hour’s drive from Vancouver, while local Grouse Mountain is just 30 minutes away) and enjoy a beach stroll in the afternoon, the best way to explore Vancouver is to take it slow and enjoy everything this city has to offer. And with Vancouver International Airport just over 10 kilometres from downtown, if you pre-book your airport transfer on, you’ll be on your adventures in no time. Here’s our pick of what to do with 48 hours in Vancouver.

8am: Take a stroll along the seawall in Stanley Park

It’s worth an early start to enjoy Vancouver’s popular seawall and Stanley Park. The seawall is a 28-kilometre paved pathway that starts at the Vancouver Convention Centre and ends at Spanish Banks Beach Park, running along the city’s waterfront and offering spectacular vistas of the surrounding mountains, coastline and city skyline. With only a day in the city, you might not want to cover the whole path, but you’ll experience what it’s all about by enjoying the section in Stanley Park, the nearly 1,000-acre urban oasis loved by locals and visitors alike. To cover more ground in less time, you could always hire a bike from one of the shops near the park’s entrance near Denman Street and cycle the route. The nine kilometre section through Stanley Park is very popular, and for good reason. Take in the First Nations Totem Poles at Brockton Point; the nine beautifully carved totem poles are reported to be British Columbia’s most-visited tourist attraction. Then spot the life-size bronze statue of a woman in a wetsuit, found on a boulder just offshore from the park. Visitors who have been to Copenhagen will immediately be reminded of the city’s famous mermaid statue, which inspired Vancouver’s bronze statue. Then head to Prospect Point at the northern tip of the park for gorgeous views over North and West Vancouver.

The section of the seawall path the runs through Stanley Park is the most popular, and for good reason

11am: Challenge your vertigo on Capilano Suspension Bridge

If the sea breeze and beautiful landscape has left you wanting more great outdoors adventures on your day in Vancouver, then it’s worth taking the trip to the city’s oldest tourist attraction; Capilano Suspension Bridge. Built in 1889, the bridge sits 230 feet above the Capilano River and offers thrilling views below. If you want to carry on the aerial adventures, Capilano Suspension Bridge Park has added more bridges and walkways over the years along cliff tops and over tree canopies. Free shuttles to and from the park are available from Canada Place near the Convention Centre. Tickets and more information about the park and shuttle can be found on the park’s website.

1pm: Pick up some lunch from Granville Island Public Market

The industrial neighbourhood of Granville Island is one of Vancouver’s most popular neighbourhoods. Old warehouses and factory buildings are today home to trendy restaurants, art studios, creative workspaces and theatres. But the main draw is the hugely popular Granville Island Public Market with its aisles upon aisles of colourful fresh produce, delicious baked goods and tasty treats. Pick a selection of fruit, cheeses, breads and charcuterie and enjoy a picnic lunch, followed by a tipple at Granville Island Brewing, Canada’s first microbrewery.

Built in 1889, the Capilano Suspension Bridge sits 230 feet above the Capilano River and offers thrilling views below

3pm: Take in the sea breeze on Kitsilano beach

This trendy neighbourhood was the birthplace of the hugely successful yoga brand lululemon athletica, and in the swinging 60s was the city’s central hippy hub. It may have upped its trend stakes today, but it’s still one of the most popular beachside hangouts for Vancouverites. Plus, if the water’s a little chilly for your liking, there’s a heated saltwater pool perfect for a dip. This neighbourhood oozes health and wellness, and if hunger strikes, it’s the ideal place for some tasty vegetarian or farm-to-table goodies.

5pm: Admire Vancouver from above

Soak up the city you’ve spent the day exploring with an aerial view as the evening draws in. Vancouver Lookout is located on the 55th floor of the Harbour Centre in downtown, and after a 40-second elevator ride taking you more than 550 feet upwards, you’ll be rewarded with majestic 360-degree views of the city and surrounding nature.

6pm: Enjoy drinks and dinner in Gastown

After you’ve enjoyed the views, take the short stroll to the city’s oldest neighbourhood for some evening drinks and dinner. Gastown expertly blends new and old, with some of the city’s most historic buildings housing new and inventive restaurants and ahead-of-the-curve fashion boutiques. Start with an amble down Water Street to see the Victorian architecture and the famous Steam Clock, one of the world’s few steam clocks (although actually built in 1977, not the 1800s), which whistles the Westminster Chime every quarter hour and toots on the hour. While the neighbourhood is well-known for its range of culinary delights, it’s also a popular cocktail spot, so take up a pew and sip your favourite tipple as you watch the world go by and decide which dinner options tickle your fancy. From molecular gastronomy and fusion dining, to European fare and sensational seafood, it’ll be hard to choose.

Enjoy exploring Gastown; Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood

8.30pm: Finish your evening in trendy Yaletown

With your day in Vancouver coming to an end, head for a night cap in the nearby trendy neighbourhood of Yaletown. Less than a 20-minute walk from Gastown, the old red brick warehouses of Yaletown house everything from cocktail lounges to friendly pubs and busy clubs. This is one of the city’s most popular spots for nightlife, and you might even spy some celebrities at the luxe OPUS Bar or while you enjoy a glass of wine in the award-winning Uva Wine & Cocktail Bar.

With only 48 hours in Vancouver, make sure to pre-book your airport transfer on before you travel so you spend less time waiting in a taxi queue and more time exploring.

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