With the Pacific Ocean at its feet, the Coast Mountains as a backdrop and raw wilderness just minutes away, Vancouver is, quite simply, one of the most beautifully situated cities in the world.
Tucked into Canada's southwest corner, less than an hour from the US border, Greater Vancouver, also known as the Lower Mainland, is the largest metropolitan centre in Western Canada and the third largest in Canada.
Vancouverites hail from all over the world; many are foreign-born. Here, numerous schoolchildren have a first language other than English, and many adults can trace their roots to Asia, while others have flocked here from Eastern Canada, the US and Europe.
The resulting culture is uniquely Pacific Rim: at once laid-back and energetic; stylish and outdoorsy; cosmopolitan and welcoming. Think Los Angeles meets Hong Kong, with a dose of Seattle.
Outdoor adventure is huge here, but so are dining and the arts. Although you can sail or golf in the morning and ski in the afternoon (and people do), you can also follow a day of kayaking, mountain biking or whale watching with a meal at one of North America's hottest restaurants and an evening at the theatre.
To top it off, Vancouver enjoys Canada's gentlest climate. From low 20’s Celsius (high 70's Fahrenheit) in summer to a mild 0 to 5 C (mid-40's Fahrenheit) in winter. Winters are wet, but it rarely snows, except, of course, on the ski hills.
Vancouver was voted the "Best City in the Americas" for three years in a row by Condé Nast Traveler magazine and is consistently ranked among the world's best places to live by global economic surveys. Come see why.
Vancouver's city centre sits on the downtown peninsula, bordered by Burrard Inlet, the city's port, to the north, and False Creek (actually an inlet) to the south. The peninsula is home to the central business district, the historic neighbourhoods of Chinatown, Gastown and Yaletown; the West End high-rise residential neighbourhood and Stanley Park, a thousand acre swathe of forest filling a full half of the peninsula.
South of False Creek you'll find Granville Island, an urban park rich with studios, galleries, theatres and a bustling urban market; the funky beachside neighbourhood of Kitsilano and the University of British Columbia, home to the renowned Museum of Anthropology. North of Burrard Inlet is the North Shore, where suburban housing meets mountainous wilderness. Mere minutes from the city, it's the place for hiking, skiing, mountain biking and stunning city views.
Go where the locals go, and check out Vancouver’s Main Street and Commercial Drive neighbourhoods. Main Street runs right through Mount Pleasant and is often regarded as the city’s dedicated hipster enclave (think indie coffee shops, unique clothing stores and cool bars). Further east, Commercial Drive can claim to be Vancouver’s first hipster hood. Colonized by Italian immigrant families in the 1950s, it later became the city’s bohemian heart. Now, “the Drive” is one of the city’s most popular hangout streets: locals hit the restaurant and bar patios here on languid summer evenings or drop by the still-vibrant Italian coffee shops to catch a European soccer game.