Vancouver is a real Canadian gem. It is a special city in a way that it has literally everything you need: beaches and ocean, mountains and amazing views, great lounges by the water, cool rooftop patios and revolving restaurants, historic buildings and uniquely designed condos. If you have enough money to afford a good living, then this is the place to retire in style. So if you’ve finally made it to Vancouver, and it’s your first time, here is a guide to all the best spots in town.
Where to stay: Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel
The reasons why you should stay there are simple: it has a perfect location, amazing pool, the best lounge bar downstairs, one of the most popular sushi restaurants, luxury spa, outdoor jacuzzi, and, of course, comfortable and beautifully furnished suites. It is definitely a bit pricey, but totally worth it!
As you arrive and unpack your stuff at the hotel, the first thing you have to see is Vancouver’s Harbourfront. It has an amazing view on the mountains, Stanley Park, yachts, and the city itself. There is a very cool attraction by the Canada Place called FlyOver Canada. It is a state-of-the-art virtual experience to give you the feeling of flight with special effects, including wind, mist and scents. After that, go to Gastown, the historic site of Vancouver with the steam-powered clock, its well-known landmark. Better to go in the evening to avoid crowds of Chinese tourists taking selfies with the clock. Try shopping on Robson Street, Vancouver’s best-known shopping district. It also has Holt Renfrew, Pacific Centre Mall, and The Bay, of course. For dinner, go to the Lobby Bar at Fairmont Pacific Rim. Their sushi are to die for! And they also have live music.
Breakfast at Giovane Cafe is a good alternative if you live at Pacific Rim, as it’s right downstairs at the hotel. Fresh croissants, coffee, or a more elaborate breakfast – you won’t be disappointed. Definitely go biking at Stanley Park. That is a number one thing to do if you really want to explore the surroundings. The park is huge, so you can start with the park seawall and then go further. You can bike all the way to Kits Beach – thanks to bike lanes everywhere – and have a lunch at The BoatHouse Restaurant, with a nice view of the beach. In case you prefer swimming pools to beaches, then the luxurious Trump pool will absolutely suit your needs. If you are an avid rooftop lover, then don’t miss a chance to have a dinner at the Keg’s rooftop patio (the one in Yaletown). Lobster and steak, along with a glass (or few) of red wine… Later, have some drinks at Rosewood Hotel Georgia – another rooftop.
For all the avocado toast fans out there, try breakfast at Medina Cafe. Then, put on some shorts and comfy sandals and visit VanDusen Botanical Garden. Covering 55 acres of land, this garden has all the possible flowers and plants there. If you are into botany, or just want to smell all types of floral smells and walk around beautiful scenery, then this is the place to go to. In downtown, Cactus Club Cafe is almost a signature of Vancouver, so you definitely should visit one of its many locations, and try their famous Caesar. After lunch, take a stroll through Granville Island Public Market. Delicious food stalls and dozens of adorable boutiques selling all kind of stuff await you there. In the evening before the sunset, go to Grouse Mountain to enjoy a breathtaking view of the city. If you make a reservation at the restaurant up there, then you will save on the lift (which is a good deal). On the top, you’ll have an opportunity to try ziplines and even paragliding. Moreover, meet the two Grizzly bears who live up there!
Have a smoked salmon bagel at Boulevard, and you won’t regret waking up before 12pm for breakfast. After that, go explore the Capilano Park – the must-see attraction in Vancouver (and if you are local, get your free one-year pass after the first visit!). This park is absolutely amazing, and there is a Capilano Suspension Bridge which is 140 meters long and 70 meters above the river. So if your nerves aren’t that strong…I would think twice whether you really need that photo for your IG. When you get back in town and feel like some art, check out Vancouver Art Gallery. Ever wondered why there are so many art lovers out all of a sudden on Tuesdays? Because there is no entrance fee there! Dinner time? Try Miku. Vancouver has reeeeally good sushi – since it’s located right by the ocean and it would a shame if it didn’t have fresh fish – so most of the sushi places are really good. But this is seriously a quality place where you’ll get the most delicious rolls ever. After sushi, the best thing you can do is relax at the Willow Stream Spa with the outdoor jacuzzi. Then, if you are still in the ‘going out’ mode, have some drinks and desserts at Cloud 9 at its revolving bar upstairs. Drinks there are at a reasonable price and the view is great!
In case you had more than enough drinks last night, make your way to Chambar for your hangover brunch. Some Oeuf et Steak will definitely help you. When you are done, take a car or a bus to UBC (University of British Columbia) and see how much campuses in Toronto suck compared to that one. They are nicely designed and have an incredible ocean view. No wonder why people after graduation stay there for good and just buy a house in the same area (if they can afford it, of course). And since you drove so far from downtown, it would be a shame not to go to Museum of Anthropology. On the way back, stop at Lift for lunch, as you can enjoy the water view with a glass of Chardonnay from your table right there. If the weather if nice and sunny, then you can finally chill at the beach. There are a few of them, depending how close you want to be to the centre of the city. To finish this great day, go to Black + Blue for dinner and finish up with the cocktails at the Keefer Bar. If you still have some money left and desperately want to spend it, go to River Rock Casino. You mind not be able to leave Vancouver after that, but at least you’ll have good memories..:)