Vancouver BC Travel Guide 2021

2021 Vancouver Visitors Guide

Vancouver is a Canadian seaside city located in British Columbia. Its thriving population makes it the eighth-largest city in the country, while its metropolitan area is the most populated in all of western Canada. The city served as the site of the 2010 Winter Olympics and often is used by television and film directors looking for a less expensive shooting location than Hollywood.

While Vancouver has a history that dates back thousands of years with the aboriginal peoples who first settled there, this is also a thoroughly modern city with many examples of architecture from the past century. One example is the Vancouver Art Gallery, which has over 10,000 pieces of artwork and began its life as a courthouse when it was built in 1906. One of the older buildings in the downtown area is the Christ Church Cathedral, which has a Gothic design and has been standing for more than a century.

Vancouver is a major center for arts and culture. One of its big events every year in September is the Vancouver International Film Festival, which is one of the biggest film fests in the continent. In the field of visual arts, Vancouver is associated with photo conceptualism, a brand of photography that has been developed and adopted by many Vancouver artists, including Ken Lum and Stan Douglas.

The city has a great deal to offer those who enjoy music. The Vancouver Opera and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra both have a great deal to offer to individuals who enjoy more traditional classical music, while the city also boasts many clubs and other avenues where musicians of different styles regularly play. Popular Vancouver-based musicians include the indie band Tegan and Sara and pop singers Bryan Adams and Sarah McLachlan.

Vancouver is also home to many athletic opportunities, and even more open up for those willing to venture into the nearby countryside. In addition to popular sports like football, basketball, and cycling, the city has a strong connection to ultimate Frisbee, a sport that has grown especially popular since its invention several years ago. The mild temperatures allow for a rich variety of sports, including many water sports that are done along the coastline, which has a number of tourist-friendly beaches. In addition to activities like water-skiing and swimming, these areas offer ample fishing. Meanwhile, just outside the city are mountains suitable for hiking and skiing.

No matter where your area of interest lies, you will be able to find ways to entertain yourself in Vancouver. If you are planning a trip to western Canada, you won’t want to miss it.

Vancouver Downtown Hotels

Downtown Vancouver is full of life and excitement, and it has plenty of attractions the entire family can enjoy. From outdoor parks and gardens to the peace and tranquility of the International Buddhist Temple, downtown Vancouver truly brings a diverse array of experiences to the intrigued traveler. Amidst all of the traversing from attraction to attraction and the taking in of the culture, visitors will also want to settle down for a bite to eat. For delightful seafood, choose the Blue Water Cafe and Raw Bar or enjoy culinary creations from the south at El Taco Mexican Restaurant. Miura Waffle Milk Bar and the Old Spaghetti Factory are just a couple of the other intriguing options. After a day of dining and leisure activities, rest your head in a hotel, motel, bed, and breakfast or other lodging establishments. Even hostels and long term rentals are available for those seeking an entirely different type of experience that still allows you to connect with the rest of the city. Downtown Hotel Service offers Hotels near Downtown Vancouver that are quality hotels at an affordable price.

Fairmont Hotel Vancouver
Situated in the heart of Vancouver is the incomparable and vibrant Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. Built in 1939 and recently restored to its original glory, the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver is a landmark that has come to reflect the city that surrounds it. This luxury hotel features 556 guestrooms and suites, two award-winning restaurants, a wine bar, an elegant urban day spa, and a health club with an indoor swimming pool. Reigning from its prestigious address on West Georgia Street, the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver unites the timeless glamor of its era with the luxury and services desired by today’s traveler. The hotel boasts a state-of-the-art full business/conference center with meeting facilities and banqueting space. The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver is the ideal choice for both business and leisure travelers seeking superb accommodations and excellent service at affordable rates.

Each spacious, comfortable guest room at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver is beautifully decorated in rich, deep colors with lovely, antique-style furniture. All guest rooms are fully appointed to meet the demands of the 21st-century traveler. All guest rooms offer a full range of modern amenities, including such convenient features as hair dryers, irons with ironing boards, modem/data connections, and minibars. The hotel staff is highly trained, and always ready to accommodate the needs of every guest; and, this hotel is only minutes to fine dining, shopping, and entertainment.

hotel vancouver
Pan Pacific Hotel Lobby, Vancouver BC

Pan Pacific Vancouver Hotel
The Pan Pacific Vancouver is a luxury-class hotel located 12 miles / 16 kilometers from Vancouver International Airport. Guests will appreciate all that this attractive hotel has to offer, from the moment they check in until the moment they leave. A good location, nice amenities, and service that is unparalleled make this property the ideal choice for both business and leisure travelers. Adding to the comfort and convenience is the fact that the hotel provides easy access to surrounding venues and sights all guests will want to explore. All rooms have a satellite/cable color television with remote control with in-room movies and CNN. Every room is equipped with an iron and ironing board, high-speed Internet connection, hairdryers, bathrobes, in-room safes, in-room coffee maker and a refrigerated private bar. Other features include a telephone with in-room voice mail and individually controlled air conditioning. The marble bathroom and either a king bed or two 6′ double beds complete the perfect picture. The wonderful staff is on call to help with any need. The hotel is close to area dining, shopping and entertainment venues.

About Downtown Vancouver

Downtown Vancouver is located within British Columbia, Canada and is filled with a lot of sightseeing options for tourists and for those who live around the area. Unlike many other downtown locations, Vancouver is located within a peninsula, which in return creates many great views of the city lights by the water. Transporting around the city is quite easy, thanks to the various methods of transportation that are available. The methods include subways, buses, and private cabs. The downtown area even offers people the option of riding on a water taxi in order to get to their desired location. These various methods of transportation make all the attractions easily accessible.

When visiting the city it is important to plan ahead what type of activities to participate in. With so many options available, mapping out what to do and when to do it will make the trip run much smoother. If planning on visiting more than one attraction per day, finding out when they open and close can help decide which one should be visited first.

One of the most beloved attractions in downtown Vancouver is the Vancouver Aquarium. This aquarium houses over 70,000 sea creatures, making it one of the largest aquariums in the world! The aquarium provides its visitors with many interactive activities, such as feeding the whales and dolphins. The aquarium, which is located in Stanley Park, has been around since 1956. When it first opened, though, it was only home to a few displays of fish. Today it has grown to be a remarkable location with visitors exceeding a million every year.

If one is looking for a unique tour of the city, the Stanley Park horse-drawn tours are a great option for them. The tours last about an hour and provide the riders with a narrated tour of the city. These horse-drawn carriages have the ability to carry between 2 and 20 passengers. The tour can be a private one or can include others who are interested in touring the city as well. The hours for the tours are dependent on the weather and the time of the year that it is.

granville street vancouver canada travel
Granville Street, Vancouver Canada

Vancouver Weather

Vancouver, Canada, is infamous for being damp and rainy for most of the year. Luckily, the weather in Vancouver is never extreme but instead stays mild year-round. This is an interesting contrast because while Vancouver has terrible weather, it has a truly nice climate. The coldest Vancouver gets is in the mid-40s while it doesn’t usually get hotter than the high 70s. However, the weather can get below freezing from time to time in Vancouver. Also, ski enthusiasts will be happy to know that they don’t have to travel far to hit the slopes.

Autumn and Winter in Vancouver
Autumn is the least rainy time of the year in Vancouver. Temperatures are in the 40-degree range. September, October, and November are the best times of the year to visit Vancouver because the weather is nice, there isn’t much rain and both airfare and hotel rates are at their lowest.

During the winter in Vancouver, there isn’t much snow, although the temperature is still pretty wet. The area gets a lot of precipitations, mainly rain and slush, around this time of the year. When it rains and the temperature drops below freezing, the roads can get what’s called “flash freezing,” which causes dangerous road conditions. Whistler, which is nearby to Vancouver, does get snow and many people travel to Whistler for skiing.

Spring and Summer Weather in Vancouver
In Vancouver, Springtime comes as early as February. This is when you’ll notice flowers starting to bloom and temperatures starting to rise. Rain is normal this time of year and travelers should be prepared with an umbrella and rain-resistant clothing.

Vancouver during the summertime is nice, especially compared to Toronto and Montreal, which are both much more humid than Vancouver in the summer. During the day, temperatures are around the high 70s. The evenings, though, are much cooler and tourists are told to pack a sweater for summer evenings.

Weather Ranges by Month
Sometimes travelers want to know exactly what to expect during the month they’ll be visiting Vancouver. Here are temperature ranges broken down by month:

  • January: 32 to 43 degrees
  • February: 34 to 46 degrees
  • March: 41 to 55 degrees
  • April: 41 to 55 degrees, same as March
  • May: 46 to 61 degrees
  • June: 52 to 66 degrees
  • July: 55 to 72 degrees
  • August: 55 to 72 degrees, same as July
  • September: 50 to 64 degrees
  • October: 43 to 57 degrees
  • November: 37 to 48 degrees
  • December: 34 to 43 degrees

Vancouver Transportation

Bus Services

Vancouver does not provide a public busing system, but there is a private service available. The Coast Mountain Bus Company is a popular private bus company that operates throughout West Vancouver and Lions Bay. Travelers should check the bus company’s website to check for information about stops and schedules. Downtown Vancouver is served by a trolleybus fleet. RapidBus is a diesel commuter bus system that can be found in residential areas of Vancouver. The RapidBus system only makes two or three trips a day in areas like Maple Ridge and Langley.

Streetcar Transportation

The city is currently in the midst of constructing a streetcar system for downtown Vancouver. The city offered an exhibition of the plan at the 2010 Winter Olympics. The streetcars were placed on the Downtown Historic Railway. There are plans to extend the streetcar network to Yaletown.

Trains

SkyTrain is one of the most advanced metro systems in the world. There are trains that operate on three lines in the SkyTrain system. The SkyTrain links the main suburbs of Vancouver. One of the three transit lines connects the Vancouver International Airport and the city of Richmond. The other two transit lines that visitors can take are the Expo and Millenium Lines.

Ferries

There are two bays that provide ferry service in Vancouver. Travelers can find ferries at the Horseshow Bay or the Tsawwassen Bay. Travelers can go to three islands from the ferry systems, which are the Sunshine Coast, the Gulf Islands, and Vancouver Island. There are also mini ferries that visitors can purchase tickets from at an additional cost. These mini ferries are operated by private companies. The False Creek Ferries company and Aquabus provide mini ferries for travelers. There is also a daily water taxi service available at the English Bay.

Taxis

It is very easy for travelers to find a taxi cab service in Vancouver. There are several companies that provide service at all hours of the day. These companies include Black Top Cabs, Vancouver Taxi and Yellow Cabs. There are a total of 477 cab companies with service in the Vancouver area.

Airports

The main airport in Vancouver is the Vancouver International Airport. The airport has ranked as one of the busiest airports in the world, and visitors should arrive at the airport for their flights in advance. The lines in the security area can be very long. The airport provides services from airlines like Air Canada, American Airlines and Cathay Pacific Airlines. There are also international flights available at the airport to destinations like Japan and the United States.

science world vancouver
Science World, False Creek, Vancouver British Columbia

Vancouver Attractions

Located in the very corner of the scenic province of British Columbia in Canada, Vancouver is a contemporary seaport town. In an area admired and utilized for its natural beauty and resources, the vast city has tourism as its second most prominent industry after the logging industry. Visitors coming into the city on business or pleasure can enjoy the many attractions offered in Vancouver.

Grouse Mountain

The city lies between the Pacific Ocean coastline and the Coast Mountain Range. These mountains provide many opportunities for outdoor sports. A close mountain for skiing and other winter sports that is frequented by Vancouver residents is Grouse Mountain, only about a 15-minute drive from the heart of the city. During the summer visitors to the mountain can ride the zip line or go hiking enjoying the views.

Museum of Anthropology

Vancouver is also a place to explore local history, art and more by browsing museums, libraries, and historic buildings. For example, the historic Provincial Courthouse is now the Vancouver Art Gallery. Another gallery is dedicated to contemporary art. In Library Square is the Public Library for the city, and the library also has over 20 branches all about the region. On the campus of the University of British Columbia is a fascinating venue, the Museum of Anthropology. One of its exhibits features masks from different cultures worldwide.

Concerts

Visitors and residents to Vancouver can spend their evenings attending performing arts programs and popular music concerts. The city has theatre companies large and small. In September is held an annual film festival. When it comes to music, classical concert halls and contemporary venues where folk and pop music concerts are quickly filled.

Sports

Then, people in the city can also spend the evening around their favorite sports or sporting events. Besides the many personal and outdoor sports, Vancouver has teams for numerous spectator sports. The general public can attend games for hockey, baseball, soccer, and several other sports. However, hockey is by far the most popular sport.

Parks & Gardens

The city has several parks and gardens open to the public. The most well-known of the parklands is Stanley Park where the visitors will find the Vancouver Aquarium as well as the Seawall and the Native American totem poles. The park is the place for activities like cycling, walking, and sightseeing. Visitors to this urban center should get out and explore the region and see the sights, enjoy the local cultural diversity and spend some time in Vancouver’s great outdoors.

Vancouver Dining

Lupo Restaurant and Vinoteca

Lupo Restaurant and Vinoteca are considered one of the most romantic restaurants in Vancouver, so it is the perfect place to take a date. The restaurant’s menu features traditional Italian dishes like spaghetti, ravioli, lasagna, and fettuccine bolognese. Do not forget to have a glass of wine with your meal; the wine list is very extensive. If you still have room after your meal, make sure to have some tiramisu for dessert.

Blue Water Café

Blue Water Café is the restaurant to eat at if you are in the mood for oysters. This dining establishment offers the largest selection of oysters. Other items on the menu include lobster, sirloin steak, shrimp and scallops. All of the dishes are very fresh and the restaurant is beautifully decorated with brick walls and candles. There are a lot of celebrities who go to the Blue Water Café, so you might just run into someone famous while dining there.

Chambar

Chambar serves Belgian cuisine and was awarded the newest and best restaurant in 2004. When you open up the menu, you will find dishes like rainbow trout, mussels, braised lamb shank and seared scallops. The lighting is cozy and romantic and the service is impeccable. Whether you go to this restaurant with your significant other or business partner, you will have an enjoyable experience.

Cloud 9 Restaurant

Cloud 9 Restaurant offers diners some of the most spectacular views. It is located on the 42nd floor and presents views of the mountains and blue waters. The menu features only the finest foods including calamari, prime rib, salmon and free-range chicken breast. Don’t forget to order some dessert after you get done eating your meal; the cheesecake is delicious.

Le Crocodile

Le Crocodile is definitely one of the more interesting restaurants in Vancouver because it blends traditional French cooking with West coast style. When you open up the menu, you will find foods like grilled veal medallions, lobster ravioli, escargots, grilled tiger prawns and beef filet steak. As you are eating your meal, you can admire the beautiful mirrors on the walls, flowers and paintings.

Goldies Pizza

If you are in the mood for something simple, you should check out Goldies Pizza. This restaurant serves some of the best pizza in the Vancouver area. Whether you want pepperoni or roasted chicken pizza, you can find it at Goldies Pizza. This dining establishment also serves some of the best dessert pizza in town.

vancouver new years eve
Vancouver New Years Eve 2021 Fireworks

Vancouver Events

Music Festivals

Vancouver has plenty of music festivals for visitors to enjoy, such as the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, Dancing on the Edge, the Vancouver Folk Music Festival and the MusicFest Vancouver. The Vancouver International Jazz Festival is held throughout the year at over 40 venues throughout Vancouver. The jazz festival attracts some of the top names in the jazz music industry. The best part about attending is that visitors can purchase a festival pass to enjoy significant savings on performances. The Dancing on the Edge event is a contemporary dance performance hosted every year in Vancouver. Choreographers from Canada and around the world collaborate to create this wonderful dance performance. MusicFest Vancouver is an excellent event to attend, and it showcases the music of different cultures from around the world.

Film and Literature Festivals

The Vancouver International Film Festival is a wildly popular event. The event showcases films that don’t make it to the big screen and are free of the typical celebrity names of Hollywood. The films often draw upon important political and societal themes. For a great literature festival, visitors should check out the Vancouver International Writers & Readers Festival. The festival features poetry readings, a spelling bee, and writing workshops. Authors from around the world attend the festival to read their works. In the past, authors like J.K. Rowling and Alice Munro have made an appearance at the festival. The event takes place at Granville Island every year.

Athletic Events

The most popular marathon in Vancouver is the Vancouver Marathon. The Vancouver Marathon stretches for 26 miles, and it attracts thousands of participants every year. The Vancouver Sun Run is another highly popular race that occurs in Canada every year. The Vancouver Sun Run is a total of six miles in length, and it attracts over 54,000 runners every year. The runners all have their names listed in the Vancouver Sun Newspaper on the next day.

Beach Events

The Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival is one of the most popular events to take place in the English Bay every year. The festival runs for only four months out of the year, and visitors will often book their tickets very early in advance. Visitors should also be forewarned that seats can fill up very fast too, so it is advisable to arrive early at the performances to secure a seat. At this festival, visitors will enjoy reenactments of some of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, including Romeo & Juliet, Othello, King Lear and As You Like It. The beach simply adds to the beauty of the setting.

Family Fun near Downtown Vancouver

If you are planning a family fun-filled vacation, Vancouver should be your destination. Vancouver is a world-class city located on the mainland of British Columbia, Canada. Your family can enjoy all the adventures nature has to offer in Vancouver, as well as action-packed activities in this beautiful city. Vancouver has festivities every member of the family can enjoy.

The activities to take advantage of vary by the season of your trip. Those beach lovers should travel during the summer months (July through August). If you and your family want to hit the ski slopes, it is best to travel during December and January; temperatures are cold and the snow is plentiful. Regardless of which time of year you vacation, Vancouver always has fun-filled activities for your family to enjoy.

Take a trolley in Vancouver to get fresh air and an entertaining overview of the city. The trolley will guide you through Stanley Park, Chinatown, Gastown and other picture-worthy landmarks. Schedule a tour to the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Garden, a serene oasis that your family can stroll through and admire the beautiful landscape, stunning architecture and peaceful atmosphere. If you want to take your family on an outdoor adventure, schedule a hike across the Capilano Suspension Bridge, where you walk over a cedar-scented rainforest and the Capilano River. There are over seven bridges you can hike across that each takes you 100 feet above the forest floor. After all of those fun-filled adventures, you can enjoy dinner at one of the many popular Vancouver restaurants, including Da Pasta Bar and Mr. Pickwicks’s Fish & Chips.

Vancouver has well-known festivals and concerts that your family can enjoy. Those families visiting the city during the month of May can enjoy the Vancouver International Children’s Festival. This festival boasts its celebration of arts, puppetry, circus acts, theater, and music. The Festival du Bois is held each March, where performances are held and historic displays and tours are given. Festival Vancouver is held each August and offers a variety of music for the family to enjoy.

Knowing what items to pack for your family vacation to Vancouver is essential. Since Vancouver is surrounded by mountains and water, you will need to pack according to the seasons. The spring and summer months (April through September) are typically warm, while the fall and winter months can be cool and wet. If you are traveling to Vancouver during October and March, you should pack an umbrella, rain-boots and some type of raincoat to keep yourself dry. Pack some sweaters, scarves, pants, boots, socks, heavy coats and gloves to keep warm in those cool temperatures. During the spring and summer months, you should pack shorts, linen pants or skirts, short-sleeved shirts, dresses and sandals for the warm weather. Those spring and summer nights can get cool, so bring a jacket or long-sleeve shirt to keep warm if you are going to be exploring the scenery at night.

Vancouver offers your family the fun-filled vacation of a lifetime; all you have to do is take it!

Shopping near Downtown Vancouver

A trip to Vancouver is certainly exciting and will likely be remembered for years to come. Of course, in order to fully embrace the experience, you’ll want to take some souvenirs home with you. When shopping in Vancouver, you’ll never be at a loss for shops to peruse and aisles to browse.

The Districts

Planning a shopping trip in Vancouver involves having some knowledge of the different districts and what they have to offer. For example, Burnaby is known for its fashion and beauty shops, and Commercial Drive has plenty of Italian flair for you to stock up on. Book shops dot the streets of Davie Village, Kerrisdale provides a visually appealing experience with its gorgeous buildings and Main Street brings together all different types of stores.

Going to the Mall

Walking down the street from shop to shop is plenty of fun, but on colder days, many people do prefer the mall. Finding a mall in or around Vancouver is a fairly easy task. One to check out is the Pacific Centre, and it has over 140 different stores, so you’re certain to find something that you like. Also located in Vancouver are Oakridge Centre and City Square, with plenty of shopping opportunities as well. When you want to go to a mall that is bountiful on the inside and beautiful on the outside, be sure to choose the Sinclair Centre.

The Types of Stores

The different types of shops you will find in Vancouver are really wide and varied. Depending upon the district you’re in, you could find plenty of wines to take home or coffees to sip to warm you up a bit before heading back outdoors. Sears is also quite popular in Vancouver to serve all of your needs. Other places you’ll find include Anthropologie, Front & Company, Hill’s of Kerrisdale, Brooklyn Clothing and Twigg & Hottie. No matter what your style, something exists for you to try.

Making a Day Out of It

h4might be your entire day, or it may only be part of the grand expedition. Certainly, you’ll want to stop to have a bite to eat while you’re in between stores. If you’re downtown, check out Le Crocodile Restaurant, or, if you’re near Barclay Heritage Square, stop in to see what Raincity Grill and The Boathouse Restaurant are cooking today.

Clearly, Vancouver is quite large, and it has many different shopping districts. No matter what part of this city you’re planning to visit today, you are certain to find little shops and big department stores that suit your needs.

Map of Hotels in Vancouver

  1. Vancouver International Airport – Find hotels Near Richmond and Thompson
  2. Vancouver Downtown – Find hotels Near Downtown Eastside and West End
  3. University of British Columbia – Find hotels Near Dunbar-Southlands and Shaughnessy
  4. Sea Island – Find hotels Near Southlands and Marpole
  5. The Vancouver Aquarium – Find hotels Near North Vancouver and Keith-Lynn
  6. Queen Elizabeth Park – Find hotels Near Shaughnessy and Sunset
  7. Sunset Beach – Find hotels Near Downtown Eastside and West End
vancouver hotel map
Map of Hotels in Vancouver, CA