Vancouver, Canada

Vancouver, British Columbia, enjoys a spectacular setting on the shimmering shore of Canada’s west coast. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains, city beaches and waterfront forests, it is no surprise that it regularly tops the ‘world’s greatest places to live’ lists.

The city is relatively young, around 150 years old, and has an energetic spirit. This is best experienced in Gastown, Vancouver’s historic centre, with its cobbled streets, eclectic shops and vibrant café bars. Its modern centre has towering glass skyscrapers, sophisticated restaurants and shops and a number of must-see cultural attractions. The Museum of Anthropology has a fascinating collection of ‘First Nation’ artefacts and the Vancouver Art Gallery is also well worth visit. Another must do is to take a ferry across False Creek to Granville Island, an islet which is also connected to the mainland by a causeway. It used to be a run-down industrial area but is now a revitalised and thriving community with art galleries, craft shops, waterfront walkways and a lively market teeming with local produce and street entertainers.

But it is the city’s vast outdoor playground, quite literally on its doorstep, that is the real drawcard for locals and visitors alike. Vancouver is a city where you can snowboard and sail on the same day and has many beaches, hiking trails and ski-slopes to choose from.

Stanley Park is the epicentre for many of the activities. It is huge, over 1,000 acres, and almost entirely surrounded by water. Hire a bike or roller blades or just take a walk along its seawall to take in the panoramic views. Just half an hour out of town, Cypress Mountain, part of the 7,400 acre Cypress Provincial Park, gives visitors sweeping views of the city and miles of hiking trails, ski-runs and a lift assisted mountain bike park.

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