Vancouver is a city located in the province of British Columbia on the West Coast of Canada, the land of maple syrup, moose and poutine. Vancouver itself is consistently ranked as one of the most liveable cities globally so it has a lot to be proud of. I was lucky enough to have spent a semester abroad in Vancouver; I have a great love for the city and feel like I got the chance to really explore what makes it such a popular destination for so many.
When in a city with such beautiful surrounding scenery why not start your day off with a fantastic view? For those that enjoy hiking get up early and take on the Grouse Grind, a 2830 step climb through the forest that eventually brings you to the summit of Grouse Mountain. Whilst brutal, you’re rewarded with fantastic views overlooking the city at the top – so try and pick a good day! For those of you that see this as your worst nightmare, there is the sky ride which will take you up to the top in 4 minutes for $15. At the top you can enjoy various activities and catch a glimpse of the two rescue Grizzly bears – have you really been to Canada if you don’t see a bear? If visiting in the winter Grouse Mountain is still open for skiing, snowshoeing, and walking, allowing you to experience the snow and mountains up close. Grouse Mountain is accessible by bus from Downtown Vancouver meaning a return will only leave you $5.90 out of pocket.
For lunch, a visit to Granville Island Public Market would be perfect as it is only a short bus ride from Downtown Vancouver. It’s an ideal place to taste lots of Vancouver’s artisanal goods and watch the various street performers. Follow this with an afternoon spent in Stanley Park on a rental bike. There are multiple bike rental shops at the entrance to the park offering reasonable prices, and, as you go around the sea wall, you encounter both tourists and locals out and about. With the size of Stanley Park, you can tailor your visit to whatever suits you. Have a look at the Totem poles and read about the indigenous history of Canada, visit one of the three beaches along the seawall or explore one of the many trails. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled, as I was lucky enough to encounter both a family of racoons on the path and a sea lion in the water.
Vancouver prides itself on its multi-culturalism, and this is reflected in the wide variety of food choices available. I would personally recommend Kintaro Ramen on Denman Street as Vancouver does ramen so well and it’s friendly to our ever-depleting student bank accounts. Following dinner, try a pub crawl through the historic Gastown, the oldest part of the city of Vancouver and home to wine bars, pubs and a fantastic cocktail scene. Whilst in Gastown take a look at the old steam clock and visit one of the many tourist shops to pick up your knickknacks.
Even better, if an ice-hockey game is taking place then getting tickets is a must! The Vancouver Canucks have a stadium in the city centre of Vancouver and the atmosphere is something you won’t want to miss – complete with lights, music, mascots and freebies shot into the crowd.
Words and images by Amy Mustoe