We were in Vancouver for 3 days in October for Mayank’s (the Mr of the family) birthday. Somehow, I convinced him that it would be a good idea to go bungee jumping on the DAY of his 29th birthday, instead of, you know – cutting a birthday cake and buying presents- coz that would just be too stereotypical!! Here is a quick guide on Vancouver, drawing from the learnings from our own visit:
Things to do:
- Stanley Park: Check out a blog, read up on tripadviser, ask a friend or the concierge – Stanley Park will be the number 1 recommendation on the things-to-do list in Vancouver. Think Central Park of Vancouver: lush green parks with a minus the street artists) – you can rent a bicycle or a kayak, take a walk down the memory lane with the park swings, go for a run or just do nothing – sit and relax and watch the sunset. It costs 0 $ to enter the part, although parking fee may be a bummer. oh! by the way, if you are bicycling, you can circumvent around the sea wall that will take you around some of the most beautiful sceneries and landmarks. It is 8.8 kms and takes about 45-60 minutes!
- Lynn Bridge: – Lynn Suspension bridge is a cheap alternative to the more popular (~35$/person) Capilano Suspension bridge, only more beautiful and natural! We trekked the Lynn loop (~5-6 kms loop) until the Twin falls, but the hike that extends way beyond the waterfalls. It is a little slippery at some places, but other than that the hike is super-easy. There are other trails that you can take if you are interested.
- Granville Island: Granville island is the shopping hub of Vancouver, just by the False Creek. There is beautiful art, local food, street music and beautiful landscapes! You can easily spend 3-4 hours sitting and admiring the beauty of what surrounds you. You can also take a ferry (~30-60$/person) to take a tour of the False Creek (boats run every 10-15 minutes). Mayank and I are NOT shoppers by any standards. But Granville is too beautiful to miss! Check it out!
- Whistler and Squamish: We drove 2.5 hours north into Whistler from Vancouver for Bungee jumping on the occasion of Mayank’s birthday. Whistler is a beautiful little town. And the drive to Whistler to Vancouver, through the sky highway, is to die for. Breathtaking views of the Strait of Georgia! You can choose to SKIP this if you are in Vancouver for a short time. But if you are here, do stop over at Squamish too, you will have a good time walking around and exploring these small towns!
- Porteu Cove: On our way back from Whistler, we stopped at the Porteu Cove. It is a quick stop over, but during the summer months, it is a popular scuba diving destination. Although I don’t know how to register for a dive, because I couldn’t spot anything around. There are man-made reefs (made by sinking a ship, tires, concrete pipes and steel beams way back in the 70’s) constructed to save the natural reefs in the Strait of Georgia from exposure to divers.
- Kitsilano Beach (Priority: low): Another nice beach in the city. Loved these nice chairs on the on-shore restaurant. Kitsilano beach is located in the posh Kitsilano area and is pretty popular with the locals. Comes second after Stanley Park!
- Grouse Mountain: Are you looking for a challenging but quick hike in Vancouver – drive about an hour out of the town to get to the Grouse Mountain. If you want to do the trek, do it early in the morning/ noon. Taking the cable car up there is crazy expensive (>50$/ person) and just did not seem worth it. But the famous trek “The Grind” which is a gruesome 3000 steps up to the summit, takes about an hour and a half for a normal person! Guess what the record time is: 23 minutes!!! Think you can beat it, make sure you visit here.
- Wreck Beach: The beach lies at the foot of a cliff, and you will have to descend 500 steps to reach here. It is right next to the UBC campus. I wanted to save this one for the end, because ladies and gentlemen, this is the ***drumroll*** only NUDE beach in Canada (that I know of – and even if there was another one, the weather would never allow other beaches to be as nude as this one). We came here on a rainy day and missed all the fun. But try your luck.
- Victoria islands: Take a ferry to summery Victoria islands south of Vancouver and indulge yourself in the local culture of a small town. Also visit Mile Zero of Trans Canada highway!
- The museum of Vancouver History:Visit the Museum of Vancouver to learn about the early settlements and ups and downs of Vancouver history!
- Capilano suspension bridge: The 140 m long bridge above the Capilano river in Vancouver is a major tourist destination. There are many activities and adventure tours that are organized within the park! There is an entrance fee of 35$/person!
- Golf courses: There are too many beautiful golf courses around Vancouver! Check out one of them – McLeery Golf course @ South Vancouver, Queen Golf Course @ Western Vancouver.
- Gastown: Go way back in time to discover Vancouver’s oldest neighborhood.
2 affordable butplaces that I would definitely recommend:
- Palki Indian Restaurant: Awesome Indian food, not too oily, not too spicy!
- Baugette Vietnamese Restaurant: A little viet place close to Stanley Park, cheap but large portions of amazing food!
- Rent a car: Like any other North American city, you can just rent a car at the airport itself – I usually go for Enterprise or Budget as they are cheaper.
- Sky train: Vancouver metro system is called “Sky train” and it is a comfortable means of transportation around the city. Take the train from the airport to your destination, instead of taking a cab.
- Local bus: Vancouver has “Electric buses”! I just thought it was cool!
Vancouver is a beautiful city with a pleasent weather all year round. At most, it rains, but as long as it does not drop down to -10 deg C, life is still sunny and happy for the rest of Canadians visiting here! After 3 really good days in Vancouver, it was time for us to head back to cold cold Calgary!