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Vancouver is the largest metropolitan area in Western Canada, and third largest in Canada, with a population of 2.6 million. Located at the southwestern corner of the coastal province of British Columbia, it is well known for its majestic natural beauty, as it is nestled between the Coast Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. It is frequently ranked as one of the "best cities to live in" and is certainly a beautiful destination to visit.

While Vancouver is a comparatively young city, at just over 100 years, its history begins long before. The indigenous peoples (First Nations) have lived in the area for thousands of years, and Vancouver's namesake Captain George Vancouver sailed through the First Narrows in 1792. The first settlement on the downtown peninsula was Granville, located on the spot of today's Gastown. In the year of Canada's confederation a saloon was built on this site and gave birth to a small shantytown of bars and stores adjacent to the original mill on the south shore of what is now the city's harbour. A seemingly endless supply of high quality lumber was logged and sold through the ports of Gastown and Moodyville, across the inlet. Some of the trees were gigantic beams which were shipped to China to construct Beijing's Imperial Palace, and one account maintains that the world's windjammer fleets could not have been built without the trees of Burrard Inlet.

Vancouver proper was signed into existence in 1886. The first City Hall was little more than a hand painted sign nailed to a wooden tent post. The arrival of the transcontinental railway a few years later spurred growth even more and by 1892 the area had over 20,000 residents; eighteen years later this figure was over 100,000.

Factor in constant growth every year since (many in the double digits), and Greater Vancouver today is Canada's largest metropolitan area west of Toronto by far with more than 2,600,000 residents, more than half of British Columbia's population as a whole. It is also the fastest growing part of Canada. Greater Vancouver is one of the most ethnically diverse metropolitan areas in the world and is home to the second largest Chinatown in North America after San Francisco.

The city truly arrived in 1986 when Vancouver "hosted the world" with the Expo 86 World Fair. Media attention from around the world was consistently positive, and many considered it the most successful World's Fair since Montreal's. Vancouver has been awarded the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, and this event will no doubt cast Vancouver into the world spotlight once again. It will be the second largest city ever to host the winter games, and interestingly, the only city at sea level to host them. The only worry being that February is the rainiest month of the year in Vancouver.

Vancouver is perhaps best known for its scenic beauty, and the opportunities afforded by its natural environment. Vancouver is one of those rare places where you could theoretically ski in the mountains, windsurf in the ocean, and play a round of golf all in the same day. Surrounded by water on three sides, and crowned by the North Shore mountains, Vancouver is a great destination in itself, as well a a great starting point for discovering the area's many outdoor activities.

Vancouver is a major sea port on the Pacific Ocean, and a base for many Alaska Cruise Ships in the summer. It has the same name as another major city in the region, Vancouver, Washington (USA).



For simplicity, the city of Vancouver is separated into a number of districts. These do not correspond to the legal divisions of the city, but are instead a convenient way of sub-dividing Vancouver for travellers.

  • Vancouver districtsCity Center - The downtown peninsula that has many of the city's attractions, restaurants and high-end hotels. It includes the West End, Coal Harbour, Yaletown, Gastown, Chinatown and Stanley Park.
  • Kitsilano - Residential area with nice views, some well established commercial areas and some of the city's most beloved beaches (Jericho, Spanish Banks, Locarno).
  • South Granville - Restaurants, shopping, art studios and Granville Island.
  • Vancouver South - A mostly residential area that includes the Kerrisdale, Dunbar, Oakridge and Marpole neighbourhoods.
  • UBC - University of British Columbia, Pacific Spirit Park and nearby areas.
  • East Van - A large, mostly residential area of the city. Commercial Drive has many ethnic restaurants; Main Street is an up and coming artsy part of the city.


Most Vancouver attractions are listed in separate sections of this site since they are geographically located in City Center or the North Shore regions. Make sure you read those District Articles for more information.


  • The totem poles of Stanley ParkStanley Park, in City Center is one of the big draws in Vancouver, and is in fact an extension of the downtown peninsula. It includes the Vancouver Aquarium, gardens, beaches, a pitch and putt course and miles of walking trails.
  • Van Dusen Botanical Gardens, 5251 Oak St., +1-604-878-9274, . Open 10AM to around sunset. Van Dusen, in the south of the city, has a very large collection of plants in the outdoor gardens. More details in South Vancouver.  
  • Queen Elizabeth Park, includes the highest point in the City of Vancouver with a view of the entire city. There are a number of gardens within the park as well as the domed Bloedel Floral Observatory with tropical plants and birds, a pitch and putt golf course and a disc golf course.
  • Pacific Spirit Park, is a relatively undeveloped and heavily forested park with many kilometres of trails and beaches (including Wreck Beach , the renowned nude or "clothing optional" beach). It's the closest thing to wilderness in the city, and only a 25-minute bus ride from downtown near UBC.

Must See Attractions

  • Vanhattanizing from Harbour Center Lookout!Vancouver Aquarium, 845 Avison Way, 604-659-3474 (fax: 604-659-3515), . 9:30AM–7PM. The world class Vancouver aquarium is famous for its marine life research and rehabilitation. Adults $19.95, Seniors/Youths(13-18)/Students $14.95, Children(4-12) $11.95.  
  • Vancouver Lookout! Harbour Centre Tower, 555 West Hastings St, 604-689-0421 (, fax: 604-689-5447), . 15 Oct-27 Apr 9AM-9PM, 28 Apr-14 Oct 8:30AM-10:30PM. A fantastic 360-degree view of cosmopolitan and Greater Vancouver, the majestic North Shore Mountains. Adult $13.
  • The Capilano Suspension Bridge, . On the North Shore, the 136 metres long bridge crosses the Capilano river 70 metres above the river. In addition to the bridge there is also a large park, rainforest ecotours, North America's largest private collection of First Nations story poles and the Treetops Adventure which is a series of bridges that link between trees as high as 30 metres above the forest floor. At $35 it is a pretty expensive bridge trek, but the more economical can visit The Lynn Valley Suspension Bridge.
  • The Lynn Valley Suspension Bridge, . Also on the North Shore, the Lynn Valley Bridge is similar to the Capilano Bridge, only free of charge, with fewer people and with several lovely trails.
  • Grouse Mountain, . Take the skyride to Grouse Mountain or hike up for free, to enjoy breathtaking views of the city from the North Shore. This is truly the peak of Vancouver.
  • See Vancouver Card, is a convenient way to do multiple sightseeing. With the card you get entry to the area's attractions, museums and gardens for one price. Cards start at $119 for adults, $79 for children.


  • The Museum of Anthropology, located at the University of British Columbia . One of Vancouver's most impressive museums houses the world's largest collection of West Coast Native artifacts. Tuesday evenings are entry by donation. The 44 bus will get you there from downtown.
  • Vancouver Art Gallery.Vancouver Art Gallery, 750 Hornby St, 604-662-4719, . Daily 10AM-5:30PM, Tu,Th until 9PM. Located in the City Center. The gallery has constant variety of exhibitions, while the permanent collection is also very good and emphasizes British Columbia's renowned artist Emily Carr. On pay-by-donation days the recommended donation is $5, but the amount that people actually donate varies widely. Adult $19.50 (Tuesday pay-by-donation 5PM-9PM.  
  • Telus Science World, . Located in the landmark geodesic dome building at the end of False Creek.
  • H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, . Features includes exhibits dealing with space artifacts, the feeling of being in space, astronomy, space explorations, and a space-flight simulator.
  • The Vancouver Museum, . This museum focuses on Vancouver's history. It is located in the same building as the Space Centre.
  • Vancouver Maritime Museum, . One of the major maritime museums on the West Coast of North America.


All List of Vancouver Hotels


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