Nicknamed Hollywood North for the ever-present film crews,
Canada's west coast gem of Vancouver is young, thriving and
diverse, with the perfect combination of wild natural beauty and
the modern conveniences of a city. Named after Royal Navy sea
captain George Vancouver, who sailed into the Burrard Inlet on the
British Columbian coast in 1792, Vancouver was barely even a town
100 years ago. Today more than two million people call it home, and
the shiny futuristic towers of Yaletown and the downtown core
contrast dramatically with the snow-capped mountain backdrop,
creating a laid back atmosphere amongst the bustle of Canada's
third biggest city.
Approximately the same size as the downtown area, the city's
green heart is Canada's largest city park, Stanley Park, covering
hundreds of acres filled with lush forest and crystal clear lakes.
Visitors can wander the sea wall along the exterior of the park,
catch a free trolley bus tour, a horse-drawn carriage ride or visit
the Vancouver Aquarium housed within the park. The city's past is
preserved in historic Gastown with its cobblestone streets, steam
powered clock and quaint feel, though this is combined with
expensive souvenir shops and galleries aimed at tourists.
Neighbouring Chinatown, with its weekly market, Dr Sun Yat-Sen
classical Chinese gardens and restaurants adds an exotic flair. For
some retail therapy or celebrity spotting, there is always the
trendy Robson Street.
During the winter months snow sports are the order of the day on
nearby Grouse Mountain, perfect for skiing and snowboarding,
although the city itself gets more rain than snow. Vancouver's
incredible ethnic diversity and combination of mountains, sea and
city, offers visitors an endless supply of things to see and do, no
matter the budget.