One of the world’s youngest cities, Vancouver is also among the most modern and rapidly developing. Sleek state-of-the-art glass towers are interspersed with the odd Gothic church, Victorian warehouse, art deco confection and other more unusual constructions strangely reminiscent of a sailing ship, the Colosseum, a silver golf-ball, a giant marshmallow... This delightfully eclectic cityscape is utterly upstaged by its sublime location. Snow-capped mountains tower over the city, providing a breathtaking backdrop. Beaches, seawalls and ferry-buses are part of everyday life in Vancouver, which is built where river meets ocean and dissected by fjord-like inlets. And the frequent rain, along with a surprisingly mild climate, feeds a whole host of flower gardens and some of the planet’s biggest trees.
Closer to Japan than it is to Britain a third of the residents are of Asian origin Vancouver is a genuine meeting place of East and West. Nicknamed ‘lotus land’, Vancouver actually runs the whole cosmopolitan gamut, resulting in a fascinating array of distinctive, starkly contrasting neighbourhoods. Here before them all were Canada’s First Nations, whose exquisite carvings and totem poles represent the city’s most unmissable cultural experience. Vancouver’s rare cultural symbiosis informs every aspect of life, from people to street signs to festivals and the city’s extraordinarily diverse and competitive culinary scene.
East Coasters think of British Columbians as tree-huggers and granola eaters, mocking a West Coast vibe that makes Vancouver more comparable to San Francisco than Toronto. The air and streets are shockingly clean and crime rates are low. Vancouver’s population smokes less, reads more, drinks more wine, eats out more and buys more sporting equipment than people in other Canadian cities. Health-conscious, polite and relaxed, Vancouverites tend to be politically liberal and opposed to the corporate culture. After all Greenpeace was founded here.
Living in an area of outstanding natural beauty, British Columbians are crazy about outdoor pursuits. Consequently, Vancouver and its surrounding areas offer a staggering range of activities catering for beginners and experts alike. There are three ski-hills right in town, plus excellent mountain biking and gorgeous hikes to dizzying panoramas; and the continent’s number one ski resort is just two hours north. On the way are mountain trails and landscapes to rival even the Rockies, as well as the country’s best climbing, wind-surfing and bald eagle-watching. And, what’s more, local waters offer first- class kayaking, sailing, scuba diving, surfing and whale-watching.