Information & Facts
The temperate Vancouver climate is classified as Oceanic with
warm, dry summer weather (June to August) and cold, rainy winters
(December to February). Summer temperatures reach an average high
of 72°F (22°C), while winter temperatures can fall below 32°F
One of Canada's most cosmopolitan cities, eating out in
Vancouver is something of an event and is a popular pastime for
many locals. With eateries of just about every nationality, you can
be sure to find something to suit your taste while dining out in
Vancouver. Many restaurants offer tapas-style tasting plates to
share, so you can be adventurous.
With a strong emphasis on British, French and Chinese cuisine,
the food in Vancouver is generally quite international with a few
specialities waiting to be discovered. Fish like salmon, halibut
and Atlantic cod are popular, as well as wild game such as venison,
which can be found on most menus. Salt-cured fish, beef and pork
are also something to be experienced. Those with a sweet tooth
should try the decadent Nanaimo bar, a local dessert which
comprises a wafer crumb-based layer, topped by a layer of custard
or vanilla butter icing, covered in chocolate.
Most of Vancouver's best restaurants are situated around the
West End, downtown, Yaletown and Gastown areas. Most restaurants
require reservations and it is customary to tip waiters around 15%
as no service charge is added to restaurant bills.
The integrated Translink public transport system is both highly
efficient and good value. The computerised SkyTrain (light rail)
has six underground downtown stops as well as an elevated track.
Its latest addition, the Canada Line, now connects downtown to
Vancouver International Airport. The Translink system also includes
buses; electric trolley buses; West Coast Express trains (week days
only) and SeaBus passenger ferries that connect downtown to North
Vancouver. The network reaches every part of the city, including
the beaches and ski slopes. After midnight the regular bus system
is replaced by a limited 'Owl' night bus service on main routes.
Fares are based on a zone system and tickets are valid for buses,
the SkyTrain and SeaBus with transfers valid for 90 minutes from
the time they are validated. Various travel passes are available,
but the cheapest is probably the DayPass, which allows unlimited
transport and is valid across all zones. Taxis are easy to come by
at taxi stands, hotels or by telephone, but can be difficult to
hail outside of the downtown area. Vancouver's traffic and road
situation is fairly well-ordered, but hiring a car is not necessary
in the city because the public transport is more than
Vancouver is a paradise for kids on holiday. During the summer
months, visit Stanley Park, where plenty of kids activities abound,
such as the Spray Park near Lumberman's Arch and the Children's
Farm, a fantastic petting zoo for the younger tots. Families can
even enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride through the park and your
kids will love it here, so much so that you may find yourself
coming back on more than one occasion.
Animal lovers will have a great time exploring the Vancouver
Aquarium and the Greater Vancouver Zoo, while older kids should
visit Granville Island's Water Park and Adventure Playground for a
day of water fun.
On rainy or cold days when outdoor activities with kids are not
an option, head to the Science World at Telus World of Science or
the Space Centre for a fascinating day out, or for something really
fun, visit the Richmond Go-Kart track for a day of racing. There
are also plenty of indoor playgrounds available such as the
Kerrisdale Play Palace in the Kerrisdale Cyclone Taylor Arena, or
Kid Zone at the Park Royal Mall South Shopping Center.
The official languages are English and French
(predominantly in Quebec).
The currency used is the Canadian Dollar (CAD), which is divided
into 100 cents. One-dollar coins are also known as loonies (due to
the picture of a loon, a type of bird, on the coin), and two-dollar
coins as toonies. Banks and bureaux de change will change money and
travellers cheques, as will some hotels, but the rate will not be
as good. Major credit cards are widely accepted and ATMs are
plentiful. US Dollars are largely accepted, though due to fraud,
larger notes might not be and change is usually given in Canadian
With the stunning mountain backdrop and the outdoors on your
doorstep, the nightlife in Vancouver is second to none. With plenty
of pubs, clubs, lounges, and everything else in between, there is
no shortage of entertainment when the sun sets on this vibrant
city. Until recently, city regulations forced bars and pubs to
masquerade as restaurants, so you'll find many watering holes with
Vancouver's British heritage plays a part in it being a pub
paradise, the heart of which is downtown, with countless pubs and
bars tucked away and nestled in between shops, businesses and
bistros. Chamber and Chill Winston are names to remember in
Gastown's cobblestone streets, which are reminiscent of Amsterdam
and bring tourists flocking here to imbibe and socialise.
Most of Vancouver's clubs and discos can be found downtown
around Granville Street and Water and Pender streets in Gastown.
The Roxy in Granville is a must and is one of Vancouver's top
nightlife spots. Another busy entertainment district is Kitsilano
with the Cellar Restaurant and Jazz Club, while a third is the
up-and-coming nightlife district of Yaletown, which is a more
upscale bar and lounge zone with options like the Opus Bar and
Yaletown Brewing Company.
The Orpheum Theatre, the Queen Elizabeth Complex, and the
Vancouver East Cultural Centre are the top venues for the
performing arts in Vancouver. You can see the Vancouver Symphony
Orchestra, touring theatre and ballet companies, as well as
high-profile music concerts. For a less formal experience, check
out the Bard on the Beach in Vanier Park during the summer
Vancouver also hosts several large festivals, including the
Vancouver Fringe Festival, centred on Granville Island every
September; the Vancouver International Film Festival, the Vancouver
Jazz Festival and the Vancouver Folk Festival.
Check out the weekly
Georgia Straightor the Thursday edition of the
Vancouver Sunfor nightlife and entertainment listings while
you're in town.
Shopping in Vancouver ensures a diverse range of products and
quality, with everything from haute couture to laid-back flannels,
as well as jewellery and home accessories available in malls and
shopping areas throughout the city.
Commercial Drive is known as 'Little Italy' and has very trendy
boutiques, while Davie Village in the West End is home to great
bookshops. Chinatown, encompassing Main Street and Keefer, trades
in ginseng, green tea, silks and exotic fresh produce; there are
weekend night markets here in summer. Another Main Street also
offers a wide selection of antique and home accessory shops.
Granville Island Market sells fresh produce, meats, fish and baked
goods, and there are a diverse range of shops, stalls and galleries
in the area.
Downtown Vancouver and Gastown have shops offering high fashion,
jewellery, shoes and home wares. The Sinclair Centre has upmarket
fashion and art shops, Royal Centre is made up of a variety of
underground shops and the Pacific Centre is home to the famous Holt
Renfrew shop. Nearby Water Street is home to art galleries, antique
shops and native art stores, as well as souvenirs in the many
speciality shops. Note that a Goods and Services Tax is levied on
most things, but Canada no longer offers a refund scheme.
Brimming in history and culture, Vancouver is one fascinating
city and has plenty of sightseeing opportunities for everyone. From
museums and historic and trendy neighbourhoods to botanical gardens
and Granville Island, visitors will have no problem finding things
to see and do in Vancouver.
Explore Chinatown and soak up the culture, colour and eateries,
or visit the exciting enclave of Gastown famous for its cobblestone
streets, antique gaslights and pulsing nightlife. Nature lovers
should head to the VanDusen Botanical Garden, Stanley Park and
Queen Elizabeth Park for an invigorating day out and culture
vultures will love Museum of Anthropology and the Vancouver Art
For a panoramic view of the city, climb "nature's stairmaster"
up to Grouse Mountain, or take the tram for a less strenuous trip.
You can also ride to the top of Vancouver lookout for 360 degree
views. The Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver allows
visitors to walk from treetop to treetop on delicate walkways
suspended dozens of metres above the forest floor.
Visitors should buy a See Vancouver and Beyond Smartvisit Card,
which gives the bearer access to 50 attractions in and around
Vancouver as well as maps and travel tips. Two, three and five-day
Smartvisit cards are available for adults and children starting at
Canada covers six time zones, from GMT 8 in the west to GMT
-3.5 in the east.