Vancouver’s compact Downtown peninsula is a fine example of postmodern aesthetics: a constantly evolving hotchpotch of architecture, where sleek glass-and-chrome skyscrapers rub shoulders with Gothic churches, Victorian warehouses and a handful of curiosities. Surrounded by water on all sides, and largely undeveloped, Stanley Park is a green oasis, containing possibly the peninsula’s best sight, the Aquarium. Granville Island is another must-see, combining a Covent Garden-style market with BC’s finest arts and craft galleries in an attractive marina setting.
A short stroll away are museums in Vanier Park and trendy Kitsilano, which boasts one of the city’s finest beaches. Further west is the unmissable Museum of Anthropology, with its vast collection of Northwest Coast art and carving. South and East Vancouver have some fascinating neighbourhoods and some beautiful parks and gardens, but the semi-wilderness parks that head up into the giant mountains on the North Shore represent for many people the city’s finest feature.
The city’s distinctive neighbourhoods, burgeoning culinary scene, delightfully eclectic architecture and numerous parks are major selling points, but just as compelling is its close proximity to many other prime destinations. Varied Vancouver Island and the laid-back Gulf Islands are a short ferry-ride away, while Squamish and Whistler promise world-class skiing, fantastic hiking, plus every other activity imaginable. Closer still are the watersports and picturesque harbours of the Sunshine Coast.