Vancouver is considered the gateway to Canada's wilderness, the Rockies and world-class ski resorts. But this cosmopolitan city is so much more, with nature escapades and urban adventures a magnet for Aussie travellers. Here are five not-to-be-missed Vancouver attractions.
Stanley Park is the icing on the cake of downtown Vancouver. The 1000-acre park provides a green escape from the urban setting, and brims with activities you can take in year-round. Walk the famous Seawall for unparalleled views of Burrard Inlet or head inland and marvel at the giant trees and totem poles in this preserved forest. First Nations-owned Talaysay Tours offers cultural and ecotourism experiences in Stanley Park. Listen to the ancient stories and legends of your guide as you walk among old-growth forests, and delve into the history and landmarks of the region.
At Granville Island, beneath a bridge near downtown Vancouver, you'll find a hotspot of dining, shopping and entertainment. It's a buzzing community full of artisans creating unique gifts, passionate foodies sharing the fruits of their labour, and aspiring musicians perfecting their craft. The Granville Island Market Tour is now up and running; it's the perfect way to skip the lines and indulge in 20-plus signature Canadian tastings.
Overcome your fear of heights in style, with the help of the 137-metre Capilano Suspension Bridge, hanging 70 metres above the rushing Capilano River. This series of cliff-side suspended and cantilevered walkways above the rainforest offers a bird's-eye view. Ready for more? Or walk your way through Treetops Adventure, comprising seven bridges suspended by 250-year-old Douglas firs, soaring 34 metres above the forest floor. Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is full of adrenaline-pumping attractions. From November- January, the bridge comes alive with Canyon Lights as the bridge is lit with a multi-colour display, creating a magical spectacle. Delve into the rainforest and walk between the eight tallest Christmas trees in the world on Treetops Adventure.
Grouse Mountain, just 15 minutes from downtown Vancouver, offers a peak experience, indeed. In the winter, hit the slopes for a few hours before enjoying a mountain-top apres-ski. In the summer, hike or take the gondola up, watch a lumberjack show and say hi to Grinder and Coola, the two rescued orphan grizzly bears that live at Grouse's wildlife reserve.
Home to more than 50,000 creatures, Vancouver Aquariumis the ultimate ocean-lover's playground. As an animal care and rescue facility, it has everything from friendly sea otters to bright jellyfish, and every kind of sea-life in between. Buy tickets to one of the adults-only after-hours events and enjoy the aquarium with a drink in hand. Oh, and don't forget to see if you can find Nemo.
Air Canada offers twice-daily direct flights from Sydney to Vancouver from June 6-September 5 (Mon,, Thurs & Sat). From July 3, its Brisbane-Vancouver direct flights will resume four times a week. Qantas also offers direct flights from Sydney to Vancouver. Internal flights are available throughout Canada from all major cities, in addition to the VIA Rail train service.