February 23rd, 2022
This week we’re being taken on a (virtual) tour of Canada by our project manager, Juliana. Having moved to Vancouver in late 2021, Juliana and her husband have spent the past few months discovering what this beautiful country has to offer.
“With its scenic views, mild climate, and friendly people, Vancouver is known around the world as both a popular tourist attraction and one of the best places to live.” - City of Vancouver website.
When to go?
Vancouver is the kind of place that sees a varied climate - it is not uncommon to get snow in the winter and have warmer days in the summer, with the in-between seasons staying mild. Essentially, you get the best of all four seasons. Juliana identified a few times of the year, though, that Vancouver is even MORE beautiful than usual.
Around April the Cherry Blossom trees are beginning to bloom, leading to some truly enchanting scenes. Japan donated hundreds of cherry trees to the City of Vancouver in the 1930s, and there are many festivals related to them. Sakura Night Gala in Stanley Park where some of Vancouver’s top Japanese chefs prepare a selection of fancy dishes, Bike the Blossoms Cycle Ride, and The Big Picnic at Queen Elizabeth Park where everyone eats their lunch under the canopy of the trees are a few noteworthy events to keep an eye out for. At the very beginning of April you’ll also be able to experience the somewhat random, but always fun, Pillow Fight Day. This event is exactly what you think, a day when everyone goes to Vancouver Art Gallery to have a huge pillow fight battle! The event gathers hundreds of people every year, leaving feathers floating all over the place.
At Christmas time there are many light festivals around Vancouver and Juliana says it’s a lovely time to visit. Good examples are Vancouver’s Festival of Lights at VanDusen Garden, North Vancouver’s Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver’s Lumiere Lights and Heritage Christmas at Burnaby Village.
Other honourable mentions go to July 1st, Canada Day which is Canada’s version of an independence day where parades are held in cities, towns, and villages all over the country. It’s very festive and has a great atmosphere to be around.
Where to visit?
One of the biggest advantages of coming to Vancouver is the wealth of outdoor activities on offer. No matter what season you visit, Juliana recommends going hiking on one of the trails inside the many Provincial Parks - Mount Seymour, Cypress, and Garibaldi.
“You should definitely take a walk on the seawall that goes along the city's waterfront. Part of it is around Stanley Park, which is my favourite place in downtown Vancouver. It’s a nice activity even for people that are not very athletic and want a more relaxing way of exploring.”
Juliana is an extremely practical and savvy member of our team and that extends to her travelling. While there’s a very famous suspension bridge in Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, Juliana strongly recommends the free version of it at Lynn Canyon Park, “which is way more beautiful and less crowded.”
There are also lots of amazing indoor activities you can do on a trip to Vancouver. Juliana strongly recommends spending a day at the Vancouver Aquarium, her favourite thing to do on a rainy day. You could also go to the Moon and Back Gallery for very Instagram-able pictures, or to Vancouver Art Gallery for some art appreciation time. If you love sports, you also can’t miss a Vancouver Canucks hockey match!
And if you’re looking for an extremely popular tourist attraction, a very fun option for you is FlyOver Canada, a film and flight simulation in which you literally fly over beautiful sceneries around Canada.
Where to eat?
Since moving to Vancouver, Juliana has been working her socks off and hasn’t been able to visit quite as many of the eateries on her list as she might wish. However, she has been able to direct us to a few of her favourites so far. At the top of her list is The Cambie Bar & Grill with their great decor and food. Juliana also loves their choice of music playlists.
For those who love going to the markets for street food or fresh produce, Juliana says you must go to Granville Island or Lonsdale Quay Market. They offer a lot of different options of restaurants and both places are absolutely beautiful to walk around. If you visit Granville Island, make sure you also go to the Granville Brewing Co. for a nice local beer.
Where to stay?
For Juliana, the city lover, she would most definitely stay in downtown Vancouver, specifically the West End neighbourhood with its strong sense of character and old architecture. It’s surrounded by two of her favourite places to visit, English Bay and Stanley Park. It’s also a very diverse area, with Western Canada's largest LGBTQ community.
What to bear in mind?
One thing that Juliana pointed out, that most people don’t expect, is the strong influence of asian culture in Canada, particularly that of China .
“Cantonese and Mandarin are the second and third most spoken languages in Greater Vancouver [...] in the city of Richmond more people speak the language (46.6 percent) than one of Canada's official languages (37.7 percent).”
This means that it's not uncommon for you to walk around a neighbourhood in Vancouver and feel like you’re somewhere in Asia, due to the massive influence in Vancouver’s architecture, gastronomy and general culture.
If Juliana’s recommendations haven’t sold this beautiful city to you already, what will? So, presuming that you haven't already clicked away from this blog and headed over to SkyScanner to find yourself some suitable flights - here are some final tips.