Vancouver’s hosting of the winter Olympics in 2010 raised its profile as a sports destination immeasurably.
Along with the nearby resort of Whistler, Vancouver was shown as a place where you could go for great skiing and snowboarding, as well as catch some top ice hockey action, all set in spectacular natural surroundings.
However, there’s a lot more to this coastal city than just winter sports and more than one season when it’s worth visiting.
So just what does Vancouver offer those keen to book a trip to this part of the world?
Cycle around North America’s largest urban park
If this was posed as a question at a pub quiz, I wager most would answer ‘Central Park in New York’. However, at 1,000 acres, Stanley Park takes the title of North America’s largest urban park.
What’s unique about this park is that it’s almost an island, and has 14 miles of paved seawall running around its edge – perfect for walking, cycling and skating.
It’s also home to some 500,000 trees, which gives you the sense that you’re in the middle of the Canadian wilderness as opposed to a city of 2.3 million people.
Hit the beach
There are not many places where you can ski and visit the beach, but Vancouver is one of them.
Kits beach is a hangout for bronzed beauties, English Bay is within spitting distance of the bars in downtown Vancouver and Wreck Bay is Canada’s only nudist beach. The clothes-free strip of sand plays host to annual events such as the Bare Buns Run and the Skinny Dipping Fundraiser – truly back-to-nature experiences.
Try on some unusual shoes
As well as getting your kit off, Vancouver is also the place to try on some unusual footwear. Visit local cobbler turned international trendsetter John Fluevog for bright and quirky shoes or if you’re around when it’s wintry, hit one of the local mountains for a spot of snowshoeing – the world’s fastest-growing winter sport.
Chow down with chopsticks
Canada might not seem like the most obvious place to eat sushi and Chinese, but with its large Asian population, Vancouver has some great oriental eateries that are arguably the finest in the western world.
If you like Cantonese food head for Chinatown, where a lively night market is held during the summer months, or if raw fish is more your thing, check out the numerous Japanese options downtown.
Join the Grouse Grind
Each year, more than 100,000 energetic souls tackle ‘Mother Nature’s Stairmaster’ – the 2,830 steps of the Grouse Mountain Grind path.
Over a distance of 1.8 miles the steep and challenging trail climbs almost 3,000ft to the summit of Grouse Mountain, where weary hikers are rewarded with breathtaking views (if they’ve got any puff left, that is).
Most people take between 90 minutes and two hours to complete the ascent. If that sounds like too much effort, hop aboard the Skyride gondola for a quick and painless ride to the top.
If you’ve still got some gas in the tank after grinding the grouse, Vancouver has a great after-dark clubbing scene. Touring DJs pack out venues such as the Commodore Ballroom and the Plaza, so head on over and join in the party.