When is the best time to visit?
Some say Vancouver has the best Canadian weather, with warm summers and mild winters. The city rarely sees snow, rarely gets oppressively hot, but does get plenty of rain. The mountains and ski resorts are so close to the city that you really can golf and ski on the same day.
When flying to Vancouver between July and August you will see a large number of visitors to the city. Travellers start arriving in April and stay into the autumn. Summer in the city means film, jazz, and folk festivals, including the HSBC PowerSmart Celebration of Light fireworks competition.
Every summer, Vancouver is home to some of the world’s greatest music festivals including their very own International Jazz Festival. Visitors booking flights to Vancouver during the summer will be able to enjoy this renowned and distinguished event, provides a platform for 1,800 musicians to entertain over 400,000 festival goers at forty different venues throughout Vancouver. Teaming your visit to Vancouver with the International Jazz Festival is the perfect way to experience what the idyllic location has to offer, from dining and tasting the local culinary delights to releasing your inner adrenaline junkie through outdoor adventures. VIJF is spread out over ten days.
Canada Day on 1st July is a very busy time in the city when a variety of festivities take place.
If you are a Skiing or snowboarding enthusiast then book your flight to Vancouver from mid-December onwards, as the mountain’s peak season is between January and February. January is the coolest month with temperatures ranging from zero to the single digits. July and August are the warmest months with temperatures reaching the low 20s. Spring and autumn temperatures are in the teens.
Vancouver is particularly enjoyable in the shoulder seasons of May and June and September and October. Finding flight deals during this time of year will allow you to enjoy the milder weather and a smaller crowd. Early spring and late autumn are also great times for whale watching.
Except for the ski areas, hotels in the winter are quiet and Vancouver's cultural scene is in full swing.
This beautiful city by the Pacific Ocean is one of the few places where you can windsurf in the afternoon and ski that evening. Vancouver does not experience the extremes in weather that most of Canada does. A rain jacket is an essential piece of kit however as it rains a lot.
The city is a happy multicultural mosaic. There are bustling Chinese, East Indian and Italian districts, but the heart of the city beats in the 1,000-acre Stanley Park. It boasts such world-renowned features as the Lost Lagoon, Siwash Rock and the 5.5 mile seawall walk. Within 30 minutes of the centre are Cypress Mountain, Grouse Mountain and Mount Seymour, all with night-skiing facilities.
The main part of Vancouver is referred to sometimes as the “city of glass” due to its skyscrapers, but this area is surrounded by the waters of Vancouver Harbour and English Bay, and across these are lush forests and hills. The lakeside scenery from Stanley Park is particularly spectacular; there you can cycle along paths by the water, past displays of totem poles and greenery on your other side. The forests around the city are magnificent and some even feature suspension bridges over deep spectacular ravines, like the one at Lynn Canyon.
BC Ferries ply the Georgia Strait and connect Vancouver with Vancouver Island (including Victoria, the capital of British Columbia), and the beautiful gulf islands, of which the best known are Galiano and Saltspring. A shorter hop will take you to Bowen, a beautiful little island with a general store, coffee shop, pub and lots of hiking/biking trails.
Getting around Vancouver
Vancouver’s public transport system, TransLink, consists of an efficient and reliable network of electric trolley buses, SeaBus passenger ferries, buses, the SkyTrain elevated light-rail and West Coast Express trains. Save some money by buying a FareSaver book of ten tickets, which you can find at newsagents. You can also get a day pass for unlimited travel on buses, SkyTrains and SeaBuses. Don’t rent a car and save yourself the hassle of dealing with congested traffic. You can hail a taxi on the street if you need one, or you can pedal yourself around the city one of the 16 cycling routes covering 80 miles of Vancouver’s neighbourhoods.
Getting to the city
There are several car rental companies at Vancouver Airport (YVR). There are more than 500 licenced taxis operating 24/7. Limousines and town cars are also available.
TransLink’s rapid transit line connects the airport directly with central Vancouver and Richmond.
Vancouver insider information
- Spend one day exploring the magnificent Stanley Park. Here you’ll find lagoons, flower gardens, cedar trees and an abundance of wildlife including coyotes, trumpeter swans, beavers, brant geese and much more. Visitors can even go swimming in the park’s Third Beach and Second Beach. There’s also an impressive collection of carved totem poles.
- Go souvenir shopping in the Lonsdale Quay Market which is accessible by sea bus from Waterfront Station across the Burrard Inlet.
- Housed in a neo-classical building on Hornby Street is the Vancouver Art Gallery. With more than 200 major works by Emily Carr, the British Columbia artist and a permanent collection of almost 8,000 items the gallery is the largest in western Canada.
- On the edge of Chinatown is the tranquil Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden which is the first authentic classical Chinese garden ever built outside of China.