Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Coast Mountains, Vancouver in British Columbia has been chosen eight times as the world's ‘Most Liveable City’ since 2002. Although Vancouver is a fairly young city at 127-years-old, it was once a wild coastal area surrounded by heavy forest and mountains. Today's Vancouver is well-known for its cultural diversity and exceptional natural beauty. From urban amenities to outdoor activities, Vancouver is a beautiful destination to visit for sightseers, for adventurers and for families.
Thanks to its ocean-side location and mild weather, Vancouver is one of the few places in the world where it's possible to ski in the morning and sail in the afternoon.
Known as Rain City, Vancouver's wettest months are November and December when it seems that the rain will never stop. However, July and August are the driest months in the city. Although Vancouver has one of the wettest and foggiest climates of Canada's major cities, temperatures rarely drop below freezing, somewhat similar to the climate in northern California.
Vancouver is in the Pacific Time Zone. The Pacific Standard Time (PST) from mid-Autumn to late winter is 8 hours behind of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) or GMT. When Standard Time ends in spring, Vancouver will be on Pacific Daylight Time (PDT) which is 7 hours behind.
International flights to Vancouver land at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) which is conveniently located about 12km south of the city centre. The metro Canada Line gets you to downtown Vancouver in just 26 minutes. Car hire and Taxis are available with a typical taxi rate of $30-40 to bring you to central Vancouver.
Accommodation options in Vancouver are varied from pocket- friendly hostels to high- class hotels. For longer stays the West End, located in the Downtown area, is the most affordable of all the Downtown locations. North Vancouver is growing in popularity with new comers to the city. It is a family oriented suburb with reasonable rents and easy access to the North Shore mountains for biking and snowboarding.
Vancouver currently has many vacancies in the construction and civil engineering fields as well as IT, sales, marketing and finance. Check out the Go4less jobs board for Vancouver jobs!
Vancouver's public transportation is managed by TransLink, offering bus and services such as the Sea Bus and Sky Train. Sea Bus provides a passenger ferry service from downtown to North Vancouver. Sky Train is the city's metro with three lines radiating from the downtown peninsula. Canada Line runs from North to South while Expo Line and Millennium Line travel from East to West. Sky Train stations and cars are wheelchair accessible and are very close to bus services at almost all stations.
West Coast Express which offers commuter train service from downtown Vancouver to outer suburbs. It runs east to Mission from the Waterfront Station rail platform (currently the only stop in the city of Vancouver). WCE operates mostly during commuter rush hour periods.
Cycling is a popular, fun and energy-efficient way to travel around Vancouver. As one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in Canada, Vancouver has planned to launch a public bike share system in 2014. This allows people to rent bicycles available for short-term use for a small fee.
Vancouver is one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse cities in Canada with 52% of the population speaking a first language other than English. Although English and French are the official languages in Canada, you won't hear much French on Vancouver's streets. After English, the most common languages spoken are Cantonese, Mandarin, Punjabi, Tagalog (Filipino), German and Italian.
Tourism Vancouver Visitor Centre is a friendly place to start your visit in Vancouver. With a library of resources for tourists and visitors, the service centre can help you plan your trip. The professional and knowledgeable counsellors will help you with travel information and will also offer you sightseeing tour tickets and discounted attraction admissions. Maps, tour booking, activities planning, suggestions for dinner and even accommodation reservation can all be made under one roof. The Visitors Centre is located downtown, just steps away from the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre. You can call on (604) 683-2000 or email at VisitVancouver@tourismvancouver.com.
If you are new to Vancouver you should visit ISSC Vancouver. They organise many social gatherings, sporting and social events for the Vancouver Irish. They also offer support services for new-comers to Canada to help you get settled, find a job and learn more about starting a new life in Canada.
Vancouver boasts great Traditional Irish music drop-in sessions. If you enjoy traditional Irish music, an evening at one of these popular events should definitely give you a taste of home. Choose between live sessions at Johnny Fox’s Pub on Granville Street every Sunday at 6.30pm or every Tuesday at 8.30pm at Dentry’s Irish Grill/Pub on 10th and Trimble.
Don’t forget to pick up the Celtic Connection Newspaper, which is geared towards Western Canada’s Irish community. You will be able to read the real issues that are affecting the Irish in Vancouver.
Those interested in playing sports can join the Vancouver GAA Club or the Club Ireland Celtic Soccer Club. They are always searching for new members and it is a great way of meeting new people when you move to Vancouver.
Vancouver is an incredibly vibrant city after the sun goes down with a huge selection of bars, pubs, clubs and casinos. There are several major neighbourhoods where you can spend a big night out!
One of the most popular areas is Yaletown which was formerly a downtown warehouse district. However, today's Yaletown is packed with sophisticated clubs, trendy bars and plush lounges offering excellent food, beer and cool ambiance. Check out the hip urban atmosphere in the Bar None Nightclub with three fully stocked bars and a large dance floor. A fun and creative night is in store at Raw Canvas which is part bar/lounge and part art studio.
Granville Entertainment District will remind you of the Las Vegas Strip. Filled with pubs, dance clubs and live music venues, Granville Street is adored by a young, university crowd. Grab a bite in Johnnie Fox's Irish Snug, catch a live music show at the top-notch Commodore Ballroom and after that dance the night away to a DJ set in Venue Nightclub.
Vancouver is also home to various gay and gay-friendly bars, pubs and nightclubs, many in the areas surrounding Davie Street, also known as Davie Village. Start your evening with fantastic food in the Earls. Then head to one of the city's premiere gay clubs, Celebrities, for one of their many themed events.
Surrounded by the ocean and the snow-capped mountains, Stanley Park is Vancouver's largest, and most loved urban park! Strolling or biking along the famous Seawall is the best way to explore the natural rainforest and enjoy breath-taking views of the beaches and mountains surrounding the park. Horse-drawn carriages are also available for a quaint way to view the park. Children will fall in love with Stanley Park's Children's Farm, where they can pet rabbits, calves, donkeys, ponies and even peacocks! Learn more here.
The Vancouver Aquarium, located in Stanley Park, is home to 50,000 fascinating creatures including beluga whales, dolphins, sharks, curious sea otters and a somewhat shy octopus. Enjoy the various shows, shark dives and sea otter feeding time. For an unforgettable experience, join in the personalised, hands-on Animal Encounters to feed and get closer to the animals.
Vancouver Art Gallery is the perfect place for you to heighten your appreciation of a diverse range of contemporary art. It holds exhibitions of painting, sculpture, graphic arts, photography and video, including the largest collection of renowned local artist Emily Carr. Be sure to set aside time to visit the Gallery Store for unique gifts, and have a bite in the Gallery Cafe overlooking Robson Square.
Science World at TELUS World of Science is a wonderful educational and entertaining place for children and adults alike! It awaits you with inspirational feature exhibitions, jaw-dropping live science demonstrations and popular hands-on interactive displays. Spark your imagination in galleries featuring nature, life sciences, physics and more. You can also enjoy larger-than-life films in the OMNIMAX Theatre and then take a break from the action by watching awesome shows in the Science Theatre. Perfect for a fun family day out which will keep the kids busy for hours.
Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Vancouver. Make your way across the swaying 450 ft. (137m) long, 230 ft. (70m) high bridge to the other side of the Capilano River, where you can climb to the canopy and walk through the Treetops Adventure walkway high above the canyon and river below. For those seeking a more thrilling experience, why not try the Cliff walk, the newest attraction at the bridge. This adrenaline-pumping journey will take you through the rainforest with a series of suspended walkways to discover the secrets of the park!
Located on the eastern side of downtown, Vancouver's Chinatown is North America's third largest by population, after those in San Francisco and New York. Get a taste of Chinatown's ancient and fascinating culture as you walk past the historical buildings. Stroll through the lively Chinese produce markets, herbalist shops and colourful alleys. Then for lunch, indulge in a traditional Dim Sum meal with a cup of fragrant Chinese tea. To relax, take a peaceful stroll the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, where you'll travel back in time to a 15th-century ornate Chinese garden.
Formerly an industrial area, Granville Island with rusty, old-fashioned factories has been transformed into an arty, up-market Vancouver neighbourhood. Granville Island is both a locals' favourite and a must-see for visitors. The streets are filled with antique shops, crafts stores, bookstores, theatres and many more unique attractions. A major attraction on Granville Island is the Public Market offering fresh produce, gourmet food, baked goods and seafood. It is certainly a foodie's paradise with over 70 cafés, restaurants and food stands for you to choose from. There’s even a special place for children in Kids Market, with handcrafted toys and puppets for sale. In the warmer months children can also enjoy slides and water pipes at the free Water Park on the island.
Just 15 minutes from Vancouver city, Grouse Mountain is a popular North Vancouver year-round mountain playground. Take a ride with the famous Grouse Mountain Skyride to enjoy phenomenal views of the city skyline from above. Visit the Grizzly Bears and Timber Wolf in the Wildlife Refuge. During Summer time, you can take the Grouse Grind (mountain hiking trail) to the mountain top and breathe in crisp mountain air while enjoying the view. In winter, Grouse Mountain is an appealing option for skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, ice skating, sleigh rides or even try a Sno-limo with a personal chauffeur!
Vancouver city has a full calendar of festivals and events all year round, from the Polar Bear Swim on the first of January to the Festival of Lights in late December. No matter what age you are or what interests you have, there will always something that you can get involved in.
Vancouver hosts a variety of cultural festivals throughout the year including Vancouver International Film Festival, Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival, Vancouver International Fringe Festival, Vancouver International Writers & Readers Festival, Dancing on the Edge, PuSh International Performing Arts Festival.
Vancouver is also home to many music festivals such as the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, Vancouver Folk Music Festival and MusicFest Vancouver.
For the foodies, you have plenty of chances to sample British Columbia's amazing food and wine during the many culinary events. Try EAT!, Vancouver’s Food and Cooking Festival, the Cowichan Wine & Culinary Festival, Apple Festival or one of the Okanagan seasonal wine festivals. There is even a Fall Festival of Chocolate which is sure to entice chocoholics!
Love sports and outdoor activities? You can watch or even participate in the many sports events such as Vancouver Sun Run, Vancouver Marathon and Crankworx Freeride Mountain Bike Festival in the summer months or Telus World Ski & Snowboard Festival in winter.
The diversity of Vancouver's communities has a huge influence on the types of events such as the Vancouver Pride Parade, Greek Day on Broadway, Chinese New Year Celebration and Dragon Boat Festival. Not to mention the HSBC Celebration of Light, one of the most popular festivals with a four -night spectacular firework show over English Bay in late July and early August.