Vancouver is a beautiful city that you won't want to leave once you arrive here on holidays across Canada. The metropolis is green, surrounded by lakes and mountains and offers everything from heated pools at the beach to bustling casinos.
If you like to sunbathe and shop, but also want to get under the skin of the destination you are visiting, Vancouver is perfect. Once you have exhausted the sightseeing options, you are perfectly located to head further out into British Columbia to one of the breathtaking national parks, such as Yoho and Jasper. Canada is famous for its spectacular great outdoors, and all this will be on your doorstep, even on a city break.
Here are the best five things to see and do when on small group tours of Vancouver.
As soon as you have dropped off your bags at your accommodation, make your way to the renowned Stanley Park. As you lie back on the grass, watching rollerbladers go by, you will probably forget you are even in a city, such is its greenery and peacefulness.
There are 400 hectares to explore here, filled with wildlife such as squirrels, rabbits and skunks, as well as cedar, hemlock and fir trees. Hire a bicycle and discover what the park has to offer on two wheels to get a proper idea of why it is something of a haven among locals. You might even come across an event such as a charity day or a fun run, as Stanley Park hosts a variety of activities.
One of the biggest draws for tourists to Vancouver is that you are never too far from a beautiful place to relax and Kitsilano Beach is popular with the city's young and trendy crowd. Browse through its eclectic bookstores and grab a coffee in one of the many ethnic restaurants and cafes located here. There are even tennis and basketball courts if you want to show off your sporting skills.
Alternatively, climb into Vancouver's largest draw and fill saltwater pool. This heated pool lies next to the ocean, making it the perfect place to enjoy your time away from the daily 9-5 grind as you gaze out across the city's stunning surroundings.
Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
You should at least get your adrenaline pumping a little when on western Canada tours, as the nation is one of outdoors and adventure lovers. One of the best places to do this is the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, which is in north Vancouver. It is home to a suspension bridge that is 450 ft long and 230 ft high, so walking across this is not for the faint hearted!
Don't keep your eyes firmly on your feet as you walk across, or you will miss the amazing view that being so high up affords you. If you are a total thrill-seeker, complete the Cliffwalk. This will see you follow a granite precipice along the Capilano River, as well as get to grips with narrow cantilevered bridges, stairs and platforms.
As you make your way around Vancouver, you will have noticed it is a melting pot of cultures. Its Chinatown is the third biggest in North America, beaten by New York and San Francisco. Of course, you should sample some Chinese delicacies when in this part of the capital.
There are lots of other things to see and do in Chinatown, so do not dismiss it if you are not a fan of the cuisine. The Dr Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is a pretty place to sit and soak up the atmosphere, while the world's narrowest commercial building - Sam Kee - is found in Vancouver's Chinese quarter.
Gastown and Robson Street
It would not be a chic city break if a spot of shopping, gambling and cocktail drinking was not included, and thankfully, Vancouver delivers. Gastown is perfect for an evening's entertainment, and has a special atmosphere due to the fact it is the birthplace of the city. There are also plenty of Irish pubs here if you fancy a traditional knees-up!
Robson Street is regarded by many as the best shopping destination in the city. It is also conveniently close to the boutique Edgewater Casino in downtown Vancouver, which offers all the tables you would expect, as well as a choice of restaurants.