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Vancouver is a huge city with several district articles containing sightseeing, restaurant and nightlife. It is one of the "best cities to live in" and is certainly a beautiful destination to visit.
Vancouverites broadly split their city into three: the Westside, the Eastside (or East Van) and city centre. This split is simply geography: everything west of Ontario St is the Westside, everything east is East Vancouver and everything north of False Creek is the city centre. Each of these areas have their own attractions and neighbourhoods, so time permitting, explore as many as you can. The areas in the city of Vancouver are frequently confused with the separate cities of North Vancouver and West Vancouver. North Vancouver and West Vancouver are north of Burrard Inlet and are not part of the city of Vancouver itself.
With the exception of Victoria, Vancouver has the mildest climate of any major city in Canada; even palm trees can (and do) grow here. It rains a lot in Vancouver, especially during the winters, but during the summer months Vancouver gets less rain than most other Canadian cities. During the winter months it can go weeks without seeing the sun or a dry day, but the temperature rarely goes below freezing. Heavy snowfalls are common in the nearby mountains, but unusual in the city itself and lead to major traffic congestion when snow accumulates.
Vancouver International Airport (YVR). It is the second busiest airport in Canada, and serves as the hub airport for Western Canada with frequent flights to other points in British Columbia, major cities across Canada and the U.S., Asia and several to Europe.
Floatplane and heliport
There are floatplane facilities located both in the Coal Harbour area of downtown Vancouver (CXH) and at Vancouver International's South Terminal. Floatplanes operated by Harbour Air, Salt Spring Air and West Coast Air fly frequently from downtown Vancouver and/or YVR to Victoria's Inner Harbour, Vancouver Island, the scenic Southern Gulf Islands, Seattle and other local destinations.
Abbotsford International Airport
Abbotsford International Airport (YXX), located about 60 km (37 mi) east of Vancouver in Abbotsford, is Vancouver's alternate airport. It handles mostly domestic flights and, with an arranged ride.
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
Flying in and out of Seattle, particularly for US destinations, and then using the bus, train, or car rental for travel to and from Vancouver city can be a (dramatically, and frustratingly) less expensive option than buying a direct flight from YVR or YXX.
Bellingham International Airport
Bellingham International Airport is much closer to the Canadian border than Seattle International Airport is and can drive to the border within less than two hours. There are connecting flights from Seattle and other US destinations.
Vancouver is well served by bus service. There are a number of different bus lines providing service to various cities near and far. The bus station is at the Pacific Central Station at 1150 Station St, across from the Telus Science Center dome (site of Expo 86), which is also the train station (a SkyTrain station is also nearby).
There are two ferry terminals serviced by BC Ferries in the area, although neither is within the city of Vancouver itself.
The Tsawwassen terminal in Delta has routes to Nanaimo and Victoria on Vancouver Island and to the Southern Gulf Islands.
The Horseshoe Bay terminal in the West Vancouver services Nanaimo, Bowen Island and the Sunshine Coast.
Vancouver is one of the few major cities in North America without a freeway leading directly into the downtown core. As a result, development has taken a different course than in most other major North American cities resulting in a relatively high use of transit and cycling, a dense, walkable core and a development model that is studied and emulated elsewhere.
By public transport
Vancouver's public transit is run by the regional transportation authority, TransLink as an integrated system of buses, rapid transit (SkyTrain) and passenger ferry (SeaBus) . The transit system connects Vancouver with its neighbouring municipalities, stretching as far north as Lions Bay, south to the U.S. border and east to Langley and Maple Ridge. The bus stops about a mile from the border, then you must walk to it.
What to see
While Vancouver is still a young city, it has a variety of attractions and points of interest for the visitor. Many of the city's landmarks and historical buildings can be found downtown. Stanley Park is along with its neighbouring Coal Harbour walkway and the Vancouver Aquarium are in the West End and Gastown, the original town site of Vancouver, has a number of restored buildings and its steam clock is a popular spot to visit. Modern architecture worth visiting also includes Shangri-La, currently the tallest building in the city, and the Sheraton Wall Centre. Another popular city landmark, the bustling markets and shops of Granville Island, is just to the south of downtown in South Granville.
The city has a wealth of parks and gardens scattered throughout. The most famous is Stanley Park at the tip of the downtown peninsula. Its miles of trails for walking and cycling, beaches, magnificent views and the attractions within the park gives it something for everyone.
Vancouverites love the outdoors and one of the most popular things to do is to walk, jog, bike or rollerblade the Seawall. It starts at Canada Place downtown, wraps around Stanley Park and follows the shoreline of False Creek though Yaletown, Science World and Granville Island to Kits Beach in Kitsilano. The most popular sections are around Stanley Park and along the north shore of False Creek.
If you'd rather lie in the sun than play in the sun, Vancouver has a number of beaches. While certainly not glamourous and lacking waves, there's sand, water and lots of people on sunny summer days.
The Capilano Suspension Bridge is a popular tourist spot located in North Vancouver. The bridge itself is impressive, and for many it is worth the price of admission.
For many, Vancouver is synonymous with skiing and snowboarding. While there are no ski hills within the city itself, there are three "local" hills (Cypress, Grouse Mountain and Seymour) across the harbour on the North Shore. And of course, Vancouver is the gateway to Whistler, the biggest and one of the highest rated snow destinations in North America.
Culture and Festivals
Vancouver isn't all about the outdoors as it offers a variety of theatre, concerts and other cultural events. There are symphony and opera venues downtown and much of the city's live theatre can be found in South Granville, particularly on Granville Island with its thriving arts scene.
The city's Chinese heritage comes alive during Chinese New Year. Chinatown, in the east side of downtown, is awash in colour and has many festivities, including a parade. June sees the annual Dragon Boat Festival on False Creek.
Khatsalano Music and Arts Festival is held every summer in Kitsilano. This FUN festival is 10 blocks long, with 50 bands equals one gigantic street party!
Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival that runs May - September at Vanier Park in Kitsilano; and the three day Folk Fest on the beach in Kitsilano that features a large selection of current and upcoming folk, roots and world music acts.
Roberts Creek Arts Festival Held over the Victoria Day long weekend from 15th - 17th May 2013. Consists of live music, arts and food from local and International talent in a variety of rainforest settings.