Vancouver Holidays & City Breaks

Vancouver Holidays & City Breaks

Canada holidays offer both metropolitan areas and vast rural wilderness. For the perfect compromise Vancouver holidays offer big city vibes, as well as vast green parks and even a rainforest to explore. Foodies can delight in Granville Island's Public Market and diverse culinary scene, while creative travellers will revel in the Vancouver Art Gallery and contemporary murals. History enthusiasts can discover Gastown's Victorian architecture and museums, and families can enjoy viewing the diverse range of species at Vancouver Aquarium. 

History and Culture

Vancouver's history is a tapestry rich in tradition, resilience and innovation. Totem poles are a reminder of the days when the area was home to Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh indigenous people. British and Chinese settlers started to arrive in the 18th century, transforming the area into a bustling port. Today, Canada's third biggest city boasts a dynamic blend of nature, community and innovation, awaiting your discovery.

Things to Do

Surprisingly one of Vancouver’s top attractions is a rainforest! Capilano Suspension Bridge Park transports you from vibrant gardens, adorned with First Nations totem poles, to the emerald embrace of the rainforest canopy. Walk amongst the Douglas firs at the Treetops Adventure, brave the Cliff Walk and delve into the fascinating Living Forest exhibit. This is an experience for all ages and senses. It’s located just 6km from Canada Place convention centre, where (as of 2024) a complimentary shuttle bus will pick you up. 

Stanley Park Vancouver is 400 hectares of urban oasis packed with adventure. Hike through ancient forest trails or cycle along the iconic seawall, taking in epic ocean views. Don't miss Brockton Point's totem poles. You might even spot playful raccoons, squirrels and beavers as you roam. If you're lucky, a bald eagle may make an entrance.

If you’re keen to spot larger mammals join one of the whale watching tours from Vancouver for an awe-inspiring encounter. As well as humpbacks, you may even spot orcas and friendly dolphins in their natural habitat. 

As one of the world’s greenest cities there’s plenty of places to relax and quietly contemplate. However, the International Buddhist Temple in Richmond takes things to the next level. This architectural marvel, inspired by the Forbidden City, boasts intricate details and a towering Buddha statue. Explore tranquil gardens, immerse yourself in the peaceful atmosphere, and discover the largest Buddhist mural in the world.

Places to Stay

Downtown Vancouver boasts an array of hotels catering to different tastes. The more luxurious options include the centrally located 5 star Fairmont Hotel Vancouver and the 4 star Georgian Court Hotel, both offering convenient access to popular attractions, dining and entertainment options in the vibrant city centre.

Prefer a budget option with easy airport access? The district of Richmond boasts numerous choices, with some offering complimentary airport shuttles, such as Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel.

Food and Drink

Vancouver's food scene tantalises every palate. From fresh seafood feasts in Granville Island to tasty Chinese flavours in Richmond and melt-in-your-mouth sushi on West Robson Street. Savour farm-to-table delights in Gastown and enjoy a craft beer overlooking the harbour. As you walk around you'll breathe in the aroma of roasted coffee and fresh pastries from chic cafes. When you want something quick and easy, street food trucks await your business. If it’s a dining experience you’re after, reserve a table at one of the nine Michelin star restaurants.


Stroll Robson Street for high-end brands and local boutiques, or hit up Granville Island Public Market for fresh produce, artisan crafts and unique souvenirs. Dive into Chinatown's bustling streets for authentic Asian goods, or explore Gastown's historic charm and independent shops. For a touch of luxury, CF Pacific Centre offers designer labels, while quirky neighbourhoods like Kitsilano and Commercial Drive are a must-visit for vintage finds and trendy stores.

Map of Vancouver

20 ℃

Best time to visit: Spring and Autumn offer milder temperatures and fewer crowds, ideal for exploring the city's natural beauty and cultural attractions.

9.5 hours

Fly to: Vancouver International Airport (YVR),14km from the city centre.

Vancouver is best for...

Rural wilderness: This might sound like an oxymoron but Grouse Mountain is just 12km from downtown Vancouver. In summer hike the Grouse Grind, soar through the rainforest canopy on the Treetops Adventure, keeping an eye out for grizzly bears. In winter strap on a snowboard for exhilarating runs and take in the breathtaking snowy vistas.

Sandy beaches: Holidays in Canada aren’t generally seen as beach breaks. However, the city has a few sandy stretches to choose from. Next to the green Stanley Park is Third Beach. While English Bay Beach (in the West End area) and Kitsilano Beach (close to the Maritime Museum) both boast volleyball courts.

Museums: If you have a thirst for knowledge there’s plenty to whet your appetite. The Museum of Anthropology houses artefacts from British Columbia’s First Nations. Over at the Museum of Vancouver there’s further historic items, including ones originating in Canada internationally. Other museums in Vancouver include those designated to the history of maritime, science, policing and sports.

Fast facts for Vancouver

Language: The main language spoken in Vancouver is English. Canadians use a mixture of British and American terms and spellings.

Currency: The currency used in Vancouver is the Canadian Dollar (CAD).

Local time: Vancouver is usually 8 hours behind UK time. Although, due to North America putting their clocks forward and back on different dates to Europe, Vancouver is 7 hours behind for 4-5 weeks of the year.

Fly to: Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is located in Richmond, 14km from the city centre. It’s connected to the downtown area by the SkyTrain service.

Flight time from the UK: The fastest direct flights take around 9.5 hours, indirect flights take at least 12 hours. 

Plug sockets: If you’re planning to take your laptop you’ll also need to carry a type A/B international adapter. An increasing number of hotels in Canada now have USB sockets, so you may be able to charge your phone or tablet without needing to buy any additional plugs or adapters. TransLink has also started installing USB charging points on newer vehicles.

Roaming: Using your phone in Canada can be very expensive so check your mobile price plan before you start making calls or using data. To avoid roaming charges, you can download an app that includes an offline map of Vancouver, allowing you to find your way around the city without needing to use any data.

Tourist Information: Further tourist information can be found at the official website for tourism in Vancouver

Visa / Health: British nationals normally need to complete an eTA (electronic Travel Authorisation) before travel. The latest advice can be found on the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office website.

Getting around Vancouver

TransLink:  This is an integrated public transport serving Vancouver, with zonal ticketing covering buses, rapid transit (SkyTrain) and passenger ferry (SeaBus). The SkyTrain to the airport incurs a higher fare.

By taxi: Local laws mean all taxis must use a taximeter to calculate the fare. There’s a standard pricing structure, with no surcharges for nights or Sundays. However, airport journeys include an additional toll. There are normally plenty of cabs in the downtown area but if you’re wanting a taxi from further out you can use the eCab app, which allows you to request the nearest taxi from all available operators.

By bicycle: Vancouver is a cycle-friendly city with over 100km of bike lanes in the area. ‘Bike Parkades’ can be found at many TransLink stations, providing both cycle storage and bike rental.

Events in Vancouver

Vancouver International Jazz Festival: This musical extravaganza takes place from late June to early July. Expect around 1,800 artists performing at 300 concerts, spread over 35 venues. Jazz is the main focus, but it’s fused with funk, Latin, fusion and world music. Past headliners have included Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga.

Vancouver International Film Festival: For 16 days from late September to early October the city plays host to the annual film festival. It isn’t about getting celebrities on the red carpet, it’s about getting people like you to experience cinema at its greatest. As well as a large selection of Canadian films, they’ll be offerings from around 70 countries including many East Asian nations. 

Capilano Canyon Lights: Worried about short visiting hours for Capilano Suspension Bridge Park in the winter? Think again. Between November and January the park is turned into a winter wonderland with multicoloured lights providing an illuminated trail across the suspension bridge, around the Treetop Adventure and along the Cliff Walk. Afterwards, relax with a mug of hot chocolate.

Vancouver safety and security

Should I get travel insurance?

We always recommend that you purchase travel insurance for your holiday. That way, you’ll be covered for any medical expenses or emergencies while you’re away. Make sure to thoroughly check what is included in your policy, especially if you plan to take part in excursions and activities that require you to be insured.

Vancouver weather

In the summer you can expect the weather to be warmer and drier than the UK, without reaching the scorching temperatures that parts of Southern Europe experience. A typical winter’s day in Vancouver is similar to one in Manchester. However, Vancouver is more likely to have an extreme cold snap. While there are many ski resorts in British Columbia, there are rarely more than nine snow days per year in Vancouver, and if it does fall it doesn’t stay for long.

What is a good month to visit Vancouver?

Vancouver boasts a mild climate throughout the year, making it a fantastic destination regardless of the season. The best time to visit depends on your preferences and interests. June, July and August are popular for warm weather, outdoor festivals, and a vibrant atmosphere. December, January and February bring cooler temperatures and occasional snowfall. Spring and Autumn offer milder temperatures and fewer crowds, ideal for exploring the city's natural beauty and cultural attractions.

Is Vancouver expensive for a holiday?

Vancouver can be considered relatively expensive for a holiday, especially compared to some other destinations. Hotel rates, restaurant prices and entertainment options can be on the pricier side, particularly in popular areas like downtown Vancouver. However, there are ways to manage costs, like seeking out budget-friendly dining options, and taking advantage of free or low-cost activities, such as hiking in Stanley Park. It's possible to have a memorable and enjoyable holiday in Vancouver without breaking the bank.