5. Parks galore – and beaches

Stanley Park is one of the world’s largest (1,000 acres) and most beautiful urban green spaces.

Tim Jepson says: “This glorious area of forest, formal gardens and semi-wilderness crowns Vancouver’s downtown peninsula: walk or rent a bike and join the locals on its six-mile perimeter seawall. Or stroll, sunbathe or swim from one of the beaches. The park’s aquarium is western Canada’s most-visited sight.”

The six-mile perimeter seawall
The six-mile perimeter seawall Credit: alpegor – Fotolia

“Must-sees include the nine towering totem poles at Brockton Point,” adds Kathy Arnold. “Carved by First Nations artists, these depict traditional themes: thunderbirds, bears and wolves.”

There are many more parks scattered through the city, including the VanDusen Botanical Garden with its Elizabethan hedge maze, and Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, inspired by the gardens of Suzhou.

6. There are epic adventures on its doorstep

There’s plenty to lure wildlife lovers within striking distance of the city. Just take the car ferry (it’s a spectacular journey) over to Vancouver Island. Paul Wade explains: “Watching a grizzly bear snack on salmon is a classic David Attenborough moment. So is watching grey whales, orcas, sea otters, bald eagles and the marbled murrelet, a cousin of the puffin. All these are just some of the delights of Vancouver Island and its waters.”

Surfing in Tofino
Surfing in Tofino Credit: www.joeros.com/WWW.JOEROS.COM

The small town of Tofino, meanwhile, on Vancouver Island’s west coast, is heaven for surfers. There are yet more beautiful, and wilder, beaches, too.

7. And amazing skiing

There are three options a stone’s throw from the city – Cypress Mountain, Grouse Mountain and Mount Seymour. Lifts open in the morning, and some stay open until after dark, so there’s ample opportunity for a full day’s skiing. Or else venture just a little further north to enjoy the linked resorts of Whistler and Blackcomb, which make up one of the largest ski areas in the world. “Boasting dramatic mountain scenery and a lively après scene, Whistler, on the west coast of Canada in British Columbia, is much more European in flavour than most North American resorts,” says Nicky Holford. “Twenty years ago, it was more of a locals mountain than the top international resort it is now. But even though it’s grown, what made it so special then – sniffle stations, Belgian waffles on the mountain, pitchers of margaritas in resort and the sort of powder that makes you sing with joy – remain.”

Whistler is within easy reach
Whistler is within easy reach Credit: Coast Mountain Photography

8. It’s bike friendly

Vancouver is one of North America’s most cycle-friendly cities, with around 800 miles of bike lanes. Go with a group on Cycle City Tours’ daily five-hour ride, where you’ll explore Stanley Park, ride the ferry to Granville Island and its market, and see the Olympic Village, Chinatown and Gastown. Or do your own thing using a self-guided tour map. Bike rental from around £15.50 for a half day; cyclevancouver.com)

9. There’s an Art Deco masterpiece

We’re big fans of Art Deco at Telegraph Travel, and Vancouver’s Marine Building is up there with the best. Once the tallest skyscraper in the British Empire, it will be familiar to fans of the TV show Smallville: it was used as the headquarters of the Daily Planet.

10. And a working steam clock

“Gastown, named after local publican and raconteur ‘Gassy Jack’ Deighton, is Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood,” says Kathy Arnold. “Now gentrified, with brick pavements and Victorian-style street lamps, it also has a curious steam clock that toots the Westminster Chimes every quarter hour.

The Gastown clock
The Gastown clock Credit: fotobeam.de – Fotolia

“There are chic boutiques along Water Street and on Carrall, West Cordova and Abbott Streets. Typifying Vancouver’s laid-back lifestyle are the smart-casual designs in One of a Few, The Block and LYNNsteven Boutique.

“Take a rest at Pourhouse (pourhousevancouver.com) and sample a glass of Laughing Stock Pinot Gris from the Okanagan Valley, a fine example of British Columbia wine.”

11. It’s got a modern answer to the Colosseum

Tim Jepson explains: “Don’t miss Yaletown, a newly trendy warehouse district of specialist stores, restaurants and funky bars; Library Square, one of North America’s finest pieces of new architecture – nothing less than a post-modern Roman Colosseum; and Science World, a high-technology, hands-on science museum.”