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48h van city guide
Vancouver: City Life Redefined
Heading to Vancouver? Leave the tourist traps behind and embrace the urban playground - on bike, skis or on foot - with our active city guide.

Vancouver is a city built for active living: a bustling metropolis surrounded by some of the most dramatic nature on the planet. Inside the urban cityscape, between the mountains and the sea, life unfolds with a frenetic energy. Here, in the heart of British Columbia, life is firmly for living. And playgrounds beckon as far as the eye can see.
Vancouverites work hard, but they play even harder. They understand that wellness comes from within and embrace their passion for the great outdoors in a way that is contagious. In winter, the mountains are transformed into a skier’s paradise. In summer, the rugged coastline is dotted with solo silhouettes. Between paddleboarding and cycling, yoga retreats on remote islands and world-class running trails, city life in Vancouver has been totally redefined. It’s a city for active minds. A city that knows how to live.
1. POWER UP ON COFFEE
There is no shortage of great places to get great coffee in Vancouver. Independent cafes – each its own tiny universe of reverence for the bean, an afterthought of pastries, and the clacking of hands typing on laptop keyboards – are everywhere.
On Commercial Drive, Bump n Grind humbly makes one the best cups of coffee around in their tiny shop. Or you can visit Revolver in Gastown, where the smartly dressed baristas flawlessly prepare your cortado with equipment that looks borrowed from a Victorian laboratory.

On Main Street, 49th Parallel partnered with Lucky Donuts to create a place where you can OD on both delicious espresso and donuts with bacon on them. But possibly the best place for coffee in the city is Matchstick Roasters. The selection and quality of their coffee is unbeatable, but it’s also the cafes themselves (there are two locations) that win them top honours. There is a genuineness and comfort you’ll find in Matchstick that is rare.
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CYCLE THE HOODS 2.
If you prefer to tour on your own terms, Vancouver is extremely bicycle-friendly—as long as you can hack the hills. Head east from downtown on the Adanac Bike Route, down to Wall Street and on to New Brighton Park, where you’ll find an outdoor pool. This is a route treasured by locals for the nostalgic, old-Vancouver neighbourhood feel and the spectacular views of the North Shore across the Second Narrows.
Need a tune up? The Standard Bike Shop on Gore Street has benches constructed out of pallets where you can sit and shoot the breeze with tattooed bike dudes all day. Or take your whip to Super Champion Cycle Shop on Main Street for world-class service and a bevy of handsome bikes to drool over while you wait.
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CAPILANO SUSPENSION BRIDGE PARK 3.
SUSPENSION BRIDGE PARK 3.
Don't miss out on this unique tour of a temperate rainforest. It’s a tourist attraction indeed but worth the trip.
Capilano Suspension Bridge is for sure a true beauty and stretches 137 m across and 70m above Capilano River. And it doesn't stop there. Continue your travel from tree top to tree top throughout the park and don't miss the cliff walk.
Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is conveniently located on the North Shore of Vancouver, only 10 minutes from Downtown. The park is easily accessible by public transit or by hoping on one of our Free Shuttle busses departing from Downtown.
For the best experience – get there early or late to avoid the crowds.
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4. STOP FOR BRUNCH
The best sandwiches in town! Simple, fast, delicious is the foundation of Meat & Bread and we promise you a real treat! High quality sandwiches, of good value, and prepared with skill as well as heart. Try out Porchetta, Meatball, Grilled Cheese or the daily special. The first shop that opened its doors in 2010 in the historic Gastown neighborhood of Vancouver and you find another one a up in Victoria. It's open Monday to Friday 11 am to 4 pm.
Looking for a casual lunch, brunch or dinner? Head to Bestie (German for ‘beast’ and North American for ‘best friend’). The tiny, bustling restaurant serves a surprisingly delectable version of currywurst, a popular German street food that consists of bratwurst sausage covered in curry ketchup. The menu, from its perfect French fries and incredible mustard selection, to the zesty rotating salad features, is completely dialled in, and so is the atmosphere.
Run by a cadre of music lovers, the stereo is always setting the correct mood in their friendly little sausage parlour, where you can flop into a brightly coloured booth, or polish the copper bar with your elbows alongside a host of reverent regulars. Have a sudden hankering for currywurst? Just look for the neon sausage.
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RUN YOUR HEART OUT 5.
Avid runners and casual joggers alike know that going for a run is one of the best ways to explore a city. Marathoners will be psyched to tackle the Sea Wall’s full, meandering 30 kilometers that cover the nearly all the city’s waterfront from the port to its westernmost tip. The 10 km of Sea Wall that rings Stanley Park will bring you eventually to Third Beach which, in the heat of summer, is more like an open-air nightclub than public park, alive with Vancouver’s hip and leisurely.
Head further west past the disco-dancing rollerskaters and soccer players at Sunset beach and you’ll find False Creek, where you can pause for a picnic in Creekside Park, before the iconic Science World—a giant, silver, space-age dome that watches over the Crosstown area with its friendly blinking lights. It’s ideal for taking in sunsets.

Want some company? Don’t miss out on the Fraser Street Run Club for adventurous locals – they meet 7pm every Tuesday at Point Grey Track and 7pm every Friday at the Clubhouse, which is followed by beers and good conversation.

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6. KICK BACK AND REJUVENATE
6. KICK BACK & REJUVENATE
Whistler boasts some of the most exhilarating ski runs in the world - from boundless back country to perfectly groomed pistes. Whether you snowboard, ski, or charge around the mountain trails when they morph into a summer vista, one thing’s for certain: at the end of a long adrenaline-fuelled day, it pays to find a way to unwind.
Tucked just north of Whistler Village lies Scandinave Spa, an authentic Scandinavian eco retreat in the middle of a spruce and cedar forest. Hydrotherapy treatments will keep your aches and cramps at bay, as you slip between saunas, steam baths and cold plunges and fall into a relaxed daze.
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GET SOME GREAT VIEWS 7.
You don’t have to leave the city to start your outdoors adventure. Strictly for those who love a challenge, the Grind is a 2.9 km climb up the side of Grouse Mountain, which sits squarely above the city amongst the North Shore Mountains. If you brave the trail, you’ll spend 60 to 90 minutes climbing 2,830 stairs to gain 853 metres in elevation.
A stunning panoramic view of Vancouver and its surrounds (perfect for those jealousy-inducing selfies you’ll post for the folks at home), burgers and beer (you’ll certainly be thirsty), and a ride down the mountain in a gondola (sigh of relief).
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8. DISCOVER A SECRET FOOD SPOT
8. SECRET FOOD SPOT
In the hinterland between historic and trendy Gastown and semi-industrial yet rapidly gentrifying Railtown, sits a tiny house on a corner. When you find it go inside, put your name on the list and wait patiently for a table (the Alibi Room and the Vancouver Urban Winery are both nearby for a quick sip to pass the time, and Luigi will text when your table’s ready).
The food – scrumptious antipasti and fresh pasta from scratch served family style – and the room – teak walls and tiles, lively open kitchen, a little jazz playing in the background – are worth the wait and then some.
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Soak up the city's art 9.
After a long week of skiing, what better way to shake off the thigh-burn then by soaking up a little culture? The Wing Sang Building is the oldest building in Vancouver’s Chinatown and home to the Rennie Gallery, one of the largest collections of contemporary art in Canada. Over four decades Bob Rennie, a local real estate mogul, has assembled works by over 200 artists.
The gallery hosts two exhibitions a year, which are free to attend but by appointment only. If you’re looking for a less formal scene, visit the Untitled Art Space just around the corner.

A block or two further on lies Centre A and Access Gallery, home to work that explores the cultural intersections of the neighbourhood and more experimental art practices.
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