Vancouver occupies the intriguing space between untouched, rugged nature and a thriving 24-hour urban culture. A group of glass-and-metal buildings punctuate the horizon, set against the breathtaking backdrop of the snow-capped North Shore Mountains and surrounded by the cool waters of Vancouver Harbour and the Fraser River. Voted the world's third most 'livable' city in 2014, Vancouver's clean air, active social calendar and famously friendly population make it the perfect choice for a break, or something more permanent.
To delve into the city's eclectic culture, spend an afternoon exploring its past, present and future at the Museum of Vancouver. The museum's circular roof slopes upwards with a gentle curve, resembling the woven basket hats crafted and worn by the region's indigenous First Nation Northwest Coast population. Explore the radical spirit of the '60s and '70s that made the city Canada's hippie capital, or see regional artefacts that tell the story of Vancouver's history. Highlights include a 'seated person' carved bowl, which potentially dates back to 3500 BC, and a 19th century pocket watch that was miraculously rescued from the Great Vancouver Fire.
Another key attraction is the 1,000-acre Stanley Park, which is situated on a peninsula between Vancouver Harbour and English Bay. A collection of totem poles are a fascinating example of First Nation artwork from across British Columbia and the Queen Charlotte Islands. The nine poles in the park are replicas as the originals, some around 130 years old, were taken to a museum to be conserved. The park's beaches and lakes are home to a variety of wildlife, including the magnificent and endangered bald eagle, with its iconic white-feathered head and yellow beak, and elegant great blue herons.
Visit the mountains
Take the iconic glass-ceilinged Rocky Mountaineer train from Vancouver through the dramatic mountain and lake scenery to Whistler Village, a chalet-style ski town in the Coast Mountains which co-hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics. Ride the Peak 2 Peak gondola between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, and visit the iconic rings at the Olympic Park to see where medals were lost and won. The return minibus journey includes a stop at Shannon Falls, which is the third-highest waterfall in British Columbia at a height of 335 metres. Tours leave every Thursday to Sunday between May and September.
Vancouver is known for its world-class skiing, and other winter sports available include dog sledding, snow shoeing and, for the brave, ice-climbing. In summer, hiking is a popular way to see the evergreen mountainous scenery and rocky rivers; many hikers will often catch a glimpse of deer and squirrels along the trails.
Sample local wines
Oenophiles should visit the Penticton region to spend the day tasting the local citrusy Reserve Gewurztraminer at Red Rooster Winery, or the sweet red fruit of Sumac Ridge's Pinot. You can hire a bike to cycle through the vines and tour vineyards including the organic 8th Generation Vineyards, which was founded in 1783.
If you're tempted to stay on in Vancouver after your summer break, its thriving economy and rich combination of cultures make real estate in the city an ideal investment. To discuss buying or selling in Vancouver, visit Engel & Vӧlkers' Vancouver Island shop for expert advice and exclusive properties.