It’s a fact that no matter where I am in the world, people’s faces always light up when they hear where I’m from.
Whether it’s a Turkish shopkeeper in the middle of a busy market, or a very drunk Aussie at a student bar, there’s a common sentiment that Vancouver (yes, my proud hometown) is in fact the best city in the world.
Growing up in this glassy metropolis, I admit I’ve often taken it for granted. It’s not until I’m far off somewhere in the world, craving a cheesy poutine or the fresh mountain air that I realize: hey, Vancouver’s pretty darn great.
So, after dozens of flights and 30 countries travelled, I think a part of me is ready to admit the truth…
Vancouver, might just be the greatest city in the world.
Here are my 35 reasons why:
- You can ski, go kayaking and lay on the beach… all in the same day. I know this sounds too good to be true, but it’s the epic reality for all Vancouverites. With our unique landscape and coastal location, you can literally go from the slopes of a snowy mountain to lazing on the beach within a few hours, not to mention feast on all-you-can-eat sushi after.
- Gorgeous parks. Vancouver is big on green spaces, so you’ll find beautiful parks all around the city to enjoy. No joke, there’s even one called ‘Dude Chilling Park’ (yes with its own official sign and everything).
- It’s a haven for active people: Picturesque running trails, a city-wide love for yoga and a food scene that has embraced the idea of eating clean and well… Vancouver brings out the fit person in all of us, or at least pushes us to live better (while still enjoying our fair share of artisan donuts).
- Of course, it’s also a haven for foodies: Vancouver’s food scene is as ‘on trend’ as it gets, and it reaaaally doesn’t take long for the latest food craze to hit the city. Eager to drink your bubble tea out of lightbulbs or tuck into a fresh, poké burrito? We’ve got that, and pretty much any other crazy food item you’ve seen on Instagram.
- Quirky public art: Between giant jellybeans along the water, a bright pink alleyway, and our beloved lego Orca whale, some might think that Vancouver was just plucked out of a kid’s imagination. Be that as it may, these random pieces of art make Vancouver all the more dynamic and lovable.
- Our metro is in the sky. Yep, this is real life. As you’ll quickly find out, a key part of Vancouver’s public transport is our (mostly) above-ground metro system, the Skytrain, which yes, is as a cool as it sounds…
- Ridiculous natural beauty: Beaches, mountains, rainforest… you name it, we have it, and have (probably) Instagrammed it relentlessly.
- The craft beer scene: My fellow beer guzzlers will be happy to know that in recent years, the craft beer movement has really taken hold in Vancouver, which means over 50 craft brewers in the city, all offering refreshing, unique brews for all palettes.
- The seawall: Vancouver is the proud home of “the world’s longest uninterrupted waterfront path”, which stretches from the downtown Convention Centre to Spanish Banks park. A big chunk of this is the world-famous Stanley Park seawall, which is the dreamiest cycling/running path I’ve encountered in my whole life. Beautiful views along the entire way, this one perk alone makes Vancouver one of the greatest cities in the world.
- The incredible glass skyline: All it takes is one look at our picturesque skyline to fall head over heels. I mean, we’re known as the City of Glass for a reason.
- There’s a rainforest 10 minutes away from the downtown core… which is pretty badass, I think.
- Awesome hikes: Whether you want to climb a mountain or opt for something a little more low key, Vancouver is home to countless hikes with views that will blow you away. Fun fact: there’s even groups that organize sunrise hikes, so you can watch the sun come up from the city’s tallest peaks.
- We have 4 seasons making it beautiful all year round: Whether with bright red leaves on the ground, snow on the trees, flowers in full bloom or with the summer sun shining bright, Vancouver’s beauty is always very much on point.
- We have #1 rated amenities: Don’t just take my word for it. Vancouver’s greatness has been recognized on the world stage on several occasions. Our airport for example has, a few times, been named #1 in the world, as has our public library.
- There’s always something going on: Being a big city has its entertainment perks, including tons of concerts (both big and small) and ample sporting events where loud (drunken) shouting is of course encouraged. From cheering on the Canucks and BC Lions on game day to riding rollercoasters at one of Canada’s largest summer fairs (the Pacific National Exhibition), you can trust that there’s always something for you do in Vancouver.
- Badass street art: On walls throughout the city, you’ll find plenty of rad art pieces that will send your artsy heart aflutter. This past summer alone saw the creation of over 50 new murals as part of the Vancouver Mural Festival. On that note, Vancouver is also amazing for its…
- Countless community events: Whether it’s big events like music festivals (Vancouver International Jazz Festival, FVDED in the Park and CONTACT), or smaller ones like outdoor movies, there’s always some kind of excuse to head out and mingle with your fellow community members. The annual summertime Car Free Day, which is a massive street party that brings over 25,000 people together, is one of my personal favourites.
- Public transit is easy and convenient: Hop on a bus or Skytrain and you’re easily connected to the rest of the city! There’s even a little ferry (the Seabus) that takes you to North Vancouver, all for the price of a regular ticket. Cheap boat ride? Kaching!
- It’s ridiculously photogenic:Take it from this crazy photographer girl, Vancouver is one photogenic dreamboat, with its gorgeous skyline, picture-perfect waterfront and incredible mountains… Oh, and there’s some pretty good looking people to boot.
- Fun markets: We Vancouverites are as spoiled as they come for fresh produce. The massive food market at Granville Island is a foodie’s dream, but the many farmer’s markets around the city are pretty cool too.
- We have an awesome International vibe: Vancouver is an insanely multicultural city, and we’ve embraced this diversity as a fundamental part of our culture. This has led to not only the best food scene ever, but a community based on acceptance and mutual respect, which in turn means…
- You’re free to be yourself: Vancouver diversity branches out to more than just race. Our city prides itself on accepting all kinds of lifestyles, interests and whatever else… which means regardless of who you are, you’ll be able to connect with likeminded souls.
- We have an ice cream scene that will blow your mind: Whether you like your ice cream with specialty artisan flavours, in a simple soft serve, prepped with liquid nitrogen or ice fried (yes this is a thing), Vancouver has you covered. In a city where good ice cream is on every corner (with one shop alone that has over 200 flavours of gelato!), it’s hard to not fall in love.
- We also have the craziest desserts: Beyond just ice cream, Vancouver takes dessert seriously, so if you’re looking for delicate French pastries, monster-size cream puffs, ice cream tacos, or really anything else, your sweet tooth will find optimal satisfaction.
- Vancouver is Hollywood North: With dozens of film and TV productions calling Vancouver home, this city is a goldmine for those keen on celebrity hunting or just passing by a set. In the past few years, the city has been transformed into North Korea (The Interview), Seattle (Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey), and countless locations for superhero/sci-fi programs (Star Trek 3, Arrow, The Flash and more). One time, I even accidentally walked right into the set of Godzilla! So, if you’re looking to break into show biz (or you know, just say hi to a celeb at Starbucks), Vancouver’s a pretty good bet.
- The best improv: Vancouver’s TheatreSports on Granville Island is known around the world for its stellar cast and hilarious performances. Everyone I’ve ever brought here has loved it, and having access to this epic source of entertainment is one of many reasons I adore this city so much.
- It’s like a gateway to Asia:With a large part of our multicultural population coming from Asian countries, Vancouver brings some of the best parts of Asia straight to you, whether it’s mouthwatering dim sum and sushi or gorgeous Chinese gardens and cultural performances.
- Food trucks! Japanese hot dogs, perfectly-poached eggs and vegan Indian food are just a few of the tasty eats you can grab from a Vancouver food truck. Who knew some of the best food in the city came on four wheels?
- A hipster-approved coffee scene: Coffee snobs will adore the many third wave coffee shops that have popped up around the city, offering perfectly crafted pour overs and espresso treats. There’s no trendier place than Vancouver to get your caffeine fix!
- Fresh seafood:Being so close to the Pacific Ocean has its perks, and those perks often come in the form of amazingly fresh oysters and mouthwatering salmon. I can’t lie – Vancouver is a seafood lover’s dream… but a waistline’s worst nightmare.
- An independent shopping scene: If you’re tired of the seeing the same brands over and over, Vancouver’s shopping scene boasts all sorts of cool boutiques and vintage shops, which means RIP wallet, but hello awesome new stuff!
- Vancouver is an epic place to be a kid again: All kids at heart can look forward to bouncing at trampoline parks, rolling around heroically at laser tag and getting an adrenaline fix at Playland, one of Canada’s biggest amusement parks. In other words, Vancouver is hella fun.
- Cool museums: No matter what your “thing” is, there’s plenty of opportunities for you to unleash your inner geek. Those interested in art, space, science and whatever else will easily find a museum to go wild in. Both the Vancouver Art Gallery and UBC Museum of Anthropology boast impressive collections featuring thousands of works, while kids (and kids at heart) can let loose at Science World and the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, where of course, there’s an awesome motion simulator.
- It’s close to so many amazing places: No doubt: Vancouver a pretty swishy base for exploring the Pacific Northwest. A two hour drive will bring you up to Whistler, North America’s largest ski resort and its gorgeous nearby hikes, or you could grab a quick ferry ride to BC’s capital of Victoria.
- And last but not least… Canadians are the best! Call me biased, but Canadians are just genuinely nice people. True fact: I heard more “sorrys” and “excuse mes” on my flight home to Vancouver than I did during an entire summer in Europe. No need to worry about getting lost in Vancouver, because some good Samaritan is just waiting to point you in the right direction, eh?
So Vancouverites, tell me – did I miss anything?
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Written and photographed by Christina Guan from Happytowander.com. Christina is a Canadian travel blogger on the prowl for the world’s best in fun, food and beautiful places. You can follow more of her misadventures on her blog and Instagram.