Known for hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics and the 1954 Commonwealth Games, the city of Vancouver has long been an important international port. The sports events and the impressive reputation of the city have made it an increasingly popular tourist destination. Vancouver is repeatedly named as one of the top five cities in the world for quality of life, making holidays to Canada even more enjoyable.
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A big tourist attraction in good weather is Stanley Park, a sprawling green space with almost 17 miles of forest trails. Take the kids walking or cycling, and stop for a picnic at the pavilion.
Playland is the city's theme park, with rollercoasters and spinning rides for a real adrenaline rush. In winter you can take to the slopes at the Cypress Mountain Ski Area, and in summer explore the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park.
On your holidays in Vancouver, stop by one of the city's many museums and gardens. The VanDusen Botanical Garden has been open since 1975, and the plants and trees come from all around the world. There's also the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, representing the style of the Ming Dynasty.
Take in some culture at the Museum of Vancouver. Exhibitions take you through the 20th and 21st centuries in Vancouver with interactive displays, period clothing and replicas. There's also a lot to see and do at Science World, especially for the kids.
Vancouver has the most diverse population in the whole of Canada. More languages are spoken here and people of more different ethnicities live here than anywhere else in the country. From a cheap Vancouver hotel – booked through lastminute.com – you'll have plenty of culture on your doorstep.
See the influences of Japanese culture in the cherry trees around the city and at the Nitobe Memorial Garden. Vancouver also has a large Chinatown district, a Punjabi market and an Italian Cultural Centre.
The city has a cosmopolitan atmosphere and a wide variety of shops. Robson Street is one of the best-known areas for shopping, and The Bay nearby is Canada's ultimate department store. Pacific Centre covers three blocks and has a direct indoor link to the SkyTrain public transit system.
For traditional souvenirs and gifts, stop by the Gastown area of Vancouver. Hudson House Trading Company is one of the more prominent shops, offering proper Canadian maple syrup and themed kitchenware and clothing.