Consistently ranked as one of the world's most liveable cities, Vancouver lures visitors with its abundance of natural beauty, multicultural vitality, and cosmopolitan flair. The attraction is as much in the range of food choices—the fresh seafood and local produce are some of North America's best—as it is in the museums, shopping opportunities, and beaches, parks, and gardens. Indeed, the Vancouver package is a delicious juxtaposition of urban sophistication and on-your-doorstep wilderness adventure.
The mountains and seascape make Vancouver an outdoor playground for hiking, skiing, kayaking, cycling, and sailing—and so much more—while the cuisine and arts scenes are equally diverse, reflecting the makeup of Vancouver's ethnic (predominantly Asian) mosaic. Yet despite all this vibrancy, the city still exudes an easy West Coast style that can make New York or London feel, in comparison, edgy and claustrophobic to some.
More than 8 million visitors each year come to this, Canada's third-largest metropolitan area, and thousands more are expected now that it has strutted its stuff on the Olympic world stage. Because of its peninsula location, traffic flow is a contentious issue. Thankfully, Vancouver is wonderfully walkable, especially in the downtown core. The North Shore is a scoot across the harbour, and the new rapid-transit system to Richmond and the airport means that staying in the more affordable burbs doesn't have to be synonymous with sacrificing convenience. The mild climate, exquisite natural scenery, and relaxed outdoor lifestyle keep attracting residents, and the number of visitors is increasing for the same reasons. People often get their first glimpse of Vancouver when catching an Alaskan cruise, and many return at some point to spend more time here.