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Destination profile: Vancouver

Consistently found topping lists of the world’s most liveable cities, Vancouver’s charms are myriad. Wedged between sea and mountains, its natural setting rivals the likes of Rio and Cape Town while its creative enthusiasm sites it firmly on North America’s West Coast. Taste your way through artisan cafés and craft breweries, marvel at world-class art installations and sample what is Canada’s most vibrant dining scene. Predicated on the city’s multicultural past, you’ll be treated to everything from Japanese izakaya pubs to a full spread of just-caught seafood. Take it all in on cobbled-street walks through the city’s historic centre or a stroll along the city’s five-mile-long seawall, fringed by mountains and dense forests. And Vancouver is also the idyllic springboard for ventures throughout Western Canada, detailed below. Vancouver Island It’s not difficult to get a taste of the Canadian wilds, even from the city’s downtown. A simple, hour-long ferry hop will bring you to Vancouver Island, a 500km-long stretch of diversity that careers between rainforests and meadows, beaches and rocky outcrops, mountains and rivers. It’s all animated by a stunning selection of wildlife, ranging from black bears to humpback whales. Explore with pretty hikes, kayak rides or simply long afternoons spent fishing for salmon in babbly brooks. You’ll also find all of that classic Canadian cheer in the island’s fiercely proud communities, founded on logging and fishing outposts. Banff and Jasper As you turn inland into Alberta, you’ll quickly be greeted by the sight of the majestic, snowcapped Rockies rising above their foothills’ old-growth forests. This is a land of epic road trips as high mountain passes bring you to shimmering lakes and hidden waterfalls. For the best of this continent-defining scenery, make your way to Banff and Jasper, a pair of national parks joined by the Icefields Parkway. This sweeping route showcases some of the finest landscapes the Rockies have to offer, offering plenty of opportunity to stop off and take in one of the ancient glaciers that ooze as great colossi down giant slopes. The Rocky Mountaineer If you’d rather the train take the strain, the Rocky Mountaineer is for you. Ranking among the world’s greatest rail journeys, its routes skirt emerald lakes, map cragged mountain contours and cross raging rivers on wooden trestle bridges. All the while, you’ll enjoy stops in key locations, gourmet dining and views from panoramic windows; watch as bald eagles twist and turn to catch thermal currents and grizzly bears forage in the woods. And, if your driver spots something, he’ll be sure to slow down and point it out. Whistler A drive along the Sea-to-Sky Highway from Vancouver will see you trace coastal curves, plunge through dense forests and wind up into giant peaks. Along the way, be sure to make a stop at Shannon Falls, a 481-metre-high waterfall. You’ll then arrive into Whistler – a pretty alpine town that made its name as a ski resort. However, outside of the wintry fun, its slopes melt into biking trails, hiking routes and championship-standard golf courses. There’s also a wide array of water sports hosted by its fi ve glimmering lakes. Our top tip? Take the Peak 2 Peak Gondola up to panoramic views of glaciers, extinct volcanoes and snowy mountainscapes from 7,000 feet. Alaska Vancouver is a perfect launchpad for cruises up to Alaska. You’ll follow a fissured coastline, sailing the Inside Passage to weave along narrow straits and past wind-carved islands to join the fishing boats that stop at remote communities. This was the route that brought prospectors north during the Klondike Gold Rush, something remembered by a series of historic frontier outposts. It’s also possible to spot everything from whales and dolphins to bald eagles and puffins, backdropped by towering granite cliffs, white-dusted mountains and cascading waterfalls. Then, once you arrive into Alaska, you’ll be treated to a world of outdoor adventure. Stop off at Gold Rush towns and native villages as you make your way to giant glaciers, ancient rainforests and mountain passes plied by historic railroads. Don’t miss out on the region’s favourite sport – dogsledding. Who to cruise with There’s a wide range of options for cruises to Vancouver and Alaska, such as Azamara Cruises, Celebrity Crusies, Crystal Cruises, Holland America Line, Regent Seven Seas Crusies, Seabourn and Silversea. Scott Anderson is General Manager at The Luxury Cruise Company. The Luxury Cruise Company is your port of call for incredible cruise holidays. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

Scott Anderson

Scott is one of the most well-travelled people, having visited more than 70 countries and counting. He has worked in the cruise industry since he was 19 years old, beginning as a cruise ship photographer and duty free shop manager, and knows more than most how enjoyable cruising can be.

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  1. The Rocky Mountaineer train really does sound like one of the world’s great train journeys. But where does it start and where does it finish? Or is it a circular journey? Would I need to book tickets or can I just turn-up? And how reliable is the timetable if the driver slows down for the sights? Though I’m not complaining about the chance to get great views of the wildlife.

    1. Hello Sally.
      The Rocky Mountaineer offers a number of departures either form Calgary to Vancouver or from Vancouver. You can also do round-trip Vancouver. You would need to book tickets in advance as the train gets full and you need to book a seat. The time table is very reliable – the driver doesn’t slow down to look at the scenery – and you stay in hotels overnight rather than on the train itself. Visit our site for more details.

  2. I’ve never been on a cruise and I don’t really see myself as a cruise type of person and the same goes for my wife. Though the one thing that we agree on is that if we were to do any cruise it would be an Alaska cruise. Where else or how else would you get to see all that wildlife and such a spectacularly beautiful coastline.,One of the few sports or activities that I haven’t tried yet is dog- sledding, dying to give that a go. Not so sure though that the wife is as keen to try that one.

    1. Andy, I’m the complete opposite to you. I love cruises. I don’t think I’ve been on a holiday in the last 6 years that wasn’t a cruise. But you are 100% right about an Alaska Cruise. If you are only going to do one cruise then that’s the one to select. Who knows you might enjoy it so much that you’ll be converted and want to do some more cruises?

    2. Hi Andy and Chris
      Yes I agree with Chris, if you want to try a first cruise then Alaska is the one to go on – just make sure you select the right cruise line to go with to ensure it meets your expectations. Either smaller expedition style or larger resort style. A good travel agent can guide you!

  3. I have a fellow blogging friend living out in Vancouver, though I’m not sure of the specific location. She absolutely adores it, think she’s lived there about 20 odd years and wouldn’t move for the world now. She did offer to have me stay there for a few weeks if I wanted to visit, but I took this as one of those kind gestures she didn’t expect me to say yes to – I’m so tempted to take her up on the offer now! It’s going to be pretty chilly there now though and I’m not a fan of the cold. I wonder what the summer is like there, or when’s the best time to visit and explore given as that you’d want to be outdoors for the most part to appreciate the natural beauty of the area and check out places like the Rockies? I’m also not sure of visa requirements going there for a 2+ week holiday. I’m seriously considering it now but I think the problem would be not wanting to come back home to the miserable UK, where Brexit will probably still be being debated!

    1. Hi Michelle!
      Vancouver can get quite warm in the summer, up to 22 degrees, but yes, at this time of year a bit chilly – but I would take your friend up on the offer. You shouldnt need a visa but requirements can change so check with your travel agent or on the foreign office website, then book a flight!

  4. Your explanation of the sight seeings near Vancouver is so detailed with beautiful photos. Thanks a lot.
    The world has incredible beauty which makes us visit new places for sure.

  5. Before the pandemic my friend seemed to go on holiday to Vancouver at least once a year. And she’s forever trying to persuade me to book a trip too. I thought that I’d do some research to see if the city lives up to its hype and it looks as if it does.

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