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What to see and do in Vancouver

A view of the city highrises in Vancouver, with spring flowers in the foreground and boats in the foreground

Best time to fly to Vancouver

The friendly city of Vancouver is a great place to visit all year round, with each season bringing a new and different experience for tourists.

Peak season in Vancouver is the summer, which sees the city come alive with festivals, warm weather, and exciting outdoor activities. English Bay is a popular destination for water sports like kayaking, swimming, and sailing – or simply relaxing on the beach!

In the colder months of December to March, skiers and snowboarders flock to Vancouver due to its proximity to Whistler, one of Canada’s most popular ski resorts. If you’re a winter sports fan, then it’s a great time to touch down in Vancouver, but if you’re there to sightsee then the colder temperatures maybe aren’t the most ideal.

If you want to explore the city with milder temperatures yet fewer crowds, then we’d recommend flying to Vancouver between either March and May or September and November. You can expect to find the cheapest plane tickets to Vancouver around this time.

Getting around Vancouver - and beyond

Vancouver has an excellent public transit system (Translink), consisting of trains, buses, and boats. The Canada Line and the SkyTrain Rapid Transit are the most frequently used modes of public transport.

Taxis are plentiful and you can also hire a car to get around, with most major car rental companies operating in the city.

With all this said, Vancouver is actually a very walkable city due to being mostly flat with a compact downtown centre. Cycling is also very popular in Vancouver, with its integrated system of bike routes and a city bike share program.

If you fancy exploring further afield, you can take the ferry to Vancouver Island and explore picturesque Victoria, the capital of the province – a renowned hotspot for whale watching.

Meanwhile, the Sea to Sky Highway (Highway 99) runs between Vancouver and Whistler and you couldn't ask for a more breath-taking drive.

Or, if you’re after culinary pursuits, travel from Vancouver to nearby Richmond for authentic night markets courtesy of the area's bustling Asian communities.

A view of the Burrard Bridge in Vancouver, as pictured from across the water with boats and high rises in shot
A view of the Capilano Suspension Bridge, as viewed from one end looking out over the bridge and surrounding greenery

Things to do in Vancouver

Regularly named one of the world's most liveable cities, Vancouver is a place where you may find yourself nursing a deep case of envy. Just to the north of downtown is the city's treasure: Stanley Park. This thousand-acre playground is a recreational haven, offering seawall paths, forest trails, viewpoints, beaches, lakes and children's play areas.

Want more outdoorsy goodness? Head for the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park on the North Shore for verdant views and some high-elevation thrills. Or scale Grouse Mountain for year-round fun. It's also hard to resist the lure of the renowned ski resort of Whistler, 75 miles north of Vancouver. The village is pretty as a picture blanketed in snow in winter, but it's equally beloved in summer for super-scenic hiking and mountain biking trails.

There’s so much to be explored in nature, but the city’s indoor diversions are just as impressive. The Vancouver Art Gallery and the stylish bars and boutiques of the historic Gastown neighbourhood reflect the real culture of the city. And for fun for all the family, head to Vancouver Aquarium.

Global eats and Asian treats

The multicultural city of Vancouver boasts one of the best Asian dining scenes in North America. It’s a big assertion, backed by some brilliant restaurants offering all the delicious flavours from the Asian continent.

A wander around Chinatown is a great way to work up an appetit, but let it be said that fresh global flavours can be found all over town. All the global foodie movements are present and accounted for in Vancouver.

Travelers can find food from all over the world at food trucks, food festivals, farm-to-table dining, food tours, fresh and sustainable seafood, craft beer and distilleries across the city.

A visit to the sensational Granville Island Public Market is a must for relaxed dining. You can grab a sit-down snack or prepare a first-class picnic while enjoying the waterfront views.

Whatever you choose to eat, you really can’t go wrong. The food scene is of exceptionally high quality in Vancouver.

A hand holds a coffee cup up to the frame. Behind the cup there are people sitting on benches facing a cityscape of Vancouver

FAQs about travel to Vancouver

Helpful information for travellers to Vancouver

What’s the best time to fly to Vancouver?

For the best experience, we’d recommend visiting outside the peak summer season in the spring or autumn. You’ll likely be able to find the cheapest tickets to Vancouver in either November, or January/February.

How long does it take to fly to Vancouver?

On average, it takes around 11-12 hours to fly to Vancouver from Ireland. Icelandair offers regular flights from Europe to Vancouver, including flying from Dublin. View the latest flight tickets to Vancouver using the booking tool at the top of the page.

How do I get from Vancouver airport to the city centre?

The journey from Vancouver Airport (YVR) to downtown Vancouver takes around 20 minutes by car or taxi, and 40 minutes by bus. You can also take the north-south rapid transit line to Waterfront Station (downtown) which takes around 25 minutes.

Can Irish citizens travel to the US from Vancouver?

Irish tourists seeking to extend their trip by visiting the US must obtain an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation) in addition to the eTA (Electronic Travel Authorisation) required for Canada. Both forms must be completed prior to departure.

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