Regularly named as one of the world's most livable cities, friendly Vancouver is a place where you may find yourself nursing a deep case of envy. Yes, the locals really do get to live in this stunning setting, and partake of the great outdoors and delicious local food.
Icelandair offers regular cheap flights to Vancouver from the UK and Europe. You can experience just how livable a big city is when beaches, forests, and mountains are on your doorstep.
Before you sample west-coast Canada cool, how about checking out Nordic cool in Reykjavík? When you book flights to Vancouver with Icelandair you have the opportunity to add a stopover in Iceland at no additional airfare.
Just to the north of downtown is the city's treasure: Stanley Park. This thousand-acre playground is a recreational feast, offering seawall paths, forest trails, viewpoints, beaches, lakes and children's play areas. The beautiful First Nation totem poles at Brockton Point provide the perfect photo opportunity, plus there's an enthralling aquarium here. Hire a bike and get among it!
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. There's no shortage of indoor diversions in the city, chiefly the Vancouver Art Gallery. Don't miss a stroll around the historic Gastown neighborhood, where old meets new in stylish bars and boutiques.
Thanks to decades of immigration to this multicultural city, Vancouver claims to have the best Asian dining in North America. It's a big assertion, backed by some brilliant restaurants offering all the Far East flavors you could wish for. A wander around Chinatown is a great way to work up an appetite - and note that fresh global flavors (not just Asian) can be found all over town.
All the global foodie movements are present and accounted for in Vancouver: food trucks, food festivals, farm-to-table dining, food tours, fresh and sustainable seafood, craft beer and distilleries. If these topics tickle your fancy, so too will the sensational Granville Island Public Market, a where you can grab a sit-down snack or prepare a first-class picnic.
The outdoors beckons, but so too does cool food and sightseeing. Take the ferry to Vancouver Island and explore picturesque Victoria, the capital of the province - maybe do a little whale watching while you're here. If Asian food has you transfixed, head from Vancouver to nearby Richmond for authentic night markets courtesy of the area's sizable Asian communities.
It's 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. The Sea to Sky Highway (Highway 99) runs between Vancouver and Whistler and you couldn't ask for a more breathtaking drive.