Vancouver – Hints, tips and must do’s during Winter. Vancouver was our first stop on our White Christmas 2016 adventure, as Air Canada flies direct Brisbane to Vancouver each day – 13+ hours flying and voila you are there. See our pictorial review of our accommodation here.
Facts – Vancouver is located on the south west side of Canada, on the coast, but is sheltered from extreme weather by Vancouver Island (our second stop). The city itself has a population of 600K plus, but apparently, the Metro area as a whole is 2M plus, so third largest city after Toronto and Montreal (our fourth stop). Its climate is considered ‘mild’ all year round and rarely drops below freezing – snowfall is quite rare.
So when we landed Vancouver airport, it was so pretty for us, and so unusual for the City. The cab ride into downtown Vancouver was amazing – looking into the suburban streets and seeing pristine snow in the front yards and the streets, was magical to us. It had been snowing for a few days, however was expected to disappear over the few days we were there. So we were lucky to experience snow falling, and then sleeting, then sunny skies during our visit. Our ‘It’s Snowing’ video can be viewed here.
Some ‘must do’s and tips that we found are –
Stanley Park –
- Most attractions and eateries are closed from November onwards, during winter months, and especially when snowing.
- There was only one place open for food, being the Stanley Park Bar and Grill.
- The horse drawn carriages only run from March to October – so exploring the Park on foot is your only option.
- It is very picturesque walking along The Seawall – ranked as the world’s longest uninterrupted waterfront path, 28klm, ‘Seaside Greenway’ is an uninterrupted pathway, including The Seawall (9 klms), that extends from the Vancouver Convention Centre to Spanish Banks Park. Check out our pictorial review here.
Ice Hockey game –
- Attend a game if you can – Rogers Arena is the home stadium for the Vancouver Canucks. The game we saw was against the Winnapeg Jets – Vancouver won.
- Wear your coats – even with the crowds, the stadium is still chilly.
- Allow almost 3 hours for the game. There are 3 x 20 min periods interspaced with 18 minute intervals plus lots of time-outs. We realised that the 18 min intervals allow for the Zamboni to come out – it shaves the ice, scoops up the shavings into a storage tank on the Zamboni, while a separate heated water tank is used to spread water on the shaved ice behind it – it then refreezes. See some videos of the game here.
- Coming from Australia, where there is a café on most corners, we found it difficult to find quick casual dining. Ask at Reception of your accommodation for recommendations and also directions to specific dining streets, such as Yaletown. Watch our ‘Foods of North America’ video.
Capilano Suspension Bridge –
- I would recommend arriving early afternoon – say an hour before sunset – so you can enjoy the lights coming on. We arrived in the dark, so could not see as much down into the riverbed, or in the treetop walkways. Watch our video here to enjoy the swaying bridge and pretty lights.
- We were taking a Ferry across to Vancouver Island, to stay in Victoria, through BC Ferries Connector.
- Confirm your transfer the day prior and arrange to be collected at the closest ‘pick up’ point to your hotel. Ours was ‘Rosedale on Robson’ which was one block walk from our accommodation, L’Hermitage.
- A large bus comes to the ‘pick up’ location and your luggage goes straight on. You then travel to the Bus Station, where you can get off; they take on more passengers and you then depart to the ferry.
- The bus drives onto the Ferry – you get off bus on the ferry, go up top – to explore, eat etc.
- Then you get back on the bus (on the ferry) and drive off ferry on same bus – into Victoria downtown.
- Tap water comes out cloudy but settles and it is rated as some of the best drinking water in the world.
- Try and stay at a family owned or small chain accommodation. We stayed at L’Hermitage, and found that the staff were a lot more attentive, and offered more personal service, often over and beyond the norm. The L’Hermitage offered a car service around the CBD area, which was perfect in the snowy weather.