There aren't too many cities in the world that offer Vancouver's combination of big-city lifestyle and outdoor fun in such cheek-by-jowl proximity. Ski in the morning, sail in the afternoon, and still make it back to town in time for a cocktail or three. No wonder it's one of the cities that routinely tops those lists of the world's greatest places to live.
Beyond the breathtaking snowcapped crags, city-hugging beaches and dense waterfront forests lies a comparatively young metropolis that's still trying to discover its true identity. Vancouver is a city of new immigrants - wander the streets and you'll hear a dozen different languages. The city also attracts young professionals and artists from the eastern provinces who come here to enjoy its recreation and laid-back sophistication.
Day 1: Vancouver City
If you're only in town for a brief amount of time, take a morning tour of Vancouver to see all the highlights - Stanley Park, Chinatown, Gas Town, Lookout Observatory and Granville Island. Or travel at your own pace with a choice of a hop-on hop-off trolley tour, jumping on or off at 24 stops, or the open-top or double-decker hop-on hop-off bus tour . If gardening's your passion, go behind the scenes on a very special private tour of Vancouver's gardens, including a classic Chinatown garden, sunken gardens and botanical gardens. And at sunset, one of Vancouver's tip-top must-do experiences is a Grouse Mountain sunset tour, riding an aerial tramway high above the forest for breathtaking views over Vancouver as the sun goes down.
Day 2: Vancouver Country
Vancouver is seductively poised for countless day trips, including personalized private tours . Closest to home are Capilano Bridge and Grouse Mountain and the neighborhood eco tour of Vancouver's surrounds, including the Maplewood Flats bird sanctuary, Deep Cove and Mount Seymour Provincial Park. Victoria Island and Butchart Gardens is the top tour from Vancouver, combining Victoria's downtown attractions and one of the most beautiful landscaped gardens in the world. Traveling further afield, ride a train to Whistler for a day of pristine Canadian beauty.
Day 3: Vancouver Adventure
Vancouver is brilliantly positioned to take a scenic air tour. Capture stunning aerial views of the city by seaplane, tour British Columbia's rugged Fjordland by seaplane, and even go whale-watching from Victoria by seaplane. Spot more whales on a Vancouver whale-watching cruise by high-speed boat – and look out for porpoises, Minke whales and sea elephants. There's more ocean wildlife to spot on a Howe Sound Sea Safari, with spectacular views of Vancouver from the water. Anyone can take a small group kayaking adventure in a two-seater sea-kayak, and after reward your intrepid nature with a salmon barbecue on a deserted island.