To be honest, I can't tell you whether you can get a decent cup of coffee in Vancouver. What I can tell you, however, is that you won't be short of a cup.

On fashionable Robson St right outside my hotel was a Starbucks, and two blocks down on the corner of Thurlow a couple more faced each other across the intersection. And there were independent coffee shops everywhere. The peculiar thing is cosmopolitan Vancouver doesn't feel like it runs on caffeine-fuelled energy.

Quite the opposite. Central Vancouver seems leisurely and is easy to get around: most things are within an easy stroll, whether it be beautiful Stanley Park which commands the north western end of the city, or Granville Island across False Creek to the south.

Granville Island - which is not an island but land reclaimed when False Creek was dredged a century ago - is where a large and permanent market offers everything from fresh seafood to fruit and vegetables, locally made cheeses, and interesting breads. There is also a kids' market.

Granville Island is a tourist magnet, of course (the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design is well worth a look), and getting there is part of the pleasure: small Aquabus ferries make the two minute run across the inlet, and from Granville you can also take them down to Quayside Marina at the foot of Davie St, the gateway to hip Yaletown where fashionable stores and galleries have sprung up in what was once a warehouse district.

The Seawall walk from the Granville St Bridge around the northern side of False Creek is a quiet escape from the urban and urbane streets behind. The city has retained historic buildings such as the century-old courthouse (now the excellent Vancouver Art Gallery), while also allowing for the dramatic modernism of Robson Square and the Law Courts, and the innovatively designed central library, by Moshe Safdie, which looks like a coliseum in the process of gradually unpeeling.

Vancouver can boast all the customary high-end brand stores, but an amble along Robson St, which bisects the city, is where the credit card starts to take a multi-cultural hammering.

Here you can eat Chinese, Korean, Indian ("East Indian" as Canadians refer to it, in deference to their own "Indian" people), Italian and so on, or buy carvings and art works by First Nation people.

Walking is the best way to get a feel for this city. It all feels very relaxed, although take local advice on where to avoid at night.

Of course, if you want to put on a bit of pace you can always have a coffee.

Believe me, you'll be spoiled for choice.

If you go
Orientation: Take the lift 167m up The Lookout, located on Seymour and West Hastings, to enjoy the 360-degree view of the city. Then walk down to Canada Place to pick up a hop-on hop-off Big Bus (C$30 per adult) for a city tour.

Places to stay: Pacific Palisades Hotel at 1277 Robson St is an eco-friendly hotel that has undergone a chic upgrade and now has a breezy Californian feel. Make sure you have an evening cocktail in Zin Restaurant and Lounge next door.

If the Pacific Palisades is a bit beyond your budget, try the Tropicana Suite Hotel, 1361 Robson St. It's just a few doors down the road, so you are still in the hip shopping district.

Things to do: Walk down Thurlow St or Burrard St to the shore by False Creek and along beneath the high-rises, take the ferry to Granville Island for lunch, browse in the market and through the shops. Later, take the ferry to Davie St and walk through trendy Yaletown.

Visit the Vancouver City Art Gallery, the Dr Sun Yat-Sen classical Chinese Garden and Chinese Cultural Centre Museum in Chinatown, the Vancouver Central Library, and Science World.

Take a sunset trip up Grouse Mountain by the aerial tramway. Have dinner in one of the restaurants which specialise in seafood. Try the halibut.

What to buy: Maple syrup, Mountie memorabilia from the store on West Cordova, First Nations and Inuit art, vacuum-sealed salmon marinated in ice wine.