When to go

Summer is the best time to visit this upbeat city on Canada's west coast, with beaches, a great outdoor vibe and direct access to forests and mountains and the attractions of Vancouver Island just across the sound. Or try September, Vancouverites' favourite month, with fewer tourists but weather that's still warm and dry before the winter rains set in.

Stay here
The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver is the city's traditional grand railway hotel, right in the centre of town. For more contemporary style the Shangri-La Hotel is more discreetly located in a new glass tower just around the corner.

Stanley Park is an urban oasis in Vancouver. Photo / Getty Images
Stanley Park is an urban oasis in Vancouver. Photo / Getty Images

Walk here

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Start down by the harbour on Canada Place and follow the shoreline, past the seaplane terminal and Coal Harbour Marina (boat trips available) into Stanley Park to wander at whim and explore the forest trails, lakes and (rather rough and ready) beaches. This must be the most impressive urban park anywhere, a 400ha fragment of indigenous forest with towering red cedars and douglas fir trees.

See this

Much of Vancouver's early colonial architecture has been replaced or eclipsed by contemporary buildings, but the low-rise Victorian brick of the Gastown quarter survives as a relic of the original centre. Rebuilt after a fire in the 1880s, it was brought back to life with restaurants, bars and cool shops in the 60s.

Try this
FlyOver Canada at the cruise ship dock sounds like a slightly naff audio-visual tourist experience, but once you are strapped into your seat it's tremendous fun.

Gastown is where you'll find Vancouver's trendiest vintage and fashion stores. Photo / Tourism Vancouver
Gastown is where you'll find Vancouver's trendiest vintage and fashion stores. Photo / Tourism Vancouver

Shop here

The trendiest vintage and fashion shops are in Gastown. For international brands and Canadian specials such as Canada Goose, go to the main mall under the Nordstrom Pacific Centre.

Drink here
Joe Fortes Seafood and Chop House is an institution, both as a buzzing restaurant and - in summer - for its roof garden bar. Joe's highballs cost $6 during happy hour (4pm-6pm every day).

Eat here

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Fish and Asian cooking are superb in Vancouver, and nowhere better than at Miku, the Japanese restaurant overlooking the port; around $100 a head, including drinks.

GETTING THERE
Air New Zealand flies direct from Auckland to Vancouver. Air Canada launches a direct service in December this year.

DETAILS
tourismvancouver.com

— Telegraph Media Group