Canada was one of the bucket list destinations I crossed off my list in 2018, and Vancouver quickly became one of my all time favourite cities! To me, Vancouver feels so much like home. I’d go as far to say that Vancouver is like a brother to Sydney, as I find that the cities share so many things in common from the food and culture, to the people! We were able to visit twice last year, first for a few days during Autumn, and also for a full week just before Christmas. Vancouver during the holidays is so spectacularly magical and truly underrated! Below are some of my favourite things we ate and saw over the week, I would love to know any future recommendations if you’ve ever been, as I know I’ll be back to this city much sooner rather than later!
The food at Popina Canteen is really hearty & wholesome. Located by the water on Granville Island, it’s a really fun take on some classic fast food dishes. We tried so many dishes including the Sunday chicken special (my fave), along with their specialty burgers, lobster roll, & seafood platter. The serving sizes are very generous, and we finished every last bit! Oh, and I couldn’t say no to the Malteser ice cream for dessert, so I pretty much rolled my way out of the restaurant afterwards.
Coquille is a new restaurant that opened in 2018 in the heart of Vancouver’s historic Gastown District. A modern spin on a classic fish house concept, the restaurant offers a creative menu of quintessential seafood and shellfish dishes accompanied by a wide-ranging drink menu. The food was absolutely divine and we left feeling so content! We surprisingly managed to squeeze in dessert at the end and I’m so glad we did because the pumpkin cheesecake was one of the best cheesecakes I’ve ever had!
Nightingale was just a two minute walk away from our hotel, The Fairmont Pacific Rim. This was probably my favourite meal while we were in town, and the photos really don’t do it justice! The restaurant has one of the coolest vibes, and serves up tapas style dishes. Famous for it’s pizza, we tried some (and went to pizza heaven) along with four other sharing dishes from the menu that really blew us away. Each dish only got better and better, the flavours were absolutely phenomenal. I’d highly recommend this spot for couples to try out, but even better would be to head over as a group of friends, just so you can share more of the menu!
The Botanist at The Fairmont Pacific Rim
On our first night we were treated to a true sensory cocktail experience at our hotel, Fairmont Pacific Rim! My friend who is local to Vancouver told me that she loves to visit this bar just for the cocktails and now I see why! The cocktails served here are a work of art, making it such a fun experience! Following our mini show and tasting at the bar, we were treated to dinner in The Botanist’s Dining Room. It was an amazing welcome dinner and I can’t recommend it enough!
Long Table Sushi Experience at Fairmont Pacific Rim
We enjoyed so much seafood in this city! Photos don’t do this meal justice, but this was the longest sushi platter I’ve ever seen! Served to feed four or more, the restaurant offers this long table sushi experience during their lunch service. Oh, and the miso soup is a must try!
Granville Island was one of my favourite places we visited in Vancouver. The island is filled with so many cute shops and has such an amazing vibe!
We actually made it up here twice! The first time we came during the weekend, which was a mistake. It’s the perfect day for families to come so it was quite crowded and a little windy when we first arrived, so we decided to come back on another day when it would be much more quiet. We came back on a Monday afternoon at around 4pm and found the place to be so quiet and peaceful! We had a car with us for our entire stay, so it made the drive up here super easy to do. The drive from town to Grouse Mountain is only about twenty minutes in good traffic. The mountain and visiting times is very weather dependent, but it’s really easy to check online if the mountain is open for the day you decide to visit. There’s even cameras on their website so you can see how busy it is or if it’s super windy! I mainly wanted to come up here for the light walk, which we did in around an hour. Although there are so many other fun activities like ice skating, sledding, and of course skiing and snowboarding! There’s also a cafe and indoor area if it gets too cold. Oh and definitely make sure you wear snow shoes otherwise it will be a bit like a slip & slide during the walk!
VanDusen Botanical Gardens
I’ve seen so many botanical gardens all around the world, but I’ve never seen one quite like this. The light display at the VanDusen Botanical Gardens was truly next level! The park has been sectioned off and decked out for the most amazing light show & experience. Despite the large number of people visiting the gardens, it’s a really large space so it was easy for us to take photos! And everyone was so polite and aware of each other when taking photos. There’s so much going on here, we spent roughly 2-3 hours to be able to see the whole display.
Vancouver Christmas Markets
Just across the road from our hotel we found the Vancouver Christmas Markets. The markets have actually been running for many years and is a tradition in Vancouver. Here you’ll find live singing, stalls filled with food & shopping, several rides & photo opps too!
Aurora Light Festival
The Aurora Light Festival made it’s debut in Vancouver this year. The festival is basically an expanded version of the Christmas Markets, with so much to see and do after dark from rides and ice skating, to food and shopping!
St Paul’s Vancouver Lights of Hope
The St Paul’s Foundation puts on this incredible Lights of Hope display every year. The annual display takes six weeks to build by over 150 volunteers using donated materials. The display features over 10km of lights, 100,000 bulbs and hundreds of sponsored stars. It is also their biggest fundraiser of the year for that patients at St. Paul’s.
I visited Gaston during my earlier visit in October and this part of town feels festive all year long. The streets are constantly lined with lights and there are so many cute bars and restaurants in the whole neighbourhood. Most tourists come to see the famous steam clock, which I also did during my last visit! It’s just so nice to walk around here during the evening and pop in and out of some bars, which we did on several nights!
Capilano Suspension Bridge
Before ever visiting Vancouver, I had seen so many images of Capilano Suspension Bridge, so it was always what came to mind when I ever thought of VanCity! We were lucky enough to enter without any other tourists, as soon as they opened at 11am! As we visited during the holiday season we were also able to check out the lights during the evening, which was even more magical. Beware if you are afraid of heights!
I went to Vancouver in the summer, and I love how you portrayed the city so beautifully!
Beautiful post Tara. I’m from Toronto, Canada but have yet to visit Vancouver. I definitely can see how you relate Sydney to Vancouver. Also, after seeing your post, I want to check out the Popina place and the Capilano Suspension Bridge.
I’m not sure if my previous comment went through but I definitely want to visit Popina and Capilano Bridge.
I live here now and I have been to many of these places! I love these photos! You even gave some locations I need to check out!
looks all so amazing! 🙂
So happy you enjoyed Vancouver! Also, thanks for the awesome restaurant recommendations. I’m a local here, but haven’t heard of Popina until now. (Guess that new year new me gym bod can wait hahaa.) Please come visit us again next time!!! <3
This post makes me want to go back to Vancouver! I feel like I’ve missed so much lol. The first time it was way to cold outside to do anything and the second time was to get to Whistler. Definitely want to go visit and spend more time there now. Beautiful pictures!
Wow! Absolutely breathtaking! The places, the photos, and you!!! I am so excited to get to read more about you and your travels, keep up the fantastic work 🙂
Ahh wow! Amazing post! The pictures are so magical!
Wow Tara! I love your blog and it’s really inspired me. This post is so magical. Great work!
Love the photos! I’ve lived in Vancouver for a few years now, and I think you really nailed the classic activities here. I went to Nightingale myself for the first time a few months ago, and I think it’s my new favourite restaurant! 🙂