JOIN US IN AN INTERVIEW WITH JUSTINE KINIRONS FROM VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA !
Originally from Ireland, Justine is currently living in Canada and experiencing everything this beautiful country has to offer. She writes about Travel, Style, Beauty and Food on her blog justinekinirons.blogspot.
The city of Vancouver takes its name from Captain George Vancouver, the British officer who explored and charted North America’s northwestern Pacific Coast regions, including British Columbia.
It is the densest seaport city located in the Mainland province of British Columbia. A centre for film and television production, Vancouver has also been ranked among Canada’s most expensive as well as world’s most cleanest city.
What is the best time to visit Vancouver?
Vancouver has so much activities to do all year round so it does not have really have the best time that other places have.
Summers in Vancouver are filled with sunshine every day and very little rain. Hiking, camping and water activities are very popular at this time of the year. Grouse Mountain, Squamish, Joffre Lakes and Deep Cove are all hiking trails that are tough but end with unbelievable views at the top which makes it all so worth it. Watersports such as Kayaking, Canoeing and Paddleboarding can be done at Deep Cove Kayak Centre and is so worthwhile for all the picturesque backdrops while out on the water. Stanley Park, Lighthouse Park, Horseshoe Bay and Queen Elizabeth Park are beautiful spaces to spend a Summer’s Day exploring.
Winter in Vancouver brings a lot of rain to the city but this also means it brings snow to the Mountains. Snowboarding, Skiing and Snowshoeing are an amazing way to spend the Winter. Grouse Mountain, Cypress Mountain and Mount Seymour are all really popular slopes which are within driving and transit distance of the city. There are also so many Christmas markets and events on in the city during the Holiday season that you will always have something to do.
Spring and Fall time can have a lot of the rain that Vancouver is known for so it can be a little more difficult for outdoor activities. This is probably the best time of year to do all the indoor activities that the city has to offer. Vancouver Art Gallery, Science World, Vancouver Lookout and the Vancouver Aquarium are all amazing ways to spend a rainy day in the city.
What are the different modes of transport available from the airport to city?
The transport options when coming from Vancouver International Airport are the Sky Train or Taxis.
The Sky Train Station is located inside the airport and can be easily accessed to bring you downtown within 30 minutes. The train is so convenient and fast that I would definitely recommend this mode of transport from the airport dependent on what time your flight arrives in at and where your final destination in Vancouver is. First train of the day is at 4:48am from Downtown and the last train of the day is at 1:05 am from the Airport.
Taxis are available and waiting outside the arrival terminals. Taxis gotten outside the airport can be expensive so if you are going to get a taxi to your chosen location I would recommend pre-booking it with Yellow Cab Taxi Service or Black Top Cabs to get the best rate.
Unfortunately they don’t currently have Uber or Lyft in Vancouver.
Which is the best area to stay in Vancouver for easy access to tourist sites without putting a dent in one’s budget?
West End – This is a residential area which consists of both Stanley Park and English Bay beach. There is a great selection of cafes and restaurants in the West End on both Denman and Robson Street. You can walk or cycle downtown from here or can also take a number of bus routes.
Kitsilano – This area known as Kits is really popular during the Summer for it’s huge outdoor pool, mountain views and Kitsilano Beach. The neighbourhood is full of organic healthy restaurants and Yoga stores such as Lululemon. There are bus routes serving this area to downtown and you can also walk or bike to your destination.
Downtown – Granville Street in Vancouver is known for its nightlife, neon lights, shopping and food spots. Downtown can be a more expensive area to stay in and does not have as much character as other areas in the city but it is steps away from both the train and bus routes.
I would definitely recommend doing Air BnB in Vancouver as hotels in the city can be very expensive. Any of the areas I have mentioned above would be great areas to stay in an Air BnB.
Which are the best restaurants, cafes and bars in Vancouver? Is it a vegetarian friendly city?
Vancouver is extremely friendly when it comes to catering for vegetarians or vegans and most restaurants cater to all dietary needs. There is a huge choice of places to eat in the city and Vancouver is a foodie’s dream.
Sandbar – This fresh seafood restaurant is located on Granville Island and has not only great food but also has unbelievable views of the harbour. This area can get very busy during the Summer months so make sure to pre-book your dinner date.
Cactus Club – Dinner at the Cactus Club located on English Bay Beach and watching the sun set is one of the best ways to spend an evening in the city. This restaurant is casual fine dining and the menu literally has something for everyone. Make sure to try their famous Frose Cocktail and the great offers on the Happy Hour Food and Drinks menu.
Peaked Pies – Aussie Pies are a must try and Peaked Pies on Denman Street does the best handmade pies in the city. Try the Traditional Aussie Pie served peaked with Mashed Potato, Mushy Peas and Gravy.
Brekka Bakery – This bakery is open 24/7 and does delicious baked goods, breads and coffee. This cafe has a really chilled vibe and is a great place to relax on a rainy day in Vancouver.
Purebread – This spot has a handmade bakery serving breads, treats and coffees. They bake over 20 different loaves and the cakes, scones, brownies and croissants are freshly made daily.
Cafe La Foret – Restaurant, Patisserie and Cafe located in a a former old Auto body Shop. The name “Forêt” means Forest in French and trees and plants surround the interior. This cafe filled with marble, greenery and natural light is the definition of Instagram Goals!
Hotel Georgia – Reflections – This bar is located on the fourth floor of Hotel Georgia and the interior consists of greenery, flowers and soft lighting. Cocktails and Light Tapas inspired dishes in a sophisticated outdoor bar and lounge setting make this spot a must visit. They have a Winter Wonderland Pop-Up during the Christmas season which will give you all the Festive Feels
Score on Davie – Neighbourhood Sports Bar serving Canadian Pub Foods, Local Wines and Craft Beers. It even has an outdoor patio for Summer Drinks and board games inside for Rainy Days. They do great midweek offers on Chicken Wings with a beer.
Which are the top 3 places in Vancouver, which tourists generally overlook but should be visited?
Lonsdale Quay Market – This market is located on the North Shore and contains over 80 shops, Fresh Food Markets, Coffee Docks and a Food Court. Lonsdale pier offers amazing views of the Vancouver Skyline and there are also so many other restaurants, bars and shops dotted around the area. Exploring this North Vancouver gem is a great way to spend an afternoon and is very similar but not as packed as the Granville Island Market.
Deep Cove – This hike is called Quarry Rock hike is located in North Vancouver in the small seaside town of Deep Cove. This town and the views are so beautiful and a look around the shops and cafes the town has to offer is essential. Honey’s Doughnuts is one of the busiest cafes in the town serving their famous Maple Syrup Doughnuts – It is definitely worth the long waiting time to get into the cafe. The hike itself is a little tough as there are a lot of steps involved but wow the views at the top make you forget all about the gruelling climb. Make sure to pack a picnic and sit in the sunshine on the rocks at the top overlooking Horseshoe Bay. It is such an amazing experience and the views at the top will make you fall in love with Nature.
Lynn Canyon Park – Hiking Trails are one of the best things Vancouver has to offer if you love exercise and the outdoors. Lynn Canyon Park is an amazing hike through the forest and also features a suspension bridge, a 30 Foot Pool where you can swim and beautiful Waterfalls. Boardwalks and steps line most of the hike trails so they are very easy to follow and have spectacular views along the way. This is also a free day out compared to the high prices to visit the similar Capilano Suspension Bridge.
What are the best day trips for nature, culture and history from Vancouver?
Whistler – Whistler town is a about a 2 hour drive from the city of Vancouver. The area can be visited in Winter or Summer and is just as beautiful in each season with so much to see and do. The summer months consist of hikes, biking and white water rafting and the Winter months consist of Skiing, Snowboarding and Snowshoeing. The gondola in Whistler brings you right up to the tops of Whistler and Backcomb mountains with beautiful views and scenic nature scenes. The town itself consists of so many restaurants, bars and shops lining the stone cobbled streets and it is the perfect location to spend a weekend in BC.
Make sure to stop off in Squamish at the Sea to Sky Gondola on the way. Take the 10 minute gondola ride to 885m above sea level and cross the Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge and check out the amazing viewpoints such as the Summit Lodge, Chief Overlook and the Spirit Viewing Platform.
Vancouver Island – This island is located just off the Pacific Coast and Victoria, Nanaimo and Tofino are popular tourist destinations for a day or weekend trip away from the city. The Ferry is the main way to access the island which leaves regularly from Vancouver and takes 1-2 Hours depending on where on the island you are going. Stunning architecture, nature walks and amazing food are what you will be greeted to upon arrival to the Island and it is such a relaxing place to spend a day or a weekend.
Grouse Mountain – You can visit Grouse Mountain all year round and do a range of different activities and experience such different scenery and views every time. Summertime means colourful scenery, bears, and the famous “Grouse Grind” hike. Wintertime means the “Peak of Christmas” Winter Wonderland Event, Snowboarding/Skiing, Snow-Shoeing, “Theatre in the Sky” Christmas Movies and picturesque views from the Snowy Mountain.
I would definitely recommend dropping into the Tourism Vancouver Visitor Centre as they can provide you with free information and reservation services and discounts on attractions and sightseeing tours.
Do you recommend any walking tours or travel photography tours to the visitors?
I actually didn’t get the opportunity to attend any walking tours or travel photography tours in the city. I have heard that The Tour Guys, Vancouver Photowalks and Vancouver Foodie Tours all offer very worthwhile walking tours of Vancouver.
Would you recommend any special show to music, dance and drama lovers visiting Vancouver?
Vancouver Symphony Orchestra – The Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver is home to the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. Not only is the building architecturally stunning, they also show popular movies with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra performing the full soundtrack on stage. Movies such as Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, Home Alone and Lalaland come to life with the symphony orchestra so it is definitely worthwhile checking are there any great shows going to be on during your visit.
Rogers Arena – The Rogers Arena hosts big acts such as Coldplay, Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake and is definitely worth a visit if you want to catch one of your favourite artists performing in the city.
Cultch Theatre – If you love Drama, then the Cultch Theatre is where you need to be. This Theatre is small and intimate and I have seen some amazing performances there from some seriously talented actors. An evening of culture at one of these shows will really allow you to see another side to the city of Vancouver.
Which is the best place to visit in Vancouver for art lovers?
Vancouver Art Gallery – The Art Gallery is located in a beautiful building downtown in Robson Square. It is a great place to spend hours appreciating all the amazing art and collections. The Gallery regularly has special exhibitions such as the Takashi Murakami Exhibition which features paintings all over the interior and exterior of the Gallery Building. Entrance on a Tuesday evening is free but be prepared to wait in a long line to gain entry.
Main Street – If your looking for Street Art, Main Street is where it’s at. This area even showcases a Vancouver Mural Festival in the Summer highlighting lots of new street additions to the area. Local Artists have transformed this area from blank grey walls to vibrant colourful works of art. I would definitely recommend just wandering around this area and you will stumble upon the most amazing artworks by surprise.
Where to get the best exchange rates in Vancouver?
I would recommend getting a Revolut Card before coming to Vancouver for all your currency exchange needs. Revolut is a digital banking alternative that includes a pre-paid debit card and currency exchange. There are no fees when using your Revolut card and it supports spending and ATM withdrawals in 120 countries and sending in 26 countries.
The beauty of a Revolut card is that you can hold so many different currencies in your Revolut card and can exchange currencies at any time for the best exchange rate. My Revolut Card is a travel essential and saves so much hassle, time and money when you are in a new country.
How safe is Vancouver for solo travellers ?
Vancouver is such a safe city and you never feel any danger walking around the streets. However, I would recommend avoiding the area of East Hastings at day or night as this is not a very pleasant area of the city. The city goes quiet very early in Vancouver and most restaurants and bars are closed before midnight.
Do you have any tips for tourists visiting Vancouver?
Planning – There is so much to see and do in the city that I would highly recommend using Google Maps in advance to plan out what area you want to visit each day in the city and make a bucketlist of attractions, restaurants, cafes etc for each area. This will ensure you get as much as you can done during your stay.
Footwear – Vancouver is a very walkable city and you will find you walk everywhere so ensure you have a good comfy pair of shoes or trainers packed for your trip. Also for hikes and rain or snow, a pair of waterproof boots are essential so make sure you have your trip actives pre-planned and can pack accordingly.
Rain – Vancouver experiences more rain than you could ever imagine! I would advise having a rain coat and umbrella with you at all times even if the weather forecast is not predicting any rain for the day – When it rains in the city, it really rains!!