Finding ten reasons why Vancouver is an amazing city is harder than you’d think. As soon as you start listing them, you end up realizing that giving 100 reasons would still hardly be enough to describe all the loveable things about our city. Yet I gave it a try and came up with a list that tries to sum up the basic perks that helped to make Vancouver the third most liveable city in the world in 2012 according to EIU’s Global Livability Report.
1. High Air Quality
Vancouverites enjoy astonishingly high air quality compared to similar metropolitan areas in North America. This is largely dude to the prevailing breeze from the west that carries all the pollution from Vancouver to the Fraser Valley; as some people rather cynically remark, we get fresh air and they get our emissions. However, the city doesn’t just rely on the wind to solve all its pollution problems. On the contrary, Vancouver was the very first major city in Canada to introduce in 1994 an Air Quality Management Plan. Ever since, the policy of strict emission controls such as an extensive AirCare program for vehicle emissions testing has been successfully lowering the amount of emissions, which decreased by 38 per cent between 1985 and 2000.
2. Year-round Mild Weather
Vancouver is a model of a moderate oceanic climate. When you put it this in practical terms, this basically means that the weather is nice and mild for most of the year and there’s no need to dread any dangerous extremes. Summers are warm enough to enjoy the amazing beaches in the city and have a romantic evening stroll in one of the parks wearing your flip-flops, while winters are not too cold and always bring lots of snow in the surrounding mountains. Some Vancouverites like to complain about the rainy weather that is so common between October and March; however, we should all realize that having mild city conditions and snowy mountains nearby is the best combination you could hope for (just ask some of your friends from Toronto how enjoyable their winter is…). However, if you crave the cold, maybe you could consider joining the annual Polar Bear Swim on the first of January every year and plunge into the freezing waters of English Bay.
3. Best Ski Resorts Nearby
Vancouver boasts some of the top ski resorts in Canada — and they are just a short drive from the city. The stereotype of a Vancouverite playing tennis or football in the morning and hitting the slopes in the afternoon is not far from the truth for many of us. The list of best rated resorts in the area includes Whistler Blackcomb Resort and Cypress Mountain, both of them used as Vancouver 2010 Olympics venues. Lovers of winter sports can also head to Grouse Mountain, the closest ski resort from Vancouver (just 15 minutes north of the city), or hit up Mount Seymour or Mount Washington. If you don’t mind taking a five-hour drive, it might be worth checking out Sun Peaks Resort, which was voted the second best ski resort in Canada in 2010. And wherever you decide to go, don’t forget to get yourself a sweet reward in the form of hot chocolate with marshmallows afterward!
4. Best Beaches in Canada
Vancouver wouldn’t be the amazing city it is without its extensive waterfront. Feel like having a game of volleyball with your friends, taking a romantic walk, or just relaxing and sunbathing in the sun? Vancouver beaches have it all — and much more. Hit up Kits beach with its grassy patches and Kits Pool, have your daily swim at English Bay, enjoy the views of mountains on Jericho Beach, or go skim-boarding at Spanish Banks — the most peaceful of all beaches in the city. There are lifeguards at most beaches, so swimmers can feel safer, and there are concession stands with snacks everywhere too — so no worries about your belly either!
5. Great Food and Multicultural Cuisine
Vancouver cuisine is a never-ending adventure, as the bustling food scene offers the best fusion of the tastes of the world you could possibly imagine. Whether you want to go for succulent seafood from the Pacific, classic European cuisine prepared from the highest-quality locally produced ingredients, or dynamic eateries of all cultures with delicious food that pleases the tastebuds of all culinary travellers. Just take the example of Vancouver’s famous Japa Dog, a New-York style hot dog with seaweed and okonomiyaki sauce — could there be a more convincing product of multiculturalism than this? Furthermore, a growing number of farmers markets, where the freshest and best ingredients are at hand for everyone straight from the farm, bring gourmet ingredients straight to our homes. Vancouver is a foodie’s paradise.
6. Special Events
It’s virtually impossible to be bored in Vancouver. Starting with the Polar Bear Swim on January 1 and ending with the Christmas Market or Festival of Lights in December, the city’s calendar is filled with great events that make it very hard to stay at home and do nothing. Whether you’re a film lover, yoga enthusiast, or a music fan, you will surely find something to your liking. The city’s top selection includes such perks as the Celebration of Light International Fireworks Competition in the beginning of August, the International Jazz Festival, the Bard on the Beach theatre festival focusing on Shakespeare’s works, the renowned International Film Festival, the colourful Pride Parade and Festival, and much, much more.
7. Beautiful Nature and Great Forest Trails
Living in Vancouver doesn’t mean being stuck in a concrete jungle. On the contrary, spectacular natural beauty is right at the city’s doorstep. We are all connected to the outdoors, since whether like it or not, it’s impossible to escape the lure of the North Shore Mountains towering above the city skyline. BC boasts innumerable hiking trails that will take you by tranquil lakes, unique West Coast rain forests, waterfalls, and stunning alpine scenery before reaching the panoramas at the mountain summits. Even if you’re not particularly fond of hiking, you can still use the magnificent BC setting to set off on a camping trip with your kids (to pretend that you know how to survive in the wild or show off your fire-starting skills), or go biking or kayaking. I bet Thoreau himself would love staying in Vancouver!
8. International Metropolis
Being in Vancouver means being in one of the worlds’ hot spots. Hit the bustling downtown or one of the hipster refuges that have sprung up in the city to learn about the newest fashion trends from the streets, attend concerts in local clubs to see next year’s best bands, and for the more rational, get a job in one of the financial institutions in Vancouver to jump straight into global finance. It’s no coincidence that Vancouver often ranks highly in international city comparisons — we simply rock! Besides the liveability index, we’re listed among the 25 most economically powerful cities in the world and we were voted the most reputable city by the Reputation Institute in Copenhagen in 2012. Beat that, Toronto!
9. Architecture and Real Estate
It wouldn’t be a real estate website if we forgot to mention how many nice homes can be found in Vancouver — or let’s put it more generally: how many amazing buildings our city boasts. Whether you and your bank account prefer the high-rise developments of the West End, historical mansions in one of the old money neighbourhoods, sleek homes in newly established hip areas such as Mount Pleasant, or a small character apartment in the east side of the city, there is something for everyone. Besides residential buildings, Vancouver has lots to offer to all architecture lovers. We can be proud of the UBC Museum of Anthropology building, the art deco Marine Building, the Vancouver Public Library (whose wonderfully designed glass atrium defines what public space should look like), Robson Square, and many more landmarks.
10. Arts and Culture
If you enjoy arts and cultural events, Vancouver is perfect for you. Besides the choice of festivals throughout the year, the city has lively artistic communities that shouldn’t be overlooked. Just take a stroll through the streets and keep your eyes open — there’s street art virtually everywhere you look. Besides the grassroots street culture, City Council supports public art installations and plans to convert under-used facilities into affordable artists’ ateliers. As a theatre and performing arts lover, I’m also more than satisfied with Vancouver’s selection; there’s everything from highbrow institutions such as the Stanley Theatre to tiny, independent scenes bustling with emerging talent. The list of all arts opportunities could go on and on, and it seems that the number of cultural events and projects keeps growing. It would be interesting to find out just how much of Vancouver’s economy consists of the arts and artistic endeavours.
If you don’t agree with our choices or have some other suggestions, let us know in the comments! It would be great to compare different opinions on what makes our city so awesome.
The beautiful illustrations in this article have been shot by our talented photographer Kevin Eng, who lives in Vancouver himself and never tires to explore all the great spots there are. You can find some of his other photos from Granville Island, Deep Cove or Vancouver in Autumn or Christmas in Vancouver on our blog.
All visual content is licensed by Creative Commons - you may use individual photos but you need to link them back to this page.
Meet the Photographer
Kevin's passion for photography has encouraged others to see the splendor and beauty of nature right at their doorstep, as he captures the sights of the day, and colors and mystery of world while it sleeps. Many of the subjects of his work are based locally in his hometown in Vancouver, B.C, where he first discovered his fascination with night photography. Kevin is a currently working as a music teacher, music director for his church, and landscape photographer.