1. Aquatic adventures

With Vancouver surrounded by water on three sides, one of the best ways to get a feel for the city is from an aquatic vantage point with options including a zodiac adventure, eco-safari and kayak.

There are daily guided kayak tours that leave from Granville Island. The surrounding False Creek is a calm waterway where you might catch a glimpse of wildlife such as herons, seals and eagles.

Paddle past the Yaletown and the Olympic Village neighbourhoods, as well as the BC Place Stadium, Science World and the Giants, a series of striking murals on concrete silos that form part of the Vancouver Biennale.

Alternatively, head out under Burrard Bridge and into English Bay, passing Vanier Park, Kitsilano Beach and the West End.

2. Granville Island

If ever urban planners want a masterclass in waterfront regeneration this would be it. Granville Island is one of the jewels of Vancouver with its market and thriving arts and crafts community.

Four decades ago, the site was little more than industrial wasteland punctuated by defunct sawmills and rusting corrugated metal shacks.

The transformation began in late 1977, with the public market opening a year later. Today, Granville Island has waterfront restaurants, theatres, galleries, shops and food stalls.

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3. A glorious culinary scene

Vancouver has no shortage of food-themed delights including sushi, street cuisine and seafood. Its many lures include Peruvian-Japanese dishes from Ancora Waterfront Dining and Patio, and locally farmed, fished and foraged seasonal menus from Forage.

4. The famed “patio” culture

During summer there is a penchant for al fresco dining: Vancouverites love their “patios”, especially if they come with a view.

5. Microbrewing gems

Those who like a tipple won’t be disappointed either: there’s a thriving microbrewing scene in Vancouver with craft breweries and distilleries.

Check out Odd Society, a small-batch distillery in East Vancouver where founder Gordon Glanz – who trained at Heriot-Watt University and honed his skills at Springbank Distillers in Campbeltown – creates spirits including whisky, vodka and gin.

6. Wine country

One of British Columbia’s best-kept secrets is that it is home to some decent wine country, stretching from Vancouver to the Okanagan Valley (although complex alcohol regulations mean little of the excellent vino leaves the province).

While the region’s icewine is perhaps the best known, familiar varieties of grapes, including chardonnay, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir and riesling, are all grown here.

Even if you can’t make it to the vineyards, there are shops across Vancouver that offer tastings, not to mention restaurant wine lists filled with bottles from across the province.

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7. Stanley Park

The sprawling Stanley Park is ideal for walking and cycling. At almost 1,000 acres it is larger than New York’s Central Park and arguably even prettier with its swathes of coastal temperate rainforest.

Stanley Park has five breeding pairs of eagles, their eyries perched high in the conifers. Other wildlife includes coyotes, raccoons, bats, beavers and squirrels.

You can jump aboard the Stanley Park Train (a replica of a Canadian Pacific Railway engine No.374 used in the late 1800s), take a horse-drawn carriage ride or join the Vancouver Trolley Company for a 45-minute hop-on, hop-off tour.

One the most popular walking and cycling routes is to circle around the park’s seawall which takes roughly an hour by bike or three hours on foot.

And don’t leave without seeing the First Nations Art and Totem Poles at Brockton Point. There is a good reason it’s one of British Columbia’s most visited places: it is truly breathtaking.