In the west coast city of Vancouver, there's a shared sense of warmth and friendliness that visitors discover in everyone they meet. The third biggest city in Canada, only 20% of the city's population are born there, with many visiting and deciding to stay.
Surrounded by mountains and ocean, the city is compact and easy to get to from the UK, and the perfect city to visit for a short trip - just be aware there's a danager of not wanting to get back on the plane at the end of the trip...
An aerial shot of Vancouver, British Columbia
WHAT TO DO:
One of the best ways to explore the city is to take a cycle tour.
The city has been built, and continues to be built, to accommodate cyclists and pedestrians, and Cycle City Tours are the perfect hosts.
Several tour options are available but the five-hour tour encompases the whole city, and includes the Stanley Park seawall - the world's largest uninterrupted water walkway - Granville Island, False Creek, and the Gastown district. With constant stops and incredibly knowledgeable tour guides, the five hours speed by.
Cycle City Tours offers various tour options in Vancouver
Take the Grouse Mountain skyride from the base of the mountain up to the numerous bars, restaurants, and shows available. The Lumberjack Show is a particular highlight, while the Birds of Nature show is an informative close look at some of Canada's best birds of prey.
Take the chairlift up to the peak of the mountain to take in the vista, or even partake in the opportunity to go zip-lining over some of Canada's most gorgeous scenery.
Grouse Mountain offers stunning views over Vancouver
On the way back, stop in at Capilano Suspension Bridge. The bridge crosses the towering evergreens that cover the mountains and visitors can immerse themselves in the quiet peace that the rainforest brings.
The park is also home to the Cliffwalk, which follows a granite precipice along the Capilano River with a labyrinth-like series of narrow cantilevered bridges, stairs and platforms.
Back in Downtown Vancouver, hit up Robson Street for the best fashion and beauty stores, including BCBG Maxazria, Armani, and Kiehls, and then take a trip on the False Creek ferry over to Granville Island, the home of the city's arts and culture.
Granville Island is accessible by ferry, boat, or foot.
Take the time to explore the large public market, home to the city's best bakers, fishmongers, butchers, and farmers, and then take a seat on the waterfront courtyard to taste the delicious treats available.
Granville Island is also the place to be to catch a show, watch an eclectic mix of street performers and art shows, and browse the numerous one-of-a-kind shops.
Known for its craft beer scene, Vancouver is also home to the Craft Beer Cruise, and the three-hour journey out into English Bay offers those onboard a chance to sample the best brews and meet the brewers behind the beer - as well as getting one of the best views of the city.
WHERE TO EAT:
For breakfast and baked goods, visit Nelson the Seagull, a relaxed open restaurant in the heart of Gastown which also offers suspended coffee for customers.
For a more intimate setting, try Hawksworth, set in the Rosewood Hotel, for mimosas, crispy bacon, and first-class service.
Hawksworth Restaurant in Downtown Vancouver
Water St Cafe is a particular standout Italian restuarant in the city situated right next to the famous Steam Clock. Small and friendly, the restaurant boasts a menu which includes pasta and seafood dishes, but for pizza, head a few blocks over to Nicli Pizzeria.
Wood-fired pizzas take mere minutes to arrive at the table, but don't forget to look for the secret pizza on the menu.
Don't forget to look for the secret pizza at Nicli Pizzeria
Those looking for a meal with a view should try LIFT bar and grill.
Set on the waterfront, the menu is full of west coast favourites and the staff are knowledgable and friendly, while Alibi Bar in Gastown is a low-key modern pub with local ales, expertly-mixed cocktails, and a great selection of bar snacks.
LIFT bar and grill offer stunning views over the Vancouver mountains
WHERE TO STAY:
The Sandman Hotels offer a range of hotels across the city, and the Sandman Downtown is situated only a ten-minute walk from the historic district of Gastown and the hip area, Yaletown, making it the perfect location for a short city break.
HOW TO GET THERE:
Virgin Atlantic fly from London Heathrow four times a week.