Vancouver is one of those lucky cities that seem to have everything: a beautiful situation, great tourist attractions, vibrant food and night life, world-class cultural institutions and plenty of opportunities to just wander about and take it all in. Even the climate is pretty good by Canadian standards.
For those who only have a few days, choices will have to be made – but some places are a must-see for every visitor.
Downtown Vancouver is a busy, bustling confident place full of modern architecture, good shopping, art galleries and creatively designed and used urban spaces. Next to the downtown centre, Vancouver's Chinatown is one of the biggest in North America and if you have never visited one is sure to impress.
You can get a better idea of Vancouver's layout and location if you make your way up 130 meters to the observation deck of Vancouver Lookout at the top of the Harbour Place.
Nearby Canada Place with its iconic sail-like roofs provides wonderful views across Burrard Inlet to North Vancouver and the mountains beyond.
While in that area, take a SeaBus from the Waterfront Station. This is just for another view of the port and the whole city, and it's cheap as the SeaBus is part of the city transit network.
Stanley Park is one of the best urban parks in the world, well worth a walk – there are views again, as well as ancient trees, impressive totem poles, trolley tours and the fantastic Vancouver Aquarium with its beluga whales, sea otters and dolphin shows.
If art is your interest, Vancouver Art Gallery at 750 Hornby Street has one of the best collections of Emily Carr's paintings in the world and it has exciting temporary exhibitions of old masters as well as contemporary artists. Check what's on, as displays vary.
Vancouver Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia is a bus ride away, but features a brilliant collection of indigenous Canadian art of the Pacific North West, including Bill Reid's famous Raven and the First People. The UBC campus on Point Grey is huge, and the campus plus peninsula has woods, beaches, gardens and hiking at the Pacific Spirit Park and the whole area will easily fill a day.
Those who like shopping will like Granville Island with its artisans, food market and a toy store, those who don't like shopping will think it's rather hellish though.
Kids will appreciate The Science World, especially on a rainy day: plenty to stimulate the mind and wake up the experimenter within.
Many visitors make a point of going to Capilano Suspension Bridge, but the shorter-but-wobblier Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver is free! And it has a wonderful waterhole to swim in in the summer as well as twin falls nearby.
There is also plenty of day and longer trips out of Vancouver, of which the most popular and the best are the trips to Whistler in the mountains and the Sea to Sky Highway along the coast north of Vancouver.
The city of Vancouver will easily fill in a week's worth of exploration, and this can be extended almost indefinitely simply because of the dominant lifestyle in Vancouver.