“According to a Local” is a series of straight-to-the-point guides for different cities around the world. For each guide, we ask a local for all the best things to do, see, eat, and more! This week we’re taking a closer look at Vancouver, Canada. While I usually ask Couchsurfing members for these tips, this time I got the inside scoop from a fellow travel blogger, Elise! Elise is an expat residing in Vancouver. She blogs about travel (particularly Southeast Asia) over at Travel, Work and Play and is always one to lend a helping hand to fellow travel lovers. She has graciously provided us with some great advice to make your trip to Vancouver, Canada perfect! To top it all off, here is an interactive map to help you navigate the city just that much better!
1. Favorite Bar:
My favourite bar in summer time is one of the three Tap and Barrel. There’s one at Lonsdale Quay, one at Canada Place and one in False Creek. They do a great happy hour and have three of the best patios in Vancouver.
If it’s not a sunny day, I love Salt Tasting Room in Gastown. Beautiful wines by the glass and customisable cheese boards. There’s also The Narrow Lounge, an edgy Vancouver favourite – no sign outside, just a red light to indicate if they are open.
2. Favorite Restaurant:
Without a doubt, Osteria Savio Volpe. It’s a short taxi out from central Vancouver on Fraser & Kingsway but well worth the journey! It serves modern Italian fare with an extensive wine list and homemade pastas. The menu changes every day and they have an option to let the chef choose five courses for you (based on your tastes) for a set $55 per head. They take reservations, but it fills up pretty far in advance so either book ahead or get there early. You can pop your name on the waitlist and then enjoy a beverage in The Black Lodge or Crowbar across the road.
3. Favorite coffee shop:
This is too hard to choose! Vancouver has some fantastic coffee options. Aperture or Kafkas around Main Street for laid-back vibes. Revolver in Gastown for serious coffee aficionados or basically anywhere on Commercial Drive which is the European/Italian district. Prado on Commercial is a great workspace, and has a lovely patio out the front for a sunny day.
4. Favorite thing to do outside:
Midweek – Kayaking and then hiking Quarry Rock at Deep Cove (it’s a little too busy at the weekend.)
Weekends – head over to Lighthouse park with a picnic and walk one of the easy trails that lead to spectacular viewpoints and hidden beaches.
5. Best spot for a view:
Queen Elizabeth Park is the highest point in the area, and has fantastic views of Vancouver on a clear day! There’s a great restaurant there for a bite or some drinks with a view.
Grouse Mountain also has spectacular views of Vancouver, and a patio restaurant at the top. Take the gondola up or hike the Grouse Grind – if you’re fit enough!
6. Best local dish and where can we get it:
The Canadian national dish is Poutine! Originated in Montreal, the entire country has embraced its love of Poutine. It’s essentially fries with gravy and cheese curds. Chase down the poutine food truck on the streetfood app for a range of variations or try Frenchies on Main & Broadway for Montreal smoked meat poutine.
7. What you wish tourists knew coming to your home:
Get out of the downtown areas! It’s mostly offices anyway, head out and visit the different regions of the city – The West End, head over to Lonsdale Quay, Kitsilano, South Main, East Van, Commercial Drive etc.
8. Best local sweet to satisfy a sweet tooth and where to get it:
Cartems donuterie (for donuts!) is a local delicacy that you can’t miss! Handmade daily, with vegan and gluten free options available – the array of flavours you can find here is incredible. Try the Earl Grey or the Maple Bacon – you won’t be disappointed!
If you’re not into donuts – check out Mario’s Gelataria for some of the most delectable ice cream in Vancouver.
9. One thing someone coming to your home should not miss:
Commercial Drive! It’s my favourite area in Vancouver, there’s always so much going on. From vintage stores to pop up sales, markets, delis, restaurants and art shops – it’s a really cool place.
10. The best time of year to visit:
Definitely summertime. May –September are the best months, but avoid August if you don’t like crowds. In autumn and winter Vancouver gets a lot of rain. Fortunately this is balanced out by a long, hot and dry summer ideal for hikes in the mountains, hitting the beach, rooftop patios, cooling off at the lake…you get the idea!
11. Local recipes to try cooking at home:
Try making sushi at home! The California Roll actually originated in Vancouver, but they thought California would be more ‘catchy’. There is so much fresh fish, and a vibrant Asian food scene here, ingredients are easily sourced locally.
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