Words by Carlie Tucker
If you're among those lucky travellers heading to Vancouver for work, be sure to set aside at least 24-hours to enjoy the spoils of this incredible city. From the exceedingly friendly locals to the abounding natural beauty, Vancouver encourages exploration beyond the office space. So, go on and dip your toes in the leisure side of travel with these tips on how to spend 24-hours in this Canadian hotspot.
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Where To Eat
Considered by many to be the culinary capital of Canada, Vancouver is awash with fantastic places to eat. It doesn't matter if you're after a quick breakfast bite or something a little bit fancy for client meetings, the city serves up several options to meet even the most discerning of foodies. Take a bite out of this blossoming food scene and you're sure to come back for more.
When it comes to a great breakfast in the downtown area, you can hardly pass up Cafe Medina. The Belgian waffles are said to be the best in the city, but you can't go wrong with a simple coffee and pastry for a light bite on the go.
Heath-conscious consumers should look no further than the Juice Truck at the corner of Water and Abbott Street in Gastown for a selection of fresh juice smoothies and hearty salads for lunch. If you have the time (or appetite) for something more substantial, Meat & Bread's meat sandwiches are hard to pass up.
The selection of top restaurants in the city more than covers international cuisine, providing diners with the luxury of satiating a taste for everything from French to Latin American fare. It's almost impossible to choose one or two, but La Quercia is regularly praised by both industry experts and diners as having some of the best Italian in Vancouver. Vij's is another standout, serving up Indian deliciousness.
Where To Stay
Travelling to major cities usually means scouring the hotel scene to try to find a bargain that isn't too far off the beaten path. Vancouver isn't like other major cities though, and a comfortable stay within the city centre is both easy to find and certainly affordable. This includes the Holiday Inn Vancouver Centre, a budget-friendly choice at the heart of it all. Newly renovated, guests are treated to modern rooms complete with ergonomically-designed work areas, in-room WiFi and a comfortable pillow top bed.
Beyond the rooms, business travellers will appreciate the sweep of dedicated facilities, including an on-site business centre, copying services, Technical Concierge and available PC computers. There is also an on-site pool and fitness centre.
If your budget allows, a 5-star stay that goes beyond your expectations can be found at the Pan Pacific Vancouver. You can expect all the trappings of a luxury hotel here, perfectly blended with the convenience of a stunning waterfront location. Each of the 500 guest rooms incorporates contemporary style with sweeping city and coastal mountain views, pillow top beds, Italian marble bathrooms and a workspace.
There is a pool and fitness centre, Spa Utopia and Wellness Centre, Internet Centre and expert Concierge services. What's better, if you book through your FCBT Travel Manager, you can take advantage of such SmartSTAY inclusions as complimentary internat access, a $15(CAD) food and beverage voucher and complimentary late check out until 3pm (if available).
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What To Do
Nestled in the midst of the Canadian Rockies and incorporating a stretch of coast that fronts both the English Bay and Vancouver Harbour, this city is brimming with outdoor fun. From trekking the surrounding mountains to simply strolling the streets, enjoying the scenery is a major draw. Vancouverites are well aware of this natural splendour, which is why there are a variety of tours available for visitors to get out and have a look.
Kick off your 24 free hours with a Stanley Park Horse-Drawn Tour, in which you will hop aboard an old-fashioned carriage for an hour of local sightseeing and storytelling. Highlights include the world famous Totem Poles, Rose Garden and Lions Gate Bridge. Carriages depart every 20-30 minutes on Park Drive rain or shine.
Should you feel you need to see even more of the city, head straight for the Vancouver Lookout at Harbour Centre. Board a glass elevator on the outside of the building to climb 167 metres in just 45 seconds. Then it's nothing but sensational panoramic vistas across the beautiful cityscape. Staff are available to provide guided tours as well as information about Vancouver's must-sees and must-dos.
Finish off your day of exploration by getting out of town. Luckily, the natural bounty that gives Vancouver its magical views is only 15 minutes away. Head straight for Grouse Mountain to board the Skyride – North America's largest aerial tram system – for a one-mile journey to the Alpine Station. You can also visit The Refuge to learn about native flora and fauna conservation efforts, climb The Grouse Grind or test your nerves on the Mountain Ziplines.