Staff Travel Diaries: Vancouver & Whistler
Hi Megan, tell us a little about yourself, what you do at Barrhead Travel and your trip to Vancouver & Whistler?
I work within the Business Development Team here at Barrhead Travel and recently enjoyed a trip to Vancouver & Whistler. I love Canada and have visited Toronto, Calgary and the Rocky Mountains before, but this was my first time in British Columbia. We flew direct from Glasgow and spent 4 nights in Vancouver, and then on to Whistler for a further 2 nights.
What did you get up to while you were there? What attractions did you see?
There is so much to do in Vancouver and it is an amazing city to explore on foot. We spent loads of time walking around the different neighbourhoods and never once had to use a taxi or bus! My favourite part of Vancouver was Granville Island which you can access by Aqua Boat and it hosts an incredible food market and multiple breweries. The market is the ideal place to try poutine, the popular and delicious French-Canadian dish. There are also plenty of bars and restaurants to relax in and take in the city views. A must do for any foodie!
We did lots of activities while we were in Vancouver. A highlight for me was the Sea Vancouver tour that took us around the city on a zodiac boat and was lovely in the sunshine. I also recommend a trip to Grouse Mountain, which is located just 20 minutes outside the city. Visitors take a gondola to the top of the mountain for breath taking 360 views of Vancouver from above. The mountain is also home to two grizzly bears that you can visit and learn all about.
Anyone visiting Vancouver has to head to Stanley Park. Bigger than New York’s Central Park there is so much to do here and there are amazing views of the city’s skyline. We hired some bikes and cycled the 10k Sea Wall that wraps around the park and I would recommend this to everyone. You can enjoy it at a leisurely pace and there are endless photo opportunities and pit stops to enjoy along the way.
Famed for its adventure sports (namely skiing and mountain biking), Whistler is a dream for outdoor and adventure enthusiasts. We opted to take the shuttle bus from Vancouver, which takes approximately 2 hours. The drive itself is stunning as you travel along the famous Sea to Sky Highway, so the 2 hours pass in no time. Whistler itself is fairly compact and has a pedestrianised village, so it is an ideal place for families.
After all our activities in Vancouver, Whistler was definitely more relaxing. We took the Peak 2 Peak Gondola that connects the two mountains in Whistler. It is the world’s highest and longest lift, so as you can imagine the views are spectacular! In the summer this is used purposely as a viewing platform, and in winter it has a more functional use for skiers. Bear viewing is also a major draw for a lot of visitors during the summer months. You can take a guided tour or if you are lucky enough you can see them as you come down the mountain from the gondola – unfortunately we didn’t spot any despite our efforts!
We took a leap of faith and soared the longest tandem zip line in Canada. A truly exhilarating experience and I would recommend this to everyone! As well as the adrenaline rush, you can see Whistler from a totally different perspective and the views are second to none.
We also took some time to relax in Whistler and made use of the hotel swimming pool and hot tubs. There are lots of great shops, bars and restaurants in Whistler with a truly chilled out atmosphere, so it was the perfect place to end our time in Canada.
What would you recommend someone packs when visiting Vancouver & Whistler?
It depends on what time of year you visit as the seasons vary dramatically. If you visit in summer like us, I recommend taking your usual summer clothes as well as some layers and a light jacket just in case. Although we didn’t experience any rain, Vancouver is known to be quite unpredictable and experiences showers quite often. Be sure to pack flat, comfortable shoes as you will walk for miles in Vancouver!
What are your top tips for someone visiting Vancouver & Whistler?
My top tips are:
- Plan which activities you would like to do before you go. As well as this, make sure to include some down time. Vancouver is the perfect city to explore at leisure and enjoy some time by the water front, browsing the shops or relaxing in Stanley Park.
- Vancouver is a popular back drop for movie and TV filming so be sure to keep an eye out for any celebrities! We were lucky enough to see Deadpool 2 filming.
- If you are visiting Whistler, I recommend pre-booking your activities and accommodation in advance. It is a popular hot spot for Canadians and Americans alike, so it can be extremely busy.
- Lastly, don’t under estimate the weather. Canada is not always cold and it was a sizzling 34 Degrees °C whilst we were there!