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Stanley Park's Seawall | © Asher Isbrucker / Flickr
Stanley Park's Seawall | © Asher Isbrucker / Flickr

12 Reasons to Visit Vancouver Over Toronto

Picture of Hayley Simpson
Updated: 4 May 2017

Vancouver and Toronto have had a friendly rivalry for a long time. Although they’re in the same country, the cities couldn’t be more different. So if you’re trying to decide which Canadian city you should visit, here’s why you should always choose Vancouver over Toronto.

Weather

Firstly, Vancouver beats Toronto when it comes to harsh Canadian winters. Although Vancouver’s 2016/2017 winter was unusual with the amount of snowfall the city received, it can go entire winters without any snow at all, whereas Toronto receives an average snowfall of 121 centimeters (47.6 inches) annually.

Sunny days in Vancouver | © Hayley Simpson

Size

For people who don’t like big cities, Vancouver is a perfect size. The Greater Toronto Area is the most populated metropolitan area in Canada with nearly 6.5 million residents. In comparison, the Greater Vancouver Area has just under 2.5 million people calling it home. Vancouver has all the amenities and attractions a city needs, without the hustle and bustle.

Nearby mountains

One of Vancouver’s best features is its surrounding mountains. North and West Vancouver, which are just over the bridge from downtown Vancouver, are home to three main mountains. Mount Seymour, Cypress Mountain, and Grouse Mountain are open for both winter and summer activities.

Residents and visitors can have brunch in the city and be snowboarding an hour later. Grouse Mountain is popular for its Christmas attractions and for its Grouse Grind hike in the summertime. Meanwhile, Cypress Mountain was one of the main mountains used for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Toronto hasn’t hosted the Olympics yet!

Cool neighborhoods

Toronto may have Kensington Market, but Vancouver has The Drive, Main Street, Kitsilano, and Yaletown. Vancouver is home to unique neighborhoods brimming with locally owned and operated restaurants, cafés, and boutiques. You can visit Main Street for consignment shopping, Steveston and its cute seaside village, and Gastown for food and drinks in Vancouver’s most historic neighborhood.

Summer festivals

Although Toronto does host the MuchMusic Video Awards, Vancouver has some excellent annual summer festivals. The Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival runs from June to September and attracts people from all over the world.

Vancouver’s Pride Festival usually includes about 20 official events, including the Pride Parade, in which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has previously participated. There’s also the Folk Music Festival, International Jazz Festival, and Celebration of Lights, which is the world’s largest international fireworks competition.

Public transit

Vancouver has the world’s longest fully automatic and driverless train system in the world. The Skytrain is known for its efficiency and regularity. The city’s public transit system also includes the Seabus, which ferries people across to North Vancouver in 20 minutes, and buses.

Its surrounds

Incredible cities and towns surround Vancouver. Whistler is less than a two-hour drive away and is home to one of North America’s top ski resorts. There’s also the stunning Sunshine Coast, the Okanagan and its award-winning wineries, Vancouver Island, and Seattle and Portland just over the border in the United States. The Pacific Northwest region is known for its lush forests, scenic coastlines, mountains, and hiking opportunities, so take advantage of it all when visiting Vancouver over Toronto.

Whistler’s Olympic Village | © Hayley Simpson

Too many attractions

Vancouver doesn’t have the CN Tower, but it makes up for that with all the other tourist attractions in town. Besides its hipster neighborhoods, the city is home to FlyOver Canada, Vancouver Lookout, Science World, Capilano Suspension Bridge, the largest art gallery in Western Canada, Granville Island, and so much more.

Outdoor adventures

The city is made for outdoor adventuring, even if it rains a little bit more than it does in Toronto. Stanley Park, which is one of North America’s biggest urban parks, is a must-visit. You can bike or walk along the Seawall, which is the world’s longest uninterrupted coastal path or spend a sunny day at the beach (or the outdoor public pools) in English Bay and Kitsilano.

You can also visit one of the Greater Vancouver Area’s provincial parks, such as Lynn Canyon in North Vancouver with its free suspension bridge. If you enjoy both city life and outdoor adventures, there’s no better place to experience both than in Vancouver.

Markets

Toronto isn’t home to the biggest night market in North America. Richmond Night Market is in the Greater Vancouver Area and has over 500 food options, 100 retail stalls, a Dino Park, entertainment, and carnival games. There are also weekly farmers’ markets across the city: the Shipyards Market every Friday night and Granville Island Public Market, which is open every day.

Multiculturalism

Immigrants who have migrated from countries such as China, India, the Philippines, and the United Kingdom make up nearly 40% of Vancouver’s population. Therefore, Vancouver is an incredibly diverse city, which is noticeable when it comes to restaurants and festivals. Revel in Vancouver’s diversity and explore areas such as Little Saigon, Chinatown, and Punjabi Market.

Liveability

Although it may continually lose out as the most liveable city in the world thanks to Melbourne in Australia, Vancouver does always beat Toronto in the rankings. According to The Economist Intelligence Unit’s report in 2016, Vancouver came in third place, while Toronto was fourth. It may only beat the city by one ranking, but that still means Vancouver is more liveable than Toronto!