“Vancouver is Manhattan with mountains. It’s a liquid city, a tomorrow city, equal parts India, China, England, France and the Pacific Northwest. It’s the cool North American sibling.” – The New York Times

Vancouver is the largest city on the West Coast of Canada. Set in idyllic natural surroundings that take full advantage of British Columbia’s Coastal mountain range and the Pacific Ocean, residents of the city are spoilt for choice when it comes to raw and inspirational landscapes. The city boasts a soothing, temperate climate and a mellow culture that resonates in the heart and soul of its people, and consistently contributes to its top 5 ranking as one of the world’s most liveable cities.

As if you needed any more reason to pack your bags and fly out there right now… here are nine things every student should know about beautiful Vancouver:

1. Vancouver is home to the largest Aerial-Tram system in the whole of North America.

Just 15 minutes from downtown Vancouver, in the heart of the Pacific Ranges, lies the rugged wonderland of Grouse Mountain – the city’s tallest peak. This wilderness was named in 1894, after a visiting hiking party happened across a blue grouse on the slopes in the middle of their alpine adventure. As well as being home North America’s largest Aerial-Tram system, which climbs 3,700ft in just eight minutes, Grouse Mountain offers a wealth of unique experiences that visitors and residents are free to enjoy any time of year:

The Eye of the Wind – the world’s first Wind Turbine with public ‘viewPOD’ and accessible observation area. Visitors can climb the 20-storey tower to witness the city from an entirely new and stunning perspective.

Wildlife Refuge – Grouse Mountain is home to a five-acre mountaintop habitat that is dedicated to ensuring the health, happiness and well-being of some of Canada’s endangered animals.

Mountain Ziplines – discover this encapsulating landscape for yourself as you trek around Blue Grouse Lake and then zip at speeds of 80km/hour across the peak of Grouse and Dam Mountain.

Winter Sports – ski, snowboard, snow shoe or sleigh ride; you name it, Grouse Mountain has got it! And Vancouver is lucky enough to experience some of the freshest snows of all the alpine destinations.

Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter – no matter what the season, Grouse Mountain is blooming with excitement and opportunities in one of the most breathtaking backdrops the natural world has to offer.

2. One of Vancouver’s most popular tourist attractions is the Capilano Suspension Bridge – a 450ft long and 230ft high ‘wobbly’ suspension bridge.

This landmark has been stirring visitors of Vancouver since 1889, and has come to represent the true British Columbian experience. Here, you can swoon over views of Vancouver city from the bridge; get close to nature as you navigate granite labyrinths of the Cliffwalk right through the highland forest; and delve into Canadian history at the Suspension Bridge park, home to the largest collection of tribal totem poles on the globe.

It is the perfect blend of nature, culture and history that makes Capilano Bridge one of Vancouver’s most popular spots.

3. In 1886, the Great Vancouver Fire took down the entire city, until it was rebuilt into today’s urban masterpiece.

In 1886, the city of Vancouver was still in its infancy, and the “city” at that time only actually spanned  a small patch of today’s down town east side.  But on June 13 that same year, Vancouver suffered a disastrous fire that tore down every wall in the city.  The damage was catastrophic, but at a time when the transcontinental railway was still under construction, large businesses and investors saw the ravaged wasteland as a potential gold mine. The debris was cleared and the city was to be developed and brought to life in the modern world. Today the city is an example of fantastic urban architecture and planning.

4. Vancouver is the second largest port in North America.

Second only to New York, Vancouver is the largest port of North America in terms of both tonnage and physical size. It also boasts one of the biggest major cruise ship Ports, not just in North America but in the world! The harbor is home to Vancouver’s finest dining, sightseeing and special event cruises, including the annual summer Fireworks Cruises and the Christmas Carol Ships Dinner & Dance throughout the festive season.

5. Vancouver has a total of six Sister Cities.

Like most cities in the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD), Vancouver has a few twinned locations scattered across the globe, including Odessa in the Ukraine, Yokohama in Japan, Edinburgh in Scotland, Guangzhou in China, and Los Angeles in the United States.

Vancouver has built itself a cross-cultural network with these cities, forming international partnerships that collaborate to share information, promote education and enhance economic development for the benefit of the global community.

6. The city is home to the world’s largest retractable roof.

BC Place, a multi-purpose stadium situated at the north side False Creek in Vancouver, has a one-of-a-kind retractable roof, which also happens to be the biggest in the world. The roof can wind in and out, revealing 7,500 square metres of stunningly pure Canadian sky. It is the home of the BC Lions and of the Canadian Football League, but it also served as the main stadium for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

7. Vancouver’s Stanley Park is actually bigger than New York’s Central Park.

Stanley Park is one of Vancouver’s finest natural assets, attracting thousands of visitors every year with nostalgic horse drawn carriage rides and its world-famous Totem Poles. What most people don’t know, however, is that Vancouver’s grandest and most popular park crosses an impressive 1001 acres, which actually makes it 10 percent bigger than New York’s Central Park.Stanley Park is one of Vancouver’s finest natural assets, attracting thousands of visitors every year with nostalgic horse drawn carriage rides and its world-famous Totem Poles. What most people don’t know, however, is that Vancouver’s grandest and most popular park crosses an impressive 1001 acres, which actually makes it 10 percent bigger than New York’s Central Park.

8.  Vancouver offers one of the most diverse international populations of any North American city.

The city is overflowing with culture from every corner of the globe, with 35 percent of the population originating from overseas. The city is also home to the highest proportion of Asians in any North American city, and Vancouver Chinatown tops the list as one of the world’s cleanest and most inviting, appealing to visitors and artists of all nationalities all the year through.

9. Dolphins and whales can be viewed off the shores of the city.

There are several places off the coast of Vancouver Island that are ideal for Whale watching. The best times of year to go are June to September and March to May, where avid explorers might see the black and white Orca, who spend much of their summer around the island. Boat trips from Victoria run between April and October, where visitors can join whale watching trips from Telegraph Cove. Tofino is also visited by Grey Whales between the months of March and May, offering the chance for an experience of natural wonder that no one could ever forget.

This article is sponsored by Trinity Western University (TWU). Located just 45 minutes from downtown Vancouver, TWU is set on a 157-acre campus just outside Langley, British Columbia, Canada. Students there benefit from a close campus community and life-changing experiences in a stunning natural backdrop. The campus is an hour from the North Shore Mountains, offering students the perfect winter playground for any winter sport. As a Christian Liberal Arts, sciences and professional studies university, TWU equips students to be competitive in today’s world. They experience the benefits of working closely with professors, which can be achieved due to the School’s small class sizes, commitment to research and liberal arts curriculum. You can connect with Trinity Western University on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Main image via Flickr / Thomas Quine, body images via Trinity Western University & Shutterstock.

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