My guide to Whistler and Vancouver

Another year, another Summer holiday over. We spent an incredible 10 days in beautiful BC, 6 days in Whistler followed by 4 in Vancouver. You will have seen some snippets on my Instagram over the duration of the holiday but this is a low down of all the things we did (including where we stayed) and of course where we ate.

Before I get into the detail I just wanted to highlight how careful you need to be when booking flights through a third-party provider. We used EmailFlights.com and I will NEVER use them again for two reasons.

  • We booked Air Canada as our airline. When we got on the plane it was actually Air Canada Rouge i.e their budget version. We were basically flying Ryanair to Vancouver. It was an 11-hour flight with no in flight entertainment. You could rent an iPad which was £10 but they ran out of them. The food was disgusting, I wouldn’t give it to a dog.
  • Our transfer flight (on the way back) that was booked gave us 40 minutes to get off one flight and get to another. Our flight ended up being delayed so we missed it. Fortunately, the staff at Air Canada ( Cathy gets a shout out, you wonderful human) sorted us out but no thanks to Email Flights.

That’s my rant over but just be careful.

Whistler

Where do I start? This place is the ultimate active holiday location. Better known as a Ski resort, however, the tourist information told us that actually, its becoming more popular in the Summer due to the wealth of activities.

Accommodation

We stayed in the Pan Pacific Resort Hotel. It was excellent. You can’t ask for a better location, right in the village. Perfect when you’ve had a few drinky poo’s and don’t want to travel too far.It was self-catering, which was ideal for us as we didn’t want to be eating out for every single meal (its expensive!). We had breakfast in and made our lunches every day. Dinner was always out. There’s an awesome Irish Bar in the hotel (not that I’m biased or anything) with great food and music. I will share pictures below. Also, the beds are SO comfortable, I genuinely don’t think I’ve slept in a comfier bed in my life!

Activities

Salmon Bake By ATV

This was one of our favourite (and romantic) activities. You basically jump on an ATV and climb 6000ft to the top of Blackcomb Mountain to an amazing lodge with views that you wouldn’t get anywhere else. Once you get there, there’s live music, hot and cold drinks, snacks, followed by a 3-course meal which includes a maple glazed wild BC Salmon, local vegetables, fresh salads and a delicious apple pie dessert. On our way back down we got to see a bear crossing the road. He took no notice of us though while we were there taking pictures of him!£

Alta Lake Canoe Tour

I’ve never canoed in my life and it took a few arguments with Mike to get the hang of it! In the end, it was worth it. You take a trip across Alta lake and through the river of Golden Dreams. That’s where I had some issues navigating, however, we got there. On a serious note though, it’s stunning, your guides will educate you on all the history, geography and wild life.


Hiking

OBVIOUSLY. You can’t go to Whistler and not hike. However, I will warn you, it’s relatively expensive to get up to the top at about $60 CAD each. We didn’t realise this until we got there so we ended up just doing one full day up the mountains (Blackcomb and Whistler).

We did the High Note (4 hours), Pika’s Traverse Road (1 hour), Harmony Lake (1 hour) on Blackcomb. We then took the Peak to Peak Gondola over to Whistler Mountain. This is not for someone who is scared of heights. It is a 4.4km ride between the two mountains and is the highest lift of its kind. I held on, I don’t know why. If I was going down, I was gone!

When we got there we had one more hike in us, which was the Alpine Loop (30 minutes). This was easy and a nice way to end the day. We then took the Solar Coaster Express/Wizard Express back down to the bottom. This is a MUST, well I don’t actually know how you would get down other than walking. But it’s the nicest Ski lift chair. You go at a lovely slow speed and the views are just incredible.

As I said we didn’t go up the mountain every day but that wasn’t a problem because there are LOADS of trails in and around the village. Grab yourself a map from your hotel or the Tourist Information Centre and get your walking boots on. I highly recommend heading down to Green Lake.

Spa

We spent a full afternoon at the Scandinave Spa and what an experience. I’ve been to a lot of spas but this was SO different. Unfortunately and understandably I couldn’t take any pictures in the baths for privacy reasons but take a look at the website and you will see how incredible it is. You can spend as long as you like going from a hot bath (Eucalyptus Steam Baths, Wood Burning Sauna, Finnish Sauna and Hot Baths) to cold (Nordic Waterfall, Nordic Showers, Cold Plunge Baths) and then relax in either the Solariums, Hammock Haven, Outdoor Fireplaces or the Yoga Studio. We also made the most of our time there and got a Duo Swedish Massage.

Eat

As always my favourite part.

Earl’s

Without a doubt the BEST place in Whistler. I cannot recommend this restaurant more. The service, food, drink and atmosphere was way above my expectations. Mike had his best ever ribs and I had my best ever chicken wings. There are only a few of Earl’s in Canada but because we had such an amazing experience in Whistler we went back again to their sister in Vancouver!

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21 Steps

These guys are known for their starters and I can safely say they didn’t disappoint. We went for the Cold Smoked Soy Salmon Tartare and Tiny Bacon Wrapped Beef Fillets.

As I mentioned this was the pub/restaurant that was located in our hotel. If I’m totally honest the service isn’t great which really disappointed me – not true Irish standards BUT they made up for it with good quality food. Mikes beasty burger went down a treat.


The Mexican Corner

You need to reserve in time. This place gets super busy and for the right reasons. Their guacamole is the best I’ve ever had. Even better than mine, yep I will admit it. We got the fajitas and salad to share. We also got an abundance of tortilla chips which they very kindly continued to top us up. A must visit. Unfortunately it was really dark when we were there and I couldn’t get any good pictures. Take my word for it though.

Vancouver

We made our way to Vancouver by bus (2 hours ish). Try and stay awake the views are exceptional!

Accommodation

We stayed in an Airbnb on 30th Avenue just off the main street. Our initial Airbnb fell through which was much closer to downtown and was a real disappointment. Our place was great but not in walking distance of the main city. It took at least 1 hour to get into town (walking) and about 35-45minutes by bus. On the bright side, we were very close to the Queen Elizabeth Park which meant we could get in some beautiful runs.

Activities

We didn’t actually plan a whole pile of activities like Whistler instead we:

  • Rented bikes and rode around Stanley Park – we also went to the second beach and had an afternoon swimming in the outdoor pool
  • Visited Granville Island and the market there
  • Visited Gastown
  • Ran and walked A LOT


Eat

Mike was very good to me in Vancouver. He let me go to some vegan restaurants and what’s better he loved them.

Meet (On Main or Gastown)

The best vegan food I’ve ever had. Their take on chicken wings is unbelievable and don’t get me started on the burgers. Mike being a total carnivore was actually the one that suggested we go back twice.


Virtuous Pie

Another Vegan restaurant that you will find in China Town. Their specialities are pizza, tacos and sandwiches. It’s very much a lunch place. Mike and I like a sit-down meal and when you go in you pay first and take a seat with lots of other people. We personally like our own space. Other than that though the food is great(I still think Meet is better). It’s worth a visit.


Taco Fino

The same type of set up as Virtuous Pie where you pay first and then sit down. Although this time you have your own table. It’s really busy so I don’t recommend to go for dinner, more like a lunch time venue. Burritos are really good.


The Lamplighter

One thing to be aware of when you’re going to Canada is ID. Regardless if you’re 24 or 32 you need TWO forms of ID.  Passport isn’t good enough you will also need something to accompany it like a credit card or drivers licence. The Lamplighter reminded me as we saw a number of tourists turned away because they hadn’t the right number of ID’s with them. Everywhere is like that though, not just here.  The Lamplighter has a great selection of drinks and the food is ace. We tried maple BBQ wings. So Canadian and SO good. It was the last night of the trip and Mike kinda rebelled after all the Vegan food and ordered this insane burger.


As I said already we went back to Earls and it didn’t disappoint. Yes, we ordered the exact same things!

So that’s our holiday in a nutshell if you want to ask me ANYTHING about Vancouver or Whistler, leave a comment or message me. I will be happy to help.

The next trip is New York in September. Exciting times ahead.

Karen

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