How to Experience Vancouver like a Local

A view of the city of Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Depending on who you ask, Vancouver can be many things—an incredible hike, mesmerizing street art, unforgettable night downtown, coffee on the go, a splendid dish of ramen, etc. One thing is for sure, Vancouver is worth visiting. But, you already know that—that is why you are here reading this article. However, what you don’t know is how to experience Vancouver like a local, right? 

It doesn’t matter whether you just moved to Vancouver or whether you are just planning a two-day trip to this Canadian town—you can experience it like a local. You just have to do what locals do! We will help you out with that, without a doubt. Thus, before you put on your walking shoes, give this article a read—it is full of tips on how to experience local like a pro. 

Getting Around Vancouver 

Vancouver has the best of both worlds—a metropolitan city vibe and a breathtaking nature. So, it just goes without saying that it is here, in Vancouver, where you can experience the true spirit of Canada! But, in order for you to do that, first, you have to find a way to get around this gigantic city. If you ask the locals, they will tell you to either come with your own car or rent one as soon as you arrive. 

However, even though a car is the best way to experience Vancouver like a local, it is also the most expensive way. So, if you don’t want to overspend, you can turn to other transportation options (which are also used by the locals). For instance, you can take the bus or the Skytrain, or, if the weather is nice, you can rent a bike or a Mobi bike. Don’t run away from bikes—you can explore the entire city on them, just follow the bike lanes!

 

A woman riding a bike.
Riding a bike may be your best way to experience Vancouver like a local

Eat Where Locals Eat 

No trip is complete without trying out the local food and drinks. So, again, if you want to experience Vancouver like a local, this is something you have to do. And, don’t worry, even if you are the pickiest eater in the world, you will find something here. It is a known fact that everyone, and their mothers and grandmothers, agrees that the city of Vancouver has some of the best scenes not only in Canada but in the entire world.

The food in Vancouver is diverse and delicious, and once you try it, you will want to stay here forever. Many people have—especially those from Toronto! Well, who can blame them? All they had to do to eat this tasty food for the rest of their lives was hire good movers who planned their long-distance move and an easy transfer from Toronto to Vancouver. 

But, let us go back to the food scene in Vancouver. Here, you can try anything from Italian to Chinese, from processed to organic, cheap to expensive. Because there are so many options, we decided to share some specific places you simply have to try out. And we did a thorough check—all of these places are loved by the locals. So, check out the following:  

  • Stevenson Pizza Company (for seafood pizza) 
  • Jinya Ramen Bar (for ramen, of course) 
  • Fable Diner (for comfort food) 
  • Chancho (for tortillas) 
  • Phnom Penh (for chicken wings) 
  • Kishimoto Japanese Kitchen 
  • La Mezcaleria (for Mexican food) 

Don’t Miss Out on the Beer

Yes, you have different beers wherever you go. So, what makes Vancouver’s beer different? Well, it is healthier and tastier than any other beer you have ever tried. This is because it was made from local ingredients and in local microbreweries. Thus, when you sit at one of those previously mentioned food places, be sure to order a pint. Trust us, even if you are not a beer lover, you will love these ones. 

However, if you are a beer lover, you should go on one of many beer tours (Vancouver Brewery Tour, Canadian Craft Tour, Vancouver Toonie Tour, etc.). These tours will take you to several local breweries where you will be able to try some of the best craft beer. And, you will even get a glass as a souvenir. All insider’s guides to Canada and Vancouver will advise you the same—beer tours are not only great for trying out different beers. They are also great for visiting the city’s outskirts, meeting the locals, and trying local finger food specialties. 

Two women drinking beer and laughing.
Don’t hesitate to join beer tours-locals go on them too!

Do Something Fun

As previously mentioned, Vancouver is a huge city. And as such, it is full of fun places and fun things you can do both as a tourist and as a local. But, as you are here, wondering how to experience Vancouver like a local, you are probably looking for something in between. No need to worry; we got you covered. 

First, we suggest visiting some of Vancouver’s neighborhoods. For instance, Gastown is great for enjoying Canadian architecture; Mount Pleasant is perfect for eating, drinking, and shopping; Chinatown is perfect for everything Asian. And, if you are into natural things, that is, if you prefer hiking, picnicking, and other outdoor adventures, consider going to Capilano Suspension Bridge, Grouse Grind, The Chief Hike, Stanley Park Seawall, English Bay, etc. You will certainly have fun while visiting these.

Just before going, don’t forget to follow those essential tips for essential travels even though you are trying to act like a local. That is, be sure to do research on the place you are going to and pack your backpack accordingly. In most cases, that means packing your comfortable shoes, sun protection, and a big bottle of water. 

A rocky shore during sunset—a way to experience Vancouver like a local
Vancouver’s nature is something you should not miss out on.

And, Do Something Kind

Okay, you have been eating and drinking, and you have been neighborhood hopping and exploring the great outdoors of Vancouver. And, now, all that is left to finish your Vancouver journey is to do something kind. That is, to do something that will support the city and all its artists

A great way to show your support is to pay a visit to one of the many art galleries and studios where locals display their art. Or, check out the street performers—they are on every corner. Buy something from them and praise their work. Doing this will help them and will enrich you! And, it will help you experience Vancouver like a local. 

My Favourite Hotels Around the World

This Post Was Originally Published on the TuGo Travel Blog on November 25, 2019 by Mark Crone

The list of my favourite hotels around the world could go on and on—it’s almost unlimited. But I’ve put together a shortlist based on the hotel and the destination experience. There’s a mix of larger hotels and smaller properties. While it’s great to enjoy the hotel and its facilities, it’s also great to enjoy the area and destination. I’ve stayed at all 5 properties several times—they’re all comfortable and highly recommended. Here’s my shortlist of favourite hotels, in no particular order:

Flemings Mayfair, London

The Flemings Mayfair Hotel on Half Moon Street in London

In London, hotel choices are limitless and highly dependent on location. The Flemings is situated right in the heart of central London, in the prestigious Mayfair area. The first time I stayed there, I went for a walk through Green Park (down the street and minutes away) and literally came upon Buckingham Palace on the other side. The small hotel (129 rooms) is located on a quiet residential street which gives a homely feel to the hotel. Flemings Mayfair is an independent, family-owned property and the second oldest established hotel in London, dating back to 1731.
Room prices are available from £250 per night, which includes breakfast. It’s great value for central London and a well-equipped, recently renovated property!

Kristall Hotel, Austria

Winter view looking at the Hotel Kristall in Austria

The family-run Hotel Kristall in Perisau at Lake Achensee is a must-visit. In the winter, the area is a winter wonderland with skiing, skating, snowshoeing and more. In the summer you can go biking, hiking, golfing and trek mountains nearby. The small (50 room) hotel has a luxury feel and a comfortable ambience. There’s a renowned spa, gourmet dinners in the new vaulted cellar and weekly wine tastings in the wine repository. The hotel is a short walk from Lake Achensee, mountain attractions and nearby cable cars and mountain ranges. Staying at the Kristall is an escape holiday, where you simply lose track of days and time (the best kind of holidays)! The combination of the gorgeous landscape and the surrounding alpine world creates a lasting memory of Tyrol!
Suite prices start at 150 Euro per person with special inclusive packages available.

Royal York, Toronto

Inside a guest room at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto, Canada

The Fairmont Royal York, formerly and commonly known as the Royal York, is considered one of Canada’s grand railway hotels. It’s a large historic luxury hotel located along Front Street West, directly across from Union Station in the southern end of the Financial District, in central Downtown Toronto.
The hotel opened in June 1929 and has 1,363 guest rooms and suites, including Signature or Luxury, along with eight types of suites. In addition to first-rate facilities, the Royal York is connected to the PATH system, a series of pedestrian tunnels that connect numerous buildings in Downtown Toronto. There’s also a tunnel directly connecting the hotel to Union Station and to Scotiabank Arena (home of the NHL Toronto Maple Leafs, NBA Toronto Raptors and major concerts).
You can’t beat the Royal York’s location in Toronto. Room rates start at $195.

Caesars Palace, Las Vegas

Caesar Palace Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas

Caesars Palace opened in 1966 and is one of Las Vegas’s largest and best-known landmarks. The hotel is located right on the Las Vegas Strip between the Bellagio and The Mirage. Caesars is meant to give a Roman Empire feel with statues, columns and a 20-foot statue of Augustus Caesar near the entrance.
It’s a large deluxe resort property with 3,976 rooms and suites in six towers, a convention facility, a large range of restaurants and outdoor pools, among many other features. The hotel operates a large casino and “The Colosseum”, a venue for live music and sports entertainment, featuring major entertainers for one-night shows and residence stays. There’s also a sizable shopping mall attached to the resort called “The Forum Shops at Caesars”.
Despite its size, the hotel is very comfortable and has absolutely everything on site, making it a great choice for a Las Vegas stay. Rooms can be as low as $99 per night!

Burj Al Arab, Dubai

Aerial view of the Burj Al Arab in Dubai

Dubai is one of the seven emirates forming the United Arab Emirates, and it’s a very unique destination . It’s one of the most sought-after destinations for travellers from around the world, with its endless choices for fine dining, shopping, and luxury accommodations. The 7-star Burj Al Arab is perhaps the top choice in Dubai (and possibly anywhere).
The Burj al Arab is the iconic “sail” hotel located directly on the Persian Gulf in Dubai. It features all-suite accommodation, which includes butler service and a private beach. You don’t need to leave the property (and might not want to with room rates). The Burj has 201 suites, 9 restaurants, 5 pools, a spa, fitness centre and much more. If you’d like to make a grand entrance, you can arrive by helicopter on their roof or by chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce. It’s the lap of luxury and pure fantasy rolled into one: a once in a lifetime hotel experience.
It’s still one of my favourite hotels of all time! Rates start at $4,300 USD including breakfast for two.

These are my 5 favourite hotels, but my hotel list continues to grow! What’s your favourite?
Safe travels,
Mark

European Countries You Should Visit This Spring

A view of Belgrade – one of the European countries you should visit this spring.

We’ve been going on and on about the Eiffel Tower, Buckingham Palace, and Colosseum throughout the years. Oui, oui, Western Europe has magnificent attractions we’re all dying to see. However, blinded by over-tourism, we often overlook the wonders that Eastern Europe might have to offer. If you have itchy feet and wondering where to go next, here are some European countries you should visit this spring.

1. Great value for your money

Prices have gone up in the western part of Europe and are getting pricier with every minute. It might be a good idea to take a break from awfully overpriced coffee shops in Rome and save some money while exploring the not-so-basic wonders of the old land. It could be refreshing to look into Balkan countries – such as Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, and Slovenia. All of them are excellent and money-saving options.

Prices for travel services, including everything from lodging to transportation to excursions, are much more affordable in Eastern than in Western Europe. For example, a private walking tour may cost $100 or less, but a lovely supper for two with wine would cost $40.

2. You will never be hungry

We can promise you that you will never be hungry in Hungary! Or any other country in Eastern Europe. This region is abundant in gourmet options that would make any foodie salivate and some of the greatest beers, wines, and liquors found anywhere in the globe. In most cases, these tiny nations don’t produce enough to export, so they retain the finest for themselves instead of selling it.

Some of the ‘must try’ dishes are:

  1. Serbian sarma
  2. Bosnian kebabs
  3. Istrian Yota in Croatia
  4. Hungarian goulash
  5. Slovenian buckwheat spoonbread

Of course, nothing in the Balkans goes without some liquor, so you can choose between head-spinning sljivovica and medovaca to add to the dishes’ flavor.

A must try – Sarma

There’s one dish in Eastern Europe that is an absolute favorite for locals and every tourist that is lucky enough to try it. Yes, we are talking about sarma. Pickled cabbage, ground beef, and rice are the main ingredients in traditional sarma. However, the dish may be made with vine leaves or minced fish meat. One thing is for sure – your tastebuds won’t be indifferent after meeting this beauty. Ajvar is another honorable mention coming from Serbia that might go well with sarma. It’s basically some kind of salad made of paprika – but every description is an understatement – you simply have to try it.

A bowl of sarma.
Get ready for an explosion of different tastes! With so many European countries you should visit this spring, you’ll be able to try out many authentic dishes.

3. You can have a variety of cultural experiences

Within a very limited geographic region, you might encounter many distinctive and disparate cultures. Although the distance between Finland and Albania is not great, their cultures are worlds apart. It’s possible to go to numerous countries in one week since everything is within simple driving distance and no more than a couple of hours away by air.

The cultural diversity might require some more time to explore, and you might consider moving here for a while. And if you are considering making such a long and complex move, it’s best to live it up to professional international US movers. You might need help getting here from the US and transporting all your luggage. Go east if you think you would have fun going through culture shock after culture shock.

4. A strong sense of heritage

Although they are catching up with contemporary times, towns like Prague and Krakow are still steeped in history. Their residents continue to observe and enjoy local traditions and festivals year-round. Cobblestone streets and tiny passageways are charming and simple to traverse, and there’s a different sight waiting around every corner. There are still certain regions where horse and carriage remain the primary mode of transportation. In fact, it’s getting to know the heritage of visited countries that will make you a traveler instead of a tourist

A horse drawn carriage.
Include a horse carriage ride in your itinerary to experience the charms of a city.

Spring is a perfect time to visit the Serbian district of Kraljevo because of the unique celebrations of medieval times. So-called ‘Lilac days’ celebrate the love of king Milutin for his future wife – Helene D’Anjou. He ordered the whole area to be planted in lilacs as a wedding gift for her. Allegedly, her hair contained some purple glow that resembled lilacs. How romantic!

5. All the European countries you should visit this spring have breathtaking landscapes

The area offers a diverse range of settings that appeal to many travelers. From magnificent natural beauty, including a variety of national parks, mountains, lakes, and coastline, to rural villages and cosmopolitan towns, among other things. There’s something for everyone. You can make an exciting road trip and see as much as possible. If you’re an adventure-seeking traveler, you should not miss the following places:

  • Lake Bled in Slovenia
  • Plitvice lake in Croatia
  • Budapest Caves
  • Kotor Bay

Kotor – a tiny gem in the mountains

Being a part of a small country called Montenegro, a Balkan gem on its own, Kotor is an inspiration to many artists of this region. If you climb a mountain near Kotor in spring, you will witness the most beautiful landscape where mountains meet the sea.

Kotor Bay at daylight.
It remains a mystery whether Kotor is more beautiful at night or at day.

6. You will be welcomed with open arms

Compared to Western Europeans, who are sick and tired of tourist disturbing their peace, residents of Eastern countries are excited to have guests. These nations, formerly inaccessible to outsiders, are now welcoming tourists with open arms. They are just as keen on getting to know us as we are on learning more about them. If you’re traveling single, don’t worry. The nations in this region are among the friendliest and safest in the world. It is uncommon to encounter off-limits locations, even late at night, and this region has not been the focus of any terrorist activity in recent history. If you choose these European countries you should visit this spring, one thing is for sure – you will be welcomed in the best possible way.