Vancouver

Vancouver is a wonderfully cosmopolitan city, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, with a dramatic mountain backdrop. It is renowned for its culture, dining and shopping, all of which are abundantly present and richly diverse.

Quite literally surrounded by natural beauty, Vancouver is considered to be one of the most desirable places to visit in the world, drawing visitors from all corners of the globe, eager to be charmed, wowed and entertained. 

Vancouver is an outdoor playground, filled with green spaces and an attractive waterfront. Walking, cycling, rollerblading and watersports are not holiday activites for Vancouvian’s, but simply an every day way of life.

This city is also renowned for its diverse culture and ethinicity. The Coast Salish people have called vancouver home for thousands of years and their cultural traditions, love of nature, art crafts, heritage, and spiritual history run deep into Vancouver’s roots.

Vancouver's Neighbourhoods

With vibrant residential neighbourhoods, both in Vancouver’s downtown core and close by, it doesn’t matter where you explore, you’ll be wandering, dining and shopping amongst the locals. From Coal Harbour on the waterfront, to historic areas like Gastown and Chinatown, through to hip enclaves such as Yaletown and Kitsilano, you’ll discover colourful sidewalks to stroll, spectacular settings to savour and a wide range of urban vibes with roots in many different cultures and ways of life.

We are highlighting some of the many neighbourhoods which should be included on a visit to the city, each with it’s own pace, quirky personality and atmosphere. These range from world-class shopping on Robson Street, where everything from big-name brands to small quaint boutiques can be found, through to the grass roots dining and bustling markets of Granville Island. There are many more neighborhoods beyond these, ensuring that no matter how long you choose to stay, there will be plenty to explore!

Gastown

Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood, Gastown grew from a single tavern founded by John ‘Gassy Jack’ Deighton back in 1867. Today, the district retains its historic charm and independent spirit. Victorian architecture houses a thriving fashion scene, impeccably curated décor boutiques, one-of-a-kind galleries and some of the best dining in Vancouver.

It’s a gathering place for stylish locals and an ideal neighbourhood to explore on foot. Take an architectural walking tour to hear the district’s history, stroll the streets in search of wine and charcuterie and relax at the days end in one of the craft beer public houses. 

Robson Street

With BC Place Stadium at one end, Stanley Park at the other, and the city’s best-known shopping precinct in between, Robson Street is a must-stroll for visitors to Vancouver. One of Vancouver’s oldest commercial streets, it was once known as Robsonstrasse for the sheer number of German and European stores that opened up after the Second World War.

The international character of the street still exists. Being right in the heart of the downtown core, you’ll find yourself walking right alongside locals on their way to the office, sports fans heading to the game, and students lining up outside noodle shops.

Chinatown

As North America’s third-largest Chinatown, this neighbourhood is packed with vivid colours, exotic cuisine and vibrant culture, rich in history and architecture. Located just to the east of downtown, highlights include Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, the Sam Kee Building (the world’s narrowest commercial building) and the Chinese Cultural Centre.

In recent years, the neighbourhood has seen a younger generation of the city’s Asian population move in, resulting in an influx of modern galleries, cutting-edge restaurants, and new cafes.

Granville Island

In the early 1900s, Granville Island was home to factories, plants, and sawmills. Things are a little different today, with Granville Island being both a locals’ favorite and a huge draw for visitors. Technically a sandspit and not an island, the neighbourhood sits just south of the downtown peninsula, right under the Granville Bridge. The Granville Island Public Market acts as a hub of activity, but it’s also one of the city’s most important cultural districts with theatres, artisan workshops, and craft studios.

One of the best ways to get to Granville Island is one of the adorable mini-tugboat ferries that criss-cross False Creek. Once you’re there, the biggest attraction on Granville Island is the Public Market. Housed indoors, there are endless rows of stalls that feature fresh produce, gourmet foods, baked goods, and seafood.

Coal Harbour & Canada Place

Despite the fact that Coal Harbour is right downtown, it’s a surprisingly calm little neighbourhood, right on the water’s edge. It’s even more surprising given its industrial history as a former shipyard sitting right next to the railway terminus. The area starts at Canada Place and stretches west to Stanley Park, and is bordered by Burrard Inlet to the north, West Georgia Street to the south. Around this area you’ll find locals and visitors mingling on the Seawall, neighborhood cafes and restaurants, a popular marina, and the odd harbour seal bobbing around and greeting passersby.

Canada Place is alos the place to watch the cruise ships gliding into the city and home to the breath-taking FlyOver Canada flight simulation ride, which is well worth exploring.

Stanley Park

Ideally situated on a peninsula at the northwestern edge of downtown Vancouver, Stanley Park is one of the city’s main tourist destinations, attracting approximately 8 million visitors each year. Featuring lovely beaches, miles of well-maintained paved and dirt trails, Canada’s largest aquarium and an array of can’t-miss kid-friendly spots (including a pool, water park, miniature railway and more), this 400-hectare (1,000-acre) haven is recognized as one of the greatest urban parks in the world.

As Vancouver’s first park, with its ever-blooming gardens, pristine coastal areas and roughly 500,000 cedar, fir and hemlock trees, Stanley Park has continued to live up to its ‘greenspace’ designation for almost 130 years. For these reasons and more, this tranquil oasis is the perfect city escape.

Grouse Mountain

Rising 1,250 metres (4,100 feet) above Vancouver and just 15 minutes from the city’s downtown core, is the vast alpine playground of Grouse Mountain.  The iconic Red Skyride gives visitors and locals alike the opportunity to see the jaw-dropping majestic nature of B.C. unfold in front of them during the eight minute ride from the Valley Station to the summit.

As Vancouver’s most popular attraction, Grouse Mountain is the only truly four-season destination in the lower mainland and features a wildlife refuge, vast selection of dining options, thrilling outdoor adventure, summer activities galore and the best in local snow sports. One thing is for certain; there is no place quite like the Peak of Vancouver.

Beyond Vancouver

If you have time to discover more of British Columbia, Vancouver provides the perfect launch pad to explore other parts of the province. Along the gloriously scenic Sea to Sky Highway you’ll find incredible outdoor adventures just 45 minutes away in Squamish or in the nearby town of Whistler, which was host mountain resort to the 2010 Olympics Winter Games. You could also take a ferry, helicopter or floatplane across to Vancouver Island to visit the charming provincial capital, Victoria, or hang ten in Canada’s surfing capital Tofino. If you prefer to head inland you could discover B.C.’s lakeside wine growing region of Okanagan Valley.

Vancouver Beaches

Which way to the beach? Well, in Vancouver you can find one everywhere you turn.

  • Kitsilano Beach – At Vancouver’s version of Venice Beach, buff and bronzed bodies make their rounds among the mix of joggers, families, and everyday sun-worshippers. Grassy patches are perfect for tossing the disc, the tennis courts are always popular, and the beach attracts volleyball players from all over the city. The adjacent Kitsilano Pool offers the chance to swim laps in the city’s only outdoor, heated, salt-water pool, all with a wrap-around view of the city, ocean and mountains.
  • Jericho Beach – When all the elements are right, fishing and a picnic at the Jericho Beach pier makes for a perfect evening. Enjoy the long, sandy stretch with stunning views of the North Shore Mountains and the downtown core. It is also a great spot for sailing, windsurfing and sea kayaking.

Vancouver Beaches (cont.)

  • Spanish Banks – The least crowded of Vancouver’s beaches, this stretch of sand is named to commemorate its discovery by Spanish explorers in 1792. Located right by the University of British Columbia, it’s a wonderful retreat for those who wish to escape from the pace of city life.
  • West End Beaches – At the southern edge of the West End neighborhood, no more than a 30-minute walk from the downtown core, you’ll find two beautiful urban waterfronts – English Bay and Sunset Beach. A jumping off point for rollerblading adventures, strolling for ice cream, and picnics, and the place to lay down your blanket.
  • Stanley Park Beaches -Second Beach is home to an immense, heated outdoor pool, complete with a slide for the kids. Further north along the seawall lies secluded Third Beach, a popular place for summer evening barbecues and sunset watching.
  • Wreck Beach – This six-kilometre long, secluded beach at the western tip of Vancouver is Canada’s first and largest legal, clothing-optional beach.
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