Here's a great walking tour of downtown Vancouver, just 4.0 km long, that'll give visitors a great cross section of the downtown core:
1. Start at Torch Cauldron (Thurlow & Canada Place)
2. Walk around the lower level of the new Convention Centre
3. Visit viewing platform of the Pan Pacific Hotel
4. Walk to the east side of the Vancouver Sun building
5. Visit the Sinclair Centre
6. Walk down Hastings and up to Burrard & Georgia
7. Visit the Hotel Vancouver
8. Walk to Georgia & Howe
9. Visit Robson Square & the Court Complex
10. Walk to Burrard & Smithe
11. Visit the new YMCA
12. Visit one of the churches at Nelson & Burrard
13. Walk through the courtyard of the Wall Centre
14. Walk to Burrard & Davie
15. Walk to Davie & Jervis
16. Walk to Jervis & Burnaby
17. Walk to English Bay
Google Maps: http://tinyurl.com/3e396j6
If you base yourself in downtown Vancouver, you'll be within walking distance to many of the city's attractions and neighbourhoods. It's not like other North American cities where you want to avoid being downtown. In Vancouver, downtown is where all the action is.
The real beauty of downtown Vancouver (aside from the beaches and Stanley Park) is that it's small, compact and walkable. It's 2km north-south and 4km east-west. I can walk from the southern end of downtown to the northern end in 20 minutes easily, so we're talking minimal distances.
When I refer to "downtown Vancouver" I am referring to the entire peninsula in which the city centre is situated upon. Look at the map of Vancouver. You'll notice that Vancouver is vaguely shaped like an oven mitt with the "fingers" pointing westward and the "thumb"pointing north-west. The thumb is downtown Vancouver. The little inlet between the fingers and the thumb is False Creek, and the green patch at the edge of the thumb is Staney Park. Stanley Park is arguably the top attraction in Vancouver, but certainly not the only one!
Other downtown Vancouver attractions include the Vancouver Aquarium, the Vancouver Art Gallery, Robson Street, Gastown, Chinatown, Yaletown, the West End, English Bay, the Seawall, Granville Street, Coal Harbour, False Creek, GM Place, BC Place, and Canada Place. These tend to be the major attractions, and of course, there are even more downtown, and even more outside of downtown.
Getting to attractions and neighbourhoods outside of downtown, like Grouse Mountain, Capilano Suspension Bridge, Lynn Canyon, Kitsilano, Granville Island, UBC, Commercial Drive, and the Museum of Anthropology, is easy. They're all accessible either by a short water taxi or short bus ride. You really don't need a car to experience Vancouver.
In terms of amenities, downtown Vancouver has hundreds of restaurant options with all kinds of cuisine types at all different price ranges. You don't have to break your budget to have a good meal in Vancouver, so take advantage of this! And if you prefer, there are plenty of grocery stores, coffee shops, pharmacies, convenience stores, and heck, even a Costco!
While downtown Vancouver does have many shopping districts and nightlife options, the city's quite famous for its restaurant scene. This, in my opinion, overshadows Vancouver's nightclubs, pubs, and shops - and deservedly so.
What's also nice about downtown Vancouver is that, unlike other major North American cities, Vancouver's downtown core has high density residential neighbourhoods. As a result, downtown Vancouver never empties out or feels vacant. People are out on the sidewalks walking their dogs, walking to the grocery store, walking to work, walking home after partying with friends. It's a safe place to be.
Rather than go into detail about downtown Vancouver, I have individual tips for each attraction I highted above. Please take a look through my "Things to do" tips for my elaborations.
Just walking through Downtown will keep you entertained whether it be the"Rappers", Salsa Dancing, Music, or just the multitude of tourist and locals on the streets. Just keep your eyes open, or rest in a streetside cafe and enjoy the world as it goes by.
Since Vancouver verges on the sea, you’ll find that there are many marinas holding boats for the weekend yachtsmen. Not being much of a seaman myself, I still find it interesting to visit the yachts in dock, especially the larger ones that pass through Vancouver on vacation. On the north side of downtown, about your only option is the Bayshore marina in the Westend near Stanley park. On the Southside of downtown, False Creek is almost filled with marinas.
Well this is where I stayed in Samesun backpackers - an absolute dive.
The place had a lot of character, bums on every corner askin for weed, 25c peep shows, pizza slice joints everywhere. Very threatening place but all part of the fun.
It's a very central place to stay on a budget as close to everything in the city but I wouldn't recommend staying at Samesun Backpackers - an absolute hell hole!
7/11 is just up the street down Davie it was my saviour!
It may not be your usual tourist sight, but this gigantic pendulum has stopped many people in their tracks. The pendulum is housed inside a branch of HSBC bank at Hornsby and W. Georgia, and is continually swinging back and forth throughout the foyer of the building. I was worried about standing beneath it, in case it knocked into me (but of course, the safety people had already worked out that this wouldn't happen! Duh!). I couldn't see a clock attached to the pendulum, I think it's just for show.
Good shopping and reataurants in downtown Vancouver. Stanley Park offers the excellent and scenic sea wall. You can walk, rooler skate, or rent a bike. The paved trail around Stanley Park is about 11 kilometers. Do the whole thing or portions of it.
Being the central part of the city, downtown Vancouver is everything you expect it to be. Busy yet relaxed, trendy and filled with both victorian and modern architecture and skyscrapers.
Downtown Vancouver is the ideal location for a stay in this city. We stayed at the 3 star Century Plaza hotel (including public parking in the building) in Burrard Street, only a 5-10 minutes walk from the junction with Robson street, the place to be for shopping and eating out. For cheap breakfast go to the Food Market in Burrard Street. For nice and payable dinner go to trendy Earls in Robson Street. See my restaurant tips for more details.
Wished I could stay here forever (as long as the weather is fine of course)
Go walking trough downtown. See the museums, shops and numerous other sights.
Vancouver's downtown area is clean and quite small so everything can be reached by foot. Canada Place is a great place to start, from there, work your way south and zig-zag through town.
The West End of Vancouver is a wonderfully diverse part of the city, occupying the western part of the downtown peninsula.
Because of its popularity, most of the West End is covered in high-rises, with just a few remaining houses.
Circling its southern edge is a magnificent seawall that eventually enters into & around Stanley Park.
The first time you visit the West End I would recommend this walk:
- Start at Granville Island and take the mini-ferry across False Creek.
- Walk west along the seawall.
- When you get to the English Bay Bathhouse, decide if you have the time & energy to walk around Stanley Park (about 2 to 3 hours extra).
- If not, then turn right and walk along Denman Street. Here you'll find an eclectic mix of shops & restaurants.
- When you get to Robson Street turn right (FYI this is approx. where you'd have ended up if you had walked around Stanley Park instead).
- Walk up Robson Street. While this used to have a heavy German influence, informally known as "RobsonStrasse", it now has a plethora of sushi shops and expensive boutiques.
Your West End tour will end around Robson & Burrard. From here you can take public transportation or a taxi to wherever you'd like. FYI a SkyTrain station is 3 blocks to your left along Burrard.
Walk around downtown
A dense patchwork of colourful high rise buildings on a dark canvass of snow-capped mountains reaching into the distance, surrounded on three sides by water. That's how downtown Vancouver looks from any point on the south shore. Get amongst the buildings, however, and there's a surprising feeling of space, as you wander the streets past gold, red, blue and green windows. On a sunny day it's nice just to walk round and look at the architecture, some of which seems rather art deco. Of course, downtown is also host to some specific features such as the Harbour Center, Canada Place, lots of shopping, restaurants and various other places of interest. To the east, there's Gastown and Chinatown, while on the west side there's English Bay and the entrance to Stanley Park. See my separate travelogue to get a feel for the downtown area.