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 among 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.
Coal Harbour & Canada Place
Bordering Stanley Park, Coal Harbour’s big attraction is the view, seawall and the laidback atmosphere, with plenty of spots to grab a scenic meal or watch the floatplanes. Head south along the seawall to the landmark Vancouver Convention Centre, stopping at Jack Poole Plaza for a selfie with the 2010 Olympic Cauldron. A little further along, Canada Place is picture-perfect for photo-ops, watching cruise ships glide into the city, and home to the breathtaking FlyOver Canada flight simulation ride.
A National Historic Site of Canada and the city’s oldest neighbourhood, Gastown’s heritage buildings have are now occupied by cool designer stores and some of the city’s best bars and restaurants. Take an architectural walking tour to hear the district’s history, or simply browse Water Street’s boutiques and souvenir stores. If you’re hungry, stroll the streets for wine and charcuterie, Pacific Northwest menus, modern Asian options, cool cocktail bars and craft beer pubs.
As North America’s third-largest Chinatown, this neighbourhood is packed with vivid colours, exotic cuisine and a 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 cafes setting up shop.
Right in the heart of downtown, Robson Street is the city’s best known shopping strip. This is where you’ll find the partially-subterranean Pacific Centre mall and big-name stores. Just a block over on Alberni Street is Vancouver’s “luxury row” with international designer brands. But this area is not just about retail therapy – it’s also home to the Vancouver Art Gallery, and at the south end, BC Place Stadium, home to a number of the city’s pro sports teams.
As Vancouver’s original warehouse district, Yaletown has experienced a major revitalization since its rebirth as host of Expo '86. Since then, Yaletown has become a densely populated residential neighbourhood, home to the city’s beautiful people, and one of Vancouver's hippest areas, filled with sidewalk cafes, trendy restaurants, a thriving nightlife scene and intimate boutique hotels. After strolling the brick-lined streets, pick up lunch from a local café and head to the waterfront David Lam Park for an impromptu picnic.
Originally an industrial area, Granville Island is now a hotspot for cultural and culinary explorers. Home to the bustling Granville Island Public Market, take a tasting tour to meet the vendors and sample local specialties. You’ll find many restaurants, artists’ studios, theatre, breweries and independent shops. Right on the water, this is also a popular spot to launch off on a paddle around False Creek, or tour aboard one of the adorable mini-ferries cross-crossing the water.
Just over the Burrard Bridge from the downtown peninsula, Kitsilano is one of the city’s most desirable older neighbourhoods. Known to the locals simply as “Kits,” it’s home to Kitsilano Beach, the city’s largest outdoor pool, and Vanier Park attractions including Vancouver Museum and the Vancouver Maritime Museum. Shoppers should make sure to hit West 4th Avenue for browsable shops and popular eateries, as well as West Broadway’s popular retail strip.
Stretching from Coal Harbour to English Bay, from Stanley Park south to Burrard Street, the West End’s tree-lined boulevards, neighbourhood restaurants and independent shops serve a population of young people and seniors in a largely adult-focussed area of the city. The West End’s vibe is diverse, multicultural and as laidback as the neighbourhood’s waterfront location would imply.
Directly across from Vancouver’s downtown, located in the shadow of the towering Coast Mountains, the North Shore is best accessed either via the Lions Gate Bridge or on a short SeaBus ride from Waterfront Station. The area is perfect for enjoying the great outdoors, with mountain hikes and ocean paddling during the summer, and a host of snowy activities in the winter. Some of the North Shore’s main attractions include Lonsdale Quay’s Public Market, Capilano Suspension Bridge Park and Grouse Mountain.