Vancouver is a city of neighbourhoods, each with their own unique charm and attractions. One of the most enjoyable things to do in Vancouver is to explore these intriguing areas, five of which we take a look at here.
While it is pretty easy to get to many parts of the city on foot, you will also need to use public transport to check out some of Vancouver’s neighbourhoods. With the SkyTrain and buses providing affordable and easy to use services, that’s easily done. Another thing to keep in mind about Vancouver neighbourhoods is that they’re very easily identifiable; all you have to do is look at the lampposts. Not only do they tend to sport neighbourhood-specific banners but most also have their own unique style.
Attracting around 10.5 million locals and tourists each year, Granville Island is situated in False Creek and is just a short trip from Downtown Vancouver. The biggest draw here is the Granville Island Public Market where a multitude of stalls offer up a smorgasbord of colourful fruits and vegetables, fresh seafood, local cheese, tempting treats and plenty more. Foodies come in their droves to pick up fresh produce and sample the food on offer at the many restaurants. It’s also worth having a wander outside the main market hall where you’ll find plenty of great shops selling local handcrafts and artworks, and where you can listen to music provided by street performers. The Island also hosts some of Vancouver’s most popular annual festivals including Winterruption, a 3-day celebration of arts and culture. With all this and more on offer, it’s no surprise that Granville Island is one of the most popular parts of Vancouver.
Nearest bus: #50 leaving from Gastown, get off at intersection of W 2nd Ave and Anderson Street.
Hop on the #4 bus in Downtown Vancouver and after a 20-minute ride you’ll end up in this popular neighbourhood. First on the agenda should be a visit to Kitsilano Beach. Affectionately known as Kits Beach, it’s a great spot for swimming and beach volleyball plus it affords some impressive views of the city. After a stroll along the sand, why not check out some of the top Vancouver attractions located in this neighbourhood. The Museum of Vancouver (MOV) and H.R. McMillan Space Centre are both housed within the same building in Vanier Park. If you’re interested in learning a bit more about Vancouver history, the MOV is a must as it features some really interesting displays including the neon-bright 50s gallery.
Nearest Bus: #4 leaving from Downtown Vancouver (W Pender Street), get off at W 4th Ave at Cypress Street.
One of the most happening neighbourhoods in Vancouver, Mount Pleasant is easily accessible from the Downtown area of the city by taking a short trip on the Canada Line of the SkyTrain. Here you’ll find all kinds of funky cafés offering everything from vegetarian fare to more traditional diner dishes, making this a good area of the city to check out if you’ve got the munchies. Alternative stores and laid-back bars add to the neighbourhood’s cool vibe. Lots of these bars, cafés and stores can be found in or around SoMa (South Main) area of the neighbourhood centred on the intersection of Main and Broadway.
Nearest SkyTrain: Canada Line – Broadway City Hall station.
Home to much of Vancouver’s lively LGBTQ scene, Davie Village is also the setting for the city’s annual Pride Parade and Festival which takes place annually in July. From the abundance of rainbow flags to the pink bus shelters, you won’t have any trouble identifying this colourful neighbourhood. Numerous cafés, restaurants, bars and clubs can be found along Davie Street and the surrounding streets, while the area also boasts a great collection of shops. One store you should definitely try to check out is the Little Sister’s Book and Art Emporium.
Walking distance from Granville Street in Downtown Vancouver.
Pender Street is the setting for Vancouver’s Chinatown which is the largest Chinatown in Canada and the third largest in North America. As you cross into this neighbourhood you’ll notice that the street lamps are painted bright red and often topped by elaborate dragons. A veritable kaleidoscope of colours, Chinatown is filled with stores selling fabric, spices, clothing and much more. It’s also one of the best places to eat out in the city, as the neighbourhood boasts a plethora of affordable eateries and some of the best traditional dim sum you’ll find anywhere. On top of all that it's also home to attractions like the beautiful Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden which is well-worth a look, especially if you’re looking for a bit of a breather from the day-to-day commotion of the city.
Nearest SkyTrain: Expo Line – Stadium/Chinatown station.
One of the oldest areas of Vancouver, historic Gastown dates back to 1867. A gentleman by the name of ‘Gassy’ Jack Deighton set up a saloon in this area at the time and it’s this man that the neighbourhood is named after. It’s a really popular spot with snap-happy tourists who come to take pictures of the ‘Gateway to Historic Gastown’ sign as well as the Gastown Steam Clock. Listen out and you’ll hear the tooting whistles of this steam-powered clock, which is located on the corner of Cambie and Water Street, as it sounds out the time. The neighbourhood boasts a great selection of shops and restaurants, and is also home to some of the city’s most popular bars and clubs. Night-time is one of the best times to visit Gastown because, even if you’re not into the bar scene, the neighbourhood is beautifully lit with ornate lampposts, making it a cool spot for night photos.
Nearest SkyTrain: Canada/Expo Lines – Waterfront station.
So if you visit Vancouver make sure to take the time to get a real feel for this popular Canadian destination by exploring some of the intriguing Vancouver neighbourhoods.