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Vancouver is a fantastic destination formed from an eclectic variety of colourful neighbourhoods. From the redevelopment of industrial units in Yaletown to the relaxed pace in Kitsilano, exploring the city by foot or by car hire in Vancouver opens up a host of new discoveries in this west coast port city. So, before you head to Vancouver, discover a little more about each neighbourhood below.
Vancouver’s Downtown is comprised of some of the city’s most popular districts; Yaletown, Gastown, Coal Harbour and the West End. From biking along the seawall and admiring scenic views, to exploring the vibrant nightlife and delicious destinations for foodies, there is something for everyone in this incredible neighbourhood. Located in the southeastern portion of the city, the area’s exciting shopping opportunities and unspoilt stretches of countryside and parks will keep you busy for days.
Situated on the water’s edge, just off downtown Vancouver, Coal Harbour has perfected the balance between business and pleasure. Amongst towering glass skyscrapers, this residential neighbourhood provides its visitors with unrivalled views of the marina, as well as bountiful green spaces, as a result of an initiative established in 1990.
This Vancouver neighbourhood is a wonderful option for those who want the excitement of a city but long for expanses of lush greenery that are often hard to find. Wander along the idyllic seawall to Stanley Park or gaze at the impressive yachts at the marina before slipping into one of the parks along the way to soak up the laidback atmosphere.
Vibrant colours and a captivating culture are just some of the things that Chinatown has to offer. Buildings boasting character line the streets of this neighbourhood, first established in the 1890s, attracting thousands of tourists each year. Vancouver’s Chinatown is one of the biggest in the world and has undergone redevelopment over the past couple of decades. However, the neighbourhood is preserved under a heritage designation, allowing it to retain its charm.
Stroll into cafes and bite down on baked goods before heading into an Asian speciality store. Although Chinatown is renowned for its bustling streets, you can seek tranquillity in the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden—the first of its kind grown outside of China.
Gastown is Vancouver’s original neighbourhood. Named after John ‘Gassy Jack’ Deighton who opened the first tavern in the area in 1867, Gastown is now home to an exciting arts scene, with galleries situated across the neighbourhood. Sampling the delicious street food is a must whilst here and with so many different culinary delights on offer, you’ll never be too far from your next food discovery. Many of the buildings in Gastown have retained their character, with architecture reminiscent of its past. However, one must-visit landmark is the whistling steam clock, which puts on a show every hour.
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Yaletown is one of the most sought-after locations in Vancouver thanks to its thriving nightlife. Situated in Downtown Vancouver, this area combines industrial warehouses with exciting ventures in food, design and clothing, making it one of Vancouver’s hippest neighbourhoods. Yaletown is perfect for those who are on the lookout for vibrant nightlife, with many of its residents’ young professionals populating the area.
There is plenty to see and do, with a number of waterfront parks providing the perfect backdrop for a sunny afternoon. Here, you can go for a jog before heading towards the redbrick warehouses for a delicious brunch. Other popular Yaletown attractions include the BC Place Stadium, home to the Canadian Football League’s BC Lions, the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre and the BC Sports Hall of Fame and Museum.
The core of Downtown Vancouver, the West End, is a cultural hub with a thriving nightlife, colourful history and plenty of hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Here, you can experience the diversity of the neighbourhood first-hand as you stroll through Davie Village before heading into Stanley Park, providing spectacular views over the seawall. The park is the perfect place to spend an afternoon, and with watersports such as kayaking and paddleboarding on offer, you’ll be sure to find the perfect activity for you. You’ll also discover some of Vancouver’s best beaches in the West End, including Sunset Beach and English Bay—each offering incredible sunsets.
Kitsilano is perfect if you’re looking to relish in the slower pace of life. This neighbourhood offers independent eateries, beautiful boutiques and plenty of outdoor space, including Vanier Park and the popular Kitsilano Beach. Also, home to the Museum of Vancouver and the Maritime Museum, Kitsilano is a great place to discover more about the city’s history, before heading towards Burrard Bridge to catch a glimpse of the unrivalled views.
Commercial Drive is perhaps best-known for its friendly neighbourhood vibe and community spirit. Quaint coffee shops boast some of the most delicious baked goods you’re likely to find whilst in Vancouver, situated alongside diverse eateries—many offering vegetarian and vegan options. A short walk away you’ll find the popular Trout Lake Farmer’s Market at John Hendry Park, selling fresh produce and homemade products on Saturdays throughout the year. The area’s myriad of trendy bars brings this neighbourhood to life in the later hours, with breweries like the East Van Brewing Company and Vancouver’s longest running craft brewery, Storm Brewing, welcoming beer lovers day and night.
Located a short journey from Downtown Vancouver directly underneath the Granville Street Bridge, the historic Granville Island is a favourite with locals and a popular attraction year-round. Once an industrial area, former factories now stand as shops, theatres and restaurants—offering some of the freshest seafood in the city. But the main attraction is the popular indoor market, featuring an assortment of stalls, selling everything from food and produce to handcrafted gifts.
Elsewhere on the Island, you’ll find two breweries, a spirits distillery and a range of outdoor seating, hosting talented buskers who regularly play for market crowds. Take advantage of the market’s False Creek location and enjoy paddleboarding or kayaking, or jump on the ‘Aquabus’, providing easy access to and from Yaletown. Of course, like most attractions in the city, Granville Island can also be reached via foot, bike or bus.