Marina and Downtown Modern City Skyline in Coal Harbour viewed from Stanley Park. Sunset Twilight in Summer. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Vancouver Travel Guide

There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to Vancouver, Canada. It's too cold, it rains all the time, it gets so dark, etc. Not only are these preconceived notions misguided, Vancouver actually has some of the most temperate weather in the entire country, making it an ideal destination to play, explore, and have adventures inside and out.

Once you realize you're not going to be swept away by freezing rain year-round, you can begin digging into the wide variety of things to see, do, eat, and explore. Canada's third largest city is a multicultural hub with stunning architecture that sits on the Strait of Georgia and is surrounded by epic mountains and lush green forests.

Because of its natural beauty, the city is set up for outdoor adventurers, whether cruising the streets of one of the largest Chinatowns in the world, riding bikes along the city's seawall, or hiking in nearby woodlands for some of the freshest air on earth.

Vancouver is a city that is proud of its diversity, its indigenous history, and its tolerance. Davie Village is a neighborhood in the city's West End where a thriving LGBTQ+ community comes out to play, while the city also boasts the third-largest urban Indigenous population in all of Canada.

So, throw your mistaken beliefs out the window and think about booking a ticket to Canada's western hub, you will not regret it.

Time Zone

Pacific Standard Time

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Best Time to Go

There aren't any bad times to go to Vancouver, but because it's a northern city, there are reasons for every season. The summer months draw in the most tourists and boast the longest daylight hours, but the winter (which is surprisingly mild) is the least crowded time of year and has sprouting trees and flowers as early as February. Keep in mind that the rainiest months are from November to March, which leaves the month of September as the most idyllic time with changing leaves, cooling temps, and dry skies to get outside.

If you're into whale watching, April through November is prime time. For events and festivals, think about Chinese New Year, which lands between January and February, the Vancouver Marathon in May, Vancouver International Jazz Festival in June, or the Vancouver Pride Parade in July or August.

Things to Know

One of the best things about Vancouver is how easy it is to get around. Not only is the city incredibly walkable and bike-able, but there is also a plethora of public transit options. Don't bother renting a car here as hotel parking is pricey and taxis, buses, ferries, trains, and ride-share apps make moving around a cinch. Check out this handy transit guide by the Vancouver Tourism Board.

Another great item to note about Vancouver is that the city boasts 550 separate locations with free WiFi service. Look for the #VanWifi public network to connect in case you need touring advice at your fingertips. Also, if you're visiting Vancouver from the United States, you do not need an adapter for your electronics as all of Canada runs on standard 120 V.

As far as the geography of the city, Vancouver is broken up into neighborhoods. Popular hoods include the Downtown Centre, which is in the middle of the city; Gastown, which is known as the historic quarter filled with cobblestoned streets and trendy restaurants; Kitsilano for the beach and water enthusiasts; Yaletown for high-end shopping and eating; Chinatown for great eats and sites; and the West End, which leads outdoor lovers to the expansive Stanley Park. 

Lastly, Vancouver is considered one of the safest cities in the world. But like all major metropolises, mind your belongings — especially in the highest touristy areas of the city.

Currency: Canadian Dollar – nicknamed the "loonie." 
(Check the current exchange rate)

Language: English

Calling Code: +1 604

Capital City: Victoria (capital of British Columbia)

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How to Get Around

Trains: Vancouver SkyTrain is one of the most-efficient means of getting around the city. There are three lines: the Expo Line with four downtown stations, including Chinatown and the Waterfront; the Canada Line, which can take you to and from the airport, in addition to Vancouver City Centre and Yaletown; and the Millennium Line that links with the Westcoast Express commuter train. Depending on where you're going, fares run from $1.95 to $5.75.

Buses: Vancouver has an extensive bus system that typically runs from 5am to 1am with stops in every major neighborhood and beyond. Vancouver's TransLink website has a simple plug and play that can help you get to wherever you need to go and includes fare prices.

Taxis: If you plan on taking a taxi from the airport, the fares will change depending on the zone of your destination. Airport rates range from $20-$40. All taxis are regulated in the city and run on meters.

Ferries: Connecting downtown Vancouver with the North Shore is the SeaBus, a passenger-only ferry that departs every 15 minutes during the day and every 30 minutes at night. SeaBus fares are similar to SkyTrain fares.

Car service: When you arrive at the Vancouver International Airport, you have a bevy of transportation options. One of the most comfortable rides is hailing a luxury vehicle to whisk you into the city in style. There are officially-licensed limousine services from the airport that do not require any advanced bookings.

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Best Hotels

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Botanist restaurant Fairmont Pacific Rim, Vancouver
Credit: Courtesy of Fairmont Pacific Rim

Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

Address: 900 W Georgia St, Vancouver, BC V6C 2W6, Canada
Phone: +1 604-684-3131
Website 

Arguably the nicest hotel in the entire city, the Fairmont resides in the central part of the city with epic waterfront views. The classic Châteauesque-styled hotel was built in the 1930s, has more than 500 rooms, and features an indoor pool. Other highlights of the property include its lavish afternoon tea and a pet-friendly policy.

Credit: Courtesy of Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts

Shangri-La Hotel

Address: 1128 W Georgia St, Vancouver, BC V6E 0A8, Canada
Phone: +1 604-689-1120
Website

Part of the luxurious Shangri-La chain of hotels, the Vancouver iteration is home to 119 rooms and 15 floors within the tallest building in the city. This central downtown spot is known for its Zen-inducing spa, award-winning service, and excellent dining at Miantiao — a Chinese/Italian fusion spot that's filled with surprises.

Credit: Courtesy of Rosewood Hotel Georgia

Rosewood Hotel Georgia

Address: 801 W Georgia St, Vancouver, BC V6C 1P7, Canada
Phone: +1 604-682-5566
Website

This vintage downtown hotel was originally opened in 1927 and has played host to A-list celebrities and British royalty alike. In 2011, the hotel unveiled a massive renovation, bringing the property into the 21st century with today's finest amenities. Guests here are treated to an incredible spa, 52-foot indoor saltwater lap pool, and personalized experiences that range from rainforest hikes to helicopter journeys.

Skwachàys Lodge

Address: 31 W Pender St,
Vancouver, BC V6B 1R3, Canada
Phone: +1 604-687-3589
Website

Indigenous-owned and operated, the Skwachàys Lodge is a hotel in the Gastown areas of the city. This arts-forward property hosts an urban Indigenous artist residence and a gallery featuring Indigenous art. If you're looking for the soul of the Indigenous experience, the hotel offers a private sweat lodge purification ceremony on the rooftop garden, in addition to a smudging ceremony meant to purify the body.

Credit: Courtesy of Loden Hotel

Loden

Address: 1177 Melville St, Vancouver, BC V6E 0A3, Canada
Phone: +1 604-669-5060
Website

This boutique hotel is close to Stanley Park and is constantly recognized as one of the best hotels in Vancouver. Known for its health and wellness program, each room comes with its own yoga mat and a 24-hour yoga channel on the in-room TVs. Other unique amenities include an infrared sauna and free use of electric cruiser bikes that can zip you around the city with ease.

Hotel Belmont

Address: 654 Nelson St, Vancouver, BC V6B 6K4, Canada
Phone: +1 604-605-4333
Website

For tourists wanting to be in the fray of Vancouver's bustling nightlife, Hotel Belmont is in the perfect spot. This funky hotel is right off Granville Street, which is home to some of the city's best bars, pubs, and nightclubs. Inside, the hotel leans into kitsch with multicolored layouts and retro design. And if you want to keep the entertainment going at the property, The Basement has a neon-lit arcade with a bowling alley and late night DJ-led dance parties.

Opus Hotel

Address: 322 Davie St, Vancouver, BC V6B 5Z6, Canada
Phone: +1 604-642-6787
Website

A Yaletown mainstay, Opus Hotel is a hip boutique that features in-house Muses who are there to design your entire stay in Vancouver – virtually anyway. The pre-ordained characters give you a helpful guide to the city based on your mood or personality. In addition to making your stay more personalized, the hotel also features a delectable Italian restaurant called Capo with tasty pizzas and slick cocktails.

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Best Restaurants

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Above view of plant of finely made Sushi from Miku in Vancouver
Credit: Mark Yuen

Miku

Address: 200 Granville St #70, Vancouver, BC V6C 1S4, Canada
Phone: +1 604-568-3900
Website

Not only does Miku have some of the best sushi in Vancouver, but it also prides itself on its sustainability. The restaurant is part of the Ocean Wise Program, which is overseen by the Vancouver Aquarium and recognizes restaurants for their commitment to sustainable fishing practices. As a result, you can feel good when you devour the specially curated Kaiseki meals or a la carte albacore, yellowtail, and king salmon nigiri.

L'Abattoir

Address: 217 Carrall St, Vancouver, BC V6B 2J2, Canada
Phone: +1 604-568-1701
Website

There isn't a Michelin Guide in Vancouver, but if the French publication ever decided to review the city, L'Abattoir would be star worthy. Located in Gastown, the restaurant leans into West Coast cuisine with heavy French influences. Menu highlights include chilled marinated octopus, fillet of wild Pacific halibut "à la nage," and pigeon paillard.

Nuba

Address: 207 W Hastings St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1K6, Canada
Phone: +1 604-688-1655
Website

If you're looking for some of the best vegetarian and vegan options wrapped in Middle-Eastern flare, Nuba is the restaurant for you. This Lebanese spot is famous for their falafel, red lentil soup, Merguez meatballs, and creamy hummus. There are four separate locations, so you can generally fill up on Mediterranean delights anywhere in the city.

Cioppino's

Address: 1133 Hamilton St, Vancouver, BC V6B 5P6, Canada
Phone: +1 604-688-7466
Website

Easily the best Italian restaurant in the city, Cioppino's is helmed by chef Giuseppe Posteraro, who is as much an artist as he is a cook. The restaurant is the recipient of the coveted three-fork rating from Italian food and wine magazine, Gambero Rosso—basically the Italian version of the Michelin guide. You'll quickly understand why when Pino whips up original, artistic meals on a nightly basis themed on whatever is in-season and whatever has inspired him on that day. 

Burdock & Co.

Address: 2702 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5T 3E8, Canada
Phone: +1 604-879-0077
Website

Burdock & Co. was one of the first restaurants to adopt the concept of the 100-mile meal. The idea is to source all ingredients from the area and make out-of-this-world farm-to-table dishes that literally can't be seen anywhere else. As a result, the menu is chock-full of locally-forested mushrooms, freshly-caught mussels, charcoal-grilled steaks from local farms, and more. If you care about true sustainability, this is the restaurant for you.

Hawksworth 

Address: 801 W Georgia St, Vancouver, BC V6C 1P7, Canada
Phone: +1 604-673-7000
Website

Typically one of the top-rated restaurants in the city, Hawksworth is a proponent of modern West Coast Canadian dining that sources only the finest-quality ingredients and delivers them in the most innovative of ways. A walk through chef Hawksworth's menu is a foodie's dreamscape that seems to travel around the globe with specialties like Korean-fried cauliflower, wagyu beef carpaccio, spring ricotta agnolotti, and his take on baby-back ribs.

Exterior sign of Salmon n' Bannock, a modern Indigenous Bistro, in Vancouver
Credit: Courtesy of Salmon n' Bannock

Salmon n' Bannock

Address: 1128 W Broadway #7, Vancouver, BC V6H 1G5, Canada
Phone: +1 604-568-8971
Website

The focus of Salmon n' Bannock is to highlight First Nations' traditions within the culinary space. The staff is a cacophony of First Nations' peoples, and the food represents a variety of First Nations' cultures. Classics include a bison pot roast, a "Fiss n' Rice" that's a wild sockeye atop Ojibway wild rice, and loads of Bannock breads with creative toppings.

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Things to Do

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Vancouver Mural Festival

Address: 2410 Columbia St, Vancouver, BC V5Y 3E6, Canada
Phone: +1 604-675-1793
Website

The Vancouver Mural Festival is a non-profit that was formed in 2016 with the aim of enhancing the artistic side of the city. Murals are created throughout the city every year and culminates in a yearly, multi-week event that spans 11 neighborhoods, and includes art walks, live shows, and more.

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

Address: 3735 Capilano Rd, North Vancouver, BC V7R 4J1, Canada
Phone: +1 604-985-7474
Website

The Capilano Suspension Bridge is a 450-foot-long, 230-foot-high bridge that crosses the Capilano River and has been freaking out acrophobes since 1889. The bridge is also part of an expansive park that traipses tourists through bridges and walkways among the coastal rainforest.

Talaysay Tours

Address: 334 Skawshen Rd, West Vancouver, BC V7P 3T1, Canada
Phone: (800) 605-4643
Website

The guiding ethos of the Talaysay Tours is to simply 'love the land.' If you want to discover authentic cultural experiences, Talaysay Tours can give you an inside look at indigenous culture throughout Vancouver's history and ventures through Stanley Park and other historic sites.

Museum of Anthropology

Address: 6393 NW Marine Dr, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z2, Canada
Phone: +1 604-822-5087
Website

Since 1947, the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) has been displaying and celebrating the arts and cultures of First Nations' peoples and other communities in and around British Columbia. MOA is a teaching museum that houses upwards of 50,000 works from across the globe and is famous for its vast collection from the Northwest Coast.

Vancouver Art Gallery

Address: 750 Hornby St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2H7, Canada
Phone: +1 604-662-4700
Website

One of the largest museums in all of Canada, the Vancouver Art Gallery was first established in 1931 and features art from around the world with an emphasis on First Nations and Canadian art. Past exhibits include everything from Picasso and Monet to Murakami and anime.

City Cycle Tours

Address: 648 Hornby St, Vancouver, BC V6C 2G2, Canada
Phone: +1 604-618-8626
Website

Vancouver is an incredibly bike-friendly city and riding is one of the best ways to see all the sites. A guided bike tour by City Cycle Tours can take you through Stanley Park, into Chinatown and Gastown, around the Public Market at Granville Island, and so much more. One of the true highlights is biking the seawall that has views of Vancouver's stunning seascapes and architecture.

Stanley Park

Address: Vancouver, BC V6G 1Z4, Canada
Phone: +1 604-681-6728
Website

Vancouver's largest play area, Stanley Park is a massive green space on the northwest side of the city that is home to Vancouver's famous Seawall, the Vancouver Aquarium, multiple beaches, and dozens of walking and biking trails. The 400-hectare park is a local's favorite and includes multiple dining outlets, swimming pools, ice rinks, golf courses, and more.

Grouse Mountain

Address: 6400 Nancy Greene Way, North Vancouver, BC V7R 4K9, Canada
Phone: +1 604-980-9311
Website

If you want to take in the overwhelming beauty of Vancouver and British Columbia, think about jaunting up Grouse Mountain aboard the Super Skyride. Grouse Mountain is only 15 minutes from the city center and the gondola rises 4,100 feet to the summit for mesmerizing views. The mountain is also home to disc golf, paragliding, zip lines, and more.

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Best Shopping

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Granville Island Public Market

Address: Public Market, 1689 Johnston St, Vancouver, BC V6H 3R9, Canada
Phone: +1 604-666-6655
Website

Just across the Granville Bridge, Granville Island Public Market is home to dozens of food stalls that can provide a full sampling of Vancouver's entire culinary scene. Outside the market are theaters, galleries, restaurants, and bars. Access to the island is via the Granville Bridge or one of Vancouver's SeaBuses.

City shopping on Robson Street in Vancouver
Credit: Jimmy Jeong/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Alberni/Robson Street

Address: 800 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6E 1A7, Canada
Website

For all kinds of shopping finds, the parallel streets of Robson and Alberni are a spender's paradise. Stores run the gamut from Zara and Lululemon to Tiffany & Co. and Jimmy Choo. If you can't find what you're looking for, you're not trying hard enough.

West 4th Avenue

Address: West 4th From Fir Street to Balsam Street, Vancouver, BC V6J 1M4, Canada
Phone: +1 604-617-9070
Website

West 4th Street has been a shopping hub in Vancouver since the 1920s and shows no signs of slowing. There are more than 250 unique businesses along the street that include clothing, sporting goods, homeware, health and wellness, and a wide variety of specialty shops.

Aritzia

Address: 1100 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6E 1B2, Canada
Phone: +1 604-684-3251
Website

This Vancouver-born brand is known for high-end ladies' fashion. Since 1984, the brand has grown to more than 100 locations in North America and eight in Vancouver alone.

Herschel Supply Co.

Address: 347 Water St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1B8, Canada
Phone: +1 604-620-1155
Website

Another Vancouver-born brand, Herschel Supply Co. is known for its wide range of bags, backpacks, duffels, totes, and so much more. The company now has more than 40 locations around the globe as their fine craftsmanship sees higher demand every year.

Saje Natural Wellness

Address: 2252 W 4th Ave, Vancouver, BC V6K 1N8, Canada
Phone: +1 604-738-7253
Website

Saje Natural Wellness is a Canadian-owned-and-operated wellness business that prides itself on all-natural products. The company is known for their soothing oils, lotions, diffusers, soaps, and shampoos. There are multiple Saje locations around Vancouver.

Neighborhoods to Know

Coal Harbour: Sitting on the north side of central Vancouver, Coal Harbour is a sleepy narrow neighborhood that is bordered by Canada Place to the east and Stanley Park to the west. Canada Place is home to the Vancouver Convention Centre that attracts international expositions. One of the main attractions of the neighborhood is the waterfront views where pedestrians can stroll and peer out into Vancouver Harbour while browsing small shops and eating at quaint cafés.

Chinatown: Vancouver's Chinatown dates back to the late 1800s and is considered a National Historic Site in Canada. One of the largest Chinatowns in the world, the central Vancouver neighborhood is filled with incredible Chinese restaurants and bakeries, apothecary shops, Asian markets, and more. A must-stop is the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, which is a Ming Dynasty style garden, and plays host to festivals, concerts, and educational activities.

Davie Village: Vancouver has an incredibly diverse and thriving LGBTQ+ community, and Davie Village is a stretch of streets where you'll find rainbow-colored flags flying with pride. You'll know you're in the right place when you step over the vibrant rainbow crosswalk that leads to a bevy of great restaurants and cafés during the day and buzzing bars and clubs at night.

Gastown: For lovers of historic areas, the cobblestoned streets of Gastown are the place to be. The neighborhood dates back to 1867 and features buildings with classic Victorian architecture and restaurants that are a foodie's dream. Instagrammers might want to take a picture in front of Gastown's most famous landmark, an antique clock that's partially powered by steam.

Granville Island: Technically not an island (it is bordered by water on three sides), Granville Island is a short ferry ride or bridge drive across False Creek on the southwest side of town. Once there, a must-stop attraction is the Granville Island Public Market where vendors hawk every type of local food imaginable. Around the market are theaters, galleries, and waterfront restaurants and breweries.

Kitsilano: Across the water to the west, Kitsilano is one of Vancouver's bigger neighborhoods. Within its confines includes West 4th Avenue, which is one of the best shopping streets in the city, the Kitsilano Beach, Vancouver's Greektown, and lots of green space for joggers, bikers, and lazy weekend hangouts. Kitsilano was once considered the Haight-Ashbury of Vancouver and its hippy roots can still be seen with loads of healthy vegan restaurants and wellness shops. It's also the birthplace of famed clothing brand Lululemon.

West End: The West End is the largest neighborhood on the peninsula, encompassing Davie Village, and is bordered by Stanley Park on the northwest, and Nelson Park and Robson Square to the southeast. Within the area is the Vancouver Art Gallery, the shopping Meccas of Robson and Alberni Streets, and multiple beaches. One of the more popular attractions is biking the Stanley Park Seawall that hugs the west side of the neighborhood.

Yaletown: This tony neighborhood is home to some of the nicest restaurants in the city alongside chic boutiques and luscious green space. To the southeast is BC Place, Vancouver's largest sports complex for soccer and football matches, as well as mega concert performances. The parks along the waterfront draw in locals and tourists alike.

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Weather

Summer is peak tourism season with the least amount of rain and long sunny days that are rarely unbearably hot. Winters are milder than you'd expect for a Canadian city, but you'll encounter more rain from November to March. Shoulder seasons of spring and fall feature stunning blooms and changing leaves.

The following are average Fahrenheit lows and highs by month.
January: 37°F to 44°F
February: 38°F to 47°F
March: 40°F to 51°F
April: 44°F to 56°F
May: 49°F to 63°F
June: 54°F to 67°F
July: 58°F to 72°F
August: 58°F to 72°F
September: 53°F to 66°F
October: 47°F to 57°F
November: 41°F to 49°F
December: 37°F to 44°F

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Apps to Download

Mobi-Bikes: Vancouver is such a great biking city with dozens of trails that weave in and around the streets, parks, and boardwalks. Mobi is cheap and easy way to find bikes anywhere in the city.
iOs | Android

Uber: For quick ride services, download the popular Uber app to zip you around the city with ease.
iOs | Android

Street Food Vancouver: Vancouver has an excellent street-food scene and if you want to know where, when, and how to find it all, download this app and you'll be street-feasting in no time.
iOs | Android

Vancouver Transit: This app will help you catch a train, bus, or ferry to anywhere you want or need to go in Vancouver.
iOs | Android

OpenTable: For all your restaurant reservation needs, download OpenTable.
iOs | Android