Beautiful British Columbia's most well-known city, Vancouver, may be best loved for its mountains, forests, and beaches but Vancouver comprises several great neighborhoods. This guide will give you the insider information you need to familiarize yourself with Vancouver's neighborhoods, and decide which one (or multiple) is right for your visit. From beachside hippie hangouts to upmarket shopping areas, each neighborhood has its own personality. Here are 10 of the main places you might want to explore on a visit.
Yaletown is Vancouver's 'yuppie' neighborhood. Located on the Canada Line Skytrain, and close to downtown, Yaletown covers a couple of blocks of converted warehouses. Here you'll find chi-chi boutiques selling fashionable threads for your furry friend and fancy beauty establishments from blow-dry bars to brow places. It's also home to upmarket fitness studios such as Soul Cycle where you can burn off some calories after indulging in incredible seafood at local restaurants such as Minami or Blue Water Cafe.
Yaletown may not be the new kid on the block anymore but it's still a safe and solid choice for excellent eating options, all within a two block radius of the Canada Line's Yaletown-Roundhouse SkyTrain station.
The West End (or the Best End as residents call it) is a popular neighborhood for tourists as it is home to attractions such as English Bay and Stanley Park. It's also home to the gay village on Davie Street (look out for the pink trash cans and rainbow crosswalks) and is the central hub for the annual Pride celebrations, which are held every August long weekend.
Summertime sees hundreds of thousands of people flock to English Bay to watch the Celebration of Light, a free international fireworks competition that lights up the neighborhood every year. Head here early if you want to bag a spot on the beach as it gets pretty crowded as the day goes on.
Vancouver is known as the City of Glass, and the glinting condos of Coal Harbour are a prime example of why and how it earned this moniker. Close to the attractions of Canada Place and the nature of Stanley Park, Coal Harbour is starting to attract foodies to the neighborhood with clusters of new restaurants, such as Chef Hawksworth's Nightingale. Head to Harbour Green Park for some nature alongside the seawall, or take a boat tour out to Burrard Inlet and beyond to spot wildlife or see the sights from the water.
Historic Gastown is on most visitors' lists as its cobbled streets are home to attractions such as the steam clock (which is actually from the 1970s and not as historic as it looks), and there are plenty of trendy boutiques and restaurants to enjoy an afternoon or evening here.
Nearby is Chinatown and the Dr Sun-Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden, another popular place for people to visit. Take the hop-on-hop-off sightseeing trolley rather than walking through the connecting neighborhoods, as they include the Downtown Eastside, which can be a little intimidating to visitors.
Mount Pleasant (aka Main Street) is one of the more hipster-oriented neighborhoods in the city. Located just a short transit ride or walk from downtown, Main Street stretches through Mount Pleasant, and visitors come here for cheap eats, vintage shops, and craft beer. Main Street marks the boundary between Vancouver and 'East Vancouver,' which is made up of several neighborhoods and is considered to be the cooler side of the city.
Kitsilano's golden beach is a summertime hotspot for volleyball players, swimmers, kayakers, and sun worshippers. Dog walkers bring their canine friends to the nearby pooch-friendly beach, which is close to Vanier Park (home to the Museum of Vancouver, H.R. Macmillan Space Centre, the Maritime Museum) and Granville Island. Kits itself is mainly clustered around the beach and the shops on West 4th or Broadway. Home to yoga brands such as lululemon, Kits started as a hippy hangout in the 1960s and is now frequented by the yummy mummy crowd.
Commercial Drive (aka The Drive) is a five- to 10-minute SkyTrain ride from downtown. Sometimes referred to as Little Italy, the Drive still has a strong Italian presence, as well as eclectic restaurants from around the world. Visit here to get an international flavor of the city and check out the consignment shops, poetry cafes, and live music venues along The Drive.
Starting life as the home to the athletes that took part in the 2010 Winter Olympics, Olympic Village is now sometimes overlooked as a tourist attraction even though it's got some of the city's best patios for sunny drinks and the seawall stretches to Granville Island and beyond. Family-friendly attractions such as Science World and False Creek Ferries also make this newer neighborhood well worth a visit.
Sometimes called South Granville or False Creek, Fairview is the name for the neighborhood that covers Granville Island and the southern stretch of Granville (close to Granville Bridge). Home to the popular public market, this area is also the street to visit for cultural events such as movies or the theatre, as well as a plethora of art galleries and antique shops in the area.
Last but not least, Downtown Vancouver is not exactly a neighborhood of its own, but the city center should be on any sightseeing list as it's home to the Vancouver Art Gallery and other attractions such as Robson Square, which hosts free dance events in the summer and ice skating in the winter months.