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7 Must-See Vancouver Neighborhoods and How to Visit

This city by the sea welcomes exploration.

An evening view of the Vancouver skyline from Kitsilano Beach.
Hi, I'm Diane!

Based in Vancouver, B.C., Diane Selkirk enjoys writing stories where science, history, or social justice intersect with travel. Her work has appeared in BBC Travel, National Geographic Travel, and The Globe and Mail.

Nicknamed “Hollywood North,” Vancouver is known for its sleek cityscape and surrounding mountains. Locals spend their days hiking and biking in the local forests, and their evenings eating their way through the city’s incredible culinary scene. This ultra-walkable destination offers quirky neighborhoods packed with cafés and vintage boutiques, downtown streets lined with high-end sushi bars, and countless parks and gardens to wander.

Vancouver’s neighborhoods are as unique as their residents—follow this guide to find your favorites.

1. East Van

Neon lights in East Van.
Neon lights herald the way to East Van.Foto: LeonWang / Shutterstock

Explore the home of the hipsters.

Begin your adventure on Vancouver’s East Side.This was historically a neighborhood of immigrants and working class residents which led to the vibrant cultural scene you can experience today. Commercial Drive (or just The Drive, if you want to sound like a local) is lined with specialty food stores, international restaurants, and cool bars. A little further west, Main Street is where you’ll find a treasure trove of vintage boutiques, wellness stores, and craft breweries. This is the neighborhood for murals and other street art, which often depict the city’s history and people.

2. Granville Island

The view to North Vancouver from Granville Island at night.
The views across the water from Granville Island are beautiful.Foto: 2009fotofriends / Shutterstock

A walkable wonderland.

Granville Island is practically a neighborhood in itself; this small peninsula was once an industrial area, but has emerged as a hotspot for food, culture, and art, hosting dozens of festivals each year. The Granville Island Public Market offers delicacies from specialty vendors as well as a food court full of international cuisine. This neighborhood is meant for strolling—as you explore, you’ll discover pottery studios, art galleries, and performing arts spaces, all surrounded by the bustling False Creek harbor.

3. Chinatown

Chinatown in Vancouver under a blanket of snow.
Snow is rare in the city, but when it comes it's beautiful.Foto: Organic Design / Shutterstock

Grab a bubble tea as you explore.

Historic Chinatown offers something new around every corner. The streets are lined with tea shops and Chinese bakeries, and you can find antique stores full of treasures tucked down side streets. Take a stroll through Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden and relax over a tea ceremony, or head across the street to the Chinese Canadian Museum to learn about the neighborhood’s rich history. Later, take a break with some dim sum or Chinese barbecue—both New Town Bakery and Chinatown BBQ are local favorites.

Related: An Insider’s Guide to Vancouver’s Chinatown

4. The West End

Cherry blossom on a street in West End Vancouver.
Cherry blossom in the West End.Foto: LeonWang / Shutterstock

This buzzy neighborhood is perfect for an evening stroll.

The West End is the heart of Vancouver’s LGBTQ community, and hosts the city’s annual Pride parade. Here, you can discover Vancouver’s nightlife at the clubs along Davie Street, or watch the sunset from English Bay Beach. You’ll always discover something to do in this neighborhood—right next to the downtown core, people flock to the West End for a lunchtime stroll along the Seawall or drinks with friends after work. From here, it’s a quick walk to the entrance of Stanley Park, where walking trails wind through the 988 acres (400 hectares) of temperate rainforest.

Related: An Insider’s Guide to LGBTQ Vancouver

5. Gastown

A sunny day in Gastown in Vancouver.
A sunny day in Gastown.Foto: Harry Beugelink / Shutterstock

Perfect for foodies and history buffs alike.

Head to Gastown to discover historic Vancouver. With its cobbled streets and vintage steam-clock, a trip to Gastown can feel like going back in time, but boutiques featuring local designers, and the cocktail bars which host live music feel thoroughly modern. Take a food tour to discover off-the-beaten-path favorites, pick up some souvenirs for friends from the small shops scattered through the neighborhood, or opt for a ghost tour to discover the spooky secrets of Vancouver. Another hotspot for Vancouver nightlife, the bars and gastropubs fill up quickly as people get off work.

6. Downtown

Downtown Vancouver as seen from above.
Downtown's where the action is.Foto: EB Adventure Photography / Shutterstock

The place for people watching and luxury shopping.

Downtown Vancouver is where you can often find film crews shooting the next big action movie, while stylish shoppers throng the streets. Take a wander through the Vancouver Art Gallery, which features rotating exhibits from around the world, or the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art, which showcases the works of Haida artist, Bill Reid, and other examples of Northwest Coast Indigenous art. Later, blend in with the locals and grab lunch at one of the trendy downtown sushi bars, or indulge yourself with a shopping trip to some of the designer boutiques along Robson Street.

7. Kitsilano

The view of the city from the beach at Kitsilano.
Kitsilano is a relaxed spot.Foto: Eric Buermeyer / Shutterstock

Get a Vancouverite makeover—this is the shopping spot for outdoor equipment.

Kitsilano is the place to pick up all your sporty necessities—Vancouverites love the outdoors and dress to impress when they’re on the trails. Here, you can also find the popular Kitsilano Beach with views out over the city and mountains. In the summer, the beach fills up with people paddleboarding, sailing, and playing volleyball, while the local restaurants open their patios for people to linger over dinner and drinks. Then, take a break at one of the many day spas or salons in Kitsilano—after all this exploring, you’ll be ready for some rest and relaxation.

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