If a city is judged by its diversity and culture, we’re proud to say that Vancouver’s neighbourhoods take top honours. No less than a dozen different enclaves invite visitors and locals to stroll colourful sidewalks, savour spectacular settings and soak in a wide range of urban vibes with roots in many different cultures and ways of life. And the bonus for visitors is that many of the neighbourhoods in Vancouver are located close to each other, making it possible to see many sides of the city during your visit.
It would take weeks, if not months, to see all there is to see in each neighbourhood, so you can focus on just a few in great detail or hit the highlights of them all. To help you narrow down the choices, we’ve provided this guide to Vancouver neighborhoods.
Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood, Gastown grew from a single tavern founded by John ‘Gassy Jack’ Deighton back in 1867. Today, the district retains its historic charm and independent spirit. Victorian architecture houses a thriving fashion scene, impeccably curated décor boutiques, one-of-a-kind galleries and some of the best culinary fare in Vancouver. It’s a gathering place for stylish locals and an ideal neighbourhood to explore on foot. Gastown lies along the north of the downtown Vancouver peninsula, from Richards east to Main Street, and south to Hastings Street.
In the early 1900s, Granville Island was home to factories, plants and sawmills. Things are a little different today—Granville Island is both a locals’ favorite and a huge draw for visitors. Technically a sandspit and not an island, the neighbourhood sits just south of the downtown peninsula, right under the Granville Bridge. The Granville Island Public Market acts as a hub of activity, but it’s also one of the city’s most important cultural districts with theatres, artisan workshops and craft studios.
Located in the heart of Vancouver, Granville Street is where you’ll find Vancouver’s main downtown entertainment district. Countless restaurants, bars and nightclubs make this a popular late-night hangout, particularly on the weekends. Stretching from the start of Granville Street by Waterfront Station, south to the Granville Street Bridge, the downtown portion this street is fairly sleepy by day, but buzzing at night. Many of the city’s bus lines transit through Granville, making it a main thoroughfare for the city.
Tucked up tightly against the city’s downtown core, the West End is one of the easiest neighbourhoods for visitors to explore, getting a real taste of how real Vancouverites live. A gateway to Stanley Park, the neighbourhood is bordered by the park on one side, as well as English Bay, Granville and Robson Streets. In 1862, the area was heavily forested when three gentlemen, known as the Three Greenhorns, each purchased 73 hectares (180 acres) of land with the purpose of establishing a brickworks. That plan soon changed, and the area instead became the city’s first upscale neighbourhood. These days, it’s an incredibly diverse area, home to the city’s gay community (centred around Davie Village), heritage homes, and around 40,000 people living in high-rise apartments. The parks and beaches are the main attractions, but the people-watching and dining come in close behind.