By: Susan Gerle
Vancouver is one of the easiest and friendliest cities in the world to navigate. From the time you arrive in the city, you can enjoy getting around and seeing things.
Of course you have all the car rental places available to you at the airport or downtown Vancouver. If you prefer other means of transportation, there is lots available. Whether you have accommodations in Vancouver or one of the bedroom communities, it is easy to maneuver around the city.
Reasonably priced Skytrain service leaves constantly from the airport and takes you right downtown to the waterfront if you want. From there you can access North Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey, and Coquitlam by Skytrain or Seabus. A train also leaves from the waterfront and travels out to the town of Mission with many stops along the way.
Once you settle into your accommodations, take the opportunity to ride all the Skytrain lines. This can be done in half a day for a very reasonable price and gives a good overview of the lower mainland, as the coastal communities are called. It won’t be as crowded if you leave after 9 AM and return before 3 PM. The greater Vancouver bus service is also easily accessible anywhere along the Skytrain route.
Huge shopping centres and a couple of casinos are easily accessible from the Skytrain. There is also no shortage of ethnic restaurants along the way.
2. Bus Service
Greyhound bus service leaves from near Main Street Skytrain Station at the old CN Train Station. There you can connect for ferry service over to Vancouver Island and the gulf islands from Tsawwassen. It’s a nice way to spend a sunny day. Or you can take a trip up to Horseshoe Bay and catch a ferry to Naniamo or the Sunshine Coast.
Take a local bus close to Waterfront Station and visit Capilano Canyon or Lynn Canyon or Cypress Bowl. The Grouse Mountain Chairlift has a fantastic view of the city and harbour.
3. Trolley Line
Try out the resurrected trolley line that leaves Granville Island. There are plans to extend the route later.
4. Foot Ferries
To get over to Granville Island, take one of the little foot ferries from various stops on the seawall near English Bay.
5. Hop-On, Hop-Off Trolley
There is also a Hop-On, Hop-Off Vancouver Trolley Car service. This travels all over the city for a very reasonable fee. You can stop wherever you want and enjoy the sites and then get back on when you are ready to continue.
6. Horse Drawn Carriage Rides
If you stop in Stanley Park, check on the horse drawn wagon rides. The rides are seasonal but take you all around the park in less than an hour.
Bicycles are becoming a more common means of tourist transportation in Vancouver. They can be rented at places down near Stanley Park. There are also sea kayaks for rent at English Bay.
8. Foot Power
Of course, there is always foot power and Vancouver is an extremely walkable city. The seawall starts at Canada Place in Coal Harbour and runs all the way around Stanley Park, under the Lion’s Gate Bridge, past BC Place Stadium and the Science Centre. It continues to Granville Island and eventually ends at Kitsalino Park. The complete distance is 22 KM. Or you can walk from Canada Place to English Bay around the park for a distance of 12 KM. Make sure you have comfortable walking shoes!
There are many things to see and do in the city, and one of the most tourist friendly areas for walkers is the West End of Vancouver, just steps from the famous Stanley Park. People from all over the world take in the beautiful view overlooking the ocean with the majestic coast mountain range supplying the backdrop. Swimmers and sunbathers crowd the beaches on hot summer days. Hundreds of visitors also stroll side by side on the uncrowded walkways, breathing in the sea air.
Denman Street starts at English Bay and has a large selection of excellent ethnic restaurants. Many eateries have fantastic views overlooking the ocean and are open until late at night. At the East End of Denman is Coal Harbour, where the cruise ships and seaplanes come in. It is also a main docking area for the many yachts traveling the coastline from Los Angeles to Alaska. Some yachts offer day or evening cruises in Burrard Inlet. Most have meals and bar service available.
Nestled south of Denman is half of the highly populated West End. The odd 100-year-old house, surrounded by modern apartment buildings, is open to the public to view the history of the city. A quiet peacefulness permeates the streets of the neighbourhood. Children laugh and chase puppies in one of the local dog-walking parks situated at Nelson and Bute.
North of Denman, the area is also highly populated but has a couple of unique boutique hotels and restaurants hidden away on the peaceful streets. Continue walking and you will reach one of the many entrances to the path circling Stanley Park. Thank goodness Lord Stanley had a vision many decades ago for green space. There is even a great Pitch and Putt Golf Course in the park. Allow at least 3 hours for a walk around the park. There are many places to stop and take in the history, including the totem poles standing guard near the entrance. Even though there are a few nice restaurants to eat at in the park, you may prefer to get a takeout lunch and have a picnic on your journey.
There are many quaint neighbourhoods in the coastal city. Vancouver is definitely a place to add to your must-see list.
About the author:
Susan Gerle spends a lot of time visiting the city of Vancouver and especially likes the West End.