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Mar 31, 2022
Vancouver Neighbourhoods’ Guide – The Best Neighbourhoods in Downtown Vancouver

Vancouver neighbourhood guides

Downtown Vancouver is a vibrant urban oasis that has something for everyone. From world-class shopping and dining to cultural activities like museums, galleries and theatres, there’s no shortage of things to do in this bustling city center. For those looking to explore the great outdoors, downtown Vancouver offers a variety of parks, beaches and trails perfect for any activity level. Whether you’re visiting the area or simply looking for fun activities close by home, you won’t be disappointed with what downtown Vancouver has to offer!

History of downtown Vancouver

Downtown Vancouver is an area rich with historical significance. It was founded in the 19th century as a centre of trade and commerce due to its close proximity to the Fraser River, and grew rapidly throughout the 20th century. Over time, it developed into one of the most vibrant neighbourhoods in Canada, thanks to popular tourist attractions such as Stanley Park and Gastown, bustling markets like Granville Island Public Market, and major sporting venues including BC Place Stadium. Today, downtown Vancouver boasts a mix of some of the oldest buildings in the city alongside modern skyline towers- each contributing to the unique mosaic that is this remarkable part of British Columbia’s history.

Geography of downtown Vancouver

Downtown Vancouver is home to approximately 62,000 people and covers a total of 4.69 km2 surrounded by Burrard Inlet to the North, False Creek to the South, Main Street to the East, and Stanley Park and English Bay to the West. Additionally, it’s important to note that downtown Vancouver actually only makes up 1% of the total land area of the entire city (367 km2), making it quite small relative to the rest of Vancouver. That said, what downtown Vancouver lacks in size it certainly makes up for in charm and character – it’s here where you can explore many different neighbourhoods like Gastown with its trendy restaurants and boutique shops or Chinatown for its bustling markets and unique heritage buildings, Yaletown for it’s trendy shops and beautiful apartments, and the West End for it’s laid back atmosphere, beautiful beaches, and stunning Stanley Park. Whether you’re looking for a fun night out or a tranquil morning coffee stroll, there’s something in store for everyone when visiting downtown Vancouver.

Neighbourhoods in Downtown Vancouver

West End

This is the place to be for young people and growing families who want a relaxed, wholesome vibe with plenty of entertainment on your doorstep. The West End offers a beach that’s the perfect place to rest and relax when there’s sunshine, not to mention Stanley Park. If you are someone who likes to get away from it all without leaving the heart of the city, this is the spot for you. Open spaces and greenery like Stanley Park are perfect for everything from a crisp winter walk to a day in the sun come summertime.

In terms of property, you’ll find an eclectic mix of condos old and new, plus a few larger properties if you know where to look. Ideal if you want to give yourself options that will allow you to find the place you want to base yourself.

Davie Village is an inclusive and accepting area known as the gay district in Vancouver. The Rainbow Crosswalk is a sight that has to be seen on your way to try out the numerous eateries and bars the village has to offer. And for those looking for a taste of old style European culture, Robson Street is the place to find some of the oldest stores in the city. A true step back in time that will give you plenty to enjoy!

Coal Harbour

For those looking to be in the centre of true luxury, Coal Harbour could be just the place. The financial district makes this a place where chic accommodation and high-end restaurants are the norm, not to mention the stunning urban views.

A range of high-end condos are available to those looking to base themselves in this part of Downtown, while there are also hotels and conference centres for those in need of corporate options. One of the other things to bear in mind with Coal Harbour is that while the prices may be higher in other parts of the city, you get a truly luxurious location. It’s also a great place to go for the evening if you base yourself in another part of Downtown. Transportation in and out of the area runs like clockwork and offers you all the choice you’ll ever need.

Once you find your ideal property in the area, you can go and explore some of the other sights and options that Downtown has to offer. You can also really get to know one of the most luxurious parts of the city and settle into the local way of life.


This is the place to be for those who want to feel like they’re on the up and really going places. A stunning marina serves as the perfect backdrop to the urban developments that punctuate the skyline in their own iconic way. Look closer at the map and you’ll see a great mix of historic low rise buildings that offer plenty of charm and character. Ideal when you want to move into a trendy, contemporary and cultured part of the city that isn’t solely populated by new builds.

Many of the streets are lined with boutique shops, lively bars with local musicians and sought after restaurants. This makes it the ideal setting for young professionals and couples who want to make the most of the options the city provides.

Yaletown is also a great option for groups of younger people who want to move in together and share the costs of independent living. The lively nightlife and range of properties on offer will allow you to settle into the neighbourhood nice and quickly, while the constant evolution of your surroundings gives it a contemporary look and feel.


If you didn’t quite find what you were looking for in Yaletown, but you fell in love with the vibe, Gastown is well worth a look. Situated nearby in the same portion of Downtown, Gastown is home to a wide range of bars, restaurants and some unique boutique shops. Put these all together and you have a lively and welcoming neighbourhood that’s sure to make you feel right at home from the moment you arrive.

For those who are just passing through and choose to live elsewhere in Vancouver, Gastown is also the perfect nighttime destination. Whether you’re out with your partner, or with a larger group of friends, you can really get into the feel of Downtown nightlife by visiting some of the stunning eateries and enjoying their Victorian architecture. Combine the aesthetics with the friendly and welcoming atmosphere the area is known for and you have the recipe for a truly relaxing evening.


No guide to Downtown would be complete without an introduction to the sights and sounds of Chinatown, and for good reason. Step into this little corner of the city and you’ll instantly be immersed in colours, traditional patterning and stunning designs you won’t find anywhere else. It’s just what you’d expect from one of the world’s biggest Chinatowns, and yet it still manages to take your breath away the first time you see it in person.

If you’re someone looking to explore traditional and authentic customs, avoid the tourist hotspots and photo ops and instead head to one of the stores frequented by the locals. Inside you’ll get a true taste of Chinese cuisine like never before. There’s ingredients to make recipes from all four corners of the old country, not to mention some western variations that are sure to prove popular.

Once you’re done, head back outside and take in the relaxation of the Sun Yat-Sen Garden and you’re sure to leave with memories that never fade. The stunning scenery is the perfect place for rest, relaxation and reflection as you take a break from the constant energy and motion of Chinatown.

You’ll also find a wide assortment of traditional architecture, most notably the large gateways and arches that make this one of the city’s few distinct districts of culture. There’s also no shortage of street food and street entertainers looking to catch the eye of visitors, which makes for a lively and entertaining walk along some of Chinatown’s main streets.

Transportation options in downtown Vancouver

Vancouver’s downtown area offers a wide range of transportation options to accommodate different needs. For those looking for an economical, environment-friendly way, public transit is readily accessible via bus, SkyTrain, and SeaBus. Walking or biking is another great option to explore the numerous plazas, parks, and shopping areas that make up downtown Vancouver. Taxi services are available year-round if you’re looking for a fast and convenient ride. Taking public transportation or walking/biking paths are great ways to enjoy the city’s sights and sounds as its streets buzz with activity every day. Lastly, there are car sharing and bike sharing services that have popped up in recent years, including Evo Car which offers one way, hourly, or daily rates on rental cars.

Shopping opportunities in the downtown core

Vancouver’s downtown core is full of shopping opportunities for locals and visitors alike. High-end chain stores, one-of-a-kind boutiques, trendy restaurants and cozy cafes – the downtown area has it all. There are traditional malls, modern arcades and shopping streets that offer something for everyone. You can shop for basic items such as clothes or groceries as well as luxury items like electronics and jewelry. Enjoy a meal from one of the many delicious eateries that range from casual to fine dining. Spend time in a trendy cafe for coffee and conversation with friends or family. Check out Robson Street for some of the downtown core’s best shopping, or stroll down to the Pacific Center for great shopping rain or shine.

Hotels and accommodations in Downtown Vancouver

Quality and accessible accommodations are widely available in downtown Vancouver. From top-notch international hotel chains offering premium amenities like swimming pools and full-service restaurants, to meticulously maintained boutique hotels with charming architecture and décor, visitors have their pick of luxurious options for their stay. For monthly stays, HighStreet Accommodations offers beautiful housing for leisure or business – a perfect option for those seeking to live like a true local during their visit.

Popular events in downtown Vancouver

With a vast array of offerings, downtown Vancouver hosts many popular events year-round. Winter-lovers can bask in delight with the annual Christmas Market and Holiday Festival hosted each season. During summer months, visitors should keep an eye out for events such as Bloedel Conservatory’s bird show or Gastown Cinema’s outdoor movie screenings. For those who appreciate art and culture, there are dozens of music and theatre festivals, including Car Free Day YVR, Sun Fest and Vancouver Fringe Festival. No matter what your interests are, you won’t be disappointed by the plethora of exciting activities that await you in downtown Vancouver.

Cultural activities such as museums and theatres

Downtown Vancouver is a hotspot for cultural activities. With its numerous attractions, ranging from history and science museums to art galleries and theatres, it has something for everyone. Get up close to artifacts from the past at the Museum of Vancouver, explore your artistic side at the Vancouver Art Gallery, or watch a show at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre – there’s always something fun happening in downtown Vancouver. From family-friendly outings to more educational excursions and cultural experiences, you can never run out of things to do here.

Outdoor activities

Vancouver is truly a great place to explore and experience the outdoors. It’s way many people decide to live here, and downtown Vancouver doesn’t disappoint. It offers a variety of parks, beaches, and trails that are definitely worth exploring. Stanley Park is the crown jewel of downtown. The park gives breathtaking views of the water and mountains in addition to loads of activities inside and out. Along the Seawall you’ll find beautiful English Bay beach which overlooks the calm waters of English Bay. If you’re looking for more adventure, then take a look at one of the many trails that run throughout downtown. False Creek offers an easy stroll, and if you’re looking for something more challenging you’ll find the North Shore mountains just a short drive away from downtown. With every activity available in downtown Vancouver, you’re guaranteed to have wonderful outdoor experiences whatever it may be.

Final thoughts

Downtown Vancouver is a hub of activity and culture, offering something for everyone to enjoy. From fine dining eateries to luxurious hotels, popular events throughout the year, cultural activities such as museums, galleries and theatres, outdoor activities like parks, beaches and trails – there’s an abundance of exciting things that await you in downtown Vancouver. Whether it’s enjoying coffee with friends or exploring the outdoors – visitors are sure to find their perfect holiday experience here. So come explore what this vibrant city has to offer and create your own unforgettable memories while visiting downtown Vancouver.

Now that you’ve heard our thoughts about the best neighbourhoods in Downtown Vancouver, it’s over to you to give some thought to where you want to stay, if you want to stay in one of the HighStreet rentals options, as well as what you want to see and do. Take your time, enjoy the journey and make the most of every minute. If you do that, you’re sure to enjoy everything Vancouver has to offer.

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