Whether you’re a tourist on holiday or you live in the Lower Mainland and want to do a staycation, downtown Vancouver is a perfect vacation destination.
The city has amazing sights to see, and first-class places to stay. For some of the best prices and bonus perks at downtown hotels, see stayvancouverhotels.com.
This article includes the following topics:
Why Stay Downtown | Best Places to Visit | Robson & Granville Streets | Vancouver Art Gallery | Queen E. Theatre, BC Place & Rogers Arena | Yaletown & False Creek | English Bay & West End | Stanley Park | Coal Harbour & Convention Centre | Canada Place & FlyOver Canada | Gastown & Lookout | Other Information
Click any of the above links to jump to a specific topic, or continue reading to learn all about downtown Vancouver’s places of interest, hotels and reasons to stay in the area.
Attractions, Hotels and Vacationing in Downtown Vancouver
People travel from across the globe to spend time in Vancouver. Why? Because of the city’s beauty, proximity to nature, culture and attractions. Local residents should get out more and explore all that Vancouver has to offer too! There are so many amazing places to visit in the Lower Mainland.
This article focuses on downtown Vancouver. In it we discuss the benefits of staying in the downtown core of the city and list top downtown places to visit. We also recommend hotels in the area to stay at.
This article is for tourists visiting Vancouver, but also for local folk wanting to holiday locally, do a “staycation,” explore the region and discover why people from across the world visit this place. This article is also for local folk wanting to vacation in a world-class destination without having to get on a plane and travel great distances.
Why Stay Downtown?
Why should tourists and locals want to stay in downtown Vancouver? For lots of reasons! Below are four of them.
First, there are so many great hotels in the heart of the city. There is everything from budget accommodations to 5-star resorts with amazing views. (For a list of places and a source of competitive rates and bonus incentives, check out our article about StayVancouverHotels.com.)
Second, downtown Vancouver is so convenient. In the core of the city you’re close to exceptional restaurants and places of interest, and within easy access to other parts of the Lower Mainland (including the Vancouver Airport). Dozens of the region’s best places are just a short stroll, cab ride, Seabus or SkyTrain ride away. If you don’t have a car, then downtown Vancouver is definitely the best place to stay!
Third, downtown Vancouver is home to many of the region’s top restaurants, cafés and shopping areas. It’s also where you’ll find theatres, culture, concerts, sporting venues, bars, clubs and night life. Downtown is where cosmopolitan Vancouver is at its finest.
Fourth, although urban and very modern, downtown Vancouver is also close to nature. World-famous Stanley Park is right next to the heart of the city, the mountains are just a half-hour tour-bus ride away, and English Bay Beach is in the city’s downtown West End. Some of the region’s best scenery can also be viewed from downtown Vancouver.
In short, if you want exceptional accommodations, convenience, accessibility, culture, amenities, night life and/or easy access to nature, the best place to stay is arguably in downtown Vancouver.
BUY LOCAL. VACATION LOCALLY.
Want to learn about the social, economic, environmental and other benefits of vacationing locally? Then check out our article about BC Buy Local Week.
Best Places to Visit in Downtown Vancouver
Downtown Vancouver is home to over a dozen of Vancouver’s top tourist attractions and places of interest. If you’re staying in downtown Vancouver, below are the places you’ll likely want to visit.
Neighbourhoods we feature include the Robson Street and Granville Street areas, the Vancouver Art Gallery region, and the district around Queen Elizabeth Theatre, BC Place and Rogers Arena. We also look at the Yaletown and False Creek areas, English Bay and the West End, Stanley Park, Coal Harbour up to the Vancouver Convention Centre, the area around Canada Place, and then Gastown. In each district we describe things to see and do, and recommend hotels to stay at.
VANCOUVER COUPON DEALS!
Entertainment Coupons are good for 2-for-1 deals at hundreds of Lower Mainland restaurants, tourist attractions and stores. Click Vancouver Entertainment Coupon Book to learn where you can save while spending your holiday or staycation this year.
Robson Street and Granville Street
Two of Vancouver’s most interesting roads are Robson Street and Granville Street. Both are famous for their shops, restaurants, bars and night life. Popular places for shopping are upscale Pacific Centre (which is on both Granville and Robson at 701 West Georgia), the Hudson’s Bay (at 674 Granville Street) and all along Robson Street.
At 868 Granville Street there is the Commodore Ballroom which is a famous night club and music venue. Nearby, at 601 Smithe Street, is the beautiful Orpheum Theatre that hosts Vancouver Symphony Orchestra concerts and numerous performances.
HOTELS IN THE AREA
Hotels on or near Robson Street include the Sutton Place (at 855 Burrard Street), Fairmont Hotel Vancouver (at 900 West Georgia), Wedgewood (at 845 Hornby Street), Listel (at 1300 Robson) and Westin Grand (at 433 Robson Street).
Hotels right on Granville Street include the Howard Johnson (at 1176 Granville) and the Ramada (at 1221 Granville near Davie Street). Hotels on nearby streets running parallel to Granville include the Executive Hotel Vintage Park (at 1379 Howe Street), Holiday Inn (at 1110 Howe Street) and Residence Inn by Marriott (at 1234 Hornby Street). Also, just a block or so from the Orpheum, is the Hotel Belmont (at 654 Nelson Street).
For accommodation prices and hotel deals, check out our article about StayVancouverHotels.com. Or, for a list of these and other downtown hotels organized by location, click Downtown Vancouver Hotels.
Vancouver Art Gallery
Also right by both Robson Street and Granville is the Vancouver Art Gallery, which, if you like art, is a place you’ll want to visit.
On the south side of the Vancouver Art Gallery is Robson Square where you’ll find a free ice skating rink in the winter and various events throughout the year. Kitty-corner to the gallery on the north side is the upscale Pacific Centre shopping mall.
Another place of interest in the area is the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art, which is located behind Christ Church Cathedral and highly recommended if you like Indigenous art.
TIP: Admission to the Vancouver Art Gallery is usually by donation between 5:00 and 9:00 on Tuesday evenings. Admission to the Bill Reid Gallery is usually free from 2:00 until 5:00 pm on the first Friday of the month.
Located at 750 Hornby Street, the Vancouver Art Gallery is across the street from the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver in one direction and across from the Rosewood Hotel Georgia in another. The three buildings are striking heritage buildings, as is nearby Christ Church Cathedral, all of which were built between 1895 and 1939 (which for Vancouver is old).
The Vancouver Art Gallery is truly in the heart of the city, and surrounded by both other landmark buildings and exceptional hotels. Other luxury accommodations close by include the Four Seasons, Shangri-La Hotel and Trump Tower (at 791, 1128 and 1161 West Georgia Street respectively). There is also the Executive Hotel Le Soleil (at 567 Hornby Street) and Hyatt Regency (at 655 Burrard Street), and halfway between West Georgia and Coal Harbour is the Loden Hotel (at 1177 Melville Street).
Queen Elizabeth Theatre, BC Place & Rogers Arena
If you’re interested in the performing arts, sports and concerts, then the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, BC Place Stadium and Rogers Arena are other places you’ll want to check out. All three are near the Stadium-Chinatown SkyTrain Station.
Located at 630 Hamilton Street, the Queen Elizabeth Theatre hosts all kinds of plays and other performances. BC Place Stadium, meanwhile, is where the Vancouver Whitecaps soccer and BC Lions football teams play, and Rogers Arena is home ice to the Vancouver Canucks NHL hockey team. Both venues also host major concerts and other events.
Places to stay in the area include luxury accommodations like the JW Marriott Parq Vancouver (at 39 Smithe) and the Douglas (at 45 Smithe Street), both of which are connected to the Parq Vancouver Casino. Nearby budget accommodations include the 3-star Sandman (at 180 West Georgia) and 2.5 star YWCA Hotel (at 733 Beatty Street).
Yaletown & False Creek
Yaletown is the trendy neighbourhood just a short distance southeast of BC Place Stadium. It’s where you’ll find dozens of great restaurants. The neighbourhood is more or less located between Robson Street and False Creek in the southern part of downtown Vancouver.
Running along the southern edge of downtown Vancouver from Yaletown to the West End is False Creek. It’s a body of water with bridges over it and places of interest all around.
If you like walks, leisurely bike rides and beautiful urban views, you’ll want to check out the False Creek Seawall. On the downtown Vancouver side of False Creek, in the Yaletown area, there is David Lam Park. At the other end, in Vancouver’s West End, is Sunset Beach.
Hotels more or less in the Yaletown area include those mentioned above near BC Place Stadium as well as places like the OPUS Hotel (at 322 Davie Street). Another hotel within a few blocks of False Creek, but further into the middle of downtown, is the Executive Hotel Vintage Park (at 1379 Howe Street).
English Bay Beach and Vancouver’s West End
At the other end of False Creek from Yaletown is Vancouver’s West End and at the western edge of that district is English Bay and English Bay Beach. The West End is home to Davie Street Village, which is the heart of Vancouver’s LGBTQ community, Sunset Beach, English Bay Beach and the start of Stanley Park.
If you like beaches and beautiful scenery, you’ll want to visit English Bay Beach. It’s a popular place any time of the year, but especially in summer. English Bay is at the western end of Davie Street where it intersects with Denman, which is a trendy street lined with restaurants and connecting with Robson Street.
If looking for hotels in the West End, the Sandman Suites at 1160 Davie Street is a good 3-star place to check out, and the Sylvia Hotel at 1154 Gilford Street is right by English Bay Beach in an early 20th century heritage building. Just a short walk from the eastern edge of Vancouver’s West End, there is also the Burrard Hotel at 1100 Burrard Street and the Sheraton Wall Centre at 1088 Burrard.
Vancouver’s Stanley Park is a beautiful world-famous park located in the northwest corner of Vancouver’s core downtown area. It’s a place you’ll definitely want to explore.
Stanley Park is connected to the city via the seawall, which links up with both Coal Harbour and English Bay. Georgia Street, one of Vancouver’s main downtown streets, also cuts right through the park on its way to the North Shore via the iconic Lions Gate Bridge. You can drive, walk and cycle all around the park.
Sights to see within the park include totem poles, the Brockton Point Lighthouse, Prospect Point, Third Beach, Siwash Rock, Second Beach, Lost Lagoon, the Vancouver Aquarium and other places of interest.
There are no hotels in Stanley Park itself. The Westin Bayshore is located at 1601 Bayshore Drive, however, which is just a 10-minute walk to the park along the Coal Harbour seawall. Most other major downtown Vancouver hotels are also just short drive, taxi ride or bus trip away.
Click Stanley Park for more information about the area.
Coal Harbour and the Vancouver Convention Centre
Coal Harbour is the body of water between Stanley Park’s south shore and downtown Vancouver. It is also the name of the skyscraper-packed neighbourhood along the waterfront between the Vancouver Convention Centre and the southern tip of Stanley Park.
Coal Harbour is famous for its city, water, Stanley Park and mountain views from along the seawall. It’s a beautiful place to go for a walk or leisurely bike ride, and it’s not far from Stanley Park, Canada Place, Gastown and other parts of downtown Vancouver.
From Coal Harbour you can see seaplanes flying in and out of Burrard Inlet and ships coming to and from the port. The neighbourhood is also where you can catch whale-watching trips and Harbour Cruise excursions.
A number of high quality hotels can be found in the Coal Harbour area. There is the Coast Coal Harbour, Marriott Pinnacle Downtown and Pinnacle Hotel Vancouver Harbourfront at 1180, 1128 and 1133 West Hastings Street respectively. There is also the Loden Hotel a couple of blocks away at 1177 Melville Street, and of course the Westin Bayshore at 1601 Bayshore Drive.
To book any of the above hotels be sure to check out stayvancouverhotels.com which is a Vancouver-based website specializing in downtown Vancouver accommodations. The site offers bonus gifts for reservations and some of the best rates you can find.
Canada Place and Flyover Canada
Canada Place is where you’ll find the Pan Pacific Hotel (at #300-999 Canada Place), and FlyOver Canada, the latter of which is a fabulous multi-dimensional theatre experience where you get to fly over Canada, from coast to coast to coast.
Canada Place is a nice venue to walk around outside, and it’s close to Waterfront Station (which connects downtown Vancouver with the rest of the region via the SkyTrain, West Coast Express train and SeaBus).
In addition to the Pan Pacific, there are several other exceptional hotels close by. Across the road is the Fairmont Waterfront (at 900 Canada Place) and just up the street by the Convention Centre is the Fairmont Pacific Rim (at 1038 Canada Place). Just three or so blocks south of Canada Place is the less expensive 3-star Days Inn (at 921 West Pender Street), as well as the fancy 4-star EXchange Hotel (at 475 Howe Street).
Gastown and the Vancouver Lookout
Gastown is the historic part of downtown Vancouver located just a short walk east of Canada Place and Waterfront Station. Lined with brick buildings, souvenir shops and restaurants, Gastown’s main road is Water Street.
In addition to the neighbourhood itself, with all its heritage buildings and world-famous steam clock, the main tourist attraction in the area is the Vancouver Lookout which is located in the Harbour Centre building at 555 West Hastings Street. From the top you can admire 360-degree views of the Lower Mainland from a height of over 550 feet.
From the observation deck of the Vancouver Lookout you can see the North Shore Mountains, Coal Harbour, Canada Place, Stanley Park, Gastown and other parts of downtown Vancouver. On days with clear skies you can also see as far as Burnaby, New Westminster, Surrey and Richmond.
Gastown is a perfect place for walking tours. With a walking tour you get to explore the area with its beautiful buildings, but also learn about the area’s history. A walking tour company we’ve used and have been impressed by is Forbidden Vancouver Walking Tours. They offer a couple of enjoyable and informative tours around Gastown and the surrounding area, plus other tours in Vancouver’s West End and through Stanley Park.
Gastown is a popular area to stay in when visiting Vancouver as it’s both charming and convenient. Hotels that are close by include the 2.5-star Ramada Limited Downtown (at 435 West Pender Street) and 4-star Delta Hotel & Suites (at 550 West Hastings Street).
If booking either if these hotels, or any other accommodations in the downtown area, be sure to check out stayvancouverhotels.com as they have great rates and offer bonus incentives when making reservations.
For more information about the area see our article about Gastown.
The focus of this article has been on the benefits of visiting and staying in downtown Vancouver. If you’re only in town for a couple of days, downtown Vancouver is an exceptional place to be. And if you’re already a resident of the Lower Mainland but want to get away for a few days, and like the idea of vacationing locally and taking advantage of the city’s nightlife, restaurants and attractions, but you’re not already 100% familiar with downtown Vancouver, then this article is also for you.
Of course, there is much more to Metro Vancouver than just Vancouver’s downtown core. Other articles and places that might be of interest include the following:
- Vancouver Festivals & Events
- Vancouver’s Calendar of Events
- Metro Vancouver’s Top 100 Places
- The A to Z’s of Vancouver
- Vancouver Restaurants
- Vancouver Hotels
- The North Shore
In closing, whether you are already a resident of the Lower Mainland or are visiting from far away, downtown Vancouver is an amazing place to spend your holidays.
There is so much to see and do here. If you already live nearby, why travel long distances to explore somewhere else?