Vancouver is a city made for biking. With bike lanes, bike paths and and a plethora of bike rental shops there’s really no excuse not to get out and pedal. Biking is such a great way to explore a new city! You can cover more ground than walking but, unlike driving, you have the advantage of stopping whenever and wherever you want to take pictures, shop or just admire a view.
I find biking around a new city helps to get me oriented and, even if I don’t have time to stop for long at a particular attraction, at least I know where it is and can always head back to explore further later on. Biking is also a great way to stretch your legs and get some exercise, which is often needed after a long flight. As a recent tourist to beautiful Vancouver, I took full advantage of this bike friendly city and hit up all the main tourist sites under pedal power.
While I wrote this up to be done in one day, if you have the time you can easily break it up and do sections of it over a few days. The total distance in this loop isn’t that far (24 km’s total) but you’ll want lots of time to admire views and see the sites along the way.
I began my tour at the famous Stanley Park. On near by Denman Street there are numerous bike rental shops, so this was the ideal place to begin. (I was fortunate enough to borrow my friends bike, but I did see many places to rent bikes in this area of the city). After getting your ride, follow Denman Street north until you cross West Georgia Street and enter Devonian Harbor Park to start your tour.
There is a bike path that travels all the way around the edge of the park following the sea wall. There are also many bike paths within Stanely Park but I chose to simply follow the path around the park.
Note: Be sure to bike in a counter clockwise direction! Although the path has two lanes (one each direction) there is one section of the bike path that goes down to one lane. It seems to be standard practice to bike counter clockwise and google maps even has direction arrows pointing this way.
Points of interest along this bike path are Vancouver Rowing Club, the totem poles, Vancouver Aquarium, Brockton Point Lighthouse, Lions Gate Bridge, Siwash Rock, the Lost Lagoon, a few beaches and lots of look out points where you can pull over and enjoy the view.
Once you’ve completed the loop around the park and are back at your starting point, head east along the Harbor front until you arrive at Canada Place. The bike path along this section offers beautiful views of the water and passes by a few parks. At Canada Place you’ll find the Olympic Torch that was used in the opening ceremonies when Vancouver hosted the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
Continuing on you’ll come to a large building with what appears to be a large tented roof that is meant to look like giant sails. Canada Place is the main port for cruise ships in the area and is also home to Vancouver Convention Center, Vancouver World Trade World Trade Center and the Pan Pacific Vancouver Hotel.
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Gardens
After enjoying the views at Canada Place, its only another 10 min to Chinatown. Follow Burrard St to West Pender street and hang a left. Most streets in downtown Vancouver have bike lanes so you don’t have to worry about biking directly in traffic. After traveling approx 8 blocks you’ll come to Carell Street. On the south east sooner you’ll see the Chinese Cultural Center which is located on the same block as Dr. Sun Yat-Den Classical Chinese Garden and the neighboring Dr.Sun Yat-Den Park. (located between Pender St and Keefer St).
The park is free to enter and wander around but the adjoining garden costs $12 to enter and has hours of operation. Both are stunning works of art and I felt like I had been transported back to Asia while exploring the grounds. The Chinese Garden offers free tours with the entrance fee and I highly recommend taking advantage of this as it adds greatly to the experience.
Science World At TELUS World of Science & The Olympic Village
As you exit the Chinese Gardens, take Quebec Street (which runs along the east side of the garden walls) and follow the False Creek Seawall promenade and bike route to the Science World. This is located only a few minutes from Chinatown.
The Science World has a large round dome sitting on top of it and is located at the end of False Creek, a short inlet separating downtown Vancouver from the rest of the city (this inlet comes off English Bay from the Pacific Ocean). Given that this is a bike tour, time may not allow for exploring the World of Science but you can always return again later.
Continuing along the bike path you’ll pedal right through the Olympic Village which housed many of the top world athletes during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
The next stop is Granville Island. To get here, simply follow the seawall until your biking along the Island Park Walk. Enter Granville Island from the Old Bridge Walk and you’ll soon come across bike stands beside the Cats Social House restaurant. I suggest parking your bike and exploring on foot.
You could easily spend half a day wandering this little island, checking out the many galleries, shops, breweries and the huge market place.
My favorite site was hands down the Granville Marketplace. This building is filled with the most delicious food! They have everything from sushi and fish markets to specialty cheeses and chocolates. I spent about 10 min standing in front of a particularly mouth watering display of pastries and cakes trying to decide on just one to sample. A word of advice, go here when your hungry!
From Granville Island continue biking along the bike path beside the water and make your way to the iconic Kitsilano beach. The perfect place to chill in the afternoon sun, you can swim, rent a SUP or kayak or jump in on a game of beach volleyball.
When you’re ready to call it a day, head back the way you came until you reach the Vancouver Maritime Museum (you would have passed it on your way to Kitsilano). Take Chesnut St up to Cornwall Ave which joins with Burrard St. Turn left and take the Burrard Bridge across the water, back to West End Vancouver. The views from this bridge are spectacular! Looking east you have a wonderful view of marinas and Granville Island. Looking to the west you see the water open up into English Bay with beautiful mountains in the background.
After snapping some pictures, its only about a 10 min bike ride back to Denman Street and return your bike. To get here, once your over Burrard Bridge, turn left onto Beach Ave for a block until you see the water on your left. Head down to the bike path that follows the stunning shoreline of English Bay until you reach the Cactus Cafe (the bike path and Beach Ave run parallel to each other). Here Denman Street meets Beach Ave.
This route might be a bit long for some or you might just want more time exploring a particular place. I wrote up this route to be used a general guide to the main sights to see in West End Vancouver but as always, there is more to see and do in this area than just one day will allow! Wherever you decide to explore, when in Vancouver biking is the way to go. Happy pedaling!