Whether you’re a runner, cycler or walker, Vancouver offers plenty of multi-purpose routes designed to get people outdoors. From the car-free Arbutus Greenway to the breathtakingly beautiful Stanley Park Seawall, avoid the crowded tour buses and go explore this wonderful city for yourself.
Did you know that Vancouver is one of the most bike-friendly cities in Canada? After Victoria on Vancouver Island I believe. Coming from the overcrowded and congested streets of London in England, what shocked me most is that they have entire roads dedicated to cyclers and at junctions you will find cyclist-friendly traffic light buttons. Genius!
The gloriously long and flat Seawall is one of the best ways to explore the city. Stretching all the way from Spanish Banks to Stanley Park, this 28km path offers a paved traffic-free zone from which to take in the skyline.
So whether you’re a runner, biker or walker, here’s my round-up of 5 easy routes to explore the city…
Stanley Park Seawall
The Stanley Park Seawall has to be one of the most picturesque routes in the city. The 10km paved flat path, which runs from Vancouver Harbour (where the cruise ships dock) all the way around the edge of the park to English Bay; or further if you’re feeling full of energy! Along the route look out for seaplanes landing in the harbour, the historic Totem Poles (a good toilet stop!), the Inukshuk, Lost Lagoon, Lions Gate Bridge, the lighthouse and Third Beach. The park is also home to the Vancouver Aquarium and a pitch and putt.
Sunset Beach to Kitsilano Beach
This would be the perfect continuation on from the Stanley Park Seawall route…
From Stanley Park continue on to Sunset Beach and over the Burrard Bridge which brings you to the heart of Kits. Once a hippy hangout, this now upmarket neighbourhood has plenty of eateries, cafes and shops to keep you busy. Be sure to check out the wildflower pop-up bee-pollinator park at the corner of West 5th Ave and Pine. Save the bees!
This former railway line has been converted into a car-free oasis in the heart of Vancouver. The 8.5km route runs all the way from West 6th Ave in Kitsilano down to the Fraser River. There’s plenty of space for cyclists, roller skaters and those on foot to enjoy the path together.
Look out for community gardens, book-swaps, yard sales and an amazing array of wildflowers which line the path. After cycling the route we made our way to the Vancouver Transit Station and caught a cheeky train back to town. It’s that or doing the route twice?
- Check out nearby activities on Salt Spring Island
Lions Gate Bridge across to North Vancouver
Starting in Stanley Park, ride, walk or run across Lions Gate Bridge, be sure to look back and admire the view across downtown Vancouver. The bridge has a separate cycle path so you won’t be contending with the traffic (oh London we have a lot to learn!)
When you reach the other side, take a right onto Marine Drive and follow the road all the way until it turns into 3rd Street West. Make your way to Green Moustache Café for a pit stop; the cashew nut ‘cheese’ cakes are a must! Pick up some fresh fruit and veg at the Londsale Quay Market before you catch the SeaBus back to Vancouver Harbour.
This route is perhaps best suited to bikers as Marine Drive isn’t the most picturesque, and yes you can take your bikes on the ferry – winning!
The Sea Wall – Kitsilano, Granville and Yaletown
After spending your day exploring the beach and backstreets of Kits, make your way to Granville Island; possibly one of my favourite places to visit in Vancouver! I could spend hours looking around the foodie market; it’s a great rainy day activity as it’s covered. Be sure to also check out the famous floating houses in the harbour and enjoy a beer at the Granville Island Brewing Co. Perhaps hire a kayak and take in Vancouver from the water?
From Granville catch one of the dinky False Creek Ferries (you can take bikes on the larger ones) across to the other side of the bay and head up to historic Yaletown. Filled with residential loft space, cafes, bars, and restaurants coupled with trendy shops and my favourite…a micro herb and greens factory called the Urban Cultivator.
Perfect photo stop at Queen Elizabeth Park
Perhaps more suited to a gentle stroll, the Queen Elizabeth Park is a must visit for the spectacular views across downtown Vancouver across to the North Shore Mountains. You can see for miles! This is the perfect photo opportunity.
This former quarry has been converted into a magical oasis of calm and tranquility in the city. The path up to the viewpoint is steep, but cars can be driven up if needed. There’s also a restaurant up there, though can’t comment on the quality of the food.
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