City Orientation Walking Tour (Self Guided), Vancouver

The third largest city in Canada, Vancouver is a dynamic and vibrant metropolis in British Columbia known for a variety of world-class attractions. Take this orientation walk and get familiar with the most popular spots of the city.
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City Orientation Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: City Orientation Walking Tour
Guide Location: Canada » Vancouver (See other walking tours in Vancouver)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 13
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.7 Km or 3.5 Miles
Author: clare
1
Science World

1) Science World (must see)

Science World at TELUS World of Science is a permanent setting for several different interactive science exhibits, run by a non-profit organization. The building itself is a geodesic dome of the type designed by R. Buckminster Fuller, the man for whom fullerenes (or “Buckyballs”) were named for. The building itself was named for Telus telecommunications, a company that secured naming rights to the dome with a $9 million donation.

Science World contains five different displays: The Eureka! Gallery, Sara Stern Search Gallery, Kidspace Gallery, Our World Gallery, and Illusions. It also contains the OMNIMAX and Science Theatres.

TELUS World of Science was created when Vancouver was selected to host the 1986 World's Fair, serving as the expo center. Construction began in 1984 and finished in 1985. Once the expo was over in October, there was a lot of lobbying by the public to turn the former expo center into a museum, and new home of the former Arts, Sciences, and Technology Centre. Donations totaling over $19 million were collected from the public and private sector, and individual donors, and were used to redesign the iconic building's interior, create new exhibits, and add on to it. By 1999, the OMNIMAX Theatre was open to the public, and TELUS World of Science has been fully operational ever since.

Why You Should Visit:
Much for kids to do – from toddlers to older kids, but adults would enjoy this attraction, too.
All day in & out access with a stamp allows going for lunch at surrounding restaurants or having a picnic.

Tip:
You might want to bring a spare change of clothes for your kids as there is mild water play but they could still get wet.
Make sure to ask when the shows are as they have a small stage for a 30min show of different science experiments.
Needless to say, avoid weekends and holidays in order to enjoy this place with fewer people.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Fri: 10am-5pm; Sat-Sun: 10am-6pm
2
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden

2) Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden (must see)

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden is a classical Chinese garden and the first of its kind to be built outside of China. It is located in Vancouver's Chinatown and is home to a public park and a garden that's accessible with an admission fee.

The Garden itself was created to serve as a liaison between Chinese and Canadian culture in Vancouver, and act as a place where members of the community could gather. The garden portion is home to many specimen plants chosen for their blooming schedule, which causes the garden to change dramatically with every change in season. It also relies on the philosophical concepts of Taoism and Feng Shui for its layout and design, while the public park portion is similar to most Western parks and gardens.

The garden is named for Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, the first president of the Republic of China. During his travels to further the cause of the Chinese nationalist movement, he spent an extensive amount of time in Vancouver. This, coupled with the number of Chinese nationalists then living in Vancouver, led to the Garden being named in his honor.

Why You Should Visit:
The yin-yang of the white walls and black roof, the leak windows and hidden symbolism within the entire place is very interesting.
Part of the garden is free to the public; however, a guided tour is included with paid admission and adds a lot to the overall experience.
If unsure, you can always try the park first as it is free and has a little pond, bridges and beautiful views.

Tip:
Koi carp feeding happens once a day at around 11:30am from May-October so if you're there, be sure to watch it.
Otherwise, try the tea and explore whatever exhibit is showing at the time.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-4:30pm (Oct-Apr); 10am-6pm (May-Jun 14); 9:30am-7pm (Jun 15-Aug); 10am-6pm (Sep)
Closed Mondays between Nov 1 - Apr 30. Holiday closures Dec 25 & Jan 1.
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Historical Alley

3) Historical Alley

Historical Alley marks the area where Vancouver's earliest Chinese settlers made their home. Originally comprised of Canton and Shanghai alley, this area housed over one thousand Asian-Canadian residents, and was home to stores, restaurants, opera, and cultural activities.

Shanghai Alley was the first part of Historical Alley to be constructed and inhabited. Later, in 1904, Canton Alley was built. Residents constructed a Chinese style courtyard surrounded with residential and commercial buildings in two parallel, southward running rows. The heart of Historical Alley was the five hundred seat theater built in 1898, surrounded by restaurants and shops. This gave residents of Chinatown a way to enjoy Chinese-language entertainment, food, and company without having to leave their area of Vancouver. This resulted in a tightly woven Chinese-Canadian community that could spend their entire lives without having to leave Vancouver's Chinatown.

The end result of Historical Alley is a Chinatown that's the second largest in all of North America, and one of the most visited by ethnic Chinese from outside of Vancouver. People of all races and nationalities come to Vancouver's Historical Alley for food, shopping, entertainment, and cultural events, as well as to view the Millennium Gate marking the entrance to Chinatown.
4
Chinatown

4) Chinatown (must see)

Vancouver's Chinatown is Canada's largest. Centered on Pender Street, it is surrounded by Gastown and the Downtown Financial and Central Business Districts to the west, the Downtown Eastside to the north, the remnant of old Japantown to the northeast, and the residential neighborhood of Strathcona to the east. It attracts many tourists with its expressive culture, food, and traditional architecture. Chinatown is lined with numerous shops that sell herbs, sweets, clothing, and other items. Due to the large ethnic Chinese presence in Vancouver – especially represented by multi-generation Chinese Canadians and first-generation immigrants from Hong Kong – the city has been referred to as "Hongcouver" (a term considered derogatory by some Chinese).

Tip:
Don't go after 6pm because most of the shops will be closed.
You will be approached by panhandlers at any time of day, but if you just say "no" firmly then they will not trouble you further.
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
Vancouver Public Library

5) Vancouver Public Library (must see)

The Vancouver Public Library is more than your average public library. When the city of Vancouver was looking to build a public library in 1990, they solicited several different designs to be voted on by the public. The winner was a somewhat nontraditional design by Moshe Safdie, which features a rectangular area for the library itself, surrounded by a dramatic, elliptical wall.

The library portion lies within a seven-story rectangle. This contains all of the actual library materials, including books, periodicals, and other references. It's encircled by a colonnaded wall, where study areas and reading rooms are connected by bridges punctuated with light wells. The building sits directly across the street from The Center in Vancouver for the Performing Arts, which Safdie was commissioned to design as a compliment to the library.

This building has been featured in several movies and TV shows over the years. The cloning company in The 6th Day was headquartered in the library's Central Branch. Scenes from The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus were filmed in the entrance hall of the Central Branch, too. Several scenes from the sci-fi shows Battlestar Galactica and Caprica were also filmed in various areas of the library.

Why You Should Visit:
If you're a library fan, an architectural fan, or appreciate sound urban design and community resources, you will love this library.
If you appreciate free activities and services, or simply seek out things to do on rainy days, you will love this library just as well.
In addition to the newly-opened rooftop garden, the two upper floors (8th/9th), which were previously leased out, have been tastefully renovated.

Tip:
While escalators and elevators help deliver you quickly to your destination, the trip up the levels is worth it to see how the floor plans differ and merge into open spaces.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Thu: 10am-9pm; Fri-Sat: 10am-6pm; Sun: 11am-6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
Holy Rosary Cathedral

6) Holy Rosary Cathedral (must see)

The Holy Rosary Cathedral is a French Gothic style Catholic cathedral that has graced Vancouver since the turn of the century. Designed by T.E. Julien, the sandstone and granite building is in the shape of a cross and features some very beautiful stained glass work and hang-rung cathedral bells. It is considered one of Vancouver's Heritage Buildings.

The Cathedral's stained glass windows feature scenes from the lives of saints and Jesus. These include the Holy Family Window, which displays Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and Mary's parents, St. Joachim and St. Anne; the Baptism of the Lord Window, a 1940s design by Guido Nincheri; and the Jesus with Children window, also by Guido Nincheri.

The bells of Holy Rosary Cathedral are all rung by bell ringers, not played from a recording. The original bells were cast in France and shipped to Vancouver, but they weren't in tune. It was decided to ship the seven bells, named for the Seven Sacraments, to England to be recast and properly tuned. The result was a ring of eight bells, representing a full musical octave. The bells were finally hung for change ringing in 1906, and have remained so ever since.

Why You Should Visit:
Inspiring, located in the center of the city, and very welcoming to travelers who want to unwind.
Not on the scale of some of the European cathedrals but stained glass, statuary, pipe organ and full set of bells – it has it all.
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
Vancouver Lookout

7) Vancouver Lookout (must see)

The Lookout is the place from which any sightseeing tour of Vancouver should begin, as it offers visitors a full, beautiful panoramic view of the city, from fifty stories up. A glass elevator lifts visitors 167 meters up into the viewing area in only 40 seconds, where the Lookout's multilingual staff conduct city tours around the 360-degree, enclosed sightseeing space.

The Vancouver Lookout is located on top of the Harbour Centre Tower, Vancouver's tallest building that also houses the Vancouver Revolving Restaurant, several shops, and a food fair. If you're on a sightseeing day trip to Vancouver, then the Vancouver Lookout should definitely have a “must see” spot on your list!

The views offered by Vancouver Lookout cover all of cosmopolitan Vancouver to its historic Gastown area, and the North Shore and Burnaby mountains, Bowen Island, Burrard Inlet, and more. Displays on the Lookout deck give visitors the chance to go on self-guided visual tours of the city, learn about Vancouver's history, and test themselves on their ability to identify Vancouver's many sights and attractions.

Why You Should Visit:
Great way to see the Vancouver area and it is worth listening in on the free tour they provide.
Tickets are valid all day, so you can go in the morning and come back at sunset to see the city lights.

Tip:
You can spend as little or as long as you like, but make sure you walk the whole lookout floor.
Make sure there isn't fog when you visit, or else you won't see a thing!

Opening Hours:
Daily: 8:30am-10pm (May to mid-October); 9am-9pm (Nov-Apr)
Sight description based on wikipedia
8
Gastown

8) Gastown (must see)

Gastown is Vancouver's historic area. It was named after a steamboat captain named “Gassy” Jack Deighton, who opened Vancouver's first saloon in 1867. Over the years, the area became a prosperous area for commerce. Gastown was threatened by attempts to build a freeway through the area in the 1960s, but Vancouver's citizens rallied to preserve its historic architecture and character. Today, the cobblestone streets and preserved Victorian buildings continue to give Gastown a unique appeal.

One of Gastown's favorite attractions is the Steam Clock. Though it isn't the area's oldest sightseeing spot, the Steam Clock is still a distinctive Gastown feature. The clock was built over a steam grate as a way to harness the power provided by the steam, and prevent transients from sleeping on the grate in cold weather. A small steam engine inside of the clock powers the pendulum mechanism, which allows the clock to keep time without winding.

In addition to historic sites, Gastown is home to plenty of chic boutiques, clubs, bars, art galleries, music studios, and tourist spots. Fabric, formerly called The Town Pump, has been an important venue for Vancouver's music scene since the 1960s. Though Gastown is a pretty old area of Vancouver, it continues to shape the face of Vancouver's culture.

Why You Should Visit:
Lovely characterful traditional Canadian / North American area which is indeed a delight to stroll through – just follow the crowd, as there's real life & history all around.

Tip:
Most of the shops are closed by 9pm, and that's considered being open "late".
Sight description based on wikipedia
9
Canada Place

9) Canada Place (must see)

Canada Place is a building situated on the Burrard Inlet waterfront of Vancouver. It is the home of the Vancouver Convention & Exhibition Centre, the Pan Pacific Hotel, Vancouver's World Trade Centre, and the world's first permanent IMAX 3D theater (which ceased operation on October 1st 2009). It is also the main cruise ship terminal for the region, where most of Vancouver's famous cruises to Alaska originate. Construction on it began in 1983, finished in late 1985, and was open for Expo 86 as the pavilion for Canada and was the only venue for the fair that was not at the main site on the north shore of False Creek. The building was designed by architect Eberhard Zeidler.

Why You Should Visit:
This is the epicenter if you're cruising to or from Vancouver, and the walk along the seafront is particularly pretty.
Signage is good to get you to the right place and there are usually plenty of helpful staff around.
Lots of shops & bars in the area and the remainder of the Downtown area isn't too far away – where there are even more bars & restaurants.

Tip:
At the Convention Center, you can see exhibits from the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Take Christmas card-quality photos outside at the Olympic Cauldron with Stanley Park and the mountains in the background.
Watch the 'Fly Over Canada' movie, but be sure to pay for your timed tickets in advance over the internet to avoid lines.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 6am-12am (Canadian Trail & promenades)
Sight description based on wikipedia
10
Christ Church Cathedral

10) Christ Church Cathedral

Christ Church Cathedral is one of Vancouver's heritage sites, and is Vancouver's very first church.

The Cathedral itself was a long time in the making. The basement was constructed in 1889, but the cornerstone wasn't laid until 1894. The building is a Gothic style cathedral constructed of stone, cedar, and fir, and features several complex and beautiful stained glass windows. In 1976, the lot that the church was located on was designated to be bulldozed to make way for a new skyscraper complex. Fortunately, lobbying by Vancouver's people saved the historic building, and gave it a place on Vancouver's list of heritage buildings.

Christ Church Cathedral is adorned with very distinctive heraldic symbols. The Cathedral's interior and exterior feature a Celtic cross design to show the Anglican church's British roots. The church's heraldry also features a whorl and three salmon in the artistic style employed by the native Salish people, one of the original inhabitants of Canada's west coast.

In addition to its historical look and beautiful stained glass, Christ Church Cathedral is also notable for being one of the churches in Canada to sanctify same sex unions. As of 2003, Christ Church Cathedral could officially bless same sex marriages.
Sight description based on wikipedia
11
Downtown

11) Downtown (must see)

Downtown Vancouver is the southeastern portion of the peninsula in the north-central part of the City of Vancouver. It is the business, commercial, cultural, financial, government, and entertainment center of the city and the Metro Vancouver and Lower Mainland regions. Downtown Vancouver offers magnificent views of the surrounding mountain region. It is considered one of the most beautiful urban centers in the world. Visitors have the opportunity to stroll through the popular Robson Street, exotic Chinatown, or explore historic Gastown. With a wide range of shopping and dining options, this area is sure to stay a favorite for many years to come.

Why You Should Visit:
One of the nicest things about Vancouver's Downtown is that there's seldom a rush hour of significance; this is a place made for city living.
Almost all areas are awash with a range of shops, bars & restaurants to cater to all world tastes in terms of quality, quantity, and price as well.
Safe to walk day or night and fairly clean. During the summer parts of streets are closed to vehicles to make it even safer for pedestrians.

Tip:
Public washrooms can be tricky to find so if you find one, you might want to use it – try a restaurant if necessary.
Sight description based on wikipedia
12
Vancouver Art Gallery

12) Vancouver Art Gallery (must see)

The Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG) is the fifth-largest art gallery in Canada and the largest in Western Canada. It is located at 750 Hornby Street in Vancouver, British Columbia. Its permanent collection of about 10,000 artworks includes more than 200 major works by Emily Carr, the Group of Seven, and illustrations by Marc Chagall.

The VAG's collection of about 10,000 works of art represents the most comprehensive resource for visual culture in British Columbia. Established in 1931 with the founding of the Gallery, the collection grows by several hundred works every year. It is a principal repository of works produced in this region, as well as related works by other Canadian and international artists.

Why You Should Visit:
High-quality artworks and superb exhibitions displayed in an open, airy and beautiful space.
There is everything here – from the bizarre to the terrifying, to more chilled-out areas such as the ambient music room.

Tip:
When the line up is long, get on your phone and buy the tickets online; better yet, buy tickets before you leave the house and show them upon entry to the gatekeeper.
Remember to visit the café and, weather permitting, take a table on the balcony / outside courtyard – very pleasant, with fine food, reasonable prices, and beautiful salads.

Opening Hours:
Mon, Wed-Sun: 10am-5pm; Thu: 10am-9pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
13
Robson Street

13) Robson Street (must see)

Robson Street is a major southeast-northwest thoroughfare in downtown and West End of Vancouver. Its core commercial blocks from Burrard Street to Jervis were also known as Robsonstrasse. Its name honors John Robson, a major figure in British Columbia's entry into the Canadian Confederation, and Premier of the province from 1889 to 1892.

Robson Street starts at BC Place Stadium near the north shore of False Creek, then runs northwest past Vancouver Library Square, Robson Square and the Vancouver Art Gallery, coming to an end at Lost Lagoon in Stanley Park.

In 1895, train tracks were laid down the street, supporting a concentration of shops and restaurants. From the early to the middle-late 20th century, and especially after significant immigration from postwar Germany, the northwest end of Robson Street was known as a center of German culture and commerce in Vancouver, earning the nickname Robsonstrasse, even among non-Germans (this name lives on in the Robsonstrasse Hotel on the street). At one time, the city had placed street signs reading "Robsonstrasse" though these were placed after the German presence in the area had largely vanished.

Why You Should Visit:
Vibrant area in the heart of Downtown. No end of bars/restaurants and suchlike, as well as the odd quality supermarket.
The variety of (mostly Asian) restaurants available is impressive, with several having significant queues outside.
This is the heart of the city; a lovely place to wander on down.

Tip:
When hunting for a hotel, try to find one on or accessible to Robson Street for your first time in Vancouver.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Vancouver, Canada

Create Your Own Walk in Vancouver

Create Your Own Walk in Vancouver

Creating your own self-guided walk in Vancouver is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Downtown Landmarks in Vancouver

Downtown Landmarks in Vancouver

Numerous amazing landmarks located all over the city make Vancouver a hot traveler's destination. Each unique landmark has a lot to offer visitors, be it cultural history or simple amusement. Take this walking tour to enjoy some of the best downtown landmarks.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 km
Granville Island Walk in Vancouver

Granville Island Walk in Vancouver

Granville Island is a peninsula connected to Vancouver’s downtown area via the Granville Street Bridge. It is famous for being a popular shopping district and features attractions such as galleries, markets and a brewery. Don’t miss the chance to take this walking tour and see the best Granville Island has to offer.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.8 km
Walking Tour of Yaletown in Vancouver

Walking Tour of Yaletown in Vancouver

For many years Yaletown has been the thriving industrial heart of Vancouver. This area of the city looks unlike any other and is considered to be the home of Vancouver's "elite" society. This walking tour will take you to the most significant Yaletown spots.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.0 km
Walking Tour of Chinatown in Vancouver

Walking Tour of Chinatown in Vancouver

Vancouver's Chinatown is North America's second largest Chinese-centered area. It attracts many tourists with its expressive culture, food, and fabulous traditional architecture. This walking tour will guide you to the most significant attractions in Chinatown.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.5 km
Souvenir Shopping Part 2

Souvenir Shopping Part 2

It would be a pity to leave Vancouver without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Vancouver, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.1 km
Walking Tour of Artist-Run Galleries in Vancouver

Walking Tour of Artist-Run Galleries in Vancouver

Vancouver offers visitors a great selection of art galleries that feature permanent and temporary exhibitions. There are a number of galleries in the city that are run by Canadian artists, with the majority of these places focusing mainly on contemporary art. This walking tour will take you to the most visited artist-run galleries.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip


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