Not packed in a bus. Not herded with a group. Self guided walk is the SAFEST way to sightsee!

Vancouver Downtown Walking Tour (Self Guided), 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.
How it works: Download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Vancouver Downtown Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Vancouver Downtown Walking Tour
Guide Location: Canada » Vancouver (See other walking tours in Vancouver)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 15
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.7 Km or 2.3 Miles
Author: clare
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Vancouver Lookout
  • Coastal Peoples Fine Arts Gallery
  • Gastown Steam Clock
  • The Old Spaghetti Factory Restaurant
  • Hotel Europe (Flat Iron Building)
  • Maple Tree Square. Deighton's Statue
  • Gaoler's Mews
  • Victory Square Cenotaph
  • Holy Rosary Cathedral
  • Vancouver Public Library
  • BC Place Stadium
  • Yaletown Brewing Company
  • Canadian Pacific 374
  • Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre
  • False Creek
1
Vancouver Lookout

1) Vancouver Lookout (must see)

The Vancouver Lookout is the place from which any sightseeing tour of Vancouver should really begin, as it offers visitors a full, beautiful panoramic view of the city, from 50 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 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 the city, then the Vancouver Lookout should definitely have a “must see” spot on your list!

The views offered by Vancouver Lookout cover all of the cosmopolitan metropolis to its historic Gastown area, the North Shore and Burnaby mountains, Bowen Island, Burrard Inlet, and more. Displays on the Lookout deck give visitors a 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
2
Coastal Peoples Fine Arts Gallery

2) Coastal Peoples Fine Arts Gallery

Established in 1996, Coastal Peoples is a leading gallery in Vancouver, specializing in contemporary First Nations and Inuit artwork. Here you will find some great collections of gold and silver jewelry, glass-work, masks and sculptures.
Opening Hours: Daily: 10:00 am - 7:00 pm (May 1st – September 30th); After hours: Open by appointment only.
Closed: Christmas Day; Boxing Day; New Year’s Day.
3
Gastown Steam Clock

3) Gastown Steam Clock (must see)

Of all Gastown's attractions, none is as well known as the Steam Clock. Though the clock certainly isn't the oldest attraction in Gastown, and steam clocks, as such, can be found elsewhere, Gastown's steam clock is one of the few remaining steam-powered clocks that is still functional.

The clock was originally built over a steam grate, partly to hide the unsightly grate, partly to harness the power of the otherwise wasted steam, and partly to prevent transients from using it for warmth in cold weather. The steam itself is generated by Vancouver's distributed steam heating system.

The original mechanism that powered the clock failed after a period of time, and electricity was required to keep the landmark operational. Fortunately, with donations from Gastown businesses, the steam mechanism was repaired and replaced, and continues to work to this day. As steam rises from the grate, it powers a small steam engine that brings a chain lift into motion, which, in turn, moves steel balls upward until they roll onto a descending chain lift. The weight of the balls is what actually powers the clock's pendulum, allowing it to keep time without winding. Since the clock uses whistles to mark the time, the steam also powers the clock's chiming mechanism.

Why You Should Visit:
When it strikes (on the quarter, but especially the full-hour, and more so at mid-day) it really does put on something of a show.
Lots of neat shops in the area to browse through, while waiting, or you could sit across the street and enjoy it with a meal.

Tip:
Set your camera to video to catch the impressive display.
Difficult to photograph, but patience will be rewarded.
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
The Old Spaghetti Factory Restaurant

4) The Old Spaghetti Factory Restaurant

The Old Spaghetti Factory is an Italian-style chain restaurant in the United States and Canada. The Canadian locations are owned by a separate company, the Old Spaghetti Factory Canada Ltd., based in Vancouver. The restaurant decor features antiques, including chandeliers, brass headboards and footboards as bench backs for booths.

The most unique antique is definitely the trolley car that sits in the front of the restaurant. It was built by the BC Electric Railway Company in 1904. The trolley travelled between Main and Cambie until 1950 before being moved to the P.N.E grounds where it stayed for 20 years. Mr. Ernie Les Plant saved the car from destruction and later loaned it to The Old Spaghetti Factory where it has remained for the last 44 years. There is also a piece of stained glass, which was originally from the Queens Carriage.

The Old Spaghetti Factory is a very memorable place to take your family for a night out and for many locals it has become a family tradition.
****PH*****
5
Hotel Europe (Flat Iron Building)

5) Hotel Europe (Flat Iron Building)

Hotel Europe is a six-story heritage building located at 43 Powell Street (at Alexander) in the Gastown area of Vancouver, British Columbia. Situated on a triangular lot, the building is designed in the flatiron style. It was the first reinforced concrete structure to be built in Canada and the earliest fireproof hotel in Western Canada.

The Hotel Europe was one of the filming locations for the suspense movie The Changeling. In it, the building houses the Seattle Historical Society, but the hotel sign can be seen on the right side facade of the building in some takes. Some scenes are set on its roof terrace. Hotel Europe was also a filming location in the 1994 epic drama film Legends of the Fall.
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
Maple Tree Square. Deighton's Statue

6) Maple Tree Square. Deighton's Statue

The intersection of Water, Powell, Alexander, and Carrall streets in Vancouver is a home to one of the most photographed and historic spots in the city, called Maple Tree Square. It dates back to the times when Vancouver was called Granville Townsite, and it gained popularity thanks to John Deighton, dubbed "Gassy Jack" for his talkative nature and penchant for storytelling, who opened the area’s first bar on the south side of Burrard Inlet in 1867 at the behest of his old buddy, Captain Edward Stamp, the owner of the Hastings Mill.

Legend has it that Deighton, native of England's Hull, had paddled over from New Westminster and promised mill workers that they could have all the whiskey they could drink if they helped him build a saloon. Within 24 hours, the “watering hole” was up and running. The proud owner later named it the Globe Saloon. Frequented by sailors and workers from the nearby sawmill, it soon proved to be the emerging city’s centre of trade and commerce, let alone drinking. Over the next four decades, some 300 bars had sprouted up within a 12 block radius.

The legendary bar was demolished when the townsite of Granville was established, but the name stuck and the surrounding area is now known as Gastown. As for Gassy Jack himself, the statue erected in his honour adorns Maple Tree Square today, marking the exact spot of his former saloon.
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
Gaoler's Mews

7) Gaoler's Mews

Gastown's Gaoler's Mews is where Vancouver's first jail used to be. Over the years, this spot has seen the great Vancouver fire of 1886, a pub, and over 40 public executions by hanging. Though it has the same old time appeal as the rest of Gastown, Gaoler's Mews is probably more famous for its unseen inhabitants.

Stories abound of the hauntings that supposedly take place in Gaoler's Mews. One of the contractors, working on the Irish Heather pub, discovered that his tools would regularly be moved, and one of the owners heard a woman calling her name when nobody else was there. Visitors have also seen a mysterious woman dressed in black, moving along the area near where Vancouver's scaffold used to be. Another spirit, a man in black, was seen multiple times by the Irish Heathers' staff, as well as the staff of the coffee house next door. When the building was renovated, the figure could be seen moving through a wall where a door used to be.

Though neither the Irish Heather nor Blake's Coffee Parlour are still in Gaoler's Mews, this building is still a popular destination for tourists. People from all over come with infra-red cameras, Geiger counters and other paraphernalia to, hopefully, record some evidence of the area's famous hauntings.
8
Victory Square Cenotaph

8) Victory Square Cenotaph

Vancouver's Victory Square is a small urban park, located on the site of the old Vancouver courthouse. The park itself is notable for accidentally setting the great Vancouver fire - when the heavily forested land was cleared to make way for the courthouse, a pile of trees and branches built up. This wood pile acted as kindling for the great fire, which levelled much of Vancouver in 1886.

One of the square's key features is the Cenotaph. The Victory Square Cenotaph is a war memorial, carved from Nelson Island granite and standing roughly 30 feet in height. It is engraved with an image of a longsword, a wreath of laurels, and a wreath of poppies, both of which are entwined with maple leaves. Biblical inscriptions on the Cenotaph read, “Their name liveth forevermore,” “Is it nothing to you,” and “All ye that pass by.”

The location of the Cenotaph is historically significant, since the monument was erected where the base of the steps of the old courthouse used to be. This was where men stood to sign up for World War I, and where the main presentations of royal visits to Vancouver took place. Every year, the Cenotaph is the center of Vancouver's Remembrance Day services.
9
Holy Rosary Cathedral

9) Holy Rosary Cathedral

The Holy Rosary Cathedral is a French Gothic style Catholic temple that has graced Vancouver since the turn of the 20th century. Designed by T.E. Julien, it is considered one of Vancouver's Heritage Sites. The sandstone and granite building has the shape of a cross and features some very beautiful stained glass work and hang-rung cathedral bells.

The stained glass windows are adorned with scenes from the lives of saints and Jesus, including: the Holy Family Window, displaying 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 live by bell ringers, and not played from a recording. The original bells were cast in France and shipped to Vancouver, but they weren't in tune. So, 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 heart 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
10
Vancouver Public Library

10) Vancouver Public Library (must see)

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

The library portion lies within a seven-story rectangle which contains all of the actual library materials, including books, periodicals, and other references. Encircling it is 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 literature or architecture fan, and have a taste for sound urban design, you will love this place.
If you appreciate free activities and services, or simply seek out things to do on a rainy day, 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
11
BC Place Stadium

11) BC Place Stadium

The BC Place Stadium is a sporting arena that has held several world records in its lifetime. In 1983, it opened as the world's largest air supported stadium. After closing for renovation in 2010, it then re-opened as the world's largest cable supported retractable roof stadium.

The BC Place Stadium currently serves as the home for the BC Lions Canadian football team and Vancouver Whitecaps Major League Soccer team, and houses the BC Sports Hall of Fame. In the past, it served as the Olympic stadium for the 2010 Winter Olympics, was an eight time host for the Canadian Football League's Grey Cup, and was the venue at which Pope John Paul II gave an address as part of the papal visit to the Archdiocese of Vancouver.

Michael Jackson performed several concerts with his brothers in BC Place Stadium during 1984, to a packed house every night. Later, in 2008, Madonna gave her first Vancouver performance at the venue as part of her Sticky & Sweet Tour. The arena hosts over 200 events each year, including trade shows, expos, concerts, community events, and motor sports. Fans of just about any kind of sport wouldn't want to miss a chance to visit the BC Place Arena, much as to take a tour of the BC Sports Hall of Fame.
Sight description based on wikipedia
12
Yaletown Brewing Company

12) Yaletown Brewing Company

The Yaletown Brewing Company, founded in 1994, is the largest and most famous brewpub in Vancouver. It features a pub section, where you can enjoy some great local beer, and a restaurant section, where you can sample some high quality food.
13
Canadian Pacific 374

13) Canadian Pacific 374

Engine No. 374 is the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) locomotive that pulled the first transcontinental passenger train to Vancouver, arriving on May 23, 1887. This was a year after sister Engine No. 371 brought the first train to cross Canada into Port Moody, roughly 20 miles (32 km) to the east.

No. 374 was built in 1886 and was one of eight similar steam locomotives manufactured that year in the CPR Montreal shops. While No. 371 was scrapped in 1915, No. 374 was completely rebuilt in 1914 and remained in service until 1945. Because of its historical significance, it was donated to the City of Vancouver upon its retirement, which placed it on display in Kitsilano Beach Park.

Sadly, the machine suffered greatly from exposure to the elements and a lack of upkeep there. It remained in the park until 1983, when a group of railway enthusiasts launched an effort to restore the engine in time for Expo 86. They moved it from the beach and placed it in different warehouses around Vancouver for the next few years, while a crew of volunteers undertook the task of restoring the engine. Completed in time for Expo, No. 374 was put on display on the turntable at the renovated former CPR Drake Street Roundhouse, where it became a prime attraction.

Now a central feature of the Yaletown area redevelopment, the Engine 374 Pavilion is open daily for public viewing from 10 am to 4 pm.
Sight description based on wikipedia
14
Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre

14) Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre

Built in 1888, Roundhouse is the oldest construction in Vancouver and still stands in its original location. It was used as the end-line loacation for the national railway. Today, it is the home of the Community Arts and Recreation Center.
15
False Creek

15) False Creek (must see)

False Creek is a short inlet in the heart of Vancouver that separates downtown from the rest of the city. It was named so by George Henry Richards during his hydro-graphic survey of the coast in 1856-63. While traveling along the south side of the Burrard Inlet, Richards thought he was traversing a creek; upon discovering his error, he gave the waterway its current name.

Science World is located at its eastern end, with the Granville, Cambie, and the Burrard (which is furthest west) Street bridges crossing False Creek. The Canada Line rapid transit tunnel crosses underneath False Creek just west of the Cambie Bridge. The creek is one of the four major bodies of water bordering Vancouver along with English Bay, Burrard Inlet and the Fraser River. In 1986 it was the location of the Expo 86 World's Fair.

False Creek is a very popular boating area for many different activities, including dragon boating, canoeing, kayaking, public ferries, charter ships, and visiting pleasure boats. It has 10 marinas with berths for 1500 watercraft and several paddling clubs or boat rental facilities. Since 1986, the creek has been the venue for the Canadian International Dragon Boat Festival and other paddling events.
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 Churches

Downtown Churches

Vancouver's churches, cathedrals and chapels are as numerous as they are diverse. They reflect the nation's religious history and the culture of the city. This downtown walking tour will take you to the most sacred religious edifices in the city.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.0 Km or 1.2 Miles
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: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.7 Km or 1.1 Miles
Vancouver Introduction Walk

Vancouver Introduction Walk

A bustling seaport on the west coast of Canada, Vancouver is one of the country's densest and most ethnically diverse metropolises. It is also among British Columbia's youngest cities. Prior to the Europeans, the "Vancouver" area had been inhabited by Aboriginal peoples – Squamish, Musqueam, and Tsleil-Waututh (Burrard), etc. – for almost 10,000 years. The explorer Simon...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.8 Km or 2.4 Miles
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: 1.1 Km or 0.7 Miles
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: 1.3 Km or 0.8 Miles

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip


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