So you're either new to Vancouver or this is your first time visiting. You've probably heard of Stanley Park and Top of Vancouver. Those places are well-known landmarks in Vancouver and they're nice and all, but there's nothing quite like our city when you do it like a local.
We love our coffee, we love our seafood, and we most definitely love our nature. Don't get stuck flipping through pages and pages of an outdated travel guide, this right here is all you need to know about doing Vancouver like a local.
Here we've included a list of the best ways of getting around town so you don't get end up in the rain for 30 minutes trying to hail a cab (we don't really do cabs here), a list of the most delicious food loved by locals so you don't wind up ordering a panini at Starbucks, and a highly important list of things to do in Vancouver so you don't miss a single thing while you're in this city.
We're going to make sure you get the best of the best and that you discover all the hidden gems of the city while you're here - all the nooks and krannies of each neighbourhood and all the local underdogs that make our city special.
So here's the guide on how to do Vancouver like a local. Let's get started:
Click "Next" for how to get around.
The truth is, most people in Vancouver drive. There are also tons of people who take the bus and Skytrain, but when you can't live in the city, your only option is really to drive.
But of course as a tourist, renting a car can sometimes be a bit costly. So here are a few other ways to get around like a local:
Use a car-share service
There are TONS of car-share services in Vancouver - Car2Go, Evo, Zipcar, the list goes on. They are super convenient and easy to use. Each car service has a different payment plan, so depending on whether you want a car for an entire day or just a short trip, you can choose the right one for you.
Take the bus
As much as everyone rags on the bus being terrible in Vancouver, when you're in the city, it's actually quite good. With the Compass card, it's very convenient to tap on and off the bus without struggling for change and if you refund the card, you also get your money back.
Take the Skytrain
Again, locals love to complain about Skytrains constantly undergoing maintenance. But isn't that a good thing that our city cares about our transit? Like the busses, you can get on a Skytrain with your Compass card and it definitely beats being stuck in traffic for hours.
Sort of a new addition to the city is bike-sharing. This year, Vancouver adopted the bike share trend and it seems to be doing quite well! Yes, locals have very strong and very bipolar opinions about bikes and biking lanes, but if you're visiting, it's a great option. If you're trying to get from one end of downtown to the other, Mobibikes are great.
Click "Next" for the food scene.
The Food Scene
Everyone and their moms will agree that Vancouver has the best food scene ever (KJ Apa and Kelly Ripa sure did). From West Coast's freshest seafood to North America's most authentic Asian cuisine, our city has so much to offer when it comes to food...and more.
As much as you may have seen the plethora of Cactus Club Cafes around (and I'm sure you're confused as to that fact that it's neither a club nor a cafe lol) and endless Starbucks shops, there are so many underrated and must-eat restaurants in Vancouver. So here's the local list:
Steveston Pizza Company
Where: #100-3400 Moncton St // Steveston
Type: Seafood Pizza
Price: 💸💸 - 💸💸💸
We recommend: Serpent and Mermaid Pizza
Why you should go: There's no place that does seafood quite like Vancouver and when you combine that with everyone's favourite, pizza, you've got a dish made for the gods. Steveston Pizza Company stacks pizza with so much seafood that you can hardly even handle it. Make sure you bring your travel buddy because this meal is definitely no small fish.
JINYA Ramen Bar
Where: 541 Robson St // Downtown
We recommend: Spicy Creamy Vegan Ramen and Lobster Me Happy
Why you should go: Vegan food and ramen, two things that Vancouver loves. Jinya makes some of the best ramen in the city, and when you've got so many ramen options in Vancouver, we thought we'd narrow it down for you.
Where: 151 E Broadway // Mount Pleasant
Type: Up-scale Diner
Most popular item: Roast Duck Pancake
Why you should go: Who doesn't love comfort food? At this modern diner, you can get comfort food with a twist like boozy milkshakes and roast duck pancake.
Where: 1206 Seymour St // Yaletown
We recommend: Pork Belly Tacos
Why you should go: An absolute gem in the city. A small cozy tortilleria with insanely delicious carnitas tacos. But make sure you go earlier on in the day because as soon as they're sold out, they're done for the day (usually around 5PM).
Where: 244 E Georgia St // Chinatown
Type: Cambodian and Vietnamese
We recommend: Fried Chicken Wings and Butter Beef
Why you should go: If you ask any local where you have to eat in Vancouver, they will most likely always include Phnom Penh on the list. This Vietnamese-Cambodian restaurant has a cult following for their chicken wings and butter beef, and as someone who's been there probably a million times, there's definitely a reason why.
Kishimoto Japanese Kitchen
Where: 2054 Commercial Drive // Commercial-Broadway
Most popular item: Salmon Oshi
Why you should go: You can't visit Vancouver and not eat sushi, you just can't. Experience the melt in your mouth deliciousness of aburi oshi sushi at Kishimoto and get a taste of West Coast's best.
Where: Various locations
We recommend: Chorizo Queso Fundito
Why you should go: Who doesn't love a molten hot bowl of melted cheese? Not only is their Queso Fundito the bomb, their tacos and cocktail drinks are some of the best in the city. Since Vancouver is basically a taco town, you've got to visit La Mezcaleria.
Cacao 70 Dippery
Where: 433 Abbott St // Gastown
Type: Ice Cream Dippery
We recommend: Matcha Catcha Waffle Combo and Earl Grey Dipped Ice Cream
Why you should go: What better way to top off your tour around Gastown than to enjoy a sweet and indulgent dipped soft serve cone? Cacao 70 Dippery makes so many delicious dipping chocolates like matcha, earl grey and sesame, and that's just a few of them.
Where: 550 Main St // Chinatown
Type: Taiwanese Noodle Bar
We recommend: Nui Rou Mian, Gua Bao, and Taiwanese Beer
Why you should go: The perfect dish to warm you up during fall and winter is a nice big bowl of Taiwanese beef noodle soup, and Rhinofish is the place to get it. The perfect spot for a chill, casual date or to catch up with a friend.
Where: 6848 Jubilee Ave // Burnaby
Type: Coffee Shop
We recommend: Strawberry Bingsoo and Squid Ink Avocado Toast
Why you should go: Okay, so first, just look at the adorable tropical indoor garden! Second, there's no way you're having a Starbucks coffee in Vancouver. There are so many super cute cafes here and La Forêt is just the one to get you started.
Ask For Luigi
Where: 305 Alexander St // Gastown
We recommend: Any pasta with a poached egg!
Why you should go: Ask For Luigi is easily one of Vancouver's favourite Italian restaurants. They serve fresh daily hand-made pasta that will satisfy and definitely don't skimp on their family-style dishes.
And if this list wasn't enough for you, check out:
Click "Next" for Things To Do.
Things To Do
There are endless things to do in our beautiful PNW backyard, from biking and hiking in the summer to skiing and snowboarding in the winter. You've definitely heard of Whistler, Grouse Mountain and Stanley Park, but we're here to show you the real Vancouver. Here are things only the locals know and do in Vancouver.
Go hiking at Nairn Falls
Why you should go: If you're heading to Whistler, you might as well also hit Nairn Falls in Pemberton. The hike is open all year-round and the views are absolutely gorgeous.
Be in awe of the waters of Joffre Lakes
Where: Duffey Lake Rd
Why you should go: While you're in the Pemberton/Whistler area, you also have to take advantage of Joffre Lakes. The bejewelled waters are so famously known for being crystal clear that even the locals love it.
Walk across Lions Gate Bridge
Where: Stanley Park to the bottom of Taylor Way
Why you should go: Lions Gate Bridge is a huge Vancouver landmark and one of its most beautiful and elegant man-made structures. Get a beautiful view of Stanley Park and the North Shore while walking across this bridge, and make sure to take plenty of photos.
Track down all of Vancouver's coolest murals
Where: Here's the map
Why you should go: Vancouver has slowly become more and more known for its fantastic creative scene as well as its incredible mural art. Every year the Vancouver Mural Festival paints the city in new colours and artwork, and you can find them all!
Take in the views at Sasamat Lake
Where: Port Moody
Why you should go: This is lowkey one of the best places to go explore in Vancouver. It isn't crowded with tourists or even too many locals for that matter, what the chill Vancouver life is all about.
Soak up the sun at Kitsilano Beach
Why you should go: English Bay is way too crowded, instead, head over to Kitsilano Beach and enjoy the beach vibes there. The view is spectacular and its way more low key. During the summer, there's also an incredible swimming pool that's open and needs to be on your bucket list.
Go on a night out in Gastown
Why you should go: Where just going to tell you right now to skip all the Granville clubbing and head straight to Gastown. The clubs are better, the bars make better drinks, and the crowds are way more fun. Be sure to hit up spots like Guilt & Co., Clough Club, The Diamond, and Fortune Sound Club while you're there.
Go explore the Ladner Creek Trestle
Where: Ladner Creek
Why you should go: This super cool olden train track located in Ladner is a hidden gem and is now becoming a hot spot for photographers. Visit the historical sight and get a look into Vancouver's past as you shoot some awesome photos for IG.