If you want to visit a charming, green, diverse, and culturally and historically important city, don’t think twice: go to Vancouver, the northwestern jewel of Canada and one of the most beautiful cities in North America.
But if you’ve already made up your mind and plan to visit the city anyway, check out this guide and find out where to stay in Vancouver. Trust us — you’ll have an adventure you’ll never forget.
The 4 Best Parts of Vancouver
Most visitors usually stay in the wider downtown area or the areas next to the city center. There you’ll find most of the accommodation options and restaurants but also the ocean, the best parks, a lot of museums, beautiful buildings, and plenty of landmarks.
That’s why all four (actually five) areas on our list are either part of downtown or are very close to the city center:
- Yaletown: Located just a few minutes from Vancouver’s downtown and right next to the ocean, this neighborhood is both best for first-time visitors to the city and a for relaxed vacation with your family.
- Gastown and Chinatown: These two tiny downtown districts are full of history, museums, and landmarks and offer some of the cheapest and most affordable restaurants and accommodation options in Vancouver.
- West End: Located to the north of downtown, close to Stanley Park and boasting plenty of nice sandy beaches, it’s the most suitable area in the city for nature lovers.
- Coal Harbor: Packed with the best and most expensive restaurants and hotels in Vancouver and boasting a great view of the marina and the ocean, it’s the most luxurious area in the city.
The Best Areas & Hotels in Vancouver
Surprisingly enough, Vancouver is a major Canadian tourist hub, attracting hundreds of tourists from all parts of the world every year.
The former home of the 2010 Winter Olympics is more than prepared for accommodating all kinds of visitors, no matter if they’re looking for a budget, mid-range, or luxurious hotel.
The first thing you should know is that there are practically no accommodations outside of the wider downtown area. Yaletown and West End is as far as you can get.
That said, neither is the cheapest part of Vancouver, but both offer plenty of decent mid-range hotels and apartments. If you’re on a budget and you want to stay in Vancouver as cheaply as you can, choose either Gastown or Chinatown.
They offer plenty of budget hotels, motels, and apartments. If, on the other hand, you want to stay in some of the best hotels in Vancouver, Coal Harbor is the definite area for your tastes.
It’s maybe unusual not to start with Vancouver’s central area, but Yaletown — located a couple of minutes from the city’s downtown — is definitely the best neighborhood for first-time visitors to the city.
A former gritty neighborhood full of warehouses and working spaces, today, it’s the most likely location in the city to notice a celebrity.
Packed with fancy restaurants, cafes, parks, and many different establishments, Yaletown is also very safe and great for families and small children. One thing is for sure: Yaletown is the best area in Vancouver for strolling and cycling.
Full of beautiful residential towers and unbelievably walkable streets, it also provides a stunning view of the ocean, and some of the best parks in the city.
If you feel that you need to spend as much time outdoors as you can, either take a stroll along the bay or visit some of the numerous parks and have a relaxing picnic. The most important and most visited historical landmark in Yaletown is the Engine 374 Pavilion.
It’s the home to the CPR Locomotive No. 374, the first transcontinental passenger train that arrived in Vancouver in 1888. Make sure at least to take a peek at this highly unusual and interesting historical monument from the history of transport.
There’s no admission — just mind the summer and winter working schedules: during the summer, the pavilion works seven days a week, but in winter, you can visit only from Wednesday to Sunday.
Finally, let’s explore the food and accommodation options in this area.
Some of the fanciest and hippest restaurants in Vancouver are located in Yaletown. The area is particularly famous for fresh and original seafood options. The hotel options are numerous, but they aren’t very cheap.
Yaletown certainly isn’t a budget area. But if you’re looking for a mid-range hotel with a spa and a swimming pool or a luxurious five-star hotel, you’ve arrived at the right place.
Things to Do
- We already mentioned that Yaletown is packed with beautiful parks and plenty of open green spaces. The two best and most famous parks in the area are George Wainborn Park and David Lam Park. They’re both full of green spaces but also located on the waterfront. Don’t forget Coopers’ Park, either.
- Yaletown is a well-known arts hub, full of art museums and galleries open to everyone. Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre is a great place to start. Then, continue to the Contemporary Art Gallery, one of Canada’s leading galleries for contemporary art. Finally, check out the Harrison Galleries and the Khenko/giant Blue Heron.
- Science World is definitely one of the biggest attractions in the city. A science and children’s museum, it’s managed by a non-profit organization that concentrates on teaching STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art & design, and math) to younger people. It offers great interactive exhibits, striking and fantastic shows, and plenty of workshops.
- Yaletown is full of great restaurants and cafes, but there are two places that stick out that you simply have to visit. Yaletown Brewing Company is probably the most famous brewery in the area, established in 1994. Opus Bar, on the other hand, is a great cafe/nightclub, especially popular with celebrities.
Where to Eat
- Blue Water Café is for lovers of seafood and sushi. Moreover, it’s one of the best restaurants of its kind in Vancouver. The place may be a bit pricey, but it offers some prime-quality fresh shrimp, lobster, fish, and sushi.
- Brix & Mortar Restaurant is another Canadian seafood restaurant that has a long tradition of more than 20 years.) The restaurant boasts a 2022 Travelers’ Choice selection, and it’s perfect for hosting special events.
- If you want to taste and smell Italy while still being in the Northwest, Lupo Restaurant is here to help you. It offers all the famous and well-known Italian recipes: pasta, pizza, seafood, focaccia bread, and gelato for dessert.
Yaletown Budget Hotels
- Entire Condo in the Heart of Vancouver is a small and cheap but fully equipped three-star that boasts a living room, a bedroom, one bathroom, and a fully equipped kitchen.
- Samesun Vancouver is a great and very cheap three-star hotel with a lively bar and a restaurant on the premises, which are always bustling with people. There’s a complimentary breakfast in the morning too.
Yaletown Mid-Range Hotels
- Rosedale on Robson Suite Hotel is definitely the right choice for you if you want a mid-range hotel with a swimming pool and a hot tub. There’s also a fitness center and a restaurant on the premises of the hotel.
- Holiday Inn Vancouver Downtown & Suites, an IHG Hotel is located less than 200 meters from the Granville Street entertainment district, and is a gorgeous three-star hotel with an indoor swimming pool, a spa and wellness center, a restaurant, and a bar on the premises.
Yaletown Luxury Hotels
- OPUS Vancouver is a beautifully decorated and luxurious five-star hotel located in the heart of Yaletown. It offers terraces with an excellent view of the city and a Nespresso machine in every room. The La Pentola Italian restaurant on the premises is particularly great.
- JW Marriott Parq Vancouver is a luxurious five-star restaurant that’s especially suitable for foodies since it offers no less than eight lounges and restaurants on the premises. The spa and wellness center is also amazing, while the fitness center is well equipped. All in all, a great upscale hotel with all the bells and whistles in the middle of Yaletown — what more can you ask?
2. Gastown and Chinatown
Gastown and Chinatown are two small downtown neighborhoods that are magnets for tourists from all around the world.
Centrally located in Vancouver and close to the northern waterfront, they offer plenty of eateries, shops, tourist attractions, historical landmarks, strolling areas, and cheap accommodations.
If Yaletown was not particularly budget-friendly, Gastown and Chinatown are more than welcoming to tourists with smaller paychecks, which makes them the most budget-friendly areas in the city.
Gastown is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Vancouver and one of the centers from which today’s larger downtown area started to develop. It’s packed with walkable cobbled streets and Victorian-style mansions, while the oldest commercial district in the city welcomes thousands of tourists every year.
Some of the most important landmarks in Vancouver are located here: we recommend the Steam Clock, the Waterfront Station, Maple Tree Square, and Hotel Europe, but there’s much, much more.
Make sure to take a long walk around the neighborhood and visit all the attractions. Chinatown is no less interesting and attractive for tourists.
Foodies in particular are going to truly enjoy their stay here. The restaurant scene is particularly exciting and diverse, full of Asian places and unusual fusion options, as well as numerous hip and modern cocktail bars, where you can continue well into the night after dinner.
The shopping options are also diverse and affordable. The most important landmark in the area is the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, which, interestingly enough, is the first establishment of its kind outside of China.
The accommodation options — especially the budget ones — are quite numerous.
If you’re looking for something cheap but still want to stay downtown, both Gastown and Chinatown are the right choice for you. However, if you’re looking for something more luxurious, check out Yaletown or Coal Harbor.
Things to Do
- As we’ve seen in Yaletown, Vancouver is a major art hub with a lot of galleries and art museums, and Gastown is no different. We recommend a long stroll through this charming neighborhood, with a special emphasis on visiting Gastown’s Native American art galleries. Both Hill’s Native Art Gallery and Coastal Peoples Fine Arts Gallery are one of the best in North America.
- There’s no better way to get to know a new city than by joining a special and educational tour. For lovers of nature, we recommend the Gray Line Westcoast Sightseeing; foodies are going to love Taste Vancouver Food Tours; Toonie Tours is great for bikers; lastly, adrenaline junkies will find SKY Helicopters Inc perfect.
- Chinatown is packed with museums that tell the specific history of the Chinese people and their art and culture. Chinese Cultural Centre Museum and Archive is all about Chinese culture in Canada, and the Chinese Canadian Museum is the palace where you’ll find even more exhibitions on the same topic.
- If you love to learn about history and culture but you abhor museums, there’s an alternative way to hear the Chinese American story in Vancouver Chinatown. One more conventional way is to take the very famous Historical Chinatown Tours. Alternatively, visit the Chinatown Storytelling Centre — it’s just as exciting, and it presents the personal stories of normal people living as Chinese Canadians.
Where to Eat
- MeeT in Gastown is the place to be for vegan, vegetarian, and vegetarian-inspired cuisine. This famous Canadian restaurant was selected as the 2022 Travelers’ Choice selection for its vegetarian-friendly comfort food.
- Meat & Bread is a fast food restaurant that specializes in sandwiches and quick bites. The place offers affordable prices and quick service, as well as some of the best meat sandwiches in the whole of Vancouver.
- Water St. Cafe is yet another vegetarian and vegetarian-friendly restaurant located in the historic part of Gastown. The restaurant offers practically everything — from seafood to meat and a bunch of great desserts.
Gastown and Chinatown Budget Hotels
- The Cambie Hostel Seymour is a one-star hotel located in a 120-year-old building and probably the most affordable accommodation option in the area. There’s a small restaurant and a bar on the premises. Just have in mind that it’s an adult-only hotel.
- The Cambie Hostel Gastown is a two-star adult-oriented hostel located in the historic heart of Gastown. There’s a common kitchen and a collective dining area on the premises. The hotel also offers a 20% discount in their Cambie Pub for guests at the hostel.
Gastown and Chinatown Mid-Range Hotels
- Skwachàys Lodge is a very cheap but decent three-star hotel located around 10 minutes from both the Rogers Arena and the BC Place. There’s a TV and a coffee machine in every room, as well as tasty breakfast in the morning.
- Victorian Hotel is another beautiful but not very expensive three-star hotel located around five minutes from Gastown. The hotel is located in a historic building, built in 1898, and has hardwood floors and very high ceilings. There’s a nice restaurant on the premises, too.
Gastown and Chinatown Luxury Hotels
- Georgian Court Hotel, WorldHotels Elite is a gorgeous and expensive four-star hotel with a spa and wellness center, and it’s one of the best hotels in Gastown. It also has a fitness center, a bar and restaurant, and a nicely decorated room furnished with all the amenities.
- Metropolitan Hotel Vancouver is a pet-friendly four-star hotel with an indoor swimming pool and an excellent view of the city. There’s also a gorgeous on-site restaurant in the hotel, as well as a bar, fitness center, and very tasty breakfast in the morning.
3. West End
Located northwest of downtown, West End is a lively and large neighborhood that’s especially attractive for tourists. There’s an obvious reason for that: the West End faces the ocean and has a couple of excellent and very popular beaches to offer.
That being said, we think that it’s the obvious choice for every nature lover and all visitors who want to explore the charms of Vancouver’s nature.
However, West End also offers another slightly different perspective to Vancouver. It will show you the everyday routine of a permanent resident, so checking it out is a great idea if you intend to relocate to Vancouver long-term.
It’s one of those areas not specifically intended for tourists but still (or precisely because of that) attracts a myriad of visitors. They’re attracted, probably, by the normal, everyday aura that West End exudes at every corner.
Most of West End is lined by charming 1950s buildings and houses. The former residential buildings are now either fancy B&Bs or even fancier restaurants and local shops and boutiques.
The streets are practically made for relaxing strolls that lead nowhere in particular. Maybe you’ll end up on the coasts of the English Bay and the fantastic beaches it offers or the fabulous and unforgettable Stanley Park — both are worth visiting, but do keep a map on hand.
Regarding means of transportation, it’s up to you: the area is suitable both for walking and cycling.
If you want to delve deeper into the historical narratives of Vancouver, and especially this neighborhood, make sure to visit the Roedde House Museum.
This interesting building from the end of the 19th century once belonged to Gustav and Matilda Roedde, the first being a famous Canadian bookbinder. If you want to see the rustic Victorian architecture and have a taste of late 19th-century life in Vancouver, then this is definitely a place you can’t miss.
Things to Do
- The West End area has some of the best shopping streets in Vancouver, and it’s a “can’t miss” place for everybody who’s in the mood for some quality shopping. Robson Street is definitely the premier shopping street in the city, also lined with restaurants offering cuisines from all over the world. Denman Street is a great alternative, too, located between Robson Street and English Bay.
- English Bay is the best place in the city when the sun is up, and the weather is warm and welcoming. In those days, the beach and the bay are vibrant, full of people, and offer myriad water-related activities, such as kayaking and scuba diving. Sunset Beach, on the other hand, is famous for its spectacular sunsets, and it’s one of our favorite spots for Instagram-worthy photos.
- Stanley Park is definitely one of the most famous (if not the most popular) destinations in Vancouver. This fantastic and huge park located on the northern border of the West End area (West End is actually the entrance to the park) offers plenty of beaches, trails, family-friendly activities, and attractions, as well as an imposing seawall.
- Aside from the picturesque and historically important Roedde House, West End has a couple of other historically important structures that are worth the visit. Barclay Heritage Square, located close to Roedde House, is surrounded by plenty more Victorian remnants. St. Andrew’s Wesley United Church and First Baptist Church, on the other hand, are some of the most important religious buildings in Vancouver.
Where to Eat
- If you’re looking for some sophistication and luxury on your menu, as well as a hell of a steak, visit Black + Blue, one of the most famous Canadian steakhouses in Vancouver. The restaurant has been selected as the 2022 Travelers’ Choice as well.
- For some prime-quality authentic ramen, visit Ramen Danbo – Robson, a specialized Asian ramen restaurant that’ll keep you asking for more. Just reserve a table upfront because the lines are always long.
- Le Crocodile is a traditional and authentic French restaurant and yet another 2022 Travelers’ Choice (there are plenty of them in the West End). It offers the usual famous French dishes, like foie de gras, frog legs, and onion soup, but also a great lobster and lamb shank.
West End Budget Hotels
- Best Western Plus Sands is a great three-star hotel, part of the reliable Best Western Chain of hotels. It offers on-site parking (around 22 Canadian dollars per day), a great location on the beachfront with an excellent view, a fitness center, and a restaurant on the premises.
- Times Square Suites Hotel is a bit further away from the ocean, but it’s a good a three-star hotel nonetheless. Expect a great view of the city, paid on-site parking, barbeque facilities on the premises, and reasonable prices.
West End Mid-Range Hotels
- Sandman Suites Vancouver on Davie is a three-star hotel that’s perfect for traveling with pets. It also offers a charming outdoor swimming pool, a restaurant, a bar and a fitness center on the premises, and rooms equipped with all the amenities.
- Sonder The Sunset is a great choice if you prefer the privacy of an apartment. A three-star accommodation located in the heart of West End, just 500 meters from the ocean, all the apartments have a kitchenette and are equipped with all the necessary amenities.
West End Luxury Hotels
- Shangri-La Vancouver is a gorgeous five-star hotel surrounded by luxury shops and beautiful architecture. It offers an outdoor swimming pool, a spa and wellness center, a restaurant, and a bar on its pet-friendly premises, as well as private yoga and pilates classes.
- La Grande Residence at the Sutton Place Hotel is definitely one of the best five-star hotels in Vancouver, located in the heart of the West End. It has an indoor swimming pool, a spa and wellness center, and a fitness center. The restaurant on the premises called Boulevard Kitchen + Oyster Bar is one of the best in the city concerning seafood.
4. Coal Harbor
We are a long way from 1862 when coal was the main line of work in this area of Vancouver. Today, after more than 150 years, the only thing that’s the same in Coal Harbor is the name.
Located on the northeast side of Downtown, right on the waterfront and next to the ocean, it’s one of the most beautiful and charming parts of the city.
It’s also a little bit pricier in comparison to other parts of the city, and that’s why we think it’s the best option in Vancouver if you want to spend a luxurious weekend by the ocean.
Coal Harbor is very popular with tourists for a reason. Hundreds of boats are anchored every day in its beautiful marina, and the constant influx of fresh visitors never stops.
The area is packed with beautiful and mostly expensive restaurants (a lot of them offering seafood options), a lot of high-end boutiques and shops that offer famous brands, and some of the best hotels in the city.
But if you’re looking for something cheaper, you should settle in another part of Vancouver: there are literally no budget accommodation options and practically no cheap restaurants.
The area is perfect for strolling, mostly because the view is both unforgettable and constantly changing. There’s the marina, the waterfront, and the ocean, but also the ultra-modern skyscrapers and the sublime North Shore Mountains.
Lovers of photography are going to take some of the best photographs in their collection. We recommend the easy strolling not only because of the fantastic view.
There are some important and interesting landmarks that are worth seeing in Coal Harbor.
The most bombastic landmark in the area is the Vancouver Convention Centre. It was the press center of the 2010 Winter Olympics and was proclaimed the “World’s Best Congress Centre” for the prestigious “Apex Award” in 2002 and 2008.
Things to Do
- While the Vancouver Convention Centre steals the show, that’s not the end of the story. You should also take a look at the following landmarks: the Digital Orca made from legos, the Olympic Cauldron, witness of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, and the beautiful statue simply called The Drop. They’re all close to each other.
- There’s no better place to rest between strolls than a calm and beautiful green park. Luckily for you, there are two of them in Coal Harbor, and both of them are quite popular with tourists. Harbour Green Park has plenty of strolling paths and a charming Spray Park in the middle. Devonian Harbour Park, on the other hand, is a dog-friendly park located in the western part of the area and boasts plenty of sculptures and ponds.
- There’s no better way to find out as much as you can about a particular area than to join a specific tour. Also, group tours can be fun, and you can make new acquaintances. We recommend the following tours: Harbour Air Seaplanes, Sea Vancouver, Discover Canada Tours, and Harbour Cruises. There are plenty more of them, but these are the most popular ones.
- If you want to have a fantastic 360° view of the city, go to the Vancouver Lookout, located on the top of one of Vancouver’s most iconic buildings, the Harbour Center. The adventure starts from the beginning: you enter an ultra-fast elevator that explodes for no less than 168 meters and brings you to the top of the building. There’s an audio tour on the top and plenty of information panels that tell the interesting history of the city.
Where to Eat
- Cardero’s Restaurant & Live Bait Marine Pub is a gorgeous seafood restaurant located right on Vancouver’s marina. It offers fresh seafood specialties and all kinds of fish, an excellent view of the ocean, an extensive wine list, and an open kitchen look at the ways in which your food is prepared.
- Tableau Bar Bistro is the go-to spot in Coal Harbor for French cuisine, a fabulous restaurant that’s been selected as the 2022 Travelers’ Choice. Great for romantic dates and business meetings, it has the usual French recipes, like the onion soup and the lamb, but also great burgers and a hell of a Caesar salad.
- LIFT Bar Grill View is one of the best places to dine in Vancouver if you’re in the mood for some Asian food and especially sushi. Yet another 2022 Travelers’ Choice selection, it also boasts a fantastic view of Vancouver’s downtown, the surrounding mountains, and the waterfront.
Coal Harbor Mid-Range Hotels
- Days Inn by Wyndham Vancouver Downtown is merely 300 meters away from the waterfront. Apart from the great location, it’s also an awesome three-star hotel with parking, free Wi-Fi, and a restaurant on the premises. There’s also a bar and coffee makers in every room.
- Coast Coal Harbour Vancouver Hotel by APA is a gorgeous but not very expensive four-star hotel with an excellent rooftop. There, on the top of the hotel, you’ll find a nice swimming pool, a hot tub, and an excellent view of the North Shore Mountains. Aside from that, there’s a fitness center, a spa and wellness center, a restaurant and a bar on the premises of the hotel.
Coal Harbor Luxury Hotels
- Fairmont Pacific Rim guarantees luxury in every way. After all, it’s one of the best hotels in all of Vancouver. It boasts a 4,000-square-meter gym, an outdoor swimming pool, a restaurant that serves sushi and has live music, a bar and a terrace garden, and luxuriously furnished rooms.
- Fairmont Waterfront is another luxurious five-star hotel with a great location, connected to both Vancouver Convention Centre and Canada Place Cruise Ship Terminal, and just five minutes from Gastown. It offers practically everything: from an outdoor swimming pool and beautiful rooms to a fitness center, a restaurant, and a bar on the premises.
Over to You — Book Your Trip Today!
|🏆 Best for First-Time Visitors||Yaletown|
|💸 Most Budget-Friendly Area||Gastown & Chinatown|
|🌱 Best for Nature Lovers||West End|
|👑 Most Luxurious Area||Coal Harbor|
If you’re still unsure about which area works best for you, let’s do a quick recap of the four best parts of Vancouver and what they have to offer to the potential visitor:
- Yaletown is a beautiful and family-friendly coastal neighborhood that’s probably the best place in Vancouver for first-time visitors to the city.
- Gastown and Chinatown are two very small areas that contain the historical nuclei of the city and offer the most affordable hotels.
- West End is a gorgeous area located to the north of downtown and right next to Stanley Park, the largest green space in Vancouver. It’s the most suitable neighborhood for nature-lovers.
- Coal Harbor is located right on the waterfront, overlooking the marina and the ocean, and it’s the most luxurious and upscale area in Vancouver.
So, with so much to see and do and great areas to stay for all budgets and travel types, what are you waiting for — book your trip today and experience for yourself all that Vancouver has to offer!