This self-guided walking tour lets you explore Vancouver starting from Canada Place on the Burrard Inlet side of downtown, through the city to English Bay, passing numerous landmarks, artworks, and places to eat. You can do this walk anytime, but if you start in the early afternoon, you can wrap up your stroll at west-facing English Bay Beach as the sun is shining over the sea.

white sails of Canada Place line the waterfront in Vancouver

Canada Place, one of Vancouver’s iconic locations. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

Total Distance: 2.5 miles (4 kilometers)
Total Walking Time: 1 hour

Begin your walk at Canada Place, the waterfront landmark with its billowing white sails. Follow the Seawall path one block toward the Vancouver Convention Centre’s west building, and note the building’s living roof. Keeping the water on your right side, continue along the Seawall behind the convention center, passing The Drop, a 20-meter (65-foot) bright blue raindrop sculpture that a Berlin-based art collective created in 2009.

At the back of the convention center, after watching the floatplanes taking off and landing on the harbor, turn left up the stairs to Jack Poole Plaza. Look for Digital Orca (2009), by Vancouver artist Douglas Coupland, a sculpture of a whale that appears to be breaching toward the sky. Also on the plaza is the Olympic Cauldron, which was lit when Vancouver hosted the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

Turn left (east) onto Canada Place, then in one block, turn right (south) onto Burrard Street. Walk one more block to the corner of Burrard and Cordova, and look up. Wrapping around the exterior of the Fairmont Pacific Rim are the words, “Lying on top of a building the clouds looked no nearer than when I was lying on the street.” It’s an art installation by New York artist Liam Gillick.

outside of the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel

Talk a walk to the Fairmont Pacific Rim and don’t forget to look up! Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

Ready for refreshments? In front of the Fairmont, stop for gelato or sorbetto at Bella Gelateria.

When you’ve finished your treats, continue walking south on busy Burrard Street, away from the water. After three blocks, turn left (east) onto Dunsmuir Street and take your first right (south) onto Hornby Street. In the middle of the block is the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art, one of the best places downtown to explore aboriginal art. Allow about an hour to walk through the gallery.

Exit the gallery and turn right (south) on Hornby. In one block, at the corner of Hornby and Georgia Streets, cross the street and go into the HSBC Building (885 W. Georgia St.). Why stop at a bank office? In the lobby is a massive, swinging stainless steel pendulum, an art piece called Broken Column (1987) by Alan Storey. The building’s air circulation system powers its movement. Also in the lobby, the free Pendulum Gallery mounts small changing art exhibitions.

Diagonally across Hornby and Georgia Streets is the landmark Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, built in 1939. Duck into the lobby for a quick look, and then exit the building, turning left (south) onto Burrard Street.

In one block, cross Burrard and turn right (west) onto Robson Street. Robson is one of downtown’s main shopping streets, and while many of the stores are international chains, it’s still a lively district. This retail route gradually gives way to restaurants, primarily noodle shops, Korean eateries, and other Asian spots. If you’d like to pause for lunch, line up for a bowl of tokusen toroniku ramen at Hokkaido Ramen Santouka, on Robson six blocks from Burrard.

After your meal, continue on Robson for one more block, and turn left (south) onto Denman Street. You’re now in the heart of the West End, with more small food spots and neighborhood shops along Denman. Stay on Denman for six blocks to Morton Park, where you’ll spot 14 grinning bronze figures. That’s A-maze-ing Laughter, the popular public art piece by Chinese artist Yue Minjun.

Cross Beach Avenue to English Bay Beach, where you can sit in the sand and do some people-watching, resting up from your downtown explorations.

looking out over English Bay Beach from the sidwalk

End your walking tour at English Bay Beach. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Vancouver. Looking for more walks? Pick up the book!