The Ultimate Self-Guided Vancouver Walking Tour

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The Ultimate Self-Guided Vancouver Walking Tour

Vancouver. My hometown, it is a city well-known for its ever-present veil of rain clouds. Regardless, Vancouver is an amazing city to walk around, with stunning views of the vast Pacific Ocean on one side and the towering North Shore mountains on the other. And, I would like to share my Vancouver walking expertise with you; this is my self-guided Vancouver walking tour!

An enchanting boardwalk overlooking some Vancouver buildings, the perfect walk for your Vancouver itinerary

While there are many possible walking routes around Vancouver, this one will take you from the Vancouver Art Gallery to the aquarium (two worthwhile visits on your Vancouver itinerary). Without any stops, this walk typically takes around 1.5 hours.

However, my favorite part of walking around a new city is the freedom to explore as I please. So, this walk will take you anywhere from 3 hours to a whole day to complete – you can go at your own pace! Browse the cute shops, admire the views of the endless Pacific, learn more about Vancouver’s marine life at the aquarium; you’ll have one incredible travel day.

View of the Vancouver skyline and the ocean from Stanley Park - One of the best views in Vancouver

Without further ado, let’s begin! This is my ultimate self-guided walking tour of Vancouver, BC.

The Ultimate Self-Guided Vancouver Walking Tour

First, we’ll start our Vancouver walking tour at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Located on Robson Street, the Vancouver Art Gallery features incredible pieces of work, including paintings by one of the most famous Canadian artists, Emily Carr.

You can easily spend hours at Vancouver’s Art Gallery, admiring its selection of fine art, relaxing at the Vancouver Art Gallery café, and browsing the gift shop for souvenirs. And, if you’re visiting Vancouver in the winter, you can also go skating at Robson Square!

Streets of downtown Vancouver, with wires - what you'll see as you walk Vancouver

Overall, the Art Gallery in Vancouver, BC is definitely worth a visit.

  • Address: 750 Hornby St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2H7, Canada
  • Cost: $24 for adults, $20 for seniors, $18 for students
  • Hours: Tuesday and Friday: 12 pm – 8 pm. Every other day: 10 am – 5 pm.
  • Website: https://www.vanartgallery.bc.ca/

Holy Rosary Cathedral

Next, you’ll head over to the Holy Rosary Cathedral, a catholic church in downtown Vancouver. A lovely cathedral with a gloomy, Gothic exterior and a charming interior, it is a delightful place to stop by.

Built in 1885, the Rosary Cathedral is not as extravagant as the majestic cathedrals you’ll see in Europe. Nevertheless, it holds its own charm on the modern streets of Vancouver. I definitely recommend checking out this downtown Vancouver church as you walk around Vancouver!


Next, you’ll proceed to one of Vancouver’s oldest and coolest neighborhoods: Gastown. A key location for all walking tours in Vancouver, Gastown was founded by John ‘Gassy Jack’ Deighton in 1867 (the same year Canada became a country)!

Today, Gastown is one of Vancouver’s key historic districts, well-known for its Victorian architecture, cobble-stoned streets, old-fashioned lamp posts, and cute Gastown shops. There is also a large variety of delicious restaurants, making it one of the best places to eat in Vancouver!

The top of the Gastown Steamclock in downtown Vancouver - a stop on your Vancouver walking tour

Some key sights include the Gassy Jack statue and the Gastown Steam Clock!

  • Address: 305 Water St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1B9, Canada
  • Time to Get Here: It takes 7 minutes to walk from the Holy Rosary Cathedral to the Gastown Steam Clock.

Waterfront Station

After exploring the historic Gastown district, head over to Waterfront Station. Located neatly between Gastown and the Vancouver waterfront, it is the final stop on many of the Vancouver Skytrain lines.

However, there’s no need to stay here long, as it’s simply a train station. Nevertheless, it does feature some pretty lovely architecture!

  • Address: Vancouver, BC V6C 2R6, Canada
  • Time to Get Here: 4 minutes from the Gastown Steam Clock.

View of one of the best Whistler hikes - Black Tusk

Want to learn more about the great things to do around Vancouver? Click here for my guide on the best hikes in Whistler!

Canada Place

Now, head over to Canada Place. Built for the Expo ’86 world’s fair, Canada Place is set right on the downtown Vancouver waterfront. With a cruise ship terminal and views of the seaplane terminal nearby, the Canada Place pier is the perfect place to relax and gaze at the surrounding scenery.

However, that’s not all you can do at Canada Place. Part of Vancouver’s main convention center, it includes the FlyOver Canada multi-sensory theatre experience.

A view of Canada Place at dusk - A popular Waterfront Vancouver destination

Nevertheless, my favorite thing to do at Canada Place is to simply walk along the Vancouver waterfront, and admire the views of the tranquil ocean and North Shore mountains. And, fun fact, this is actually where I went after prom; as an introvert, I needed a place to relax after all the socializing that comes with graduation.

  • Address: 999 Canada Pl, Vancouver, BC V6C 3T4, Canada
  • Time to Get Here: 4 minutes from Waterfront Station.
  • Website: https://www.canadaplace.ca/

Olympic Cauldron

Next, you’ll walk a few minutes from Canada Place to the Vancouver Olympic Cauldron. A prominent stop in all Vancouver walking tours, it was built for the 2010 Winter Olympics held in Vancouver.

Nowadays, the Olympic Cauldron is only lit for special events. Nevertheless, it is a cool display to check out as you walk along the Vancouver waterfront!

The Olympic Cauldron, i.e. the Olympic torch, lit near Canada Place in Vancouver, Canada

  • Address: 1055 Canada Pl, Vancouver, BC V6C 0C3, Canada
  • Time to Get Here: 4 minutes from Canada Place.

Digital Orca

Near the Olympic Cauldron sits the Digital Orca Vancouver statue. A sculpture by Douglas Coupland, it looks as if it was made by LEGOs. While some people don’t like the sculpture, I think it’s a pretty cool piece of art with a great backdrop, and a worthwhile stop on your Vancouver walking tour.

The digital orca statue near Canada Place and by the ocean in Vancouver, one of the stops on your Vancouver walking tour

  • Address: Vancouver Convention Centre West Building, 1055 Canada Pl, Vancouver, BC V6C 0C3, Canada
  • Time to Get Here: 1 minute from the Olympic Cauldron.

Vancouver Seawall

While you can end your Vancouver walking tour at the Digital Orca (as the next portion of the walk is the longest), you’ll be missing out on some of the best views in Vancouver. So, I definitely recommend continuing, and heading down the Vancouver Seawall.

Boats at the docks in Vancouver at sunset - One of the sights as you walk around Vancouver

Not a destination, the Vancouver Seawall is one of the easiest Vancouver hiking paths. With construction beginning in Stanley Park in 1917, the Vancouver Seawall has since grown exponentially. Today, the Seawall is 22 kilometres (13.5 miles) long.

However, you’ll only be walking a portion of it, from Canada Place to Stanley Park.

A statue of a woman on a rock in the ocean, visible from the Vancouver Seawall in Stanley Park

But, the Seawall passes by some of Vancouver’s greatest attractions, including Granville Island, Science World, BC Place, Yaletown, Stanley Park, and Canada Place. So, while this Vancouver walking tour is only doing a small portion of the Vancouver Seawall, I definitely recommend walking the other portions as well!

Nevertheless, on this walking tour, you’ll walk on the Vancouver Seawall from the Digital Orca to our next destination: the Brockton Point Lighthouse.

A view from the ocean of the lighthouse at Lighthouse Park, Vancouver, surrounded by mountains

Wondering what else to do around Vancouver? I recommend hiking! Click here for my guide to hiking in Vancouver, and click here for my guide to hiking the Greater Vancouver Area.

Brockton Point Lighthouse

Named after Francis Brockton, an engineer that surveyed the coast of British Columbia from 1857 to 1860, the Brockton Point provides some pretty incredible ocean views.

The Brockton Point Lighthouse, a red and white mini lighthouse on the Vancouver Seawall near Stanley Park, a stop on the Vancouver walking tour

While the lighthouse itself is diminutive, it is a part of the history of Vancouver, as it was designed and built by Colonel William Anderson in 1914 (which is considered ancient in Canada)!

All in all, I recommend taking a small break on your walk to admire the delightful lighthouse and the beautiful ocean views, before heading into Stanley Park.

  • Address: Vancouver, BC V6G 3E2, Canada
  • Time to Get Here: 45 minutes from the Digital Orca.

Stanley Park

Once again, Stanley Park is less of a destination, and more of an opportunity to explore some of the Vancouver walking trails. Definitely one of the best parks in Vancouver, Stanley Park is huge, covering 400 hectares (1,000 acres).

A sight of an overcast Vancouver and boats from a beach in Stanley Park on the Vancouver Seawall, a stop on one of the walking tours in Vancouver

Covering such an immense space, it’s not surprising that there are many things to do in Stanley Park. Filled with the temperate West Coast rainforest and surrounded by beautiful beaches, you can spend hours wandering through the Stanley Park trails.

Three totem poles and the forest in Stanley Park, Vancouver, a beautiful sight on your Vancouver walking tour

But, one of the top sights is definitely the Stanley Park totems. Unfortunately, Canada’s indigenous (the First Nations people) have suffered a lot from colonization and the Canadian government. Stanley Park itself sits on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples (as is most of greater Vancouver). So, it’s always great to learn, appreciate, and pay respects to the First Nations people and culture.

If you want to learn more about the First Nations people of Vancouver and British Columbia, check out these great resources:

  • If you want to learn more about the Musqueam Nation, click this link.
  • If you want to learn more about the Squamish Nation, click this link.
  • If you want to learn more about the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, click this link.
  • If you want to learn more about the First Nations in British Columbia, click this link.

  • Address: Vancouver, BC V6G 1Z4, Canada
  • Hours: 6 am to 10 pm (unless otherwise posted)

Vancouver Aquarium

Finally, after exploring the vast forests of Stanley Park, head over to our final destination: the Vancouver Aquarium.

A sea anemone and the marine life near Waterfront Vancouver BC - showcased at the Vancouver Aquarium

With more than 70,000 aquatic animals, from mesmerizing jellyfish, adorable sea otters, and Amazonian snakes, the Vancouver Aquarium is well-worth a visit!

It’s also a great educational experience. Part of the Ocean Wise initiative, the Vancouver Aquarium is the perfect place to learn more about the threats to the marine environment of British Columbia.

A green snake sleeping on a branch at the Vancouver Aquarium
An adorable sleeping snake. For some reason, I am both frightened and mesmerized by snakes.

Overall, the Vancouver Aquarium is filled with both cute animals and educational resources, making it the perfect ending to our Vancouver walking tour!

  • Address: 845 Avison Way, Vancouver, BC V6G 3E2, Canada
  • Time to Get Here: 16 minutes from the Brockton Point Lighthouse.
  • Website: https://www.vanaqua.org/
  • Note: Due to financial difficulties caused by COVID-19, the Vancouver Aquarium is currently closed.

Other Things to Do in Vancouver

While this walking tour takes you to many of Vancouver’s best sights, there are still several more amazing things to do in Vancouver, including:

  • Explore Granville Island. An essential for any beginner in Vancouver, this island is filled with charming boutiques, a lively public market, and several art stores, you can spend hours wandering around this man-made island.
  • Relax at one of Vancouver’s beaches, like English Bay, Kitsilano Beach, or for all the nudists out there, Wreck Beach.
  • Visit the UBC Museum of Anthropology. With several indigenous artifact displays, it is a great place to learn more about the First Nations’ history and culture, and one of the best places to visit in Vancouver in the rain.
  • Embark on one of the many hikes in Vancouver, such as the Grouse Grind or the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge. Or explore the hikes in the Greater Vancouver area.
  • Check out some of the hikes near Whistler. With epic alpine views and enchanting turquoise lakes, these hikes are some of the best in BC.
  • If you’re visiting Vancouver in the winter, check out some of the winter activities around Vancouver and Whistler, like the ski hills and the spas!
  • If you’re visiting in the summer, check out the Richmond Night Market for some mouthwatering food.
  • Wander around Steveston Village. While Steveston is technically located in Richmond, it is definitely worth a visit. A historic fishing village, it is teeming with cute boutiques, great boardwalk trails, and a public fish market (the Fisherman’s Warf)!
  • Take a day trip to the US, and explore Seattle through a self-guided walking tour. Or admire the dazzling scenery surrounding Seattle; from Mount Rainier to Olympic National Park, they’re definitely worth the drive!
  • If you’re interested in exploring more of British Columbia, check out some of the weekend getaways from Vancouver, like Salt Spring Island or Victoria.
The Perfect 7-Day Canadian Rockies Road Trip: How to Drive from Calgary to Vancouver

Planning on going on a Canadian Rockies road trip? Click here for my 7-day road trip itinerary from Calgary to Vancouver!

In Conclusion,

While Vancouver (otherwise known as Raincouver) is not known for having the best weather, it is a charming city filled with great waterfront boardwalks, lush parks, and lovely beaches; overall, it’s a great place to walk around! I hope this article helped you decide where to go in Vancouver, and I hope you’ll enjoy this Vancouver walking tour!

A view of the Vancouver skyline from the Vancouver Seawall, with a couple on a bench and the ocean, one of the best Vancouver walking trails

Thanks for reading the article! If you have any questions, feel free to comment down below, and if you want to see more travel and hike-related content, make sure to check out my other articles.



Photos by Pixabay.

Low angle photo of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, Canada

Enjoyed this Vancouver walking guide? Want to read more? Click here for my walking guide to Ottawa, Canada, and here for my Montreal walking tour!

Or if you’re interested in exploring the islands off the coast of BC, click here for my list on the best things to do in Salt Spring Island!

About to embark on a trip? Here are some helpful articles to make your trip as awesome and stress-free as possible:

And here are some additional helpful links:

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One Comment

  1. Thank you so much for your article. I am going to be in Vancouver for only 16 hours and have been searching for things to do. Your article has been the most informative and well organized list of great activities with realistic timelines to help a newbie get as much out of a short trip. I appreciate it.

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