Downtown Vancouver in a day: Granville Island, Gastown, West End

Following our return from Squamish, our second day in British Columbia was spent exploring around downtown Vancouver.

We were still slightly jet lagged, so awoke in the early hours around 6:30 am. We were staying at Paradox Hotel (the rebranded Trump Tower) which is a few minutes from Vancouver Harbour, where we started our walk.

Canada Place

Situated in the heart of Vancouver’s waterfront at the Burrard Inlet, Canada Place is a building encompassing the Vancouver Convention Centre, Pan Pacific Vancouver Hotel, and Vancouver World Trade Centre. Outside it is the Olympic Cauldron, which was constructed for the 2010 Winter Games. It is occasionally lit for special occasions, but not when we passed by.

The adjacent Digital Orca sculpture was created by artist Douglas Coupland in 2009.

Walking further along the harbour, we found the cruise ship terminal where we spotted some massive boats, including the elaborate Disney Wonder.

Granville Island

Next up on our self-guided walking tour was Granville Island. This is not truly an island, but rather a peninsula bordered by False Creek, across from downtown under the south end of the Granville Street Bridge. We actually walked across the Granville Bridge on the way there, which felt a bit treacherous with the speeding traffic beside us — although we got some nice views overlooking the marina. There’s also an Aquabus with stops along False Creek, which we opted to take instead on the way back to our hotel.

On the “Island”, we took a walk through the public market, which is a favourite spot even amongst locals to pick up fresh seafood and produce.

For lunch, we enjoyed a chilled seafood platter from Sandbar. Delicious!


In the afternoon, we moved on to explore Gastown. This neighbourhood on the east end of downtown was the original settlement that became the core of the city of Vancouver. With its cobblestone streets and boutique shops and galleries, it has a similar feel as the Distillery District in Toronto.

We had fun checking out Gastown’s most famous landmark, the steam-powered clock on the corner of Cambie and Water Street.

West End

We capped off our day in the West End and Davie Village. Apropos of its moniker, the West End is situated in the west part of downtown Vancouver, with Stanley Park to the northeast and English Bay to the west.

We hung out at English Bay Beach a couple times during the week and enjoyed seeing the A-Maze-Ing Laughter bronze sculptures by Yue Minju at neighbouring Morton Park.

This is my favourite part of the city, home to some of the best restaurants — as evidenced by the fact that ate dinner here multiple times. I would highly recommend Guu for Japanese izakaya and Sushi Bar Maumi for omakase.

And that was our day exploring Vancouver! Next up, our trip to Tofino, Vancouver Island.