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.

19 responses to “Downtown Vancouver in a day: Granville Island, Gastown, West End”

  1. I agree about the similarity between Gastown and the Distillery, but you have to add prostitution and other traffic, but this is a less touristic aspect of Vancouver.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Gastown is certainly seedier than the Distillery, especially with the nearby Downtown Eastside.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a fascinating clock. And Vancouver is so pretty with the water, boats, and mountains. Just gorgeous.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s definitely a very picturesque city. The clock was fun to see.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. We were just recently in Vancouver again, such a great Canadian city. Maggie’s

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It sure is a nice place. Thanks for reading Maggie!


  4. Good thing you stayed in a renamed hotel (especially with such a previously unsavory name, yuck!). I’ve seen the Digital Orca before, and I’m keen on checking it out for a cheesy photo with it, haha. I’ve yet to experience an omakase, but that sea urchin(?) one in your photo looks absolutely divine. Glad you had a wonderful (and tranquil) time in Vancouver; I look forward to more!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was a really nice hotel, made better that it was a takeover of Trump, haha. You need to experience omakase sometime if you like sushi…so good!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wonderful tour of this beautiful city to follow along with today! Such interesting constructions and statues 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Looks like such a fun day, and the weather looks incredible!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think some of these photos were taken on different days, haha. It was actually a bit chilly out there for mid-June.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Nice overview, Jess! We have Vancouver on our “to do” list, and your post makes us want to go now! Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hope you make it to Vancouver someday soon!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Aw really interesting tour, thanks Jess. Vancouver has long been high on our list so hopefully we make it one day soon 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hope you make it over there someday, you’d love it!


  9. gastown looks fascinating, whats the story with the tall (ish) thin building?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s Vancouver’s flatiron building called Hotel Europe. I think it has been converted to affordable housing since the 1980s.


  10. Amazing pics! 👍👍

    Liked by 1 person

  11. […] at Sandbar was my favourite of our meals in Vancouver. We came here during our visit to Granville Island and had The Sandbarge platter of fresh oysters, Dungeness crab, and ahi tuna poke. When weather […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.