British Columbia’s best-known city has something for everyone, whether you’re a crystals-and-granola hippie or a polished young professional looking to build an urban life. Let’s face it, Vancouver is arguably the best city in Canada.
The key, of course, is knowing what Vancouver neighbourhoods to look at.
That’s where we can help. Keep reading for a complete guide to all of Vancouver’s best neighbourhoods, along with some key attractions in each.
Let’s start with West End (or, as the locals call it, the Best End).
Why the Best End? Is it the prettiest streetscapes in Vancouver, or is it the fact that West End has the most affordable housing rates in downtown?
Either way, it’s an adorable residential neighbourhood right in the middle of downtown, 73 hectares situated next to a beach so beautiful it’s known as Sunset. Plus, it’s the most diverse of all the Vancouver neighbourhoods, housing a rich mix of immigrants, locals and transient international residents.
If you still need neighbourhood options but want to stay downtown, check out Yaletown, better known as Vancouver’s West Coast yuppie paradise.
Once the Western terminus for the Canadian Pacific Railway, Yaletown underwent a reinvention following the 1986 World Fair. Now, its warehouses hold apartments and hip eateries, while the former loading docks double as urban summertime patios.
But the big draw in Yaletown is the waterfront parks, as the seawall connects to David Lam Park and George Waiborn Park.
If you want out of the downtown rush, head to Fairview, a sleepy neighbourhood that’s still a short walk from anything you could possibly want.
Sometimes called South Granville, Fairview is an area covering Granville Island and the southern stretch of Granville near Granville Park.
It’s got everything you could want from a city neighbourhood–a popular public market, art galleries, antique shops–but it’s much quieter than Yaletown or West End.
Oh, and if you love seafood? Go to Granville Island.
Love the beach? Kitsilano (or Kits, as it’s known in Vancouver) has two of Vancouver’s most famous beaches: Kits Beach and Jericho Beach.
Of course, that’s not all that attracts people to Kits.
Once upon a time (in the 1960s), Kits was a popular hippy hangout. Today, it attracts many young families, students, and urban professionals.
For one thing, you’ll find culture here (Kits is home to the Museum of Vancouver). On West 4th Avenue and West Broadway, the two primary thoroughfares, you’ll find many a summertime festival, the H.R. Macmillan Space Centre, and plenty of yoga studios and organic markets to please the hippie mum crowd.
You’ll find a great deal of European charm in Gastown–think cobblestone streets, Victorian-era streetlamps, charming sidewalk terraces, and heritage architecture. It’s Vancouver’s old town, and it’s proud of the title, thank you very much.
Which is almost funny when you realize that there are quite a lot of techies here. Blame it on the rapid gentrification and rise in tech companies.
Don’t be fooled by the facades, though. Gastown’s heritage buildings hold some of the best restaurantsin the city, from tailored tasting plates at The Salt Tasting Room to classic French bistro dining at Jules Bistro to Carribean-inspired everything at Calabash.
Commercial Drive, known simply as “The Drive” is a five to ten-minute SkyTrain ride from downtown, situated in East Van.
The main hub consists of 21 blocks from Venables to 13th Street, housing some 400 businesses. Best of all? Most of them are single-location and operated by the owners themselves.
It’s often called Little Italy, but you can find all sorts of food in the Drive, from Japanese to the Carribean to Spanish. That’s because it’s been a destination for many immigrants looking to settle in Vancouver, including Italian, Asian, East Indian, African, and Latin American communities.
Coal Harbour is an interesting mix–simultaneously posh and serene all at once. It has serene mountain views and a surprisingly close-knit community. It’s the reason why Vancouver earned the moniker “City of Glass”.
The high rises in the area house some of Vancouver’s most affluent–and rightfully so, with real estate prices as high as they are.
Because of the monied crowd, you’ll find a lot of designer shops in the area (think YSL and Versace). But if you’re just stopping by to enjoy the city vibe, grab a bike or a gelato and take a stroll along the seawall–watch for seals in the marina!
Finally, there’s Main Street, a.k.a. Mount Pleasant, one of the more hipster areas of Vancouver.
It’s the go-to spot for designers and artists in Vancouver, with an impressive roster of indie boutiques, local craft beer breweries, renowned coffee roasters, consignment shops, and, of course, world-class restaurants.
Main Street also marks a boundary line between Vancouver and East Vancouver, the latter of which is considered to be the “cool side” of Vancouver.
But whatever your opinion on Vancouver vs. East Van, you can still appreciate Vancouver’s answer to Brooklyn. After all, it’s not every day you can see upscale restaurants and tiny family-run restaurants peacefully coexisting side-by-side.
Living in the Best Vancouver Neighbourhoods
Once you know about the best Vancouver neighbourhoods, it’s hard to envision yourself living anywhere else.
So why would you bother? There’s a lot of beautiful real estate to be had in Vancouver if you know where to look.
That’s where we come in. We offer comprehensive listings for all sorts of homes in Vancouver, whether you’re looking for a family house or your first apartment.