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Vancouver, British Columbia is a city best known for its beautiful setting on the west coast between the ocean and mountains and its mild, but rainy, climate. It’s the third-largest city in Canada and has so many fun things to do, see, and explore!
Vancouver is a great destination for those who love getting outside to hike, ski, or other outdoor adventures. But it’s also a good city stop for food, culture, a night out, and shopping. No matter what your reason for visiting Vancouver is, you’ll love it here!
With that said, staying in the right area for the type of holiday you want to enjoy is very important. But with so many amazing options, deciding can be hard. And that’s why I wrote this blog!
This is a guide to the best areas of Vancouver to stay in as well as top hotel choices—for every budget. I (once a local) have listed the pros and cons of each neighborhood in addition to some hotel suggestions to choose from. Read on for the ultimate guide on where to stay in Vancouver, BC!
Getting Around Vancouver
Transportation and ease of navigating a new city are super important to consider when planning a trip. It will help you determine where to stay in Vancouver and what you’ll be able to visit while in the city. In Vancouver, there are a few different options for transportation in and around the city.
This is probably the best form of transportation if you want to explore anywhere outside of downtown Vancouver and participate in activities like hiking or skiing, which require getting a bit further away. Traffic in downtown Vancouver can be fairly busy, just like any city center.
There is ample parking available both on the streets and in parkades, though it can be expensive. Some hotels provide parking, so check ahead of time.
If you can rent a car so you can explore Vancouver with ease! Just be prepared to pay for parking unless your hotel includes it.
A great option besides renting a car is using a car share service like Modo or Evo. These services allow you to rent a car and pay based on the time it’s used (i.e., pay for 30 minutes, two hours, or the full day, depending on how long you drive for).
You can pick up and drop off the car at specific checkpoints around the city and the best part is they get lots of free parking. This makes it super easy to use a car for just the time that you need it.
Vancouver’s public transit system is not as extensive as many other major cities, but it is still a good way to get around to main attractions. The SkyTrain provides excellent access to some of the neighboring cities, such as Burnaby, New Westminster, or Surrey, so it offers a good option if you plan on exploring outside of downtown. It also runs from the airport, so again, a good option to get into the city from the airport.
There are also many buses in the city that run frequently. Note that public transportation options are extremely limited overnight, with only a couple of night buses and no SkyTrian options after around 1:00 am. All public transportation is run by the company TransLink and is fairly affordable; a single trip costs $3.05, and a day pass costs $10.75 CAD.
Taxis and rideshares
Taxis are available throughout the city, as are Uber and Lyft. These are good options in the downtown core but can get pricey if you are going further outside of that region. For example, the taxi cost from YVR to Vancouver is about $30-50.
The Aquabus is one of the more unique ways to get around Vancouver. These small boats visit 8 locations in the harbor all the way from The Village to Granville Island. The Aquabus costs $17 for a full day pass or round trip tickets start at $3.85 but prices vary depending on the route you take. You can check out all their routes and prices here.
Walking and biking
Vancouver is a very walkable city, and it is possible to walk just about anywhere in the downtown core.
Biking is also a good option, as there are dedicated bike lanes throughout most of the city. You can rent bikes all over the city and pretty much ride everywhere you want to downtown. I love doing this, especially on a beautiful day!
Related read: Visiting Vancouver with your loved one? Check out how to plan the most romantic honeymoon in Vancouver!
Where are the BEST Areas to Stay in Vancouver
Vancouver can be split up in a few different ways. Often people will use the term “Vancouver” to refer to the greater Vancouver Area, which includes suburb cities of Burnaby, New Westminster, Richmond, and others.
The city of Vancouver itself is not very big at 115 km² and has a population of nearly 700,000. The city borders Richmond to the south, Burnaby to the East, and North Vancouver to the North. Downtown Vancouver is a compact area that is very walkable and the most central destination for visitors.
This article will focus mostly on neighborhoods in downtown Vancouver, including Yaletown, Gastown, the West End, and Coal Harbour, in addition to Kitsilano, North Vancouver, and Richmond, which are a bit further away. Staying in any of these areas allows you to be close to major attractions and transportation to easily get around and explore.
At a quick glance, here are some highlights for the best areas to stay in Vancouver:
- Yaletown: Great location along the Seawall with close access to concert and sports venues.
- Gastown: Historic area with cobblestone streets, cute boutiques, and trendy cocktail bars.
- West End: Diverse neighborhood with quick access to shopping, Stanley Park, the beach, and lots of restaurants.
- Coal Harbour: Luxury hotels with epic views out over the harbor and mountains.
- Kitsilano: Laid-back and chill, close to both the beach and great shopping.
- North Vancouver: The closest you can get to the North Shore mountains for hiking, biking, and skiing.
- Richmond: Close to the airport with tons of yummy Asian restaurants.
Each neighborhood in Vancouver offers something different and has its own personality! There are some areas that are better for certain types of travelers, whether you’re on a business trip or backpacking the country.
Below you’ll read all about each area in detail so that you can decide exactly where to stay in Vancouver!
Where to Stay in Vancouver: 7 BEST Areas for Visitors
Stay in Yaletown if you can’t get enough of the Seawall or plan to attend a concert or game.
Yaletown is a trendy and popular Vancouver neighborhood situated on the water at False Creek. The Seawall is one of the main attractions, and there will be people walking, running, and cycling along it all hours of the day, enjoying the gorgeous scenery.
Residents of Yaletown live in the many upscale high-rise apartment buildings and enjoy the many amazing restaurants, bars, and patios. Yaletown is also home to Rogers Arena and BC Place, so it’s a great spot to explore if you plan on catching a show or concert. Families visiting Yaletown will enjoy David Lam Park, George Wainborn Park, and the nearby ScienceWorld.
Overall, Yaletown is an upscale neighborhood perfect for those who enjoy the finer things in life as well as modern surroundings and cleaner streets. I don’t often stay here, but the more mature travelers will love this area.
Advantages to staying in Yaletown:
- Quick access to the Seawall to go for a walk, run, or bike ride.
- Beautiful views out over False Creek.
- Access to the aqua ferry, a fun way to get around the city and explore.
- Great restaurants and bars in the area.
Disadvantages of staying in Yaletown:
- While there is a close SkyTrain station, it is on the Canada Line, which is not as easily connected to the rest of the SkyTrain routes.
- Traffic can be bad and parking expensive, especially on nights with concerts and events at the nearby arenas.
- Accommodation is overall fairly expensive in this neighborhood.
The Best Places to Stay in Yaletown
- $ Sandman Hotel Vancouver: While this hotel is a little bit outside of Yaletown, it is just a few-minute walk away. It is probably the most affordable hotel in the area, with rooms starting around $150 CAD/night. It offers basic and comfortable accommodations and has a restaurant and bar on-site.
- $$ JW Marriott Parq Vancouver: This hotel is located right near Rogers Arena, perfect for catching a concert or show. It also has eight different restaurants on-site and a spa to indulge in. Prices for a night start at $270 CAD.
- $$$ Opus Hotel: If you’re looking for luxury and superb accommodations, Opus Hotel is a great choice. It is located in Yaletown near the Yaletown-Roundhouse SkyTrain Sation. They have an on-site restaurant as well as bicycles to use and in-room massage services. Prices start at $400 CAD.
Stay in Gastown if you like historic buildings or love a night out for some drinks.
Gastown is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Vancouver and still retains some old-world charm. There are cobblestone streets and Victorian-era buildings, creating a romantic and intimate environment. The iconic whistling steam clock is always surrounded by tourists, but worth a look!
The area is an eclectic mix of tourist souvenir shops, trendy bars and restaurants, and art galleries. There are some great boutiques and local stores if you enjoy shopping! I actually did a food tour in Gastown and let me tell you, there are plenty of great food options here!
Even if you don’t choose to stay in Gastown, I recommend adding it to your Vancouver itinerary.
Overall Gastown is one of the best places to stay in Vancouver for the younger travelers who love the hip atmosphere. I myself usually stay in Gastown.
Advantages to staying in Gastown:
- Historical neighborhood with interesting architecture and cobblestone streets.
- Tons of trendy bars, cocktail lounges, and restaurants.
- Cute boutiques and art galleries for window (and real) shopping.
- Easy access to Waterfront SkyTrain station and cruise ship terminal.
Disadvantages of staying in Gastown:
- Touristy. It can be busy with tour groups and has a lot of kitschy souvenir shops.
- Borders the DTES, which has a large homeless population and can be dirty. While it is still safe, most visitors will not want to venture out of Gastown into the DTES.
The Best Places to Stay in Gastown
- $ The Cambie Hostel Gastown: If you’re looking for a budget option, hostels are the way to go! There are not as many hostel options in Vancouver as in some other large cities, but this one in Gastown is a good option. While it doesn’t have super high ratings, it is a solid middle-of-the-road option and in an excellent location. Prices are around $50 CAD for a bed in a dorm.
- $$ The Delta Hotels by Marriott Vancouver Downtown Suites: This hotel is part of the popular and highly regarded Delta Hotels and offers beautiful suites and rooms for a mid-range price. The location is excellent, just a few blocks from Waterfront Station. Rooms start around $200 CAD/night.
- $$ Skwachàys Lodge: This mid-range hotel is an excellent choice if you want something with a bit of character. It is furnished and decorated with Aboriginal artwork, including a 40-foot totem pole in the lobby. There is a gift shop and art gallery with beautiful pieces from local artists. They even serve bannock (Aboriginal fried bread) for breakfast!
3. West End
Stay in the West End if you want to spend time outside at Stanely Park or the beach.
The West End of Vancouver is sandwiched between the business district, Stanley Park, and the ocean. It’s a great option if you are looking for quick access to recreational options like walking or biking the Seawall or hanging out at the beach.
Nearby are two gorgeous beaches called Sunset Beach and English Bay Beach. Both are perfect during a summer trip to enjoy the sunshine and warmer temperatures.
While this area of Vancouver is mostly residential, there are lots of excellent restaurants in this area with cuisine from all over the world. There’s also lots of shopping to be done on Denman Street.
Davie Village, which is Vancouver’s LGBTQ+ hub, is also on the West End. You’ll be able to spot this area by the colorful crosswalks, buildings, and LGBTQ+ flags! It’s a fun place to hang out.
The West End is an underrated part of the city and staying close to English Bay Beach is perfect for travelers of all ages and interests. I love this area and have stayed here many times before. Head to the Cactus Club for a beautiful lunch overlooking the ocean!
Advantages to staying in the West End:
- Close to Stanley Park—an iconic and massive park with many walking trails through the forest and a seawall circling the entire park for sweeping views of the ocean. Full of many free attractions in Vancouver like the totem polls, spray park, rose garden, and beaches.
- Mostly residential, so quieter and easier to find street parking (free and pay parking is available).
- Close to Sunset Beach along English Bay. These beaches have the most epic sunsets, but are also great for swimming, playing volleyball, or going for a run.
Disadvantages of staying in the West End:
- Far from any SkyTrain station. You will need to either walk 15+ minutes or take a bus to connect to the SkyTrain.
- No main highways or thoroughfares, so traffic is stop-and-go and can be bad.
The Best Places to stay in the West End
- $ English Bay Hotel: While this is not the prettiest hotel in Vancouver, it is clean, secure, and is in an awesome location! It’s just a few minutes away from the beach and has all the basic amenities you need. It’s an excellent budget choice with prices starting at $120 CAD/night.
- $$ The Listel Hotel Vancouver: This mid-range hotel is a perfect option if you want to be in the middle of all the action. It’s located on Robson Street, which is famous for both common retail and luxury shopping. There is an on-site restaurant and is a short walk to major attractions like Stanley Park or the Vancouver Art Gallery. Prices are around $200 CAD/night.
Related Read: Be sure to check out all the awesome things to do in Stanley Park!
4. Coal Harbour
Stay in Coal Harbour for views of the mountains while watching the bustling marina.
Coal Harbour is the neighborhood with the best views in Vancouver, arguably (the views are pretty good from all over the city!) It holds the Vancouver marina, filled with expensive yachts and houseboats, and is where seaplanes will take off throughout the day.
This area is close to the business district, so there are lots of tall, glass skyrises, which make for an interesting juxtaposition against the natural harbor. There are also views out over the North Shore mountains from Coal Harbour, which are absolutely breathtaking! This is a great neighborhood for a bite to eat on a patio.
I myself love this area and it’s one of the best in my opinion. Not only are you close to the historic Gastown, but you’re also only a short stroll from Stanley Park with relatively easy access to the beaches on the West End. I don’t stay here though, simply because of how expensive it is. Luxury travelers will love Coal Harbour!
Advantages to staying in Coal Harbour:
- Amazing views from every corner.
- Close to Waterfront Station and the Convention Centre, so perfect if you are visiting for a conference or leaving on a cruise. It is also located near the harbor, where floatplanes take off for trips to Vancouver Island or elsewhere.
Disadvantages of staying in Coal Harbour:
- Hotels and restaurants are generally very expensive in this area.
- Some cafes or shops will close early as they primarily serve businesses during the day.
The Best Places to Stay in Coal Harbour
- $$ Pinnacle Hotel Harbourfront: This hotel is a great mid-range option, as it is close to the waterfront and has some great views out over Coal Harbour. It has an indoor pool and fitness center along with an on-site restaurant. Prices start at approximately $170 CAD/night.
- $$$ Pan Pacific Vancouver: This hotel is featured in so many iconic pictures of Vancouver’s waterfront area—it’s the hotel under the white sales next to Canada Place. It’s right next to the cruise ship terminal and has epic views out over the harbor and ocean. There is also a luxurious spa and heated outdoor pool on site. Rooms start at around $270 CAD/night.
- $$$ Fairmont Pacific Rim: If you are looking for luxury, this is it. The Fairmont is an upscale hotel with a full-service spa and rooftop swimming pool. There are on-site restaurants that have live music and an outdoor terrace. The views from this hotel are phenomenal, as it’s right at the waterfront. Rooms start at around $400 CAD/night.
Stay in Kitsilano if you are into yoga, the beach, and shopping!
Kitsilano is a neighborhood located just across the Burrard Street Bridge from downtown Vancouver. It’s a trendy neighborhood known for its laid-back lifestyle. There is great shopping in this area and a ton of healthy food options and restaurants.
There are great options for outdoor recreation: yoga studios, Kitsilano beach, or Kits pool. There are some popular cultural attractions, too, like the Vancouver Maritime Museum. And, even though it’s technically not in Kitsilano, Granville Island deserves an honorable mention! This spot has SO much to see and do and is well worth a visit.
I have only stayed in Kitsilano once before in an Airbnb. I enjoyed the area especially if you stay near Kits Point. With that said though, the inner suburbs are a little far from the action so only stay here if you don’t mind using public transport, the Aquabus, or driving.
If you stay on Granville Island though, you’ll love this location!
Advantages to staying in Kitsilano:
- Access to Kitsilano Beach, which has a large saltwater view.
- Awesome mountain views.
- Excellent shopping along West 4th Avenue.
Disadvantages of staying in Kitsilano:
- Far away from any SkyTrain station, need to rely on buses for public transportation.
- There is no highway access, so there can be a lot of stop-and-go traffic, especially along West 4th Avenue.
- Further away from other neighborhoods in Vancouver, i.e., it is not within walking distance of most areas of downtown.
- Mostly a residential area with fewer hotel options.
The Best Places to Stay in Kitsilano
- $$ Granville Island Hotel: Technically a bit outside of Kitsilano, but still close enough to walk, this mid-range hotel has everything you need! It is right at Granville Island and has an on-site fitness center and bicycle rentals. The rates per night start at $229 CAD.
- $-$$ Kitsilano Apartment Rentals: Because there are not as many hotels in the Kitsilano neighborhood, which is mostly residential, an apartment rental is a good choice. This modern apartment rental is within walking distance from the beach and shopping area. It’s a private rental, so you get the whole two-bedroom apartment to yourself for $140 CAD/night. On top of that, check out the great options on VRBO or AirBnB!
Related read: Check out all the best things to do on Granville Island before you go!
6. North Vancouver
Stay in North Vancouver if you can’t get enough of the outdoors!
North Vancouver is a city—you guessed it—north of Vancouver. It is home to the beloved North Shore Mountains (Grouse, Seymour, and Cypress) which are the perfect outdoor playground for nature-lovers. There are year-round recreation options like hiking, snowshoeing, and skiing.
North Vancouver has some popular tourist destinations, like Capilano Suspension Bridge, the Grouse Mountain Gondola, and the famous Quarry Rock – one of the best short hikes in Vancouver! It’s accessible via the SeaBus, which is a fun and affordable way to catch some views of this gorgeous city from the water.
Overall I love North Vancouver! It’s the place I stay if I want to go hiking, skiing, or just enjoy the great outdoors.
Advantages to staying in North Vancouver:
- Access to the mountains for hiking and skiing. Very “outdoorsy” population with tons of stores, tours, and events that cater to outdoor recreation.
- Close to Capilano Suspension Bridge, a must-do attraction in Vancouver.
- Accessible via AquaBus, which is a fun and cheap way to explore North Vancouver. The SeaBus terminal at Lonsdale Quay is a fun place to check out, too.
Disadvantages of staying in North Vancouver:
- Traffic over the bridge into downtown Vancouver can be terrible, with frequent accidents blocking the lanes.
- Further removed from other Vancouver neighborhoods, so harder to get around.
- No access via SkyTrain, and the bus system is not as strong as in Vancouver—a car is an optimal way to move around the city.
The Best Places to Stay in North Vancouver
- $ Holiday Inn North Vancouver: As can be expected from a chain hotel like the Holiday Inn, this spot offers clean and comfortable rooms with the basic amenities you need. It’s located just over the bridge off of Highway #1, so it is a good option for guests with a car who are planning to drive and visit areas outside of North Vancouver (i.e., traveling north towards Whistler). Prices start at $150 CAD/night.
- $$ Pinnacle Hotel at the Pier: This mid-range hotel is a great option in North Vancouver, as it’s right on the water. It has great views and is close to the SeaBus terminal for easy access into downtown. There is a 25-meter swimming pool, fitness center, yoga studio, and sauna here as well. Prices are about $230 CAD/night.
Stay in Richmond to be close to the airport and stuff your face with delicious food!
Richmond is located south of Vancouver and is where the international airport (YVR) is located. The city has a large Chinese population and is known for its Asian influences, including excellent restaurants, the Richmond Night Market (again, excellent food), and the International Buddhist Temple.
Steveston, one neighborhood in Richmond, is a historic fishing village that is still active today. It has a great waterfront area to walk, relax, and grab some fish and chips or ice cream!
Advantages to staying in Richmond:
- Close access to the airport. The SkyTrain travels from YVR right into downtown Vancouver, making it easy for guests to transit into the city center.
- It is connected via highway to other areas of Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, including the ferry terminals in Delta, the international border with the USA, or the cities of Surrey, Langley, and Abbotsford.
- Excellent and affordable restaurants, especially for Chinese and other Asian cuisines.
- Good parks and places to go for a walk, like the Iona Jetty or Richmond Dyke Trail.
Disadvantages of staying in Richmond:
- Far from downtown Vancouver.
- Not a very walkable city—a car or public transit is required to get around.
The Best Places to Stay in Richmond
- $ Holiday Inn Express Vancouver Airport: This is a low-budget option if you want to be close to the airport. You can expect clean but basic accommodations, along with a free airport shuttle and breakfast. Rooms are about $180 CAD/night.
- $$ Fairmont Vancouver Airport In-Terminal: As the only hotel located right in YVR, this is the best choice for a layover or if you prefer to be close to the airport to store your luggage while exploring. Like all Fairmont hotels, you can expect luxury, comfort, and world-class service at this hotel! Rooms start at approximately $250 CAD/night.
Renting a Car in British Columbia
If you’re arriving in British Columbia via plane then I can’t recommend getting a rental car enough. British Columbia is a large province and traveling between cities and even just getting out to the best attractions within them requires transport. Although you can use public transport on some occasions, this means your trip will not only require more time but more planning.
Car rental in Canada is relatively cheap especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with a pickup and drop-off in different locations is around $70 CAD per day. The price does vary though depending on the time of year. For car rentals, I use the website Rental Cars.com. It’s a search engine with lots of deals with good customer service. In fact, I’ve used Rental Cars.com all over the world including in Chile, New Zealand, and Australia.
Another popular option is to rent a campervan or motorhome (only for the brave in winter.) Using Motorhome Republic you can search hundreds of deals across multiple companies to pick a great vehicle and the cheapest price. Having a motorhome is a stunning way to see Canada and using crown land and campsites you can often camp for free or very cheap in the most beautiful places imaginable!
Canada Travel Essentials
Before you decide to head off and explore the gorgeous mountains, lakes, towns, and cities around Canada it’s important to have the right equipment. Of course, it’s likely you’ll have most of the basics already but there are some common items people forget that I never travel without.
Crampons: In winter crampons are super handy, but what people don’t realize is that they come in handy in summer too. In fact, up until mid-July, you can still expect icy conditions in the mountains. The pair I use is only $29 and they have lasted me 3 seasons so far!
Waterproof shell: Most people will have this item but I thought I’d include it anyway since it’s so handy in Canada. The Columbia waterproof jacket is a lightweight windproof jacket that will seriously save you in many situations. The best part though? It comes in pink!
Scent-proof bag (for bears): Most people think you only need to keep the smell of food away from you when you’re overnight camping. However, bears can smell the food in your bag while you’re hiking and the best way to avoid an encounter is to use a scent-proof bear bag. Basically, you put your food in the bag and the bear cannot smell it while you’re hiking. This is one item most people never have (I never hike without it) but it could save you and the bear.
Buff: I love my buff! Seriously, I go nowhere without it both in winter and summer. There are a few brands around but I always buy the original Buff (you know, the one from Survivor!) They’re a little more expensive but the material is good quality and both breathable and quick drying.
Dry bag: I have expensive camera equipment so I always travel with a dry bag large enough to fit some of my equipment. It can be a camera, book, binoculars, or even my keys. Regardless, a dry bag gives me peace of mind! The MARCHWAY bag is really good quality, and when not in use, takes up only a small amount of room.
Binoculars: I love my binoculars! Seriously they have come in hand so many times especially when I’m looking for wildlife. The best part is, I use a set that only costs $27 and they serve my basic needs without any issues!
Thanks for reading!
Vancouver is an awesome city with so much to see and do! There are also a ton of different neighborhoods, each with its pros and cons. I hope this blog about where to stay in Vancouver helped you figure out what the right area is for you to stay in and some hotel options, if you need more specific help, just reach out to us!
I know that whatever you choose, you’ll enjoy your visit to Vancouver so be sure to check out more of our Vancouver blogs such as: