Looking for the inside track on the beating heart of Canada's west coast? We've asked the folks at Inside Vancouver to delve into the best bits of Downtown Vancouver and share their top tips on everything from coffee to architecture and even the area's best French fries. So come along and see for yourself on our photo tour...
Encircled by the Pacific Ocean and the 1,000-acre Stanley Park, downtown Vancouver is the vibrant heart of the city.
Award-winning cuisine, shopping and galleries filled with local and international art are just some of the key features of the dynamic downtown area.
Chop Shop (1109 Granville Street) offers a lot more than just your average haircut. Situated on busy Granville Street, Chop Shop features an old school, rock-and-roll vibe, from the front desk shaped like a classic Cadillac to the rockabilly mementos hanging on the walls.
Elsewhere fashionistas flock to El Kartel (1007 Granville Street), an independent clothing boutique on Granville Street, in the heart of Vancouver's entertainment district. Rare finds include fashions from Central American, Canadian and U.S designers – perfect for finding something to suit your own style.
French fries are the highlight of the menu at Fritz (718 Davie Street), a European-style fry house where fries are fresh-cut in house and complemented by an extensive selection of sauces. The Canadian classic poutine (fries with cheese curds and gravy) is a well-deserving best seller.
For Italian-style coffee, look no further than Caffe Artigiano (763 Hornby Street). With locations across the city, Artigiano is well known for its classic latte, which comes complete with hand-drawn barista art. Check out the location across from the Vancouver Art Gallery for a lively cross section of business people, travellers and students.
Some of Vancouver's most treasured art comes in the form of its countless street murals. Impossible to miss is the Wyland mural (1390 Granville Street), which depicts a pod of killer whales swimming across the side of a seven-storey building.
Beatty Street was once home to one of the city’s most loved murals, before it was painted over in the lead-up to the 2010 Olympics. Since then however, artists have banded together to create one of the largest street art projects in the city in the form of the Beatty Street Mural. Spanning an entire block, this epic artwork depicts a proud collage of Vancouver’s historical figures.
If you fancy taking the pulse of the city's night life, head to Granville Street, home to Vancouver’s pub and club district. Nightclubs, restaurants and one-off boutiques line the famous strip, which takes on an edgier party vibe after dark.
Vancouver aims to become the world’s greenest city by 2020 and has established an extensive network of bike lanes along some of downtown’s busiest streets.
Meanwhile, the Aquabus water taxi service shuttles along downtown's False Creek inlet and is a quick way of getting to some of the city's biggest attractions.
One of downtown’s stand-out architectural features, the Vancouver Public Library (350 W. Georgia St.), evokes an ancient Roman Coliseum, transposed to modern-day North America. This nine-level circular structure houses the central branch of the library, as well as coffee shops and restaurants.
Next to the entrance to the Vancouver City Centre Skytrain station you'll find what looks like a boulder-sized piece of space debris. This shimmering silver sculpture, titled Artificial Rock #143, is part of the Vancouver Biennale, a city-wide exhibition of large-scale sculptures from international artists. Another local favourite is the depiction of 8-foot-tall laughing giants that make up A-maze-ing Laughter on English Bay.
Downtown Vancouver is also home to dozens of parks and green spaces, such as Emery Barnes Park (Seymour and Davie Streets) in Yaletown, which features playgrounds, fountains and an elaborate garden, all surrounded by residential skyscrapers.
Our four-times weekly seasonal service from London Heathrow to Vancouver will be increased to five flights per week from next summer – book your flight today.
What's your favourite spot in Downtown Vancouver? We'd love to hear your Vancouver tips and recommendations in the comments below.
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About the author: MaxineMaxine Sheppard
Maxine is the editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.