Surrounded by water, Downtown Vancouver is the wonderfully laid-back heart of western Canada’s biggest city. While the buildings rise high, the atmosphere remains low-key, making this one of North America’s most relaxed city centres. A few names are used interchangeably as Downtown Vancouver is also known as Vancouver City Centre or its Central Business District. It covers the area east of the West End and is home to many of the city’s landmarks and attractions.
Canada Place, the cruise ship terminal, is the most unmissable of the postcard images, especially when it’s lit up after dark. A huge variety of cafes and fine dining restaurants are dotted across the surrounding area, including some of the best in Canada. For views of the mountains, head to Jack Poole Plaza and the Olympic Cauldron. Or visit Vancouver Lookout on the top floor of the Harbour Centre, where the panoramas stretch for 360 degrees. Vancouver Art Gallery and the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art have very contrasting collections, while the Vancouver Opera is widely regarded as one of the very best in North America.
Vancouver’s transport system intersects in Downtown, where the Waterfront Station is the hub for a number of rail and bus services. While this city centre isn’t as busy as other cities of a similar size, parking can still be challenging, and it’s usually easiest to travel in using the SkyTrain or SeaBus. Downtown Vancouver is large, and many people get around on the local bus network or via taxis.
Canada Place was built for the 1986 Expo and has been transformed into a cruise terminal and convention centre. It’s symbolic of the city’s style, easy on the eye while quietly innovative.