What comes to mind when you think of Vancouver? For me, it’s the 2010 Winter Olympics, when Yuna Kim won the legendary gold medal in figure skating. Vancouver is a beautiful city with a harmony of beach, mountain and the downtown city. This is a traveling guide to Vancouver, the city of calmness. But, before reading my traveling guide, please make sure that you have your international roaming or SIM card and Canadian dollars ready — the things I forgot when I visited.
Located downtown, Gastown is the most historic neighborhood of Vancouver. It’s a small neighborhood, so I started walking around the street. The landmark of Gastown is probably the steam clock, one of only a few in the world. Every 15 minutes, you hear the whistle from the clock. It gets more melodic as the long hand gets closer to the short hand, and the sounds that it makes are kind of funny. It’s like someone is blowing the pipe to make a sound. The clock plays Westminster Quarters, a familiar melody, usually from the school bell. Next to the steam clock, there are souvenir shops. I visited the Hudson House Trading Company to buy pins and maple syrup. Gastown is also perfect for having a meal. I went to Steamworks Brewpub and The Old Spaghetti Factory. From the pub, I ate the must-try Canadian food — poutine. The combination of poutine and beer was the bomb and I searched for a recipe for poutine immediately when I came back home.
English Bay Beach & Stanley Park
This was my favorite part of Vancouver. Located in West Vancouver, English Bay Beach is a beautiful park with marvelous scenery. The beach is located right next to West End, the residential area with a pleasant vibe. I highly recommend you to first grab a boba or dessert from the street and head to the beach. I visited Peaked Pies to get a berry pie. The best part of English Bay Beach would be the collaboration of nature and city. People living in the city just stop in for a short visit, sit on the benches or picnic table, and build a sand castle with their children, taking their time. Even by sitting on the beach, you’d feel healed. Next to English Bay Beach, there’s Stanley Park, the first and largest urban park in Vancouver. It’s huge. You can enjoy greens, ocean and mountains at the same time, just by walking the park. I highly recommend you to rent a bike from the West End and explore the park. It’s usually $17 per hour. The best part of Stanley Park for bikers is that they have made a separate road for bikes inside the whole park. It took one and half hours to bike the whole park. Don’t miss the Lions Gate Bridge and Third Beach inside the park. I was surprised by the fact that there’s two beaches inside the park.
Granville Island Public Market
Located in Granville Island, the Granville Island Public Market is Vancouver’s most famous market. It has fresh fruit, vegetables, market goods and delicious food. Lee’s Donuts and Siegel’s Bagels are the must-try foods inside the market, but there were more than just these two popular shops. They were selling ham, cheese, honey, pasta, soup, pie, cupcakes, chocolate and more. Once you grab food, come out to the terrace where people are sitting on the benches, listening to wonderful busking under the sun. I ate a Reuben bagel from Siegel’s Bagels and it was the bomb. I got to Granville Island by bus, but on my way back, I took the ferry, which is one of the forms of public transportation in Vancouver.
Deep Cove & Quarry Rock
Located 30 minutes away from downtown (one hour by public transportation), Deep Cove is a beautiful village in North Vancouver. It’s a wonderful spot for hikes, kayaking and paddle boarding. The village consists of a single street with restaurants and cafes, and the most popular restaurant is Honey Doughnuts & Goodies. It was once nominated most beloved doughnut by Canadians. I tried the honey, coconut and maple bacon doughnuts, and my favorite ended up being the basic honey doughnut. The doughnut is huge, so it’s perfect for a simple breakfast. Grab a doughnut, sit on the beaches next to the seaside (though it does look like a lake) and enjoy! Furthermore, there’s a hiking trail that leads you to Quarry Rock. It’s a popular, easy hiking trail that only takes about 40 minutes. The scenery you look down from Quarry Rock is just magnificent. You can see mountains, trees, water and even downtown Vancouver. If you have extra time, I highly recommend you rent a kayak and feel the nature in the middle of the water.
Also, don’t forget to buy maple cookies from the supermarket! Maple cookies from souvenir shops are much more expensive than usual. I highly recommend the maple cookies by Dare. I bought it at the price of $3 in No Frills, which is feasible! If I had enough space in my bag, I would’ve bought five boxes of maple cookies.
Even though I struggled with my initial traveling mishaps, the urban nature of Vancouver healed me immediately.