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A guide to Vancouver’s hippest neighbourhoods

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Get to know Van City through its diverse districts, each offering unique experiences and unmissable attractions for just about any type of traveller. Wondering what are some of the best neighbourhoods in Vancouver? Check out this Vancouver neighbourhood guide for when it’s time to do some unforgettable sightseeing in and around Canada’s favourite West Coast city.

Or if you’re planning to make the move one of the most livable cities in North America, use this as your guide to decide on the best neighbourhood to live in Vancouver.

Please note: Always remember to check the latest global, national, and local guidelines and advice before booking any type of travel.

Vancouver neighbourhood guide

These cool Vancouver neighbourhoods offer visitors a look into the city’s fun, urban, (and tasty) side.

Best neighbourhoods in Vancouver

Main Street

science world building in Vancouver by the harbour near Main Street
Cool neighbourhoods in Vancouver: Main Street

Best for: Exploring Vancouver’s answer to Brooklyn

This is area just south of downtown is Vancouver’s most interesting and eclectic neighbourhoods. Main Street is a hub of cafés, breweries, and restaurants. Down around 6th Ave. is Cartem’s Donuterie, with everything from whisky and bacon flavoured doughnuts. The award-winning Main St. Brewing serves pints of IPA in a historic building dating back to the early 1900s. If you want to catch a live show, head to the Fox Cabaret Theatre.

Further south of this downtown Vancouver neighbourhood is the SoMa (South Main). Following some recent restoration, SoMa is now home to organic food shops, used clothing stores, and vegan restaurants. Go record shopping at Red Cat Records, or designer stationery at The Regional Assembly of Text. Hungry? You don’t need to be vegetarian to enjoy the creative, locally sourced dishes served at the award-winning The Acorn.

Where to stay: The best budget-friendly choice in Vancouver’s Main Street neighbourhood is the Patricia Hotel. A five-minute drive away is the recently renovated and comfortable Holiday Inn Vancouver Centre.

Railtown District

arched windows of a building in Railtown, a Vancouver neighbourhood
Best Vancouver neighbourhoods: Railtown

Best Vancouver neighbourhood for: Creative types and techies in search of a hipster vibe

Railtown has transformed into one of the hippest neighbourhoods in Vancouver for creative professionals. Once tech firms like Hootsuite moved in, old warehouses and factories gave way to cafés, restaurants, furniture shops, and fashion studios. This industrial wedge is tucked between the city’s busy harbour and Vancouver’s Chinatown and Gastown neighbourhoods.

Expect cool design shops and lovely old architecture in Railtown, such as the Settlement Building, a cavernous space that now houses the excellent Postmark Brewing. Railtown is also home to Dish + DUER clothing store where you can purchase jeans, activewear, and more, all produced using sustainable methods and materials. Ask for Luigi is one of Railtown’s most recommended restaurants, complete with an intimate Italian-inspired theme and specializing in fresh house-made pasta. Or stop by at the popular Railtown Café, where the Four Season Hotel Vancouver’s former chef whips up an excellent Texas-style brisket.

Where to stay: The vibrant Hotel at the Waldorf is a good mid-priced option close to Railtown, with individually furnished rooms and a kitsch tiki-themed bar.

For more hotel options, just across the water from Railtown on the Vancouver Seabus is North Vancouver. This area can be a good alternative option to stay in downtown Vancouver. The Lonsdale Quay Hotel gets great reviews and offers beautiful views of the nearby harbour.

Davie Village

Jogging around Stanley Park in the fall
Cool neighbourhoods in Vancouver: Davie Village

Best Vancouver neighbourhood for: Discovering Vancouver’s LGBTQ+ community

Rainbow flags fly proudly on lamp posts, restaurants, and bars in Vancouver’s Davie Village. Centred around Davie Street, this West End community is the heart of the city’s LGBTQ+ scene and one of the best places to live in Vancouver. While at night, this trendy Vancouver neighbourhood comes alive with bars and clubs, and during the day it’s more about absorbing the lifestyle.

Grab a coffee at Matchstick and browse the area’s boutiques and bookshops. Be sure to check out Little Sisters Bookstore on Davie Street, a Vancouver bookstore that’s fought against censorship in Canada since the 1970s. Later in the day, wander over to English Bay to watch the sunset on the water. If you’re looking to check out Vancouver’s gay nightlife scene, be sure to check out Numbers Cabaret – the oldest gay bar in Vancouver, and an institution.

Where to stay: Situated just off Davie strip, Hostelling International Vancouver Downtown is a great budget option, offering easy access to the beach and Stanley Park and comes with a complimentary breakfast. With deluxe suites, kitchen, and separate living area, Landis Hotel & Suites is nearby in downtown Vancouver and feels like having a home-away-from-home. The area is also home to the venerable Sylvia Hotel, a warm and genuine old-style property with charm to spare.

For more LGBTQ travel advice and destinations, see our guide here.

Chinatown

Corner of Pender and Columbia Street in Vancouver's Chinatown neighbourhood
Cool neighbourhoods in Vancouver: Chinatown

Best for: Discovering Vancouver’s cultural heritage and great dim sum

Established in the 1890s, Vancouver’s Chinatown is a hub of vibrant culture and rich in architecture. Here you’ll find one of Canada’s narrowest buildings, the Jack Chow Insurance Building, and lots of historic Vancouver attractions that are worth a look.

The top sight in this neighbourhood is undoubtedly Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, the first classical Chinese Garden in Canada. The garden is complete with art exhibitions, events, and beautiful outdoor scenery. Want to learn about the history of Canada’s largest Chinatown? We recommend doing a walking tour or food tour with Judy Lam Maxwell, who runs Historical Chinatown Tours.

Vancouver’s Chinatown district offers plenty of dim sum options for all kinds of dining styles and budgets. Indulge in some fancy dim sum at Bao Bei on Keefer Street, which has a fantastic tapas menu and inspired signature cocktails. If you want some cheap dim sum for take-out, try Kam Wai Dim Sum. If you’re looking for a coffee break, Propaganda Coffee is a modern café that serves locally roasted beans.

Where to stay: Named one of the World’s Greatest Places by Time Magazine, the Skwachàys Lodge is a uniquely designed Aboriginal-style boutique hotel and a must-visit if you’re in the area. For a luxurious stay, the Georgian Court Hotel gets excellent ratings and it’s just a few minutes away from the main Vancouver attractions. Your best budget option in this downtown Vancouver neighbourhood is the Cambie Hostel in historic Gastown, just three minutes from Chinatown.

Kitsilano

Kitsilano Beach, one of the coolest neighbourhoods in Vancouver, at sunset
Cool Vancouver neighbourhoods: Kitsilano

Best Vancouver neighbourhood for: Beach bums and nature lovers

This beautiful beachside Vancouver neighbourhood is an ocean lover’s dream, not to mention one of the best neighbourhoods to live in Vancouver. Kitsilano (or Kits, if you’re a local), is close to the downtown area and also walkable to some of the city’s best beaches.

Kits is home to a number of Vancouver attractions like the Museum of Vancouver, the Vancouver Maritime Museum, and the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival. Kitsilano is also the birthplace of the famous brand Lululemon, so it’s no surprise you’ll find plenty of shops selling active or outdoor wear.

The beach is the main attraction of this Vancouver neighbourhood, and if it’s warm enough, head to Kitsilano Beach for a game of volleyball or swim in the outdoor saltwater Kitsilano Pool by the beach. When you’re done, head to the Boathouse Restaurant and pair seafood with sea views.

Where to stay: Between Friends B&B is a convenient mid-priced option in the heart of Kitsilano. The heritage home also offers fully equipped apartments for short-term stays. A hidden gem in Vancouver, the Granville Island Hotel is a luxury hotel only a 10-minute drive from Kitsilano Beach. For the budget-conscious, the laid-back Hostelling International Vancouver Jericho Beach is around 8 minutes from Kitsilano, with easy access to water sports.

Yaletown

view of Yaletown and Vancouver harbour from above
Vancouver neighbourhoods: Yaletown

Best for: Sidewalk cafés and outdoor patios where you can feel like a local

With narrow streets, warehouses, and old brick buildings, the Vancouver neighbourhood of Yaletown has a Lower Manhattan feel. What was once an industrial area in Vancouver has been transformed into a fashionable shopping district, with restaurants, sidewalk cafés, and plenty of patios for people watching. It’s definitely one of the nicest neighbourhoods in Vancouver.

Engine 374 Pavilion at The Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre is a homage to Yaletown. The pavilion is home to the first transcontinental train to arrive in Vancouver, back in 1887. Admission is free at this attraction and there are volunteers here happy to answer any of your questions. Yaletown’s waterfront along the picturesque Vancouver seawall is also a big draw, connecting David Lam Park and George Wainborn Park.

The Yaletown Brewing Company is a neighbourhood staple. Try one of their delicious seasonal beers they offer on tap. Head to Blue Water Café for outstanding seafood, while the Opus bar in Vancouver’s iconic Opus Hotel is a stylish place to enjoy a cocktail.

Where to stay: Opus Vancouver in Yaletown is a four-star boutique hotel, popular with celebrities and fashionistas. With contemporary guestrooms and excellent service, the JW Marriott Parq Vancouver is a great mid-range alternative. A good budget-friendly option close by to Yaletown is HI Vancouver Central Hostel.

Lower Lonsdale

view of Vancouver skyline from a park in Lower Lonsdale, Vancouver
Cool neighbourhoods in Vancouver: Lower Lonsdale

Best for: Exploring an urban waterfront market with proximity to trails and mountains

This North Van neighbourhood is right by the waterfront and has some of the best views of the city’s skyline and the North Shore Mountains. Lower Lonsdale has a rich history in shipbuilding, but today is one of Vancouver’s fastest-growing neighbourhoods.

Check out the Lonsdale Quay Market for fresh produce and boutique stores. The Polygon Gallery showcases Canadian art, with a focus on photography. Visit Fishworks for fresh, modern seafood dishes – like Halibut Poutine. Buddha-Full is a great go-to spot for brunch and lots of plant-based delights, or visit Lift Breakfast Bakery for handmade pastries and excellent coffee.

If you’re looking to try some hiking while you’re in Vancouver, we’ve curated a guide to the best hiking trails in the Vancouver area.

Where to stay: Ideally located seaside at the foot of Lonsdale Avenue is the luxurious, boutique Pinnacle Hotel at the Pier. For mid-priced accommodation, the Holiday Inn & Suites North Vancouver is only a 10-minute drive away.

people walking along the seawall in Vancouver, BC
The best neighbourhoods in Vancouver

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Vancouver neighbourhood guide: FAQs

What is the best area to live in Vancouver?

This will depend on your budget and interests. If you have a higher budget and want to be in Central Vancouver, then downtown neighbourhoods like Yaletown, the West End, and Coal Harbour are good choices. While rents in Kitsilano are generally still in the mid-range/upscale range, there are deals to be found. The East End and the suburbs of North Van offer more affordable rents in the Vancouver area and offer plenty to see and do.

Where is the safest place in Vancouver?

In general, Vancouver is a very safe city. Though, some of the safest and nicest neighbourhoods would be Shaughnessy, West Point Grey (near UBC), and South Cambie.

Why is Vancouver a good place to live?

Vancouver was recently ranked as one of Lonely Planet’s most sustainable cities, because the city’s emissions are some of the lowest in North America. Besides being a green city, living in any Vancouver neighbourhood gives you access to the best of nature, as the mountains and beaches are practically a stone’s throw away. Whether or not you’re an active person or into music and art, there’s plenty to explore. Vancouver also has one of the most vibrant, global food scenes in Canada.

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