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Cycling in Vancouver | Roadtrip Canada (47)

During our journey through Canada In addition to the many national parks, we also occasionally visit a large city. For example, we already visited Calgary, a modern city in the province of Alberta. We had previously planned to write a major travel guide about the city of Vancouver, but since our guest blogger Ann Badjura recently published a huge travel guide packed with tips for Vancouver wrote, we will now mainly stick to our fun day on the bike. Cycling in Vancouver is a must-do activity! You can read all about it in this article.


Plan your vacation to Canada here


Our journey through the United States and Canada

This article is part of a major one-year journey that we (Chris and Malou van Wereldreizigers.nl), are currently making by the United States en Canada† We started in New York City and are through Washington DC en Baltimore (where we shipped our RV), first traveled south (Florida) and then made a full round of the country. At the end of July we crossed the border to Canada via Montana.

Organizing this trip took a lot of time and energy. So we had to US B1/B2 visa of one year and we spent weeks working on it renovating our 4×4 camper† Then we got to work on the RV to America to ship and in hindsight it turned out to be a Dutch vehicle insurance in America to be one of the biggest challenges.

When that was all over, we could finally focus on the anticipation: figuring out and planning all the beautiful places we want to visit. I built the ultimate roadtrip route through America and Canada of roughly 50.000 kilometers in Google maps and we are now making our dream come true! The interactive map can be viewed below.

More blogs from our trip through America and Canada

America

Canada

Things to do in Vancouver

There are many different activities to do in Vancouver, from Hop-on Hop-off buses to suspension bridges and whale watching tours. If you are curious about what there is to do in and around the city, take a look here for the offer.

Skyline Vancouver from Stanley Park
Skyline Vancouver from Stanley Park

Rent a bike in Vancouver

Although all these activities are fantastic to do, just cycling in the city is of course also great fun! We Dutch like that. Explore the city at your own pace. Malou and I also decided to rent bikes in Vancouver and visited some well-known and lesser-known sights. You can go through find and book organized bike tours.

However, we chose to simply rent bicycles on our own. There are many bike rental companies in the city, finding a bike is really no problem here. However, you should keep in mind that it will cost something, because Vancouver is not cheap. We lost about $6 for 85 hours (two bikes).

What to see by bike in Vancouver

Biking in Stanley Park

Stanley Park (location here ) is the most popular place to cycle in Vancouver and we can see why. The huge city park is bigger than Central Park in New York City (!) and the bike route around the entire park is fantastic because you not only cycle along and through nature, but also have a beautiful view of both downtown Vancouver and north Vancouver.

Skyline Vancouver from Stanley Park | Biking in Vancouver
Skyline Vancouver from Stanley Park | Biking in Vancouver

At the beginning of the park you immediately have a view of the city, the harbor and the many seaplanes that land and take off from the water. There are also benches every few hundred meters, where you can relax and simply enjoy what you see around you.

On the north side of Stanley Park, you'll see the Lions Gate Bridge, the bridge connecting Vancouver and north Vancouver. Continue to follow the cycle path along the edge of the tree that you see on the left in the photo below. On this path you cycle under this impressive bridge.

Once you've cycled under the bridge, you'll come to the west side of Stanley Park. Here you mainly see people chilling in and by the water. There are even sandy beaches (!). You can also see huge ships lying off the coast from here, waiting to be loaded or unloaded.

Cargo Ships at Vancouver
Cargo Ships at Vancouver

Biking in Downtown Vancouver

Once you've completed the round about the island from Stanley Park, you're actually cycling straight into downtown Vancouver. What we immediately noticed is that Vancouver is very bicycle-friendly. There were bike paths everywhere in Stanley Park, but many streets in downtown Vancouver also had separate bike paths.

Biking Trails in Vancouver
Biking Trails in Vancouver
Biking Trails in Vancouver
Biking Trails in Vancouver

It was lovely to cycle around here and just look around. Vancouver is remarkably green. Flowerbeds have been laid out and many balconies and houses are also beautifully decorated with flowers. You also regularly see buildings where they camouflage the concrete of apartment buildings with beautiful ivy and other greenery.

Green Flats in Vancouver | Biking in Downtown Vancouver
Green Flats in Vancouver | Biking in Downtown Vancouver
Malou by bike in hand in Vancouver
Malou by bike in hand in Vancouver

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Canada's best hot dog

It was now time for a snack and a drink and we had received the tip from someone to eat 'the best hot dog in Canada' at a streetfood stall by the sea. Not entirely coincidentally, this stall is of course located at one of the most popular sights in Vancouver, the 'A-maze-ing Laughter' dolls.

The hot dog stall for the Amazing Laughter dolls
The hot dog stall for the Amazing Laughter dolls

You can choose from a regular, vegetarian or a 'Jalapeño-Cheddar' hot dog. The latter is filled with Jalapeño peppers and cheddar cheese. Really great for anyone who likes some spice!

The stall was clearly known in the region. While we enjoyed our Jalapeño-Cheddar hot dog, the owner of the stall was busy. Hot dogs were constantly being sold and people often gave compliments or said in advance: 'I heard that…'.

And it's true, the hot dog was really fantastic. Not such a sticky 50 cent sausage, but a really big whopper with a lot of taste! Recommended.

Amazing Laughter (official name: A-maze-ing Laughter)

Perhaps the most famous part of Vancouver, the smiling dolls or Amazing Laughter (official name: A-maze-ing Laughter). This artwork with smiling statues are 2009 bronze sculptures by the Chinese artist Yue Minjun.

You can just walk between the images. You often see people imitating the images when they take a picture with it. It is indeed a nice sight, those big smiling faces in a park in the city. You can check the exact location of the images here find.

Floating Houses at Granville Island

We randomly cycle through the city and to our surprise, we suddenly passed a number of floating houses at Granville Island (location here ). I recognized the build from something I saw on the Discovery Channel a while back. This is originally a Dutch concept. They are not houseboats but floating houses that are attached to a kind of foundation, which can be seen from the piles.

Floating Houses on Granville Island in Vancouver
Floating Houses on Granville Island in Vancouver

The foundations of the houses are attached to these piles, but can move vertically. So when the water level rises, the houses simply rise with it. When the water recedes, the houses sink again.

Many Parks in Vancouver

The amount of parks in Vancouver can't be counted on two hands, maybe not even on 20 hands. There are so many green areas in the city! This is what makes the city so liveable. Wherever you live in the city, a green park is never far from your house or apartment.

There are green parks everywhere in the city
Malou by bike in one of the many parks in Vancouver
Malou by bike in one of the many parks in Vancouver

Cycling along the boulevard

Vancouver is surrounded by (sea) water and large, wide boulevards have often been constructed along the quays, where you can also enjoy cycling. They are often an extension of connecting green parks. Malou again points to the other side where she also sees a nice green area for cycling. We cycle past Science World (the round, spherical building) to get there.

Malou points again to the other side where she also sees a nice green piece for cycling
Malou points again to the other side where she also sees a nice green piece for cycling
The Science World Building in Vancouver
The Science World Building in Vancouver

The many homeless in Chinatown

Still, it's not all great in Vancouver. We have now ended up a bit in the deprived part of the city. The boats you see in front of Science World are often inhabited by homeless people. Often with a huge mess in and on the boats.

By bike at the entrance of Chinatown
By bike at the entrance of Chinatown

This area is adjacent to Chinatown (location here ). We are lovers of Chinatown's all over the world and decided to just cycle through them in Vancouver too. Unfortunately we didn't find Chinatown like we were used to from other big cities. We were really shocked, what we saw was really not normal!

Out of nowhere we suddenly found ourselves in a street with hundreds of homeless people and drug addicts. Zombies in a literal sense, who stumbled or crawled down the street and simply tried to put a syringe in their leg with their pants around their ankles in full view, looking for a suitable vein to inject the drugs. Awful.

It probably won't surprise you, but we turned around immediately. I still had my expensive camera hanging around my neck, but taking a picture was really out of the question. Get out of here! We don't want to run any unnecessary risks here. Unfortunately we have not seen the rest of Chinatown.

Gastown (and steam clock)

We cycled on and a few blocks further the homeless had suddenly completely disappeared from the streets. We saw hordes of tourists again. Another popular Vancouver landmark is the Gastown Steam Clock (location here ). Rows of people stand here to take a picture.

The Steam Clock in Gastown | Biking in Vancouver
The Steam Clock in Gastown | Biking in Vancouver

The clock gets its name from the steam that comes out of it. This was difficult to see in the heat during the day, but this clock is powered by steam. Malou and I had been out in town the day before and in the middle of the night (pretty tipsy), accidentally passed the Gastown Steam Clock. Even then we took a photo, the steam is clearly visible on this!

Steam Clock in Gastown, Vancouver
Steam Clock in Gastown, Vancouver

Conclusion

Cycling through Vancouver is really great! You do have to realize that the city is quite hilly, so sometimes you will have to pedal hard. You can easily see many of Vancouver's most famous sights in a day by bike.

Cycling in Vancouver is generally safe. There are many facilities for cyclists such as separate cycle paths and parking facilities. You also have to wear a helmet, something that might be a bit crazy for us Dutch. Not everyone adheres to that, by the way, but there are definitely coupons handed out here so keep that in mind.

Biking in Vancouver
Biking in Vancouver

Apart from the somewhat unpleasant experience with drug addicts and homeless people in Chinatown, we had a wonderful day on the bike. The city of Vancouver pleasantly surprised us! So much greenery and flowers, so much color! In our opinion, an absolute must when visiting the city.

Plan your vacation to Canada here

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Chris

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