Hesitant to explore Vancouver solo? Let a guide lead the way on 10 of our favourite city tours. Make sure to wear your comfiest walking shoes—and stretchy pants for the foodie outings.
By SHERI RADFORD
Walk This Way (or Run)
Forbidden Vancouver peeks below Vancouver’s glittering surface to expose the seedy (and captivating) underbelly. Learn about crime, revenge, fire and disease on the Lost Souls of Gastown Tour. Discover hidden cemeteries, notorious crime scenes and the ghost stories of Deadman’s Island on the Dark Secrets of Stanley Park Tour. Or hear about murder, scandal, financial strife and bootlegging—while sampling sinfully good treats—on the Art Deco and Chocolate Tasting Tour. The guides are so entertaining, it’s almost criminal.
Are you thrilled by things that go bump in the night? Experience chills and thrills with Ghostly Vancouver Tours. Guides lead guests through haunted areas of Gastown and New Westminster, sharing spooky stories of murder, prostitution and more—and keeping an eye out for some of Vancouver’s best-known spectres.
Judy Lam Maxwell brings the past to life on her Historical Chinatown Tours. She leads visitors through all the hidden nooks and crannies of Canada’s largest Chinatown while explaining the area’s fascinating history, both the good and the bad.
If you’re looking for an experience that’s part self-guided city tour, part race-against-the-clock puzzle, then check out Vancouver Mysteries. Your team could solve a murder case in Gastown, save the city from dastardly secret agents, or battle a supernatural monster plotting to destroy the planet. And you just might learn some cool things about Vancouver, too.
If you’d rather work up a sweat during your sightseeing, then try City Running Tours. Vancouver is consistently rated one of the best running cities in the world, and these tours demonstrate why: from the seawall that wraps around downtown, perfect for running beside the ocean and far from busy streets, to the scenery that includes mountains, old-growth forest and post-modern architecture. Tours go at a comfortable pace, with regular stops along the way to get the guide’s inside scoop on the city.
Food, Glorious Food (& Drink)
Seeking some seriously satisfying calories? Let Vancouver Food Tour lead you and your taste buds to the city’s most delicious destinations. Whether you’re interested in vegan fare, West Coast specialties, Gastown and Chinatown hotspots, cocktails or craft beer, there’s a tour for you. And the excursion to Richmond’s Dumpling Trail stops at half a dozen restos serving regional varieties of Asian dumplings, cooked to crispy and chewy perfection.
Vancouver Foodie Tours takes eager epicures on tasty tours of downtown, Gastown and Granville Island. Guests get an informative look at the city’s history, architecture and landmarks—and leave with full bellies. (It’s a good thing calories consumed on vacation don’t count.)
Gourmets sip and savour their way through Chinatown or Granville Island on Robert Sung’s A Wok Around tours. The Chinatown option features seafood, barbecued meats, crispy duck skin and delicate pastries, while the Granville Island tour offers maple-cured salmon, charcuterie, Canadian cheese and organic chocolate.
Beer aficionados explore the burgeoning craft-beer scene with Vancouver Brewery Tours. All of the outings feature the stellar suds that Vancouver has become known for. Some tours even offer transportation, which means you can imbibe to your heart’s content and not worry about stumbling back to your hotel after.
The West Coast Culinary Experience lets you explore the bounty of BC’s food-and-wine scene, all without leaving Granville Island. First, a foodie leads you on a walking tour to sample mouth-watering morsels from local butchers, bakers and chocolatiers. Then, a sommelier guides you through a tasting of four Okanagan wines and talks about BC’s different wine regions and grape varieties. Next, it’s time to get hands-on in the kitchen as a chef teaches you about selecting and cooking local ingredients such as salmon. And finally, the students of the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts create an over-the-top three-course lunch or dinner for you.
We did advise you to wear stretchy pants…