Here’s a great bike ride to do in Vancouver! With many on and off-road bikeways, cycling is an ideal way to explore the beautiful city of Vancouver. And if you need to rent a bike to do it, here is a complete list of Vancouver bike rentals stores.
This completely off-road Vancouver bike ride goes from the Convention Center to Granville Island, via the Seaside Bike Route – and the last bit is done by hopping on one of Vancouver’s colourful Aquabuses to cross False Creek! It’s a great family bike ride with diverse scenery, and lots of fun things to do.
Here is a map of the entire route.
This ride is a wonderful way to see some of the finest scenery in Vancouver, including the Burrard Inlet, Coal Harbour, Stanley Park, Lost Lagoon, English Bay and False Creek. All along the route there are ample opportunities to stop at coffee shops or restaurants. The ferry ride is a great way to see downtown Vancouver from the tranquil perspective of False Creek. And it gets you into Granville Island without having to deal with the stress of trying to find parking there. Once you get to Granville Island, there are endless fun possibilities.
When you are ready to go back, just retrace your route. Or you can take a shortcut by cycling straight up the separated bike route on Hornby Street, instead of taking the long way around the Seaside Bike Route.
Overview of this Vancouver Bike Ride
Terrain: all off-road, all paved
Location: downtown Vancouver
Distance: 6 km (3 miles), one way – return the same way, or take a short cut up Hornby Street
Difficulty level: easy – there are a few gentle uphills, but most of it is flat
Type of bike required: any kind, but a hybrid, cruiser or tricross bike would be best
Safety level: very safe – the main danger is bumping into pedestrians who wander across the bike route without looking
Suitable for: the whole family
Congestion: Varies, can be very quiet if you pick your time well – and very busy if you don’t. Try not to go on a sunny weekend afternoon
Parking: There is lots of parking in downtown Vancouver; or you can walk to the Convention Centre if you are in a downtown hotel; if you are in a docked cruise ship you are already at the Convention Centre; or you can get to the Convention Centre from the Waterfront Skytrain Station (about 300 m away)
Watch a narrated video about this great Vancouver bike ride
Here is a video that shows the entire route, with directions. It’s a joint effort – I filmed it and Maggie (Mrs. Average Joe Cyclist) narrated it. She has provided a lot of interesting details that will make this lovely ride even more interesting for you.
Your starting point is the beautiful Vancouver Convention Centre, at the north end of Burrard Street, beside the Burrard Inlet. If you look towards the water you will see the mountains on the other side of Burrard Inlet. That’s north. The Convention Centre is west of the cruise ship terminus and Canada Place. You will set off north on the signposted Seaside Bike Route, around the perimeter of the Vancouver Convention Centre on your left, with the cruise ship terminus on your right.
After a block you turn to the west (left). Then just follow the signposted Seaside Bike route. There are two points where you need to turn, and these are not very clearly signposted. Both of these turns are clearly explained in the video, and are also shown below.
You will cycle through the eastern boundary of Stanley Park, which was recently voted the top urban park in the world by Trip Advisor. In parts of this route the vegetation appears almost tropical, as you cycle under palm trees! In other parts you will see cherry blossoms, if it is the season (May to June).
After climbing a small hill, you will exit Stanley Park.
Soon after you exit Stanley Park, you will see to your left the impressive sight of the A-maze-ing Laughter, a 2009 bronze sculpture by Yue Minjun. These giant figures provide a magnificent photo op! This area is also full of restaurants and coffee shops, if you want to take a break.
Along your way you will also see awesome marinas, beautiful trees and gardens, and sandy beaches.
You also cycle past English Bay, one of the best beaches in Vancouver.
As shown in the video, after a 6 km (3 mile) bike ride you will come to the bottom end of Hornby Street. Halfway around the traffic circle, you will see a pedestrian lane to your right. At the end of that lane you will see a rainbow-coloured sign saying “Ferries.” Just cycle down the lane and push your bike down the gangplank to wait for a ferry.
Vancouver’s Aquabus Service
The Aquabus ferries people around false creeks, and will also happily take your bike. (The other ferry service, False Creek Ferries, does not take bikes, because the boats are too small.) Prices are reasonable, and you can buy one-way or return tickets. They run every five minutes, and you can catch one from Hornby Street dock to Granville Island at any time between 6.48 a.m. and 10.25 p.m.
Of course, there are other places that the Aquabus stops – in fact, one of the most fun ways to see Vancouver is to buy an eight-dollar, twenty-five-minute mini-cruise on the ferry.
The ferries accommodate people, bikes, strollers and wheelchairs. The ferry will take you and your bike to Granville Island in a few minutes. Enjoy the trip and the wonderful views of Vancouver while it lasts.
Things to do on Granville Island
As you can see on the map, Granville Island is on a small peninsula in False Creek. The entire area nestles under the southern end of the Granville Street bridge and is devoted to fun – including a massive food market, and all kinds of entertainment. For visiting tourists (10 million per year), it is a premiere shopping area. The Public Market offers some of the finest fresh food money can buy, as well as a wide variety of local crafts. Adjacent buildings offer all kinds of shopping, from hats to fine wine to boat wear.
The Kid’s Market offers a variety of activities to amuse the kids. Right next to that is a huge outdoor park, including a water park. For adults, Molson’s Brewery offers tours and beer tasting. There are a number of restaurants and theaters, and often on a sunny day there will be free outdoor entertainment. At some of the pubs it is possible to lock up your bike within sight.
Granville Island also showcases public art. Originally an industrial area, Granville Island was transformed into a tourist hotspot in the 1970s. The six concrete silos belonging to Ocean Concrete are one of the last remnants of its industrial past. These were recently transformed into public art by two Brazilian street artists: Os Gemeos, who are identical twin brothers from Sao Paolo. They transformed the silos into spectacular art as part of Vancouver Biennale’s 2014-2016 exhibition, a non-profit organization that celebrates art in public spaces.
After you are too exhausted to enjoy Granville Island any more, return the same way; OR cross English Bay with the ferry to the Hornby Street dock, and then cycle straight up the separated bike route on Hornby Street. (This means that instead of going the long way around, you are cycling directly across Vancouver to your starting point.)
Ride on, Ride Safe, and Have Fun!
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