Vancouver is a wonderful place for a bike ride, especially after the gloriously green metropolis has made a concerted effort to become a cycling city. The protected bike lanes make it easy for travelers to easily zip through the heart of the city, covering lots of ground while staying fit to boot.
While some hotels in the area offer guests complimentary rentals — we hopped aboard Fairmont Hotel Vancouver’s BMW bikes when we were in town after an Alaskan Princess Cruise — plenty of bike shops in the area charge just over $5 USD per hour for rentals. Pick your favorite ride and try one of these great routes to make the most of your Vancouver vacation.
1. The Stanley Park Seawall is Vancouver’s classic bike ride. An easy, flat meander through the city’s beautiful 1,000-acre park, the main bicycle path twists and turns along the waters that surround the park (English Bay and Vancouver Harbor); if you begin at the entrance to the park, the circular ride is a little over five miles. Be sure to stop and smell the flowers in the famed rose garden, take a photo of the iconic bronze “Girl in a Wetsuit” sculpture perched out in the water and follow the crowds to see the fascinating totem poles carved by the First Nations tribes that are in the heart of the park.
2. The Seaside Greenway incorporates the Stanley Park Seawall and much more. This scenic route, built in 2013, is also a protected ride along the water, beginning at the Vancouver Convention Center (near Canada Place and the slips where the cruise ships dock) and ends at Spanish Banks Park. Along the way, the 17-mile ride designed for all ages passes through Coal Harbour, Stanley Park, English Bay, False Creek, Jericho Beach, and Spanish Banks. Be sure to stop at Granville Island along the way, a picturesque spot filled with shops and restaurants — and plenty of places to lock up your bike while you explore on foot.
3. The North Shore’s Spirit Trail and Lion’s Gate Bridge bike ride is a real adventure, one that’s part of Vancouver’s push to make biking an integral part of city life. Bikes are allowed on public transport, even the Seabus, which takes you across the harbor to North Vancouver. So catch that 12-minute ride across the Burrard Inlet at the Waterfront quay near Canada Place and then head west. You’re looking for the North Shore Spirit Trail, a pretty ride along the water with fantastic views of the city across the bay. Take that until you see signs for the Lion’s Gate Bridge and ride in the dedicated bike lane across that impressive span (stopping for photo ops with the lion sculptures along the way). You’ll drop down onto the Stanley Park Seawall, so you can finish your adventure exploring that lovely park.
4. The heart of the city ride puts you right in the center of Vancouver’s bustling downtown. There are so many dedicated and protected bicycle lanes that exploring is easy. We left the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver on Georgia Street and headed for Dunsmuir Street’s protected lanes. Going south, we found Chinatown and BC Place, where the Olympic Games were held. From Carrall Street, we pedaled to the Seaside Greenway, riding along False Creek into Yaletown, where the famous Roundhouse Community Arts Center beckoned, along with hip shops and cool eateries. We made sure to ride past the massive, architecturally amazing Vancouver Public Library, too, as well as the famed Orpheum and Vogue theaters; and we took a cultural break and visited the Vancouver Art Gallery. Make your own route up, perhaps adding Gastown or the West End; it’s easy and safe.
5. The University of British Columbia (UBC) Loop and Pacific Spirit Park combine for an exhilarating ride at the western edge of Vancouver. Make a whole day of it and ride out of downtown across the Burrard Street Bridge, then follow the coastline of English Bay all the way to the university. Inside UBC you’ll find fascinating architecture, art installations and more scenic spots. The park is south of UBC and features level gravel trails that put you right into the heart of the woods. If you don’t want to make a full day of it, catch one of the city buses from downtown (there are 15 different bus routes that serve UBC); it’s free to take bikes on the bus, just pay the fare and place your bike on the outside rack on the bus.