How to See Vancouver by Bike for Natural Beauty, Indigenous History, and Urban Flair

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Located on the traditional, unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh nations, Vancouver, British Columbia prides itself on not only being one of the greenest cities in North America—but also among the most bike-friendly. Ideally situated amongst verdant coast mountains and the Pacific Ocean, this is an urban destination on the doorstep of nature—think Cape Town-meets-Amsterdam. 

The city is home to the longest uninterrupted waterfront bike path in the world, and over 270 miles of bike lanes connect the city’s beaches, parks, restaurants, breweries, and attractions—how’s that for easy access? Here’s how to tackle the outdoorsy and Indigenous offerings of Vancouver by bike with sustainability in mind—and everywhere you need to stop along the way.

Granville Island’s market

Cate Simpson/Granville Island

The Marina at Granville Island

Gunter Marx/Getty

Your biking itinerary to Vancouver 

Among the first experiences any visitor to Vancouver should participate in is an Indigenous experience by the original stewards of the land. Stanley Park will be on most biking itineraries and any traveler’s Vancouver checklist, but seeing Stanley Park through the eyes of an Indigenous guide on a Talking Trees Tour with Talaysay Tours will put this very special place into perspective. All of the old-growth cedar, pine, berries, and other flora here have a story—a significance—and a meaning. The very lands “Stanley Park” is situated were once an island, a hunting and gathering place, and a place of annual celebration and trading between the Coast Salish people. Its name prior was Xwayxway (pronounced kwhy-kway), which was the name of the Indigenous village that once stood there. Understand Vancouver’s history and know your place in it by starting your trip with an Indigenous experience like the Talking Trees Tour. And before or after your biking day(s), weave in a visit to the Bill Reid Gallery downtown for a look at contemporary Indigenous art of the Northwest Pacific in honor of Haida artist Bill Reid. 

Also located at Stanley Park is the Vancouver Aquarium. Famous for its conservation programs like the Marine Mammal Rescue program and for founding the Ocean Wise program (one percent of profits are donated to the Ocean Wise non-profit), the Vancouver Aquarium is unlike most because conservation and sustainability are part of the business model. And if Stanley Park’s Third Beach is certainly not a bad place to start (locals tip: if you visit on Tuesday afternoons and evenings in the spring, summer, or fall, an unofficial drum circle offers a worldly musical energy that’s worth checking out).  

From Stanley Park, the Vancouver Seawall extends along English Bay passing by several beach parks including Second Beach, Sunset Beach, and English Bay Beach. As you enter Yaletown and False Creek, views blend modern condo high rises with an inlet active with paddle boarders, kayakers, dragon boaters, and sailboats. Several small bike-friendly ferries move around the inlet, and here you have one of two choices: ride a ferry over to Granville Island or continue riding down the Seawall; consider riding at least one way, and taking a ferry back the other after enjoying some water activity rentals or cocktails and craft beers. No matter which way you choose, the restaurants, shops, art, and activities on Granville Island are a must-do for any biking itinerary. And for those riding in the warmer months and keen to take advantage of the late-setting northern sun, bike lanes extend almost entirely oceanside to the city limits at the University of British Columbia Endowment Lands. If this is you, don’t miss Kitsilano Beach Park, Jericho Beach Park, Locardo Beach Park, and Spanish Banks Beach (there is also a clothing-optional beach near the University called Wreck Beach).  

Archer interior 

Courtesy Archer

Salmon Crudo and beet salad at Archer

Courtesy Archer

Refuel at these restaurants 

Vancouver has long been a favorite among foodies, especially those with a taste for adventure. The city was recently featured in its first Michelin Star guide which debuted in October 2022 and many of the restaurants are on or near bike lanes—perfect for mid-day bites or post-cycle aprés. Downtown, The Victor blends contemporary North American cuisine with fresh sushi (for which Vancouver is known) and coastal flavors. The newly opened Archer highlights the bounty of B.C.’s west coast through talented farmers, fishers, and producers while honoring the best in diverse cultures and flavors of Canada. 

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