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Vancouver’s West End: Ultimate Guide

The West End of Vancouver is one of the nicest neighbourhoods because it includes beautiful English Bay, heritage buildings, parks, shopping, hotels and places to eat for all budgets. 

The West End of Vancouver is adjacent to Stanley Park on the west and downtown Vancouver on the east. To the north and south is the Pacific Ocean with beautiful views in either direction. 

The West End is host to many festivals such as Pride and the Celebration of Light.

What is considered the West End of Vancouver? 

Generally the West End is considered the west portion of the downtown peninsula between Burrard  Street and Stanley Park. However, Coal Harbour is also used to refer to the area north of Georgia Street. 

Importantly, the West End is different from the west side (which is the area west of Main Street and south of the downtown peninsula) and West Vancouver which is its own municipality on the north shore and west of North Vancouver. 

Confused yet? Just go downtown and head west of any bridges towards Stanley Park.

West End apartment building used in the X-Files TV show as Agent Scully's apartment
This older West End building was Agent Scully’s apartment building in the X-Files.

Is the West End part of downtown? 

The West End is adjacent to the main downtown business area but is mainly residential with lots of apartment buildings and condos. In fact it is considered the densest neighbourhood in Canada. 

However, the West End is definitely not sleepy. Because of the focus on multi-unit housing, many of the people who live here are young at heart and enjoy living in a walkable neighbourhood. 

For shopping and dining visit Davie, Denman and Robson Streets.

Vancouver West End Hotels

The West End of Vancouver has several highly rated hotels. However, finding budget accommodation will be difficult. Stay on the lookout for deals, especially off-season (November to February). 

Vancouver West End History

After clearing the forest, settlers moved in at the end of the 19th Century. Those who built homes here tended to be wealthier as the workers lived closer to the industry which was situated around False Creek in the east. 

An early plan by three “greenhorns” – inexperienced developers – to build a brickworks plant failed but railway money helped to establish the neighbourhood. The “greenhorns” profited from their investment after all. 

It’s important to note that the local First Nations never ceded this territory to the settlers and all of this dealing was done without their involvement. 

On first glance, the West End may seem diverse and inclusive (Canada’s first rainbow crosswalk is located here), but gentrification has taken place over the years. Prior to Expo 86, trans, gay and straight prostitutes were pushed further east into what many consider less safe neighborhoods. Rents have since increased despite the fact that the area contains a large amount of old rental stock alongside the glassy towers.

Is West End Vancouver Safe?

The West End is generally safe with lots of people on the sidewalks day and night. There are many bike lanes and traffic calming measures that make it easy to walk and cycle. Take the usual precautions that you would take in any large city. Lock your bicycles, including your rentals, because bike thieves tend to gravitate to places with high numbers of cyclists and the West End certainly qualifies.

Things to Do in Vancouver’s West End

Rent a bicycle

There are many bicycle rental businesses in the neighbourhood. Tour Stanley Park and explore the neighbourhood on two-wheels. 

Take a bicycle tour

Unsure about solo cycling? Or would you like to receive some interpretative insight while you pedal around the West End and Stanley Park? Take a bike tour to get more out of your experience.

Rent a stand-up paddle board or kayak

Visit Vancouver Water Adventures for availability. 

Public Art

Murals: Everywhere in Vancouver you will find brightly painted murals on the sides of buildings. The West End is no exception. New murals this year include:

  • The Blossoming of Compassion which is located at Jepson-Young Lane at Denman, between Comox Street and Pendrell Street. This mural honours Dr. Peter Jepson-Young. Having been diagnosed with HIV, Dr. Peter used his story to educate the public and founded founded the Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation and the Dr. Peter Centre.
  • Thank You, Miss Rosemary honours another famous Vancouverite, Rosemary Brown, who was the first black woman to be elected to the provincial legislature. The mural is located at Rosemary Brown Lane at 830 Denman Street.

Read more: https://dailyhive.com/vancouver/vancouver-mural-festival-west-end-laneway-series

Inukshuk Monument: Located at English Bay, this traditional Inuit monument by Alvin Kanak was constructed for the Northwest Territories Pavilion at Expo 86 and then gifted to the city.

A-maze-ing Laughter: You can’t miss this joyful sculpture of super-tall humans having a good laugh by the beach in a plaza at the intersection of Davie and Denman streets. The bronze sculpture was created by Yue Minjun. The 14 people were sculpted in the artist’s image for the Biennale and was later purchased as a permanent installation by the Wilson 5 Foundation.

A-maze-ing Laughter sculpture in Vancouver's West End
A-maze-ing Laughter by Yue Minjun

Roedde House Museum

The Roedde House was built in 1893. Today it has been restored as a museum depicting middle-class life in the early days of Vancouver as a city. Check the website for visiting post-pandemic protocols as the museum is small and hours are limited.


English Bay: English Bay Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Vancouver with close proximity to Stanley Park and the Seawall. You can bike along the route or stop for a day at the beach, take a walk or just admire the view. In the summer the water is usually clean enough for swimming, but there are occasional closings. In fact, one of Vancouver’s most famous residents, Joe Fortes (whose name is still seen everywhere around the neighbourhood), was a lifeguard at English Bay. Seasonally, kayaks and paddle boards are available for rent. English Bay is home to the annual New Year’s Day Polar Bear Swim.

Stanley Park: Adjacent to the West End is Stanley Park which is Vancouver’s most famous attraction with 1,000 acres of green space, forest, water access, activities and attractions (plus one causeway leading to the north shore). 

Sunset Beach: Further east just west of the Burrard Bridge is another popular beach. Sunset Beach became famous when a barge became stranded there during a windstorm. Attempts to move the barge failed and it is in the process of being dismantled at the time of writing this post. Sunset Beach has also been an unofficial home to the annual 4/20 pro-cannabis protest and celebration. However, due to COVID a smaller event was planned downtown this year.

Davie Village

Davie Village, which runs along Davie Street from around  Burrard to Jervis, is known as Vancouver’s gay village. Here you will find many LGBTQ+-positive businesses and a hub for the annual Pride Festival. Download your free Davie Village Checklist, so you don’t miss anything. It includes attractions, shopping, places to eat and the best bars and pubs.

Shella Gardezi

Shella Gardezi is a writer and editor living in Vancouver. She loves to travel and created this site to share her love of British Columbia.

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