Vancouver is considered one of the most picturesque cities in the world and perhaps the most beautiful! Photographing Vancouver and its surrounds is an exciting (and budget friendly) way to spend your time exploring the region.
The mountains of Grouse, Seymour and Cypress surround the city and are covered in snow during winter and provide an incredible contrast to the warm summers that Vancouver is known for. The gorgeous scenery of Canada that you see in all of the guidebooks and movies, particularly in the fall months, is only a mere walk or short bus ride from Samesun’s Vancouver hostel in the heart of downtown.
Here are 5 incredible places for photographing Vancouver:
Lynn Canyon Park
Located a short ferry ride from downtown in North Vancouver lies Lynn Canyon Park, a 1000 year old forest, often seen in many television series and movies and is our most popular hostel activity destination. Lynn Canyon park officially opened in 1912, including 617 acres of rugged wilderness and hiking trails, full of wildlife and waterfalls.
Walking in from the entrance, you can walk across the suspension bridge which dangles 160 feet above the rushing falls below. As you traipse through the park, you’ll find squirrels that will scurry up the 100 feet tall trees and hawks that will soar above your head. Rarely seen, that you may be lucky to see, are black-tailed deer and black bears.
Rice Lake, a short stroll from the suspension bridge, is a stunning reflective lake, best seen in the fall and winter months when the fall colours arrive. Here, you can take photographs of the glassy reflections and watch fishermen as they try to catch rainbow trout in the lake. Heading down to the river below where the bridge crosses, lies the 30 Foot Pool, a local swimming spot that in summer turns vibrant aquamarine in colour – you won’t be able to resist hopping in for swim in the glacial fed waters.
Listed as the top city park in the world on TripAdvisor for last year, this 1001 acre park, is just a 20 minute stroll from hostel. Named after Lord Stanley, and first opened in 1886, Stanley Park is the largest park in North America. It has several beaches, lakes and a stunning seawall which starts from Coal Harbour and circles the park that you can walk or ride.
Fall is one of the best times for photographing Vancouver & Stanley Park. The leaves change to a variety of oranges and reds covering the seawall in a vast array of colors, and the North Shore mountains become covered in snow. Spring brings incredible blooming cherry blossoms and summer a vibrant atmosphere in which Vancouverites flock to the park to escape the heat.
At the top of the park, built by the Guinness family of Ireland in 1936, is the Lions Gate Bridge which extends across the Burrard Inlet to West Vancouver. To cross the bridge, one must walk to Prospect Point, which provides stunning views of the bridge and the inlet, and the 15 minute walk across, showcases incredible views of Stanley Park and downtown Vancouver.
The location of World Expo ‘86, False Creek, is a small inlet that extends from Granville Island to Science World, and provides an excellent location for photographing Vancouver at sunrise and sunset. Here, the water on a still day often delivers a glassy reflection of the skyline of the downtown including the Plaza of Nations, Scienceworld and BC Place.
The first thing you notice about False Creek is the calmness as you stroll the seawall. Paddleboarding is a regular hostel activity in the summer months, and seals (and the occasional whale) can often be seen swimming through the water, and may even bob their heads up next to you as they glide by. Accessed from the Olympic Village SkyTrain stop as part of the Canada Line, the eastern end, my favourite part, is only 15 minutes from the hostel.
Gastown and Chinatown
Named after “Gassy” Jack Deighton, Gastown is a historic neighbourhood of Vancouver and is the old town of Vancouver, the original downtown, before the city grew into what it is today. Declared as a National Historic Site of Canada in 2009, Gastown continues to showcase its exquisite heritage buildings along its 6 x 3 block stretch.
The most commonly photographed site in Vancouver and Vancouver’s most famous landmark, The Gastown Steam Clock, lies on the corner of Cambie and Water streets, and chimes every hour, using steam to trigger the whistle on top. Adjacent to Gastown and also designated as a historic site in 2011, is Vancouver’s Chinatown.
As you enter through the Chinatown Gate along West Pender Street and walk past the lion statues, you enter one of the oldest Chinatown’s in North America, with some buildings dating back to the 1800s. Strolling through, you will walk past several murals and past the narrowest commercial building in the world, the Sam Kee Building. Make sure to look up at the intricate street lamps along the way to the Dr Sun Yat-Sen Gardens and you will see dancing dragons upon each lamp. By far, the best time to photograph Chinatown is when performers line the streets in Chinese Dragon Costumes and let off firecrackers to herald in the Chinese New Year in February.
Another popular Samesun Vancouver hostel activity is exploring beautiful Bowen Island. The idyllic island, located in the Howe Sound, accessed by Horseshoe Bay, is just 1 hour from downtown Vancouver and is the location of several Hollywood movies.
As you cruise through the sound, alongside snow-capped mountains, you are met with the crystal clean azure waters of Snug Cove on arrival to Bowen Island. Take a right onto the first road and you will find the entrance to the Crippen Regional Park and trails that will lead through views over the sound, and to Killarney Lake.
Spring and summer provide a vibrant stroll through forest and fall and winter deliver low light across the lake and stunning reflections. There are 11km’s of hiking trails on the island including around Mt Gardner, and sights such as Opa, a 1000 year old Douglas Fir tree.
Each of these stunning destinations are visited on Samesun Vancouver’s daily hostel activities. New activities posted each week, or check our monthly calendar for other fun events.
All photos by Matthew Stewart.
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“Make sure to sign up for these activities when you come to visit us in Vancouver and join me for a Photo Walk around the city to check out these incredible places.”