- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Vancouver Guide (PDF)
Vancouver has plenty to offer in terms of its rich history, culture and lifestyle attractions. It has an exquisite culinary scene as well as markets, boutiques and galleries. Here’s a selection of the best things to see and do in Vancouver for expats.
Recommended attractions in Vancouver
Vancouver Art Gallery
Located in downtown Vancouver, this well-established gallery showcases the works of both local and international artists, including Emily Carr, Andy Warhol, Picasso and Rodin. There are features to attract the whole family, with teens and kids alike bound to enjoy themselves. For the scholarly, there is an extensive library which houses more than 50,000 books, sound recordings and catalogues.
Take a trip in the glass-fronted Skylift, up the Harbour Centre Tower, to the famous Vancouver Lookout. Here, great bird’s-eye views of the city and surrounds are accompanied by amenities including shops, a food court and the fantastic Top of Vancouver Revolving Restaurant with its delicious continental cuisine.
Commercial Drive is one of Vancouver's most eclectic neighbourhoods, popular with both expats and trendy locals. The area boasts a number of chic boutiques and second-hand shops, as well as live music venues, an ice-skating rink, a bowling alley and dozens of authentic, street-side Italian cafés.
Museum of Anthropology
Totem poles on the Point Grey cliffs mark the way to the Museum of Anthropology, an institution displaying fine examples of Northwest Coast art and architecture. Expats can see the work of internationally acclaimed Haida artist, Bill Reid, and explore the traditional houses built on the premises. This is a great way to get a feel for the culture of the area.
In central Vancouver, on the south shore of False Creek, is Granville Island – a wonderful entertainment and shopping destination. The island has an array of markets to explore which includes stalls with fresh produce and clothing, toys, and boating equipment and supplies.
Queen Elizabeth Park
Queen Elizabeth Park is home to abundant flower gardens, the Bloedel Floral Conservatory, a Pitch and Putt course and a lovely restaurant. The conservatory boasts over 100 species of free-flying tropical birds for visitors to see. This is the perfect day out for apartment-dwelling expats.
Pacific National Exhibition (PNE)
Established in 1910, PNE hosts a variety of shows, concerts, sports events and exhibitions. The assortment of amusement park rides and the annual PNE Fair are family favourites.
Since 1986, Lonsdale Quay has had something for everyone, from a vibrant public market and trendy boutiques to a good selection of restaurants and a play area for kids. Climbing the quay’s red tower offers great views of the harbour and the North Shore Mountains. The market itself consists of fresh foods, artisanal products and the Green Leaf Brewing Co.
Wander the cobbled streets of Gastown to discover beautiful Victorian architecture and hidden courtyards. The district is home to a selection of trendy boutiques, stylish eateries and exclusive galleries. The oldest neighbourhood in Vancouver, Gastown traces its roots back to a single tavern founded in 1897. The Vancouver Lookout rises 548 feet (167m) over the city, giving a unique panorama of this gorgeous metropolis.
►For a list of the main annual festivals taking place in the city see What's On in Vancouver
Are you an expat living in Vancouver?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Vancouver. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
With 86 million customer relationships in over 200 countries, Cigna Global has unrivalled experience in dealing with varied and unique medical situations and delivering high standards of service wherever you live in the world.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.