Sustainable Summer Travel in Vancouver

Cyclists in Stanley Park

Cycling in Stanley Park. Photo: Destination Vancouver/Rishad Daroowala

Let Vancouver’s fresh air and natural surroundings rejuvenate you as you explore the city. Vancouver’s history of climate action dates back to the 1990s and today our city is recognized as a sustainability leader. Here’s your guide to sustainable travel in Vancouver including things to do, how to get around, where to eat, and where to stay.

Sustainable Things to Do

One of the most visibly sustainable things about Vancouver is the amount of green space. The highlight is Stanley Park, a 405-hectare (1001-acre) public park next to downtown. You can wander the trails in the forested interior, or follow the popular Seawall path on foot or by bike around the perimeter for great views of the ocean, mountains, and city.

A runner on the Stanley Park Seawall

Stanley Park Seawall. Photo: Tourism Vancouver / Nelson Mouellic

Learn more about the local flora and fauna with a stop at the Stanley Park Nature House. Run by volunteers from the Stanley Park Ecology Society, the nature house features displays that explain the diverse Stanley Park ecosystem that continues to thrive in this urban area.

Another great way to learn about the park is on a walking tour with Talasay Tours. You’ll walk the trails with your Indigenous guide to learn about how Indigenous people use the land for food, medicine, and technology.

Candace Campo from Talaysay Walking Indigenous Tours is conducting a presentation and speaking to a group while on a walking experience in Stanley Park in Vancouver.

Candace Campo from Talaysay Walking Indigenous Tours conducts a tour in Stanley Park. Photo: Destination Vancouver/Kindred & Scout

You’ll also find the Vancouver Aquarium inside Stanley Park. The aquarium is the headquarters of Ocean Wise, an environmental charity that advocates for conservation through initiatives around climate change, ocean pollution, and fighting overfishing by promoting sustainable seafood.

Vancouver Aquarium otter web cam

A sea otter at Vancouver Aquarium. Photo: Vancouver Aquarium

If you want to connect with Vancouver’s marine animals in the wild, sign up for a conservation-focused whale watching tour. Local tour companies emphasize education, conservation, and responsible viewing. Some operators also donate a portion of their proceeds to local conservation organizations.

Orcas blowing near Vancouver

Orcas. Photo: Destination Vancouver/Prince of Whales Whale Watching

Vancouver is also a place to shop sustainably. Visit the artisan boutiques on Granville Island to find locally made jewelry, home goods, art, and food. Or stop into one of the city’s eight farmer’s markets to browse the stalls for locally grown produce, artisan crafts, and more. Our city also has several zero-waste stores. The Source Bulk Foods sells bulk groceries by weight – just bring your own bags and containers. Or head to The Soap Dispensary to refill your containers with household cleaners and kitchen items.

Zero-waste products on shelves at The Soap Dispensary in Vancouver

Photo: The Soap Dispensary

Sustainable Ways to Get Around Town

With a dense downtown core, Vancouver is a great place to explore on foot. You can walk along the cobbled streets of Gastown, browse the shops in Chinatown, or stroll along the waterfront in Coal Harbour.

Pedestrians walk across cobblestone streets in Vancouver's Gastown neighbourhood.

Walking around Gastown. Photo: Destination Vancouver/Nelson Mouellic

If you want to go a little faster, grab a bike and explore on two wheels. There are bike rental shops scattered around downtown Vancouver and the surrounding neighbourhoods. Or try out Mobi, the city’s bike share program. The system includes thousands of bikes at hundreds of docking stations throughout the city. Popular (and scenic) places to ride include the iconic Stanley Park Seawall, the oceanfront paths at Kitsilano and Jericho Beaches, and the bike paths along False Creek that take you past landmarks like Science World, the Olympic Village, and Granville Island.

Two people ride Mobi bike share bikes in Vancouver.

Biking along the oceanfront in Kitsilano on Mobi bike share bikes. Photo: David Niddrie/Mobi Bikes

Vancouver also has an extensive and easy-to-use public transit system. Three SkyTrain lines crisscross the city and surrounding area. In most places, the track is elevated, which gives you great views of the North Shore Mountains and city skyline. The SkyTrain connects with a robust bus system and the SeaBus, a pedestrian and bike-friendly water shuttle that crosses Burrard Inlet dozens of times a day. Use Translink’s trip planner tool to find the best route to your destination.

The Canada Line SkyTrain crossing a bridge with views of the North Shore Mountains in Vancouver; Destination BC/Albert Normandin


Sustainable Restaurants

Vancouver has embraced the local food movement and is home to several renowned farm-to-table restaurants. Burdock & Co in the Main Street neighbourhood recently received one Michelin star. Helmed by chef and owner Andrea Carlson, their menu revolves around the changing seasons and highlights locally produced food. Forage in downtown Vancouver serves up dishes with ingredients sourced from local fishers, foragers, and farmers.

A plate of food sits atop a menu at Forage restaurant in Vancouver

Local and sustainable food at Forage. Photo: Forage/Nora Hamade

Our city also has a huge vegan and vegetarian food scene. The options run the gamut from locavore-style vegetarian fine dining at The Acorn to MeeT, a casual vegan burger joint. You can find plant-based cuisine from around the world in Vancouver. Try vegan pizza at Virtuous Pie, plant-based Middle Eastern food at Chickpea, vegetarian tacos at The Burrow, and vegan sushi at MILA.

Plant-based sushi at MILA in Vancouver

Plant-based sushi at MILA. Photo: MILA/Hakan Burcuoglu


Sustainable Places to Stay

Many of Vancouver’s hotels have embraced sustainability. The Fairmont Waterfront in the Coal Harbour neighbourhood is a certified 5 Green Key Hotel. They are committed to reducing waste, serve Ocean Wise sustainable seafood, and have a rooftop garden where they harvest their own herbs, fruit, vegetables, and honey.

Roof top garden and bee hives at the Fairmont Waterfront in Vancouver

Roof top garden and bee hives at the Fairmont Waterfront. Photo: Fairmont Waterfront.

The Listel Hotel in the West End is also 5 Green Key certified and prides itself on minimizing the property’s environmental impact through the use of solar panels, a heat capture system, water reduction measures, and air quality programs. They boast that they have been 100% Zero Waste since August 2011.

Solar panels on the roof of the Listel Hotel in Vancouver

Solar panels on the roof of the Listel Hotel. Photo: Listel Hotel

Or stay at Skwachàys Lodge, an Indigenous-owned boutique hotel in the heart of downtown. The business uses a unique social enterprise model that combines a hotel with on-site housing and studio space for Indigenous artists. Each room features unique Indigenous art.

A hotel room with Indigenous art at Skwachays Lodge in Vancouver

The Forest Spirits room at Skwachays Lodge designed by Indigenous artist Jerry Whitehead. Photo: Destination Vancouver/Skwachays Lodge/Craig Minielly at Aura Photographics

Tagged: , ,

Say Your Piece

Please be nice, we delete offensive and mean spirited remarks.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • Insider Access

  • Like us on Facebook Find us on Instagram Follow us on Twitter Watch us on YouTube


    Vancouver Event Calendar

    604 Neighbourhoods

    TED Host City