By ChloŽ Ernst
Vancouver is Canada's third largest city, so catching a sightseeing bus tour is an ideal way to get to know the attractions, neighborhoods, and local history on a first visit.
All the companies below offer a hop-on, hop-off schedule, where you can get off the bus at various attractions and pick up the route again later in the day. They also all stop at major attractions such as Stanley Park, Granville Island, Canada Place, and Chinatown.
Old-fashioned-style streetcars tour you through Vancouver on two loops. Drivers act as guides, giving live commentary and providing local insight. The route covers the best neighborhoods (including Gastown, Chinatown, the West End, and Granville Island), and also has an extensive tour through Stanley Park. This tour will give you the essentials of the city, but is geared to an older crowd and buses tend to be full with senior travelers.
During summer, these open-air buses and double-deckers are a great vantage for getting to know Vancouver. Big Bus uses a recorded soundtrack and driver-cued information blurbs. While I prefer having the personality of a live guide, the tour information is available in six languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Japanese, and Mandarin. The extra Stanley Park tour is excellent, with short photo stops at the Brockton Point totem poles and Prospect Point.