Want to go on a bike ride in Vancouver, BC? You’re in the right place to do so! British Columbia’s largest city is packed with things to do and see – and joining Vancouver bike tours to discover the sights is definitely a popular activity.
Vancouver is a very bike-friendly city with kilometres of dedicated bike paths and lanes. Biking Vancouver is truly the local way to get around! But, perhaps like you, we weren’t sure which of the bike tours in Vancouver to choose because there are a few really good ones.
We ended up doing this Vancouver highlights bike tour and had a great day. We saw Stanley Park, Granville Island, English Bay, False Creek, Gastown (and more) – and our guide was awesome, so we’d recommend it.
So, here’s our Vancouver biking experience on the day and how to choose a bike tour in Vancouver when you’re visiting the city!
Vancouver Bike Tours
There are a few Vancouver biking companies that you’ll come across as you walk around, as you research online, or as you get recommendations through your accommodation. Many of them are quite reputable and arguably offer some of the best bike tours in Vancouver – so check out these tour options:
Friendly Disclosure: We spent our own money on the tour, didn’t notify the company beforehand that we were coming and weren’t told to include them in an article.
Table of Contents
Bike Tours in Vancouver – Our Experience
Here’s a detailed breakdown of our Vancouver bike experience over the course of the day. It helps that Vancouver is one of the best bike cities on the planet and aims to incorporate an all-ages-and-abilities design!
That said you can bike in Vancouver pretty much any time of the year. Summer is definitely popular for the best chance at good weather but a little rain or colder weather won’t stop locals from using their bikes. So, consider a bike tour as a solid activity choice whenever you visit!
It’s important to acknowledge that Vancouver is situated on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Peoples. We’re grateful to be able to visit and share our experiences.
Before the Tour
Address: 648 Hornby St, Vancouver, BC V6C 2G2
Before we got started on the bike tour, we had to get to the starting point. Our bike tour was with Cycle City – you can see their office/shop location below.
When we arrived, everyone was very friendly. We quickly met our tour guide, Greg, who was an absolute gem.
We were instructed to read and sign the liability form (make sure you read it) and then the staff got us properly fitted with helmets and bikes. You can also get a basket if you’d like but we didn’t need one.
The bikes were in really good shape and easy to shift and brake so we had no complaints in that department! Every bike also has a name on the frame so you can tell yours apart from the others in the group when you park – handy!
We had a conversation with the other tour members – many internationals from Europe, actually – and then Greg gave us a briefing about traffic lights and riding as a group.
He also outlined where we were going throughout the day but he covered this on a map at the first stop. Before we knew it, we were off on our bikes!
On the Bike Tour
We started out heading towards Canada Place where we stopped to look at the North Shore. We then followed the Seawall towards Stanley Park, passing the Vancouver Harbour seaplane terminal as we biked.
We made quite a few stops in Stanley Park because it’s just such a big and important piece of the city’s identity.
The first of which was at the Lord Stanley Monument, and another was near Deadman’s Island where we learned about the history of the city, the island, and the connection to the Indigenous Peoples that resided there first.
In fact, discussion around Indigenous groups and the past injustices, current situation, and potential ways forward were really well woven into the history, facts, and stories that Greg told.
As the only Canadian on the tour, Eric was genuinely impressed to see such raw, real knowledge being told to foreigners. History wasn’t sugarcoated and that was really important to hear!
The next stop was at the famous Totem Poles created by many First Peoples from the Pacific Northwest region. There are information plaques you can – and should – read.
Greg also told us extra information about the specific totem poles. They are beautiful and made for a really nice stop.
We rode along some more before dismounting and walking the bikes through a tunnel and into the rainforest. This very cool trail led us to the interior at Beaver Lake where we learned all about the important (and mischievous) beavers who live there.
From this stop at the lake, we headed through some more forest trails, over the highway, and out of the park heading toward English Bay Beach.
After another stop in Morton Park by English Bay Beach, we rode along the Seawall Path to catch the Aquabus (with our bikes) to Granville Island for lunch!
After a short ferry ride, we parked and locked the bikes and had 45 minutes for lunch in the famous Granville Island Public Market. Greg was even nice enough to help Eric who (embarrassingly) couldn’t get his bike lock open.
We chose a sausage roll, Cornish pasty, and tortellini salad and sat outside overlooking False Creek between the Island and Downtown.
Once lunch was over, we all rode along the south edge of False Creek, making stops as we learned about the area and various landmarks – like Science World and BC Place.
The water on this side is beautiful and really allows you to get a good perspective of the size of Downtown and the buildings.
It was at this point that Greg prepared the group for the path ahead: notably, biking through Chinatown, East Hastings and into Gastown.
For those that do not know, Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside is a resilient community that is affected by the intersection of homelessness and poverty, addiction and mental health, among other things.
Greg told positive stories about the community members there which allowed us to see all sides of the city and not just the perfect, touristy aspects.
The drive through the district was very short – but it was good that Greg had prepared us for what we saw. We then rode into Gastown where we stopped for another story or two about the area.
After Gastown, we entered the busy city following the waterfront train tracks and rode past the Central Station (Waterfront). We stopped near Canada Place one last time to talk about a famous building before snaking uphill (safely) through a few blocks back to the bike shop!
After the Tour
At the end of the tour, we returned the bikes, and the bike shop staff came out almost immediately and disinfected all the bikes before taking them back in to be used again.
Greg had some parting words for us and told us that he would send a large email with links to stories and facts as well as recommendations he mentioned throughout the tour.
We got that email – and it’s awesome. That’s how we ended up at Sylvia’s Restaurant after the tour!
Overall, Greg was informative, passionate, funny, and kept us safe and in the know all day long. We wouldn’t have changed a thing!
Bike Tour Packing List
If you’re planning on doing a bike tour when you visit Vancouver, here is a list of things that you should probably pack and bring with you on the day.
You can bike all year round but having a rain jacket that is also good for wind isn’t a terrible idea even during the summer months since the weather can change quite quickly. Here’s what we would pack:
- Rain/wind jacket (like Eric’s North Face) – or a thicker one during the colder months
- A small daypack to put everything in (like our Osprey Daylite)
- Sunglasses (with strap)
- Secure shoes for pedalling
- Water bottle and a snack (e.g. granola bar) if you get hungry easily
- A sweater/layers
- A hat – one with a brim in sunny weather or a warmer one for the ears in cooler winter.
- Camera/smartphone – we’d recommend a neck or wrist strap if possible.
- Gloves in the colder months
- Money for lunch at Granville Island and tip
Read More: You might find our article on what to pack for Canada helpful!
How to Choose a Bike Tour in Vancouver, BC
Since there are several bike tours you can choose from in Vancouver – that all focus on slightly different aspects of the city – here is what we learned about how these tours differ.
Hopefully, this information helps you make the right decision about the best Vancouver bike tour for you!
Obviously, how long the tour is will be an important factor in determining which one you choose. There are some that are 2-3 hours long while ours was 5 hours long. The longer the tour, the more you see, generally.
If you don’t want to bike around for 5 hours, then choose a shorter tour, and vice versa.
Most of these tours are for people of most ages and physical abilities (and they have frequent stops) so this shouldn’t really be a concern unless you have an underlying condition or physical impairment. You can always inquire ahead if you have any concerns.
Starting Location & Time
Again, what time the tour starts will determine which one you choose. Some start early in the morning, others begin well after lunch.
If you’re doing the bike tour as part of a one-day Vancouver itinerary, you’ll want to really plan out whether you choose a morning tour, an afternoon tour, or a longer tour that covers much more (like we did).
As for location, the various tour companies are pretty well spread out across the central areas of the city. Some are right Downtown, some are closer to English Bay Beach, and others are south of False Creek.
Depending on where you are staying, definitely factor in where the tour begins so that you book one that works for you. To be fair, we didn’t exactly do this.
We booked the bike tour we did knowing we were staying very central in Vancouver. It also had great ratings so we were keen to book it and figure out how to get there after. Turns out, we were a 10-minute walk to the bike shop. Win!
Company Ratings/Quality & Type of Bikes
Many of the bike shops/tour operators have very good reviews but you can always do more research about the companies before you book.
User reviews – like the people who booked that tour with that company – are generally a good indicator of the overall quality!
Another thing to consider is the type of bikes the tour company offers. There is a difference between mountain bikes, more of a hybrid-style city bike, a cruiser-style bike, or E-bikes.
If you’re more accustomed to sitting upright with high handlebars, perhaps consider a tour with cruiser bikes. If you’re used to handlebars being flat and lower, then seek out a tour with “regular bikes” (like a hybrid or mountain-style bike).
If you’d like to have some assistance when going uphill, maybe choose a tour with E-bikes.
Lastly, the quality of the bikes is important for safety and also for enjoyment. You’ll likely learn about the quality of bikes from tour reviews.
We can say that Cycle City had really good bikes that seemed to be well-maintained and ready for touring.
The price of the tour is usually correlated to the length of the tour – but this is not always the case. You can compare different bike tours you’re interested in to see what the cost is and what the offering is (length, attractions visited, etc).
Basically, you need to consider the value for cost and determine if it’s for you!
The tour we chose made an effort to integrate Indigenous topics into the tour. Perhaps this was only because of our guide, Greg, but we doubt it because the bike company also has a land acknowledgement on their homepage.
A company that discusses difficult parts of Canadian history (colonialism, assimilation) and embraces a resurgence in the Indigenous culture around the city is important.
If this is something you care about as well, it’s a great idea to do some research and choose a tour company that includes this in their bike tour.
For more Vancouver – and West Coast Canada, in general – check out these other articles:
- Things to Do in Vancouver, BC (coming soon)
- Where to Stay in Vancouver: Accommodations & Areas
- One Day in Vancouver – A See, Eat, and Do Itinerary!
- Awesome Things to Do in Victoria, BC
- Whale Watching in Victoria, Canada
And there you have it – our experience on our bike tour in Vancouver. We had an amazing day and would recommend the bike tour we did to anyone visiting the city and wanting to see lots of top places in a short amount of time!
We learned a ton, felt very safe, and are left with a very positive experience!
As always, Happy Waddlin’,