I am visiting Vancouver in the last week of July and would like suggestions for a good apartment for 5 days. I am traveling with my husband and we would like to stay in a quiet and safe area.
I always stay in a high-rise smack in the middle of things (downtown area off the main commercial drag, Robson) but I can recommend two lovely, much quieter residential neighborhoods: the West End and Kitsilano.
You can read a bit about them and locate them on a map in the links below. Try www.booking.com to find apartments, there may be other sources as well (I use booking.com almost exclusively, so others would be more familiar with alternatives).
There are no real "unsafe" areas I've ever come across on foot, but there is a stretch on East Hastings (east of Chinatown) that has a mind-bending multi-block congregation of folks that are suffering from serious drug addiction/homelessness. You'll never know it or see it unless you drive through there (say coming from Seattle), so I wouldn't even give it a second thought. Vancouver indeed is very bipolar, but most of it is extremely clean and wealthy.
What are you planning to do while you are here? I can't give any specific recommendations on apartments, but I can certainly steer you clear of the areas to avoid. Transit is pretty good, and convenient for most areas of Vancouver if you don't mind doing that, and it might save you a lot of money to stay out of downtown and just take a bus or train in.
Since this is my first visit to Vancouver, I want to explore the city and see the main tourist places.
We really like this apartment hotel right downtown, a block from a water ferry stop. Very safe location and nice comfortable apartments. We use the Flase Crek ferry to get over to Granville Island and up False Creek to the Science center. For Stanley Park and other locations we took a taxi there and walked back.
Will you have a car?
Most of the popular tourist places in Vancouver are easy to get to by transit from downtown, or even within walking distance. Gastown, Stanley Park and even China Town are reasonable to walk to depending on your location. The west end of downtown backs onto Stanley Park, making it convenient for that, but a little further for Gastown or China Town. Granville Island can easily be reached from downtown by bus or water taxi down by the bridge.
The Planetarium/museum is across the bay from downtown and is easy by bus and a short walk. The museum of anthropology out at UBC is further by bus but you can get a direct bus from downtown. Queen Elizabeth park is also a little further afield, but, again, you can catch a bus from downtown.
To go even further afield catch the Seabus from downtown across the water to North Vancouver then connect with a bus to get to Grouse Mountain and take the tram up to the top, or go to the suspension bridge at Capilano (local secret, if you like suspension bridges there is one at Lynn Canyon that is free).
For transit you can either buy a day pass or pay as you go. It will depend on how many times you plan to ride the bus in a day. Single adult fare is 2.85 and is good for 90 minutes. A day pass is approx. $10.
Downtown is the most convenient place to stay, but it can get overrun when the cruise ships come in.
Thanks so much everyone. It was very helpful.
I like AirBnB and use it predominately, but often same apartment can be found on multiple websites. There are more cities who are running across problems of sublet rentals using the apartment as AirBnB short lease rentals - which usually contravenes all agreements. Just this past week this came to light both in Toronto and in Ottawa. I can see Vancouver being an easy candidate for the same. Lots of off shore owners using down town apartments for sub letting long term and short term....so do research what the situation is like in Vancouver now. They may have set in place the requirement of listing the apartments with the authorities and providing a registration number on the websites to indicate compliance. That would give some peace of mind. Your safest bet might be local companies in the business of renting short let apartments.
Vancouver is a pretty walkable city with public transport and a cheap efficient LRT from Airport to down town. For most first time visitors, you don't really need a car other than a possible day trip along the Sunshine coast. Even then consider taking the ferry for a day.
I live in the Vancouver area, and indeed there have been many articles and discussions in the media recently about renting from sites such as Airbnb.
Same issues as other cities have with not wanting short term rentals.
I think you would be better in a hotel or apartment hotel.
I don't have anything to recommend, as of course I don't need them in my own city!
However, central areas you should look at (and are in the descriptions of acommodations ), are: Downtown, West End, Kitsilano, near Vancouver General Hospital, False Creek, Shaughnessy.
As Anita said: the transit system is not too bad here, so fairly easy to get around.
We have taxis, but not Uber or Lyft.
We have a SkyTrain: over-ground light rail train system, linked to the bus system; it's a bit more limited as to where it goes, but it will bring you into downtown from the airport.
Let us know if you need more info.
You will love it here, it's very relaxed ....and beautiful!
I would add to the comments about Vancouver being walkable and transit rich that downtown Vancouver is also bike friendly.
We spent a short week at the Kingston Hotel, a boutique hotel in downtown Vancouver. We rented bikes at Simon's Bike Shop, a block away from the Kingston, for a day of cycle exploring. Vancouver has bike boulevards and bike paths. We rode to and around Stanley Park, then to Granville Island for a late lunch.
"but there is a stretch on East Hastings (east of Chinatown) that has a mind-bending multi-block congregation of folks that are suffering from serious drug addiction/homelessness."
That's the Downtown Eastside area, the poorest neighborhood in Canada. That's definitely an area to avoid, especially at night. Even in the more upscale parts of town, you may still see examples of the homeless. I've encountered individuals sleeping on the sidewalk in front of the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver.
If you're in the mood to spend $250,000 in an hour or so, you could always venture onto Vanvouver's version of Rodeo Drive - https://bc.ctvnews.ca/is-alberni-street-turning-into-vancouver-s-rodeo-drive-1.3851613 .
If you're going to arrive by air, you can take the Skytrain right from the airport to downtown Vancouver. Part of the line runs above the street and part is underground.
One of our local TV networks just did a story on the "best" neighbourhoods in Vancouver. This is always debatable, but these were the findings - https://bc.ctvnews.ca/mclaughlin-on-your-side . Hopefully the video link will work in your area.
We stayed at Sunset Inn hotel in the Davie St. area. The rooms had full kitchens, with breakfast included. Easy to walk to many areas.
Thanks everyone. I got bookings in a good apartment suites in Davie.
I really appreciate all the information shared by everyone.
Was also thinking of staying 2 nights in Whistler.
"Was also thinking of staying 2 nights in Whistler."
Be sure to budget accordingly, as it's quite pricey. Were you planning to drive from Vancouver to Whistler? If you're interested, allow some time to visit this attraction, which is on the way - https://www.seatoskygondola.com/
Whistler is definitely worth going to. When I went last time at the end of May 2016, it was crazy crowded and the traffic back to Vancouver was insane. Never experienced traffic like that anywhere in Canada, maybe it was a blip. I don't think you necessarily need a car to go to Whistler (there are tons of transport options because it's a popular spot) but it's nice to have a car to see some places outside of Vancouver proper like Grouse Mountain (northern Vancouver), Whistler, Horseshoe Bay and others.
One other thing that's worthwhile is taking one of the BC ferries somewhere....we took one to a small and lovely little island called Bowen Island from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver. It was a quick ferry ride and really enjoyable to spend the day there.
I hope you have at least one full week in Vancouver/area because there is plenty to do there. If you were include the surrounding areas, you'd need much more time to savor it all.
I always stay by English Bay, in the West End. It's right next to Stanley Park, has lots of restaurants/shopping and is a 15-20 minute walk to downtown. I like Sylvia Hotel the best for the area. Check the reviews to see if it would be right for you.