The Greener Guide to Seeing Vancouver More Sustainably

Stanley Park in Vancouver has a beautiful collection of totem poles
Stanley Park in Vancouver has a beautiful collection of totem poles | © Bornin54 / Depositphotos.com
Imogen Lepere

Uncover restaurants hidden in cabins, local farmers’ markets and forward-thinking places to stay with our light-touch look at Canada‘s west coast city.

Stand in Downtown Vancouver, looking from the snow-capped North Shore Mountains to the inky-blue Pacific Ocean, and you’ll begin to understand why Greenpeace was founded here. Not only does it have a thriving creative and restaurant scene – and let’s not forget all those craft breweries – but Vancouver is also on a mission to halve its carbon emissions by 2030. Single-use plastics are banned across the city, and the roads have been redesigned to be more bike-friendly. Life in Vancouver is all about dialing things back and enjoying the ride.

1. The Burrard

Boutique Hotel

People enjoying the courtyard oasis at the Burrard, with seating, a firepit, light-adorned trees and lots of plants and flowers
Courtesy of The Burrard / Expedia

With its courtyard full of palm trees and glitzy furniture, the Burrard feels like a kitsch motel from the 1950s, which it once was. The Burrard Motor Inn opened its doors in 1956, although a 21st-century renovation has left it more hip than historic. Not only is it independent and locally owned, but it’s also the holder of a Green Key Award – the international standard for businesses leading the way in sustainable tourism.

2. Trout Lake Farmers Market

Market, Street Food

A person cradling a head of kale in their hands
© Mythja / Depositphotos.com

This Saturday-morning seasonal stalwart has been a favorite with locals for more than 20 years, providing a vibrant place for a roving breakfast. Wander through John Hendry Park and spend a few hours browsing more than 70 stalls, ranging from fresh eggs to home-made chutneys and seasonal produce.

4. The Listel Hotel

Hotel

A sitting area in the Listel Hotel, with plush seating in front of a fireplace and floor-to-ceiling windows
Courtesy of The Listel Hotel / Expedia
A boutique bolthole offering a warm west coast welcome, the Listel Hotel is a must for art lovers. Every floor has rooms filled with sculptures, paintings and prints, from First Nations art in the museum floor rooms to international art in the artist series suites. To minimize the need for single-use plastic, the hotel has water refill stations scattered throughout, and there are also solar panels on the roof.

5. Botanist Bar

Cocktail Bar, Canadian

A mushroom cocktail on a wooden tray set against a dark background
© Ash Edmonds / Unsplash

Sustainably minded night owls will love swinging by Botanist Bar for a late-night cocktail. The wine list exclusively features pours from organic, biodynamic or sustainable producers, while cocktails utilize overlooked, wild ingredients, such as candy-cap mushrooms and oyster leaves. The presentation takes pride of place, too – think partially melted punch bowls balanced on driftwood.

6. Vancouver Aquarium

Aquarium

A close-up view of an orange, white and black clownfish at the Vancouver Aquarium
Courtesy of Vancouver Aquarium / Expedia
Home to thousands of fascinating sea creatures, the Vancouver Aquarium also has a host of imaginative solutions for sustainability. For example, a complex system of pipes, inspired by the anatomy of a killer whale, allows it to heat and cool water more efficiently; leftover fruit and veggies from the cafe are turned into food for the resident bats. In addition, it has several permanent exhibitions that educate the public about the problems of marine plastic.

7. Pilgrimme

Restaurant, Eco-friendly

The exterior of the cozy Pilgrimme restaurant nestled in the forest on Galiano Island
© Jarusha Brown / Courtesy of Pilgrimme

In a ferny forest on tiny Galiano Island, this standout fine-dining restaurant in a log cabin is well worth the ferry ride. Jesse McCleery – who previously worked at Noma in Copenhagen – has created a menu that reads like a love letter to the island ingredients. The restaurant has fostered strong connections with local fishers, farmers and foragers, allowing it to serve hyper-seasonal tasting menus with minimal food miles.

8. Stanley Park

Park

People bike and walk along the Seawall in Stanley Park
© Jo Vannig / Depositphotos.com
A green oasis covering more than 988 acres (400ha), Stanley Park is on a bulbous spit, only attached to the rest of the city by a narrow isthmus. The result is it feels like a real escape and is a fabulous place for picnics or strolls. However, to really appreciate it, book a Talking Trees tour. A First Nations ambassador will bring the landscape to life by explaining how the Coast Salish people used local plants for food and medicine.

Not found your ideal place to stay in the Couve yet? See where to stay in Vancouver and book with Culture Trip.

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