On a sunny day in Vancouver there are very few things that are better than biking Stanley Park seawall. The seawall runs around the perimeter of Stanley Park and is 10 kilometres long. The views of the surrounding mountains on the north shore of Vancouver are spectacular, plus there are some beautiful beaches tucked away on the far side of the park.
A Stanley Park cycle tour is probably the number one thing to do in Vancouver when the weather is good, although hiking some of the local mountains is a close second. Take it from a couple of local residents! When the sun is shining, jump on a bike and spend a couple of hours riding along the famous Stanley Park seawall.
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Stanley Park Bike Rental
If you don’t have a bike of your own or are just visiting Vancouver, there are plenty of places where you can rent a bicycle. Most of which are on the corner of Denman and Alberni Street right by the entrance to the park.
You can rent a wide variety of bikes, from cruisers, mountain bikes, tandem bikes and even electric bikes. There is a bike to suit everybody and a bike for every budget. For most people, a standard cruiser is the ideal bike to explore the Stanley Park bike trails. These typically cost $8.50 CAD for the first hour and then $1 dollar less than this for each hour after that i.e. $7.50 for the second hour, $6.50 for the third hour etc.
Bike rentals typically include a helmet, bike lock and a map of the park. Most bike rental staff have loads of knowledge on the park itself and are happy to suggest all of the best things to see while biking Stanley Park. They also check the bikes and set them up for your height before letting you ride away.
Best Time to Visit Stanley Park
The best time to go is during the summer months when the sun is shining and it is warm outside. The problem with the good weather is that it brings out the crowds. On a nice afternoon during the summer this bike route is packed with tourists, so don’t expect to get around the park too fast. To avoid the crowds in summer head early in the morning or later in the evening.
We actually went on a sunny day in March when the weather was just 5 degrees. The bike trail was fairly quiet and the views were spectacular, so we would certainly recommend going even when it’s cold outside. One thing to remember if you go when it’s cold, is to bring gloves as your hands will quickly freeze gripping the handlebars.
How Long does it Take to Ride a Bike Around Stanley Park?
It generally takes around 1 – 2 hours to complete the Stanley Park bike route. This gives you enough time to stop multiple times, take in the views and even enjoy a picnic on one of the beaches.
As we had already walked around the majority of the park before we bike it for the first time, we managed to do it in just under an hour but we didn’t stop at all of the major sights. We would recommend allowing closer to two hours for those seeing the seawall for the first time.
Stanley Park Bike Tour
As adventurers we love getting out and exploring ourselves, but we understand that this option isn’t for everyone. There is a 3 hour guided tour which you can join that explores all along the seawall, as well as taking you through the middle of the park as well. This is a great chance to learn lots about the park, the wildlife and the surrounding area.
To book your Stanley Park bike tour click here.
Stanley Park Bike Route
If you rent from one of the shops on Denman Street, it’s easy to reach the bike path that circulates Stanley Park. Cycle down the bike lane on Alberni Street and this will lead you right onto the bike path for the park.
The bike path around the park operates on a one-way system as the path is quite narrow in many parts. You can only cycle counter clockwise around the park, and if you try and cycle the other way it won’t take long for someone to start shouting at you.
The path is split into two, with the outside path designed for walkers and runners and the inside path being used for bikes. If you want to stop at any point (which you definitely will) you need to pull off the bike lane and park your bike up somewhere safe or at one of the many bike racks located around the park.
Local cycling etiquette is to stay on the right hand side of the lane as you ride and leave the left hand side of the bike lane for overtaking. When it isn’t too busy, you can cycle side by side with a friend and people behind you will ring their bells to let you know they are coming through.
Totem Poles at Brockton Point
The first stop on your trip will be at the totem poles at Brockton Point. These 9 totem poles are apparently the most visited tourist attraction in British Columbia. The totem poles are beautiful First Nations’ works of art, and a great spot to appreciate the history and culture of the Coast Salish people.
The first four totem poles were originally brought to the park in the 1920s, but all of the originals have been preserved and moved to museums due to natural deterioration.
The Nine O’Clock Gun
The Nine O’Clock Gun is a canon that is shot every night at 9pm pacific time, and has done so almost every night since the early 1900’s. The canon was originally cast in England in 1816 and now sits proudly on the seawall over 200 years later.
If you wish to be around when the gun fires at 9pm we suggest keeping your distance, otherwise your ears will be ringing for days. The gun is a cool piece of history and the view looking out across downtown Vancouver from the gun is awesome.
Brockton Point Lighthouse
A short ride from the 9 O’Olock Gun is the Brockton Point Lighthouse. The best way to see the lighthouse is to lock up your bike and walk along the path as there are no bikes allowed on this section. The small red and white lighthouse is picture perfect situated right out on the point.
The next stop while biking Stanley Park is Beaver lake. This is one of the few stops which take you into the interior of the park. The whole path to get here is for walking only, so again you will need to lock up your bike.
Beaver Lake is actually home to some resident beavers, although your chance of catching a glimpse of them is slim as they are nocturnal animals. You will however get to see their dams and the walk into and around the lake is quite pretty.
Lions Gate Bridge
As you cycle from Brockton Point around the seawall, the Lions Gate Bridge dominates the skyline with the North Shore mountains providing an epic backdrop. The suspension bridge was opened in 1938 and crosses the Burrard Inlet to connect the city of Vancouver with the North Shore.
The dark green bridge is spectacular and looks just as good when it is lit up at night. The bridge itself is 200 feet above the water and it is worth stopping directly underneath the bridge to take in the scenery. When we did it in the middle of March there was still plenty of snow on the mountain peaks in the background, making it a breathtaking sight.
Siwash Rock is one of the most iconic spots while biking Stanley Park seawall. This tall and narrow rocky outcrop sits just a few metres from shore and has a small tree growing from the top. It was one of the first photos I saw of Vancouver before moving here and it was the part of the seawall I was looking forward to seeing the most.
While there are numerous beaches around Stanley Park, we think that Third Beach is the best of the bunch. The beach sits on the west side of the park and looks straight out across the Burrard Inlet.
The beach itself is a long stretch of golden sand, which is well protected on 3 sides making it the perfect spot for a beach day. It’s also a great spot to stop for a lunch or drinks break during your trip biking Stanley Park.
Second Beach and Second Beach swimming pool are two of the most popular places in the park because they are so easily accessible. This is generally one of the busiest areas and because of the pool, it is often packed with families and their kids. It’s another cool place to stop but don’t expect any peace and quiet here.
Finish off your trip by going to one of the nicest beaches in Vancouver. While English Bay in the West End of Vancouver is officially outside of Stanley Park, it is so close it is an honorary stop on this tour. No matter what time of year you visit there are always plenty of people walking around English Bay.
It is also home to the Annual Polar Bear Swim on New Year’s Day, where thousands of people celebrate the new year by swimming in the icy cold water here. In the summer it is always extremely busy but that doesn’t stop it from being an awesome place to chill out.
After English Bay it’s time to make the short trip back to the bike rental shops on Denman Street.
Where to Stay in Vancouver
Budget: The Cambie Hostel Gastown – It’s not easy to stay on a budget in Vancouver, but the Cambie Hostel in Gastown is probably your best bet. The location is fantastic as you are right in the heart of Gastown, which is the coolest part of the city with loads of great bars and restaurants.
Mid-range: Blue Horizon Hotel – Stay in one of the corner guest rooms here and you will get a balcony with incredible views of the city. Located in the heart of downtown you will have easy access to public transport, shops and restaurants. There is also an indoor pool and a sauna here to relax in at the end of a full day exploring the city.
Luxury: Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver – Stay in total luxury in the Shangri-La Hotel. They have a full service spa, outdoor pool and fitness centre on site so you can make the most of your getaway. The hotel is also just 3 blocks back from the waterfront in downtown.
Biking Stanley Park seawall is an absolute must for anyone visiting the West Coast of Canada. The 10 kilometre cycle around the seawall is an awesome way to spend an afternoon and the views are absolutely stunning. There are not many places in the world where you get to take in the mountains, ocean and rainforest all at the same time.
There is also loads of stops along the way to break up the Stanley Park bike route so you don’t have to just cycle for an hour straight around the park. Take your time, stop at the cool places and enjoy the epic scenery.
Looking for more adventures around Vancouver? Check out more of our travel guides here: