Are you wondering what the top 10 places to photograph in Vancouver are? Vancouver is arguably Canada’s most photogenic city. From stunning snow-capped peaks to beaches lining the Pacific Ocean, it’s not difficult to take a beautiful photograph here. Pacific Northwest beauty meets the urban jungle in this city, providing endless options for practicing your photography skills or gaining instagram glory.
Whether you’re a resident of this stunner of a city or passing through on a visit, here you’ll find a comprehensive list of the best places to photograph in Vancouver.
Brilliant by day or night, this historic area has textures and buildings to satisfy photographers across the visual interest board. Gastown is Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood, combining the old and new for a fascinating juxtaposition in an urban community. Storefronts can be found inside of “modern heritage buildings”. There are endless options if you want to stop in at a cafe, restaurant or shop, most of which are very trendy and offer their own fun interior backdrops for a good photo.
Gastown’s cobblestone roads and old world architecture stand against the mountains of North Vancouver, offering a one of a kind cityscape for your camera. But Gastown’s pièce de résistance is the Steam Clock, an iconic structure that is powered by steam and whistles to tell the time.
If the crowds at the Steam Clock are daunting or you want something more off the wall, you can saunter down a few blocks to Water Street which looks like a 19th century British town, lined with antique lamp posts, begging for you take a very “in vogue” photo. Around here is Vancouver’s Flatiron Building, many famous cities have one and they’re always photo ready.
2. Granville Island
Granville Island hasn’t been a true “island” since 1950 when the back channel was filled to create more industrial space in the city. Today, it’s landlocked but the infamous name remains, as do traces of the industrial roots of the area. There are multiple options for impressive photography here.
The Granville Island Public Market is the most iconic feature of the island and is synonymous with Vancouver tourism. The indoor market features row after row of vibrant produce stacks, fresh fish from the ocean, and boutique gift and flower shops. For those who love macro photography, the bold fruit stands at Granville Island Public Market will be your place of worship.
Stepping outside of the market, you can get a taste of industrial ages past. A short walk away and you’ll find vintage cranes and period railroad tracks alongside modern art installations, creating a unique 21st century landscape for your photographs.
By night, Granville Island has stunning views and reflections of the city and the impressive boats in the marina. It’s no wonder it’s one of the top 10 places to photograh in Vancouver.
If you choose to walk along the seaside as you leave Granville Island Market, you can quickly find yourself underneath the Burrard Bridge. You likely won’t find this location on most top ten lists but this is one of our favourite places to capture the city. See for yourself! From here, you can capture wide views of the exterior of Granville Island. If it’s not a particularly sunny day, this is a great location to get some interesting snaps of the dramatic low clouds that Vancouve is famous for.
3. Portside Park (used to be Crab Park)
At the north end of Main Street, and just after Gastown turns into Railtown, we have a bridge to the port. This area boasts distinctive views of the city from an eastern viewpoint. Generally, tourists don’t flock as heavily to the east side so this a great option for those looking for photos of locations that aren’t as readily seen in an instagram feed. Portside Park turns its eye towards Vancouver’s nautical industry. This is the place where you’ll find fishing boats with fresh catches, container ships being loaded and unloaded, and a variety of other marine activities. This well kept secret is one of best places to photograph in Vancouver.
4. Canada Place/Convention Centre
In most other world class cities, a convention centre would not be a location that photographers flock towards but Vancouver’s Convention Centre, positioned as part of the iconic landmark, Canada Place, is in a class all of its own.
Located on Vancouver’s waterfront, Canada Place also contains a cruise ship terminal and a seaplane harbour, as well as floating gas station making for quaint and wanderlust style photography. The Canada Place exterior is covered by fabric roofs resembling sails, a symbol of Vancouver’s oceanic roots which confirms it’s spot as one of the top 10 places to photograph in Vancouver.
Next door is the architecturally unique Convention Centre West, an angular building that offers all sorts of composition options. Outside of here, you’ll find the 2010 Olympic Cauldron, an extremely popular place to take a photo.
Between all of these offerings, Canada Place has it all: views of the North Shore, and enough lines and angles to inspire any architectural photographer. The seawall offers views of Stanley Park and the North shore mountains. You can also find the Digital Orca sculpture on these grounds, an installation which has provided countless silly portrait opportunities for visitors.
5. Stanley Park
We could write a stand alone article just on the best spots to take photographs in Stanley Park, Canada’s first, largest, and most iconic urban park. It’s size rivals that of the Vancouver downtown core and offers a much needed path into nature in the bustling city. Whether you have a quick moment to drive around the perimeter, or if you get a half day to wander the trails in the interior, you’ll soon realize why they don’t call it the jewel of Vancouver for nothing. Stanley Park goers are rewarded with postcard-worthy views of the city, mountains, and open harbours. Here you also have the ability to experience stunning First Nations totem poles, a wonder which you should absolutely undergo.
One of our preferred ways to enter Stanley Park is from Canada Place, walking along the seawall through Coal Harbour which is saturated with marinas, reflective harbour waters, and glass buildings behind you. As you enter the overpowering nature of Stanley Park, you walk out of a rare downtown setting because everything glistens in Coal Harbour.
Here is our sublist of some of the best places to photograph Vancouver from Stanley Park to help guide you through the landscape.
The Brockton Point Lighthouse – Located on the eastern side of Stanley park, this century old lighthouse was built for practical purposes, in an effort to prevent shipwrecks in the harbour. The red and white lighthouse is a scenic spot for photo ops and can be photographed from a variety of angles, including with the North Shore mountains looming in the background.
Lion’s Gate Bridge – The connector between Vancouver and North Vancouver is actually located in Stanley Park and it should absolutely be walked or cycled across if you’re feeling like getting some exercise in. You can take impressive photographs of the bridge itself from the bottom or you can make your way across, snapping wide views of the Vancouver skyline behind you, ocean around you, and mountains ahead of you.
Third Beach – Whether you decide to walk around Stanley Park via the seawall route or would like to cut across the inside of the park to see the massive trees, one of your destinations should absolutely be Third Beach. This is one of the best spots in Vancouver to capture a summer sunset or get a glimpse of the seasonal beach culture in the city. During the warm weather months, there are even drum circles on some evenings, providing you the opportunity for some eclectic photography.
A few short minutes from Third beach is Siwash Rock, a very famous pineapple looking rock situated just off shore. The rock resembles a pineapple because of the small Douglas fir on top. It’s beautiful, it’s cute, it’s a great background for a photo but can also serve as a very interesting subject.
6. Olympic Village
At the end of False Creek, near Science world, is Olympic Village. With a variety of architecture, bold colours, textures, and natural backdrops, this is a photographer’s heaven, so it’s no wonder that it’s one of the top 10 places to photograph in Vancouver. There is a small stretch of railroad tracks, a big copper pipe, a lagoon, the colourful aquabus station, kayak and dragon boating kiosk, Science World, and more spectacular views of the city (see a pattern here?).
This area of the seawall is littered with oversized chairs and benches, an opportune spot to sit down and eat lunch, people watch, and get some sun in the summer months. This is a great place to take photos with friends.
7. Queen Elizabeth Park/The Bloedel Conservatory
Wandering away from the city core and South into Vancouver, you’ll find Queen Elizabeth Park, a 130 acre park located on the city’s highest point. From the top of the park, you get a distant panoramic view of Vancouver against the mountains.
Beyond the park’s highest peak are a variety of flower gardens and a gorgeous walk for any weather. Queen Elizabeth Park is green and lush year round. But if you want to avoid the rain, you can visit the Bloedel Conservatory, a domed environment where you can hang out with tropical plants year round. The lush conservatory is home to beautiful tropical birds and a wide array of unique plants. You could spend hours in here photographing the quirky lives of the plant inhabitants of the space.
8. Sunset Beach Park
The name speaks for itself. This is the spot to watch the sunset. Lined with logs for the sun spectators, this is the place to reflect on the day and take a few photos of some of the most vibrant sunsets you’ll probably ever see in your life.
Sunset Beach Park is also home to an interesting art piece called Engagement, a 30 foot sculpture of two wedding rings. These were created by world famous artist Dennis Oppenheim, as part of the Vancouver Biennale. For those who love the cheese, this is a great spot for couple photos.
If you want to continue beach hopping, you can move past sunset beach to English Bay, the most famous beach in Vancouver, lined with palm trees, sandy beaches, and a very blue ocean. It looks more tropical than Canadian
9. Cypress Lookout
Technically located in West Vancouver, this place gives you an unparalleled top down view of the Vancouver skyline. It is a particularly magical spot to watch the sunrise as warm golden hues bathe the city in morning light. If it’s a cloudy or crisp day, a morning photo expedition might reward you with low fog which often covers the lowest portions of the city, allowing the skyscrapers to pop through, making it look like a supernatural place.
And yes, it is also an ideal place to take a sunset photo as well. While this might be the most difficult location to access, especially without a car, we could not leave such a breathtaking location out of the list of best places to photograph in Vancouver.
10. Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
This is a little slice of China in the city. It’s a spot rich in history as it’s the first Chinese garden built outside of China. It’s also National Geographic’s “Top City Garden in the World”.
This an extremely celestial outdoor space, providing quiet respite from the bustling city and offering dozens of opportunities to photograph 150-year old miniature trees, a jade green pond, and famous koi fish. This is a remarkable cultural heritage space, transporting your camera to a different era.
Vancouver Photo Walks
There are literally hundreds of other incredible places to capture in Vancouver and the above list reflects some of the most iconic and accessible locations, places that you should not miss seeing.
Vancouver Photo Walks offers guided tours of a number of the locations listed above including Granville Island, Gastown, Stanley Park, and Canada Place. We also offer private tours for those who want to explore beyond. With so many options for how to spend an afternoon with your camera, we hope our top 10 places to photograph in Vancouver list has given you some ideas for creative settings for your next photo adventure.