This post provides information about a variety of free walking tours you can take in Vancouver, including services that cover the history of Gastown, the architecture of the city, and locations such as the Waterfront.
Vancouver is an interesting city filled with history and culture, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that there are a lot of free walking tours you can take in the area.
Most of these tours focus on the historic Gastown neighbourhood, but there are some that cover additional subjects such as the architecture of Vancouver.
There are also free tours of popular filming locations in the city, so fans of popular movies and television shows may want to consider these options.
Alternatively, you could also take a free bike tour which will provide a look at one of the most beautiful parks in the city.
Almost all of these free walking tours are offered on a tip-based basis, which means you can pay however much you think the tour was worth once it is completed.
Most people feel comfortable tipping anywhere from $10-$20, which is a more than fair price, considering that many paid tours in the city will cost much more than that.
These pay-what-you-wish walking tours are a very affordable way to see the city, but if you’d rather take a bus, boat, or even a seaplane, there are several paid Vancouver tours you may want to consider instead.
There are a few different pay-what-you-wish walking tours that cover the most historic area of Vancouver, otherwise known as Gastown.
In addition to learning about how this settlement grew from its roots as a timber town in the 1860s into a hub of culture and artistic vision.
While on these free walking tours, you can expect to see sites like these:
- Sinclair Centre
- Granville Plaza
- The Steam Clock
- Maple Tree Square
- Waterfront Station
- Gaoler’s Mews
- And more!
If you’re interested in learning more about these locations, consider one of the following services listed below.
Unlike their competitors, this company offers a 2-hour historic tour of Vancouver which is available rain or shine.
With an overall rating of 5 out of 5 stars, Tour Guys are arguably one of the best tour services in the city, and guests indicate that they will answer any questions you may have about Gastown.
This company offers both a free walking tour and a free bike tour of the most historic sites in the city, and they have an overall rating of almost 5 out of 5 stars.
Offered rain or shine, this 1 ½ hour tour is available daily in English at 13:30 (1:30 pm) and also daily in Spanish at 15:00 (3 pm).
This highly-rated tour covers a lot of topics related to the history of Vancouver.
In addition to learning about the city, you’ll also get recommendations for the best places to eat, grab a drink, go for a hike and more.
At 3 hours in length, this is the longest free walking tour on our list.
The offer tours DAILY at 10am year round. In summer (July-August), you can also find tours at 2pm and 6pm.
Additional Historic Gastown Tours
If you’re looking for a tour that either covers more ground or offers a different type of experience in Vancouver, there are several paid tours that provide information about the history of the city.
While some of these services are walking tours, others take place on a boat, seaplane or even hop-on, hop-off bus. Ticket prices range from $20-$100 or more.
There is a lot of interesting architecture in Vancouver stretching from the oldest buildings in the city to an art-deco inspired skyscraper.
In addition to covering these locations, you can also expect architectural tours to provide details about a variety of public artwork and even some places you may want to visit if you’re interested in seeing more art.
Here are just a few of the sites you’ll see while on an architecture tour:
- Christ Church Cathedral
- Vancouver Art Gallery
- Olympic Cauldron
- Marine Building
- Canada Place
- The Seawall
- And more!
You can find out more about these structures by taking one of the pay-what-you-wish walking tours listed below.
Much like their historical tour, this outing is also approximately 2 hours in length and it is very highly rated.
Once again, you can expect this free walking tour to be available rain or shine.
This architectural tour provides information about Vancouver that even some locals may not know about, and reviewers have given this service 5 out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor.
Self-Guided Architecture Tours
If you’re looking for another free opportunity to explore the most significant examples of architecture in Vancouver, there are a few self-guided tours you may want to consider.
The first opportunity is provided by the city of Vancouver.
Their self-guided architectural tour includes a map and several notable stops with details about each notable building you’ll see along the way.
In addition to that option, there is also a self-guided walking tour offered by the Architectural Institute of British Columbia.
This service also includes a map and covers multiple neighborhoods in Vancouver.
Vancouver has earned the nicknames “Hollywood North” and “Maplewood” thanks to all of the film studios who have set up shop in the city and often shoot some of the biggest, most popular movies and television shows in the area.
Although there aren’t a lot of walking tours covering this subject, there are at least a few options you should consider if you want to see some of the most notable filming locations in the city.
Here are just some of the movies and television shows you can expect to learn about on these tours:
- The Flash
- The X-Files
- Bates Motel
- 50 Shades of Grey
- And more!
If you’re interested in seeing where scenes from these popular films and TV shows were shot, consider one of the tours listed below.
Self-Guided Hollywood North Tours
Although there aren’t currently any free guided walking tours in Vancouver which cover this subject, you may want to think about using one of these self-guided film location tours instead.
The first option comes from Canadian Sky, and this one is written more like an article with a variety of information about filming locations you may want to visit.
You might need to plot these sites out on a map before heading out because they don’t offer any maps or GPS guidance.
Inside Vancouver has a similar self-guided tour which actually offers some directions to help you find your way around the city until you find each filming site.
Fans of Vancouver
This is one of the only companies in the city that offers a Hollywood North walking tour, but their service isn’t free.
That said, they are well-reviewed with a 5 out of 5-star rating on TripAdvisor.
Their filming location tour lasts for about 1-2 hours on average, and it is frequently updated to account for new film productions taking place in Vancouver.
If you’re looking for more than just a walking tour, there is at least one free bike tour you can take in Vancouver.
The only thing you’ll have to account for is the bicycle, and you can either bring your own or rent one for the tour.
While the only free bike tour in this city focuses on Stanley Park, there are some other paid bike tours which branch out to additional locations like Chinatown, Granville Island, and more.
In addition to learning about some of the most interesting attractions in Vancouver, you’ll also receive tips on the best views in the city.
In addition to their Historic Gastown tour, this company also has a bike tour that will take you through Stanley Park to see some of the most popular landmarks in the area.
While riding through the park, your tour guide will take you down some of the best trails to reach locations with beautiful scenic overlooks.
This 3-hour tour is pay-what-you-wish, but you’ll need to provide the bike yourself. There is a bike shop where you can rent a bicycle for $20 at the meeting point for this outing.
Expect to cover 10 Km on this outing, much of it offroad. While some guests won’t find this challenging, it could be difficult for some riders.
You can take this tour every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 10:30 am in English. Alternatively, it is also available daily in Spanish at 14:00 (2 pm).
Additional Vancouver Bike Tours
If you’re interested in exploring and learning about more than just Stanley Park, consider taking a paid bike tour instead.
These services cover several other locations and subjects in Vancouver. Ticket prices range from $45-$80 and tours last for 2-4 hours on average.
Check this list of Vancouver bike tours to find one that fits your itinerary.