National Geographic Self-Guided Tour – Free

National Geographic Self-Guided Tour – Free

If you’d rather go at your own pace, ditch the tour guide and explore the city yourself with the help of National Geographic’s self-guided walking tour. Starting at Canada Place and ending at the Vancouver Art Gallery, the tour will take you through the highlights of the city, drawing attention to architectural features as well as providing historical background.

You can find other self-guided tours online by the Vancouver Heritage Foundation, Tourism Vancouver, and the City of Vancouver.

Vancouver offers numerous walking tours to discover the city's history, architecture, food + more
Credit: Kathleen Almeida

Vancouver offers numerous walking tours to discover the city's history, architecture, food + more

As summer approaches, you can appreciate Vancouver in the best way possible – by foot. Whether you're an architecture buff, a local historian or want to hear a few of the city’s more sordid stories, Vancouver offers up walking tours to help both newcomers and lifers discover plenty of the city's secrets.

Tour Guys – Free, but tip your tour guide

Tour Guys – Free, but tip your tour guide

If you’re looking for a laid-back tour led by knowledgeable locals, The Tour Guys is the way to go. The company, which originally found success in Toronto, has an interesting business model: they offer tours for free and their guides work for tips. There are four tour options that cover different parts of the city, as well as a beer and food cart tasting tour.

Forbidden Vancouver – $22 for adults or $19 for seniors and students for regularly programmed tours

Forbidden Vancouver – $22 for adults or $19 for seniors and students for regularly programmed tours

Vancouver's sparkling glass façade may look pretty, but Forbidden Vancouver exposes the grittier side of the city. The company offers two tours: The Lost Souls of Gastown, a “gothic theatre adventure” that explores the darker parts of Gastown’s history and Prohibition City, which, as the name implies, focuses on Vancouver’s prohibition era that ran from 1917 to 1921.

Architectural Institute of BC – $10

Architectural Institute of BC – $10

It’s easy to take the city for granted when you’re walking the same streets every day, but The Architectural Institute of BC is hoping to give you a new perspective. The AIBC was established to help standardize the profession of architecture in B.C., but they also aim to educate the public. This translates into offering guided tours that focus on the city’s architectural features in Gastown, Chinatown, Strathcona, Yaletown/Crosstown, the West End and downtown. Their tour brochure for 2014 will be released in June, with dates for both Vancouver and Victoria.

Convention Centre – Free

Convention Centre – Free

The Vancouver Convention Centre is an important part of the Vancouver skyline, but there’s much more to the building than meets the eye. The centre prides itself on its commitment to the environment. To get a behind-the-scenes look at all the building’s most "unconventional" features, like its six-acre living roof, sign up online. Just keep in mind that you may have to plan your tour around certain events or building maintenance.

Stanley Park History – $10

Stanley Park History – $10

Stanley Park is arguably the most iconic space in the city and the Stanley Park History Group delves into its fascinating history. Led by local historian and Stanley Park expert Jolene Cummings, the tours currently offered are Shakespeare’s Garden and E. Pauline Johnson’s Historical Walk. The Shakespeare’s Garden tour will celebrate the 450th birthday of The Bard by taking visitors through the historical and ecological features of the garden named in his honour. The E. Pauline Johnson Historical Walk covers places of significance to one of Vancouver’s most celebrated local poets.