The most breathtaking bike routes Vancouver has to offer

Five can't-miss cycling adventures that'll get you sweating while you sightsee.

Five can't-miss cycling adventures that'll get you sweating while you sightsee.

(Credit: iStock/Getty Images)

Outdoor adventures in Vancouver are the stuff of legend. The West Coast outpost is famous for its spectacular ocean, magnificent mountain vistas and plentiful hiking, rock climbing and kayaking opportunities. But did you know that Van City is also a bike-friendly metropolis with countless awe-inspiring routes on offer?

As a newbie "bike head," I spent this summer rediscovering my hometown on two wheels. Embarking on numerous weekend adventures with my cyclist boyfriend, I was constantly surprised and delighted by how my city looks from a bike. And visitors will be, too.

To start you off on your next cycling adventure, here are the top five routes for sightseeing in Vancouver's Lower Mainland, complete with coffee breaks and snack stops. Plus, the most spectacular photo opps. Ever.

Steveston Village

This charming fishing village in Richmond, a suburb of Vancouver, sits adjacent to a gorgeous trail with views of the coastal mountains and grasslands unlike anything seen elsewhere in the city. To access it by bike, we started at King Edward Station, a Canada Line stop, and took the Yukon Street bike path south, where we crossed over the Fraser River on the Canada Line Pedestrian Bike Bridge. Once in Richmond, we biked the scenic River Road waterfront, and jumped on the stunning West Dyke Recreational Trail. A leisurely lunch was passed on Steveston's wharf, where we enjoyed out-of-this-world fish and chips at the Sockeye City Grill. Strong Americanos at the Steveston Coffee Company gave us the fuel we needed to make the return trip, which we did at dusk. If you run out of steam though, you can easily take the Canada Line train home. 

Distance: Approximately 40 kilometres (20k if you take transit back)

Stanley Park

This action-packed waterfront ride is ideal for seeing a lot of the city in a short amount of time, making it a must for visitors who might only have a few days to explore. We started at Olympic Village and followed the Seaside Bicycle Route to Science World, along the seawall, past English Bay and around Stanley Park. The views were stunning, and on this warm summer day, it felt like the entire city was out soaking up the sunshine. We wrapped the ride with a trip across the art deco Burrard Bridge, on its new protected bike lane. In Kitsilano, we returned friends' rentals at Reckless Bikes on Fir Street, and walked to Granville Island for a twilight feast The Sandbar Seafood Restaurant.     

Distance: Approximately 19 kilometres

West Vancouver

The Lion's Gate Bridge is widely considered the most beautiful bridge north of the San Francisco's Golden Gate — and for good reason. There's really nothing like the euphoria of biking across this breathtaking landmark. We started in Kitsilano, biked over the Burrard Bridge, past English Bay, through Stanley Park's forests on Pipeline Road, and over the Lion's Gate, stopping, of course, for selfies, with the magnificent Burrard Inlet as a backdrop. We wound up in Ambleside Park in West Vancouver, where we parked our bikes and walked to the Savary Island Pie Company, to enjoy towering veggie sandwiches and strong coffee. Savary also had freshly-baked peach pie on offer, so we took a slice for the road and enjoyed it on the other side of the bridge at Beaver Lake, gazing out at all the dragonflies hopping from one lotus leaf to the next. We caught the sunset that night too, at the oh-so-Instagrammable Second Beach in Stanley Park.

Distance: Approximately 22 kilometres

University of British Columbia

This ride hits all the high notes: beach, forest and ocean. We started at Kits Beach and followed bike routes to Jericho, continuing on to Locarno and Spanish Banks beaches. From there, a quick ride up the world's steepest hill on NW Marine Drive (with, thankfully, awesome views), and we found ourselves on the leafy campus of UBC. We followed bike lanes past the Museum of Anthropology and Wreck Beach, until the road turned into SW Marine Drive. We kept peddling, past the University Endowment Lands Ecological Reserve, and wound up on the newly-built Arbutus Greenway, a paved path with gorgeous gardens and cityscapes, and ample berry-picking opportunities. We capped off the day with dinner In Kerrisdale, at Shota Sushi and Grill, a local neighbourhood haunt.

Distance: Approximately 20 kilometres

Deep Cove

This is the most ambitious ride of the bunch, and easily the most exciting. We started at Science World and took the Union/Adanac Corridor to the Cassiar Bikeway. The route weaves its way through the funky east side of the city, past markets in Chinatown, heritage homes in Strathcona and craft breweries and community gardens in East Van. We crossed into North Vancouver on the Second Narrows Bridge — as a rainstorm beat down on us — and rode up Dollarton Highway, with its stunning water views, into the charming village of Deep Cove. There, we lunched on pizza and juicy burgers at Pomegranate Grillhouse and Café, had coffee at Covert Neighbourhood Café, and headed to the waterfront for a stroll. The sun had broken through, so we rented a canoe from Deep Cove Kayak and hit the water, paddling toward Indian Arm. (A word to the wise: be sure to take staff recommendations for paddle routes. We disregarded their advice, and wound up in a marathon paddle against the wind on the way back!) After bussing through North Vancouver, the adventure wound down with a peddle back across the Second Narrows and through East Van, the cool dusk ride acting as an ideal end to the day. 

Distance:  Approximately 34 kilometres (17k – 25k if you take transit part or whole way back)