Although it's officially on a peninsula, the abundant water surrounding downtown Vancouver can make it feel like an island. It is, today, the center of commerce and business for British Columbia but, even historically, the downtown area has always been a significant meeting point for trade and culture.
In modern history, the area wasn't permanently settled by outsiders until 1862 when the city was chosen to be the terminus for the transcontinental railroad. As Vancouver grew, a number of neighborhoods began to develop within the city. Gastown is one of the oldest parts of the city and remains a tourist attraction. It's here where the world's first steam-powered clock still stands in working condition. Other significant neighborhoods worth visiting within the downtown core include Robson Street, Coal Harbour and Yaletown. There is also a prominent Chinatown in downtown Vancouver – the largest in Canada.
Visitors can take in the sea views from Canada Place, enjoy a tandem bicycle ride at Stanley Park or check out the beautiful works of the Vancouver Art Gallery. Foodies, too, will enjoy the cuisine opportunities in downtown Vancouver, with its abundance of Asian foods such as Vietnamese, Korean and Japanese, as well as great places to test the local seafood.
If you're coming from the Vancouver Airport, the city's downtown core is accessible directly via the SkyTrain. Once you arrive, downtown Vancouver is fairly easy to navigate on foot.