Vancouver is without a doubt a big city. Downtown is always buzzing with life – everyone seems to be having a great time.
But when I want a slower pace and still have a good time, I head just a few steps outside the city to Burnaby. It’s not as big as Vancouver, but it sure offers a lot of cool things to see and do.
Wondering what makes Burnaby special or how it differs from Vancouver? Read more in our travel guide below!
- Does Burnaby belong to Vancouver?
- What is Burnaby, BC known for?
- A Brief History of Burnaby, BC
- Is the cost of living in Burnaby cheaper than in Vancouver?
- Best Time to Go to Burnaby, BC
- How to Get around Burnaby, BC
- What to Do in Burnaby, BC
- Where to Stay In Burnaby, BC
- Where to Eat in Burnaby, BC
- Tips for Visiting Burnaby, BC
Does Burnaby belong to Vancouver?
While Burnaby is considered a suburb of Vancouver, it does not belong to the City of Vancouver. Burnaby is its own city within the Metro Vancouver Regional District, along with Surrey, West Vancouver, North Vancouver, Vancouver, and others.
Metro Vancouver Regional District, more commonly known as Metro Vancouver, is made up of 21 municipalities, one electoral area, and one treaty First Nation. One of BC’s 28 regional districts, it represents the metropolitan area of Greater Vancouver.
Within Metro Vancouver, Burnaby often gets mixed up with Vancouver because of their shared border and history.
Burnaby sits directly to the east of Vancouver, so they’re literally close. In the past, Burnaby has even been considered a bedroom community of Vancouver as Burnaby’s residents work in Vancouver.
Today, Burnaby’s residents can also visit Vancouver without a fuss through the SkyTrain Expo Line and several bus routes linking the two cities. The same goes for those in Vancouver – commuting eastward to their neighboring city is a breeze!
What is Burnaby, BC known for?
Burnaby, BC is most known for its cultural and recreational opportunities, great shopping and dining scene, and beautiful surroundings.
Burnaby, BC is known for being a lively and exciting place with lots to do. You can explore its interesting history at places like the Burnaby Village Museum and enjoy live performances at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts.
Shopping enthusiasts will love Metropolis at Metrotown, one of the biggest malls in Canada, with tons of shops and restaurants. Foodies will also enjoy the diverse food scene reflecting the city’s multicultural vibe.
Beyond these attractions, Burnaby stands out for its commitment to sustainability, evident in its green spaces and conservation areas. The city strikes a unique balance between urban amenities and natural beauty.
If you love nature, Burnaby has stunning views from places like Burnaby Mountain, and you can relax in green spaces like Burnaby Central Park.
A Brief History of Burnaby, BC
The Coast Salish people, particularly the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Tsleil-Waututh, and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations, have long standing connections to the land that is now Burnaby.
European settlers arrived in the mid-19th century, leading to Burnaby becoming a municipality in 1892. It was named after Robert Burnaby, a private secretary to Colonel Richard Moody, the land commissioner for the Colony of British Columbia.
Industries like logging and farming took root here. In the early 1900s, growth soared with the introduction of an interurban tram linking Burnaby to Vancouver, and sparked suburban development.
Then, Simon Fraser University, established in 1965, became a focal point for education and culture in Burnaby. The city continued to evolve, balancing industrial development with a commitment to green spaces.
Cultural diversity has also thrived, making Burnaby a key player in Greater Vancouver’s economic and cultural scene.
Is the cost of living in Burnaby cheaper than in Vancouver?
Burnaby offers a cost of living that is generally more affordable than its bustling neighbor, Vancouver.
Located about 13 kilometers from downtown Vancouver, Burnaby enjoys BC’s scenic coastal landscape. This have driven up living expenses – in 2023, it’s 31% more expensive to live in Burnaby than Canada in general.
When it comes to renting, you can expect to pay between CAD 1900 and CAD 4700 per month in Burnaby, which is higher than the national average. However, compared to Vancouver, Burnaby’s rental prices are 20.1% lower.
Consumer prices, including everyday items, are 14.5% lower in Burnaby, and grocery prices are 14% lower compared to the national average.
In fact, according to Numbeo’s comparison between the two cities, maintaining a standard of living that costs CAD 7600 in Burnaby would require around CAD 8867 in Vancouver.
Best Time to Go to Burnaby, BC
If you enjoy outdoor activities and festivals, summer (June to August) is ideal, with pleasant weather for hiking, biking, and exploring parks. In July, the highest average temperature is 20°C.
Fall (September to November) brings colorful foliage, perfect for those who appreciate autumn landscapes.
Winter (December to February) is also great if you want to avoid huge crowds and spend a more peaceful time in Burnaby. The lowest average temperature in December is 3°C.
Spring (March to May) welcomes blossoms and greenery, making it an excellent time for nature lovers.
How to Get around Burnaby, BC
- Cars: Major roadways like Highway 1 provide easy access to attractions, and parking is generally available in commercial areas.
- Buses: A lot of Next Bus routes stop in Burnaby. You can take #19 from Stanley Park to Metrotown Station, or #119, #110, and #144 if you’re coming from a different area.
- Bus #144 in particular is your bus if you’re going to SFU or Burnaby Mountain. RapidBus and NightBus like N19 Surrey Central Station or N35 SFU are also available.
- Trains: You can hop on the efficient SkyTrain—Expo Line and Millennium Line—for seamless connections throughout Burnaby and downtown Vancouver.
- Taxis or ride-hailing services: Taxis, Uber, or Lyft, offer convenient point-to-point transportation within Burnaby. Easily hailed or booked via apps, they provide a comfortable alternative for those who prefer not to drive.
- Bikes: According to Walk Score, Burnaby is very bikeable. It has dedicated lanes for bikes so two wheels is another viable and interesting option to take when you’re in Burnaby.
What to Do in Burnaby, BC
Explore Shopping Magic at Metropolis
Metropolis at Metrotown is a shopping haven boasting over 450 stores. From well-known global brands to local hidden gems, the diverse retail landscape accommodates every shopper.
Wander through this expansive shopping destination, exploring everything from high-end fashion to unique discoveries awaiting at the adjacent Crystal Mall.
It’s an opportunity to embrace the joy of retail therapy in the heart of one of Canada’s largest shopping hubs.
Walk Through History at Burnaby Village Museum
At Burnaby Village Museum, take a captivating stroll through the past, immersing yourself in the charm of the early 20th century. Meander along historic streets adorned with heritage buildings, where costumed characters breathe life into a bygone era.
The vintage 1912 carousel adds a nostalgic touch to your journey, providing a genuine glimpse into Burnaby’s rich historical tapestry.
Enjoy Cherry Blossoms on Burnaby Mountain
As spring graces Burnaby, Burnaby Mountain Park becomes a standout destination for cherry blossom enthusiasts.
While the specific locations where these delicate blooms appear may vary, their beauty typically blankets the entire park.
Optimal viewing during the enchanting golden hour promises a breathtaking experience. Seize the opportunity to capture the ephemeral beauty of cherry blossoms in this serene natural setting.
But if you’re not lucky in catching the cherry blossoms, Burnaby Mountain Park has forested trails worth checking out. If you’re more into arts than hiking, you can check out the Centennial Rose Garden, Playground of the Gods, and Eco-sculptures in the park.
Relax by the Water at Barnet Marine Park
Barnet Marine Park offers a serene escape to coastal tranquility along Burrard Inlet. Unwind on the sandy beach, nestled picnic spots, and scenic shoreline walks.
Embrace the waterfront allure through kayaking or paddleboarding, allowing the coastal beauty to soothe your senses in this urban oasis.
Join a Special Event or Two
Hats Off Day brings lively parades, live music, and a spirited car show, capturing the essence of local vibrancy.
Meanwhile, the Pinoy Festival showcases Filipino culture through traditional performances and culinary delights, offering a rich tapestry of cultural experiences.
Burnaby Pride celebrated its sixth year in 2023. Aside from a lot of activities like Zumba for all ages and movie nights, they host a Pride Festival on Civic Square featuring live music, comedy, and drag!
Keep an eye on the events calendar to engage in these dynamic celebrations during your time in Burnaby.
Paddle on Deer Lake
The lake, surrounded by lush greenery and framed by picturesque mountains, provides a peaceful setting for a day on the water.
Rentals are available at the Deer Lake Boat Rentals. Check out their operating hours and seasons to know when you can rent canoes, kayaks, and pedal boats for your water adventure.
Where to Stay In Burnaby, BC
Accent Inns Burnaby
Address: 3777 Henning Dr, Burnaby, BC V5C 6N5, Canada
Phone: +1 (604) 473 5000
Accent Inns Burnaby is a great place to stay in Burnaby. It’s in a really good spot, has a unique vibe, and you get good value for your money.
The rooms are spotless, the people who work there are really helpful, and you can easily walk to some of the city’s good restaurants nearby. Plus, when you see the price, you’ll get that it’s not a fancy luxury spot, but it totally provides what you need.
Delta Hotels by Marriott Burnaby Conference Centre
Address: 4331 Dominion St, Burnaby, BC V5G 1C7, Canada
Phone: +1 (604) 453 0750
Here’s another hotel close to Metrotown. If you’re searching for an executive lounge, this might not be the place, but if you’re in the mood for a casino night, then this hotel is a great spot to check out.
Its on-site restaurant Atlas Steak + Fish is fantastic – more about it below!
Coast Metro Vancouver Hotel
Address: 2950 Boundary Rd, Burnaby, BC V5M 3Z9, Canada
Phone: +1 (604) 438 3451
Coast Metro Vancouver Hotel has 31 rooms, and every room comes with its own private balcony. There’s also a garden and courtyard where you can hang out outdoors.
It’s also under new management now and a fresh look after some renovations. So, it might be the best time to swing by if you’re looking for a place with a new vibe.
Element Vancouver Metrotown
Address: 5988 Willingdon Ave, Burnaby, BC V5H 2A7, Canada
Phone: +1 (604) 568 3696
If you’re planning to do a lot of shopping at Metrotown or need to be close to a SkyTrain station for an easy commute, you might want to consider checking out Element Vancouver Metrotown.
Keep an eye out for a nice mix of tall condos and scenic mountain views right from your room!
Executive Suites Hotel and Conference Centre Metro Vancouver
Address: 4201 Lougheed Hwy., Burnaby, BC V5C 3Y6, Canada
Phone: +1 (604) 298 2010
Executive Suites Hotel and Conference Centre sports a classic look. Others would say it’s a little old-fashioned for their liking – to each their own, but it looks like it’s just not the flashy type of hotel.
Their on-site restaurant, Acqua, is beloved and you can still enjoy jacuzzis and other cool stuff to make your stay cozy and comfortable.
Where to Eat in Burnaby, BC
Marble House Eatery
Address: 4500 Kingsway #2228, Burnaby, BC V5H 2A9, Canada
Phone: +1 604-336-9188
Marble House offers back to back HK-style BBQ and dimsum during the day and all you can eat hot pot at night. Dinner time tends to be pretty busy (and rightfully so!), so it’s a good idea to reserve a spot before you go.
Situated on the second floor of Crystal Mall, it’s convenient to reach, and it’s nice to stroll around the entire space after your meal. And if you’re having dinner, you’ll get to enjoy complimentary desserts after your hot pot meal.
Hart House Restaurant
Address: 6664 Deer Lake Ave, Burnaby, BC V5E 4H3, Canada
Phone: +1 604-298-4278
Lakeside dining always gets us – and that’s precisely what Hart House on Deer Lake Ave offers. If you have a taste for Mediterranean cuisine and appreciate locally sourced fresh ingredients, this is the place for you.
Our tip? If you’re in Burnaby for a romantic getaway, having a lovely and intimate date at Hart House is the real deal.
Address: 7741 Edmonds St, Burnaby, BC V3N 1B9, Canada
Phone: +1 604-553-1950
It’s quite the experience to try the food at 50’s Burgers. While many places are going for a fancier, modern feel, this spot keeps it real with a classic, Retro Americana theme.
Just so you know, there aren’t tons of seats available, but you can always order from the takeout window and chill in your car while you wait. And if you’re looking for suggestions, give their LA King, Hawaiian, or Alberta Sirloin a shot!
Atlas Steak + Fish
Address: 4331 Dominion St, Burnaby, BC V5G 1C7, Canada
Phone: +1 604-453-0776
Atlas Steak + Fish restaurant at the Grand Villa Casino (yep, the one linked to Delta Hotels) serves up fantastic beef tartare, tenderloin, and tomahawk. The tableside service is impressive – watching it is almost as enjoyable as eating the delicious food.
The best thing about it? The live piano music. It’s so fun to sit back and listen to the tunes skillfully played to create a chill and enjoyable ambiance.
Tips for Visiting Burnaby, BC
- Use Burnaby’s public transportation. TransLink’s bus and SkyTrain services make it easy to navigate Burnaby and explore neighboring areas like Vancouver.
- Pack versatile clothing. Be ready for varying weather conditions by bringing layers. Whether you’re hiking in the summer or enjoying winter sports, having adaptable clothing ensures comfort.
- Dive into Burnaby’s diverse food scene. Explore local eateries to savor the city’s multicultural cuisine. From international flavors to local favorites, Burnaby offers a culinary adventure for every palate.
- Embrace Burnaby’s outdoor beauty. Take advantage of the city’s parks, lakes, and trails for scenic walks, hikes, and other outdoor activities.
- Connect with locals. Strike up conversations with residents. Locals often have the best recommendations for hidden gems, favorite eateries, and lesser-known attractions in Burnaby.