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How to Spend 4 Days in Vancouver – By a Local!

How to Spend 4 Days in Vancouver – By a Local!

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So you’ve decided to spend a memorable 4 days in Vancouver – a fantastic choice! Great minds think alike because I believe that 4 days is the perfect amount of time to spend in this breathtakingly beautiful city.

In 4 days, you’ll get to explore the city’s best neighborhoods like Yaletown, Gastown, and Kitsilano, do some bucket-list-worthy activities like cycling the Seawall in the iconic Stanley Park, seeing Vancouver from a seaplane, and go whale-watching. This amount of time also allows you to take a day trip from Vancouver to the picturesque mountain town of Whistler! 

Now, I may be biased, being a Vancouver local and all, but I can’t think of a better city to spend 4 days in – I mean, it has all the makings of a top-tier tourist destination. It’s home to some of my favorite spots in Canada, such as Grouse Mountain, the super-photogenic Capilano Suspension Bridge, and the vibrant Granville Island, home to one of the biggest indoor markets in North America!

I’ve spent ages researching and writing this detailed blog post because I REALLY want you to have the absolute best 4 days in Vancouver. Of course, I’ve included the best things to do in Vancouver but also listed transport options to get you between each activity as well as the top Vancouver restaurants, cafes, and hotels! You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better Vancouver itinerary for your trip!

Day 1 in Vancouver – Vancouver City

Breakfast – Jam Cafe

Eggs benedict at Jam Cafe in Vancouver
The delicious Eggs Benedict here!
Eggs benedict at Jam Cafe, Vancouver
I’m always happy at Jam Cafe in Vancouver!

Start your first day in Vancouver off the right way with an incredible and filling breakfast at Jam Cafe on Beatty Street in Yaletown. It’s worth noting they have another branch in Kitsilano (and one in Victoria, too), but our favorite is the Yaletown spot! 

The menu has a strong focus on southern-style brunch dishes such as fried chicken french toast and pulled pork pancakes, and for those with a sweet tooth, pancakes smothered in peanut butter! 

When we visited, I ordered the Buffalo Blue Eggs Benedict, and it was so delicious. As for drinks, I had the Lavender Latte, which I also highly recommend!

Jam Cafe is open from 8 am until 2:30 pm on weekdays and until 3 pm on weekends. But we advise getting here as soon as they open – because it’s walk-in only and with a menu as appetizing as theirs, it’s super popular! 

Morning – Granville Island

Birds eye view of Granville Island and the public market in Vancouver, BC
Bird’s eye view of Granville Island Public Market!

The first activity on your 4-day Vancouver itinerary is the famed Granville Island, home to one of the best indoor markets in North America, great restaurants, and an awesome craft beer brewery. This “island” isn’t actually an island at all but a peninsula, so it’s easy to get here from downtown via taxi or Uber (the journey should take under 10 minutes), or you can come here via water on the Aquabus ferry! 

As I mentioned, Granville Island is most well-known for the huge Granville Island Public Market and sells everything from fresh fruit and veg, to coffee, and unique souvenirs. In fact, you could easily spend over an hour wandering the myriad of stalls here!

Our favorite way to access Granville Island is, of course, on the water via the Aquabus, as it offers stunning views of the city along the way. Conveniently, the Aquabus ferry terminal is just 2 km (1.2 mi) from where you had breakfast – Jam Cafe!

The Aquabus is reliable and runs every 5 minutes from 7:05 am until 8:55 pm. You can purchase tickets on the day for $8 CAD roundtrip or $6.50 CAD if you book online – which saves you a bit of money, but there’s no need to worry about pre-booking in advance as there will be tickets left on the day. 

If you love a highly-rated guided tour (like me), then I recommend taking a tour of Granville Island. When we visited, we joined this 2-hour walking tour, and we learned heaps about the market and the island in general! A big bonus was chatting with the vendors in the market and sampling lots of awesome food! So, do this tour on an empty stomach as there’s a lot of food to taste! 

This VIP tour costs just $129 CAD, which we think is a bargain because it includes all your food samples and a knowledgeable local guide. The tour starts at the Granville Market at 10:30 am, so you must make your own way there. This particular tour can typically be booked from Thursday through Monday, but you can check availability and book your tour online here!

Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Lowest price guarantee – If you happen to find the same tour at a lower price elsewhere, Viator will refund you the price difference.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, for more info, read our detailed review about Viator here.

Lunch 

Close up of Lobster Roll from The Lobster Man, Granville Island
The Lobster Roll from The Lobster Man!
The Food Hall inside the Public Market is another great lunch option!

While you’re on Granville Island, you may as well have lunch here, and with so many excellent options, from restaurants to food stalls, you couldn’t have picked a better spot for your first lunch in Vancouver!

If you love seafood, then you’re in luck, as you’ll find fresh seafood everywhere! In fact, I’d go so far as to say that you can’t come to Granville Island and not have a seafood dish!

One of the best seafood spots here is The Lobster Man, only a short walk from the public market. You’ve probably guessed from its name, but they’re famous for their fresh lobster roll served in a brioche bun. And this popular casual eatery is open daily from 9 am – 6 pm.

If you’d prefer more options, visit The Sandbar on Johnston Street, as their lunch menu features sushi, poké, and seared scallops. 

And last but not least, if you’d like to wash down your lunch with a craft beer, check out the uber-popular Granville Island Brewing Co – one of our favorite breweries in Vancouver

You probably recognize their craft beer from liquor stores and supermarkets across Canada – we love their Island Lager and Juice Box Hazy IPA. But, to us, there’s no better place to drink their beer than where it was invented. If you’re not sure what beer to order, why not try their tasting flight, which consists of 4 small beers for $12 CAD, or their full flight of 10 for $24 CAD? 

Granville Island Brewing is open every day from 12 pm – 8 pm!

Related Read: If Granville Island Brewing sounds like your idea of heaven, then, you’ll also love all the craft brewery tours that happen daily in Vancouver!

Afternoon – Stanley Park

A group of people ride the Stanley Park seawall on a self guided tour
Biking the Seawall in Stanley Park!

This afternoon, it’s time to head back into the city to walk off all that awesome food and beer with a walk or cycle through Stanley Park!

Stanley Park is huge at 4 km² (1.4 mi²), and this green oasis in the middle of the city is home to a west coast rainforest, beaches, mountain views, the Vancouver Aquarium, and the famous seawall walk – a 12 km (7.5 mi) trail that hugs the coast. This scenic spot is a must-visit in Vancouver, which is why we’ve included it on your itinerary for the first day in the city. Allow at least 2-3 hours here! 

Your best option is to hop in an Uber from Granville Island to Stanley Park, which should take around 15 minutes. As I said, there are plenty of things to see and do in Stanley Park, but one of our favorite activities here is biking the seawall. You can rent a bike from one of the bike rental stores at the park’s entrance, which will cost around $20 CAD for 1.5 hours. To bike the full seawall trail should take most people 1.5 – 2 hours.

If you’re a fan of guided tours, you’re in luck, as there are heaps of Stanley Park tours. For example, we loved this small group cycling tour, which lasts for 3 hours and includes stops at the best sights in the park, such as Brockton Point Totem Poles and Third Beach

This particular tour will set you back $89 CAD for adults or $72 CAD for kids aged 10-17. If you’re not so confident on a bike, you can upgrade to an e-bike for an additional $30 CAD. Tours start at 9 am or 2 pm, but the afternoon is the most popular option, so check availability and book this tour online!

If you want to save some money and avoid paying too much in transport costs on your first day – a great tour is this tour of both Granville Island and Stanley Park which includes all your transfers! And it also passes by Chinatown and Gastown. 

The driver can pick you up from your hotel or meet you at the Georgian Court Hotel 30 minutes before your scheduled tour. Tours depart at 10 am, 2 pm, and 3 pm. And it costs just $79 CAD for adults and $47 CAD for kids. Again, you should note that afternoon tours sell out fast, so book your spot in advance!

Optional – Vancouver Aquarium

Seals perform tricks at the Vancouver Aquarium
Seals putting on a show for us!
A seal swims in his tank at the Vancouver Aquarium
A seal swimming at the Vancouver Aquarium!

If you’re traveling with kids, try to make the time to squeeze in a visit to the Vancouver Aquarium, which is located within Stanley Park. 

This family-friendly aquarium is home to many awesome marine creatures like sea lions, sea otters, and penguins, but we think its best feature is the interactive feedings that have you learning about the animals in real-time. Plus, it’s often rated as one of the best aquariums in North America, so if you love the underwater world, then visiting here is a no-brainer. FYI, it’s best to set aside 2 hours so that you can see all the animals and one of the feedings. 

Remember that the Vancouver Aquarium doesn’t accept walk-ins, so you’ll need to book this attraction in advance. Prices vary from $39.95 to $51.95 CAD for adults (13-64) and $23-28 CAD for kids, depending on the date and time you select.

Vancouver Aquarium is open daily between 10 am and 5 pm. If you can, arrive here before 2 pm so you can see the animal feedings – so, visit the aquarium first and cycle the seawall in Stanley Park after! 

Sunset

Sunset at Second Beach, Vancouver
Second Beach at sunset!

Your second-to-last activity for day one is my favorite time of day – sunset! And I can’t think of a better city in the country to watch the sun sink into the ocean than “Vancity” as it’s also called. 

The best place to watch the sunset in Vancouver is at one of the city’s beaches, namely Sunset Beach, Second Beach, or English Bay Beach. Our first choice would be the aptly named Sunset Beach which is situated at the mouth of False Creek, along the Seawall, and just a 20-minute walk (or 5-minute Uber) from the Stanley Park main entrance. This beach has a relaxed vibe, so it’s ideal for a romantic evening in Vancouver.

Second Beach on the southwestern coast of Stanley Park, although small, has the added benefit of a heated outdoor pool here which opens seasonally and only costs $7 CAD. Just imagine watching the sunset from this pool – what a way to end the day! 

And last but not least is one of the most popular beaches in the city – English Bay Beach. Located in the southernmost section of Stanley Park, it’s popular with locals who come here to hang out or play volleyball, so if you’re looking for somewhere with a fun atmosphere, this is the Beach for you! 

Alternatively, if you want to watch the sunset from a comfy seat and with a cocktail in hand, head to the Cactus Club, which overlooks English Bay Beach. Their drinks menu boasts a huge variety of cocktails (top tip – try their frozen cosmos), and they have an excellent and affordably-priced food menu too. The Cactus Club is open from 11:30 am-midnight. 

Dinner

Prawns at Minami in Yaletown, Vancouver
A prawn dish at Minami in Yaletown!
cauliflower bites at MeeT in Gastown, Vancouver
The Cauliflower bites at MeeT are great!

Your first dinner of the trip is certain to be a memorable one with the Yaletown restaurants I’ve chosen for you below! From a sushi joint to a plant-based restaurant to a sports pub, I’ve covered every preference with this list! And I’ve eaten at all of these restaurants, so you know you’ll have a good time –   

One of our favorite sushi joints in the city is Minami on Mainland Street in Yaletown. Here, traditionally trained Japanese chefs will cook your meal, so you know you’re getting the real deal when you dine here. You can reserve a table online, which we strongly advise since it’s a very sought-out spot! Minami is open from Sunday to Thursday from 12-9:30 pm and Friday/Saturday from 12-10 pm.

While if you have a craving for fast food, one of our favorite fast food joints is DownLow Chicken. Here, they serve up delicious crispy fried chicken, and they have two locations in Vancouver, one close to UBC and the second is east of downtown. And both are open daily from 11 am – 9:30 pm. But, remember, they close at 4:30 pm on Sundays.

On the other hand, if you’re a vegan or just love healthy, plant-based dishes, look no further than MeeT on Main St. This socially conscious Yaletown restaurant specializes in vegan comfort food such as vegan poutine and a beef brisket burger with roasted soy curl brisket. MeeT is open from 11 am – 11 pm most days, but it stays open from 10 am until midnight on Friday and Saturday. 

And finally, if you’re keen on a bit of a party atmosphere while eating, Score on Davie is the place for you! This sports pub on Davie St serves tacos, burgers, and Asian fusion dishes, but their Caesars are what bring in the crowds. If you don’t already know, a Caesar is THE quintessential Canadian cocktail. It’s best described as a Bloody Mary with Clamato juice, which is a mixture of tomato juice and clam broth (it sounds a tad weird, but trust us, it tastes great!).

Their caesars are next-level with toppings, including sliders, chicken wings, and even deep-fried mac and cheese balls! And for the whopping price of $60 CAD, you can order a Big Caesar, which is served with a hot dog, a burger, a slider, a brownie, and an entire game hen on top. That’s several meals in one!

Score on Davie is also open until 1 or 2 am, so it’s a great option for a late night!

Day 2 in Vancouver – North Vancouver area

Breakfast – Cafe Medina

A coffee at Cafe Medina, Vancouver, BC
The coffee is fantastic at Cafe Medina!
Two breakfast meals at Cafe Medina, Vancouver, BC
And the food is equally as delicious!

Start day two off the right way with a European-style breakfast at Cafe Medina on Richards Street. And because this eatery doesn’t open until 9 am, we’re spoiling you this morning with a bit of a sleep-in! 

With a focus on fresh dishes and options for meat-eaters and vegetarians, all taste buds are sure to be catered for here. I ordered their Frittata with braised beef and peppers served with a side of roasted potatoes and grilled focaccia – and it was exceptional!

Medina Cafe is very popular, so it’s best to book your table ahead of time. You can make a reservation up to two weeks in advance, but they do hold a few tables for walk-ins. But to get one of the walk-in-only tables, aim to get here as soon as they open (at 9 am!).

It’s important to note: there’s a $10 CAD per person deposit on weekends and public holidays.

Morning – Lynn Canyon or Capilano Suspension Bridge

Once you’ve finished breakfast, you’ll head away from the hustle and bustle of the city in search of the beauty and serenity that nature offers. You have two options this morning – Lynn Canyon or Capilano Suspension Bridge. And although they are very similar, if we were forced to pick one, we think Capilano has the slight edge. In saying that, entrance to Lynn Canyon is free (it’s one of the best free things to do in Vancouver!), so this may be a better choice if you’re on a budget! 

Capilano Suspension Bridge

The Cliffwalk at Capilano Suspension Bridge!

You will probably recognize your first choice this morning from your Instagram feed, the photogenic Capilano Suspension Bridge, which is just 9 km (5.6 mi) from downtown. But there’s more to this attraction than the famed suspension bridge, which hangs 230 feet (70 meters) over the Capilano River. So, spend your morning here exploring the forested hiking trails, such as the Cliffwalk – a boardwalk set high above the ground and winds through the lush forest here.  

Entry to Capilano Suspension Bridge costs $73 CAD per adult, $42 CAD per teenager, and $31 CAD per kid (aged between 6-12). The park is open every day from 9 am – 6 pm, and the last entry is at 5 pm. However, we highly advise booking your tickets in advance.

To get here, you can catch the free Capilano Suspension Bridge Shuttle from either Canada Place, the Hyatt Regency, or the Blue Horizon Hotel. The shuttle operates all year, but the schedule changes slightly according to the season. You can check out the schedule on their website.

Related Read: If you have less time and still want to enjoy this fabulous city, check out our blog post on how to spend 2 days in Vancouver!

Lynn Canyon

View of a bridge crossing Lynn Canyon, Vancouver
A bridge crossing in Lynn Canyon!
Bailey walks on the Lynn Canyon suspension Bridge, Vancouver
So gorgeous!

Lynn Canyon, also in North Vancouver, is your second option this morning. Home to another stunning suspension bridge that hangs 50 meters (164-feet) over the canyon as well as hiking trails, you’ll find it easy to spend a few hours here. Also worth checking out while you’re here are the stunning Twin Falls and the wow-worthy 30-foot pool. 

In our opinion, the trails here are some of the best hikes in Vancouver, so if you’re an avid hiker, Lynn Canyon may be the best choice for your second morning. All the trails here could be rated as relatively easy; however, it’s worth noting that if you’re traveling with kids, the trails aren’t stroller-friendly. 

And although you could hop in an Uber to Lynn Canyon from downtown, we don’t recommend it as the traffic tends to be bad. Instead, we advise you to catch the SeaBus from the Waterfront Station in Gastown to Lonsdale Quay. It’s very reliable and operates every 10 minutes at peak times and every 15-30 minutes at non-peak times. 

Ferries operate Monday to Saturday from about 6 am – 1 am and Sundays from 8 am – 11 pm, and you can check the full Seabus schedule online here. It’s only $4.45 CAD for a ticket, or you can grab a day pass (which covers all public transport) for just $11 CAD, making this a fantastic option for visitors on a budget. 

Then, from Lonsdale Quay, you will need to hop on the #228 bus as far as the Lynn Valley Rd Stop. You can also use the TransLink trip planner to determine the best route and times. From the Lynn Valley Rd Stop, it’s a 10-minute walk to the destination (Lynn Canyon!)

Lunch

The Cliff House Restaurant
The Cliff House Restaurant Photo credit: Capilano Suspension Bridge

If you’ve chosen Capilano Suspension Bridge over Lynn Canyon, we highly recommend having lunch at the Cliff House Restaurant & Bar before moving on to your afternoon activity. 

Aptly named because it’s set on a cliff, this popular restaurant offers excellent food and top-class views. And because it’s only open from 10 am – 6:30 pm, lunch really is the best meal to have here! 

Another great lunch option that ties in with your next stop (hint hint – it’s Grouse Mountain!) is Altitudes Bistro, which sits atop Grouse Mountain and offers spectacular views. With a relaxed vibe and a varied menu specializing in Canadian pub classics like burgers and sandwiches, it’s a brilliant option for day two’s lunch. Plus, if you’re gluten-free or vegetarian, you’ll be well-catered for here.

Afternoon – Grouse Mountain

Top of the Grouse Grind where the gondola is at Grouse Mountain, Vancouver
The view from the top of Grouse Mountain!
Bailey walks a summer trail on Grouse Mountain, Vancouver
The summer pathways around the mountain!

It’s fair to say we’ve already given away your next stop! Yep, offering the best views of the city, the famed Grouse Mountain is today’s afternoon activity. 

There’s so much to do at Grouse Mountain that you may struggle to fit everything in, but allow 2-3 hours, and you should get to see the best of it! 

To reach the top of Grouse Mountain, you’ll need to ride on the Skyride gondola. And conveniently, the gondola station is only 3.8 km (2.3 mi) from Capilano Suspension Bridge (one of your morning activities). Both the #232 and #236 buses run the route between the two, and the drive should take about 7 minutes. You can check out the bus schedule and plan your route on the TransLink website.

Skyride tickets to Grouse Mountain cost $81 CAD for adults, $70 for seniors (ages 65+), $59 for teens (ages 13-17), and $42 for kids (ages 5-12). This may sound costly, but when you consider that your ticket gives you access to attractions like The Eye of the Wind and the wildlife sanctuary for free, it’s not a bad deal! 

The Eye of the Wind is a glass-viewing pod inside a wind turbine that boasts epic views over Vancouver! While the Wildlife Sanctuary up here is home to owls, grizzly bears, and more! You can also tackle one of a few hiking trails, go ziplining, or play a unique game of disc golf if you have the time. 

If you plan to visit Vancouver in the winter, keep in mind that you can go skiing, ice skating, snowshoeing, and sledding on Grouse Mountain, making Vancouver an epic spot for a winter vacation! Or, if you are in Vancouver during the summer, definitely head up Grouse Mountain to catch the fun shows, such as the Lumberjack Show, which showcases Canada’s best fallers throwing axes and rolling logs (the shows run at 11:15 am, 2 pm, and 4:30 pm).

Or, if you’re a bird-lover, the Birds in Motion show features majestic birds of prey, including red-tailed hawks, golden eagles, and peregrine falcons. These shows are held at 12:45 pm, 3:15 pm, or 5:30 pm in the summer. 

But if you don’t fancy arranging all the logistics yourself, I highly recommend this Capilano Suspension Bridge and Grouse Mountain Tour. This hassle-free option includes hotel pickup (at approx. 10:30 am), all other transportation, and entrance to both Grouse Mountain and Capilano Suspension Bridge. The tour is 5.5 hours long and gives you 1.5 hours at each destination, which is more than enough time. 

The price per person is $224 CAD, but this tour does sell out quickly, so check availability and book your ticket online here.

Related Read: For more helpful info for this stop, check out our guide on how to get to Grouse Mountain including how to catch the free shuttle!

Night – Sunset Cruise

Bailey poses for a photo with a bottle of wine on a sunset cruise in Vancouver
Oh and they have wine!
Bailey poses for a photo at the front of the boat on our sunset cruise in Vancouver
So beautiful!

Can you think of a better way to end day two in Vancouver than a sunset cruise around the harbor?! It combines two of my favorite things – sunsets and boat tours! And what makes this activity even better is the fact that it includes a yummy dinner as well as live music! 

There are a plethora of entertaining boat tours in Vancouver that depart from Coal Harbor, but we reckon this Harbor Sunset Cruise is one of the best out there! It’s a bucket-list-worthy Vancouver activity and one that every type of traveler will enjoy! 

We loved our 2.5-hour cruise experience! We got to see the city’s top sights from the boat, like Lions Gate Bridge (which we cruised under) and Kitsilano Beach (one of our favorite beaches in Vancouver!) Plus, the live entertainment was great, and the food was so good – it was buffet-style and consisted of salmon, roast beef, salads, and loads of desserts!

This boat cruise departs Coal Harbour at 7 pm, so you will need to be at the wharf there about 30 minutes before. It costs $209 CAD, which isn’t bad when you think the price includes dinner and entertainment. But note that drinks cost extra. 

Because it ticks so many boxes (dinner/sunset/boat cruise), you will need to book in advance, and you can check availability and book your tour here! And if you want to read even more exciting info about this sunset cruise, you can check out our detailed blog here!

Late Night – Keefer Bar

The Keefer Bar Vancouver
How cool does the bar look? Photo credit: The Keefer Bar Vancouver

Tonight it’s time to party! And what better place to let your hair down than the award-winning Keefer Bar in Chinatown? Would you believe this cool bar was recently awarded one of the best 3 bars in Canada? Well, actually, when you set foot inside, you’ll understand why!

With a dark and moody vibe and a menu listing over 25 unique cocktails (we loved the Fantasy Island and the Chinatown Sour, by the way), as you can imagine, “the Keefer” attracts drinkers from all over the world. But it’s never too busy and could be described as a bit of a hidden gem, which is how Vancouverites want to keep it! 

You won’t forget Keefer Bar’s location in a hurry as it’s on the easy-to-remember Keefer St! It’s open every night from 4 pm – 1 or 2 am. You can enjoy DJs, live music, and Happy Hour from 4 pm – 6 pm, Friday to Sunday. Check out their menu and event schedule online here.

Our Top Tip: Reservations are highly recommended for the Keefer Bar. So, plan ahead and book a table a few days in advance!

Day 3 in Vancouver

Breakfast

Coal Harbour, Vancouver
Breakfast this morning will be in Coal Harbour!

Breakfast this morning will be in the scenic Coal Harbour area of the city, as that’s where your exciting morning activity leaves from! But we won’t give too much away yet!

Coal Harbour is a cool and busy area, and you’ll find lots of art installations here, such as the Digital Orca.

One convenient breakfast spot is the Renaissance Cafe & Bakery, which is just a 10-minute walk from where your next activity leaves – the Seaplane Terminal. If that’s not a hint, I don’t know what else to tell you! The Renaissance Cafe has a neighborhood cafe vibe, a great menu, and very friendly staff. Opening hours are Monday to Friday, 8 am – 5 pm, and Saturdays from 10 am – 5 pm, but it’s closed on Sundays.

Morning – seaplane or whale watching tour

Seaplane

View of False Creek from a sea plane in Vancouver
View of False Creek from a seaplane in Vancouver
Vancouver city from the window of a sea plane
Flying into Vancouver!

Next is one of my favorite tours in Vancouver. And we’ve more than hinted at your morning activity for Day 3 above, and if you haven’t already guessed, it’s a Vancouver seaplane flight! From your prime vantage point, you’ll get to see the city in the best way possible – you’ll look down upon the city streets, fly over the Pacific Ocean, and take in the awe-inspiring mountain scenery. A seaplane differs from a helicopter ride or fixed-wing plane as it takes off and lands on the water – which is such a thrilling experience! 

This city is known for its seaplane tours, and as a matter of fact, Vancouver city has the biggest fleet of seaplanes in North America. So, as you can guess, heaps of seaplane tours are available right here from Coal Harbour – and there’s one for every budget. 

For example, if you’re short on time and on a budget, consider this 20-minute tour that flies over the city and the Olympic Village (used for the 2010 Winter Games). It’s limited to just 7 people, so it’s sure to be a more personalized experience.

You’ll need to check in at the Harbour Airport 30 minutes before your flight. Tours cost $168 CAD per adult, and there are various morning departures per day starting from 8:30 am. Afternoon options are also available if that suits your itinerary better. But because this is one of the cheapest seaplane tours, it tends to book out quickly, so we advise booking well in advance.

If you have more time and a bigger budget, you might consider a full-day tour such as this roundtrip scenic flight to Victoria. The flight itself is 35 minutes each way, and you’ll fly over Mount Baker and the Gulf Islands en route to Victoria (the capital city of B.C.) The tour also includes the chance to explore the beautiful city of Victoria and the colorful Butchart Gardens, which the city is known for. 

This particular tour costs $572 CAD per adult and $303 per child. The price includes your transport around Victoria. You can check availability and book your tickets online here.

For us, the seaplane flight was a bucket list experience, but we are aware that it’s an expensive tour, which is why we have an equally amazing alternative below – whale watching!

Whale watching

Orcas swim through the waters near Vancouver, Canada
Orcas are beautiful creatures!

If you plan to visit Vancouver between May and October, then a whale-watching tour from Vancouver is a fantastic choice! We love whales and have been lucky enough to experience whale-watching tours worldwide, but one of our favorite tours ever was right here in Vancouver. 

The tour we did was this half-day whale-watching tour from Granville Island, which heads out to the San Juan and Gulf Islands in search of these giants of the sea. On our tour, we were lucky enough to see orcas and humpback whales, which was truly a bucket-list-worthy moment!

The tour is 5 hours long, with departures at 8:30 am and 2:30 pm. We recommend booking the morning option and having the afternoon for wandering around Gastown! 

You’ll need to check in at the meeting spot behind Bridges Restaurant on Granville Island at 8 am. Once onboard, you get free hot drinks to warm you up while marine experts teach you all about these amazing creatures.

The tour costs around $225 CAD, and what’s handy is it comes with a lifetime guarantee – meaning if you don’t see any whales on this occasion, you can join their tours (from any location) as many times as necessary until you see a whale!  

Seaplane and whale watching combo

West Vancouver from a sea plane on a tour
A flight heads past West Vancouver towards Victoria!

Alternatively, if you simply cannot choose between a whale watching tour and a seaplane tour – why not choose a tour that combines them both?! Yup, this Victoria seaplane and whale watching tour is a great option if you have the time (it’s a full-day tour) and the budget (it costs from $604 CAD!).

But, when you think about the price – it includes a return seaplane flight to Victoria, time to explore Victoria, as well as whale watching in Victoria. So, this is one of the Vancouver to Victoria tours that’s good value for money and includes a host of unforgettable experiences. 

This tour leaves from the Seaplane Terminal, and when you book, you can choose between a covered Ocean Cruiser boat or an open-topped Zodiac. It’s worth remembering that the tour only operates between March and October, so it can book up super-quick. 

Day/early afternoon – Gastown

The old steam clock in Gastown, Vancouver
The old steam clock in Gastown!

This afternoon, it’s time to finally head over to Gastown – one of the city’s busiest and most vibrant neighborhoods. Gastown was the original settlement that Vancouver was built around and has a fascinating history. Like, would you believe it’s named after a saloon owner who went by the nickname “Gassy Jack?” He famously had sawmill workers build his bar in exchange for whisky – a true entrepreneur!

Gastown has seen it all – from fires to demolition plans to social issues. And it was once the red light district of the city. Today, however, it has left its past behind it and is a cool neighborhood with a great foodie scene!

It’s easily walkable from downtown Vancouver to Gastown, but if you’re coming from outside the city bounds, you can take the SkyTrain, sea bus, or metro to Waterfront Station, and it’s a short walk from there. 

As you can imagine, in an area that was once the beating heart of Vancouver – Gastown has plenty of things to do, but I reckon the best thing to do here is eat and drink your way around the many incredible restaurants here.  

After your memorable morning activity, I bet you’re feeling famished, so why not step into the Twisted Fork for a delicious brunch? Specializing in French Cuisine and with a drink menu that features local beer, and breakfast cocktails, we can’t think of a better place to begin your time in Gastown. Best described as having an upscale bistro vibe, it serves up brunch daily from 9 am – 3 pm. 

While if you’re an Italian food fan (like me), check out Di Beppe and treat yourself to some fresh pasta, pizza, antipasti, and more! This local-fave spot is open every day from 11:30 am – 10 pm.

Or perhaps you’re craving a craft beer with a side of delicious pub-style food. In that case, Steamworks Brewpub is the perfect place for you. It offers gorgeous views overlooking the harbor and opens at 11:30 am on weekdays and 11 am on weekends. You can see their menu options and tap beers online here!

If all the choices in Gastown have made you indecisive, may we recommend this 2.5-hour food tour? It’s a great option for indecisive foodies as it stops at all the best culinary spots in the area. And as well as that, your knowledgeable guide is a wealth of information on the history of the area and the restaurants that call it home. There is a fair bit of walking involved in this tour, so wear comfy walking shoes and get ready to get your belly filled with some of the best food in Vancouver!

Tours start at 2 pm or 3 pm from the Waterfront Station. It costs $129 CAD per person – you can book this tour online here!

As I know I said, Gastown’s crowning glory is all the great food and drink options here, but there’s actually heaps of non-food-related cool stuff in this neighborhood too. For example, you can’t miss the iconic Steam Clock on the corner of Cambie and Water Street. It puffs out steam every 15 minutes and is one of only a few working steam clocks in the world!

As I explained earlier, Gastown has an interesting and dark history, so if you’re murder mysteries, then this murder mystery adventure will be right up your (dark and spooky!) alley. Pass by iconic Gastown attractions like the Vancouver Lookout and the Steamclock as you play detective! 

There are 6 starting times between 11 am – 6 pm, and you can play in groups of 2-5 people. It costs just $38 CAD per person, and it’s such a unique Vancouver activity. You can book your murder mystery adventure online here!

The Vancouver Lookout is another must-visit attraction in Gastown, as it offers amazing views over downtown Vancouver, the North Shore Mountains, Stanley Park, and the Burrard Inlet. Located a short walk from the center of Gastown, it’s open from 11 am – 6 pm every day. Entrance is $18.25 CAD per adult, while students and children (ages 6-17) cost just $13.25 CAD. 

Related Read: If you have more time this afternoon, check out our list of 6 of the best Vancouver City Tours!

Night – Dinner in Gastown

Fresh Oysters at Rodney's Oyster House in Gastown, Canada
Photo credit: Rodney’s Oyster House
Moon Burger at Black Frog Eatery in Gastown, Canada
Photo credit: Black Frog Eatery 

I think it’s pretty obvious that we’re a big fan of Gastown’s food scene, which is why we recommend staying in the area for dinner tonight! As a local, I’ve eaten at pretty much every restaurant in the area, so I’m well-equipped to tell you the best ones. 

If you want a casual dinner tonight or just love burgers, we recommend Black Frog, conveniently located near the Steam Clock. It has a relaxed atmosphere and has lots of different beers on tap and sports showing on their large screen TVs. It opens on weekdays at 11:30 am and weekends at noon and closes between midnight and 2 am.

A great romantic dinner option is Rodney’s Oyster House which specializes in, yep, you guessed it – oysters! But their menu has plenty of other amazing seafood-inspired dishes, like their New England Clam Chowder. Rodney’s is open Wednesday to Saturday from 4 pm – 10 pm and Sundays from 2 pm – 8 pm. We recommend you book a table online to avoid disappointment.

There are plenty of awesome sushi joints in Vancouver, but one of our favorites here in Gastown is Momo because it offers delicious sushi at an affordable price. Momo is open daily from 11 am to 9 pm, but table seating is limited, so it’s best to get here early to ensure you get a seat. 

Day 4 in Vancouver

Option 1 – Full-day tour to Whistler

Views of Whistler town from the gondola
Up the Whistler Gondola we go!
Taking a selfie in Whistler Village!

For your final day in Vancouver, you have two awesome options take a full-day tour to the scenic mountain town of Whistler, which is just 90 minutes from downtown, or stay in the city and check out the quirky neighborhood of Kitsilano as well as Olympic Village and Science World! 

We just adore Whistler. It’s great in all seasons – Whistler in winter is one of the best ski destinations in the world, and in the summer Whistler is the place to be for mountain bike enthusiasts, while in the off-seasons of spring and fall, it’s so pretty and quiet! I’m sure you’ve heard of Whistler, so if it’s always been on your bucket list, make day 4’s activity a day tour of Whistler!

This full-day Whistler tour is a brilliant option and stops at all the best spots along the Sea to Sky Highway. I loved this tour because I got to hop on the Sea to Sky Gondola for an epic view, wander the stunning Shannon Falls Provincial Park and have a few hours to explore the super-cute Whistler village. The village is so photogenic and is full of great cafes (we fell in love with PureBread), galleries, and independent boutiques!

This 10-hour tour begins at 9 am, and your driver will pick you up from your Vancouver hotel. It costs $214 CAD, and that includes all transportation and the Sea to Sky gondola ticket. But you will need to allow a bigger budget for food and any souvenirs you may buy in Whistler. You’ll be back in Vancouver just in time for a delicious final dinner in the city!

In short, this tour is a great and convenient way to visit Whistler. Of course, if you have more time, we highly recommend spending the night in Whistler. 

Related Read:  Whistler is an outdoor playground with lots of great hikes, ziplining tours, and ATV adventures!

Option 2 – Olympic Village/Kitsilano

Instead of visiting Whistler, today you could pay a visit to some of my favorite Vancouver neighborhoods – Olympic Village and Kitsilano. I’ve written a fun itinerary below that incorporates the best of these vibrant areas!

Morning – Olympic Village

Waterfront area of Olympic Village
The waterfront area at Olympic Village!

Your second option for today’s adventures has you heading out to Olympic Village, built for the 2010 Winter Olympics! Your first stop here should be Olympic Village Square which is home to a unique sculpture called ‘The Birds’ created by artist Myfanwy MacLeod.

This is also where you’ll find some of the best restaurants and cafes in the neighborhood, such as our recommended breakfast spot – Terra Breads. It has arguably the best coffee in Vancouver, and they focus on light, healthy breakfast dishes such as scrambled eggs and Danish havarti on brioche and granola bowls. Oh, and before you go, be sure to buy one of their delicious pastries for your walk over to Science World. Terra Bread is located on Manitoba Street and is open every day from 7:30 am to 5 pm. 

Olympic Village is easily reachable from downtown via the SkyTrain, a 5-minute Uber/taxi ride, or by water on the Aquabus

Your next stop is hard to miss on Vancouver’s skyline. It’s the super-unique geodesic dome that houses Science World, and it’s just a 7-minute walk from Olympic Village Square. Spend a couple of hours here checking out the various different exhibits, shows, and interactive displays. P.S. This stop can’t be missed if you’re traveling with kids. 

Entrance to Science World costs $33.20 CAD for adults, but if you want to watch an IMAX film, it’ll be an additional $6.50 CAD. And discounted rates are available for seniors, children, and students. Their opening hours vary seasonally, so be sure to check out the Science World website before you visit!

Lunch – Tap and Barrel or CRAFT Beer Market

View from a table at Craft and Barrel!

Grab lunch in Olympic Village before hitting your next stop, and with plenty of choices here, we’ve narrowed it down to two of our favorites.

First up is Tap and Barrel on the False Creek Seawall, which boasts Pacific Northwest-inspired dishes and awesome views over Rogers Arena, Science World, and BC Place. If it’s a nice day, grab a seat on their large patio. If you’re keen on a drink, you’re in luck here, as they offer 24 BC craft beer taps and 14 BC wine taps. As for food, we love their chicken wings and quesadillas, or why not try something more unusual like their tuna ceviche?

Another great lunch option in this neighborhood is the aptly named Craft Beer Market, a huge pub housed in the historic Salt Building that serves all kinds of beers, from local BC craft beers to beers from far-flung destinations. This is the place to be for craft beer lovers (like us!). If you’re not too hungry, opt for one of their bar snacks, such as poutine, or order one of our favorite dishes, like the Cabo Crab Tacos or their West Coast Salmon Bowl!

Afternoon – Kitsilano

Bailey poses for a photo at Kitsilano Beach, Vancouver
Welcome to Kits!
Bailey enjoys a drink at Kitsilano, Beach, Vancouver
It’s my go-to for drinks and the sunset!

Your final afternoon in Vancouver will be spent in the quirky, cool neighborhood of Kitsilano, or “Kits” as locals affectionately know it. In fact, it’s one of my favorite parts of the whole city! That’s because it offers all the same amenities as downtown Vancouver, such as awesome restaurants, cafes, and great shopping, but it exudes such a chilled-out vibe that you can’t help but fall in love with the place. 

To get to Kitsilano from Olympic Village, you can hop in a 10-minute Uber/Taxi ride or catch the #84 bus from Olympic Village Station towards UBC, hopping off at the Macdonald Street stop.

The center of Kitsilano is Kits Beach. At any time of day, it’s a hub of activity with locals and tourists playing sand volleyball, swimming, or just sunbathing and chatting on the sand. There are also many food stands surrounding the beach if you get peckish. And in the summer there is often live music acts too. 

If you want a saltwater swimming experience without the sand, head to Kitsilano Pool, the city’s only saltwater swimming pool. Which is heated, so you can enjoy it even on a rainy Vancouver day! It’s right next to Kits Beach and is open every day from 7 am to 10 pm from May through October. 

When you’ve had enough of the beach, head over to West 4th Ave and West Broadway to get your shopping fix, as here you will find the perfect mix of thrift stores and boutique shops. I’ve picked up so many cute things from the stores here! 

Seeing as it’s the afternoon, it’s probably time to have your second (or third coffee) of the day – who’s counting, am I right?! So, head over to Kits Beach Coffee, a newish shop with excellent coffee, tasty baked goods, and great beach views! 

And finally, if you happen to be visiting Vancouver between early May and late October, be sure to pop out to the Kitsilano Farmers Market, which takes place every Sunday between 10 am and 2 pm on 10th Ave. and Larch St. There are over 50 stalls here selling everything from fresh fruit and veg to coffee and more!

Dinner – Boathouse Kitsilano Beach

Bailey sits at the Boathouse Restaurant in Kitsilano, Vancouver, BC
Enjoying the view at sunset from The Boatshed.
kitsilano at sunset as seen from The Boatshed Restaurant
Sunsets here are epic!

Boy, have we saved the best dinner for last! Tonight you’ll stay in Kitsilano for the last (and most memorable) dinner of your trip. The Boathouse is one of the best restaurants in Kitsilano because not only does it serve up excellent seafood dishes, but it’s one of the best sunset-watching spots in the entire city!

As you can probably guess, this is an incredibly popular spot, so it’s best to book a table in advance to avoid disappointment! Choose from the modern main dining room with full-length glass windows for the best views of famous Kits Beach, or on a warm evening, pick a table on their open-air deck.

The Boathouse is famed for only using local, fresh, and sustainable seafood. When we dined here, we ordered their Hot Crab Dip, which is made with cream cheese and roasted red peppers. As well as that, we had their garlicky, spicy mussel and chorizo steamer pot and the coconut pacific cod. Both were 10/10 dishes!

Oh, and save ordering a dessert here and instead head to Rain or Shine on W 4th Avenue for the best ice cream in Vancouver. It’s a Kitsilano icon and specializes in yummy ice cream free from artificial ingredients – their flavors are super-creative too! We loved their blueberry balsamic and honey lavender flavors!

Where to Stay in Vancouver, Canada

Hyatt Regency Vancouver
Photo credit: Hyatt Regency Vancouver

Vancouver is one of the most popular cities in Canada! If you’re coming for four days, you’ll want to stay somewhere central to maximize your time.

Regardless of what time of year you visit, accommodations can fill up fast. So check out our full blog on where to stay in Vancouver or some of our favorite places below and make sure to book your stay well in advance.

Hyatt Regency Vancouver – $$$

The Hyatt Regency is situated right in the middle of all the action. Rooms are spacious, super clean, and have floor-to-ceiling windows with awesome views of downtown Vancouver. The hotel has everything you could need on-site including a gym, business center, heated pool and hot tub, bar, restaurant, and even a Starbucks to start your mornings! There are suites and rooms of all types with prices starting around $300. To book this top-notch luxury stay, check availability online here!

Times Square Suites – $$

Times Square Suites is a beautiful hotel close to both Stanley Park and the Seaplane Terminal – two stops on our itinerary! There’s a free gym nearby and a rooftop patio with great views of the surrounding area. We stayed in their one-bedroom suite, and had a super restful sleep thanks to their plush beds! Rooms start as low as $202 CAD when booked well in advance online.

The Cambie Hostel Gastown – $

The Cambie Hostel is a great budget choice for backpackers and travelers looking to stay in the heart of Gastown. It’s close to many of Gastown’s best restaurants, and there’s also a great bar attached to the hostel. The bathrooms are a bit cramped, but the rooms are clean, there’s free Wi-Fi, and the staff are really friendly and helpful. Rooms here start at $110 CAD so book ahead on either Hostelworld.com or Booking.com to snag this deal!

Renting a Car in British Columbia

A rural road with Mt Currie in the background
Road trips are the best way to explore Canada!

If you’re arriving in British Columbia via plane, then I can’t recommend getting a rental car enough. British Columbia is a large province, and traveling between the best places to visit in BC requires transport. Although you can use public transport on some occasions, this means your trip will not only require more time but more planning.

Car rental in Canada isn’t relatively cheap, but it’s not that expensive either, especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with a pick-up and drop-off in different locations is around $100 CAD per day. The price does vary though, depending on the time of year. For car rentals, I use the website Discover Cars. It’s a search engine with lots of deals with good customer service. In fact, I’ve used Discover Cars all over the world, including in Chile, New Zealand, and Australia. Read my honest review of Discover Cars here for more details!

Another popular option is to rent a campervan or motorhome (only for the brave in winter.) Using Motorhome Republic, you can search hundreds of deals across multiple companies to pick a great vehicle and the cheapest price. Having a motorhome is a stunning way to see Canada, and using crown land and campsites, you can often camp for free or very cheap in the most beautiful places imaginable!

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey enjoy craft beer at Stanley Park Brewing in Vancouver
Thanks for reading!

Wow, and there it is, the perfect 4-day Vancouver itinerary. I’m sure you’ll agree it really does highlight the best of Vancouver, from bucket-list-worthy tours to wandering the cool city neighborhoods. I’ve even given you the option to take one of the best day trips from Vancouver to Whistler! A 4-day vacation in Vancouver is an ideal amount of time to truly get a feel for the city that I love so much!

Thanks so much for reading! We really hope this has helped inspire your visit here.

If you have any questions just leave a comment below and we will get back to you! Also, if you loved this travel guide jump over and check out all our other Canada travel guides or these related articles below!

33 BEST Things to do on Vancouver Island (2023 Bucket List!)

5 BEST Granville Island Boat Tours

15 Things to KNOW about the Richmond Night Market, Vancouver

11 BEST Stops on the Drive from Vancouver to Squamish

Elizabeth

Friday 19th of April 2024

Thank you so much for this very detailed article. I'm planning to visit early May and was wondering whether to spend 3 or 4 days..looks like I will do 4 days..very well outlined all the places to explore...

Destinationless Travel

Tuesday 23rd of April 2024

Hey Elizabeth!

Four days is the perfect amount of time! I'm hoping we have a warm May like last year too!

Thanks Bailey

Kim

Wednesday 24th of January 2024

Hello, I absolutely loved this article. I am interested in travelling to Vancouver mid February 2024 and I realize most of the places to see and things to do are geared towards warmer weather. Do you have any suggestions for a 3 day stay in February? Appreciate your insight, thank you !!

Destinationless Travel

Thursday 25th of January 2024

Hey Kim,

I have a huge blog about Vancouver in winter - https://destinationlesstravel.com/things-to-do-in-vancouver-in-winter/

Vancouver has a mild winter so there is still a ton to do and many of the parks including Lynn Canyon, Stanley Park and Capilano are still fantastic to explore. You can also still do a ton of tours and the food is amazing all year. Please have a search on our blog for Vancouver because we lived there and still visit a few times per year and have tons of content.

Thanks Daniel