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While Vancouver, BC is surrounded by mountains, trees, and wildlife, it’s pretty hard to ignore the epic park that is the heart of the city. I’m talking about Stanley Park of course!
The park itself makes up the northern part of Vancouver’s downtown peninsula and is this little oasis in the city. As Vancouver locals, we try to visit Stanley Park whenever we can – whether we are biking along the Seawall or just packing a picnic lunch. This park is a hot spot for locals and visitors to explore and take a break from city life!
But if you’re only in Vancouver for a couple of days or want some help exploring this park (it is HUGE after all!), we can help. As Vancouver locals, we’ve taken our fair share of tours ourselves and with family and friends who come to visit, so we have some recommendations to pass along.
We’ve handpicked the 8 best tours of Stanley Park for you to choose from whether you want to walk, bike, go by horse-drawn carriage, or are looking for a Vancouver city tour that will also show you some of the other highlights.
So let’s get to it!
About Stanley Park, Vancouver
Stanley Park was the first established city park in Vancouver and is one of Canada’s largest parks. It stretches across 405 hectares, which is actually larger than Central Park in New York! Because it’s so big, there’s no shortage of activities to do in Stanley Park.
Prior to being a park, this land was a territory of the Coastal Salish First Nations. It was eventually taken over by European settlers, and established as a park in 1888 and named after Governor General Frederick Arthur Stanley. The park is located in northwest Vancouver, surrounded by the Burrard Inlet and the English Bay.
The most well-known structure in Stanley Park is the Seawall which stretches 8.8 kilometers (5.5 miles) around the peninsula. It took over half a century to complete this project, from 1914 to 1971! Today, it’s a popular spot for biking, walking, and running and really lets you see the entirety of the park.
Stanley Park is hugely popular among locals and visitors to Vancouver. There’s just so much to see! As locals, one of our favorite sunny day activities is spending an afternoon at Stanley Park. It’s hard to beat a gorgeous day in the park!
Why Book a Tour Through Stanley Park?
Stanley Park is huge and truly has a rich history. While it might not be your first instinct to book a tour of a park, I really can’t recommend it enough! Booking a tour through Stanley Park gives you the opportunity to learn unique aspects of this place, such as its Indigenous and geological history. You can spend time with a local guide who will take you to the best spots in the park and you’ll probably see areas you might have missed.
Another great reason to book a tour of Stanley Park is the convenience factor. They usually include everything you need, which saves you a ton of planning time. For example, if you book a biking tour of Stanley Park, you’ll get the bike rental, guides, gear, and more for about the same price as renting a bike on your own.
Tours of Stanley Park are also a great way to get unique experiences like a horse-drawn carriage ride or a photography tour in that beautiful evening golden light. It’s definitely worth adding a tour of Stanley Park to your Vancouver itinerary, so let’s help you find one!
Our TOP Stanley Park Tour
Offering a 5-hour journey to some of the best sights in the city, our personal favorite tour is this Vancouver highlights bike tour! From Stanley Park to Granville Island, this experience covers a lot in half a day – your fare on the Aquabus ferry ride to Granville is also included in your ticket.
At just $117 CAD per person, this is the perfect introduction not just to Stanley Park, but also to Vancouver! Spots on this tour do fill up fast though, so make sure to secure your spot online in advance here.
Best Stanley Park Tours and Experiences
1. Vancouver Secrets of Stanley Park Walking Tour
One of my favorite parts of Stanley Park is the unique art and history all around. If you don’t know where to look, you can easily miss it. That’s why this two-hour walking tour is a great way to see the sights that are off-the-beaten path!
This tour focuses on storytelling, making for an entertaining way to experience the park. They call this the “secrets” tour because you can uncover some of the unique history of Stanley Park. Your local guide will take you to quirky art installations, historic crime scenes, hidden trails, and secret cemeteries.
The tour weaves through Deadman’s Island to the Lumberman Arch, which is the grounds of the Whoi Whoi village and an iconic spot in the park. It is pretty interesting to explore this area, and this is where having a local guide comes in handy. They will tell the significance of the Whoi Whoi people who continued to reside here even when the area was designated as a park.
This tour is not only informative but a really fun way to experience Vancouver! It starts and finishes outside of the Vancouver Aquarium, so you can also stop in there before your tour begins at 4 pm.
You can book this tour online for $37 CAD for adults and $33 CAD for children and seniors. It’s only offered on Saturdays, so make sure you grab a spot before it fills up!
2. Stanley Park Bike Tour
One of the best ways to explore Stanley Park is by bike! This park is massive, so there’s a lot of ground to cover. This three-hour guided bike tour takes you around the highlights of Stanley Park for a relaxed morning or afternoon outside.
The tour meets at Cycle City in downtown Vancouver and follows the Seawall around the perimeter of the park. This route gives you great views of the Burrard Inlet, the North Shore Mountains, and the Vancouver skyline. It is honestly one of my favorite biking routes in Vancouver.
Don’t worry, you won’t be riding for three hours straight! Your guide plans plenty of stops along the way to scenic viewpoints to give history and facts about the area.
You’ll pass by one of Vancouver’s best beaches Third Beach (plan to come back here later on your own!) and go all the way to Brockton Point Lighthouse. This is one of the prettiest areas of Stanley Park and it’s also where the famous totem poles are located. These totem poles are intricately designed and help tell the story of the area’s Indigenous people.
This half-day excursion includes your bike rental, helmets, and guide. I love that this tour is small with a maximum of 12 people so you won’t feel lost in a crowd. and only accommodates up to 12 people and is good for all ages. It can be booked online for $88 CAD and is offered daily at 9 am or 2 pm, so it’s a great activity to do during summer in Vancouver!
3. Vancouver Highlights Bike Tour – The Grand Tour
Deserving of the “grand” title, this is easily one of the best Vancouver tours because you truly see all the highlights of this city. What we love about this tour is you get to experience the beauty of Stanley Park and beyond over this five-hour biking tour.
You’ll meet at Cycle City downtown like the previous tour we mentioned. After getting fitted with the proper helmet and high-quality bike, you’ll start your journey in the protected bike lane right outside the shop. Then you’ll spend an hour and a half exploring the beautiful park riding along the famous Seawall path, spot some wildlife, and have the chance to see the giant 600-year-old cedar trees. These are the biggest trees I’ve seen in my whole life!
After you pass by English Bay, you’ll take your bike aboard the ferry and head towards Granville Island. The Aquabus ferry ride makes this tour a true Vancouver experience, and your ticket is included.
Once you get to Granville Island, you’ll take a break from riding and have a chance to explore the Public Market on your own and find some lunch. This famous market is the second most visited attraction in Canada, so the fact that a visit here is included in this tour is really cool.
The biking continues through Olympic Village, Chinatown, and Gastown. We weren’t kidding when we called this the “highlights tour”! You truly hit the main attractions of Vancouver, all in one awesome day of biking. This tour costs $116 CAD which includes everything you need except your lunch on Granville Island. So if you’re up for a fun day seeing Vancouver sights from a bike, book your tour online here!
4. Stanley Park Horse-Drawn Carriage Tour
While there are so many activities to do in Stanley Park, we love slowing down and partaking in something relaxing! This horse-drawn carriage ride is a great way to see the park in an old-fashioned way.
The one-hour tour takes you to some of the most beautiful parts of Stanley Park in style! You’ll travel down Park Drive overlooking the Seawall, taking in the landscape and wildlife. Your guide will share stories and information about this historic park such as the Rose Garden, Girl in a Wetsuit statue, and the First Nations totem poles. This is a great chance for you to see the Lions Gate Bridge too and snap a photo!
This tour leaves from the departure station right next to Stanley Park Informational Booth, which overlooks Coal Harbor and downtown Vancouver. The carriages can fit up to 15 people, which could be a whole family activity or a great date idea in Vancouver!
While most activities in Stanley Park are more physical, like walking or biking, we love that this tour is low-key and great for anybody! This tour is $60 CAD for adults, $56 CAD for seniors, and $25 CAD for children ages 3-12. You can easily book online here and take advantage of the buy now, pay later option with Viator!
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.
- 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.
5. Vancouver City Hop-on Hop-off Tour
There is truly so much to see in the city of Vancouver and one of the best ways to see as much as you can is aboard this hop-on hop-off bus tour. We love this option because you have the convenience of a tour, such as planning all the stops and details, with the freedom of taking as much time at each spot as you want.
How this tour works is you’ll purchase a general ticket that’s good for the whole day. The bus leaves the first stop at 8:45 am during the summer months and 9:45 am during winter in Vancouver – but you can join at any time and at any stop during the day! The bus has 16 planned stops along the route, and you’ll have a nice little map with drop-off/pick-up points to follow.
As you drive through the city, your guide will be giving you all kinds of information. When the bus makes a stop, you can decide if you want to “hop off” and explore the area or keep riding.
If you decide to hop off, you can spend as much time exploring the area as you want, and there will be another bus that will come on a schedule that you can simply “hop on”! While this tour says it will be 90 minutes, you can really take as long as you’d like.
One of the main attractions highlighted on this tour is Stanley Park, where you will be dropped off at Brockton Point to see the totem poles, and if you want to explore the park further, you certainly can.
Tickets are only $65 CAD for adults and $33 CAD for kids. Easily book a ticket on this bus tour online and you can always cancel up to 24 hours in advance if your plans change!
6. Vancouver City Sightseeing Tour: Granville Island and Stanley Park
One of the best ways to experience Vancouver is seeing it with a local! So while we can’t join you on your tour, the next best thing is this Vancouver city sightseeing tour! You’ll see the best spots around the city with a local as your guide so you have the chance to really get to know the area.
This tour is great because you’ll have time to get out and explore the areas, but also have the guide do all the planning, and driving, and tell you all kinds of information along the way.
Your half-day tour will start from the Georgian Court Hotel or you can call ahead for pick-up from select hotels in Vancouver, which is always super convenient! First, you will head to Gastown, which is full of cobblestone streets and old brick buildings. Gastown used to be the main downtown of Vancouver and is now celebrated as a historic part of the city. You’ll then head to Chinatown, which is the largest Chinatown in Canada!
The next stop takes you to the iconic Granville Island Public Market. This farmers’ market holds local vendors so you can buy art, vegetables, or other goods from Vancouver. You’ll then head to Stanley Park to see the First Nations Totem Poles and explore the area. The final destination of the tour is visiting Prospect Point, which has been a significant point in Vancouver’s history and is a great place to watch ships go under the Lions Gate Bridge.
This tour is full of stunning sights that make Vancouver truly unique and is really reasonable at $72 CAD. I love that the guide takes the time to show you all these interesting places in Vancouver. This is a really popular tour and tends to sell out, so make sure to book your spot soon!
Related Read: If you want more time to explore Granville Island, we highly recommend a Granville Island tour. There’s even one that pairs you up with professional chef to find the best places to eat!
7. Independent Bike or E-bike Tour of Vancouver
We love tours because they take care of all the details, but sometimes it’s nice to have the freedom to explore independently. This biking tour combines both, to make for a super fun day of exploring Vancouver!
You’ll be able to rent a bicycle or electric bicycle for eight hours and use maps designed by local experts to take you to the best spots in Vancouver. Vancouver is a great biking city, so this is an excellent way to get around whether you’re spending one day or four days in Vancouver.
Once you have your map, helmet, and bike lock (all provided for you) you are ready to ride! You can set your own pace and spend as much time as you’d like riding. The tour route starts in Stanley Park, which is the best area for biking in my opinion. It will then take you through the city and to Science World, where you can stop and explore this educational and fun museum (admission is not included in the tour).
The bike tour route will lead you back outside to the historic neighborhood of Gastown. You’ll definitely want to make a stop here! Finally, you’ll head to Granville Island to check out the local market and artisans.
We love that this tour is so flexible and gets you outside. You can easily spend a full day biking around Vancouver! This tour can be booked online and is $100 CAD for e-bikes and $53 CAD for standard bikes.
8. Stanley Park and English Bay Golden Hour Photography Tour
Stanley Park is a stunning area no matter when you visit, but I’ve found it especially beautiful during the golden hour. You’ll see the water glimmer and the golden hue hit the trees. I love that this Golden Hour photography tour gives you the opportunity to learn the basics of capturing professional-style photos while enjoying the beauty of this area.
Over two hours in the evening, you can use either a DSLR or your phone camera to take some amazing photos of Stanley Park, English Bay, and Sunset Beach. You’ll be working with a photography expert who has a passion for teaching!
You’ll get one-on-one instruction on landscape and city photography and can use the camera you have or borrow a DSLR. This is a small group tour of four people, so you really get time to ask questions, gain insights, and practice! This tour is ideal for beginners, giving you a chance to play around with a nice camera before you jump into a new hobby entirely.
This tour is super cool because you not only get to learn a new skill, but it gives you a chance to explore the area as well! It’s $65 CAD per person and starts at 6 pm in the evening, so you’ll still have time to drop into one of the great breweries in Vancouver after!
Make sure to book your photography tour online so you can learn how to take great photos of your time in Vancouver!
Related Read: There’s another great photography tour offered in Lynn Canyon – another must-see spot in Vancouver.
Is visiting Stanley Park worth it?
Yes, Stanley Park is a must-visit when you’re in Vancouver! We try to visit every chance we can and often take friends here.
Stanley Park is ideal for visitors, as there are so many fun experiences to do. As locals, we love spending time in the park, either having a lazy afternoon or riding our bikes along the Seawall. Whether you take a horse-drawn carriage ride, rent an e-bike to explore, or see it as part of a greater Vancouver tour, there is really so much to see.
Stanley Park is full of history and a staple of Vancouver culture. I can’t recommend visiting Stanley Park enough!
Other Things to do While You’re in Vancouver
Vancouver is a city filled with tons of things to do and see. So while you’re here, don’t miss out on some of the top attractions and activities:
- Go whale watching – It’s not just people who flock to Vancouver every year! From the beautiful black and white orcas to the lively humpbacks, going whale watching in Vancouver makes for a truly unforgettable memory. This half-day whale watching tour offers an amazing experience with a guarantee you’ll see whales!
- Ride in a seaplane – One of our favorite memories in Vancouver was riding in a seaplane. Taking off and landing on the ocean is super exciting, and then the views from the air are breathtaking. This seaplane ride lasts for 20 minutes and costs $168 CAD. You can even take a seaplane to get from Vancouver to Victoria!
- Eat ALL the food! – Vancouver is a foodie destination. Showcasing cuisine from all around the world in top-rated restaurants, you really need to make an effort to eat out a few times while in Vancouver. For breakfast, Jam Cafe or Medina are our go-to’s. For Asian cuisine, you can’t pass up Minami for sushi or Danbo for ramen. You can also join this highly-rated food tour that takes you to some of the city’s best restaurants in the area of Gastown.
- Explore Kitsilano – One of our favorite areas in all of Vancouver is Kitsilano. This suburb is super trendy and has many cute stores, cafés, and restaurants that are well worth checking out. On top of that, Kitsilano Beach is one of the best beaches in Vancouver and the perfect place to relax. It’s also our favorite place to watch the sunset.
- Hiking – There are a ton of amazing hikes in and around Vancouver. Challenge yourself with the famous Grouse Grind, wander the trails near the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge, or even drive towards Squamish and do The Chief.
Where to Stay in Vancouver, Canada
Vancouver is one of the most popular cities in Canada. The fact is that in the summer and winter, the city books up in advance very fast! Booking your hotel or hostel well in advance is the only way to secure one of the top places to stay in Vancouver.
Here are a few great hotels in Van that we love:
The Cambie Hostel Gastown – $
If you’re traveling on a budget, look no further than The Cambie Hostel. It’s located in the heart of Gastown and close to lots of bars and restaurants, and there’s also a great bar attached to the hostel too.
It can always be a bit of a gamble trying out a budget hostel, but from our own experience, this one is a real gem! While the bathrooms are a little bit cozy, the rooms are clean, there’s free Wi-Fi and the staff are really happy to help you out with anything you need. Private rooms here start at $100 CAD or bunks in dorm rooms are more around the $50 CAD mark. You can book your stay over on Hostelworld.com or Booking.com!
Times Square Suites – $$
For a beautiful hotel close to Stanley Park you can’t pass over the Times Square Suites. Toeing the line between affordability and comfort, it’s very hard to fault this hotel and its location in Vancouver’s west end is nothing short of perfect!
We stayed in their one-bedroom suite, and I’ve got to say that I had the most restful sleep in that bed than I’ve had in weeks! Rooms here start at $224 CAD per night and can be booked over on Booking.com.
Hyatt Regency Vancouver – $$$
The Hyatt Regency is situated right between Gastown and Stanley Park, so right in the heart of Van’s action. As you can imagine, this is a luxury hotel stay at a well-known hotel chain, so you know your stay will be top-notch.
With a 42″ flat-screen TV is provided in every room. free Wi-Fi, as well as floor-to-ceiling windows, the views of downtown Van don’t get much better than this. The Mosaic Bar and Grill serves some truly amazing food, and if you fancy something a bit stronger, the Grain Tasting Bar has some awesome signature cocktails. Book a luxurious stay here online.
Don’t get Caught without Travel Insurance!
We never travel without travel insurance! We’ve had a few instances during our travels when one of us has ended up in the hospital, and travel insurance has saved us thousands of dollars over the years!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance, we both have policies with them whenever we travel.
They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!)The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!) While most travel insurance companies left people stranded, SafetyWing fully reimbursed us for our last-minute, pricey flights!
Also, because it is so affordable, there really is no excuse not to take out a policy. Check prices and get a quote online here with SafetyWing (you can even take out a policy if you’re already traveling!)
Thanks for reading!
Stanley Park is one of the greatest attractions in Vancouver, and that’s saying something for a city with so much to do! It’s one of the places you must visit whether you’re in Vancouver for two days or two weeks! A tour of Stanley Park is a really convenient way to see all the best parts of the park while you’re here.
Hopefully, our guide to the best Stanley Park tours was helpful! If you need more tips or ideas for your time in Vancouver, make sure to check out our other West Coast blogs including these popular ones below: