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While there are hundreds of things to do in Vancouver, in this blog, we’ve narrowed it down to the BEST 50 activities in and around this vibrant Canadian city. From the great outdoors to amazing food, there is plenty to do in Vancouver for every type of traveler!
Vancouver is one of Canada’s most vibrant cities. For outdoor enthusiasts, adventure lovers, or even those who are interested in food and culture, Vancouver has something exciting to offer – the trick is knowing where to look!
Being from Canada, I have been to Vancouver several times. Each time I visit I cross a few different activities off my Vancouver bucket-list. This time, I spent a couple of weeks exploring Vancouver and really dived into all of the different activities all around the city. Some were great, and some were well, not so great.
After all of my Vancouver adventures, I’ve come up with this list of the 50 BEST things to do in Vancouver. This list is composed of the most exciting, unique, and absolute best-rated ways to spend some time in Vancouver, Canada.
And since so many people call Vancouver “expensive” (and it can be) I have also included many activities which are cheap or even free things to do in Vancouver – so even those on a budget can enjoy this amazing city!
Related read: Visiting in winter? Check out all the best things to do in Vancouver in winter!
- 50 Things to do in Vancouver, Canada
- 1. Bike the Seawall in Stanley Park
- 2. Go on a Brewery Tour
- 3. Join a Food Tour
- 4. Capilano Suspension Bridge
- 5. Go kayaking in False Creek
- 6. Explore Deep Cove and climb Quarry Rock
- 7. Go whale watching
- 8. All you can eat Japanese BBQ
- 9. Ride the Sea to Sky Gondola
- 10. Drink in Gastown
- 11. Visit Grouse Mountain
- 12. Rent a speed boat in Coal Harbor
- 13. Attend a festival or event
- 14. Check out some markets
- 15. Explore Granville Island
- 16. Go to the Science Center
- 17. Wander Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
- 18. Day trip to Whistler
- 19. Hike “The Chief”
- 20. Go to English Bay beach
- 21. Visit Kitsilano
- 22. Spend a day at Alouette Lake
- 23. Hike to Golden Creek Falls
- 24. Walk Lynn Canyon
- 25. Check out the Vancouver Lookout
- 26. Eat at Olympic Village
- 27. Sunset Harbor Dinner Cruise
- 28. Butchart Gardens
- 29. Vancouver Aquarium
- 30. Vancouver city sight-seeing tour
- 31. Explore the Vancouver Art Gallery
- 32. Go Wine Tasting in the Fraser Valley
- 33. Ride in a Seaplane!
- 34. Tour Vancouver Island
- 35. Explore Chinatown
- 36. Visit a ski mountain
- 37. Hike through Lighthouse Park in North Van
- 38. Visit Sasamat Lake
- 39. Take the Sea Bus to Lonsdale Quay
- 40. Visit the Museum of Anthropology
- 41. Explore Commercial Drive
- 42. Eat your way down Main Street
- 43. Get moving with some Yoga
- 44. Go shopping at Metrotown
- 45. Go Stand Up Paddleboarding in Cates Park
- 46. Enjoy a relaxing Brunch
- 47. Wander through Pacific Spirit Park
- 48. Go for a Walk and Fish & Chips at Steveston
- 49. Walk the Iona Jetty
- 50. Check Out Wreck Beach
- Getting Around Vancouver
- Before you go…
50 Things to do in Vancouver, Canada
1. Bike the Seawall in Stanley Park
This is number one on my list simply because it’s the most iconic thing to do in Vancouver. Stanley Park is one of Canada’s most famous parks and it’s conveniently located right in the heart of the city. Even if you’re only spending one day in Vancouver, I highly recommend you make time to visit Stanley Park.
Stanley Park itself is over 4km², so it’s pretty big! You can walk around the park but it would take a long time. That is why bicycling in Stanley Park has become so popular. In particular, people cycle along the seawall which has an allocated bicycle lane.
The seawall wraps all the way around the outer edge of Stanley Park along the water’s edge. During the entire ride, you’ll get amazing views and even be able to stop at a beach (or two) for a break and swim.
The cycle trail around the Stanley Park sea wall is 12 kilometers long and takes about 1.5 to 2 hours to cycle at a moderate pace. There are many different bicycle shops near the entrance to Stanley Park where you can rent a bike. Expect to pay around $20 CAD for an hour and a half of riding.
You can also just join a bicycle tour in Vancouver. This particular bicycle tour includes cycling around Stanley Park, but also includes going to a few other main attractions such as Gastown, Chinatown, and taking the Aqua Ferry over to Granville Island! And the best part?
It is a full-day guided tour that doesn’t cost much more than you would pay for bicycle rental for the day!
2. Go on a Brewery Tour
The craft beer scene in Canada is booming and Vancouver is a huge part of it. Around Vancouver, there are several different breweries that you can visit and try some of their locally made craft beer.
I personally love Granville Island Brewing. Not only do they have great beer and are located on Granville Island (a must-visit place in Vancouver) they also offer brewery tours. Tours run every day throughout the day and cost $12 per person. This fee not only covers your guided tour of the brewery but also a tasting flight of beer at the end!
For real beer lovers though, you need to go to more than just one Vancouver brewery. This behind the scenes craft beer tour will take you to a handful of different breweries around the city where you can try tons of local beer. At each brewery, you will get a behind-the-scenes look at how the beer is made – a super cool tour if you ask me! Plus, it includes transport so you can drink as much as you want without having to worry about a designated driver.
3. Join a Food Tour
Foodies will love Vancouver because there is so much amazing food to try! However, it can be hard to know where to even start. A food tour will let you in on all of the best local spots for amazing food.
When we went on a food tour in Vancouver we tried everything from sushi to poutine to ice cream (and more!) Our guide was a Vancouver local who had a passion for food and was excited to show us all of his favorite restaurants that took him years to discover.
We went on our tour with Secret Food Tours. Overall, we really enjoyed the tour and it was pretty cheap compared to other food tours we’ve done around the world (we personally recommend these guys.) We ate so much food that we were stuffed for days (well, not really – but pretty close!)
However, there are a few different food tour companies to choose from. Booking online in advance is also a great idea during the summer and winter peak tourist times as tours have limited spaces!
4. Capilano Suspension Bridge
Visiting the Capilano Suspension Bridge is another iconic Vancouver activity. The Capilano Suspension Bridge is located only a 20-minute drive from Vancouver city center. Here, you can walk the treetop walk and cross the world-famous Capilano Suspension Bridge. It’s considered one of the best easy hikes in Vancouver!
You only need an hour or two to explore and the entrance fee is $59 CAD for adults. They also run a free shuttle from downtown so you don’t have to worry about getting there!
For something extra special, consider visiting after dark in the winter months when the entire place is lit up like a Christmas tree. Not only is this festive, but it’s also very romantic and the perfect activity for couples or anybody on a Vancouver honeymoon.
A great idea is to skip the line and guarantee your spot on the free shuttle if by buying your tickets in advance online here. We ended up waiting in line for ages!
5. Go kayaking in False Creek
False Creek has very calm waters and offers some incredible views of Vancouver city including the Stadium. From many different areas around the city, you can jump on a kayak and explore False Creek on a nice leisurely ride.
In False Creek it is also common to see seals! If you’re lucky they may swim up not too far from your kayak. But besides seals, you’ll also be able to spot a variety of birds and fish.
You can rent your kayaks from a few different locations around Vancouver. Head to Olympic Village where Creekside Kayaks can hook you up for $25/ per hour for a single kayak. Or, head to Kitsilano Beach where Vancouver Water Adventures will rent you a kayak for $40 for two hours.
Want to get out and explore further? Join this guided kayaking and SUP tour. It takes you by boat to an island in Howe Sound where you can then explore by kayak! This area is stunning and a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a couple hours.
6. Explore Deep Cove and climb Quarry Rock
North Vancouver is gorgeous. Many tourists never actually venture as far as North Vancouver, but in my opinion, they should!
The area of Deep Cove is located across the harbor only about a half an hour drive from Vancouver city. It is also easily reached by public transport.
In Deep Cove, you’ll find cute cafes, restaurants, art galleries, and a waterfront park that you could easily spend a few hours relaxing at.
Just next to the park is the Quarry Rock hiking trail. This short hike only takes about 2 hours both ways and is about 7 kilometers long. The trail is well maintained but does offer some tougher sections of steep inclines or even stairs.
At the end of the trail, you’ll end at Quarry Rock – a large rock with incredible views of the surrounding mountains and Vancouver city.
This hike is short and beautiful and well worth doing if you have the chance. However, it can get very busy with both tourists and locals. I recommend visiting first thing in the morning in order to avoid the crowds as much as possible!
7. Go whale watching
Without a doubt, one of the best things to do in Vancouver is to go on a whale watching tour. Out on the open water, you’ll have to opportunity to spot various types of whales including Humpback whales and Orcas. But besides whales, you’ll also have the opportunity to spot other wildlife including seabirds and otters.
You’ll cruise around the Gulf and the San Juan Islands taking in the picturesque scenery while keeping a close lookout for whales. With so many around, it’s very likely you’ll see a few!
The best time of year to go whale watching in Vancouver is from May to October. You can expect to pay about $150 CAD for a half-day whale watching tour.
8. All you can eat Japanese BBQ
This one is another one for foodies (or even those who just like to eat!) Often, all-you-can-eat-restaurants sacrifice quality for quantity.
But not this diamond in the rough.
Shabusen Japanese restaurant offers extremely high-quality food in its all-you-can-eat selection. It is a local “secret” as not only is the food amazing, but you only pay around $25 CAD!
What I particularly like about this all-you-can-eat Japanese is that it isn’t a buffet. You actually order everything you want from a menu, and if you didn’t order enough the first time around then you can just keep ordering more!
The food on offer is a selection of sushi, sashimi, meats, traditional Japanese dishes like dumplings and gyros, salad, noodles, and BBQ! They also have a BBQ in the middle of your table so you actually cook your own BBQ meats exactly how you want.
This unique little feature makes this restaurant more of an activity or experience rather than just a place to eat. Honestly, this is one of my favorite things to do in Vancouver, BC!
9. Ride the Sea to Sky Gondola
We absolutely loved the Sea to Sky Gondola just outside of Vancouver in Squamish. The views were out of this world and the gondola ride was very affordable considering how far up the mountain it took us! For only $60 CAD you can catch the gondola up to a ridge next to Mount Habrich.
The Sea to Sky Gondola is located in Squamish about a 45-minute drive from Vancouver. The drive itself is very scenic and a thing to do on its own. Also, Squamish is considered one of the best places to visit from Vancouver.
If you don’t have your own transport, there are also day tours available from Vancouver. This tour from Vancouver includes transport to and from the Sea to Sky Gondola (as well as your gondola ticket) before continuing to Whistler and the stunning Brandywine Falls. It’s an epic day trip that any mountain-lover will enjoy.
10. Drink in Gastown
Gastown is one very unique neighborhood in Vancouver. Not only is it the oldest area in Vancouver (it has cobblestone streets to prove it) it is also one of the trendiest. The old European-style streets are lined with pubs and patios perfect for enjoying a drink or two.
If you want a cheap place to drink, check out the Cambie which has $5 happy hour deals. They also often have live music.
If you want a delicious cocktail that is a bit pricier but totally worth it, check out The Diamond cocktail bar right on Powell Street.
11. Visit Grouse Mountain
Grouse Mountain is a mountain located right in Vancouver. You can either take the cable car to the top or hike the trail called “The Grouse Grind”. From the top, you’ll get views of Vancouver as well as have access to a variety of different activities.
Some of the most popular activities include a visit to the Wildlife Refuge (where you can usually see Grizzly Bears), the Lumber Jack show, zip-lining, ropes course, and there are even restaurants! So, why not make a day of it and enjoy the top of Grouse Mountain!
You can skip the line if you buy your admission tickets to Grouse Mountain (including the gondola ride and other included activities and shows) online here!
12. Rent a speed boat in Coal Harbor
Coal Harbour is a gorgeous place, but it’s even more beautiful from out on the water! Get a group of people together and rent a speed boat for a couple of hours. You don’t even need a boat license to drive, the rental company actually issues you a temporary one!
It costs about $200 CAD for a two-hour rental in a speed boat that can have up to 6 people. Two hours is the minimum amount of time I would recommend as this way you can actually get out and explore. In the two hours we rented the boat, we actually got all the way out to Indian Arm! We rented from Coal Harbour Boat Rentals and had a good experience with this company.
It was a fun afternoon and an activity in Vancouver I really recommend (especially if you’re traveling in a group!)
13. Attend a festival or event
There always seems to be something going on in Vancouver. Festivals, shows, events – you name it! Some of the most popular annual events include the pride festival, music festivals, and film festivals. But there are literally hundreds more!
We actually went to the Greek Festival and there were just blocks and blocks of vendors! There was tons of food, performers, and different stalls to check out.
Check out what’s going on in Vancouver when you’re there on the tourism website.
14. Check out some markets
Markets are a popular thing for locals to do in Vancouver. There are some markets that are seasonal, some that focus on fresh produce, and some that focus on cooked food.
One market that operates from May to October which has become famous is the Richmond Night Market. Every night from 7 pm, dozens of vendors sell food and other goodies. According to locals, the food is just as good (if not better than) as the food from Asia itself! There are also games and entertainment to keep you busy.
The Richmond Night Market is located on 8351 River Road, one block away from Bridgeport Station on the Canada Line. It costs $4.75 CAD per adult for an entrance fee.
15. Explore Granville Island
No trip to Vancouver is complete without checking out Granville Island. For those who don’t know, Granville Island is a small island accessed by either boat or car right in the downtown area. On Granville Island, there are a few different things to do and explore, my personal favorite though is the markets.
The markets offer fresh produce, meat, and fish, souvenirs, as well as many stalls where you can have a tasty meal. There is literally so much food at the Granville Island Markets; it’s a great place to go for lunch!
Other things to do on Granville Island include shopping, watching street performers, going to the Kids Markets, or even checking out the brewery.
You can get to Granville Island by taxi or bus, but the most popular (and most fun) way to get to Granville is riding the Aqua Bus Ferry from the city center.
The ferry runs continually throughout the day and will pick you up from a couple of different stops in the city and take you right to Granville Island. The ferry costs $5 and only accepts cash. Not only is it a method of public transport – it’s a fun thing to do on its own!
16. Go to the Science Center
The Science Centre in Vancouver is highly rated and really interesting. To me, it’s the perfect thing to do in Vancouver on a rainy day!
Located right in the city, the Science Center offers a range of different exhibits, shows, and interactive displays guaranteed to keep you busy for a couple of hours.
The entrance costs $27.15CAD for an adult, but if you want to watch an IMAX film it’ll be an additional $6.50. They also offer discounted rates for seniors, children, and students (with ID).
Hours of operation vary seasonally so be sure to check out the Science Center website before you go for their opening hours and what’s on that day!
17. Wander Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
Located on the outskirts of Chinatown in Vancouver city center, there is a beautiful Chinese Garden well worth a wander. The gardens are relatively small and only take a couple of minutes to walk around, but they make for a great photo opportunity.
The entrance to the main gardens is free, but don’t get confused by the admission desk! There is a private section to the gardens that you must pay $14 per person to enter. To me, the free section is nice enough so I don’t recommend paying to check out the other section.
The gardens are located on 578 Carrall Street in downtown Vancouver. You can also find the location on Google Maps.
18. Day trip to Whistler
If you’ve never been to Whistler before, it’s about time to go! Whistler is the cutest mountain town that’s famous for skiing and snowboarding in the winter, and hiking and mountain biking in the summer!
But, there are so many things to do in Whistler that you’re guaranteed to find something fun to do! In fact, just wandering along the pedestrian street in the Village is a fun way to spend a couple of hours.
It takes about 2 hours to get from Vancouver to Whistler driving. You drive along the Sea to Sky Highway which is a very scenic drive – you’ll likely stop a lot for photos so allow extra time. If you think it’s a little rushed then consider staying a night or two in Whistler to truly explore the area.
If you don’t have your own transport you can visit Whistler on this guided day tour. It includes a stop at the Sea to Sky Gondola (that I mentioned above on #9) as well as Whistler and the stunning Brandywine Falls.
19. Hike “The Chief”
Commonly known as “The Chief,” the Stawamus Chief is another popular hike in Vancouver. The trail is located an hour from Vancouver towards Squamish and Whistler on the Sea to Sky Highway, so it’s a great stop on this road trip.
From the trailhead off of the Sea to Sky highway, you’ll start the hike on a wide trail. It quickly turns into a steep section of stairs. This is the most challenging section, so push through and take rests if needed.
You’ll then continue up the trail, through a trail junction with the Sea to Summit Trail, and continue towards one of the three peaks of The Chief. They are marked and depending on your fitness level, you can do one or all three. I opted for the first, which believe me, was enough of a workout on its own.
20. Go to English Bay beach
English Bay Beach (often called First Beach) is the most popular beach right in the city – which is no surprise, it’s simply stunning! You can go for a swim, just enjoy the views, play volleyball, or even eat at one of the nearby restaurants.
If you would like to try a local favorite head to the Cactus Club. This popular restaurant and bar is a top choice for those wanting great food and a vibrant atmosphere.
English Bay is in the city so it’s easily accessible on foot, public transport, or even by bicycle! In fact, if you plan on cycling the Stanley Park Sea Wall a short stop at English Bay Beach is a great place to start.
21. Visit Kitsilano
If English Bay didn’t quite do it for you, consider heading to Kitsilano. Here, there is a larger beach (Kits Beach) is and it’s only a 10-minute drive from the city.
But Kitsilano is more than just a beach, it’s a neighborhood filled with trendy bars, restaurants, and shops. Going for a stroll on the beach for sunset and then heading out for dinner and drinks afterward is a perfect way to spend an evening in Vancouver.
There are also lots of activities in Kitsilano including the waterfront public swimming pool, kayaking, biking, the farmers’ markets, as well as the Maritime Museum.
22. Spend a day at Alouette Lake
A visit to Alouette Lake makes for a superb summer day trip from Vancouver. Why? Well, first of all, it is huge and ideal for swimming, boating, or even fishing! Second of all, it’s only an hour’s drive from the city!
Alouette Lake is located in Golden Ears Provincial Park. Here, you’ll find lots of hiking trails, campsites, and of course, the beach at Alouette Lake. Chances are you will love it and won’t want to leave, so maybe take advantage of the campsites and spend a night or two!
Regardless, Lake Alouette is a very unknown thing to do in Vancouver that’s actually more of a local secret than a tourist attraction. But, take my word for it, this place is so beautiful!
23. Hike to Golden Creek Falls
While you’re at Alouette Lake you might as well tackle one of the best easy hikes in Vancouver – Golden Creek Falls.
The Gold Creek Falls hike is fairly short at just over 5 kilometers for a roundtrip. The minimal elevation gain makes it a fun family-friendly activity in Vancouver during the summer months.
You can start right from the parking lot and head towards the trail. The views are typical for this area as a west coast rainforest – dense trees and moss-blanketed forest floor.
After 15 minutes of hiking, you’ll see Gold Creek on your left as well as views of the mountains all around. You’ll likely hear the falls before seeing them! Once at the Gold Creek Falls, enjoy the sound of rushing water before continuing on to complete the loop.
24. Walk Lynn Canyon
For an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and a taste of nature, head to Lynn Canyon. Here, there is a gorgeous nature walk that also takes you on one of the most beautiful suspension bridges I have seen. You’ll wander the forest, pear down from the bridge at the river below, and just enjoy the serenity.
There is one problem though, Lynn Canyon can be very busy. At times during the summer, there can be multiple busloads of people making what is supposed to be a city escape even more hectic than the streets of Yaletown.
My best advice and a local tip is to go first thing in the morning. Head over to Lynn Canyon early (before 9 am) and you’ll beat the crowds! That is what we did and as we were leaving there was literally a line to cross the suspension bridge.
If you don’t have your own transport, consider this guided tour to Lynn Canyon!
25. Check out the Vancouver Lookout
The Vancouver Lookout is one of the best places to enjoy views of Vancouver’s skyline. Go up into the clouds 169m above Vancouver and enjoy the panoramic views during the day, night, or at sunset!
To get to the top, you’ll jump into a glass elevator and take a 40-second ride up to the top viewing deck where you can see Vancouver from up above!
The Lookout is open from 9 am to 9 pm in the winter and from 8:30 am to 10:30 pm in the summer. It costs $18.25 for an adult. If you’re planning a special event you can also rent the space for weddings or events.
26. Eat at Olympic Village
If you want to get out of the city and explore another area of Vancouver, the trendy Olympic Village could be the spot! Originally built for the 2010 Winter Olympics that were hosted in Vancouver, the Olympic Village is now a fun area to hang out. Here, you can enjoy beer gardens, harbor views, and a selection of restaurants.
You can reach the Olympic Village on the train or bus, but you can also take the Aqua Ferry (that I mentioned for getting to Granville Island) from the city.
27. Sunset Harbor Dinner Cruise
Doesn’t a sunset cruise in Vancouver just sound fantastic! Nothing quite says you’re on holidays like dinner, drinks, and a magical Vancouver sunset all while out on the water!
And the best part? It’s only $100 CAD for the cruise complete with dinner. By Vancouver standards, that’s cheap!
28. Butchart Gardens
If you don’t have time to explore Vancouver Island for a few days it doesn’t mean you can’t visit on a day trip! One of the best things to do on Vancouver Island is to visit the world-famous Butchart Gardens. These gardens are nothing short of phenomenal and will likely be the most beautiful gardens you’ve ever seen.
In order to get to the gardens, you’ll have to ride the ferry over to the island. It is about a 4-hour ferry ride and then the gardens are only an hour’s drive away. You can go on your own, or you can book a tour.
There are tours that take you on the ferry and then there are some tours that actually fly there! The flight tours are more expensive but the scenic ride over to the island is an experience in itself, not to mention it is way quicker!
Entrance to the gardens is $33.80 CAD but be sure to bring extra money in case you want to have lunch, a glass of wine, or buy a souvenir!
29. Vancouver Aquarium
Being on the coast, Vancouver sees its fair share of sea life. But it isn’t always easy to find these guys in the wild – that’s where an aquarium comes in!
The Vancouver Aquarium has more than 60,000 aquatic creatures including sea lions, dolphins, and whales. They have daily shows including the dolphin feeding and an IMAX presentation.
What I like most about the Vancouver Aquarium is that they are a conservation project. It’s actually a non-profit so your entrance fee goes towards a few really neat projects to help protect sea life!
Admission is $38 CAD for an adult, but you can often get a better deal booking online.
30. Vancouver city sight-seeing tour
If you’re only in Vancouver for a couple of days then one of the best ways to get to know the city is on a city sightseeing tour. As much as I like to explore cities on my own when I don’t have much time I find that a guided tour is the best way to see and learn lots all in a matter of a few hours!
There are a few different sightseeing tours to choose from. Some drive you around, some are cycling, and some are even walking tours! I personally recommend this particular city tour because it actually drives you around (wasting less time getting around) and takes you to all of Vancouver’s highlights including Granville Island, Gastown, Chinatown, Stanley Park, and more!
Most tours are around $100 per person and include a knowledgeable guide as well as entry fees. Most tours go for a few hours (4 hours or so) and some include a stop for lunch.
31. Explore the Vancouver Art Gallery
If you’re into art then the Vancouver Art Gallery is a must! Now, I have to be honest, this isn’t my favorite thing to do in Vancouver. Neither Daniel nor I really “get” art. However, for some, this gallery will blow you away.
First of all, the Vancouver Art Gallery is in a historic and beautiful building. Many people take photos on the steps, and actually many movies are also filmed there. And then inside there is a collection of international and local art. There are actually over 11,600 pieces of artwork in the gallery – so give yourself lots of time to explore.
The art gallery costs $24 CAD for an adult and is easily reached right in the city. They’re open every day from 10 am to 5 pm except for Tuesdays, when they are open until 9 pm.
32. Go Wine Tasting in the Fraser Valley
This is one of my personal favorite activities to do in Vancouver! Anyone who knows me knows that I love wine, and the only thing I love more than wine is wine tours!
The Fraser Valley just outside of Vancouver is a beautiful wine region producing some really tasty wines. A wine tour to the Fraser Valley will take you around to some of the best wineries and you get to taste all of the wine for yourself! Sounds like a good day if you ask me!
This Fraser Valley Wine tour is a five-hour tour that takes you to five different wineries where you can try a variety of boutique wines. The tour will pick you up and drop you off at your Vancouver hotel so all you have to worry about is having a brilliant day!
33. Ride in a Seaplane!
If you ever spend some time watching the Vancouver Harbour you’ll notice all of the seaplanes taking off and landing. In Vancouver, taking a scenic plane ride is one of the most popular things to do.
You can choose from a scenic city tour, flights that take you to Tofino, Victoria, Whistler, and even Seattle! There are actually even seaplane tours that also combine with whale watching for a really special day.
Prices range depending on the tour but start at $135. The planes typically depart in the harbor but sometimes they leave from the Richmond airport only a short drive away.
Seaplanes tours are especially popular in Vancouver so be sure to book online in advance. Check out all of the different choices for seaplanes tours in Vancouver!
34. Tour Vancouver Island
I mentioned before heading to Victoria for the day to check out the gardens, but the truth is that if you have more time you should really take a few days on the island!
There are plenty of great multi-day Vancouver Island tours that depart directly from Vancouver. These are a great option if you don’t have your own transport (Vancouver Island is HUGE and you’ll need to be able to get around) not to mention, tours mean you don’t need to do any planning!
Alternatively, book the BC Ferry, a couple of hotels, and explore the island on your own. Be sure to check out Tofino as it is one interesting beach town that you’re guaranteed to love!
35. Explore Chinatown
Vancouver has a very vibrant Chinatown right in the city! Why? Well, there is a huge Chinese population in Vancouver! In fact, approximately 27% of Vancouver’s population is Chinese.
In Chinatown, you’ll be able to visit a variety of shops but also eat some tasty Chinese food! If you aren’t sure where to start, don’t worry, there is a day tour in Chinatown that promises to show you some of the local’s favorite places!
Chinatown is located right in the city (next to Gastown) and can be reached by walking from most Vancouver city hotels.
36. Visit a ski mountain
In the winter, you need to go skiing or snowboarding! The most popular and closest places for hitting the slopes in Vancouver include Mt Seymour, Cypress Mountain, and Grouse Mountain. You can rent gear and even just get a day pass if you only want to spend one day.
In the summer the fun doesn’t end. You should still visit one of the mountains. In the summer these ski mountains turn into awesome places for hiking or even mountain biking!
I personally really enjoyed walking the trails from the top of Mt Seymour. You can drive all the way to the top parking lot and then choose from a variety of different hiking trails from there. Mystery Lake is a great short hike that can be done in an hour or so!
37. Hike through Lighthouse Park in North Van
As a coastal city, there is no end to gorgeous beaches and walkways alongside the Pacific Ocean. One of our favorite places to enjoy the seaside is Lighthouse Park in North Vancouver. It will take you about 40 minutes to drive from downtown Vancouver, and we recommend going earlier to get a parking spot.
There are a lot of trails in this area, where you can see some of the largest Western Red Cedar and Douglas Fir trees. The trails are fairly easy with minimal elevation gain. The walk to the lighthouse is just about 10 minutes along a wide path. There are plenty of picnic tables to have a view while taking in the gorgeous scenery!
38. Visit Sasamat Lake
Sasamat Lake is a great place to escape the city for a beach day! Sasamat Lake (also known as White Pine Beach) is located only an hour from Vancouver in Belcarra near Port Moody.
If you’re up for it, you can also hike from here. There’s a clearly marked trail that starts from the beach area.
Sasamat is a popular beach during the summer months – the water is warm and excellent for swimming, and the beach is equipped with picnic tables, restrooms, and a concession stand. It’s one of the best things to do in Vancouver for families.
39. Take the Sea Bus to Lonsdale Quay
Vancouver has a great public transit system made up of buses, the SkyTrain, and the best of all, the SeaBus. For just the cost of regular bus fare ($4.25/trip from Vancouver), you can jump on the sea bus and take a scenic ride across the Vancouver Harbour.
The SeaBus goes between Waterfront Station in Vancouver to Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver. It leaves every 15 minutes and takes 12 minutes to get across the Burrard Inlet.
Tons of people use this as their regular commute to work, but we think it’s a pretty fun way to explore! Plus, you can’t beat the views of the city, ocean, and mountains!
Once you get across to Lonsdale Quay Market, spend some time visiting the many shops and restaurants. There are shops and kiosks ranging from flowers to coffee to handicrafts – home to over 60 local vendors. After you’re done shopping, treat yourself to a coffee and treat at Shipyards Coffee or a beer at Green Leaf Brewing!
40. Visit the Museum of Anthropology
You probably already know this if you’ve spent any time researching Vancouver, but it can rain often. While the summer months can be gorgeous and sunny, you can never count out a rainy day here or there.
Luckily, there are so many fun things to do in Vancouver when it rains!
One of the best indoor activities is the Museum of Anthropology (MOA), located out on the campus of the University of British Columbia (or UBC, a gorgeous campus to walk around itself!). It’s about a 20-minute drive or bus ride from downtown.
The museum’s goal is to promote awareness and understanding of cultural diversity and have many partnerships with Indigenous and global communities. They have a special emphasis on the First Nations peoples of British Columbia, and offer rotating exhibits throughout the year.
The MOA is $15 CAD per adult or $35 CAD per family; it is free for Indigenous peoples.
41. Explore Commercial Drive
Commercial Drive is a neighborhood just outside of downtown Vancouver that you will not want to miss. It has an eclectic array of shops, restaurants, and bars.
Commercial Drive definitely has its own quirky vibe, and you will love popping in and out of the many records or vintage clothing shops, old bookstores, new-age spirituality shops, and small grocery markets – definitely one of the more unique things to do in Vancouver.
Even though Commercial Drive’s nickname is “Little Italy,” there are now restaurants from just about every country in the world. If you’re looking to try something new, this is the place to be! A lot of the restaurants and bars have live music and open mic nights, too – check out Café du Soleil if you are into that!
Commercial Drive is easily accessible by SkyTrain – just get off at the Commercial-Broadway stop and walk down the street.
42. Eat your way down Main Street
Mount Pleasant – the neighborhood surrounding Main Street – is another area that is totally worth your while. This is very much hipster-central, so if you are into records, craft beer, vegan food, and flannel shirts, then this is your place!
One of the primary reasons to go to Main Street is to eat, and here are some of my recommendations:
- East is East – An amazing restaurant that takes inspiration from the “silk and spice road” in Asia and the Middle East.
- Meet on Main – This is a popular vegan restaurant with two other locations in Vancouver. You’ve got to try their Mac N’ Cheez bowl – so good, and you won’t believe it’s made with cashew cheese!
- 49th Parallel Coffee & Lucky’s Doughnuts – They serve Lucky’s donuts here which are some of the bests you can try – my favorite is the peanut butter and jelly donut! They have a great $5 CAD coffee and donut deal here.
- Earnest Ice Cream – This ice cream is so good. So good that there is always a line up out the door to get some. I promise it’s worth it! They have amazing flavors like Rhubarb Oat Crumble or London Fog – so good.
43. Get moving with some Yoga
If you come to Vancouver, you’ve got to do some Yoga. It is the city that launched Lululemon, after all! Vancouverites love their yoga as much as they love hiking, so there are tons of places to check out throughout the city.
Some of the popular yoga studios are YYoga or Oxygen Yoga, both with multiple locations around the city. A drop-in class is usually around $20-$25 CAD. There are also locations that offer “Karma classes,” or pay-as-you-can models, such as Karma Teachers in Gastown.
Most local community centers have drop-in yoga classes as well and can be as cheap as $5/class.
44. Go shopping at Metrotown
You ready to shop? Then you have to head to Metropolis at Metrotown, one of the largest malls in the area, with over 400 stores. This is the place to stock up on some souvenirs or just pick out a new outfit! They have some popular and trendy stores like Uniqlo, Muji, Lululemon, Herschel, and Oak+Fort.
After a day of shopping, you’ll need to regain some energy. Luckily, the Metrotown area is home to so many amazing Chinese restaurants. We highly recommend checking out Dinesty Dumpling House for Dim Sum, which is small shareable servings of food. They’re known for their dumplings, so try the steamed pork soup dumplings – delicious!
45. Go Stand Up Paddleboarding in Cates Park
WhatSUP? SUP = Stand Up Paddleboard, of course! This is another popular activity in the Vancouver area, picking up a lot of interest alongside other more traditional water activities like canoeing and kayaking.
You can kneel or stand on a paddleboard, or even sit if needed. It’s a very relaxing way to spend some time on the water and does not require any special skill. There are a few areas to rent a SUP in Vancouver, but Cates Park in North Van is one of the best. They are situated on the Indian Arm, near Deep Cove (see #6 above), and because it is a sheltered inlet, the water is calm.
You can rent SUPs from Cates Park Paddling Centre for $39 CAD for 2 hours. You can also rent them for longer (up to 48 hours) or choose a kayak instead.
46. Enjoy a relaxing Brunch
You’re on vacation, you want to sleep in, we totally get it. There are some days where you just don’t want to rush out first thing for an activity. So, why not get brunch? There are some amazing restaurants in downtown Vancouver to choose from.
Here are some of our top choices:
- Café Medina – This is one of the most popular brunch places, and for good reason! Their signature is the Belgian waffles! Café Medina is located in the downtown core on Richards Street.
- Jam Café – This breakfast restaurant serves comfort food and generous portions! One of their most popular dishes is the Charlie Bowl, with biscuits, bacon, hash browns, and ham. Jam Café located in Chinatown and Kitsilano.
- Yolks – If you love eggs for brunch, this is the spot for you! They serve mostly egg dishes with pairings of maple-smoked ham, pork belly, or hash browns made in truffle oil. Yolks has two locations, on Hastings in East Vancouver and on West Broadway Street.
Some of these get really busy, so just make sure you make a reservation! Or, put your name in and then take a walk around the neighborhood while you’re waiting.
47. Wander through Pacific Spirit Park
After the hustle and bustle of exploring a new city, you might be looking for some peace and quiet. Luckily, Vancouver is home to a number of large parks. Pacific Spirit is a 750-acre park near the UBC campus.
There are so many different walking trails, so you can spend as much time as you want exploring the dense west coast forest. All trails are relatively flat, so it’s good for any skill level and is also dog friendly!
48. Go for a Walk and Fish & Chips at Steveston
Steveston is a village in Richmond, just a short drive south of Vancouver. Steveston is a preserved National Historic Site, and you can learn about the history of the area at the Gulf of Georgia Cannery and Britannia Shipyards, which was once the epicenter of Canada’s fishing industry.
It’s now a preserved village that you can visit and see how fishermen and their families used to live!
Today, Fisherman’s Wharf is still bustling and active, with boats docked along it showing off their catch of the day. You can sample this fresh seafood in one of the many restaurants along the pier. My favorite is always to get fish and chips, and the best is found at Pajos!
If you want to take a nice stroll after your dinner, there is over 80km of dykes and trails in the area, so enjoy the scenic walk along the ocean!
49. Walk the Iona Jetty
This is one of the most unique places to go for a walk! Located just behind the Vancouver International Airport, the Iona Jetty is a concrete jetty that juts out 4km into the ocean. It’s there to help break the water against the coastline.
While its design is practical, its use is pretty fun! It’s a great place to go for a bike ride or walk. It will take you about 2.5 hours to walk the entire length and back, so make sure to bring a hat and sunscreen on a warm day (there is no shade!).
I personally love the walk back into the beach, because you have gorgeous views of the city and mountains the entire time. It’s also pretty cool to watch planes come and from the nearby airport. Don’t miss out on this super unique activity in Vancouver!
50. Check Out Wreck Beach
This one might not be for everyone! But for those who are a little more open, you can check out Vancouver’s only clothes-optional beach. This beach is located just off the westernmost edge of the UBC campus, accessible by a steep set of stairs.
This is honestly a beautiful beach, with stunning scenery. But you’ll definitely have to put up with a different kind of scenery too… if you know what I mean!
Getting Around Vancouver
Transportation and ease of navigating a new city are super important to consider when planning a trip. It will help you determine where to stay and what you’ll be able to visit while in the city. In Vancouver, there are a few different options for transportation in and around the city.
This is probably the best form of transportation if you want to explore anywhere outside of downtown Vancouver and participate in activities like hiking or skiing, which require getting a bit further away. Traffic in downtown Vancouver can be fairly busy, just like any city center.
There is ample parking available both on the streets and in parkades, though it can be expensive. Some hotels provide parking, so check ahead of time.
If you can rent a car so you can explore Vancouver with ease! Just be prepared to pay for parking unless your hotel includes it.
A great option besides renting a car is using a car share service like Modo or Evo. These services allow you to rent a car and pay based on the time it’s used (i.e., pay for 30 minutes, two hours, or the full day, depending on how long you drive for).
You can pick up and drop off the car at specific checkpoints around the city and the best part is they get lots of free parking. This makes it super easy to use a car for just the time that you need it.
Vancouver’s public transit system is not as extensive as many other major cities, but it is still a good way to get around to main attractions. The SkyTrain provides excellent access to some of the neighboring cities, such as Burnaby, New Westminster, or Surrey, so it offers a good option if you plan on exploring outside of downtown. It also runs from the airport, so again, a good option to get into the city from the airport.
There are also many buses in the city that run frequently. Note that public transportation options are extremely limited overnight, with only a couple of night buses and no SkyTrian options after around 1:00 am. All public transportation is run by the company TransLink and is fairly affordable; a single trip costs $3.05, and a day pass costs $10.75 CAD.
Taxis and rideshares
Taxis are available throughout the city, as are Uber and Lyft. These are good options in the downtown core but can get pricey if you are going further outside of that region. For example, the taxi cost from YVR to Vancouver is about $30-50.
The Aquabus is one of the more unique ways to get around Vancouver. These small boats visit 8 locations in the harbor all the way from The Village to Granville Island. The Aquabus costs $17 for a full day pass or round trip tickets start at $3.85 but prices vary depending on the route you take. You can check out all their routes and prices here.
Walking and biking
Vancouver is a very walkable city, and it is possible to walk just about anywhere in the downtown core.
Biking is also a good option, as there are dedicated bike lanes throughout most of the city. You can rent bikes all over the city and pretty much ride everywhere you want to downtown. I love doing this, especially on a beautiful day!
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 the best place to stay for you!
Some great hotels and hostels in Vancouver that we love are:
The Cambie Hostel Gastown – This budget hostel is an overall good budget choice. The location is in the heart of Gastown and close to lots of bars and restaurants and attached to the hostel is a very lively bar too. Rooms are clean but the bathrooms are a little cramped. It’s perfect for backpackers on a budget and is considerably cheaper than others offering comparable quality.
Times Square Suites – For a beautiful hotel close to Stanley Park you can’t go past the Times Square Hotel. It’s very hard to fault this hotel and the location is perfect. It is a good mix between being affordable as well as a very nice hotel.
Hyatt Regency Vancouver – For those wanting the perfect location halfway between Stanley Park and Gastown, the Hyatt Regency is a perfect choice. As you can imagine, it’s a luxury stay in a large hotel chain that is highly reviewed!
For more detailed information on all the best areas to stay, check out our blog about where to stay in Vancouver! It is all about the best neighborhoods for tourists as well as the best hotels in each area – and there’s something for every budget!
Canada Travel Essentials
Before you decide to head off and explore the gorgeous mountains, lakes, towns, and cities around Canada it’s important to have the right equipment. Of course, it’s likely you’ll have most of the basics already but there are some common items people forget that I never travel without.
Crampons: In winter crampons are super handy, but what people don’t realize is that they come in handy in summer too. In fact, up until mid-July, you can still expect icy conditions in the mountains. The pair I use is only $29 and they have lasted me 3 seasons so far!
Waterproof shell: Most people will have this item but I thought I’d include it anyway since it’s so handy in Canada. The Columbia waterproof jacket is a lightweight windproof jacket that will seriously save you in many situations. The best part though? It comes in pink!
Scent-proof bag (for bears): Most people think you only need to keep the smell of food away from you when you’re overnight camping. However, bears can smell the food in your bag while you’re hiking and the best way to avoid an encounter is to use a scent-proof bear bag. Basically, you put your food in the bag and the bear cannot smell it while you’re hiking. This is one item most people never have (I never hike without it) but it could save you and the bear.
Buff: I love my buff! Seriously, I go nowhere without it both in winter and summer. There are a few brands around but I always buy the original Buff (you know, the one from Survivor!) They’re a little more expensive but the material is good quality and both breathable and quick drying.
Dry bag: I have expensive camera equipment so I always travel with a dry bag large enough to fit some of my equipment. It can be a camera, book, binoculars, or even my keys. Regardless, a dry bag gives me peace of mind! The MARCHWAY bag is really good quality, and when not in use, takes up only a small amount of room.
Binoculars: I love my binoculars! Seriously they have come in hand so many times especially when I’m looking for wildlife. The best part is, I use a set that only costs $27 and they serve my basic needs without any issues!
Renting a Car in British Columbia
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 cities and even just getting out to the best attractions within them 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 is relatively cheap especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with a pickup and drop-off in different locations is around $70 CAD per day. The price does vary though depending on the time of year. For car rentals, I use the website Rental Cars.com. It’s a search engine with lots of deals with good customer service. In fact, I’ve used Rental Cars.com all over the world including in Chile, New Zealand, and Australia.
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!
Before you go…
Thanks so much for reading our guide to all of the best things to do in Vancouver, Canada! We really hope this has helped inspire your visit here. We really love Vancouver and are sure you will too!
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!
One-Day Vancouver Itinerary – A detailed guide on how to spend one full day in Vancouver. It includes information on Vancouver city’s best attractions and places to visit.
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