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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 countless times. Each time I visit, I cross a few different activities off my Vancouver bucket list. This time, however, I decided to move to Vancouver. I just love the city so much that I now can finally say I’m a local!
And as a local, it’s my duty to help visitors find the best things to do in Vancouver. Not only by sharing my experiences but by testing out each activity so you don’t have to leave your visit to chance.
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!
- 50 BEST Things to do in Vancouver, Canada
- 1. Bike the Seawall in Stanley Park
- 2. Check out the many craft breweries
- 3. Sunset Harbour Dinner Cruise
- 4. Walk the Capilano Suspension Bridge
- 5. Go out for brunch
- 6. Visit Kitsilano
- 7. Get out and go hiking!
- 8. Go whale watching
- 9. Walk Lynn Canyon
- 10. Walk around Gastown
- 11. Ride in a Seaplane!
- 12. Explore Deep Cove and climb Quarry Rock
- 13. Join a Food Tour
- 14. Have a cocktail at one of North America's best bars
- 15. Go kayaking in False Creek
- 16. Wander Olympic Village
- 17. Ride the Sea to Sky Gondola
- 18. Visit Grouse Mountain
- 19. Explore Granville Island
- 20. Tour the Butchart Gardens and Victoria
- 21. Rent a speed boat in Coal Harbor
- 22. Spend a day at Alouette Lake
- 23. Check out the Vancouver Lookout
- 24. Vancouver Aquarium
- 25. Eat your way down Main Street
- 26. Visit the Richmond Night Market
- 27. Go to the Science Center
- 28. Enjoy a meal or drinks at a waterfront restaurant
- 29. Day trip to Bowen Island
- 30. Go on a boat tour to Granite Falls
- 31. Hike "The Chief"
- 32. Day trip to Whistler
- 33. Walk the Seawall
- 34. Go to English Bay Beach
- 35. Vancouver city sight-seeing tour
- 36. Explore the Vancouver Art Gallery
- 37. Go wine tasting in the Fraser Valley
- 38. Explore Chinatown
- 39. Go skiing/snowboarding
- 40. Hike through Lighthouse Park in North Vancouver
- 41. Go on a bike tour through the city
- 42. Take the SeaBus to Lonsdale Quay
- 43. Visit the Museum of Anthropology
- 44. Explore Commercial Drive
- 45. Get moving with some yoga
- 46. Go stand-up paddleboarding
- 47. Attend a festival or event
- 48. Wander through Pacific Spirit Park
- 49. Eat fish & chips at Steveston Fisherman's Wharf
- 50. Check Out Wreck Beach
- Getting Around Vancouver
- Before you go…
- Where to Stay in Vancouver, Canada
- Don't get Caught without Travel Insurance!
- Canada Travel Essentials
- Renting a Car in British Columbia
50 BEST 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 4km²/1.4mi ², so it’s pretty big! You can walk around the park, but it will 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 seawall is 12 kilometers/7.5 miles 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 rental.
You can also just join a bicycle tour in Stanley Park. Our pick is this particular bicycle tour that includes cycling around Stanley Park and 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 a bicycle rental for the day!
Of course, if you don’t overly love riding bikes, you can also enjoy a walk through Stanley Park. Get yourself a Uber to Stanly Park Brewing and begin your walk from there. Be warned though, the park is huge, and you can’t walk it all in a day!
2. Check out the many craft breweries
The craft beer scene in Canada is booming, and Vancouver is a huge part of it. Around Vancouver, there are dozens of different breweries that you can visit on your own or on a brewery tour 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 CAD per person. This fee covers not only your guided tour of the brewery but also a tasting flight of beer at the end!
Another great brewery to visit in downtown Vancouver is Steamworks Brewpub in Gastown. These guys always have the best seasonal beers – I’m still drooling over the Cucumber-flavored beer I had last summer (bring it back!)
Of course, the heart of Vancouver’s brewery scene is in Mt Pleasant, the area behind Olympic Village. Make your way there and just take a walk. You’ll find breweries such as Faculty Brewing Co., Brewhall, Tree Brewing Co., 33 Acres Brewing Company, and Main Street Brewing Co., just to name a few. Seriously, there are too many to try – even for a local!
If you don’t mind getting a little bit out of the city center, you can head to Port Moody. Near Rocky Point Park, you’ll find a few different craft breweries all next to each other – perfect for your own self-guided brewery tour. I personally love visiting Twin Sails Brewing. They always have plenty of creative brews on tap and for sale to take away.
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. Sunset Harbour Dinner Cruise
Doesn’t a sunset cruise in Vancouver just sound fantastic! Nothing quite says you’re on holiday like dinner, drinks, and a magical Vancouver sunset, all while out on the water!
A cruise on the harbor is fun on its own (and there are many different types of cruises to choose from in Vancouver), but to me, this sunset cruise, complete with dinner and drinks, was my favorite. I loved the cruise so much that I decided to take my mom the last time she visited Vancouver.
The cruise set sail from the wharf near Coal Harbour, and we first headed under the Lions Gate Bridge and out to Kitsilano. As the sun began to set, we enjoyed a delicious buffet dinner complete with local salmon, roast beef, vegetables, salads, and more. Honestly, it was a fantastic dinner. Chocolate cake and cheesecake for dessert was also the perfect way to finish it all off.
We washed it down with a few too many wines, and by the time the cruise was over, we had made some beautiful memories with even better views. Oh, and did I mention the live music on board?
The sunset cruise cost us $209 CAD, and considering the dinner was included and the service fee, the sunset cruise was good value. It does have limited spaces, so be sure to book in advance online to avoid disappointment.
4. Walk the 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.
The Capilano Suspension Bridge is the name of the entire area (including the huge bridge with the same name.) Here, you can explore various trails through the forest and read information boards about the area. You’ll also embark on a treetop walk, including crossing various hanging bridges. There’s also a pretty cool (and scary if you’re afraid of heights) glass-floor lookout.
You only need an hour or two to explore, and the entrance fee is $73 CAD (with taxes) for adults. They also run a free shuttle from downtown, so you don’t have to worry about getting there.
They limit the number of people who can enter at any one time, so it’s a great idea to buy your tickets in advance online here. When you purchase your tickets, you’ll select a time and date to guarantee your entry.
Hot tip: 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.
5. Go out for brunch
Although Vancouver is the best city to get out and explore nature, you can’t look past the food. In fact, it’s one of the reasons I’ve enjoyed living here so much!
On the days you want to take it easy and maybe start your morning slow, why not get brunch? Brunch is easily my favorite meal of the day in Vancouver, partly because there are so many fantastic cafes to try. These top cafes in Vancouver are creative and offer colorful food that you can only find at specialty brunch restaurants.
The top places to try that I’ve personally tried and tested for you are:
Café Medina – This is one of the most popular brunch places in all of Vancouver, and for good reason! Their signature is their Belgian waffles which people come to pick up for takeaway too! However, what I love are their middle-eastern and Mediterranean-inspired breakfast pots. My favorite is the Fricassée, which comes with melt-in-your-mouth Braised Short Ribs and two eggs. Café Medina is located in the downtown core on Richards Street, so it’s ideal for visitors.
Jam Café – Okay, so this next place actually is the most popular brunch place in all of Vancouver. Jam Cafe is famous for its over-the-top breakfast meals that include a fried chicken eggs benedict (my favorite.) The only problem with Jam Cafe is the huge line that runs down the street every day! Seriously, expect an hour’s wait to get a table unless you arrive when they open. Worth it? Yes!
Jam Cafe has two locations in Vancouver. One near Gastown and the other out at Kitsilano.
Yolks – If you love eggs for brunch, this is the spot for you! Yolks serve mostly egg dishes with pairings of maple-smoked ham, pork belly, or hash browns made in truffle oil. Yolks also have two locations, on Hastings in East Vancouver and on West Broadway Street in Mt Pleasant. Personally, I only go to the Mt Pleasant location.
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.
6. Visit Kitsilano
Without a doubt, my favorite beach in Vancouver is Kitsilano Beach, or as we locals call it, Kits Beach.
But Kitsilano is more than just one of the best beaches in Vancouver. 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.
My recommendation is to make sure you visit the beach for sunset, especially in the peak summer months. You’ll find the beach full of locals playing games, drinking, and just having a good time. The atmosphere is electric!
After or before, consider going for dinner or drinks. If you love seafood and fantastic views, I highly suggest The Boathouse Restaurant. The restaurant has the best view of the beach, and I’ve spent many sunsets up there enjoying cocktails and seafood. The restaurant is reasonably priced, especially for its location.
Another place in downtown Kits, a short walk from the beach, is Danbo Ramen. It’s well known as one of the best ramen restaurants in Vancouver, and I love it! You need to book in advance, and there is often a 45-minute wait, so plan ahead.
There are also lots of other activities in Kitsilano, including the waterfront public swimming pool, kayaking, biking, the Kits farmers’ markets, as well as the Maritime Museum.
Getting to Kits is also easy with either Uber, the bus, or the aqua ferry. False Creek Ferries operate this route, and you can get here from any of the False Creek stops (more on that below in the getting around Vancouver section.)
7. Get out and go hiking!
Vancouver is the number one major city in Canada for hiking. There are hikes you can do all over the surrounding mountains with popular mountains such as Cypress Mountain, Grouse Mountain, and Mount Seymour. Seriously, you need to get out of the city and go hiking at least once while in Vancouver.
But what are the best hikes in Vancouver? Well, I’m glad you asked. As a hiker myself, I know tons of hiking trails around Vancouver. Some of my favorites include:
Tunnel Bluffs – Tunnel Bluffs is a more unknown hike in Vancouver located around 45 minutes outside the city. It’s one of my favorite sunset hikes and is 6 kilometers each way. I rate it as moderate, and most of the trail is on an access road. There is a small parking lot at the trailhead, which requires paid parking, but it’s so worth it. Allow around 4 hours (for the hike and parking.)
Grouse Grind – Those who have completed the Grouse Grind wear it as a badge of honor, and for good reason. It’s one of the more difficult hikes in Vancouver. Despite being only 2.5 kilometers each way, the trail climbs a whopping 850 meters in elevation. It’s one steep hike, but it ends at the top of Grouse Mountain. Of course, if you don’t want to hike the trail, you can also take the gondola up and down.
St Marks Summit – St Marks Summit is a very similar hike to Tunnels Bluffs, but St Marks is definitely a busier trail. The trail begins from Cypress Ski Resort and is 11 kilometers return. There is a moderate elevation gain of 450 meters, and you should allow 4 hours to hike the trail. The view from the top is out of this world!
Mount Seymour – This next hike takes you a little further out of Vancouver to Mount Seymour. The trail begins from the ski resort and is 9 kilometers out and back. It’s not my favorite hike out of the four I’ve mentioned, but it’s still beautiful. Once again, allow around 4 hours for this trail.
These are some of the harder hiking trails in Vancouver. I mention more below that are more like walks as opposed to hikes. Perfect for those not in Vancouver to go hiking in the mountains!
8. Go whale watching
Without a doubt, one of the best things to do in Vancouver is to go on a whale-watching tour. From out on the open water, you’ll have to opportunity to spot various types of whales, including Humpback whales and, my favorite, Orcas. But besides whales, you’ll also have the opportunity to spot other wildlife, including seabirds, seals, 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! In fact, the cruise I did guarantees you’ll see them, or you can return for a free cruise. On our cruise, we saw lots of whales, including a pod of five Orcas!
The best time of year to go whale watching in Vancouver is from May to October. You can expect to pay about $215 CAD for the half-day whale watching tour I did. Tea and coffee are included on the tour as well as expert naturalists to teach you all about the whales and area.
Honestly, seeing Orcas has always been a dream of mine, and I am so glad I finally got to see them!
9. 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 in Vancouver (yes, even better than the Capilano Suspension Bridge!).
You’ll wander the forest, peer down from the bridge at the river below, and just enjoy the serenity. It’s one of the top BC attractions for a reason! It’s just gorgeous, and unlike Capilano, it’s completely free to visit.
You could spend the entire day there too. In fact, we have this spot on our 3-day Vancouver itinerary because it’s a place you don’t want to miss even if you’re not in the city for long. Hike one of the many trails, such as the popular Baden Powell Trail. This epic trail actually leads all the way to Deep Cove and is 12 kilometers one way. I’ve never hiked the entire trail, but when I visit Lynn Canyon, I like to hike the first few kilometers before turning back.
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 I do every time, and I get to enjoy the area without the crowds.
If you don’t have your own transport (or are worried about getting parking), consider this guided tour to Lynn Canyon! It includes pick-up/drop-off as well as a guide to show you around the trails at Lynn Canyon.
10. Walk around 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 boutique shops, cafes, and bars, perfect for enjoying a drink.
Head into Gastown for a few hours of exploring and maybe even do some shopping. If you’re here for brunch or breakfast, stop in at the Twisted Fork. It’s my personal favorite!
After, take a stroll along Water Street and check out some of the boutique stores. This is also where you’ll find lots of souvenir shops if that’s your thing. Be sure to check out the old Steam Clock. It’s a famous landmark in the city (and a popular stop on Vancouver city sightseeing tours!), and every hour on the hour, the clock comes to life.
Finish your time in Gastown with a drink. If you want a cheap place, 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. Otherwise, just wander around and stop in at any patio or bar that catches your eye – there are so many!
For something really unique, you can try out one of Vancouver’s top tours with this Lost Souls of Gastown Walking Tour. It tours Gastown at night and tells the story of Vancouver’s rough and rowdy past. You’ll see all of Gastown’s famous sites as well as a gothic theater.
11. Ride in a Seaplane!
One of the most iconic features of Vancouver is the seaplanes that take off and land in the harbor every day, all day. These seaplanes are not only a form of transport but also the gateway to the best seat in the house with views over Vancouver.
To me, this was the most exciting thing I have done in Vancouver, but I kept it further down the list simply because not everyone will be able to do this activity.
The scenic flight I did was the 20-minute Vancouver city seaplane tour. Although short, it was such a fantastic experience, and we got to see so much of the city and surrounding mountains. The best part is, it only cost $160 CAD! Can you believe that?
Aside from the views, taking off and landing on the water was a brand new experience for me. I must admit, I was a little scared! Don’t worry, though; the pilots are trained professionals.
There are a ton of seaplane tours to choose from in Vancouver, depending on where you’re heading and your budget. There are flights to Tofino, Victoria, Whistler, and even Seattle! There are actually even seaplane tours that also combine with whale watching for a really special day.
Although there are plenty of different seaplane tours to choose from in Vancouver, the one next on my list would be this tour that visits alpine lakes. You’ll depart in Vancouver and get to see the city from above before heading out to Whistler Mountain where you’ll get to land on a secret alpine lake! You’ll also see beautiful blue lakes and glaciers from above! It is a 1-hour flight, so it is also longer than many of the others.
Prices range depending on the tour you choose but start at around $300 USD. The planes typically depart in the harbor, but sometimes they leave from the Richmond airport, only a short drive away.
Related Read: Vancouver is also an epic place to take a helicopter flight if you’ve always wanted to try that!
12. 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 in North Vancouver, only about half an hour’s drive from downtown Vancouver. It is also easily reached by public transport or by driving.
In Deep Cove, you’ll find cute cafes, restaurants, art galleries, and a waterfront park where you could easily spend a few hours relaxing at. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you can pass up Honey Doughnuts & Goodies (you can thank me later!) Or, if you love craft beer, head to Deep Cove Brewing. They have my all-time favorite beer, the Secret Beach Mango Pineapple Sour.
Just next to the park on the water is the Quarry Rock hiking trail. This short hike only takes about 2 hours total and is about 4.2 kilometers out and back. The trail is well maintained but does offer some tougher sections of steep inclines and 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. As such, 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 and ensure you can find a parking space. Visiting during the week isn’t a bad idea either since weekends tend to be busier.
Please note: The trail is technically closed at the moment. However, you can still hike the trail, and lots of people still do. Just be aware there is a bridge that has collapsed, so walk around it.
Head down to #46 for a great activity to add to your visit to Deep Cove.
13. 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 this food tour while in Vancouver and loved it. We ate so much food that we were stuffed for days (well, not really – but pretty close!) The tour costs around $125 CAD per person, which is pretty good considering it includes so much food!
The food tour we did was in Gastown, a beautiful area of downtown Vancouver. Our guide taught us about the history of the area as well as the best food to try. We ate at several different spots that really showcased the best of not only Vancouver cuisine but iconic Canadian food too. It was a great way to spend a few hours and easily is one of the best things to do in Vancouver (especially if you consider yourself a “foodie!”)
However, there are a few different food tour companies to choose from. Although we didn’t experience them all for ourselves, food tours are awesome!
Hot Tip: Make a food tour one of the first things you do when you get to Vancouver. This way, you can return to your favorite restaurants throughout the duration of your time in the city.
14. Have a cocktail at one of North America’s best bars
Vancouver is home to lots of top places to grab a delicious and unique cocktail. However, none compare to The Keefer Bar in Chinatown. They serve over 25 unique cocktails and everyone that visits, including me, loves them. Two of my favorite cocktails are Chinatown Sour and Fantasy Island. They also serve fantastic food, although I usually only go for cocktails.
The Keefer Bar was voted not only one of the top 50 bars in North America but also one of the top 3 bars in Canada. This has made this place famous, and people travel from all over Vancouver to check it out.
You won’t find this place in many blogs, partly because the locals love to keep it secret. That’s why I needed to move here to discover the real Vancouver!
Hot Tip: Reservations are highly recommended to visit the Keefer Bar. Plan in advance and book a table a few days ahead of time!
15. Go kayaking in False Creek
False Creek is a narrow inlet in the center of Vancouver. It separates areas such as Yaletown and The West End with Olympic Village and Granville Island. You’ll certainly see lots of False Creek while in Vancouver, but one of the best things to do is go kayaking!
The calm waters of False Creek offer 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. My local is in Olympic Village, where Creekside Kayaks can hook you up for $25 per hour for a single kayak or $50 per hour for a double kayak. Rentals are available from 11 am to 6 pm from mid-May to the end of September.
Or, head to Kitsilano Beach, where Vancouver Water Adventures will rent you a kayak for $40 for two hours. It’s slightly cheaper, but this is the outer area of False Creek, and I much prefer the Olympic Village area. Plus, if you choose Olympic Village, after your kayak, you can explore the area which is conveniently next on this list!
For the keen kayaker: 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 of hours.
16. Wander Olympic Village
My local stomping ground in Vancouver is Olympic Village, and I actually live just on the outskirts near the science center. It’s such a fantastic area that you need to explore while you’re in Vancouver. You never know – we might even bump into each other!
Originally built for the 2010 Winter Olympics that were hosted in Vancouver, Olympic Village is now a fun area to walk, explore, dine and drink. You can enjoy a variety of beer gardens, harbor views, and a selection of restaurants.
Personally, I can never pass up the chance to grab an ice-cold beer from Craft Beer Market. Or for sunset, I always head to Tap & Barrel for their huge waterfront patio. If you’re looking for a coffee, my local favorite is Terra Breads. They serve amazing pastries, and the coffee is highly sought after in Vancouver.
Afterward, take a walk along the water. The coastline is beautiful here. If the weather is nice, walk out to Habitat Island and watch the ferries and boats sail past, it’s so relaxing.
You can reach the Olympic Village on the train or by bus, but you can also take the famous Aqua Ferry. The stop called The Village is where you need to go, and it arrives right near Tap and Barrel.
17. Ride the Sea to Sky Gondola
The Sea to Sky Gondola is a well-known attraction I absolutely loved just outside of Vancouver and near Squamish. The views were out of this world, and the gondola ride was very affordable, considering how far up the mountain it took us!
The Sea to Sky Gondola is located along the Sea to Sky Highway between Vancouver and Squamish, about 45-minutes from Vancouver. The drive itself is very scenic and a worthwhile activity on its own. Also, Squamish is considered one of the best places to visit in British Columbia and is home to tons of things to see and do.
For only $70 CAD, you can catch the gondola up to a ridge next to Mount Habrich. Once you reach the top, there are a ton of trails to explore and even a daunting but beautiful suspension bridge called the Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge. My favorite trail is the Panorama Trail which leads to a wooden viewing deck with uninterrupted views of Howe Sound.
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 from Vancouver that any mountain-lover will enjoy.
18. Visit Grouse Mountain
Grouse Mountain is one of Vancouver’s most popular ski hills. Although a popular ski resort, Grouse Mountain isn’t just for those looking to hit the slopes. In fact, all year round you can ride their Skyride (cable car) to the top of the mountain, where you’ll get views of Vancouver as well as have access to a variety of different activities.
In the winter, the activities differ slightly, but they have an ice skating rink, light walk, snowshoeing, and evening a “Sliding Zone” for sledding.
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! A ticket costs $70 CAD, including tax, and you can ride the shuttle from downtown to Grouse Mountain for free! Some activities at the top of the mountain are free, while others have an additional fee.
Budget Tip: If you don’t want to pay for the Skyride, you can actually hike to the top of Grouse Mountain on a trail locals refer to as “The Grouse Grind.” Just note, it isn’t an easy hike and is pretty up straight up the entire way.
19. 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 (well, kind of, it is technically attached to the mainland) 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 Granville Island Public 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!
One of my favorite stalls is Lee’s Donuts which is well known as the best place to get donuts in Vancouver. I also really love the stalls with fresh pasta. I often pick some up when I have friends coming to visit – they are gourmet!
Other things to do on Granville Island include shopping, watching street performers, going to the Kid’s 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 by riding the Aquabus 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 starts at $3.75 CAD and excepts both cash and credit card. Not only is it a method of public transport – it’s a fun thing to do on its own!
20. Tour the Butchart Gardens and Victoria
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 from Vancouver! Victoria is actually the capital of BC and is a historic city that always reminds me of Europe.
Without a doubt, everyone must visit the island and see the beautiful city of Victoria and, of course, the famous Butchart Gardens!
The Butchart Gardens are nothing short of phenomenal and will likely be the most beautiful gardens you’ve ever seen. There are over 55 acres of gardens and 900 bedding plant varieties, and 26 greenhouses. In fact, it takes over 50 full-time gardeners to maintain them all!
In order to get to the gardens, you’ll have to ride the ferry over to the island. It is about a 90-minute ferry ride, and then the gardens are only an hour’s drive away. Afterward, you can explore Victoria and all of its attractions before heading back to Vancouver.
You can go on your own, or you can book a Butchart Gardens tour. Tours are the better option since transport is all organized for you. One of the most popular tours from Vancouver to Butchart Gardens is actually this Victoria and Butchart Gardens day tour. At 13 hours long, it’s certainly filled with fantastic stops, including the scenic ferry to Vancouver Island, a tour of downtown Victoria, and a visit to the gardens.
If 13 hours sounds too long for you, 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!
The entrance to the gardens without a tour is $21.15 to $38 CAD (depending on the dates you visit), but be sure to bring extra money in case you want to have lunch, a glass of wine, or buy a souvenir! Tickets can be bought online or at the gate in person.
21. 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 $100 CAD per hour (for up to 6 people), but they offer discounts for the more hours you rent them. We just did a two-hour rental and really enjoyed it. We took the boat out to Indian Arm and Deep Cove and visited Twin Island.
Two hours is the minimum amount of time I would recommend, as this way, you can actually get out and explore. In fact, on weekends, two hours is the minimum rental time.
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!)
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’s 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!
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/3.1 miles 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.
23. 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/554ft above Vancouver and enjoy the panoramic views during the day, night, or sunset!
To get to the top, you’ll get into a glass elevator and take a 40-second ride up to the top viewing deck, where you can see Vancouver from up above! From 553 feet, you get a 360-degree view of the city
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 and is located at 555 West Hastings Street inside the Harbour Centre Mall. If you’re planning a special event, you can also rent the space for weddings or events.
24. 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, fish, turtles, sea otters, and sea lions.
One thing we love about the Vancouver aquarium is they banned the captivity of dolphins and whales in the aquarium due to the inability to provide and suitable environment in captivity – a ban we love! There are still some dolphins at the aquarium but no more whales, with both being fazed out.
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! Of course, wildlife does belong in the wild, but there is a line where education and research can help the future of all species.
Admission is $42 CAD for an adult. As of 2022, all tickets to the aquarium MUST be booked in advance online to reserve a time to enter.
25. 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.
26. Visit the Richmond Night Market
Without a doubt, the most popular and vibrant market in Vancouver is the Richmond Night Market.
Located a few metro stops outside the city, the Richmond Night Market could be mistaken for an Asian market overseas. However, this market showcases some of the best and most interesting Asian cuisines in Vancouver. This includes things such as sushi tacos, deep-fried squid, dumplings, and more. On top of that, you can find Canadian treats such as smoked meats, poutine, and even beaver tails (the dessert.)
However, the Richmond Night Market isn’t just about food. There is also a market section selling things from unique handcrafts to cheap clothing and toys. For the kids, there are carnival games, bouncy castles, and more. It’s one of the largest markets I have ever been to.
The Richmond Night Market operates from May to October and on Friday (7 pm to 12 am), Saturday (6 pm to 12 am), and Sunday (7 pm to 11 pm) nights.
The Richmond Night Market is located at 8351 River Road, one block away from Bridgeport Station on the Canada Line. You can get there from stops in the downtown area, such as Waterfront, Vancouver City Center, Yaletown, and Olympic Village.
There is an entry fee of $6 CAD and if you go any time before 8 pm, expect to wait in a huge line. With that said, there is a skip-the-line pass you can purchase when you are there that can get up to 6 people in for $35. It can be used multiple times and for large groups. This is what I do.
The event is pretty much all cash, and food items are not overly cheap so be sure to bring enough.
27. 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 $32 CAD for an adult, but if you want to watch an IMAX film, it’ll be an additional cost. 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!
2022 Update: You must book your ticket in advance at Science World. They only allow a select number of people per time slot, so reserve your ticket on their website in advance if you want to go. The IMAX is also currently closed.
28. Enjoy a meal or drinks at a waterfront restaurant
Vancouver is the perfect city to take a break and enjoy the views of the water. The best part is that Vancouver has no shortage of inviting waterfront restaurants to visit.
One of my favorites is Mahony’s Tavern, which is conveniently located at one of the aqua ferry stops in False Creek. Their huge outdoor deck sits above the water, and the views of the city from here are nothing short of mesmerizing. On a beautiful day, this place does get busy and not just for the view – the food is delicious, and they also have live music on weekends!
There is also a Mahony’s Tavern at the convention center on the other side of the city near Canada Place in Coal Harbour.
If you’re located near Coal Harbour, check out Cardero’s Restaurant. This place is highly reviewed and has gorgeous views of the marina. I love to stop here after exploring Stanley Park.
There are too many more to mention, but trust me, a meal on the water is one of the best things to do in Vancouver!
29. Day trip to Bowen Island
Bowen Island is the closest island to Vancouver and a great place to escape the city and explore a quiet and peaceful place.
From Vancouver, it takes around 25 minutes to drive to Horseshoe Bay, where you can then get a BC Ferry with or without your vehicle over to the island. The ferry ride only takes 20 minutes and costs $16.75 return without a vehicle. All up, I’d allow just over an hour to get there from Vancouver.
Once on the island, you can enjoy some of the best activities on offer, such as the hike to Dorman Point, going kayaking, visiting a beach, hiking up Mt. Gardner, and visiting Killarney Lake. It’s the island getaway you need!
Of course, you can also do some really cool tours over to Bowen Island, such as this Bowen Island Dinner and Zodiac Boat Tour. The tour includes a scenic ride in a Zodiac Boat over to the island where you will pass several landmarks and also a visit to a seal colony. Once there you will get to enjoy dinner with a drink at Doc Morgan’s. It’s not the cheapest tour, but it does combine some really neat activities for a fun day out.
30. Go on a boat tour to Granite Falls
Without a doubt, one of the most underrated tours in Vancouver is the boat tour from Granville Island down Deep Cove.
On this fun, 3-hour adventure, you’ll hop in what’s known as a zodiac boat to explore False Creek, Lion’s Gate Bridge, and Stanley Park before making the epic adventure down Deep Cove to visit Granite Falls.
For those who don’t know, Granite Falls is a large waterfall located so deep in Deep Cove that it is only accessible by boat or kayak. It’s likely the reason you’ve never heard of it before.
Of course, the tour is so much more than just a visit to a waterfall. It’s a journey in which you’ll learn so much about Vancouver and get to see a side of the area that most don’t.
31. 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 (just 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.
This hike is not one of the easiest hikes near Vancouver, but the views are worth it. You will have to use chains and ladders at some stages to climb over large rocks/cliffs. For that reason, this hike might be suited to those who are afraid of heights.
This is the perfect activity to combine with the next attraction on this list!
32. 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 keep you busy! In fact, just wandering along the pedestrian street in the Village is a fun way to spend a couple of hours. Of course, there are tons of nearby lakes to explore as well as wildlife to see. This includes lots of bears!
It takes around 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.
You could spend two nights in Whistler before continuing your Vancouver holiday and enjoy some of the hikes I have mentioned out this way. Hell, you could even combine it with a trip to Bowen Island for the ultimate itinerary!
If you don’t have your own transport, you can visit Whistler on a quick tour from Vancouver. I really like this guided day tour because 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.
Related Read: Check out our guide about where to stay in Whistler for info about all of the different areas and top-rated hotels!
33. Walk the Seawall
The first activity on this list of things to do in Vancouver was to bike the Stanley Park Seawall. However, the seawall is so much more than just Stanley Park.
In fact, I walk the Vancouver Seawall around inner Vancouver just about every day just for exercise. Not to mention, I love taking in the views of the city and enjoying the company of others.
The actual Vancouver Seawall stretches all the way from Stanley Park, past Yaletown, to Olympic Village, through Granville Island, and then finishes in Kitsilano. It is the longest uninterrupted waterfront path in the world, at 28 kilometers long! Of course, walking the entire thing is difficult; however, I love to walk sections of the path on a daily basis.
Just find an area near you and start walking. If you need to cross False Creek, use the Aqua Bus or head up one of the bridges, the Cambie Bridge is perfect for this!
34. 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, on public transport, or even by bicycle! In fact, if you plan on cycling the Stanley Park Seawall, a short stop at English Bay Beach is a great place to start.
35. 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 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 to places) and takes you to all of Vancouver’s highlights, including Granville Island, Gastown, Chinatown, Stanley Park, and more!
This tour guarantees a small group and includes a 5-hour tour with hotel pick-up and drop-off. It’s a great way to see all of the best Vancouver attractions in one day without any planning required.
36. 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. Tickets can be purchased online or in person.
37. 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 wine. A wine tour to the Fraser Valley will take you around to some of the best wineries, and you get to sample 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 three different wineries where you get to try a minimum of 4 wines at each place. On top of that, lunch is included or if you’re not hungry, choose a charcuterie board instead!
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!
Related Read: Love wine? Be sure to head to Kelowna and check out the amazing wineries there!
38. 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 and 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.
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 $16 CAD 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 at 578 Carrall Street in downtown Vancouver. You can also find the location on Google Maps.
39. Go skiing/snowboarding
In the winter in Vancouver, 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. These three mountains are within 45 minutes of downtown Vancouver. A day of skiing or snowboarding costs around $70 CAD for adults and $25 for children depending on which resort you visit – that’s some of the cheapest skiing in Canada!
You can rent gear and even just get a day pass if you only want to spend one day. Of course, there are also multi-day and season passes available too.
The ski resorts near Vancouver typically open in December and close in May each year, depending on the weather conditions.
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!
40. Hike through Lighthouse Park in North Vancouver
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 only about 10 minutes along a wide path. There are plenty of picnic tables to have a view while taking in the gorgeous scenery!
Lighthouse Park is open from 6:30 am to 10 pm every day.
41. Go on a bike tour through the city
Vancouver is a city made for biking. There are pathways all around the city, making it a safe and easy place to explore. That’s why bike tours are so popular in the city.
In fact, a bike is the best way to explore. Not only can you travel faster and longer than on foot, but you also get to take in more of the city than if you traveled by car.
The best part is that there is one really high-rated bike tour in the city that I highly suggest doing. The Vancouver Highlights Bike Tour is the most highly rated tour in the city and is 5 hours long. In that time, you’ll explore most of Vancouver city, including Stanley Park, English Bay, the aqua ferry, Granville Island, False Creek, Olympic Village, China town, including the garden, and Gastown. Talk about a comprehensive tour!
If you think all the riding sounds like too much, upgrade to an E-bike instead. Having that extra assistance will make riding around Vancouver a breeze!
You learn so much about the city on this tour, and this is one of the reasons I am so good at guiding people around Vancouver – it helps to learn from a long-term local.
42. Take the SeaBus to Lonsdale Quay
Vancouver has a great public transit system made up of buses, the SkyTrain, and, best of all, the SeaBus. For just the cost of a regular bus fare ($4.25/trip from Vancouver), you can jump on the SeaBus and take a scenic ride across Vancouver Harbour.
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!
43. 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 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. It is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm. Tickets can be bought online or in person.
44. 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. It’s the trendy, hipster part of 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!
Also on Commercial Drive is the amazing DownLow Chicken Shack. This is my favorite place in the world to get a fried chicken sandwich! Seriously, this place is a must-try for chicken lovers.
The best part is, you can get your order to go and walk 1 minute over to East Van Brewing Company. They allow you to bring in outside food and even give you a $1 discount on your first beer if it’s DownLow Chicken! Craft beer and fried chicken, yes please!
Commercial Drive is easily accessible by SkyTrain – just get off at the Commercial-Broadway stop and walk down the street.
45. Get moving with some yoga
You’ve got to do some Yoga while in Vancouver – 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 to $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.
Personally, I don’t do yoga much and have yet to do it in Vancouver. I just much prefer heading to the mountains or bars and restaurants.
46. Go stand-up paddleboarding
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 Indian Arm, near Deep Cove (see #12 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. They also offer lessons if you aren’t so confident on your own.
47. 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.
Another favorite of mine is Vancouver Craft Beer Week. It’s on every year in the summer, and you won’t be disappointed if you love craft beer!
48. 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. One of the best, Pacific Spirit Park, 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 to explore the dense west coast forest. All trails are relatively flat, so it’s good for any skill level and is also dog friendly!
Honestly, you’ll be so surprised by how far you feel from the city in this park!
49. Eat fish & chips at Steveston Fisherman’s Wharf
Steveston Fisherman’s Wharf is located 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! I personally love to head over to Garry Point Park.
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. Wreck 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!
With that said, the beach isn’t often a full nudist beach. In fact, all the times I have been, 99% of people were clothed – including me! It’s one of the best beaches to watch the sunset due to its west-facing location. On
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:
Hyatt Regency Vancouver – $$$
Can’t decide whether you’d prefer to stay near Stanley Park or Gastown? Well, the Hyatt Regency might just be right for you, as it’s located right between them! Rooms here enjoy gorgeous floor-to-ceiling windows that help to bring in light and there is a small fridge, work desk, and toiletries in the bathroom too.
You can also conveniently enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner at their beautiful Mosaic Bar and Grill just off the lobby. As you can imagine, it’s a luxury stay in a large hotel chain that is highly reviewed! So if you’re looking to celebrate something special, or just fancy taking your vacation to a whole new level, then staying here will definitely do the trick.
I’ve seen a one-night stay at the Hyatt Regency going as low as $232 CAD per night, although the rooms here on average are more around the $300-$500 CAD mark. So, for the best price, don’t forget to reserve your room in advance.
Times Square Suites – $$
For a beautiful hotel close to Stanley Park, the Times Square Hotel is a fantastic choice! It’s very hard to fault this hotel, and the location really is perfect. The fully equipped kitchens and gas fireplaces are a nice touch in all of the rooms, plus the suites have living rooms and a washer and dryer.
For being pretty affordable, it has a lot of amenities, which is just one of the reasons we love staying here! You can book a room here from $232 CAD per night, but as this is a popular stay, I recommend checking your dates and booking ahead of time to secure your preferred room type!
The Cambie Hostel Gastown – $
The Cambie Hostel is a great budget-friendly hostel that’s located right in the heart of Gastown and close to lots of bars and restaurants and attached to the hostel is a very lively bar too. The rooms are clean, although the bathrooms are a little on the small side (part of the fun when you’re staying cheap, though!).
It’s perfect for backpackers on a budget and is considerably cheaper than others offering comparable quality. A bed in a dorm here starts at around $50 CAD, and you can book a stay here through Hostelworld.com or Booking.com.
Didn’t find exactly what you’re looking for? Click here to browse all hotels in Vancouver!
For more info on the best areas and hotels, check out my complete guide on where to stay in Vancouver. It breaks down everything you need to know before choosing the right hotel!
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!)
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 $37 CAD 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 handy so many times, especially when I’m looking for wildlife. The best part is, I use a set that only costs $28 CAD 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 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.
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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