Vancouver, Canada   Travel Guide

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vancouver tourist things to do

20 Best Things to Do in Vancouver, Canada

Enveloped by snow-dusted peaks and home to sandy beaches and an abundance of forested trails, Vancouver is meant to be experienced outdoors. Explore the nearly 1,000-acre Stanley Park and stroll along its seawall for picture-perfect views of the

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vancouver tourist things to do

Stanley Park Stanley Park free

U.S. News Insider Tip: If you're walking along the north side of the Stanley Park Seawall, keep your eyes peeled for the Girl in a Wetsuit sculpture that sits on a rock in the water. It's a Vancouver landmark. –  Ann Henson, Assistant Managing Editor

This nearly 1,000-acre park on the tip of Vancouver's "thumb" (just north of the West End) is home to some of the city's favorite, most-visited attractions. In fact, you could easily spend more than a day here and still not see everything this urban oasis has to offer. If you want to experience the park the way the locals do, walk, cycle or jog around the nearly 20-mile seawall that hugs Vancouver's waterfront. The path starts at the Vancouver Convention Centre and ends at Spanish Banks Beach Park . If you're not up for the walk, you'll find several bike rental companies near the park. With your bike, you'll be able to explore the more than 17 miles of forest trails that are much less crowded than the rest of the park. Travelers recommend biking the South Creek Trail, which leads to the lily pad-covered Beaver Lake. If you're not up for all that exercise, you can ride in a horse-drawn carriage or hop on the train for a 15-minute ride through the forest. Recent visitors said the park offers a great escape from the city and has one of the prettiest seawall walks around.

vancouver tourist things to do

Granville Island Granville Island free

U.S. News Insider Tip: The food market is the main draw here, but you'll also want to peruse the unique shops in the Net Loft building. – Ann Henson, Assistant Managing Editor

This former industrial site is now one of Vancouver's most beloved neighborhoods. Practically its own mini-city, Granville Island's former factories now house trendy restaurants, galleries and theaters. But the main draw here is the Granville Island Public Market, often described as one of the best markets in North America. Among the seemingly endless aisles of fresh produce and local crafts, you'll find a variety of food stalls selling everything from baked goods to authentic Mexican cuisine. If the weather is nice, try and grab a seat outside by the water. You can watch ferry boats putter back and forth in English Bay while enjoying the performances of the buskers who regularly play for market crowds. After filling up on market eats, head to the perpetually busy Kids Market. This playtopia sells toys and crafts and features an indoor play area. If you don't have kids in tow, visit Canada's first microbrewery –  Granville Island Brewing . You can enjoy a selection of ales and India pale ales.

vancouver tourist things to do

Queen Elizabeth Park Queen Elizabeth Park free

Queen Elizabeth Park is one of Vancouver's most popular outdoor spaces (second only to  Stanley Park ). Spread out across nearly 130 acres, the park features a rose garden, a meticulously manicured quarry garden, and an arboretum with about 1,500 native and exotic trees. When you're not admiring the park's flora, head inside the Bloedel Conservatory to visit the fauna. The conservatory features more than 100 free-flying exotic birds, not to mention 500 tropical plants and three different climate zones. Step outside the conservatory and you'll spot the Dancing Waters fountain display, along with several sculptures scattered throughout the plaza. Since the park sits at the highest point in Vancouver, it offers spectacular views of the city skyline, mountains and shoreline from the fountain plaza.

If you don't have time to devote an entire day to touring Stanley Park, Queen Elizabeth Park, located about 2 miles due south of downtown Vancouver, is a great alternative. Many visitors say it has the best views of the city you can find and the grounds are well maintained.

vancouver tourist things to do

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Museum of Anthropology at UBC Museum of Anthropology at UBC

The MOA is currently closed for seismic upgrades until June 2024. You can learn more about this closure as well as upcoming events on the museum's website .

While the city itself hasn't celebrated a large amount of birthdays, the area on which Vancouver was founded possesses a rich, cultural past. The Museum of Anthropology (part of the University of British Columbia) houses one of the world's most impressive collections of art and artifacts from the Northwest Coast First Nations. In the Great Hall alone, you'll spot ornately decorated canoes, ritual masks, totem poles and other Native American relics. Other areas of the museum display 15th-century European pottery, priceless jewelry and local art. You can embark on your own self-guided walk-through of the museum, but recent travelers highly suggest following one of the docents. Tours are offered an average of three times per day; consult the MOA website for exact times.

vancouver tourist things to do

Mount Pleasant Mount Pleasant free

U.S. News Insider Tip: Join in-the-know locals for an intimate night out inside a dimly lit speakeasy. Find classic and elevated cocktails at Key Party , hidden behind an old-school accountant's office on Main Street. – Vivian Chung

Bordered to the north by False Creek, the south by East 16th, the west by Cambie and the east by Clark Drive, Mount Pleasant is a hipster enclave found in East Vancouver. Though a largely residential area boasting modern apartment towers and heritage homes that are more than a hundred years old, the neighborhood's main thoroughfare of Main Street is jampacked with local roasters, vintage boutiques and a bevy of Michelin-starred and Michelin-recommended restaurants that range from SUYO 's modern Peruvian to Anh and Chi 's authentic Vietnamese fare. Plus, the area hosts a collection of well-loved craft breweries and leafy neighborhood parks hidden between the side streets.

vancouver tourist things to do

Kitsilano Beach Kitsilano Beach free

When the weather's nice, follow Vancouverites down to the shores of English Bay to Kitsilano "Kits" Beach. Often compared to L.A. 's  Venice Beach , this shoreline along the northern edge of Kitsilano is the city's most popular swim spot, especially for the city's 20-something crowd. Kits is an accessible beach with a beach mat on-site and free water wheelchairs are available to borrow (on a first-come, first-served basis and you must make reservations in advance). When you're not relaxing on the sand or admiring the skyline views, you'll find areas for in-line skating and volleyball, along with tennis courts and a playground. Visitors do warn that the beach can get quite busy in summer, but it is clean and always has "good vibes." If you're in the mood for swim but the bay water is just a little too chilly for your liking, try the area's heated, saltwater Kitsilano Pool (open May to mid-September). Fido will be happy here, too, as there's dog parks and off-leash areas. You can also visit the nearby Vancouver Maritime Museum, which offers an educational respite from the summer sun. When you need to grab a refreshment, you'll find several concession stands as well as a more formal dining room at The Boathouse Restaurant.

You don't have to pay to access the beach, but you will have to pay for parking. Parking from April 1 to Sept. 30 will cost you CA$4 (about $3) hourly and CA$17 (about $13) daily. From Oct. 1 to March 31 hourly parking rates decrease to CA$3 (about $2.25); daily rates decrease to CA$9 (about $7). If you're traveling via public transportation, the No. 2 bus offers service between downtown and Kits Beach. Entrance to the pool will also cost you. Single-day admission for adults costs about CA$7 (about $5.25); youths ages 13 to 18 years old get in for around CA$5 (about $3.75) and children ages 5 to 12 enter for about CA$3 (about $2.25). Check out the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation  website  for more information on Kits Beach.

vancouver tourist things to do

Gastown Gastown free

U.S. News Insider Tip : Book a stay at the Skwachàys Lodge on West Pender, Canada's first Indigenous arts hotel. Aside from its 18 guestrooms and art gallery, the hotel also provides on-site housing and studio space for a vibrant community of 24 Indigenous artists. – Vivian Chung

Paved with cobblestone and studded with antique lampposts, the streets of Vancouver's oldest neighbourhood and original downtown core oozes historic charm. A humble tavern founded by English riverboat captain and saloon keeper John "Gassy Jack" Deighton in 1867 laid the foundation for Gastown, from which the community expanded. Now boasting a thriving fashion scene and trendy wine bars alongside kitschy souvenir shops, Gastown is an eclectic neighbourhood to explore on foot. Stroll along Water Street to the part steam-powered and part electric motor-powered steam clock, which whistles every 15 minutes and its five whistles chime in unison every hour. Along the way, pass by well-preserved Victorian-era buildings and peruse galleries dedicated to Indigenous art.

vancouver tourist things to do

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

U.S. News Insider Tip: Around the corner from the garden in the historic Wing Sang building on East Pender Street is the Chinese Canadian Museum . Complete your afternoon in Chinatown by learning about the efforts of the Chinese-Canadian community that shaped this Vancouver neighborhood. – Vivian Chung

A tranquil oasis nestled at the edge of Chinatown, the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden is the first Ming Dynasty-style garden built outside of China. Guided by the Taoist principles of yin and yang and feng shui, the garden was brought to life over the course of 13 months by 53 master craftsmen from Suzhou, including architects, masons, tilers and painters. Plus, the materials, including stone pebbles, hand-made tiles, Ginkgo wood and limestone rocks, were also sourced from China. A guided tour of the garden reveals not only the legacy of the Chinese philosopher and politician, Dr. Sun Yat Sen, to whom this garden pays homage, but also the fascinating symbolism woven into the design of the garden. The zigzag pattern of the walkways, the deliberate placement of rocks and flora and the green waters of the pond all beckon visitors to dive into Chinese culture and philosophy.

vancouver tourist things to do

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VanDusen Botanical Garden VanDusen Botanical Garden

Often described by travelers as a hidden gem, the VanDusen Botanical Garden is spread across 55 acres in the center of Vancouver. Recent visitors called the garden very peaceful. The garden features several sections, including a stone garden and a hedge maze – a favorite among past visitors. One popular feature is the Laburnum Walk. The path is made memorable by the yellow, chain-like blooms that hang from the Laburnum branches. Peak bloom for these plants occurs in mid-May, but if you're not in Vancouver during their prime blooming period, check out what will be in season during your visit with this bloom calendar  here .

You can explore all of the garden's meandering paths with a self-guided tour – themed tours are developed by volunteers and can be accessed online . Docent-led tours are subject to volunteer availability from April through early October. Contact the garden ahead of your visit to see if a tour will be available. If all that walking makes you hungry, refuel at the two eateries located on-site, the Shaughnessy Restaurant and the Truffles Cafe.

vancouver tourist things to do

Yaletown Yaletown free

Vancouver's definitive late night hot spot, Yaletown has steadily increased in popularity since it transformed from a warehouse district to the trendy area it is today. Often compared to  New York City 's SoHo neighborhood, Yaletown features chic boutiques, restaurants and hotels (including one of the city's top properties , OPUS Vancouver). Even if you don't plan to hang your hat at OPUS, you should still plan to check out the hotel's cocktail lounge, The Spritz. Other top nightlife spots include  Yaletown Brewing Co. , Pierre's Lounge and  Bar None .

Recent visitors said there is something for everyone in Yaletown, with a wide range of dining and drinking options in a variety of prices. For a little help navigating the neighborhood, consider signing up for one of the best Vancouver tours .

vancouver tourist things to do

English Bay English Bay free

Also known as First Beach, English Bay Beach draws visitors and locals alike in droves. It's an accessible beach thanks to Mobi-Mat paths and water wheelchairs (available from May through September). Water fun includes kayaking and slides, while land-based activities include volleyball courts and walking, biking or jogging along the Stanley Park Seawall, which runs alongside the sands. You'll also find the A-maze-ing Laughter sculpture on the beach's northeast side. And when hunger strikes, the Cactus Club Cafe dishes out a variety of meals like poke bowls, sandwiches and burgers with a heaping side of ocean views.

If the beach itself doesn't draw you, perhaps its events will. Vancouver's annual Polar Bear Swim takes place on English Bay each New Year's Day. The event features music and food trucks, as well as the star event: a plunge into the chilly waters of English Bay. If that's too cold, stop by in late July for the Honda Celebration of Light, an annual fireworks festival.

vancouver tourist things to do

Grouse Mountain Grouse Mountain

Towering over North Vancouver, Grouse Mountain has been a popular outdoor getaway for years, especially since the views from the summit span the entire city on a clear day. Originally used only for skiing, Grouse now offers year-round activities, including the Grouse Grind, a nearly 2-mile trail often referred to by residents as "Mother Nature's Stairmaster" (there are a total of 2,830 stairs along the trail).

During a winter visit to the mountain – a favorite time for locals – you'll have a bevy of activities to occupy your time. Grouse Mountain's slopes boast 33 ski and snowboard runs, four chairlifts and six terrain parks, not to mention four snowshoeing trails. There's also a zip line, a skating pond, sledding, a high-definition cinema, a wildlife refuge and several eateries, including a Starbucks and Fondue Experience at The Observatory, a formal dining room with 360-degree mountaintop views. Many past visitors raved about the excellent (albeit pricey) food at the top.

vancouver tourist things to do

Capilano Suspension Bridge Capilano Suspension Bridge

U.S. News Insider Tip: Set aside at least two to three hours to experience all of the park's attractions. –  Ann Henson, Assistant Managing Editor

Overcome your vertigo and experience Vancouver the way the birds do. The Capilano Suspension Bridge is the oldest tourist attraction in the city (it dates back to 1889), and the 450-foot-long, 230-foot-high bridge offers spectacular views of the Capilano River below. Visitors call it thrilling, exciting and an overall great experience. The fun doesn't end once you reach the other side of the canyon; more suspension bridges and daredevil activities await at the Treetops Adventure. With this canopy walk – set among the park's 250-year-old Douglas fir trees – you'll have the chance to walk 110 feet above the forest floor, from viewing platform to viewing platform. Continue to tempt fate along the Cliffwalk, a set of cantilevered and suspended walkways that meander along the canyon's edge.

vancouver tourist things to do

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vancouver tourist things to do

Spanish Banks Beach Spanish Banks Beach free

Spanish Banks boasts a few features that set it apart from the city's other beloved shorelines. Thanks to its location about 5 miles southwest of downtown Vancouver, Spanish Banks is the least crowded and most quiet. It's also the best place to try your hand at skimboarding – a cross between surfing and skateboarding – due to the low tidal conditions (at low tide the water is more than half a mile off shore). If the ocean water is too chilly, there are plenty of volleyball courts available for pick-up games.

Recent visitors called the beach beautiful and say exploring at low tide can be lots of fun, especially for kids.

vancouver tourist things to do

Museum of Vancouver Museum of Vancouver

U.S. News Insider Tip: The Museum of Vancouver (MOV) shares the same entrance as the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, making it easy to check off two popular Vancouver attractions in one visit. – Vivian Chung

As Vancouver's oldest museum and Canada's largest civic museum, there's no better place to dive into the history of the city than at the Museum of Vancouver. Founded in 1894, the institution's more than 70,000 black and white photographs, interactive and audiovisual displays and historic fashion and household items document Vancouver's transformation from a relatively small city into a multicultural and dynamic metropolis with modern infrastructure. The stories and objects of the History Galleries also highlight the population growth, economic transformation and cultural and social changes in Vancouver between 1900 and 1970. Recount the economic hardship faced by Vancouverites during the Great Depression in the 1930s and immerse yourself in the iconic hippie movement of the 1960s, where Kitsilano stood as the epicenter of Canada's flower-power revolution. 

vancouver tourist things to do

Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art

Bill Reid was a Haida artist who blended modern aesthetics with Indigenous arts through goldsmithing, jewelry making, writing and more. Throughout his career, he researched Indigenous art (especially Haida art) and it became a large influence in his work. Following Reid's death in 1998, the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art opened in 2008 to honor Reid and the incomparable art created by Northwest Coast peoples.

Today, museumgoers can tour several galleries and a series of rotating exhibits. Themes have included song, beadwork, Indigenous queer identity, watercolor painting and more. Additionally, there are a variety of events, such as artist talks and art workshops, throughout the year.

vancouver tourist things to do

Steveston Village Steveston Village

U.S. News Insider Tip: Its location at the mouth of the Fraser River makes Steveston the ideal jumping-off point for an up-close look at the region's marine life. Join Vancouver Whale Watch on a tour for the opportunity to spot orcas, humpback whales, dolphins and seals. – Vivian Chung

Seen in popular TV shows like "Supernatural" and "Once Upon a Time" as the fictional town of Storybrooke, Steveston Village in Richmond is a historic neighborhood with a rich fishing heritage. Join the locals at 75-acre waterfront Garry Point Park and soak up uninterrupted views of the South Arm of the Fraser River and the Gulf Islands, stroll along the wooden boardwalks while gorging on frozen yogurt and dive into the area's maritime past with a visit to the more than 4,000-square-foot restored Gulf of Georgia Cannery, which was BC's largest until 1902. As an active fishing port, visitors can shop freshly caught seafood at Fisherman's Wharf, depending on the season, or savor fresh catches at local restaurants, where they're skillfully featured across a range of dishes, like sushi, pizza, pasta and more.

vancouver tourist things to do

Lynn Canyon Park Lynn Canyon Park free

Sitting less than 10 miles northeast of downtown Vancouver, Lynn Canyon Park offers all the benefits of Capilano Suspension Bridge Park , but without the hordes of tourists, according to recent visitors. The park spans nearly 620 acres and is full of winding trails, a swimming hole, waterfalls and its own suspension bridge.

The suspension bridge, which the park calls its main attraction, sits 164 feet in the air and spans Lynn Canyon. Views from the bridge are breathtaking, but walking the bridge isn't for the faint of heart: it sways as you move and is narrow, which makes it tricky for two-way foot traffic. Afterward, take a hike to Twin Falls or trek the Baden Powell Trail, which challenges hikers of all abilities. Also on-site is the 30-Foot Pool. Weather permitting, you can take a dip to cool off during your time outdoors. But be warned: the water is cold at all times of year. Before your adventure, stop by the Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre to view its nature museum and get information about Lynn Canyon Park. (Suggested donation to visit the center is CA$2 per person, or about $1.50).

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Robson Street Robson Street free

Since the 1940s, Robson Street has been a hub for shops and markets. Though you may not find the classic markets and quintessential candy stores of the mid-20th century, Robson Street is the place to be for shopaholics. Stores range from well-known brands like Steve Madden and Nike to shops selling everything from high-end beauty products to eyewear to fine jewelry. You'll also find the street lined with eateries. Casual bakeries sit next to Korean restaurants. Japanese restaurants are next door to health food establishments, while a few doors down sits a gelato parlor. Needless to say, there's a wide variety to fit all tastes on Robson Street.

Travelers generally enjoy a stroll down the thoroughfare, encouraging others to save time for a meal at one of the restaurants lining the street. Some suggest that if shopping and dining aren't for you, then you may want to skip this street.

vancouver tourist things to do

Vancouver Aquarium Vancouver Aquarium

Those in the know say the Vancouver Aquarium is definitely worth exploring, whether you're traveling with kids or just looking for a little extra marine knowledge. As the home of more than 50,000 different animals across more than 30 exhibits, this is a great place to become acquainted with local animals as well as exotic creatures. But don't come here expecting SeaWorld: Past visitors say the aquarium's focus is more on interactive exhibits and education and less on choreographed animal performances. Different exhibits mimic various habitats, from the icy tanks of the Canada's Arctic exhibit to the colorful clownfish and intimidating black-tip reef sharks sheltered in the Tropics. Don't miss the Graham Amazon Gallery, a giant atrium where three-toed sloths and caimans take shelter from the hourly simulated rainstorms.

While some recent visitors comment on the steep cost of admission, they also say that if you schedule enough time, it's worth the price. 

vancouver tourist things to do

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The Best Things to Do in Canada

38 of the Best Things to Do in Vancouver

May 23, 2022 By Matthew G. Bailey 20 Comments

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things to do in vancouver

Things to Do in Vancouver Last updated: April 18th, 2023

When people ask us what we think is the most beautiful city in Canada, Vancouver is our answer. Although it’s one of the most densely populated cities in North America, it’s also surrounded by stunning natural beauty, including lush rainforest, mountains, and the Pacific Ocean. It’s because of its setting that we often rank Vancouver, British Columbia as one of the prettiest cities on Earth.

Vancouver is also vastly urban, with hundreds of skyscrapers dotting the landscape. You can easily be surrounded by a concrete jungle in the morning and out in the forest in the afternoon. This is what makes it such a great place to visit. However, it’s also one of the most expensive cities in Canada, especially when it comes to real estate and accommodation.

If you’re looking for a vibrant art scene, loads of delicious restaurants, historic districts, thriving markets, incredible urban parks, and beautiful vistas, Vancouver should be on your bucket list. In this Vancouver Travel Guide, we’ll share with you some of the best things to do in Vancouver while also sharing some tips on saving money, how to get around, where to stay, and more.

Table of Contents

Things to Do in Vancouver

Vancouver is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Canada, which creates loads of attractions, activities, and other things to do. Below is a list of some of the best things to do when visiting Vancouver.

Stanley Park

Whenever we go to Vancouver, we always make sure we take time to ride a bike or go for a walk around Stanley Park . It’s Vancouver’s first urban park and remains the largest with over 400 hectares of natural West Coast rainforest. It’s filled with beautiful beaches, local wildlife, and historical landmarks. It’s also home to the incredible aquarium. Whether you walk within Stanley Park while marvelling at magnificent trees, or take the seawall for stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, Stanley Park is a great place to go to be immersed in nature while inside the city. The park is open from 6 am until 10 pm unless otherwise posted.

Walking or cycling the Seawall in Stanley Park is one of the top things to do in Vancouver.

Vancouver Aquarium

While visiting Stanley Park, you may want to pay a visit to the Vancouver Aquarium as well. This is Canada’s largest aquarium with more than 70,000 beautiful creatures, such as dolphins, anacondas, sea otters, sloths, and more. The Vancouver Aquarium is also well respected for its research and marine stewardship and is a great place to learn about the region’s marine life.

Granville Island

Located right in the middle of the city is a little peninsula that’s become a popular hub for food and drink. Granville Island has a wonderful food market, a famous brewery, and a variety of cool shops. In the summer, it’s also alive with boat taxis, paddle-boarders, and kayakers.

Riding the little ferry's is one of the fun things to do in Vancouver.

Ride a Ferry

Speaking of Granville Island, one of the best ways to get there is by ferry! When walking around the waterfront, you’ll notice all sorts of little ferries travelling between places such as Kitsilano Beach, Granville Island, and Science World. It’s fairly cheap and is a fun way to just travel around and see Vancouver from the water. Consider buying a day pass and just enjoying it throughout the day.

Vancouver Maritime Museum

Speaking of riding a ferry, one of the dock locations is near the Vancouver Maritime Museum , a hidden gem in Kitsilano that shares stories about the Pacific Northwest and the Arctic while creating experiences that build bridges between the past and future. From their unique waterfront location,  visitors can explore  exhibitions and take part in programs about life on and around the Pacific Northwest and Arctic oceans. Their most popular exhibition is the RCMP Vessel St. Roch, a National Historic Site housed in an iconic mid-century modern A-frame shelter. 

Take a Boat Tour

Soak in the unparalleled views of Vancouver’s breathtaking coastline aboard one of Sea Vancouver’s zodiac-style vessels, which is the fastest and most exciting way to see Vancouver from the sea!

Your trip starts with a relaxing cruise along Vancouver’s Inner Harbour before soaring up to 55 km/h as you cross through the Burrard Inlet. Along the way, you’ll enjoy the sights of Vancouver’s Coal Harbour, the North Shore, English Bay, False Creek and Stanley Park. Tours are 90 mins in length and depart hourly from Granville Island.

Rent a Seadoo, Kayak, or Paddleboard

Surrounded by water, Vancouver is an excellent city to go kayaking, paddle boarding , or jet skiing . Whether you’re looking to go solo or join a guided tour, Vancouver Water Adventures has something for everyone. Their fleet includes 35 jet skis, 80 paddleboards, 60 kayaks and two beautiful tour boats. They’re located at Granville Island and at a kiosk on Kitsilano Beach. Whether you are experienced or inexperienced, a local or a visitor looking for a local experience, they will help you find the best activity for your trip.

Grouse Mountain is a popular outdoor attraction in Vancouver, both for hiking and sightseeing.

Grouse Mountain

Quite possibly Vancouver’s top outdoor attraction, Grouse Mountain is a great place to go for gruelling mountain hikes or even an easy gondola ride to get jaw-dropping views of the city and the surrounding mountains. You can also see wildlife like bears and owls, enjoy outdoor shows like the Lumberjack show and Birds in Motion. In the winter, enjoy adventures including the stunning Light Walk, Sliding Zone, outdoor skating pond, or give snowshoeing a try on an array of trails. You can also rent skates, sleds and snowshoes.

The Gondola costs approximately $80 for a return-trip. Get your tickets here!

Rent a Bike

Vancouver is one of the best cities in Canada for biking. Whether you’re looking to share the urban streets with cars while cycling next to skyscrapers or heading off for an adventure in Stanley Park to cycle along the seawall, there’s no shortage of options for peddling a bike. In fact, due to its immense popularity, there’s a plethora of places to rent a bike from as well. Some options include English Bay Bike Rentals, Cycle City Tours, Spokes Bicycle Rentals, and Freedom Bike Rentals.

Capilano Suspension Bridge is one of the best things to do in Vancouver for those looking to challenge their fear of heights while admiring beautiful views.

Capilano Suspension Bridge

Another popular attraction is the 450-foot-long Capilano suspension bridge, which hangs over the Capilano River in North Vancouver. For those afraid of heights, it’s quite the thrill. Soar over the Capilano River as you cross the suspension bridge, climb through old-growth fir trees on the Treetops Adventure, and rise high above the canyon along a towering wall of granite on the new Cliffwalk.

Buy Your Capilano Suspension Bridge tickets here.

Lynn Canyon Park Suspension Bridge

If you’d like to live like a local and go for a hike in a beautiful area complete with another suspension bridge, Lynn Canyon Park is a great option. For one, the suspension bridge here is free and it’s still 150 feet high! There are also short scenic hikes, swimming holes, and waterfalls. It’s a great place to spend a good half day.

The Polygon Gallery

The Polygon is a vibrant art institution that inspires and provokes cultural insight through adventurous programming. The Gallery is committed to championing artists and cultivating engaged audiences. Its lens of inquiry creatively responds to shifting perceptions of the world, through the histories and evolving technologies of photography and related media.

whale watching vancouver

  • Vancouver Whale Watching

If you really want to see something magical while visiting Vancouver, consider a Vancouver whale watching tour. Vancouver and Vancouver Island are famous for Orca whales, including resident orca whales and transient orca whales. We’ve had spectacular whale-watching experiences around Vancouver and also out in Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island. While nature can be unpredictable, your chances of seeing them are very high. Tours cost approximately $145 CAD. The only company we’ve gone with is Seabreeze Adventures, which is located in Steveston. During our tour with them, we saw a pod of resident killer whales and a pod of transient killer whales. Pretty amazing, especially when you consider it’s only 30 minutes from downtown Vancouver!

Gastown and the Steam Clock

No visit to Vancouver would be complete without visiting Gastown, Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood. Once home to a single tavern back in 1867, it’s now a very trendy part of the city with a plethora of restaurants, cafes, vars, and shops. It’s also home to beautiful historic buildings, cobblestone streets, and the famous Steam Clock, which goes off every hour.

The steam clock in Gastown is one of the best things to see in Vancouver.

Beaty Biodiversity Museum

Located on Vancouver Campus, the Beaty Biodiversity Museum gives you the chance to fall in love with the diversity of life through more than 500 exhibits, more than 2 million specimens, and Canada’s largest blue whale skeleton. Enjoy more than 20,000 square feet of exhibits, including dinosaur trackways from BC’s early Cretaceous period, and myriad fossils, mammals, reptiles, and plants from around the region and across the planet.

Take a Historic Walking Tour

If you really want to learn about Vancouver’s history while taking in the shabby East Village and Gastown districts, consider taking a Forbidden Vancouver walking tour . You’ll learn all about Vancouver’s dark history, including bootlegging, opium dens, corruption, and riots.

Go on a Date

As you can imagine, Canada’s most beautiful city has no shortage of options when it comes to romantic date ideas in Vancouver . Whether you’re looking for something in nature, such as a hike in Lynn Canyon, or something in the city, such as visiting one of the many museums, there are many options to choose from.

Vancouver Mysteries

If you love solving clues and are looking for an outdoor activity in downtown Vancouver, Vancouver Mysteries offers four outdoor games to uniquely explore the city. Choose the game, date and time and then watch for an email with digital waivers to sign, further instructions and the secret start location where you meet a Game Operator in character as a detective, spy or Agent X. They start your story and provide you with everything you need to solve your mystery, including a map, clues, artifacts and tools. This is real-life (no apps to download), self-guided, and only available in Vancouver.

Robson Street

If you’re visiting Vancouver, you probably want to spend some time in the city itself and one of the best streets to walk around is Robson Street. It’s full of delicious international restaurants, hipster cafes, and shops. It’s a great place for people-watching and feeling the soul of Vancouver. For lovers of Japanese food, there’s no shortage of it in Vancouver and you’ll find plenty of sushi bars, ramen shops, and Japanese bars to enjoy here.

This recently-converted industrial neighbourhood is now home to some of the city’s most popular pubs and eateries. It’s one of those places where you can eat lunch on a patio, go for a walk along the neighbouring Seawall, admire the street art, or just hang out in one of the nearby parks, such as David Lam Park or George Wainborn Park.

things to do in vancouver

Watch a Sporting Event

If you’re into professional sports, Vancouver’s a great place to be. Vancouver is home to both a Canadian Football Team – the BC Lions – as well as a National Hockey League team – The Vancouver Canucks. If you’re visiting in the summer, football is on the agenda, whereas in the winter, it’s all about the Canucks. Vancouver is also home to the White Caps soccer team.

Find Filming Locations of Your Favourite Movies

Did you know that Vancouver is known as the Hollywood North? In fact, many Hollywood productions are filmed in Vancouver and you can join Fans of Vancouver on one of their filming location tours, seasonal walking tours, or urban adventures around Vancouver. Vancouver has productions filming all over the city on a regular basis and they will give you the best “movie tour” possible.

Go Nude at Wreck Beach

If you’re looking for a nude beach, this is the only one in the city. Here you’ll find naked folks just “hanging” out, sunbathing, swimming, and listening to music. It’s places like this that made Vancouver famous back in the ’70s. It’s located in Pacific Spirit Regional Park.

Vancouver Art Gallery

If art is your thing, you won’t want to miss the collection of national and international artwork at the Vancouver Art Gallery. It’s home to more than 9,000 works of art, a whole exhibit devoted to Emily Carr (BC’s favourite historical artist) and late-night parties with live music. Admission is $24 CAD approx but is pay-what-you-want on Tuesdays.

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

Did you know? This was the first authentic Chinese garden built outside of China. It’s also been named the top city garden in the world by National Geographic and is located right in the heart of the city. Admire the ponds filled with koi fish, the 150-year-old miniature trees, and the various covered walkways as you walk around the tranquil Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. It’s made even more special considering it was made using 14th-century methods, which means no glue, power tools, or screws! Admission is just $14 CAD (approx).

VanDusen Botanical Garden

VanDusen Botanical Garden is a beautiful botanical garden situated in Vancouver’s Shaughnessy neighbourhood. The Garden covers 22 hectares (55 acres) and displays plants from all over the world, including an extensive collection of native British Columbia (Northwest Coast) plants.

In addition to water features throughout the rolling landscape, special features in the garden include carved totem poles, a small Japanese garden and large stone sculptures. There’s also a beautiful maze adjacent to VanDusen’s heirloom vegetable garden.

Nitobe Memorial Garden

Located at the University of British Columbia, Nitobe Memorial Garden is a traditional Japanese stroll garden with an authentic tea house and is considered one of the most authentic Japanese gardens outside of Japan.

The garden is beautiful in all weather and highlights the passing of the seasons such as cherry blossoms in spring, blooming irises in summer, maple leaves glowing red and yellow in the fall, and both native and Japanese trees pruned in winter. No matter what time of year, carpets of moss, bridges that span a koi pond and iris bed, and stone paths that cross waterfalls, create a peaceful atmosphere that invites the visitor to reflect on both the beauty of nature and its place in their lives.

Greenheart TreeWalk

Also located at the University of British Columbia, the Greenheart TreeWalk will spark your adventurous spirit as you navigate suspended walkways and tree platforms high above the forest floor. Located in the heart of UBC Botanical Garden, the 310 metre-long treetop canopy walkway hangs from huge Douglas firs, cedars and grand firs, many of which are over 100 years old. Reaching a height of nearly 20 metres above the forest floor, the walkway will give you a bird’s eye view of Vancouver’s magnificent coastal temperate rainforest.

things to do in vancouver

Get a View from Harbour Centre Observation Deck

If you’re looking for a view of the city, head on over to the downtown Harbour Centre’s observation deck for panoramic views over the city, mountains, and ocean. Admission is $18 CAD (approx).

Museum of Anthropology at UBC

If you’re looking for one of the world’s finest displays of Northwest Coast First Nations arts, this is the place to go! Located at the University of British Columbia just 20 minutes from downtown Vancouver, you’ll find spectacular carvings, weavings and contemporary artworks inside a gorgeous building overlooking the mountains and sea. You’ll also find the world’s largest collection of works by acclaimed Haida artist Bill Reid, 9,000 objects from around the world, a collection of European ceramic unique to North America, and monumental Haida houses and totem poles on the museum grounds. Admission is $18 CAD (approx).

Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art

This Gallery is the only public Gallery in Canada dedicated to contemporary Indigenous Northwest Coast Art , making it a spectacular place to witness art from the region. Inside you’ll find the Bill Reid SFU Art Collection, as well as special exhibitions and programs that build bridges between all peoples. It’s located in downtown Vancouver, within walking distance of the Pacific Centre. Admission is $13 CAD.

Richmond Night Market

For all the foodies out there, one of the coolest – and tastiest – spots you can visit in the city is the Richmond Night Market. Open between May and September, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped foot into Asia, enjoying a wide range of Asian food, culture, and shopping. Snacks start at $2 CAD.

Go on a Food Tour

Vancouver is a great place for food lovers and Vancouver Foodie Tours is one of the most popular food tours in the city. They’ll take you to as many as eight different spots around Gastown and Granville Island, making sure your tastebuds are satisfied. Tickets start at $95 CAD.

Experience Canada with FlyOver Canada

Want to get a taste of the second-largest country on Earth in just 8 minutes? Located at Canada Place on Vancouver’s waterfront, FlyOver Canada utilizes state-of-the-art technology to give you the feeling of flight. You will hang suspended, feet dangling, before a 20-metre spherical screen while the film whisks you away on an exhilarating 8-minute journey across Canada , from east to west. Special effects, including wind, mist and scents, combine with the ride’s motion to create an unforgettable experience. This motion ride is extremely popular and some people even told us that it made them cry from seeing all the beauty of Canada.

Vancouver Police Museum

The Vancouver Police Museum and Archives are dedicated to preserving the history and memory of British Columbia’s largest independent municipal agency, the historic City Coroner’s Services and the City Analyst’s Laboratory, serving as an educational institution, living memorial, cultural anchor, and bridge between Vancouver citizens, visitors and local law enforcement.

The museum is located on the top floor of the city-owned Coroner’s Court building and permanent exhibits include the original morgue and autopsy suite. The museum maintains a collection of more than 30,000 objects, including archival documents, photographs, publications, confiscated firearms and other weapons, counterfeit currency, and various other artifacts and memorabilia, of which an estimated 40% is on display.

Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site

If you’re into history, this could be a great thing to add to your Vancouver bucket list. The Gulf of Georgia Cannery Society honours the importance of Canada’s West Coast fishing history by sharing stories of the fishing industry and fishing communities through exhibitions, collections, programs, and events.

Explore the Sea from Sewell’s Marina

Whether you’re looking to rent your own speed boat, go fishing, or join a sea safari, Sewell’s Marina has you covered. Located in Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver, Sewell’s Marina has been introducing visitors to Vancouver’s ocean playground since 1931. This includes Fishing Derbies, Sea Safari Eco Tours, Company Scavenger Hunts and their famous self-drive boat rental fleet. You can also enjoy lovely ocean and mountain views from their “deck of the bay”, even if you’re not up for an ocean adventure. Howe Sound offers over 300 sq. miles of sheltered islands and bays to explore and the Sunshine Coast and Gulf Islands are within easy sailing distance of Horseshoe Bay.

Take a Day Trip to Whistler

If you want to explore Whistler Village and marvel at the beautiful waterfalls in the famous Sea to Sky region, you might want to opt for a day tour from Vancouver to Whistler with BeWild Adventures . They also offer a number of guided hikes as well.

Taste Craft Beer at the Many Vancouver Breweries

Trying to decide on the best breweries in Vancouver is like trying to decide on the best pizza joint in Italy. There are so many breweries in Vancouver and all of them are good. You can’t go wrong. However, we reached out to a local and asked them to name five. Here they are:

Brassneck Brewery: According to many locals, Brassneck Brewery makes the best beer in the city. Whether you order your favourite pint or a flight of four, the prices are very reasonable and they have a great location on Main Street.

Stanley Park Brewing: Located right inside Stanley Park, not far from Second Beach, Stanley Park Brewing is an excellent place to sample some craft beer and munch down on some delicious food. They also have an awesome patio and are surrounded by tennis courts and nature.

33 Acres Brewing Company: If you’re looking for coffee and beer, this is the place to go.  It’s now become so popular, that they’ve had to expand…but not too much.

Callister Brewing Company: Located within walking distance of must-see Gastown, this cool little brewery creates tiny, collaborative brews. People love it not only for their great beer but because 4 microbreweries share the same space, giving you lots of options. We’ve also heard great things about the bacon cheese board.

Powell Brewery: If you love Tiny and Old Skool, this is the place to go. This husband-and-wife-team-owned nano-brewery won “Beer of the Year” from the Canadian Brewing Awards for their Old Jalopy Pale Ale. Suddenly, they weren’t so small, as more people requested their all-natural, hand-crafted beers.

If that’s not enough for you, consider a day trip out to Port Moody or North Vancouver for their walkable brewery districts. Both are accessible by transit. Cheers!

One of the best places to eat in Gastown, Vancouver is Water St. Cafe.

Where to Eat in Vancouver

Vancouver has so many dining establishments that an entire website could be dedicated just to that. However, if you just want some quick recommendations based on places we’ve been, here are a few that stand out.

Water St. Café : Located in the popular neighbourhood of Gastown and literally across the street from the world-famous Steam Clock, Water St. Café is a great place to go for some Italian-influenced fine dining. It has a fancy look on the inside, making it great for a date as well, in addition to a lovely patio and an upstairs dining area that is known for its nightly live music. They also have a very good happy hour menu if you’re looking to sip back on a cocktail while enjoying the variety of people across the street admiring the Steam Clock. We visited during the month of May when they were hosting their annual Crab Fest, allowing us to indulge in many crab-inspired dishes. We really loved their Crab Panzanella, which featured BC Dungeness crab served on a giant garlic crouton. Yum!

Honey Salt : Another beautiful restaurant that’s located right inside BC Place is Honey Salt . This neighbourhood restaurant combines classic comfort with a relaxed sophistication, serving chef-driven, farm-to-table cuisine with an emphasis on locally and regionally sourced ingredients that highlight the bounty of British Columbia in an approachable and comfortable setting. We were able to try a variety of dishes during our visit, such as their Pan Roasted Halibut, Delmonico Ribeye, and their delicious Crispy Brussels Sprouts, which come with lemon, Parmigiano Reggiano, and crushed chili flakes. They also serve breakfast, lunch, and dessert. We recommend trying their Society Chocolate & Banana Cake.

Stanley Park Brewing Restaurant & Brewpub : Also recommended for anyone looking for craft beer, Stanley Park Brewpub is a great place to eat as well. Located inside Stanley Park, this brewpub serves up brunch, lunch and dinner, including some really delicious bowls. We had both their Schezuan rice bowl with chicken, crispy noodles, and kimchi, as well as the Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl, which features soy-marinated tuna, crab, edamame, tempura puffs, and more. Both were delicious but made even better when washing it down with a pint of craft beer . They also feature a variety of appetizers, pizzas, burgers, and snacks.

Vancouver has a floating gas station to help fuel all the seaplanes and boats.

Tips for Saving Money in Vancouver

When it comes to costs, Vancouver is one of the most expensive cities in Canada, especially when it comes to real estate. However, there are still some ways you save some money.

Free parks and gardens: There are loads of free parks and gardens to enjoy around the city, such as the world-famous Stanley Park. Spend some time outside, enjoy the fresh air, and don’t spend a dime.

Free Walking Tours: Every time we take a “free” walking tour somewhere in the world, we’re impressed. It’s just a great way to learn some key facts and stories before enjoying the city at your own pace. You should definitely be prepared to tip but still, it’s a cheap way to enjoy a new city.

Discounted Entertainment: If you want to experience the entertainment side of Vancouver, check out to look for half-priced entertainment tickets.

Enjoy Happy Hour: Eating and drinking during happy hour is a great way to save money and most bars and restaurants have discounts at certain times. Search for the Ultimate Happy Hours website for updated info across the city.

Same-Day Sports Tickets: If you want to watch a sports game and save money at the same time, the Tourism Vancouver Visitors’ Centre actually offers “Tickets Tonight”, which is half-priced tickets for events that haven’t sold out.

Spend Tuesday evening at the Vancouver Art Gallery on a Tuesday: Want to check out some incredible art for cheap? After 5 pm on Tuesday nights, the Vancouver Art Gallery is by donation only.

Coupon Sites: Like most cities, Vancouver has lots of deals on sites like Groupon and Living Social.

Purchase Tickets Online: lets you purchase tickets in advance, saving you up to 30%!

Best Western Premier Granville is a great option when it comes to downtown Vancouver hotels.

Where to Stay in Vancouver

Vancouver is home to a plethora of accommodation , ranging from budget hostels to super high-end hotels and everything in-between. For those on an extreme budget, you might want to try Couchsurfing, which can be great to meet like-minded people as well. Other recommendations include:

Samesun Hostel: For those on a budget, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better hostel than Samesun Vancouver. It’s centrally located, near the Skytrain, and is within walking distance from Granville Island and Gastown. It’s one of the most popular hostels in Vancouver and for good reason.

Best Western Premier Chateau Granville Hotel & Suites : Located right in the heart of Vancouver, within walking distance to almost everything, this Best Western Premier is a great option for those looking for a mid-range hotel with all the amenities you need. Many of the rooms have balconies as well, allowing you to get some fresh air while admiring some very beautiful views of the city.

Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre: Way back in 2010, we scored this beautiful hotel on Priceline for a 50% discount. While I’m not sure you’d find a deal like that anymore, all I can say is that the views from our balcony on the 27th floor were hard to beat. Like any Sheraton hotel, it’s beautiful inside and out.

Check out the Orca Whale at Canada Place, Vancouver, BC.

Getting to Vancouver

If you’re a visitor looking for different ways of getting to Vancouver, here’s some practical advice on how to get here.

Getting to Vancouver by Plane

If you’re flying into Vancouver, you’ll most likely be flying into Vancouver International Airport (YVR). Although there are other smaller airports around, this is the one that gets used by most visitors. It’s located just 25 minutes from downtown, is rated as one of the best airports in North America, and offers easy access to downtown Vancouver, including the Skytrain.

From the airport to downtown, take the Canada Line for just $13 CAD (approx).

Getting to Vancouver by Car

Vancouver is also a great place to visit by car. Most people would be either driving west from interior BC or the mountains or driving up from the USA. Vancouver shares one of the busiest border crossings in the country and lots of people traverse the border for work. The drive between Seattle and Vancouver is less than three hours. If you’re on a Canada Road Trip , the drive from Calgary to Vancouver is one of the most scenic drives in the country, passing through numerous national parks and jaw-dropping scenery.

Getting to Vancouver by Bus

Although western Canada lost the service of Greyhound, there are still a few options for getting to Vancouver by bus. From Calgary, there’s the Rider Express, which takes just over 13 hours. From Seattle, the bus takes around 4 hours and is served by Greyhound, Bolt Bus, and Quick Shuttle. The easiest way to check options is by using

Vancouver waterfront

How to Get Around Vancouver

Vancouver is probably one of the best cities in Canada for public transportation. This is due to the fact that the city is so densely populated, similar to places like New York. Because of this, tourists will find it quite easy to use the train, buses, or other modes of transportation.

Train: Both the SkyTrain Rapid Transit system and the Canada Line are common ways of traversing the city of Vancouver. You can get almost anywhere with one-way tickets ranging from $3 to $5.75 CAD. You can also buy a day pass for $10.50 CAD or a Compass Card for loading money onto. For schedules and more, visit

Bus: Vancouver’s bus system also works well but only operates on one-zone fares, which can be annoying at times. Tickets between the trains and the buses are non-transferable either unless you use the Compass Card. However, if you’re travelling around at night, the buses run later than the trains, so they might be your best choice.

SeaBus: If you’re travelling by water, such as from Downtown Vancouver to the North Shore, you can jump on the SeaBus, which is also run by

Taxi: Like most of Canada, taxis are not cheap but they can be convenient. Prices start at $3.50 CAD and it’s $1.89 CAD per kilometre after. As of January 2020, Uber and Lyft are also possible in downtown Vancouver.

Bicycle: Vancouver is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country and there are many places to rent them. We definitely recommend renting one to bike around Stanley Park, but traversing the city can be a good option as well. The public bike rental system is called Mobi, which costs $12 CAD per day for unlimited 30-minute rides.

Stanley Park is one of the best things to do in Vancouver and the totem pole park is a must-see while there.

Weather in Vancouver (Best Time to Visit)

Vancouver is one of the mildest cities in Canada, receiving very little snowfall and rarely dipping below 0°C. It does, however, get a lot of rain, especially in the winter months.

The busiest time to visit Vancouver is just like all cities in Canada – the summer! It gets quite hot and sunny during the summer months, averaging around 25°C. Like all Canadian cities, this is when the city truly comes to life. However, prices are also the highest at this time.

As mentioned, the winters in Vancouver are milder than almost anywhere else in Canada, with temperatures averaging just 6°C. However, you can still enjoy a “classic winter” by hitting the slopes of the world-famous Whistler Mountain Resort or Grouse Mountain.

Other times to visit would be the shoulder seasons of spring and fall. These can be rainy times to visit but are generally warm in temperature. Not hot. However, prices are less, crowds are fewer, and certain activities are in their prime, such as whale watching , which is best between April and May.

Fun Things to Do Beyond Vancouver

Another great part about Vancouver is that there are so many things to do outside of the city as well. From taking the ferry over to magical Vancouver Island, road tripping up to Whistler, driving to wine country around Kelowna, or going all the way past the Canadian Rockies to Calgary, Alberta, there are so many things to do for all types of travellers.

For more on what to do outside of Vancouver, check out these articles below:

  • Things to Do in British Columbia
  • Things to Do in Whistler in Winter
  • Things to Do in Victoria, BC 
  • Things to Do in Kelowna
  • Things to Do in Nanaimo

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About Matthew G. Bailey

Matthew G. Bailey is the founder and editor-in-chief of Must Do Canada. Growing up in Alberta to a mother from Quebec and a father from Newfoundland, Matt spent his childhood playing hockey under the Northern Lights and hanging out in the forest before moving to Calgary and travelling to more than 250 cities spanning 42 countries and 6 continents. He loves travel, learning new things, playing sports, writing, making videos, photography, and scuba diving. You can also find him at .

Reader Interactions

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April 21, 2020 at 6:15 pm

This is a very high-quality report! I would like to share it with my classmates at The University of Calgary! This travel information would be helpful for those of us who will be studying at The University of British Columbia soon! And The Saver Card would be a great resource for Students also! Especially the International Students!

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April 21, 2020 at 11:22 pm

Thanks, Chris. I’ll have to reach out to the universities and see what they think!

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May 10, 2021 at 10:13 am

Vancouver is an awesome city. Been there many times. Can’t wait to go back for another visit.

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May 12, 2021 at 12:38 pm

Love visiting Vancouver. Two of my favorites are Fly Over Canada & Stanley Park.

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May 15, 2021 at 12:45 pm

Great ideas!

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May 18, 2021 at 11:31 pm

Really neat reading about one’s own city…nicely done!

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May 24, 2021 at 2:13 pm

We have a trip planned for the fall and are so looking forward to taking advantage of some of these great Vancouver sites!

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May 26, 2021 at 12:07 am

This is a great article! Born and raised in the Fraser Valley and we are always checking out new trails or parks in all the neighbouring cities.

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May 26, 2021 at 7:20 am

Thank you sharing the list of things to do in Vancouver. This will be very useful for them who are new in this city.

May 26, 2021 at 7:22 am

Thank you sharing the list of things to do in Vancouver. This city is best to explore.

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May 26, 2021 at 7:43 am

I’m moving to Vancouver in the fall and absolutely can’t wait to try some of this stuff out, thanks so much for all the tips!

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May 27, 2021 at 7:40 am

Hit up Wreck Beach last Friday, absolutely loved it!

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February 6, 2022 at 10:16 pm

I recently started watching your videos and must have watched atleast 20 of them over the past weekend. They ave given me amazing travel goals. I came to your website from your youtube channel and while reading this article I could hear both of your voices dictating this article 😀 Thank you for your great informational videos!

February 8, 2022 at 4:47 pm

haha that’s awesome! Thanks so much, Isha!

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April 5, 2022 at 11:35 pm

Thank you for sharing this informative blog. This must be very helpful for those who are new to the city.

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May 25, 2022 at 9:22 pm

Looks like an amazing place. Really hoping yo visit sometime soon.

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May 26, 2022 at 2:50 pm

Bang on! Been many times!

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June 1, 2022 at 10:54 am

These all sound awesome!

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June 7, 2022 at 6:39 am

Hope to go one day!

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August 29, 2022 at 8:18 am

We plan on going west and this guide will certainly help guide us. Saved on my favorites.

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The 15 Best Things to Do in Vancouver

By Jennifer Van Evra

aerial view of vancouver

There are a few refrains Vancouverites always hear from travelers: “It’s so beautiful,” “Everybody's so nice here” and “There’s so much to do.” And they’re right on all three counts: surrounded by mountains to one side and the ocean to the other, the stunning city is a paradise for people who love the outdoors. You can ride out to see a pod of killer whales, hike over a jaw-dropping suspension bridge, take a kayak tour, climb a mountain—all 2,830 steps—or simply stroll the seawall in an urban park that’s ranked among the best in the world. But it’s not all about the elements: Vancouver has culture too, and boasts stellar museums, a public market that makes foodie hearts sing, and one of the most acoustically perfect concert halls in North America.

Read our complete Vancouver travel guide here .

This gallery has been updated with new information since its original publish date.

British Columbia Vancouver Park Capilano Suspension Bridge  Park

Capilano Suspension Bridge & Park Arrow

For people whose knees shake at the mere thought of walking a wooden suspension bridge 230 feet above terra firma, this is definitely not a top spot, but travelers who love the thrill of heights and gorgeous rainforest views are handsomely rewarded at the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. First built as a tourist attraction in 1889, the North Vancouver park continues to draw droves of visitors who stroll the bridge and other high-level offerings.

people looking out on to the ocean looking for whales. bright green hats

Prince of Whales Whale Watching Arrow

The Prince of Whales tour is a sure-fire way to get an up-close look at some of British Columbia’s incredible marine life—orca whales, humpbacks, Pacific white-sided dolphins, elephant seals, sea lions, bald eagles, and more. The tours are conservation-focused—no cetacean-chasing cowboys here—and along the way, travelers also pick up fascinating facts about whale biology and behavior, marine conservation, and Vancouver’s history as a port city. Options include three- to five-hour tours from Vancouver or Victoria on a luxury catamaran, or if you’re departing from Victoria or Telegraph Cove, you can get down to water level on a Zodiac tour.

British Columbia Vancouver Tour Cypress Mountain Snow Shoe Tour

Snowshoe Tour on Cypress Mountain Arrow

If you’re not a downhill diehard or a Nordic racer but still want to find some "Frozen"-level winter magic, the snowshoe tours at Cypress Mountain are well worth the trek from downtown. After a fresh snowfall, there's nothing like walking through a forest of cedars and firs laden with snow, the ground sparkling all around, especially when you have certified guides leading the pack. The tours, which are currently on pause due to the pandemic , typically run daytime and evening, and range from a kid-friendly Hollyburn Meadows tour to the magical evening cheese and chocolate fondue tours. 

Totem poles in Stanley Park

Stanley Park Arrow

Regularly heralded as one of the best parks in the world, Vancouver’s 988-acre Stanley Park is larger than the city’s entire downtown core, and is best known for its ocean and mountain views, its beaches and seaside swimming pool, its playgrounds and miniature train, and its walking trails through soaring fir and cedar forests. But it's especially beloved for its six-mile seawall, which draws millions of walkers, joggers, and cyclists every year.

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British Columbia Vancouver Performance Venue Chan Centre for the Performing Arts

Chan Centre for the Performing Arts Arrow

When visionary Canadian architect Bing Thom designed this University of British Columbia landmark, he hired some of the world’s finest acousticians to create an optimal-sounding space. So it’s no wonder “The Chan,” this performing-arts venue is known, is famous for its impeccable acoustics, which draw top international musicians, many who typically play far larger venues. With curved maple walls, the distinctly modern concert hall is shaped like the inside of a cello, and features a striking 25-ton acoustic canopy over the stage. The lobby is equally breathtaking: floor-to-ceiling glass walls tilt at a perfect angle.

British Columbia Vancouver Attraction Granville Island

Granville Island Arrow

In the 1970s, a polluted waterfront industrial site got a massive makeover and became one of Vancouver’s most beloved attractions: a tiny island packed with everything from a huge indoor public market and cozy artisan studios, to sunny cafes and a two-level kids’ market that makes little eyes go wide. With butchers, bakers, cheesemongers, florists, tea companies, fishmongers, craftspeople, confectioners, and produce vendors—not to mention a food court filled with delectable local eats—the bustling public market alone can keep your senses rapt for half a day.

British Columbia Vancouver Attraction Aquarium

Vancouver Aquarium Arrow

Vancouver is surrounded by water, but the best way to get an up-close look at the area’s marine life—as well as aquatic animals from around the globe—is at the Vancouver Aquarium, located in picturesque Stanley Park. For more than 60 years, locals and visitors have flocked to the seaside facility, which houses more than 65,000 animals—sea otters, penguins, sea lions, fish, jellyfish, eels, sea turtles, birds and reptiles—among them Joey the sea otter, Señor Cinco the penguin, and the recently rescued Donnelly the harbor seal. But don’t expect Marineland-style dolphin shows; the Vancouver Aquarium is more focused on education, research, and conservation.

British Columbia Vancouver Attraction Grouse Mountain

Grouse Mountain Arrow

Towering high behind downtown Vancouver’s gleaming towers, Grouse Mountain—known as “the Peak of Vancouver”—has been a top destination for locals and tourists for more than a century. What you do there depends on the season: in summer you can hike, mountain bike, zipline over the treetops, catch an uber-Canadian lumberjack show, tour a high-tech wind turbine, and meet giant orphaned grizzly bears. In winter it’s skiing, snowshoeing, sliding, ice skating, and other sports that lure snow lovers. And whether summer or winter, the Skyride gondola offers jaw-dropping views of the city, the ocean, the Gulf Islands, and beyond.

British Columbia Vancouver Park Dr. Sun YatSen Classical Chinese Garden

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden Arrow

Step out of the downtown fray and into Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden and it feels like you’ve entered an island of calm. Perched at the edge of Chinatown, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen is modeled after the Ming Dynasty–era scholar’s gardens in Suzhou, China. It’s also regularly named among the best city gardens on the planet. The serene spot is far from a touristy knockoff, too. A collaboration between governments in Canada and China, the garden and structures were designed and built by 53 Suzhou specialists using rare trees and prized rocks shipped in from Asia.

British Columbia Vancouver Museum Museum of Anthropology at UBC

Museum of Anthropology at UBC Arrow

With its soaring totem poles, cedar canoes, bentwood boxes, Indigenous masks, sculptures, ceramics, weavings, and more, Vancouver’s Museum of Anthropology, or MOA, is the city’s most beloved museum, making it a must-see for visitors and locals alike. Designed by renowned Canadian architect Arthur Erickson, the iconic 1976 building is considered a modernist masterpiece, and regularly draws architecture buffs. Located on the University of British Columbia campus, MOA is also an academic institution that houses close to 50,000 ethnographic objects, as well as 535,000 archaeological objects in its building alone.

British Columbia Vancouver Park VanDusen Botanical Garden

VanDusen Botanical Garden Arrow

An Elizabethan hedge maze made of 3,000 pyramidal cedars, an Instagram-ready walkway under glowing yellow laburnum blooms, more than 7,500 plant species from every continent, and a picturesque lake are just a few of the features that have kept travelers and nature-loving locals flocking to the 55-acre VanDusen Botanical Garden for more than half a century. Just don’t expect highly arranged and coiffed gardens of annuals; this place is purely perennials, and although they are beautifully arranged, they still have a wild side.

British Columbia Vancouver Park Pacific Spirit Regional Park

Pacific Spirit Regional Park Arrow

Pacific Spirit Regional Park is the real deal: more than 2,000 acres of wild, Douglas fir–forested lands vivisected by almost 50 miles of trails (including 22 miles suitable for bikes and horses), much of it set along the waters of the Georgia Straight. It’s a bit out of the way—the University of British Columbia is at Vancouver’s westernmost reaches—but it’s one of the city’s best gems. Don't miss Wreck Beach, Vancouver’s legendary clothing-optional beach.

British Columbia Vancouver Bar The Commodore Ballroom

The Commodore Ballroom Arrow

First, you don’t just walk in off the street and have a pint at The Commodore—it’s a performance venue, so you’ll have to buy a ticket to gain entry. A true piece of local history, the downtown Granville Street club dates back to the 1920s, although the 1,000-seat bar really came of age in the 1970s, when visiting bands ranging from the Police and The Ramones to KISS, David Bowie, and Tina Turner played here. Vancouver’s answer to the Sunset Strip’s Whiskey-a-Go-Go is truly one of the finest live venues in North America.

Queen Elizabeth Park in autumn

Queen Elizabeth Park Arrow

Built in on a former quarry 500 feet above sea level, the 130-acre Queen Elizabeth Park is the highest vantage point in Vancouver, with extraordinary views that extend to the North Shore Mountains and beyond. But there’s more to Queen E, as locals call it, than just the vistas. With manicured lawns and impeccably groomed flowering plant beds, the gardens are the main draw. There's also the Bloedel Conservatory, an exotic plant and bird arboretum contained within a geodesic dome, and Seasons in the Park Restaurant, a destination dining spot.

people walking on the street in front of Chinatown Millennium Gate

Chinatown Arrow

The neighborhood draws every type, from locals who have been shopping there for generations to upscale foodies checking out the latest culinary hotspots, and from history buffs to authentic culture seekers. It absolutely lives up to the hype, and makes you want to learn more—especially if you soak in the serenity of the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, discover the neighborhood’s history at the Chinatown Storytelling Centre, check out thought-provoking art at the Rennie Museum, and treat yourself to a world of food and drink. If you’re ever in town during Chinese New Year, it’s also well worth catching the parade.


Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

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22 Top Tourist Attractions & Places to Visit in Vancouver, BC

Written by Chloë Ernst and Michael Law Updated Mar 21, 2024 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )

Author Michael Law has lived in Vancouver and returns frequently, usually adding on some time to ski at Whistler.

With its mountain backdrop and urban beaches, Vancouver has the rightly earned reputation of being one of the most beautiful cities in the world .

Downtown Vancouver is picturesquely situated on a peninsula in the Strait of Georgia, with the often snow-covered ranges of the Coast Mountains rising in behind. The setting is one of the city's main attractions.

With its extensive parks and agreeable climate keeping temperatures mild throughout the year, outdoor activities are high on the list of things to do in Vancouver. But it also boasts a busy cultural life, fantastic shopping, and incredible dining. This scenic city was showcased to the world when it hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics, in conjunction with nearby Whistler .

Find your way around the city with our list of attractions and things to do in Vancouver.

1. Go for a Walk in Stanley Park

2. do some shopping on granville island, 3. see the brockton point totem poles, 4. ski grouse mountain, 5. visit the vancouver aquarium, 6. visit the museum of anthropology, 7. relax on kitsilano beach, 8. explore gastown, 9. tour canada place, 10. soak up some culture in chinatown, 11. go for a stroll in english bay, 12. walk across the capilano suspension bridge, 13. take a ride on the aquabus, 14. shop robson street, 15. learn about history at the museum of vancouver, 16. queen elizabeth park, 17. take the kids to science world, 18. enjoy the sights of richmond, 19. go whale watching, 20. vandusen botanical garden, 21. vancouver art gallery, 22. day trip to whistler or the gulf islands, where to stay in vancouver for sightseeing, tips and tours: how to make the most of your visit to vancouver, frequently asked questions, when is the best time to visit vancouver.

Seawall path at Stanley Park

Stanley Park is a lush peninsula of huge trees adjacent to Downtown Vancouver. If you are looking to get outside and enjoy some nature, this is the best place to visit in Vancouver. A paved seawall path encircles the green space and is a wonderful place to explore on foot or by bicycle.

Inland, the park offers many things to do, and you can spend a full day exploring attractions like the totem poles at Brockton Point or the Vancouver Aquarium . Spectacular views are a standard throughout the park either back towards the city or out to the ocean.

Come spring, the park's gardens and shrubs burst into a rainbow of beautiful colors, led by the cherry trees and closely followed by the rhododendrons.

In the summer, an outdoor pool operates right at the edge of the ocean. This 80-meter pool is heated and is a popular spot for families because of its gently sloped entry.

Granville Island

Once mainly industrial, Granville Island is now a thriving center of activity with a relaxed and distinctive atmosphere. Artists and retailers have moved into converted warehouses alongside houseboats, theaters, galleries, and restaurants.

The Granville Island Public Market is one of the most popular attractions selling fruit and vegetables, seafood, and a great variety of other specialties as well as ready-to-eat items. Not truly an island, the arts hub is linked to residential areas by one road and footbridges to the south, and to the Downtown peninsula (across False Creek) by ferry.

Location: South of and underneath the Granville Street Bridge

Brockton Point Totem Poles

The Brockton Point Totem Poles are a must-see when visiting Stanley Park. These intricately carved poles are one of the top attractions in British Columbia . The totem poles were first placed in the park at a different location in the 1920s, and over the years, the collection grew and was eventually moved to Brockton Point.

Today you'll find nine totem poles carved from red cedar in addition to three gateway portals. The colorful totem poles line a wide walkway and are set back against tall evergreen trees. Nearby is a visitor center that provides additional insight into First Nations history and the totem poles themselves.

Grouse Mountain

In both winter and summer, Grouse Mountain offers an unmatched panorama in clear weather. That's especially so in the evenings when the city lights are on.

A gondola operates daily running from street level to the summit, where dining, activities, and wildlife await mountaintop explorers year-round.

Skiing: When the snow flies, Grouse Mountain is a winter wonderland offering outdoor skating, snowshoeing, and some of the best skiing and snowboarding near Vancouver . The ski runs are not particularly difficult, and Grouse Mountain is a fun family outing. It's also a great place to learn how to ski.

Hiking: Come summer, Grouse Mountain is a hiker's paradise with trails, including the famed Grouse Grind - affectionately called Mother Nature's StairMaster.

Day Trip Tour: If you are staying downtown, consider this tour: North Shore Day Trip from Vancouver: Capilano Suspension Bridge & Grouse Mountain . On this 6.5-hour tour, you'll hit two of the major attractions on the North Shore.

Address: 6400 Nancy Greene Way, North Vancouver, British Columbia

Sea otter in the Vancouver Aquarium

A trip with the family to Stanley Park for most folks would be incomplete without visiting the Vancouver Aquarium . This wonderful facility teaches young and old about the wonders of the ocean and how we can protect it.

Experiences: Fun and entertaining experiences include a cold-water touch tank; a wildlife rescue area complete with a Burmese tortoise; Penguin Cove, full of cute creatures; and the non-stop action of the sea otters in their habitat. One thing not to miss is the 4D Theatre Experience with special seats, effects, and a large screen that make you feel you are part of what you are seeing.

Exhibits in the aquarium educate visitors on the unique habitats of the Amazon, the tropics, and BC's Wild Coast.

In the past, the aquarium used to have whale performances and belugas; however, the animals have since died and have not been replaced, or they have been relocated.

Address: 845 Avison Way, Vancouver, British Columbia

Museum of Anthropology

Part of the University of British Columbia, the Museum of Anthropology deals with cultures from around the world, but places particular emphasis on British Columbia First Nations.

Exhibits display native art, including large totem poles in the Great Hall. Other presentations explore ethnographic and archaeological objects representing Asia, the South Pacific, the Americas, Africa, and Europe.

The interesting building was originally part of a WWII-era fort, and local architect Arthur Erickson transformed the spaces into this world-class museum.

Other attractions on the university campus include the clothing-optional shoreline of Wreck Beach, the natural-history-focused Beaty Biodiversity Museum, and the rambling UBC Botanical Garden with its many interesting plantings and delicate Nitobe Japanese Garden.

Address: 6393 NW Marine Drive, Vancouver, British Columbia

Kitsilano Beach

The sandy shoreline of Kitsilano Beach defines the laid-back, fun-loving Vancouver lifestyle. It's a place locals hang out with friends or take a dip in the outdoor heated seawater swimming pool . The wide beach here is popular with sun bathers in the summer.

Views from Kitsilano over the city center are wonderful. In addition to the beach and oceanfront, the area has a number of cafés and walking trails, and a vibrant shopping strip lies a few blocks south on West Fourth Avenue .

A short stroll to the east of Kitsilano is Vanier Park, where you'll find wide-open spaces and the Vancouver Maritime Museum . Catch a small Aquabus to downtown Vancouver or Granville Island from the docks located here.

Address: 2305 Cornwall Ave, Vancouver, British Columbia

  • Read More: Best Beaches in Vancouver, BC


The oldest part of the city , Gastown is an area of restaurants, galleries, and shops set in carefully restored Victorian buildings. Heritage structures, cobblestone streets, and iron lampposts give the district its distinctive atmosphere. Gastown is a short walk from Canada Place.

Gastown came into existence in 1867 when a man called John Deighton arrived on the scene. Deighton had a habit of launching into lengthy stories and soon acquired the nickname "Gassy Jack." As a result, the vicinity became known as "Gassy's Town" or "Gastown."

A statue of the proprietor now watches over the neighborhood in Maple Tree Square. Tourists stop for photos with Gassy Jack, and also love to visit the nearby Steam Clock, which puffs steam-powered chimes every 15 minutes.

Canada Place

If you arrive in Vancouver on a cruise ship, Canada Place is where your trip begins. The unusual roof design creates the impression of a huge sailing vessel. The architecturally remarkable structure is part cruise ship terminal, part convention center and hotel, and part hub for sightseeing bus tours.

At the end of the pier are panoramic views and the Flyover Canada attraction - a flight simulator that assaults all your senses while giving you a Canadian geography lesson. Also nearby, Waterfront Station is a major transit hub with ferries departing for the public market at Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver .

If you exit the building and turn right, a scenic waterfront walk towards Stanley Park begins. Along the way, you'll see the seaplanes take off and land, and massive seagoing container ships heading out to sea.

Address: 999 Canada Place, Vancouver


Beyond the ornate Millennium Gate marking its entrance, Vancouver's exotic and interesting Chinatown features modern buildings amid many older ones dating from Victorian times.

Signs at shops and restaurants are often written in Chinese characters, particularly along East Pender, Keefer, and Main streets – the main shopping areas. Local attractions include the pretty walled Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden , modeled after a traditional garden from the Ming Dynasty.

Also worth seeing is the Sam Kee Building , which at barely two meters wide, claims to be the narrowest office building in the world. Every year, Chinese New Year is celebrated with an exuberant parade.

English Bay

Oceanfront English Bay centers on one of the city's loveliest and busiest beaches . Part of the West End neighborhood, English Bay offers shopping and high-end restaurants, but is also a popular outdoor area where people come to walk, bike, rollerblade, or hang out with the public art installations.

English Bay is not far from Stanley Park , and a waterfront trail joins the two. The beach is strewn with large tree trunks, which make a perfect back rest for sunbathers.

One of the biggest events of the summer is Celebration of Light. Generally occurring around the last week of July, spectacular fireworks are set to music. Another popular event is the New Year's Day Polar Bear Swim, when hardy swimmers take a dip in the chilly Pacific waters.

Capilano Suspension Bridge

Vancouver's first tourist attraction, the Capilano Suspension Bridge opened in 1889 and has been thrilling visitors with its swaying bridge over a plummeting canyon ever since. The footbridge spans a 70-meter deep river canyon leading to an activity park filled with forest trails and a treetop walk through old-growth giants. There's also a collection of totem poles and a transparent suspended platform known as the Cliffwalk.

If you are staying in Vancouver and looking for an easy way to visit the bridge and see some city highlights, the Vancouver City Tour including Capilano Suspension Bridge is a convenient option. This trip includes a half-day tour of Vancouver, a visit to the Capilano Suspension Bridge, and a cliff walk adventure.

Also along Capilano Road, Capilano Salmon Hatchery is worth a visit (in fall especially) to spot flashing salmon as they try to swim upstream. The fish ladder - a series of staggered pools - allows fish to bypass Cleveland Dam. Check out the underwater windows for a first-hand look at their efforts.

Address: 3735 Capilano Road, North Vancouver, British Columbia

Aquabus in False Creek

One of the best views of Vancouver is fortunately one of the cheapest. Jump on the small Aquabus and bob your way across and around False Creek while soaking up the incredible views. It's easy to get on board – eight pickup points are strategically placed around the downtown waterfront.

You'll never have to wait long, one of the colorfully painted 13 Aquabuses will be by to pick you up every 15 minutes. The boats are pet friendly, bike friendly, and can accommodate wheelchairs. The Aquabus is particularly handy if you are walking around downtown and would like to grab lunch or do a bit of shopping at Granville Island.

Robson Street

Robson Street is best known for shopping. But international brand names aside, it's also the setting for many inventive Vancouver happenings.

The main hub of activity on Robson Street is centered between Burrard and Jarvis Streets . Over these three blocks, you'll find over 150 stores and restaurants. Take a stroll up and down the street, and see if you can snag a patio seat to engage in some serious people watching.

Robson Street is central to many of the city's top attractions, so a visit here is easily combined with a stop at the Vancouver Art Gallery or nearby Robson Square.

Location: Robson Street at Hornby Street, Vancouver, British Columbia

Museum of Vancouver

In Vanier Park near Burrard Bridge, the Museum of Vancouver is a large institution devoted to all things Vancouver. It covers the city history from the first Coast Salish communities to Japantown, Kitsilano hippie days, and urban development.

In the same building is the HR MacMillan Space Centre with its planetarium, an observatory, and the waterfront Maritime Museum , where splendid views capture English Bay with the North Shore mountains beyond.

If you are staying downtown, catch the Aquabus across False Creek to Vanier Park and get off at the Maritime Museum Ferry dock.

Address: 1100 Chestnut Street, Vancouver, British Columbia

Queen Elizabeth Park

The center of Queen Elizabeth Park, Little Mountain, marks the highest point in Vancouver, and its elevated position affords excellent views of the city center and the mountains to the north.

Things to do in the park include pitch-and-putt golf, tennis, disc golf, and visiting the extensive outdoor arboretum. If the day is grey and cool, escape to the tropical environment of the Bloedel Conservatory .

Queen Elizabeth Park has an excellent restaurant called Seasons in the Park. Walk the park in the mid-morning, then stop in for lunch while you soak up the amazing views of downtown Vancouver.

The sunken Quarry Garden makes a lovely spot to stroll on a warm summer day. For more horticultural explorations, head a couple of blocks west to VanDusen Botanical Garden, where there is always something in bloom amid beds representing various regions and species.

Location: Cambie Street and West 33rd Ave, Vancouver, British Columbia

Science World

The futuristic sphere-like building of Science World is home to a child-friendly exploration center that explains phenomena through 12 hands-on exhibits and demonstrations. Themes include water, air, motion, and invention.

Visiting exhibits are often impressive and part of world tours. The building, which is an unmistakable waterfront landmark in Vancouver, was originally built for Expo 86, a World's Fair.

Address: 1455 Quebec Street, Vancouver, British Columbia

Skybridge to Richmond

South of Vancouver, Richmond is Vancouver's second Chinatown, hence you'll see many shops with Chinese characters on their signs. If you crave authentic Chinese food, you are in the right spot. Hundreds of restaurants line the streets, serving delicious food.

Richmond is also packed with sightseeing attractions, from a renowned Buddhist temple to the picturesque former fishing village of Steveston where you'll find waterfront restaurants and shops in restored old boatsheds. Located in the latter, the Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site is one of the most historic settings in Richmond, and it relays the history of the West Coast fishing industry.

Once you've had your fill of tourist attractions, head to the malls to find imported Asian goods and much more. In the warmer weather, come down at night, when vibrant night markets take place and are similar in nature to ones you'd find in Hong Kong.

Orca off the BC Coast

The waters off Vancouver's coastline, known as the Salish Sea, are an excellent place to see whales. Humpback and gray whales, along with smaller minke and orcas swim in these waters.

The main whale watching season runs from March through October. Options for seeing the whales range from aerial viewing from a float plane to Zodiac boats, or for those looking for a more stable platform, larger tour boats. If you are lucky, you might even spot a few whales from the BC ferries that transit between Vancouver and Victoria .

Strict regulations are in place that limit how close the boats can get to the whales. A popular option leaves from in front of the Westin Hotel in downtown Vancouver. The Half-Day Whale Watching Adventure from Vancouver takes you out on the Salish Sea Dream, an 80-foot double decker catamaran. Along the way, interesting commentary is provided. You'll have a good chance of sighting a whale from one of the multiple viewing decks.

Water lilies at the VanDusen Botanical Garden

The British Columbia climate is ideal for producing spectacular displays of flowers, and there's no better place to see them in their full glory than the VanDusen Botanical Garden . The garden is handily located a short distance from downtown on Oak Street near the aforementioned Queen Elizabeth Park.

The garden is a pleasant place to wander, and something is always in bloom no matter when you visit. To maximize your enjoyment, be sure to check out the bloom guide that the gardens put out on their website prior to each season.

Highlights of any visit include the cherry trees bursting into color in the spring followed by the rhododendrons and laburnums, then the roses and hydrangeas putting on their show in the summer. Come fall, the Japanese maples, ginkgo trees, and rudbeckia step up and do their part in impressing guests.

Vancouver Art Gallery

The Vancouver Art Gallery is the city's premier arts institution, located in Downtown Vancouver. The gallery presents innovative, world-class exhibitions year-round featuring the works of local and international artists on a rotating basis. The gallery's collection includes paintings by renowned BC artist Emily Carr (1871-1945), as well as contemporary works by Asia-Pacific and First Nations artists.

The façade of the building faces Robson Square , an interesting public space designed by Arthur Erickson, which includes a winter ice-skating rink and law courts.

The steps with their carved lions out front of the gallery are a popular meeting spot and demonstration site for whatever causes are in the news. The Vancouver Art Gallery is located on Hornby Street, not far from Robson Street, and a visit to both is easily accomplished.

Homes on Nicklaus North Golf Course in Whistler

One of the most popular day trips is a drive along the Sea-to-Sky Highway to Whistler . If you want to do some sightseeing along the way, stop in at Squamish and Shannon Falls. Then, spend the afternoon wandering around Whistler Village, where you'll find shops, restaurants, and beautiful scenery around every corner. If you are a skier and you're visiting in winter, plan on a day of skiing here.

Other popular day trips from Vancouver include visiting some of the Gulf Islands, like Salt Spring Island , or taking a ferry all the way to Victoria on Vancouver Island. Ferries run regularly and the trip to Victoria is only about 1.5 hours.

Read More: From Vancouver to Victoria: Best Ways to Get There

To experience the best of Vancouver, it's a good idea to stay right downtown. Vancouver has a vibrant and active city center, where people live, work, and play. Many of the top attractions, including Stanley Park, English Bay, Robson Street, Gastown, and Granville Island, are located in the city center, along with great shopping and dining. Below are some highly-rated hotels in convenient locations:

Luxury Hotels:

  • With a superb location, looking out over Vancouver Harbour, Stanley Park, and the North Shore Mountains, the Fairmont Pacific Rim is one of the city's finest hotels.
  • Just off Robson Street near the famous Vancouver Public Library, the boutique L'Hermitage Hotel is a great luxury option for families or groups, with regular rooms and multi-room suites with kitchens.
  • Near Robson Square, the Rosewood Hotel Georgia , first opened in 1927, is one of Vancouver's classic luxury hotels in the heart of downtown.

Mid-Range Hotels :

  • True mid-range hotels are in scarce supply in the city center. At the top-end of mid-range, the centrally located Executive Hotel Le Soleil is a lovely boutique hotel with elegant suites.
  • Near False Creek and Granville Island, the Residence Inn by Marriott Vancouver Downtown is an extended-stay hotel with studios, as well as suites with full kitchens.
  • At the east end of downtown, close to Roger's Center, Science World, and Gastown, is the well-appointed Georgian Court Hotel, BW Premier Collection.

Budget Hotels :

  • Located near Roger's Center, the non-profit YWCA Hotel Vancouver welcomes all travelers to their clean, modern, and comfortable rooms. All room revenue, less operating expenses, is put back towards social programs for women, children, and families.
  • Near Gastown, is the Victorian Hotel , in a late 1800s Victorian-style building, with comfortable rooms and modern décor.
  • In a very central location and within walking distance to the Vancouver Convention Center and the Olympic Cauldron is the basic but comfortable Days Inn by Wyndam Vancouver Downtown .
  • Sightseeing : Vancouver is a big city, and it can be somewhat confusing with the water and bridges. A great way to see the attractions and get acquainted with the layout of the city is on a Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour . The bus tour stops at 24 locations. Tickets are valid for either one or two days.
  • Day Trips : Vancouver Island is one of Canada's most beautiful destinations, and it's less than two hours away by ferry from Vancouver. One of the easiest ways to see a bit of the island, including the beautiful provincial capital of Victoria, is on a Vancouver to Victoria and Butchart Gardens Tour . This tour takes you by bus and scenic ferry ride through the Gulf Islands to Victoria, where you'll have time to explore the city and see the famous Butchart Gardens, located just outside the city. This tour includes hotel pickup and drop-off, round-trip ferry, bus, and admission to the gardens.

Tourists tend to flock to Vancouver in the summer when the days are long and the sun is shining. The shoulder seasons of spring and fall are less busy, but the weather is a little less predictable. Even the winter — known for being dark and damp — has something to offer.

Spring: Vancouver experiences spring much earlier than the rest of Canada, and it is arguably when the city is at its most beautiful . It doesn't take long for the daffodils to poke out of the earth and for the infamous cherry blossoms to make an appearance, covering the city in delicate pink petals.

Of course, it takes rain to make flowers grow — and early spring can be a rainy time in Vancouver. Luckily, the temperatures this time of year are relatively warm, meaning it is still very pleasant to take in the sights of the city — though you may prefer to do so from under an umbrella.

In late spring, the rainy days become fewer, and the days get longer, but the crowds tend to stay away until the end of June. The late May to mid-June period offers the optimal conditions for a perfect Vancouver visit: great weather, but not too busy.

Summer: If you'd rather skip out on experiencing the notorious rain, then the summer months are your best bet for a visit to Vancouver. While there are no guarantees, the odds are good that you'll be treated to plenty of clear, sunny days in July and August , which are traditionally the warmest and driest months in Vancouver.

In the summer, the entire city tends to head outdoors. Whether exploring Stanley Park by bike, hiking the surrounding mountains, or just lounging at one of Vancouver's many beaches , there's simply no better way to experience summer in Vancouver than by being outside.

The fact that summer in Vancouver is spectacular is, unfortunately, not a very well-kept secret. Expect to pay a premium to enjoy summer in Vancouver, and always aim to show up early if you want to beat the crowds.

Fall: Fall in Vancouver can be somewhat hit or miss. If you happen to catch it on a "hit" day, then you're in for a real treat: crisp air, leaves changing colors, and clear views of the North Shore mountains as they get their first dusting of snow up top.

Hiking this time of year can be phenomenal. The bugs are a non-issue, the weather stays comfortable throughout the entire day, and the crowds of summer are long gone. Be mindful of hiking at elevation, as trails on the mountains can get covered in snow in the fall months. Always keep your eye on the time: as the daylight hours shrink, you are left with less time for those longer hikes.

Winter: While winter in the rest of Canada conjures up images of ice, snow, and bitter cold, that couldn't be further from winter in Vancouver. You'll want to dress properly if you visit Vancouver in the winter, but you're more likely to need to protect yourself from the rain than from the cold. The average temperature in Vancouver in January is 7 degrees Celsius (about 45 degrees Fahrenheit) — but the average rainfall for the month is about 140 millimeters (5.5 inches)!

While the rest of Canada is hibernating from the cold, people in Vancouver are able to get out and about thanks to its mild winters . The holiday season in Vancouver is, in a word, magical , with the Festival of Lights in VanDusen Gardens, the German-inspired Vancouver Christmas Market, and the spectacular Bright Nights at Vancouver's famous Stanley Park.

Though you're likely to experience at least some rain in the winter months, you also might get lucky with a few bluebird days. It isn't unusual to see people out on the golf course, even in the middle of winter!

If you're caught in a rainy spell, simply hop on a shuttle and head up to Whistler . Just two hours north of Vancouver, this world-renowned ski resort is best enjoyed in the winter months. If it's raining in Vancouver, chances are good that Whistler is getting covered in snow.

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Home » Travel Guides » Canada » 25 Best Things to Do in Vancouver (BC, Canada)

25 Best Things to Do in Vancouver (BC, Canada)

There are few places on Earth where you can ski, surf, be transported back in time over 5,000 years, watch a pod of Orcas frolic in the midst, or take a stroll through the world’s best urban park, all in one day; Vancouver is that place. Nestled between vast valleys, lush temperate rain forest, and an unforgiving mountain range, Vancouver, British Columbia is unmistakably West Coast. While Vancouver is one of Canada’s newer cities , it holds the title as the most ethnically diverse and the most dense, with more than half a million people crammed into its modest downtown core. And though it may sound crowded, after hosting a very successful 2010 Winter Olympics, Vancouver is consistently voted one of the most livable cities in the world.

Vancouver is an outdoor enthusiasts playground, with three world class mountains all within a 15 minute drive from downtown, hundreds of parks and campsites, thousands of hiking trails, one of the worlds longest seawalls and countless rivers and lakes to explore. There is an endless list of things to do in Vancouver, with an activity for every age group and suiting all interests, but there are only so many hours in a day, so here is a great list to get you started.

1. Visit the Museum of Anthropology

Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver

It’s easy to be dazzled by Vancouver’s geographical splendor, but to properly get acquainted with this city, you have to start at the beginning, the very beginning. Vancouver and what is known as the Lower Mainland was peopled some 10,000 years ago. Overlooking the Burrard Inlet, on campus at the University of British Columbia, the Museum of Anthropology offers up a mosaic of Aboriginal works, both ancient and contemporary, all weaving together a story that is rarely told to visitors of this great city. If you really want to learn about the city’s roots, and its relationship with the global community, this is one of the most important things to do in Vancouver.

2. Take a Drive up the Sea-to-Sky Highway

Sea-to-Sky Highway

Rated as one of the most the beautiful drives in the world, the Sea-to-Sky corridor takes visitors on a 1.5 hour long journey, from the heart of downtown Vancouver to the world class ski town of Whistler. With waterfalls, jaw-dropping vistas, a stunning cultural center and a suspension bridge along the way, you’ll want to pack a lunch, your camera and gas up the rental car, because this journey is one you won’t want to miss.

Available tour : Vancouver: 7-Hour Sea to Sky Tour

3. Hike the Grouse Grind

Grouse Grind, Vancouver

There is no better way to become an honorary Vancouverite (yep, that’s what they’re called), than to earn your stripes on the Grouse Grind. Nicknamed “Mother Nature’s Staircase”, this is no Sunday stroll. Located on Vancouver’s North Shore, at the foot of its namesake (Grouse Mountain), the Grind as it’s affectionately known, takes hikers some 850m up through the alpine. Once you reach the top, a panoramic chalet awaits with ice cold drinks and sweeping views of the city. And once you’ve recovered, save those wobbly legs from further torture and enjoy a scenic ride down the mountain on the Grouse Gondola.

Suggested tour : Grouse Mountain and Capilano Suspension Bridge

4. Cycle Around Stanley Park

Stanley Park, Vancouver

The votes are in and the crowd has spoken; Vancouver’s Stanley Park managed to elbow out the likes of New York’s Central Park, the Luxeumbourg Gardens in Paris and Chicago’s Millennium Park to be named the World’s Best Park by Trip Advisor. So why is it so great? Where else in the world can you cycle all the way around an old growth forest, visit ancient Aboriginal village sites, steal a tan at the beach, lounge around a rose garden or get up and close with sea lions and Pacific dolphins. There are a handful of bicycle rental spots at the base of Denman Street, and its the best way to get around the park.

5. Windowshop in Gastown

Gastown, Vancouver

Vancouver proper began in the heart of what is now a trendy neighborhood called Gastown, named after a historical figure known as “Gassy Jack”. Once Canada’s third largest city, “Gastown” in 1867, was the site of various lumber mills, Gastown is now home to chic loft apartments, European eateries, cocktail lounges and flashy boutiques. There are a few galleries of note along Water Street, and plenty of places to buy Canadiana.

6. Dim Sum in China Town

China Town, Vancouver

The great thing about sightseeing in Vancouver is it’s easy to knock off multiple things in one visit to any of its unique neighborhoods. Vancouver’s Chinatown is one of the oldest in Canada and the largest. Perched on the edge of the Downtown Financial District and Gastown, Chinatown offers up an array of funky shops, inexpensive markets, and of course, the best Dim Sum restaurants in town. Sunday is the busiest day for Dim Sum, but also the best with multi-generational families sitting down and chatting about the week’s events.

7. Find Your Zen

Dr. Sun Yat Sen Garden in Vancouver

While you’re in the neighborhood, Chinatown is home to one of Canada’s most impressive Chinese gardens, Dr. Sun Yat Sen. What makes it so exquisite is its unique construction. Constructed with wholly traditional methods (by hand), the site mimics complex gardens found on the Mainland with courtyards, meandering brooks, impeccably sculpted vegetation, all in keeping with the Confucian and Buddhist tradition.

Available tour : 4 Hours Private Tour of Vancouver’s Gardens

8. Kayaking in Deep Cove

Deep Cove, Vancouver

If getting up close and personal with mother nature is your idea of the perfect day out, ocean kayaking is one of the most popular things to do in Vancouver, and Deep Cove is one of the best and safest places to do it in Canada. A tranquil paddle up Indian Arm, a picturesque fjord where the forests creatures come down to the water’s edge to greet you with curiosity.

9. Take an Aquabus to Granville Island

Granville Island

No visit to Vancouver is complete without a visit to the artsy Granville Island. Interestingly, it’s more a little peninsula than an island. What was once an industrial manufacturing hub, is now the meeting place for well-to-do Vancouverites and tourists to shop for the organic produce, sip on premium teas, sample fine chocolates, listen to buskers, and watch sleek yachts sidle on up to the dock.

Included in : Vancouver Delights: 7 Hour City Tour

10. Visit the Richmond Night Market

Richmond Night Market

If you’re here during the summer months, which is best time to visit, the Richmond Market is one of the most interesting markets to wander through. Home to Vancouver’s largest Chinese community, Richmond puts on quite the show, with endless stalls of trinkets, and interesting foods, and art demonstrations.

11. Take a Foodie Tour

Vancouver Food

Vancouver is the most ethnically diverse city in the world, which means, if you can dream up a style cuisine, it’s probably here. Its culinary influences are infinite, from the freshest sushi, to the most rustic farm-to-table, you could easily take a tour around the globe eating here, so why not let someone do that for you and hop on a foodie tour. Pair the complex food scene with an exploding craft beer and wine industry and you have yourself the makings of a perfectly delicious day!

12. Hike in Lynn Canyon

Lynn Canyon, Vancouver

Vancouver has two suspension bridges, both equally spectacular, but one is always crowded with tourists and costly, and the other is frequented more by locals and free! Located in the heart of Lynn Valley, Lynn Canyon Park has been delighting hiking enthusiasts for over 100 years! Complete with trails, popular swimming holes, breathtaking waterfalls of course, a hair-raising suspension bridge, 50 meters up in the canopy makes this a must do, no matter how short your visit.

13. Wander Van Dusen Botanical Gardens

Van Dusen Botanical Gardens, Vancouver

Garden enthusiasts from around the world love wandering the tranquil 22 acres of Vancouver’s Van Dusen Botanical Gardens. The great thing about this paradise in the city is you can visit it all year round. In the warmer months, pack a picnic, take a stroll down Laburnum Walk, and find a find a shady spot to enjoy the fragrant garden. The garden takes you on a tour of the world’s eco system, all in one place.

14. Watch a Concert at the Commodore

The Commodore, Vancouver

Vancouver offers up a plethora of live music venues, and there’s always someone famous in town, dazzling the crowds. One of the oldest and most beloved venues is the Commodore Ballroom. Originating in the 1920’s during the vibrant Art Deco era, the Commodore has hosted the likes of Sammy Davis Jr., U2, Tina Turner and Lady Gaga. Unlike the larger venues in town, admission prices are reasonable and the atmosphere casual.

15. Catch a Canucks Game

Vancouver Canucks

Canada is hockey country, there is no question. Hockey is to Canada what football (soccer) is to Europe, and if you happen to be in Vancouver between October and April, seeing the Vancouver Canucks go head-to-head with any number of NHL teams is one of the most exciting things to do in Vancouver.

16. Go for a Run in Pacific Spirit Park

Pacific Spirit Park, Vancouver

You’ll soon learn that Vancouverites love to spend all of their extra time in the outdoors, and one place they love to do that is in beautiful Pacific Spirit Regional Park. This park is complete With 874 hectares of pristine forest and plenty of manicured trails to run on. Visitors can enjoy a nice long 10km hike around the perimeter, or meander through it. And if you have the pooch along, this park is not only dog-friendly, but in many parts, off-leash friendly.

17. Sea-to-Sky Gondola

Sea-to-Sky Gondola

We’ve already suggested you head up the sea-to-sky corridor, what we haven’t delved into are all the amazing things you’ll find along the way like the Sea-to-Sky Gondola, one of Vancouver’s newest and most exciting attractions. Vancouver is all about spectacular views, and the 100 meter long Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge provides 360 degree views of all the Squamish region has to offer. From rugged mountains above to the vibrant turquoise fjord below, you may not want to come down.

18. Catch a Sunset in English Bay

English Bay, Vancouver

Vancouver’s West End neighborhood is one of the most unique in Canada. It’s the most densely populated urban neighborhood in the country, and because of its adjacent location to Stanley Park and with the popularity of the seawall, it’s a highly transitional neighborhood. In the summer, it’s hard to know where the tourists end and the locals begin! When dinner time hits, wander down Denman Street and find a spot for good eats and cocktails. Then head on down to English Bay, find a bench, and watch as mother nature puts on her finest show in the sky above.

19. Visit Christ Church Cathedral

Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver

Vancouver has many churches, but few as beautiful as the Christ Church Cathedral. You don’t have to be religious to admire this Gothic Revival structure built with West Coast Douglas fir beams. From its exquisite stained glass windows, to stunning archways, this is a great place to find some peace and quiet.

20. Get Folksy on the Sunshine Coast

Sunshine Coast, BC, Canada

Vancouver is amazing, but if you are lucky enough to have some extra time on your hands, there is a plethora of day trips that are bucketlist worthy. A forty-minute ferry ride will take you to the Sunshine Coast, Canada’s best kept secret, and one that we’re telling you so you can experience a coastal oasis. The roads are as lackadaisical as the wonderfully quirky people who live in this coastal community. Visitors can base themselves in Sechelt, Roberts Creek or Gibsons, or if you’re feeling more adventurous, rent a cabin up the coast and spend your days shopping at authentic farmer’s markets, laze around peaceful lakes, and or grab a book and head down to the beach for some you time.

21. The PNE

PNE, Haunted House

Every summer, the Pacific National Exhibition returns to the city for a 17 day stint on its very own designated fair grounds. The century old tradition is local favorite and brings along with it an array of rides, farm animal auctions, a popular concert series, beer gardens, food vendors and all the makings of an exciting city-meets-urban fair.

22. Find a Local Event in the Georgia Strait

Vancouver Convention Center

If a Vancouverite wants to know “what’s on” in the city, they flip through the pages of the Georgia Strait. From hyper local community center talent shows, to blockbuster movies, ballets and headlining super-bands, any event at any time will be listed in here. Check out some jazz at a local club, check out a comedy show on Granville Island, or get dolled up for a charity event at the Vancouver Convention Center, whatever your flavour, you’ll find it listed in this free publication.

23. The Vancouver Aquarium

Vancouver Aquarium

If you’ve ever wanted to get up close and personal with what lies beneath the frigid waters of the Pacific Ocean, or what’s living above in canopies of the Brazilian Amazon, the Vancouver Aquarium gives you that opportunity. One of North Americas largest aquariums, and conveniently located in the heart of Stanley Park, this attraction is one of the most popular things to do in Vancouver. There is lot’s to see, and as the Aquarium sees a regular rotation of unique exhibits, you may want to give yourself at least a day to come nose-to-nose with Belugas and learn about how essential the salmon is here in the Coastal ecosystem.

24. Lunch on the Drive

Commercial Drive, Vancouver

Like any neighborhood around the world, Vancouver’s urban spaces tell a story. Commercial Drive is one of Vancouver’s oldest and most ethnically eclectic streets, and one that you definitely need to visit. This century old street, now affectionately termed “The Drive” is home to a mix of contemporary and Edwardian houses, Portguese bakeries, Brazilian coffee houses, Italian pasta places and any number of hippy-chic boutiques. In the spring and summer months, the Drive is a hive of activity, and a meeting place for those looking for good eats and great conversation.

25. Ski, Snowboard or Play in the Snow

Grouse Mountain

Vancouver may be a temperate climate, but in the winter months, the North Shore mountains transform into a snow-capped wonderland. With three excellent mountains all within a 15 minutes drive from the downtown core, and a free shuttle to one of them, Vancouver is your perfect place for a winter holiday. Seymour and Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver offer up challenging runs and family fun, and Cypress in West Vancouver has the city’s best tubing park! And for the world class skiier, hob aboard a shuttle and head to Whistler/Blackcomb for one of the best alpine experiences in the world. It’s no wonder Vancouver played host to the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

25 Best Things to Do in Vancouver (BC, Canada):

  • Visit the Museum of Anthropology
  • Take a Drive up the Sea-to-Sky Highway
  • Hike the Grouse Grind
  • Cycle Around Stanley Park
  • Windowshop in Gastown
  • Dim Sum in China Town
  • Find Your Zen
  • Kayaking in Deep Cove
  • Take an Aquabus to Granville Island
  • Visit the Richmond Night Market
  • Take a Foodie Tour
  • Hike in Lynn Canyon
  • Wander Van Dusen Botanical Gardens
  • Watch a Concert at the Commodore
  • Catch a Canucks Game
  • Go for a Run in Pacific Spirit Park
  • Sea-to-Sky Gondola
  • Catch a Sunset in English Bay
  • Visit Christ Church Cathedral
  • Get Folksy on the Sunshine Coast
  • Find a Local Event in the Georgia Strait
  • The Vancouver Aquarium
  • Lunch on the Drive
  • Ski, Snowboard or Play in the Snow

8 essential Vancouver experiences to add to your itinerary

Bianca Bujan

Feb 2, 2024 • 7 min read

vancouver tourist things to do

Vancouver has a mild climate year-round, so you can enjoy four full seasons of outdoor adventures © Getty Images

Visit  Vancouver for the natural beauty, stay for the urban sights. It's not known as one of the most livable cities in the world for nothing.

British Columbia's biggest metropolis sits on the water, surrounded by trees and framed by mountains, so you can swim, cycle and ski all in one day if you choose. And with a mild climate year-round, you can enjoy four full seasons of outdoor adventures.

But you don’t have to love the outdoors to experience the best the city has to offer. You can take in a spirited spectator sport, dine on delectable dim sum, connect with Indigenous culture and stroll the spectacular shopping districts too. In Vancouver, there’s an activity for everyone. Here are some of the best things to do in town.

Totem poles in Vancouver, surrounded by trees and greenery

1. Learn about Vancouver's Indigenous roots and contemporary culture

There’s no better way to connect with the city than to listen to stories and experiences shared by the people who first called the land home.

Vancouver sits on the unceded traditional territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations, and an abundance of experiences found throughout the city offer engaging and educational ways to connect with the people and places that shaped what we now know as Vancouver.

Take a walking “Talking Trees” tour through Stanley Park with Talaysay Tours  and learn about the local plants that were harvested by the Coast Salish people, while hearing stories about the rich cultural history from a First Nations guide.

Explore the Bill Reid Gallery – Canada's only public gallery dedicated to contemporary Indigenous art of the Northwest Coast – and spot original fine art pieces by Bill Reid, a world-famous Haida artist.

For Indigenous cuisine, dine at Salmon n' Bannock – the only Indigenous-owned and operated restaurant in Vancouver, serving up modern cuisine made with traditional Indigenous ingredients.

Consider an overnight stay at Skwachàys Lodge , Canada’s first Indigenous Arts Hotel. Located right in the heart of downtown Vancouver, the Lodge offers unique experiences such as sweat lodge ceremonies, traditional smudge ceremonies and in-studio visits with artists-in-residence. Using a social-enterprise model, the Lodge funds supportive housing.

2. Take to the water by beach, boat or board

Soak up the city’s sparkling seascape from the surface. Vancouver offers ample aquatic adventures, with premium paddling, ocean swimming and mini-ferry rides, all easily accessible directly from downtown.

For kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding, you can choose your own adventure right in the city, with water access and rentals available in Granville Island, Jericho Beach , False Creek, Yaletown or Stanley Park, or venture further afield to Deep Cove, located on Vancouver’s North Shore . 

If you’d prefer a power boat, you can rent those too! Granville Island Boat Rentals is a popular choice for renting a private speed boat. For something a little more unique, enjoy a BBQ on the water while you take in the sights. Rather have someone else take the wheel? The rainbow-colored Aquabus mini pedestrian ferries will take you for a tour or transport you between Granville Island and some of the city’s best waterfront spots.

For ocean swimming, head to one of Vancouver’s best beaches , such as Kits Beach or Second Beach , where you can soak up the atmosphere, sizzle in the sun, and then cool off with a salty dip in the Pacific Ocean.

The exterior of Granville Island Public Market in Vancouver, home to over 100 vendors offering fresh seafood, meats, sweets and European specialty foods.

3. Find fine art, family fun and fresh food on Granville Island

Industrial wasteland turned cultural wonderland, Granville Island – one of Vancouver’s best neighborhoods – is as alluring for its fine art as it is for its culinary prowess.

Art lovers are lured by the creative scene here, with hidden studios and hands-on workshops found around every corner. Foodies flock to Granville Island too, with a melange of mom-and-pop shops like Lee’s Donuts (a celebrity favorite), fine dining spots like the Sandbar  and the Granville Island Public Market , an indoor food market where the city’s best chefs like to shop. 

Kids Market – a three-story, kid-centric shopping and activity center on Granville Island – is the biggest draw for families. And only steps away, the largest free outdoor water park in North America provides the perfect place to cool off and play on warm summer days.

Local tip: Grab some grub from Granville Island Public Market and stroll along the wooden boardwalk, from the southeast corner of Granville Island to Ron Basford Park, for a quiet picnic with water views.

Young couple cycling, others walking or jogging in the late afternoon in a park by the sea

4. Cycle around the Stanley Park seawall

Topping the list of Vancouver’s best parks , Stanley Park shines as the crown jewel of the city. The park is often referred to as the Central Park of Vancouver, only it’s much larger, spanning 400 hectares (988 acres) in size.

Home to an outdoor public pool, plenty of playgrounds, sandy beaches, winding trails through dense woodland, tourist attractions and top-notch dining spots, the park certainly has something for everyone – but it’s the 8.8km (5.5-mile) paved seawall that draws the biggest crowd. Rent a bike from downtown and an entire day can be spent cycling through the park, exploring all of its best assets.

Detour: Veer off the seawall into the park and visit the Vancouver Aquarium . Canada’s first and largest aquarium, it's home to thousands of aquatic species, and you can get up close with everything from jellyfish to sea otters.

5. Take a trek through the treetops

Vancouver is packed with tree-lined hiking trails, but for a more unique experience – and a sky-high adventure – take an above-ground trek through the trees.

On Vancouver’s North Shore, the  Capilano Suspension Bridge  is the most popular choice, enjoyed by visitors since it was first built in 1883. As the world’s longest and highest suspension bridge, dangling 230ft high above the Capilano River and stretching 450ft long, it’s certainly a must-visit site. It's especially breathtaking from November to January, when it’s fully illuminated with more than 50,000 lights for the annual Canyon Lights event. 

For a free version with smaller crowds, consider a visit to the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge , which hangs 160ft above the canyon and connects to a series of hiking trails. It is also home to the  Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre and a quaint cafe where you can grab a coffee and a treat once you’ve completed your trek.

Three people - skiere and snowboarders - wait for sunrise on Grouse Mountain

6. Hit the local ski slopes

Vancouver may have mild temperatures year-round, resulting in many winters without snow, but the city’s three local mountains have no shortage of the white stuff. From early December to mid-March, skiers and snowboarders ascend the mountains in droves for slopeside adventures, accessed in 30 minutes (or less) from downtown.

Known as the “Peak of Vancouver,”  Grouse Mountain  is the most popular local ski hill, accessed by a gondola and offering all-season attractions. Cypress Mountain Resort is the largest of the three, and when the snow melts, visitors can take an exhilarating ride down the Eagle Coaster, Canada’s longest mountain roller coaster. Mt Seymour Resort is smaller, more laid-back and family-owned, and is known for its fresh powder and scenic snowshoeing trails. 

7. Do dim sum on the Dumpling Trail

Deep-fried dumplings, pork-stuffed pouches and steaming hot wontons are just some of the tasty treats you’ll discover on a self-guided tasting tour along the Dumpling Trail .

Just 9.5 miles south of downtown Vancouver, Richmond is home to the largest Chinese population in the world beyond Asia, and as a result, the city is stocked with hundreds of great traditional dim-sum restaurants, street-food shacks and hidden mom-and-pop shops serving up the best dumpling dishes found this side of the Pacific. 

Planning tip: Stretch out your stay and spend a night at Versante Hotel , Richmond’s only luxury boutique hotel, with chic designs that celebrate Asian and Western influences. There you’ll find Bruno , an upscale restaurant that serves up global fare sourced from local farms, like the truffle-lavender duck dish, a fan favorite.

8. Take in a spectator sport

Vancouverites love their sports and welcome visitors to join them as they cheer on their favorite teams. For hockey fans, a Vancouver Canucks game is the hottest place to be (if you’re lucky enough to snag a ticket). The city is also home to the Vancouver Giants, a junior ice hockey team that plays in the Western Hockey League.

The BC Lions are Vancouver’s CFL team, with a big following of football fans easily spotted as they shower the city in a sea of orange on game days. A Vancouver Whitecaps soccer match is sure to be high energy, and for an afternoon of baseball, catch a Vancouver Canadians game. Interested in checking out Canada’s other national sport? Head to a Vancouver Warriors lacrosse game and cheer on the city's newest professional sports team.

This article was first published December 2022 and updated February 2024

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The stunning Capilano Suspension Bridge in Vancouver, Canada

The best Vancouver attractions

What a stunner of a city Western Canada's largest metropolis is. These are the absolute best attractions in Vancouver

The best attractions in Vancouver cover a whole lot of ground. The museums tell story after story while the famous nature surrounding the city more than speaks for itself, although you may well hear a pin drop while crossing the magical Capilano Bridge. From lung-busting hikes to lung-filling gardens and more, Western Canada’s largest metropolis is a major destination for visitors of all ages and dispensations. Simply put, if you like things, you’ll find plenty to love about Vancouver. Double it all up with a gorgeous gourmet meal at one of the city’s best restaurants , and you’ve got yourself one heck of a time.

RECOMMENDED: The best things to do in Vancouver

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Best Vancouver attractions

Stanley Park

1.  Stanley Park

This must-see park offers 1,000 acres of active pursuits, with beaches, an aquarium, playgrounds, a pool and splash park, botanical gardens, a golf course, 17 tennis courts, and more. Try biking the exterior Seawall or venture inside to get lost amongst ferns and centuries-old cedars on 40 miles of trails. Keep an eye out for beavers, raccoons, great blue herons, bald eagles, coyotes, and sometimes even whales.

Capilano Suspension Bridge

2.  Capilano Suspension Bridge

The oldest tourist attraction in the city, the Capilano Suspension Bridge has attracted thrill-seeking visitors since 1889. Test your mettle as you walk the bridge—suspended 230 feet high and 450 feet across the Capilano River—and you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the temperate rainforest. The park also features a cliff walk, nature tours, a treetop adventure, and a Living Forest exhibit.

Museum of Vancouver

3.  Museum of Vancouver

Snap a pic with the giant crab sculpture out front before heading into Canada’s largest civic museum. Located in Vanier Park, the MOV fosters a greater understanding of Vancouver through fascinating exhibits on a range of topics, including ancient First Nations history, the relationship between nature and urban environments, and that time in the ‘50s when Vancouver had more neon than Las Vegas.

Vancouver Aquarium

4.  Vancouver Aquarium

A Stanley Park highlight, the Aquarium focuses on sustainability and conservation. The staff rescues marine animals and aims to educate the public in everything they do. The Vancouver Aquarium originated the Ocean Wise sustainable seafood and ocean protection initiative. Enjoy the antics of the otters and penguins, be mesmerized by the jellyfish and gain a greater appreciation of the importance of protecting the world’s oceans.

Vancouver Art Gallery

5.  Vancouver Art Gallery

Robson Street is a popular destination for shopping, but don’t miss the Vancouver Art Gallery. The Gallery’s collection is highly acclaimed, featuring both contemporary arts and historical exhibitions. The well-known British Columbian artist Emily Carr has a dedicated collection, so be sure to check it out for some local pride. 

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden

6.  Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden

This tranquil garden at the edge of Chinatown was the first Chinese garden built outside of China. It was designed and built by specialists from Suzhou (where the Ming Dynasty scholar’s gardens that inspired this one are located) using rare trees, prized rocks, and the principles of balance and harmony. Stroll the free-to-visit park, then enter the gardens by paid admission. Learn the symbolism behind the placement of each plant, structure, and path, or just enjoy the peace, quiet and beauty.

Granville Island

7.  Granville Island

Overhauled in the 1970s, this former industrial site—technically a peninsula rather than an island—is now a thriving destination with plenty to explore. Take an Aquabus to the island and spend an afternoon checking out restaurants, artist studios and galleries. The highlight is one of Canada’s most beloved culinary destinations, the Granville Island Public Market, which features confections, cheeses, bread, meats, and a food court with more tasty local eats.


8.  Gastown

The original downtown neighbourhood of Vancouver, Gastown is now a vibrant, trendy 'hood, with unique shopping, dining, art galleries, and more. Densely-packed and stylish, Gastown is filled with cobblestone streets and beautifully refurbished buildings. After browsing the boutiques and galleries, grab a cocktail or dinner and make it a night out. Don’t miss the famous Gastown Steam Clock, one of only a few working steam clocks in the world. The clock shoots steam every quarter-hour, and each whistle blows on the hour.

Telus World of Science

9.  Telus World of Science

The futuristic sphere (built for Expo ‘86) at the end of False Creek is a world of scientific wonders. While hands-on activities and interactive displays will certainly entertain kids, it’s eye-opening for adults too. Scientific demonstrations on Centre Stage and OMNIMAX® Theatre shows are sure to wow even the most jaded museum-goer.

Sea to Sky Gondola

10.  Sea to Sky Gondola

This ten-minute gondola ride takes you up almost 2,800 feet past Shannon Falls. Drive the stunning Sea to Sky Highway to Squamish, then gaze out the gondola window for spectacular views of Howe Sound and the mountains surrounding Vancouver. More things to do: Hike the trails, try the Via Ferrata, cross the Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge, dine at the Summit Lodge and, during the winter, ski the backcountry.

Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia

11.  Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia

Located on the traditional territory of the Musqueam people, the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) features art by indigenous peoples from Canada and around the world. As one of Canada’s largest teaching museums, MOA is home to hundreds of thousands of ethnographic objects, artifacts and works of art, including textiles, ceramics, massive totem poles, masks, and more. The iconic building was designed by the renowned Canadian architect Arthur Erickson.

VanDusen Botanical Garden

12.  VanDusen Botanical Garden

VanDusen Botanical Garden is 55 acres of green and splashes of colour, with 7,500 plant species from all over the world. There’s a picturesque lake and a hedge maze made from 3,000 cedars. Packed with towering trees and other perennials, these botanical gardens are a great spot to unwind or take a few nature selfies.

FlyOver Canada

13.  FlyOver Canada

Want a birds-eye view of Canada? This state-of-the-art, special effects-driven simulation ride in Canada Place is a thrilling intro to the beauty of the country. Suspended in your seat with feet dangling, you’ll feel like you’re actually flying from coast to coast while watching projections on the huge dome screen. You’ll fly through valleys, countryside, mountains, forests, and lakes. Wind, mist, and the scents of nature make the experience all the more realistic.

Grouse Mountain

14.  Grouse Mountain

A year-round destination, Grouse Mountain is popular with outdoor enthusiasts, as well as those simply seeking a beautiful view. From hiking and ziplining in the summer to ice skating and snowshoeing in the winter—plus lumberjack shows and grizzly bear visits in between—Grouse Mountain has something for everyone. Up for a challenge? Try the Grouse Grind, a 1.8-mile trail featuring 2,830 stairs that takes you 2,800 feet up the mountain. Or just take the gondola up for amazing views of the city and the ocean.

Kitsilano Pool

15.  Kitsilano Pool

Swim in turquoise waters with stunning views of the mountains, ocean, and the Vancouver skyline. The 137-meter heated saltwater pool is located outdoors on the bay near Kitsilano Beach. Three sections cater to all crowds: A shallow end for kids and families, a deep end for teens and adults, and a section for lap-swimmers. There are lockers and an on-site cafe for refreshments.

Vancouver Lookout

16.  Vancouver Lookout

Temporarily closed

This Harbour Centre attraction is a great way to get the lay of the land before touring around Vancouver. A glass elevator zooms skyward more than 550 feet to the observation deck, where you’ll have 360° views of the city. The admission ticket is valid all day, so be sure to check it out in the morning and evening for two different, equally beautiful perspectives.

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Happy to Wander

A Local’s Guide to 43 Wonderful Things to Do in Vancouver, BC

Last Updated: March 19, 2024

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vancouver tourist things to do

Wondering what to do in Vancouver?

I have to admit something – I am a very annoying person when it comes to talking about my hometown.

The reason is simple: I love Vancouver a scary amount, and if you ask me about it, I will literally frantically shout suggestions at you for as long as you’ll let me.

As such, I resisted ever publishing anything concrete about it – a very counterintuitive coping mechanism for my overwhelm.

There are so many great things to do in Vancouver, it’s impossible to narrow the list down to something short and sweet.

So I stopped trying. This list is the opposite of short and sweet – it is in fact, rather long and painful… and likely to make you go “yikes” while virtually backing away slowly. 

BUT, if you’re looking for a comprehensive list of things to see and do in Vancouver, Canada, this might be the exact lengthy bucket list you’re looking for, written with love by an overzealous local who is intense about you having a good time.

So… ENJOY IT. Every second! I’ll be eagerly watching your enjoyment from the shadows over there.

NOTE: This list includes suggestions for not just things to do in Vancouver, but also things to do in ‘the Greater Vancouver Area’, including cities like Burnaby and Richmond . These are all within 20 minutes of Vancouver proper though, and are well worth the trek!

vancouver tourist things to do

Save this list of Things to Do in Vancouver for later!

You’ll be very glad you did.

The Top 7 Touristy Things to do in Vancouver (That Are Worth it!)

Okay – let’s start with THE best things to do in Vancouver as recommended by every guidebook and website.

I’m a big fan of going off the beaten path, but the touristy things here are touristy for a reason, so be sure to check them off your list.

Not all attractions in Vancouver are made equal though, so here are the select few that have my personal seal of approval.

1. Ooh and ahh along the Stanley Park Seawall

If there’s one thing I demand every visitor do in Vancouver, it’s a jaunt along the Stanley Park seawall.

Seriously, this activity is peak Vancouver, and lovely even on a treacherous stormy day (as my boyfriend learned, when he visited for the first time and I wouldn’t take “no babe, there’s literal thunder striking down trees” for an answer).

Granted, exploring the famous Stanley Park seawall is best enjoyed on a beautiful day, but trust me when I say it has more than earned its stripes as one of the top things to do in Vancouver (as recommended in every single guidebook).

Stanley Park is an iconic slice of town located right in downtown Vancouver, featuring prominent attractions such as the Vancouver Aquarium, the city’s famous totem poles, idyllic Prospect Point, and the towering Lionsgate Bridge.

Its famous seawall hugs the water and leads you all the way to English Bay, one of the city’s best beaches, providing endless views of Vancouver’s glorious mix of mountains, sea and lush, lush greenery.

Renting bicycles to traverse the Seawall is a popular activity (you can book a tour like this one if you’re not feeling confident), but exploring it by foot is just as fun… and less hazardous if you’re a clumsy cyclist like me.

NOTE: For a darker twist on the usual Stanley Park sightseeing route, you can book this spooky tour.

vancouver tourist things to do

2. Stop by Jack Poole Plaza and Canada Place

If I ever feel like I need to fall in love with Vancouver (trust me, for some reason I get this urge often), I head straight to Jacke Poole Plaza and Canada Place.

This is where you can find stunning views of the mountains and water, plus plenty of Vancouver’s most iconic public art pieces, including the pixellated whale, giant teardrop, and of course, the Olympic Cauldron which is a legacy from when Vancouver hosted the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

For a unique perspective, look for a set of stairs to the left of Cactus Club, where you can climb up and look over Jack Poole Plaza and the glassy buildings of Coal Harbour … one of my favourite views in the city!

From Jack Poole Plaza, you can easily walk to Canada Place, one of the most iconic symbols of Vancouver with its five flag facade, which lights up with different colours at night.

Along here, you’ll find the “The Canadian Trail”, a fun little walk dotted with plaques sharing facts aboot Canada and various pieces of our history.

SIDE TIP: One of the best (lesser known) views of Canada Place is in Granville Plaza, and it’s the perfect place to enjoy a picnic too as there’s loads of seats and benches. On a weekday though, you can expect to share this space with plenty of hungry office workers.

vancouver tourist things to do

3. Hop on an Aquabus and explore Granville Island

Aquabus, you say?

Yes, what a fun, whimsical name… and I’m happy to confirm that the actual experience is just as delightful as its branding.

Yup – the Aquabus is a little rainbow boat that shuttles people all around False Creek… and it’s awesome.

Sure, it’s pricier than taking the bus, but riding it is a fun experience and I highly recommend trying it out for unique perspectives of Vancouver from the water.

While the Aquabus offers various routes, I recommend you take it to Granville Island , which is home to a famous food market, many food stalls/restaurants, a brewery and my personal favourite: Vancouver Theatresports, the best improv you’ll ever watch.

vancouver tourist things to do

4. Meander around Gastown

As the oldest neighbourhood in Vancouver, Gastown is a romantic little slice of the city where you’ll find pretty cobblestoned streets lined with a throng of independent shops, boutiques and restaurants for days.

While I admit, this has become one of the more touristy areas in Vancouver (you’ll have no trouble finding MMM, Miscellaneous Moose Merch here), it is still a worthwhile place to visit… especially given its central location in the downtown core.

Sure, most visitors come here to drool puddles over the famous Gastown Steam Clock and the statue of Gastown founder, Gassy Jack, but there’s much more to do here, including munching away at some of the city’s best eateries (a food tour like this one might be a good idea if you’re short on time!) and shopping at unique local boutiques.

For a more macabre take on Gastown sights, you can also book this Lost Souls of Gastown tour.

vancouver tourist things to do

5. Enjoy the serenity at Queen Elizabeth Park

For some of the best views in Vancouver and a gorgeous park to boot, head over to Queen Elizabeth Park.

This is one of my favourite parks in Vancouver, mostly because every inch of it is gorgeous…. and best of all, it’s free!

For context, this is where ALL the Vancouver youths go to take their prom pictures, so you can bet that it’s scenic and picture-perfect.

The park’s quarry gardens are a special highlight, with lush flora wrapped around pretty pathways, little bridges and even mini-waterfalls.

You’ll also find a Pitch & Putt here, along with free tennis courts, picnic areas, dancing fountains and the Bloedel Floral Conservatory.

vancouver tourist things to do

6. Swap continents for a few hours at Doctor Sun Yat Sen’s Chinese Garden

While I don’t think that Vancouver’s Chinatown is an amazing experience for tourists (it’s sadly one of the roughest parts of town), the one exception for me is Doctor Sun Yat Sen’s Chinese Garden, particularly if you want to feel like you’ve been warped over to Asia.

This garden (which is next to an equally pretty free area, known as the Sun Yat-Sen Park) is the first Chinese garden of its kind of be built outside of China, with some gorgeous rock/water features, a lily pond, and covered walkways that hearken back to the Ming Dynasty.

You can grab tickets for this gorgeous oasis here.

vancouver tourist things to do

7. Get THE best Vancouver views ever on a seaplane tour

While I admit, a bougie seaplane tour definitely isn’t the cheapest Vancouver activity, soaring above the city in style is still to date one of my favourite memories of Vancouver.

Really, getting to appreciate Vancouver during a scenic flight is a perspective like no other, and I highly recommend trying it out if you’re looking to do something special while you’re in town.

I booked a downtown panorama tour with Harbour Air and loved it. Their planes depart right at Coal Harbour, which makes access from downtown Vancouver a breeze.

Click here to check reviews and availability.

BONUS VANCOUVER MUST-DO: WHALE WATCHING! A lot of visitors come to BC for whale watching, and while I’ve heard it’s very much a hit and miss activity (incredible if you see whales, very underwhelming when you don’t) I figured I would put it on your radar. I can’t personally vouch for a company myself as I’ve never done it, but here is one with consistent five star reviews.

vancouver tourist things to do

Alternatives to Overpriced/Overrated Vancouver Things to Do

Alright, with the touristy musts out of the way, I now want to share some of my personal favourite things to do in Vancouver with you. Consider this your list of local Vancouver secrets.

Truthfully, there are a lot of “tourist must-dos” in Vancouver that I think are overrated or overpriced. Here are my alternative recommendations for these popular sights:

8. Enjoy the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge (instead of Capilano Suspension Bridge)

One of the coolest things about Vancouver is how you can find a rainforest 20 minutes away from the downtown core, and usually visitors will go to the Capilano Suspension Bridge to experience it.

I do think the Capilano Suspension Bridge is gorgeous BUT only worth it when it’s not busy. Otherwise, the hordes of crowds make it pretty unbearable, and especially considering the hefty price tag, not really all that worth it.

Instead, there’s another suspension bridge in North Vancouver called the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge. Not only is it free, many of the trails around the bridge are really fun and there’s plenty of hiking to do in the area.

I won’t lie, the Capilano Suspension Bridge is MUCH better than the one in Lynn Canyon (it’s just way longer and more majestic) but Lynn Canyon is much less crowded with tourists and offers some great hiking opportunities for free.

If your main goal is to see the bridge, head to Capilano (and get tickets in advance here to make it more painless), but if you simply want to enjoy the best of North Vancouver’s nature, then Lynn Canyon is a much better value.

vancouver tourist things to do

9. Do a Gastown food tour (instead of just staring at the Gastown Steam Clock)

Gastown is one of the loveliest (and most well-known) parts of Vancouver, but its main draw for a lot of tourists is the Gastown Steam Clock, which I’ve always found a bit baffling.

It’s a pretty clock, but that’s sort of it, and if seeing this clock is all you do in Gastown , you’re definitely not getting the most of your visit.

Instead of coming to gawk at a clock then running away, I’d recommend grabbing some food/drinks to properly soak in the Gastown atmosphere.

A great way to do this would be through a Gastown food tour, which brings you to a lot of the area’s best spots.

This Gastown food tour instance has rave reviews and hits up many of the most popular spots to eat in the area. Click here to check reviews and availability.

If you’d like to add some booze to your tour, there’s also this food, craft beer, and wine tour of Gastown that includes a variety of courses and drinks at different spots around Gastown.

vancouver tourist things to do

10. Take a boat tour to see Vancouver (instead of Fly Over Canada)

I’ve done Fly Over Canada several times thanks to hook-ups from friends of mine, and while it’s pretty fun for a quick thing to do in Downtown Vancouver, I find it very overpriced ($30 per adult!!) for a short 12 minute attraction.

If you have ever done the Soaring over the World (formerly Soaring over California) rides at the Disney parks, this is exactly like that except with Canadian landscapes.

Overall, it’s fun and might be one of the more exciting things to do in Vancouver with kids, but I do find it’s very overpriced for a mild thrill ride.

INSTEAD, I would take that money and opt for seeing the real deal: take a boat tour and experience the gorgeousness of Vancouver from the water!

You can find quite a few ( like this one ) for less than $50 per person, so for only 20 additional bucks, you get an hour long boat ride instead of a 12 minute ride that goes by in the blink of an eye.

vancouver tourist things to do

11. Visit Deep Cove and hike Quarry Rock (instead of doing the Grouse Grind)

A lot of people (Vancouverites included) are obsessed with the Grouse Grind.

It’s a steep set of stairs that brings you all the way up Grouse Mountain, and is like the ultimate flex when it comes to Vancouver hikes.

Doing ‘the Grind’ is a rite of passage for many, and doing it regularly is the mark of an athletic AF person with loads of discipline.

BUT, I don’t think the Grouse Grind is that fun for tourists.

For one – it is genuinely very difficult and unless you’re in good shape, it’s a bit torturey. Second, and most importantly, even when you hike up, you still need to take the gondola down and PAY FOR THAT PRIVILEGE.

Yes, your reward for a torturous climb is the privilege of paying $15 to ride back down without crying.

Granted, on top of Grouse Mountain there are some very Canadian experiences to enjoy for free, like the Grizzly Habitat and Lumberjack shows, plus other things like ziplines at additional cost, BUT I do still think this isn’t one of the best things to do in Vancouver.

Insteaaaaad, I recommend heading to Deep Cove, an adorable little town in North Vancouver .

This picture-perfect spot has lots of cute boutiques and places to eat, scenic harbour views, PLUS what I consider to be the best “value” hike in the Greater Vancouver Area: Quarry Rock.

This short hike will take you no more than 2 hours roundtrip, and offers up stunning PNW views. Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy up top and soak in the views alongside alllll the locals, who can’t resist the view themselves.

This is a much nicer experience overall than the Grind, and you might even catch me up there sometime 😉

vancouver tourist things to do

12. Enjoy the views from Cypress Mountain (instead of Grouse Mountain)

So while we’re talking about Grouse, I have an alternative to the mountain that is both free and in my opinion, better.

As I mentioned, most visitors will head to Grouse when they visit North Vancouver , but the gondola ride up is 60 bucks roundtrip, which is a lot considering many of the most exciting things to do come at additional cost.

There are some activities included of course like the Lumberjack shows, Grizzly habitat and bird demos, but overall, I find the ticket overpriced for what you get.

Instead, if it’s an incredible view you’re after, the one from the Cypress Mountain Highview Lookout (in neighbouring West Vancouver ) is my favourite in the city.

While it’s only accessible by car, the sweeping views over the city center, from Lions Gate Bridge to Stanley Park, is honestly breathtaking and especially magical at night – way better than the one at Grouse!

vancouver tourist things to do

13. Head to Richmond (instead of hanging out in Vancouver’s Chinatown)

One of the highlights of visiting Vancouver is experiencing just how global a city it is, with plenty of incredible restaurants and shops representing cultures from around the world.

Vancouver’s Chinese community is particularly huge (hi!!) which means you’ll find some of the best Chinese food in the world right here.

But lots of tourist guides recommend you visit Chinatown for that purpose, which I don’t think is the best suggestion.

As I mentioned before, apart from the Doctor Sun Yat Sen Chinese Garden, there’s not a lot to enjoy for tourists in Vancouver’s Chinatown, which is unfortunately very interlinked with the roughest part of Vancouver, the Downtown East Side.

Instead, if you want to experience Asian culture, I suggest you head to the city of Richmond (accessible from downtown Vancouver by only 20 minutes on Skytrain).

This place is straight-up teleportation to Asia itself, with an endless parade of Asian restaurants (everything from traditional HK diners to Korean BBQ!) and shops too.

Feeling overwhelmed? One great place to start is the Aberdeen Centre food court on the top floor. Trust me.

NOTE: Richmond can be overwhelming to navigate for newbies because many authentic places don’t cater to English speakers. A nice alternative if you’re going for ease is booking a Richmond food tour like this one where a guide can help you through it!

vancouver tourist things to do

14. Enjoy the local craft beer scene (instead of partying on the Granville Strip)

As a Vancouverite, my memories of the infamous Granville Strip mostly involve 19-year old me stumbling down the puke-stained pavement, waiting too long in line, paying too much cover to get in, only to end up with sticky shoes and a shamey McDonalds coma.

I don’t love the nightlife scene in Vancouver to be honest, and overall I find the Granville Strip to be rather gross, but if you’re looking for clubs, this is known as the “it” place to party and often recommended by guides as the best place for a night out.

vancouver tourist things to do

If clubbing is your thing, then suuuure I guess you get to experience the same sorta expensive, clubbing-induced misery as elsewhere in the world, but for an experience that’s much more ‘Vancouver’, I recommend sampling your way around the wonders of Vancouver’s craft beer scene, which has been hoppin’ (heh) for the past few years.

Mount Pleasant is one of the best neighbourhoods for brewery hopping, so be sure to check out this list of their top breweries to get started!

vancouver tourist things to do

15. Go shopping in Kerrisdale (instead of Robson Street)

Kerrisdale is a super adorable neighbourhood filled with fun boutiques and places to eat, only a 20 minute commute from downtown Vancouver.

If you want a unique shopping experience, this would be much better than the (relatively dull) Robson Street in downtown Vancouver, which is filled with a mix of chain shops you can find pretty much anywhere (e.g. Zara), along with tacky gift shops.

Everrrrybody and their mom seems to recommend Robson as THE shopping destination in Vancouver, but if you want something that’s more unique and special, then head elsewhere, like Kerrisdale. They also do some cool candelight concerts at Kerrisdale Presbyterian sometimes ( like this Taylor Swift one I went to ), so you can make a whole day’s outing of it.

If Kerrisdale doesn’t sound like your jam, I also love West 4th, Main Street and Gastown for more independent/local shopping.

16. Take the seabus to North Vancouver (instead of paying for the Vancouver Lookout)

The Vancouver Lookout is an attraction in downtown Vancouver that offers beautiful 360 degree views of the city.

I do actually enjoy the view from here a lot, but you just take an elevator up and stare at the city from behind glass windows, which to me isn’t the most exciting experience if you only have a bit of time in Vancouver.

Instead, a 2 minute walk from the Vancouver Lookout, you’ll find the Seabus terminal. I’d recommend coming here and hopping on the seabus to North Vancouver .

While the Seabus is simply an extension of Vancouver’s public transportation system, this 15 minute ride across the water from downtown to Lonsdale Quay is one of my favourite things to do in Vancouver when I have visitors.

Not only do you get a sublime view of Vancouver’s glassy skyline, it’s the same price as a regular bus ticket (except cooler, because you’re on a boat).

The view of downtown Vancouver from Lonsdale Quay is stunning as well, and there’s plenty of good food to enjoy on the other side.

vancouver tourist things to do

17. Watch sunset at Sunset Beach (instead of at English Bay)

English Bay is the most popular beach in Vancouver because of its location – it’s easily accessible by public transportation and smack dab in the downtown core.

It’s a nice enough beach, but it gets very crowded in the summer (especially with rowdy teenagers out of school!) * murmurs Get Off My Lawn *

So if you’re a grumpy granny in disguise like me, instead of hanging out at English Bay, I would recommend waltzing over to Sunset Beach, which is a short distance away, and one of the most breathtaking places in Vancouver to watch sunset.

The beach here is just as nice as English Bay, but there’s a few interesting public art sculptures like two giant engagement rings and a giant Inukshuk.

It’s also usually less crowded and as hinted in the name, phenomenally beautiful at sunset.

vancouver tourist things to do

18. Take a stroll along the False Creek seawall (instead of just walking around the Stanley Park seawall)

While I love Stanley Park (it was, after all, #1 on this list!), another personal favourite seawall walk of mine is False Creek, by Science World.

Whether you do the route from Science World to Granville Island or the route from Science World over to Yaletown, the people watching is great, and you can spend your day ogling fluffy doggos while taking in unbeatable views of the City of Glass.

NOTE: I must stress though that the Stanley Park seawall walk is amazing and you should still check it out. I’m just letting you know there’s a second lesser known seawall walk that is amazing. Both are amazing. Vancouver is amazing. YOU’RE amazing. Okay? We good? Now, moving on…

These incredible photos will inspire you to take the train across Canada. SO many inspirational photos that will inspire you to travel Canada, including Vancouver, Banff, Saskatoon, Toronto, Montreal, Halifax and Prince Edward Island. #Canada #TrainTravel #Travel #Vancouver #Toronto #PrinceEdwardIsland #Halifax #Saskatoon

19. Spend some time in Mount Pleasant (instead of just staying downtown)

One of my favourite summertime things to do in Vancouver is hanging out in the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood, filled to the brim with cool shops, street art, cafes and more.

This up and coming (or I guess it has been coming for a while? Sorry if that sounded dirty) is a neighbourhood just outside of the downtown core, making it quickly accessible by foot or by public transportation.

You won’t find a ton of guides recommending it to tourists, but Mount Pleasant is an unmistakably hip part of town swimming in food and shopping options and I honestly feel MUCH cooler every time I hang out there… and if it can revitalize an uncool pyjama-living grandma like me, imagine what it can do for you!

vancouver tourist things to do

20. Do a bike tour (instead of a Hop on Hop off bus)

While I have the cycling abilities of a demented horse, I still have to admit that biking is one of the best ways to enjoy Vancouver (when you can do it without crying).

This is why I’d highly recommend doing a bike tour/bike rental instead of those Hop on Hop Off buses.

That’s because I feel like some of the nicest parts of the city (namely the seawall paths) are missed by these buses, so it’d be a huge wasted opportunity to miss them.

There are several bike tour options in Vancouver, but here’s one with consistent five star reviews. Click here to check reviews and prices.

Foodie Things to do in Vancouver

I’m gonna let you in on a local secret right now… every Vancouverite is straight-up obsessed with food.

Like, honestly, we eat as often as we breathe.

So, without hesitation, I can say that one of the BEST things to do in Vancouver is eat. I’d recommend clearing your schedule for some of the following quintessentially Vancouver food activities… 

21. Sob while eating a Japadog

Listen, I’m not crazy… I know it sounds weird: a Japanese-inspired hot dog, but trust me when I say that this Vancouver classic street food is like tasting dreams come true. In less hyperbolic terms, it’s delicious. So delicious.

I always bring visitors here and ye old Japadawgz are a hit every time. What started off as a lone street cart in 2005 is now one of Vancouver’s most beloved chains.

You can’t go wrong with their signature dog: the Terimayo, a classic sausage smothered in teriyaki sauce, Japanese mayo and topped with seaweed. I’m drooling over my keyboard just thinking about it.

vancouver tourist things to do

22. Feast on sushi

It’s a commonly known fact among foodies that Vancouver has some of the best sushi in the world outside of Japan.

Our abundance of fresh seafood has given us the hookups, what can I say? There’s pretty much a sushi place on every block, so you’re spoiled for choice, but here are some of my favourites:

Miku: If you have a higher budget and want to truly indulge in some bougie sushi, Miku’s aburi sushi is what you need in your life. It melts in your mouth. Nothing compares. It’s SO good, but a little pricey compared to other options in Vancouver.

Sushi Garden: This is a no frills kind of place, but the sushi is awesome and the prices are SUPER low. It’s a local favourite in Burnaby , so expect long lineups and highly mediocre service (they can get away with it!)

vancouver tourist things to do

23. Try Canada’s favourite drunk food: poutine

Poutine is Canadian comfort food on steroids. Imagine crunchy french fries soaked in gravy and topped with squeaky cheese curds. Super healthy . I have two places in the city I usually hit up for poutine:

La Belle Patate: My favourite spot for poutine in Vancouver. It’s a little bit of a trek from the very downtown core but it’s worth it. Loads of different toppings to choose from and I’ve heard they import their cheese curds from Quebec. If you’re up for it, they even have a terrifying All You Can Eat option.

Smoke’s Poutinerie: More of a fast food type poutine, but still good. They’re conveniently located on the Granville Strip, close to all the clubs so it’s pretty packed with drunkies in the late hours of the night, but I’ve had it sober before and it’s still good! In particular, the pierogi poutine is lifechanging.

You canNOT visit Vancouver (or Canada period) without eating poutine until you want to throw up. You just can’t.

vancouver tourist things to do

24. Have the best Asian food ever

If you like Asian food, Vancouver will be like a crazy food utopia for you. What’s your poison? Love Chinese food? Well take your pick from Shanghai, Szechuan, HK diner, Cantonese, and Hunan…

Want to slurp up umami-explosive ramen? We have a million ramen houses.

Prefer pho? WE HAVE 24/7 PHO. That’s not even a joke.

You can also eat your face off at Korean BBQ, Korean Fried Chicken, a myriad of bubble tea houses, straight-outta-Asia style food courts, and gosh… just really anything you can imagine.

Vancouver is to Asian food like Ryan Gosling is to abs. Take advantage of this delightful fact. Don’t worry – a food guide is coming soon!

vancouver tourist things to do

25. Booze up at happy hour

Okay, so you want to enjoy Vancouver like a local? Well… Vancouverites LIVE for Happy Hour. We really do…

Why? Well, alcohol isn’t the cheapest here, so when we get a chance to booze up for cheap, we take it.

So, if you find yourself in need of a sightseeing break around 4-7pm, be sure to duck into a place for a happy hour special.

The ones at West Coast chains like Earl’s and Cactus Club are especially popular… but here are some of the best happy hours in Downtown Vancouver to get you started.

vancouver tourist things to do

26. Go dodo for donuts

Vancouver, like any major city, goes through weird little waves of “popular” desserts…

I remember froyo being huge in my high school days, followed by cupcakes having their 15 seconds.

WELL, a few years ago, donuts were the it thing and a variety of amazing donut places popped up around the city.

Luckily, they’re here to stay, and Vancouver is now a bit of a donut lover’s paradise. Here are some places to check out:

Honey’s: This gem in North Vancouver’s Deep Cove serves up my favourite donut in the history of the universe. It’s a bit out of the way from the downtown core, but served hot and fresh, these bad boys are the epitome of deliciousness, so much that celebrities like Kate Winslet have praised their virtue.

Lucky’s: For big fat doughy donuts, Lucky’s is your place. They have a few branches including one in downtown Vancouver. Paired with 49th Parallel coffee, you have THE perfect treat. They have lots of different ones but the sourdough original is still my favourite.

PS: While not directly downtown, the 49th Parallel on Main St is one of my favourite places to hang out and have a coffee. Their cold brew will change you.

vancouver tourist things to do

27. Have AMAZING ice cream

Sure Vancouver is notorious for its gloomy weather, but that doesn’t stop us from having some seriously delicious ice cream options.

There are some places in particular that are super famous… here are some recommendations for you:

La Casa Gelato is a Vancouver institution. It’s a bit hidden away in the (mostly residential/industrial neighbourhood of Strathcona ) but you’ll quickly find it once you look thanks to its bright pink facade. Inside lurks 200+ different flavours of ice cream, ranging from the terrifying like Viagra to the delicious, like Passionfruit Mango Sorbetto. Without a doubt, you are sure to find something you like here.

Earnest Ice Cream is a city-wide favourite (and my personal fave)  that has the cutest minimalist branding and the most delicious ice cream – perfectly rich and flavourful with simple classics done incredibly like salted caramel and earl grey. Be sure to treat yourself to a few giant scoops or you’ll be hauling out fifty pints (in adorable mason jars) for later.

Bella Gelateria is a hugely popular gelato place downtown that always has a line up down the block during summer months. I mean, they did win Best Gelato at this fancy Gelato festival in Florence a few years ago, so you can expect  q u a l i t y ! Not to be ~ that person ~ but this is the closest to authentic Italian gelato I’ve found in Vancouver, with that amazing whipped texture you won’t usually find in regular ice cream.

vancouver tourist things to do

28. Try an outrageously garnished caesar

Okay – cultural lesson time! The caesar is Canada’s most beloved cocktail. It is also one that both shocks and horrifies international visitors.

Its ingredients? Delicious “Clamato” (i.e. clam/tomato) juice, vodka, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce and plenty of celery salt along the rim of your glass. Imagine a bloody mary with clam juice – that’s basically what it is…

Most horrifying is perhaps the garnishes that come with it – sometimes a humble celery stalk, sometimes a stick of pepperoni or bacon, and other times, like they do at my favourite spot The Score, the caesar comes topped with a full roast chicken, BBQ pork sliders, a mac and cheese hot dog, onion rings and a brownie. No, I’m not joking. Yes, this IS real.

… Don’t worry though: they have some more modestly garnished caesars on the menu too. It’s a cool West End bar with a great vibe, so my top recommendation for trying a caesar!

vancouver tourist things to do

29. Indulge your inner coffee snob

Vancouver has been hit hard by the third wave coffee craze, which means there’s an abundance of hipster coffee joints, especially downtown.

If you’re a coffee fan, make sure to caffeinate like crazy and enjoy this beloved part of our city’s food and drink culture. I’ll admit, while coffee is as much part of my lifestyle as sleeping or breathing, I’m not much of a discerning coffee drinker – I’ll drink anything, but I am especially partial to Parallel 49.

This article sums up a lot of the city’s most beloved coffee spots.

vancouver tourist things to do

30. Grab lunch at a food truck

Growing up in Vancouver, I always thought that food trucks were the most normal thing….. that is, until I moved to Munich where there were none at all to be found.

I soon began to miss them and their quick but delicious bites, and now see them as a quintessential part of downtown Vancouver’s bustling charm.

SO, if you are entranced by the ~ exotic ? ~ appeal of food trucks, then be sure to add lunch at one to your Vancouver itinerary!

After all, if you find yourself in the downtown core on a weekday, odds are good that you’ll encounter countless food truck anyways, eager to feed and please the thousands of people who work in/around the financial district.

There are too many unique and delicious food trucks for me to name, so I would recommend following your nose (and following the line-ups!). My personal favourite is Eat Chicken Wraps though – their wraps are unreal.

The locals know what they like. Usually, you’ll find a ton of food trucks around the Art Gallery area. Click here for an app that shows you which ones are open!

vancouver tourist things to do

Quirky and Fun Things to do in Vancouver

Alriiiiight now time to get weird. Okay, not too weird, but if you’re looking for something a bit out of the ordinary to do in Vancouver, here are some fun activities that are perfect.

31. Go mural hunting in Mount Pleasant

I’ve already gushed about the wonders of ultra-hip Mount Pleasant , but it’s worth mentioning again because of their fun, colourful murals. 

This little neighbourhood has giant murals plastered all over its various restaurants, shops, and office buildings, mainly thanks to the fact that it hosts the Vancouver Mural Festival every year.

The murals change often so be sure to use this official map here to keep tabs on where to go!

vancouver tourist things to do

32. Check out a pink alleyway

Vancouver’s pink alleyway (AKA Alley-Oop) was quite literally made for Instagram, and while it’s nothing more than just an alleyway painted in bright pink and yellow, it’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

You can find it on West Hastings between Seymour and Granville, although don’t expect much more than just a regular alley that’s a bit cuter….. and filled with people from all walks of life snapping photos and videos (true story, apparently a K-Pop group even filmed a music video here?)

PRO TIP: If you love snarkily people watching as much as I do, make sure you duck into Tree’s Organic [Granville St location], which is home to some of the city’s best cheesecake and grab a window seat overlooking this alley entrance. It’s really fun to eat cheesecake and watch all the people come do their photoshoots and all the people who walk past it and instantly light up.

vancouver tourist things to do

33. Lose yourself in Asian culture at Aberdeen Center

It feels so weird to be recommending this place since I spent SO many weekends of my childhood here, but if you’d like a quick jaunt over to Asia, hop on the Skytrain and get yourself to Aberdeen Center in Richmond .

Not only do they have the BEST food court ever, touting everything from curry fishballs and bubble tea to soft serve crepe cones and crispy chicken wings, they also have lots of adorable shops and Asian arcades where you can get Japanese sticker pics (a great souvenir).

PS: Don’t forget to stop by Daiso, a Japanese (2) dollar store on steroids, which has a surprising range of goods available for only a toonie each. This is a really fun place to spend an afternoon (and eat your face off of course).

34. Chase famous filming locations

If you didn’t know already, Vancouver is a HUGE player in the film industry and is often called Hollywood North for the countless productions that have shot/continue to shoot here.

You might have never realized it before, but our versatile little chameleon of a city has been transformed into New York, Seattle, and countless fictional cities over the past few decades.

So, odds are very good that you’ll know a movie or two that filmed here, so consider doing a bit of research to see if any of your favourites have filmed here, and track down some iconic locations!

Off the top of my head, big TV shows that have filmed here include Once Upon a Time, Riverdale, any CW Superhero shows (e.g. Flash, Arrow, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow), Deadpool, and way more. Here is a good place to start your research!

SIDE NOTE: There is a very high chance that there will be some productions filming during your visit too! If you’re a major film geek and are curious about who/what might be in town at the same time as your trip, this site is a great place to start.

vancouver tourist things to do

35. Cheer on the Vancouver Canucks at a hockey game

If there’s one Canadian stereotype that is 1000% true (besides the fact that we are constantly saying sorry), it’s that people really love their hockey around here.

If you’ve never experienced a live hockey game, I’d recommend giving it a try in Vancouver – the energy is a lot of fun!

Tickets can be quite pricey but sometimes you’ll be able to find a deal here on GetYourGuide. Otherwise, the main place to get tickets is through the official website via Ticketmaster.

NOTE: There are also Season Ticket groups like this one where season ticket holders sell tickets they’re not using, often for a better deal than on Ticketmaster, as well as the GameTime app which sometimes has last minute deals.

vancouver tourist things to do

36. Bounce around at a trampoline park

Trust me, you don’t know joy until you’ve trampolined into a pit of foam blocks.

It’s like faceplanting into a cloud, getting a group hug from mashmallows, etc. Sure, this isn’t a uniquely Vancouver activity, but if you’re from a place that doesn’t have a trampoline park of its own, this is a REALLY fun activity that you should try out.

My favourite go-to for all this jumping around this is Extreme Air Park, where there are not only trampolines all over, but trampoline dodgeball too, some blacklight time, and more.

Plus, their Richmond location is actually the largest indoor trampoline park in the country. Click here to learn more.

NOTE: Be sure to wear athletic gear though – you’d be surprised at how quickly you can work up a sweat. 

37. Try out an escape room

I don’t know when “getting locked in a room” became such a popular Vancouver past time, but it is.

Escape Games are now all over the city, and having done a few myself, I can confirm they’re a lot of fun. This would be a great rainy day or family activity.

Again, not exactly the most Vancouvery thing to do, but a fun activity if you’ve gotten tired of conventional sightseeing. 

38. Chill like a dude at Dude Chilling Park

I honestly feel like half the joy that this place sparks is just from the knowledge that it exists.

Yes guys, Dude Chilling Park is a REAL place in Vancouver that you can visit!

Okay – truth be told, it’s a rather average and mediocre park, but that sign though? Gold.

A side trip to Dude Chilling Park makes most sense if you’re exploring Mount Pleasant . Otherwise, don’t go out of your way to see it. Trust me – it’s a very lackluster park….

That sign though!

vancouver tourist things to do

Cultural Things to do in Vancouver

Looking for more cultural activities to try in Vancouver? Here are some spots I like to go when I’m feeling particularly cultured. *twirls moustache*

39. Visit the Vancouver Art Gallery

Wonderfully acronymed as the VAG (heh), this art gallery can be found in the very heart of Vancouver’s downtown core and is a bit hit or miss depending on the exhibitions that they have on.

I caught an exhibition of fashion powerhouse Guo Pei here a few years back and it was awesome, but (honestly) I don’t think that the permanent collection here is necessarily worth going out of your way to see.

That said, if you find yourself looking for a fun rainy day activity, this is definitely one to consider. Note that Tuesday evenings, admission is by donation, so if you don’t hate crowds, you can save some money by going then.  Click here to learn more on the official website.

40. Head to the Museum of Anthropology

UBC’s Museum of Anthropology is definitely one of the city’s best hidden gems, located about 20 minutes away from downtown Vancouver.

If you want to see some of the best examples of First Nations art in the city, this gorgeous museum (with sea and mountain views no less) is a great place to go.

From cedar wood carvings and special Indigenous weavings to an award-winning ceramics gallery, this is a huge museum that deserves a visit if you have the time. Click here to learn more.

Plus, I hate saying this since I went to their rival university, but the UBC Campus is trulyyyyyy gorgeous.

41. Check out all the public art pieces

Whether you consider yourself into art or not, Vancouver is a  really fun place to go hunting for public art. Mainly because it’s all SUPER weird.

From a massive pixellated whale and a stack of vintage cars to weird giant laughing men, you’ll find all sorts of oddities scattered around downtown Vancouver.

Once upon a time, there were even giant jellybeans! JELLYBEANS, I SAY! Sadly, those giant fun beanz are gone now, but you can find a detailed guide to different public art pieces in the city here.

vancouver tourist things to do

42. Watch improv on Granville Island

Improv at Granville Island is hands down one of my favourite things to do in Vancouver, and my boyfriend loves it so much, he requests we go multiple times when he visits. If you’re looking for a laugh, Vancouver Theatresports never disappoints.

Their themed shows are my favourite, and they change them every few months.

Once they had a Game of Thrones theme improv that was so hilarious, I still sometimes quote it. I know, I’m lame.

vancouver tourist things to do

43. Go to a beautiful candlelight concert

If you’re looking for something ultra romantic to do in Vancouver, I can definitely recommend going to a candlelight concert. They host many of these throughout the year with really great themes, from contemporary hits like A Tribute to Taylor Swift, to more classical options like Vivaldi .

Long story short: for these concerts, they deck out pretty venues like churches with a bunch of LED candles and have musicians play a gorgeous set list based on the evening’s theme. The organizers kindly invited me to the Taylor Swift one recently and I was pretty much on the verge of tears the whole time – Bridgerton vibes to the max! Just be sure to get tickets in Zone A for the best possible experience, and arrive early as seating is first come, first serve within zones.

Check out upcoming concerts here.

NOTE: In Vancouver, the two main venues for this are Christ Church Cathedral and Kerrisdale Presbyterian Church – I would definitely recommend picking a concert at Christ Church if you can because it’s much easier to reach by public transport (right across from Burrard Station). The venue is also a lot more ornate than the one in Kerrisdale, but at the end of the day, it’s the music that matters most, so be sure to pick a theme that you’re obsessed with.

vancouver tourist things to do

Seasonal Things to do in Vancouver

Lastly, I want to run through some of the special highlights according to season! Everything listed above can be done year-round, but there are some quintessentially Vancouver experiences that you shouldn’t miss out on depending on the time of year you visit:

Vancouver Winter Highlights

Skiing, snowboarding, hot chocolate festivals, food festivals, Vancouver Christmas market and more. Winter-time, despite the chilly weather, is a truly glorious time to be in the city.

Click here for a long list of Vancouver winter activities to take advantage of.

vancouver tourist things to do

Vancouver Spring Highlights

If you happen to be in Vancouver in late March or early April, you might just spot some of the city’s world-famous cherry blossoms!

Vancouver’s incredible cherry blossoms are one of the city’s best kept secrets.

Outside of Japan, I truly believe this is one of the best places in the world to frolic under bright pink blossoms that paint the streets of Vancouver pink every Spring. Click here for a full guide on where to find the best cherry blossoms in Vancouver.

vancouver tourist things to do

Vancouver Summer Highlights

For obvious reasons, I think summer is the perfect time to visit Vancouver.

There’s the beaches, the street festivals, the music festivals, food truck festivals, and SO much more… name a random niche and we probably have a festival for it.

Plus, the great outdoors are part of the reason that Vancouver is such a wonderful place to visit so be sure to take advantage of this by going on a hike, enjoying a beach day, enjoying Pride, listening to jazz during the Vancouver jazz festival and just enjoying the sweet west coast lifestyle by bumming around on a patio. 

Click here for a great summary of summer activities in Vancouver

vancouver tourist things to do

Vancouver Autumn Highlights

Autumn is a stunning time to visit Vancouver thanks to its abundance of wonderful, colourful foliage!

I love Fall in Vancouver (when weather cooperates) because you get beautiful weather, mild temperatures and wonderful ahh-worthy photo opps around every corner. Definitely an underrated time to visit!

You can click here for some Fall ideas on things to do in Vancouver.

vancouver tourist things to do

What to do in Vancouver Today and This Weekend

Besides the evergreen activities listed above that are mostly available year round, one of the great things about being in Vancouver is that there’s loads of interesting events at your finger tips!

If you’re looking for special events happening today/this weekend in Vancouver, click here for a city events calendar and be sure to check out the most popular local sources for things to do include Daily Hive and Narcity .

A Map of All These Vancouver Things to Do

Did i miss any of your favourite things to do in vancouver.

I hope you enjoyed that thorough guide on what to do in beautiful Vancouver, BC. Did I miss any of your favourite activities? Let me know in the comments!

My Go-To Travel Favourites:

🧳 Eagle Creek: My favourite packing cubes

💳 Wise: For FREE travel friendly credit cards

🍯 Airalo: My go-to eSIM

🏨 For searching hotels

📷 Sony A7IV: My (amazing) camera

✈️ Google Flights : For finding flight deals

🌎 WorldNomads: For travel insurance

🎉 GetYourGuide: For booking activities

3 thoughts on “A Local’s Guide to 43 Wonderful Things to Do in Vancouver, BC”

I’m originally from Vancouver too, but haven’t lived there since 2013. This this gave me a lovely nostalgic thrill… and made me want to start looking for travel deals to get there from Zürich!

Agreed that going to see a Canucks game is super fun—and I’d suggest the Vancouver Giants (the local WHL minor league team) for more budget-friendly fun: The level of play is still pretty high and the tickets are less expensive.

Going a little further into Richmond, Steveston is a cute, former fishing village with a lovely waterfront, a great beachside park (Garry Point), and delicious fish and chips (Pajo’s and Dave’s ). Steveston was originally settled by Japanese fishermen and used to have a major fish canning plant. The Gulf of Georgia Cannery historical site explores the area’s origins in depth (and has a nice gift shop) and the Steveston Museum is in an adorable historical house and includes a post office for sending off super-cute postcards. Steveston was one of the main filming locations for Once Upon a Time and there are still some remnants of the TV show.

And, for people visiting the Vancouver area with kids, there’s an amazing adventure playground kinda close to the airport: Terra Nova Adventure Play Environment (a pretentious name for a very down-to-earth park) isn’t really accessible by transit, but if you’ve got a car and some rambunctious kidlets, it’s totally worth the trip.

Wow, great post. Thanks for sharing

Such detail , bravo ! I would like to visit Vancouver some day , you have given me so many options,

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25 Epic Things to Do in Vancouver (Perfect First Time Visit)

Things to do in vancouver: the 25 best places to visit (all highlights).

You want to visit Vancouver during your next trip?

Great idea!

Nestled between ocean and mountains , this western Canadian city boasts an exceptional location . It offers a bounty of varied natural landscapes and a wealth of activities to dive into.

Whether you’re there in winter, summer, autumn or spring , you’ll always find something to do in Vancouver!

In order to help you plan your stay, I have prepared this guide of the 25 best things to do in Vancouver , with all points of interest and must-see attractions.

In addition to my list of things to do and activities, I will also give you optimized itineraries to visit Vancouver in 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 days as well as my selection of the best accommodations depending on your budget.

So, what are the best things to do in Vancouver? Where to stay?

Let’s find out!

1. Downtown Vancouver

2. the vancouver lookout, 3. whale and orca watching, 4. stanley park, 5. vancouver aquarium, 6. canada place, 7. the flyover canada, 8. granville island, 9. the museum of anthropology in vancouver, 10. flying over vancouver in a seaplane, 11. chinatown and dr. sun yat-sen’s chinese garden, 12. the vandusen botanical garden, 13. shopping in vancouver, 14. vancouver’s beaches, 15. the seawall, 16. more activity and visit ideas in vancouver, 17.  what to do in vancouver with the family, 18. watch a hockey game in vancouver, 19. capilano suspension bridge, 20. lynn canyon park, 21. grouse mountain, 22. victoria, 23. deep cove, 24. burnaby, 25. whistler, how long should you visit vancouver for, one day in vancouver, 2 days in vancouver, 3 days in vancouver, where to stay in vancouver, where to eat in vancouver, how to get to vancouver, vancouver tourist map, you’re traveling in canada these articles will help you.

Visiting Vancouver and its surrounding area is about uncovering a city consistently listed amongst the world’s best places to live .

Nestled between ocean and mountains , this western Canadian city boasts an exceptional location . It offers a bounty of varied natural landscapes and a wealth of activities to dive into. Whether you’re there in winter, summer, or spring, you’ll always find something to do in Vancouver!

To help you organize your trip to Canada , I’ve prepared a comprehensive guide of all the must-see spots in Vancouver .

And to make the most of your visits, you’ll find our itinerary advice for exploring Vancouver and its environs over 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 days plus my pick of the best accommodations .

So, what are the best things to do and see in Vancouver? Where to stay

Visit Vancouver: All must-see attractions

To kick off your Vancouver exploration and soak up the local atmosphere, nothing beats a little jaunt downtown . That’s where you can admire the skyscrapers and find yourself in the heart of the city’s bustle .

I particularly recommend these 2 neighborhoods :

1) Gastown, Vancouver’s historic district , to see some of the city’s most beautiful Victorian buildings . You can take a photo in front of the “Steam Clock” , a steam-operated clock that whistles every 15 minutes. The neighborhood is super cool with lots of open-air cafes and restaurants, perfect if you’re peckish.

2) Yaletown, the trendy and chill neighborhood.

Formerly a warehouse district, they’ve been renovated to house loads of little shops and many of Vancouver’s top restaurants .

The nightlife there is buzzing, the ideal place to go in Vancouver to party .

To miss nothing of Vancouver and benefit from a guide’s insights, you should go for a guided tour .

You’ll not only visit Gastown , but also Chinatown, Granville Island, Stanley Park, Canada Place, the Vancouver Lookout, and Robson Street (all Vancouver essentials!).

This is the best guided tour to discover Vancouver.

You can book it by clicking on the button below:


Every big city must have its observation tower and Vancouver is no exception.

Toronto has the CN Tower, Vancouver has the Vancouver Lookout ! The building is located near Gastown’s Steam Clock and just 5 minutes from the Waterfront.

In just 40 seconds with a glass elevator, you’ll ascend to 170 meters to view the city . An unbeatable 360° panorama awaits you.

Plus, there’s a revolving restaurant at the top of the tower , where you can munch your way around the city in just one hour without leaving your seat. It’s pretty cool!

Your ticket to the tower is valid for the entire day, so you can pop in and out – maybe once in the morning and then again at sunset . What a delightful idea!

If you’re keen on experiencing Vancouver’s premier tourist spot, I strongly advise grabbing your skip-the-line ticket in advance to avoid the pesky queues. Just hit that green button below:

The Vancouver Lookout

Vancouver is brimming with companies offering whale and orca watching tours.

I especially recommend this half-day boat trip provided by GetYourGuide and operated by a local tour company . The departure point is right in the heart of downtown Vancouver.

You’ll embark on a 4-hour covered boat cruise on a quest to spot orcas and whales!

From start to finish, you’re taken care of – your only worry is snapping the perfect shot of these impressive sea mammals. It’ll be an unforgettable part of your Vancouver adventure, and only for €143 per person !

Advanced booking is required – just click the button below:

Orcas in Vancouver

In major Anglo-Saxon cities, it’s a common sight to find a “ green lung ” where nature thrives amidst the urban landscape: Montreal boasts Mount-Royal Park, while New York has its iconic Central Park.

In Vancouver, it’s Stanley Park where you can enjoy a stroll and take in some nature. This enormous 400-hectare park is an absolute must-visit for a gorgeous waterfront walk. It offers stunning panoramas of the city and coast.

The place is also popular with joggers and cyclists . I recommend renting a bike if you want to see all the park has to offer – it’s definitely the best way to explore!

You’ll simply follow the 9km Seawall promenade that circles the park .

During your park tour, I suggest making a few pit stops :

  • At Brockton Point to see the Native American totems (a standalone tourist site in Vancouver)
  • At Siwash Rock
  • To see the “Girl In Wetsuit” sculpture
  • The Viewpoint, to admire Lions Gate Bridge.

And if you want to make sure you don’t miss a thing, there are guided bike tours of Stanley Park available. Find all the details by clicking the button below :

If you rent a bike, make sure to follow the park’s traffic flow – only counter-clockwise circulation is allowed!

Stanley Park Vancouver

Located within Stanley Park, you’ll find the Vancouver Aquarium. This is a perfect spot to visit in Vancouver with kids !

Canada’s largest aquarium , it is home to over 65,000 animals including dolphins, otters, and penguins. Here, you can discover the unique wildlife of the West Coast and Pacific Ocean .

As the aquarium is a much-loved Vancouver attraction , so you’d better purchase your skip-the-line tickets in advance to avoid queues. Your ticket even gives you access to the 4D theatre , where you can catch a short and immersive film.

Book your tickets for the Vancouver Aquarium by clicking on the button below:

Vancouver Aquarium

Canada Place is a truly cool Vancouver spot for a walk along the Waterfront. This national monument boasts a unique architectural design with its five white sails evoking a ship.

It’s as if you’re wandering around a ship’s deck. The Canadian Trail is divided into sections representing the provinces and territories of Canada.

You’ll also get to enjoy views of Stanley Park and the mountains .

Continuing your stroll along the Waterfront, don’t forget to snap a photo of the gigantic Olympic Cauldron created for the 2010 Olympic Games, and the Digital Orca , a giant pixel art orca. Something you won’t see anywhere else on your Canadian journey !

Canada Place

Nested within Canada Place, there’s a must-do attraction on your Vancouver tour: the FlyOver Canada .

This ride offers you the chance to soar over Canadian landscapes and cities in just 8 minutes! Don’t sweat it, you’ll be comfy in your seat while you live out this 4D experience .

Thanks to a massive screen, dynamic seats, and wind effects, you’ll feel like you’re touring Canada by plane . It’s super well-done, and the sensory experience is truly immersive!

To ensure your spot, it’s essential to book your session for FlyOver Canada in advance . Don’t wait, secure your experience by clicking the green button below:

The FlyOver Canada

Next on our Vancouver journey is Granville Island .

The main highlight of Granville is its massive covered market . You can find loads of fresh products (fruits, veggies, cheeses) and local goods at affordable prices.

I recommend going there for lunch as there’s also a large food court offering dishes from cuisines around the world. Indian, Mexican, American, Chinese, there’s something for everyone.

You can then enjoy your meal outside, by the water . Don’t forget to pair your meal with a good beer, as there are plenty of microbreweries in Granville .

If you prefer, you can also opt for a 2-hour guided tour of the market including tastings. Info and reservations right here !

Granville is also the perfect place to hunt in vintage shops and look for original and unique creations made by local artisans.

To get to the island, you can take the Aquabus which will get you from Hornby Street to the shores of Granville.

Vancouver view from Granville Island

If you’re a museum lover, I suggest you visit the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver (MOA). You’ll find it on the University of Vancouver campus.

The museum traces the history of the “First Nations” , the indigenous peoples of British Columbia and Canada.

Vancouver attaches particular importance to this and as you stroll around the surrounding cities, you’ll see that the town names are also indicated in First Nations’ languages.

This is a truly interesting museum to see in Vancouver that presents more than 16,000 objects related to the first peoples and other cultures around the world, especially from China and Africa.

You’ll see an impressive collection of totems , similar to those in the Canadian Museum of History in Ottawa .

Info for your visit is on the official website .

The Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver

For a unique activity in Vancouver, I recommend a city tour by seaplane .

It’s the perfect way to discover the city from a unique angle , original and unprecedented.

You should book your excursion right away with GetYourGuide.

This 20-minute flight will take you over the whole city, parks, and beaches of Vancouver . You’ll fly with Harbour Air, the local company with the largest seaplane fleet. Safety standards are top-notch.

For a little over €100 per person, you can have a unique experience during your Canadian escape . As always, just click on the button to book this great Vancouver activity:

You’re going to Vancouver?

You probably know it: the hardest part of planning your trip is to find an hotel offering a good value for money!

And that’s even worse in big touristic cities like Vancouver 😅.

The closer you get to your travel dates, the harder it will be to get a good deal. Lots of people will be visiting Vancouver on the same dates as you , so you can be sure that the best deals are booked extremely quickly!

Hopefully, there is a pretty simple solution to this problem: do like me and book your hotel as early as possible!

So, my best advice is to take 5 minutes (now) to have a look at the list of travelers’ favorite hotels in Vancouver.

And if you see a good offer, book it!

Most hotels offer free cancellation, so it’s quick, easy, and you will avoid the the inconvenience of finding nothing but mediocre rooms at exorbitant prices.

To check the current best deals for your hotel in Seville, simply click on the green button below 😎:

Once you’ve booked your hotel, it will be time to continue reading this guide and find out more about the best things to do in Vancouver!

Another commonality shared with cities like New York and Montreal, among the main attractions in Vancouver, is Chinatown .

Like in all Chinatowns around the world, you’ll find good, affordable Chinese restaurants and can buy your souvenirs at the most reasonable prices in town.

In Chinatown, I especially recommend visiting Dr. Sun Yat-Sen’s Chinese Garden or Classical Chinese Garden . Fun fact: it’s the first Chinese garden to be built outside China.

The garden is absolutely beautiful and hosts several events according to the season, including Chinese New Year celebrations. It offers a lovely display of flora as well as Chinese architecture . It’s really a nice place for a walk.

Tickets for the Chinese Garden are on sale here!

Chinese Garden Vancouver

Another must-see garden in Vancouver: the VanDusen Botanical Garden . It’s located south of the city , a bit away from the center.

This 55-hectare garden is enormous and considered one of the most beautiful gardens in North America .

You can stroll amongst 7,500 varieties of plants and trees from around the world. The garden is artistically designed with waterfalls, fountains, wooden bridges, several ponds, and even a maze . Amazing!

If you want to visit the botanical garden during your Vancouver holiday , you should buy your ticket in advance here !

Vancouver Botanical Garden

During your trip to Vancouver, you’ll probably want to do some shopping .

You’ll find your bliss along Robson Street, the commercial artery of downtown Vancouver. All major brands are represented, but there are also cool and original small shops and souvenir stores. You’ll be spoilt for choice.

Further from downtown, you can also visit Metrotown, the 3rd largest shopping center in Canada or the Park Royal Shopping Centre located in a pleasant setting by the ocean.

Shopping Vancouver

Vancouver has many beaches for a relaxing afternoon of swimming, reading by the water, or playing beach volleyball.

Here’s a quick tour of where to go in Vancouver:

  • Sunset beach – true to its name for enjoying the sunset.
  • Second beach – featuring a long outdoor heated pool.
  • Third beach (okay, they didn’t strain themselves for the name 😋 ).
  • English Bay Beach – also known for its sunset and the 14 funny statues you’ll find there.
  • Kistilano beach
  • Wreck Beach, a “clothing optional beach,” meaning you can swim either in a swimsuit or naked! It has a peace-and-love vibe.
  • Ambleside Beach and its view of the Lions Gate Bridge.
  • Jericho Beach
  • Spanisk Banks beach.

English Bay Vancouver

Let’s keep this Vancouver travel guide rolling with the Seawall, a lengthy promenade that hugs the ocean’s edge for nearly 22 kilometers .

You can either walk it or bike it .

Indeed, the Seawall is split into 2 zones throughout : one for pedestrians and one for cyclists. The whole path is one-way and should only be taken counter-clockwise.

The walk kicks off from Canada Place , passes through Stanley Park for 9 km (which I mentioned earlier), False Creek, Science World, Granville , and ends up at Kitsilano Beach .

The Seawall

Let’s beef up this list of things to do in Vancouver with a few more visit suggestions . Just click the orange links to book:

  • Vancouver hop-on hop-off bus tour . 24h or 48h pass with included English audio guide.
  • Commentated one-hour cruise in Vancouver’s harbor
  • Sunset cruise in Vancouver with included buffet dinner. Duration: 2h30
  • Gastown foodie tour + Food and drink tastings. Duration: 2h30
  • Guided walking tour themed around the city’s dark history with a professional actor.
  • Vancouver Art Gallery admission ticket.
  • Vancouver Museum ticket exploring civic history.
  • Ticket for Vancouver Maritime Museum.

Aside from the aquarium and FlyOver Canada, I suggest you visit Science World, the science museum.

It hosts various permanent interactive exhibits and fun activities where kids can learn more about fundamental physics concepts like light or sound. And for dinosaur enthusiasts, there are even awesome reconstructions !

Book your ticket for Science World right here:

Another fun idea for a family outing in Vancouver is Playland .

Playland is Canada’s oldest amusement park. Don’t worry, though, all the rides are modern and regularly updated!

It’s located in Hastings Park . There, you’ll find traditional roller coasters and other thrill rides . There are also rides for younger kids.

A great way to have a delightful time with your family during your Canadian holiday.

Science World

Still wondering what to do in Vancouver?

During your road trip in Canada , I highly recommend attending a hockey match at least once.

You’ll see that Canadians take their national sport seriously — the atmosphere during the matches is incredible.

In Vancouver, you should root for the Canucks, the local team . While shopping, don’t forget to grab a team jersey. It’ll make a great souvenir later!

Best things to do around Vancouver

If you’re planning to stay in Vancouver for several days , I recommend taking the opportunity to explore the surrounding area.

Here are my picks for the most beautiful places to see around Vancouver .

One of the most popular attractions near Vancouver is the Capilano Suspension Bridge.

It’s about 15 minutes from downtown .

At the park, you can trot across the iconic suspension bridge that hangs over the canyon , all 137 meters of it, and perched 70 meters up high ! Just a heads up, the more folks on it, the more it swings, so if you’re prone to vertigo, you’ve been warned!

You can also stroll along the trails, embark on a treetop adventure, and walk on the cliffwalk, a wooden platform hanging out in the void.

Don’t wait any longer! Book your Capilano Park entrance ticket now by clicking the green button below:

To get to the Capilano Suspension Bridge, hop on the free shuttle departing from Canada Place .

Capilano suspension bridge

The Lynn Canyon Park is a bit like the Capilano Suspension Bridge but in the free version . It’s a fantastic alternative for sightseeing.

The Lynn Canyon Park is about twenty kilometers from downtown and you can easily get there by public transportation , which is super convenient.

You can also cross a suspension bridge – sure, it’s smaller and not as high as its big brother, but it’s still pretty cool.

You can also go hiking on one of the many trails set in the midst of the forest and enjoy a picnic in a tranquil and nature-filled spot.

Access information is right here .

If you’ve decided to visit Vancouver over the weekend , you could head to Lynn Canyon Park on an organized excursion . A bus will pick you up directly from your downtown hotel, and then you’ll get a guided tour in the park .

The detailed information about this excursion around Vancouver is available by clicking here !

Another iconic point of interest to visit near Vancouver is Grouse Mountain .

Located 20 minutes from Vancouver , Grouse Mountain offers a ton of activities:

  • If you’re wondering what to do in Vancouver in winter, it’s a ski resort with some slopes offering a breathtaking view of the city .
  • And in summer, you can hike, zip-line, paraglide, and even watch a lumberjack show where they chop logs faster than their shadows (promise, it’s not a joke!).

To get there, take the free shuttle from Canada Place , which will take you to the base of the cable car , at the bottom of Grouse Mountain.

Once you arrive and to avoid queuing , it’s better to have booked your cable car ticket in advance . You can do it right now by clicking on this button:

If you don’t have a car, it’s possible to visit Grouse Mountain and Capilano Bridge in the same day , thanks to an organized excursion and round-trip transport from Vancouver. It’s really very practical to see a maximum of things in one day.

Here is the link with the information:

Grouse Mountain

If you’ve had your fill of Vancouver, I’ll invite you to take a trip over to Victoria, the capital of British Columbia . This place is a must-visit when you’re on a tour of western Canada.

You’ll find it at the southern end of Vancouver Island . To get there you have several options:

  • By ferry from Vancouver (departing from Tsawwassen).

And hey, make sure to book your crossing in advance (this also includes a bus transfer from the city centre to the ferry terminal):

  • Or for the thrill-seekers, how about getting there by seaplane ? Way faster than the ferry and the perfect way to soak up the landscape! Book here !

Victoria exudes a distinctively English charm , think Victorian houses with blooming gardens and grand old buildings.

In Victoria, here’s what I recommend you check out:

  • The stunning Empress Hotel
  • The Parliament
  • The Royal BC museum
  • Fisherman’s Wharf, a floating village of colourful houses
  • Beacon Hill Park

You can also take day tours from Vancouver to visit Victoria . They include a visit to the beautiful Butchart Gardens and a journey through the historic centre of Victoria .

Just hit the button below to book:

Victoria Vancouver

Located about 15km north of Vancouver is the quaint seaside village of Deep Cove .

A popular vacation spot for Vancouverites. The village is delightfully charming with its waterside homes.

You can indulge in various water sports, with kayaking being a firm favourite. And why not take a scenic walk on the hiking trails, especially the one that leads to Quarry Rock for a breathtaking view over Deep Cove .

In the vicinity of Vancouver, Burnaby is another lovely place to check out.

Here, a typical 1920s village has been recreated, complete with all its shops : bakery, post office, church, school, and even a blacksmith and a printing press…

You’ll be greeted by villagers in period costumes . And you can also peek inside the heritage houses, old buildings listed as city heritage.

Though the village has a retro vibe , it’s this charm that makes it truly special.

Whistler is a renowned ski resort located about 2 hours drive from Vancouver.

It’s one of the largest ski resorts in North America , famous for hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Apart from skiing, there’s a whole range of activities such as hiking trails, spas, golf courses , and plenty of shops, along with bars and restaurants .

In winter, you can also try your hand at snowmobiling, dog sledding, and snowshoeing .

You can find all the necessary information on the resort’s website .

From Vancouver, organized tours are available to visit Whistler as well as the Shannon Falls provincial park (including a ride on the famous Sea to Sky Gondola). Click here for more details !

I’d say, you should set aside at least 3 days to explore Vancouver , particularly if you’re keen to venture beyond city boundaries to spots like Capilano Bridge or Grouse Mountain.

And if you really want to soak up the city and its surrounding areas, 5 days won’t be excessive.

Now, I’m excited to present my suggested itineraries for exploring Vancouver in 1, 2, or 3 days !

If you’ve got just one day to tour Vancouver , here’s my suggested itinerary :

  • Kick-off in Vancouver’s historic neighborhood, Gastown
  • Check out Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden and seize the opportunity to wander around Chinatown
  • Stroll over to Canada Place and try out FlyOver Canada
  • Lunch break
  • Spend the afternoon exploring Stanley Park (by foot or on a bike)
  • Head up to Vancouver Lookout at the end of the day to catch the sunset
  • Dine and enjoy the evening in the Yaletown neighborhood , home to some of Vancouver’s best eateries

To explore Vancouver in 2 days , just pick up where day 1 left off and add:

  • A city flyover via seaplane for a unique Canadian experience
  • Head to Granville Island to stock up on local products
  • Lunch break: either a picnic option with the goodies you’ve bought from the market, or a “world cuisine” option by grabbing a dish from the massive market’s food court
  • Visit the Museum of Anthropology to learn about the history of the First Nations
  • Stop by Wreck Beach (right next to the museum)
  • Walk through VanDusen Botanical Garden
  • Wrap up the day with some shopping on Robson Street

To see Vancouver in 3 days, simply follow the itineraries from the previous 2 days. Then, I’d suggest a few options depending on your interests and budget .

  • Spend half the day whale watching
  • An afternoon at the Capilano Suspension Bridge or the Lynn Canyon Park for a budget-friendly alternative
  • Spend the morning at Capilano or Lynn Canyon
  • Afternoon at Grouse Mountain or Deep Cove (closer to Lynn Canyon)
  • Spend the day in Victoria , reachable by ferry from Vancouver . Considering the round-trip will take about 4 hours, you might choose to spend a night in Victoria and head back to Vancouver the next morning.
  • If you’re in Vancouver during the winter and you’re a fan of skiing, you could go skiing in Whistler or even try snowmobiling .

Of course, if you’re spending more than 3 days in Vancouver, you could dedicate a day to each of these 4 options . There’s so much to do, you could easily spend 4-5 days, even a week, in and around Vancouver . That way, you won’t have to pick and choose – you can see it all!

  • Samesun Vancouver : This funky youth hostel is right in the middle of the city, a stone’s throw away from Yaletown district. Bunk in a dorm from €40, breakfast included. Strong points: location in the city centre, the vibrant atmosphere, comfy beds, and a cracking breakfast with muffins and bagels. A top-notch pick for budget-friendly accommodations in Vancouver !
  • The Sylvia Hotel : Located just a two-minute stroll from Stanley Park and a minute from the beach. Spacious and bright double rooms starting at €120 per night. Strong points: prime location, friendly staff, and the authentic charm of the place.
  • Blue Horizon Hotel : This gem is on Robson Street, the main shopping artery of Vancouver. Super spacious, comfy double room with a killer view from €170. Strong points: fantastic location to explore Vancouver by foot, the view, plenty of shops and restaurants close by, room comfort. My favorite for its value for money In my opinion, the best hotel in Vancouver.
  • The St Regis Hotel : Nestled right in downtown, a hop, skip, and a jump away from Vancouver Lookout. Spacious and cozy double rooms from €240 per night, breakfast included. Strong points: optimal location, helpful and warm staff, room comfort, and a scrumptious and plentiful breakfast.
  • Rosewood Hotel Georgia : A splendid 5-star hotel in downtown Vancouver offering beautifully decorated rooms from €350 per night. Strong points: indoor swimming pool, spa, and top-notch services. The best hotel in Vancouver for a luxury stay !


  • Salmon n’Bannock Bistro : Located on West Broadway Street. The restaurant serves authentic Indigenous cuisine. The dishes are creative, generous, and beautifully presented. Bison burgers, elk, wild salmon with maple syrup – it’s all mouth-wateringly good.
  • Gotham Steakhouse & Cocktail : Situated on Seymour Street. As the name suggests, the restaurant dishes up meaty mains. The meat is superb, tasty, well-seasoned, and cooked to perfection. A tad pricey, but hey, you get what you pay for.
  • Ramen Danbo : Located on Robson Street. The restaurant specializes in Ramen. The cool thing is that you get to choose your soup base, noodle thickness, seasoning, and the amount of meat in your soup! The dishes are delicious, hearty, and offer excellent value for money. It’s the perfect quick lunch before getting back to sightseeing.

And don’t forget to check out the tasty restaurants in the Chinatown district, the food court of Granville Island and the famous Japadog from the food trucks (a Japanese-inspired hot dog!).

From France, numerous airlines offer flights to Vancouver. Only flights departing from Paris are direct. If you’re leaving from another French city, like Nice for example, there will be a layover.

 As flight prices for Vancouver can vary dramatically, it’s a good idea to compare them as early as possible. To do this, you can use our flight comparator, in partnership with Skyscanner . It’s the guarantee of getting the best price .

To help you visualize the city a bit better, I’ve created a tourist map of Vancouver, with all the best things to do and must-see attractions.

You can display the map’s legend by clicking the button with a small arrow located in the top left corner.

And you? What would you like to visit in Vancouver?

Discover all my articles about Canada : All my articles to help you plan your trip to Canada are listed there.

  • 20 Best Things to do in Canada
  • 20 Best Things to do in Quebec – All best places to visit in the French-speaking province!
  • Itinerary: One week in Canada: The perfect itinerary to visit Canada in 6, 7 or 8 days!
  • Itinerary: 10 days in Canada: All my best tips for organizing your 10-day trip to Canada
  • Itinerary: 2 weeks in Canada: How to visit Western Canada in 15 days.
  • Itinerary: 3 weeks in Canada: My epic itinerary to visit Western and Eastern Canada in 21 days
  • Itinerary: 1 month in Canada: How to visit Eastern Canada in a month!
  • Itinerary: One week in Quebec: How to visit Quebec in 6, 7 or 8 days, with all my best tips!
  • Itinerary: 10 days in Quebec: An amazing 10-day itinerary in Quebec
  • Itinerary: 2 weeks in Quebec: All my best tips to visit Quebec in 14, 15 or 16 days
  • Itinerary: 3 weeks in Quebec: the perfect 3-week road trip in Quebec !
  • Road trip in Canada: The best itineraries for 7, 10, 15, 21 days and 1 month
  • Road trip in Quebec: The best itineraries for 7, 10, 15 and 21 days
  • Calgary : Top 11 things to do during your visit
  • Montreal : 33 best things to see and do
  • Ottawa : 15 epic places to visit
  • Quebec City : Top 17 things to do and see
  • Toronto : The 17 things to do during your stay
  • Vancouver : Top 25 places to visit and activities
  • Toronto in 3 days – The perfect itinerary to visit the city in 72 hours!

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visit Vancouver

Creator of the Voyage Tips blog, travel and photography lover. I give you all my best tips to plan your next trip.

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Vancouver Planner

16 Unique Things to Do in Vancouver + Hidden Gems

I want you to take an off the beaten path Vancouver adventure – unveiling unique things to do and cultural enclaves not done by typical tourists.

Of course, with blogs like this nothing is a secret these days, but there are still some unique experiences in Vancouver known only to the locals.

Let’s walk through some Vancouver hidden gems and some unique ways to experience them.

Best Unique Things to Do in Vancouver + Hidden Gems

Discover the lynn canyon suspension bridge.

two people on the lynn canyon suspension bridge in vancouver bc canada

Location: 3663 Park Rd, North Vancouver, BC V7J 3K2, Canada

Tops on my list of best off the beaten path Vancouver adventure is Lynn Canyon, nestled within a stunning old growth rainforest.

While the renowned 459-foot (140-meter) Capilano Suspension Bridge draws large crowds, the lesser-known Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge provides an equally beautiful – and free – alternative.

As you make your way to this 167-foot (50 meters) high bridge above the canyon floor, you’ll be treated to clear-running waterfalls nestled among groves of Red Cedar and Douglas Fir groves .

During Vancouver in summer , you can even take a refreshing dip in one of the swimming holes nearby.

Looking for a cool photo tour of the area? One of the most unique things to book can be done using the button below:

Go on an Asian Food Walking Tour in Richmond

chinese food from the asian food walking tour in richmond bc canada

Richmond, right near Vancouver International Airport , boasts a vibrant culinary scene with renowned Asian eateries , from delightful dim sum places to charming Chinese bakeries and noodle stands .

If you’re visiting in July or August , you can discover diverse flavours through unique experiences at the open-air Richmond Night Market .

Otherwise? Join a guided tour with a seasoned local guide to navigate the maze of restaurants , immersing yourself in a rich cultural experience and discovering new culinary delights .

Meeting point: Aberdeen Canada Line Station Start time: 10:00 am

Explore the City With an Independent Bike Tour

a group of bikers in the independent bike tour in vancouver bc canada

Discover the true essence of Vancouver by renting bikes with a curated self-guided tour , offering a local’s perspective as you pedal through parks , historic districts , and scenic seaside paths ,

Here, you’ll also get the freedom to pause for snacks and capture stunning photo opportunities.

You’ll take in sweeping views of the coastline, Stanley Park , and the picturesque sandy beaches of Spanish Banks. 

This immersive experience perfectly outlines Vancouver’s diverse landscapes and attractions, highlighting its reputation as one of Canada’s most bike-friendly cities.

Location: 646 Hornby St, Vancouver, BC V6C 2G2, Canada

Open: Daily 9 am to 6 pm

Related : Vancouver’s Best Bike Tours

Try the Stanley Park Horse-Drawn Tour

a horse and a carriage from the stanley park horse-drawn tour in vancouver bc canada

The 1-hour horse-drawn carriage tour of Stanley Park is one of these off the beaten path activities in Vancouver – that literally takes you on a path inaccessible to most transport.

Your knowledgeable guide will share captivating insights about hidden gems like the Rose Garden , Girl in a Wetsuit Statue , and the First Nations totem poles while you enjoy the scenic views along Park Drive. 

You’ll also be able to capture unforgettable photos of Vancouver and the iconic Lion’s Gate Bridge during this relaxing and informative experience.

Meeting point: 735 Stanley Park Dr, Vancouver, BC V6G 3E2, Canada

Related : Best Stanley Park Guided Tours

Visit The Vancouver Police Museum

The entrance to the Vancouver Police Museum

Located at the very heart of downtown Vancouver , the Vancouver Police Museum stands out as another Vancouver hidden gem.

It is a must-visit for fans of murder mystery novels and forensic science dramas , offering a unique look into the city’s crime history and law enforcement . 

Delve into the captivating world of forensic science as you explore this unconventional attraction – it’s one of the best cheap things to do in Vancouver .

Location: 240 East Cordova Street, Vancouver, BC

Catch t he Nine O’Clock Gun

9 oclock gun firing in vancouver bc canada

Experience the off the beaten path charm of the historic Nine O’Clock Gun in Vancouver, a quirky naval artillery piece firing daily at 9:00 PM for over a century. 

Originally used to signal the end of the workday for fishermen , it has evolved into a cherished symbol of tradition and community , with sailors setting their timepieces to its precise blast. 

This iconic attraction is located on the Stanley Park Seawall , and is paired perfectly with a walk around the perimeter of the park to watch the sunset – and reflect off our skyline.

Check Out The Marine Building

marine building lobby in vancouver bc canada

The Marine Building is an iconic skyscraper with stunning Art Deco architecture – and it’s one of my best non-touristy things to do in Vancouver. 

Completed in 1930, it held the title of the city’s tallest skyscraper during its time and is now celebrated as one of Vancouver’s most iconic buildings , featuring intricate marine-themed ornaments . 

Its exceptional design and lavish interior have made it a popular filming location for iconic buildings in comics history, including the Baxter Building in the Fantastic Four films and the Daily Planet in Smallville .

Location: 355 Burrard St, Vancouver, BC V6C 2G8, Canada

See The Girl In a Wetsuit

the girl in a wetsuit in vancouver bc canada

The Girl in Wetsuit is a life-sized bronze statue situated on a large intertidal boulder off the shore of Stanley Park and symbolizes Vancouver’s close connection with the sea .

Modeled after the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen, the Vancouver version cleverly incorporates a wetsuit, snorkel gear, and fins to avoid copyright issues, making it a popular and family-friendly landmark . 

For a unique and Instagram-worthy experience , a unique experience is to come around sunset to see the colours really pop – with a beautiful mountain backgroup brought alive.

Visit a Market Off the Tourist Path

lonsdale quay market in vancouver bc canada

Discover the lesser-known Lonsdale Quay Public Market , a hidden gem away from the crowds of Granville Island .

Located on North Vancouver’s working waterfront, this two-story market offers a diverse selection of artisanal treats , fresh produce , clothing , and jewelry , providing a unique and authentic shopping experience.

Take the chance to include it in your North Vancouver tour, as you go to Grouse Mountain and the iconic Capilano Suspension Bridge.

Artisan Wine Shop is a great place to get some local wines to sip on.

Hidden Gem Activities in Vancouver: Runners Up

  • Explore the Harbour on a Jet Ski : This is pretty self explanatory – you’ll literally be able to explore places no other tourist can touch and get a unique view of the city at the same time.
  • Dr. Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Garden : A peaceful oasis in the heart of the city, this authentic Chinese garden offers a unique cultural experience.
  • Hike Quarry Rock in Deep Cove : A relatively easy hike that rewards you with breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and water. This won’t be a Vancouver hidden gem for long.
  • Commercial Drive (The Drive) : This multicultural neighborhood offers a bohemian vibe, unique shops, and off the beaten path restaurants.
  • Beaty Biodiversity Museum : One of the most unusual things to do in Vancouver, here you’ll discover a fascinating collection of over two million specimens, including rare fossils and animal specimens.
  • Bloedel Conservatory : Located at the top of Queen Elizabeth Park, this domed conservatory houses exotic plants, birds, and even free-flying butterflies.
  • Wreck Beach : One of Vancouver’s best beaches , it’s only accessible through a long staircase down through a coastal forest. It’s nude and it has its own market – I’ll let your imagination do the rest.

Ready for an Off the Beaten Path Vancouver Adventure?

Vancouver hidden gems can take your holiday to the next level – with very little effort, and probably much less of a crowd.

Venturing off the beaten path in Vancouver should be something you do at least once.

Still looking for something a little more custom? Just write to me in the comments below for more unique things to do in Vancouver.

vancouver tourist things to do

I've lived in 5 countries and created content for travel websites like eDreams and Amex Essentials, but here I finally get to work my passion project - my hometown, Vancouver!

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Vancouver Travel Guide

vancouver tourist things to do

There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to Vancouver, Canada. It's too cold, it rains all the time, it gets so dark, etc. Not only are these preconceived notions misguided, Vancouver actually has some of the most temperate weather in the entire country, making it an ideal destination to play, explore, and have adventures inside and out.

Once you realize you're not going to be swept away by freezing rain year-round, you can begin digging into the wide variety of things to see, do, eat, and explore. Canada's third largest city is a multicultural hub with stunning architecture that sits on the Strait of Georgia and is surrounded by epic mountains and lush green forests.

Because of its natural beauty, the city is set up for outdoor adventurers, whether cruising the streets of one of the largest Chinatowns in the world, riding bikes along the city's seawall, or hiking in nearby woodlands for some of the freshest air on earth.

Vancouver is a city that is proud of its diversity, its indigenous history, and its tolerance. Davie Village is a neighborhood in the city's West End where a thriving LGBTQ+ community comes out to play, while the city also boasts the third-largest urban Indigenous population in all of Canada.

So, throw your mistaken beliefs out the window and think about booking a ticket to Canada's western hub, you will not regret it.

Pacific Standard Time

Best Time to Go

There aren't any bad times to go to Vancouver, but because it's a northern city, there are reasons for every season. The summer months draw in the most tourists and boast the longest daylight hours, but the winter (which is surprisingly mild) is the least crowded time of year and has sprouting trees and flowers as early as February. Keep in mind that the rainiest months are from November to March, which leaves the month of September as the most idyllic time with changing leaves, cooling temps, and dry skies to get outside.

If you're into whale watching, April through November is prime time. For events and festivals, think about Chinese New Year, which lands between January and February, the Vancouver Marathon in May, Vancouver International Jazz Festival in June, or the Vancouver Pride Parade in July or August.

Things to Know

One of the best things about Vancouver is how easy it is to get around. Not only is the city incredibly walkable and bike-able, but there is also a plethora of public transit options. Don't bother renting a car here as hotel parking is pricey and taxis, buses, ferries, trains, and ride-share apps make moving around a cinch. Check out this handy transit guide by the Vancouver Tourism Board.

Another great item to note about Vancouver is that the city boasts 550 separate locations with free WiFi service. Look for the #VanWifi public network to connect in case you need touring advice at your fingertips. Also, if you're visiting Vancouver from the United States, you do not need an adapter for your electronics as all of Canada runs on standard 120 V.

As far as the geography of the city, Vancouver is broken up into neighborhoods. Popular hoods include the Downtown Centre, which is in the middle of the city; Gastown, which is known as the historic quarter filled with cobblestoned streets and trendy restaurants; Kitsilano for the beach and water enthusiasts; Yaletown for high-end shopping and eating; Chinatown for great eats and sites; and the West End, which leads outdoor lovers to the expansive Stanley Park.

Lastly, Vancouver is considered one of the safest cities in the world. But like all major metropolises, mind your belongings — especially in the highest touristy areas of the city.

Currency: Canadian Dollar – nicknamed the "loonie." (Check the current exchange rate )

Language: English

Calling Code: +1 604

Capital City: Victoria (capital of British Columbia)

How to Get Around

Trains: Vancouver SkyTrain is one of the most-efficient means of getting around the city. There are three lines: the Expo Line with four downtown stations, including Chinatown and the Waterfront; the Canada Line, which can take you to and from the airport, in addition to Vancouver City Centre and Yaletown; and the Millennium Line that links with the Westcoast Express commuter train. Depending on where you're going, fares run from $1.95 to $5.75.

Buses: Vancouver has an extensive bus system that typically runs from 5am to 1am with stops in every major neighborhood and beyond. Vancouver's TransLink website has a simple plug and play that can help you get to wherever you need to go and includes fare prices.

Taxis: If you plan on taking a taxi from the airport, the fares will change depending on the zone of your destination. Airport rates range from $20-$40. All taxis are regulated in the city and run on meters.

Ferries: Connecting downtown Vancouver with the North Shore is the SeaBus, a passenger-only ferry that departs every 15 minutes during the day and every 30 minutes at night. SeaBus fares are similar to SkyTrain fares.

Car service: When you arrive at the Vancouver International Airport, you have a bevy of transportation options. One of the most comfortable rides is hailing a luxury vehicle to whisk you into the city in style. There are officially-licensed limousine services from the airport that do not require any advanced bookings.

Best Hotels

Fairmont hotel vancouver.

Address: 900 W Georgia St, Vancouver, BC V6C 2W6, Canada Phone: +1 604-684-3131 Website

Arguably the nicest hotel in the entire city, the Fairmont resides in the central part of the city with epic waterfront views. The classic Châteauesque-styled hotel was built in the 1930s, has more than 500 rooms, and features an indoor pool. Other highlights of the property include its lavish afternoon tea and a pet-friendly policy.

Shangri-La Hotel

Address: 1128 W Georgia St, Vancouver, BC V6E 0A8, Canada Phone: +1 604-689-1120 Website

Part of the luxurious Shangri-La chain of hotels, the Vancouver iteration is home to 119 rooms and 15 floors within the tallest building in the city. This central downtown spot is known for its Zen-inducing spa, award-winning service, and excellent dining at Miantiao — a Chinese/Italian fusion spot that's filled with surprises.

Rosewood Hotel Georgia

Address: 801 W Georgia St, Vancouver, BC V6C 1P7, Canada Phone: +1 604-682-5566 Website

This vintage downtown hotel was originally opened in 1927 and has played host to A-list celebrities and British royalty alike. In 2011, the hotel unveiled a massive renovation, bringing the property into the 21st century with today's finest amenities. Guests here are treated to an incredible spa, 52-foot indoor saltwater lap pool, and personalized experiences that range from rainforest hikes to helicopter journeys.

Skwachàys Lodge

Address: 31 W Pender St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1R3, Canada Phone: +1 604-687-3589 Website

Indigenous-owned and operated, the Skwachàys Lodge is a hotel in the Gastown areas of the city. This arts-forward property hosts an urban Indigenous artist residence and a gallery featuring Indigenous art. If you're looking for the soul of the Indigenous experience, the hotel offers a private sweat lodge purification ceremony on the rooftop garden, in addition to a smudging ceremony meant to purify the body.

Address: 1177 Melville St, Vancouver, BC V6E 0A3, Canada Phone: +1 604-669-5060 Website

This boutique hotel is close to Stanley Park and is constantly recognized as one of the best hotels in Vancouver. Known for its health and wellness program, each room comes with its own yoga mat and a 24-hour yoga channel on the in-room TVs. Other unique amenities include an infrared sauna and free use of electric cruiser bikes that can zip you around the city with ease.

Hotel Belmont

Address: 654 Nelson St, Vancouver, BC V6B 6K4, Canada Phone: +1 604-605-4333 Website

For tourists wanting to be in the fray of Vancouver's bustling nightlife, Hotel Belmont is in the perfect spot. This funky hotel is right off Granville Street, which is home to some of the city's best bars, pubs, and nightclubs. Inside, the hotel leans into kitsch with multicolored layouts and retro design. And if you want to keep the entertainment going at the property, The Basement has a neon-lit arcade with a bowling alley and late night DJ-led dance parties.

Address: 322 Davie St, Vancouver, BC V6B 5Z6, Canada Phone: +1 604-642-6787 Website

A Yaletown mainstay, Opus Hotel is a hip boutique that features in-house Muses who are there to design your entire stay in Vancouver – virtually anyway. The pre-ordained characters give you a helpful guide to the city based on your mood or personality. In addition to making your stay more personalized, the hotel also features a delectable Italian restaurant called Capo with tasty pizzas and slick cocktails.

Best Restaurants

Address: 200 Granville St #70, Vancouver, BC V6C 1S4, Canada Phone: +1 604-568-3900 Website

Not only does Miku have some of the best sushi in Vancouver, but it also prides itself on its sustainability. The restaurant is part of the Ocean Wise Program, which is overseen by the Vancouver Aquarium and recognizes restaurants for their commitment to sustainable fishing practices. As a result, you can feel good when you devour the specially curated Kaiseki meals or a la carte albacore, yellowtail, and king salmon nigiri.


Address: 217 Carrall St, Vancouver, BC V6B 2J2, Canada Phone: +1 604-568-1701 Website

There isn't a Michelin Guide in Vancouver, but if the French publication ever decided to review the city, L'Abattoir would be star worthy. Located in Gastown, the restaurant leans into West Coast cuisine with heavy French influences. Menu highlights include chilled marinated octopus, fillet of wild Pacific halibut "à la nage," and pigeon paillard.

Address: 207 W Hastings St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1K6, Canada Phone: +1 604-688-1655 Website

If you're looking for some of the best vegetarian and vegan options wrapped in Middle-Eastern flare, Nuba is the restaurant for you. This Lebanese spot is famous for their falafel, red lentil soup, Merguez meatballs, and creamy hummus. There are four separate locations, so you can generally fill up on Mediterranean delights anywhere in the city.


Address: 1133 Hamilton St, Vancouver, BC V6B 5P6, Canada Phone: +1 604-688-7466 Website

Easily the best Italian restaurant in the city, Cioppino's is helmed by chef Giuseppe Posteraro, who is as much an artist as he is a cook. The restaurant is the recipient of the coveted three-fork rating from Italian food and wine magazine, Gambero Rosso—basically the Italian version of the Michelin guide. You'll quickly understand why when Pino whips up original, artistic meals on a nightly basis themed on whatever is in-season and whatever has inspired him on that day.

Burdock & Co.

Address: 2702 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5T 3E8, Canada Phone: +1 604-879-0077 Website

Burdock & Co. was one of the first restaurants to adopt the concept of the 100-mile meal. The idea is to source all ingredients from the area and make out-of-this-world farm-to-table dishes that literally can't be seen anywhere else. As a result, the menu is chock-full of locally-forested mushrooms, freshly-caught mussels, charcoal-grilled steaks from local farms, and more. If you care about true sustainability, this is the restaurant for you.

Address: 801 W Georgia St, Vancouver, BC V6C 1P7, Canada Phone: +1 604-673-7000 Website

Typically one of the top-rated restaurants in the city, Hawksworth is a proponent of modern West Coast Canadian dining that sources only the finest-quality ingredients and delivers them in the most innovative of ways. A walk through chef Hawksworth's menu is a foodie's dreamscape that seems to travel around the globe with specialties like Korean-fried cauliflower, wagyu beef carpaccio, spring ricotta agnolotti, and his take on baby-back ribs.

Salmon n' Bannock

Address: 1128 W Broadway #7, Vancouver, BC V6H 1G5, Canada Phone: +1 604-568-8971 Website

The focus of Salmon n' Bannock is to highlight First Nations' traditions within the culinary space. The staff is a cacophony of First Nations' peoples, and the food represents a variety of First Nations' cultures. Classics include a bison pot roast, a "Fiss n' Rice" that's a wild sockeye atop Ojibway wild rice, and loads of Bannock breads with creative toppings.

Things to Do

Vancouver mural festival.

Address: 2410 Columbia St, Vancouver, BC V5Y 3E6, Canada Phone: +1 604-675-1793 Website

The Vancouver Mural Festival is a non-profit that was formed in 2016 with the aim of enhancing the artistic side of the city. Murals are created throughout the city every year and culminates in a yearly, multi-week event that spans 11 neighborhoods, and includes art walks, live shows, and more.

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

Address: 3735 Capilano Rd, North Vancouver, BC V7R 4J1, Canada Phone: +1 604-985-7474 Website

The Capilano Suspension Bridge is a 450-foot-long, 230-foot-high bridge that crosses the Capilano River and has been freaking out acrophobes since 1889. The bridge is also part of an expansive park that traipses tourists through bridges and walkways among the coastal rainforest.

Talaysay Tours

Address: 334 Skawshen Rd, West Vancouver, BC V7P 3T1, Canada Phone : (800) 605-4643 Website

The guiding ethos of the Talaysay Tours is to simply 'love the land.' If you want to discover authentic cultural experiences, Talaysay Tours can give you an inside look at indigenous culture throughout Vancouver's history and ventures through Stanley Park and other historic sites.

Museum of Anthropology

Address: 6393 NW Marine Dr, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z2, Canada Phone: +1 604-822-5087 Website

Since 1947, the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) has been displaying and celebrating the arts and cultures of First Nations' peoples and other communities in and around British Columbia. MOA is a teaching museum that houses upwards of 50,000 works from across the globe and is famous for its vast collection from the Northwest Coast.

Vancouver Art Gallery

Address: 750 Hornby St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2H7, Canada Phone: +1 604-662-4700 Website

One of the largest museums in all of Canada, the Vancouver Art Gallery was first established in 1931 and features art from around the world with an emphasis on First Nations and Canadian art. Past exhibits include everything from Picasso and Monet to Murakami and anime.

City Cycle Tours

Address: 648 Hornby St, Vancouver, BC V6C 2G2, Canada Phone: +1 604-618-8626 Website

Vancouver is an incredibly bike-friendly city and riding is one of the best ways to see all the sites. A guided bike tour by City Cycle Tours can take you through Stanley Park, into Chinatown and Gastown, around the Public Market at Granville Island, and so much more. One of the true highlights is biking the seawall that has views of Vancouver's stunning seascapes and architecture.

Stanley Park

Address: Vancouver, BC V6G 1Z4, Canada Phone: +1 604-681-6728 Website

Vancouver's largest play area, Stanley Park is a massive green space on the northwest side of the city that is home to Vancouver's famous Seawall, the Vancouver Aquarium, multiple beaches, and dozens of walking and biking trails. The 400-hectare park is a local's favorite and includes multiple dining outlets, swimming pools, ice rinks, golf courses, and more.

Grouse Mountain

Address: 6400 Nancy Greene Way, North Vancouver, BC V7R 4K9, Canada Phone: +1 604-980-9311 Website

If you want to take in the overwhelming beauty of Vancouver and British Columbia, think about jaunting up Grouse Mountain aboard the Super Skyride. Grouse Mountain is only 15 minutes from the city center and the gondola rises 4,100 feet to the summit for mesmerizing views. The mountain is also home to disc golf, paragliding, zip lines, and more.

Best Shopping

Granville island public market.

Address: Public Market, 1689 Johnston St, Vancouver, BC V6H 3R9, Canada Phone: +1 604-666-6655 Website

Just across the Granville Bridge, Granville Island Public Market is home to dozens of food stalls that can provide a full sampling of Vancouver's entire culinary scene. Outside the market are theaters, galleries, restaurants, and bars. Access to the island is via the Granville Bridge or one of Vancouver's SeaBuses.

Alberni/Robson Street

Address: 800 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6E 1A7, Canada Website

For all kinds of shopping finds, the parallel streets of Robson and Alberni are a spender's paradise. Stores run the gamut from Zara and Lululemon to Tiffany & Co. and Jimmy Choo. If you can't find what you're looking for, you're not trying hard enough.

West 4th Avenue

Address: West 4th From Fir Street to Balsam Street, Vancouver, BC V6J 1M4, Canada Phone: +1 604-617-9070 Website

West 4th Street has been a shopping hub in Vancouver since the 1920s and shows no signs of slowing. There are more than 250 unique businesses along the street that include clothing, sporting goods, homeware, health and wellness, and a wide variety of specialty shops.

Address: 1100 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6E 1B2, Canada Phone: +1 604-684-3251 Website

This Vancouver-born brand is known for high-end ladies' fashion. Since 1984, the brand has grown to more than 100 locations in North America and eight in Vancouver alone.

Herschel Supply Co.

Address: 347 Water St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1B8, Canada Phone: +1 604-620-1155 Website

Another Vancouver-born brand, Herschel Supply Co. is known for its wide range of bags, backpacks, duffels, totes, and so much more. The company now has more than 40 locations around the globe as their fine craftsmanship sees higher demand every year.

Saje Natural Wellness

Address: 2252 W 4th Ave, Vancouver, BC V6K 1N8, Canada Phone : +1 604-738-7253 Website

Saje Natural Wellness is a Canadian-owned-and-operated wellness business that prides itself on all-natural products. The company is known for their soothing oils, lotions, diffusers, soaps, and shampoos. There are multiple Saje locations around Vancouver.

Neighborhoods to Know

Coal Harbour : Sitting on the north side of central Vancouver, Coal Harbour is a sleepy narrow neighborhood that is bordered by Canada Place to the east and Stanley Park to the west. Canada Place is home to the Vancouver Convention Centre that attracts international expositions. One of the main attractions of the neighborhood is the waterfront views where pedestrians can stroll and peer out into Vancouver Harbour while browsing small shops and eating at quaint cafés.

Chinatown : Vancouver's Chinatown dates back to the late 1800s and is considered a National Historic Site in Canada. One of the largest Chinatowns in the world, the central Vancouver neighborhood is filled with incredible Chinese restaurants and bakeries, apothecary shops, Asian markets, and more. A must-stop is the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, which is a Ming Dynasty style garden, and plays host to festivals, concerts, and educational activities.

Davie Village : Vancouver has an incredibly diverse and thriving LGBTQ+ community, and Davie Village is a stretch of streets where you'll find rainbow-colored flags flying with pride. You'll know you're in the right place when you step over the vibrant rainbow crosswalk that leads to a bevy of great restaurants and cafés during the day and buzzing bars and clubs at night.

Gastown : For lovers of historic areas, the cobblestoned streets of Gastown are the place to be. The neighborhood dates back to 1867 and features buildings with classic Victorian architecture and restaurants that are a foodie's dream. Instagrammers might want to take a picture in front of Gastown's most famous landmark, an antique clock that's partially powered by steam.

Granville Island : Technically not an island (it is bordered by water on three sides), Granville Island is a short ferry ride or bridge drive across False Creek on the southwest side of town. Once there, a must-stop attraction is the Granville Island Public Market where vendors hawk every type of local food imaginable. Around the market are theaters, galleries, and waterfront restaurants and breweries.

Kitsilano : Across the water to the west, Kitsilano is one of Vancouver's bigger neighborhoods. Within its confines includes West 4th Avenue, which is one of the best shopping streets in the city, the Kitsilano Beach, Vancouver's Greektown, and lots of green space for joggers, bikers, and lazy weekend hangouts. Kitsilano was once considered the Haight-Ashbury of Vancouver and its hippy roots can still be seen with loads of healthy vegan restaurants and wellness shops. It's also the birthplace of famed clothing brand Lululemon.

West End : The West End is the largest neighborhood on the peninsula, encompassing Davie Village, and is bordered by Stanley Park on the northwest, and Nelson Park and Robson Square to the southeast. Within the area is the Vancouver Art Gallery, the shopping Meccas of Robson and Alberni Streets, and multiple beaches. One of the more popular attractions is biking the Stanley Park Seawall that hugs the west side of the neighborhood.

Yaletown : This tony neighborhood is home to some of the nicest restaurants in the city alongside chic boutiques and luscious green space. To the southeast is BC Place, Vancouver's largest sports complex for soccer and football matches, as well as mega concert performances. The parks along the waterfront draw in locals and tourists alike.

Summer is peak tourism season with the least amount of rain and long sunny days that are rarely unbearably hot. Winters are milder than you'd expect for a Canadian city, but you'll encounter more rain from November to March. Shoulder seasons of spring and fall feature stunning blooms and changing leaves.

The following are average Fahrenheit lows and highs by month. January: 37°F to 44°F February: 38°F to 47°F March: 40°F to 51°F April: 44°F to 56°F May: 49°F to 63°F June: 54°F to 67°F July: 58°F to 72°F August: 58°F to 72°F September: 53°F to 66°F October: 47°F to 57°F November: 41°F to 49°F December: 37°F to 44°F

Apps to Download

Mobi-Bikes : Vancouver is such a great biking city with dozens of trails that weave in and around the streets, parks, and boardwalks. Mobi is cheap and easy way to find bikes anywhere in the city. iOs | Android

Uber : For quick ride services, download the popular Uber app to zip you around the city with ease. iOs | Android

Street Food Vancouver : Vancouver has an excellent street-food scene and if you want to know where, when, and how to find it all, download this app and you'll be street-feasting in no time. iOs | Android

Vancouver Transit : This app will help you catch a train, bus, or ferry to anywhere you want or need to go in Vancouver. iOs | Android

OpenTable : For all your restaurant reservation needs, download OpenTable. iOs | Android

Best Things to do in Vancouver

Looking forward to a trip to Vancouver? This beautiful West Coast city offers lots of fun activities. It can be a challenge to narrow down exactly what to do during your vacation. Our travel experts have created this list to help you make the most of your time in Vancouver.

We know planning a perfect vacation takes a lot of work. There's booking hotels and restaurants, plus finding all your activities. Without this planning, you could end up wasting a lot of time. That's why it’s best to talk to one of our local travel experts.  

At Canadian Train Vacations , we're committed to creating unforgettable travel experiences. We do all the planning for you. You can just sit back and enjoy your vacation. Our train trip itineraries are personalized to your interests, so you can pick your hotel types, train class, day tours, and more.   

Many of our train vacations start or end in Vancouver. It’s worth adding a couple of days to your trip to spend time exploring this beautiful oceanside city. Our office is in Vancouver , so we know all the fun things to do here. There's sightseeing spots, gorgeous parks, amazing beaches, and memorable tours. Here is our list of unique things to do in Vancouver, Canada

Why Vancouver?  

Before we dive into all the interesting things to do in Vancouver , let’s tell you why this city should be included on your trip itinerary.  

Situated on Canada’s west coast, Vancouver is a beautiful coastal city and the capital of British Columbia. With the Coast Mountains to the north, and the Strait of Georgia and Pacific Ocean to the west, Vancouver is a popular destination for visitors to North America. Because of the city’s location by the ocean and the temperate rainforest that surrounds it, Vancouver has a mild climate year-round —in the winter, it is one of the warmest places in Canada!   

Nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts are attracted to Vancouver’s lush landscapes, sandy beaches, and snow-capped mountains. In the summer, popular activities include hiking, biking, kayaking, and whale watching. When the temperature drops and the snow falls, locals and tourists alike flock to the nearby ski hills.  

And while nature is a big part of Vancouver, it’s not the only reason for visiting. The city has a range of lively neighbourhoods and a vibrant culinary scene that represents many different cultures. You can find everything from award-winning seafood restaurants to must-try food trucks and elegant cocktail bars. Visit Gastown, Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood, to see the iconic steam clock; wander through the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Gardens in Chinatown; and taste local goods at the market on Granville Island. Robson Street is the perfect place for shopping and dining, while Coal Harbour and Yaletown have lovely waterfront areas.   

For those who enjoy museums and art galleries, Vancouver doesn’t disappoint. The Museum of Anthropology, Science World, Vancouver Art Gallery, and the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art are some of the top attractions in the city.   

1. Stanley Park

Person walking along the Seawall in Stanley Park

A walk-through Stanley Park (1) is one of the most popular things to do in Vancouver . Since its grand opening in 1888, the park has attracted locals and tourists, with 8 million visitor s a year. A walk-through Stanley Park ( 1 ) is one of the most popular things to do in the city. Since its grand opening in 1888, the park has attracted locals and tourists, with 8 million visitor a year. People love its incredible gardens, beautiful beaches, and over 27 km of hiking trails. During your visit, look for wildlife, totem poles, and other monuments.

As Vancouver's first and largest park, there's a little something for everyone here. Dine at one of the park's classic restaurants ( 2 ) or spend time at the Vancouver Aquarium (read more below).

The park is open from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. and is free to enter. If you're looking to avoid a crowd, try arriving at Stanley Park in the early morning hours.

Parking is available but the best way to visit the park is to walk, bike, or take the bus. TransLink's #19 bus will take you directly to Stanley Park.

“Take a city tour,” advises Katherine Foxcroft, product manager at Fresh Tracks Canada. “A private tour is the best way to see all the top sights. Let your advisor know the locations you want to see and they will request them on the agenda.”

Explore more: Coast to Coast Canada Train

#1 Travel Tip: Hop-on, hop-off

Hop-on, hop-off sightseeing tours are ideal if you want to discover the city at your own pace. You can get a 48-hour pass and explore Vancouver’s top neighbourhoods and attractions, including Stanley Park, Gastown, and Granville Island.

Blog Author - Hannah Poaros-Mcdermott

2. Brockton Point Totem Poles

Totem poles at Stanley Park, Vancouver

The Brockton Point Totem Poles ( 3 ) in Stanley Park are one of the top 10 sights in Vancouver. Relax in a picturesque meadow setting while you admire the intricate wood carvings. The collection, which includes nine different totem poles, dates from the 1920s. The original totem poles are now in museums for preservation, replaced with replicas.

As discussed above, Stanley Park is easily accessible from downtown. If you book a city tour, it can take you to the Brockton Point Totem Poles.

3. Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

Take your nature walk to new heights at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park ( 4 ). Open since 1889, Capilano Suspension Bridge Park offers some of the best adventure activities in Vancouver. Marvel at the spectacular views as you trek across the 450 ft long bridge that hangs 230 ft in the air. Or enjoy one of the park's other activities, including the story centre, cliff walks, rainforest trails, and more.

“There are so many amazing photo opportunities at Capilano Suspension Bridge,” Foxcroft says. “It also gives people a chance to get a bird eye’s view of Vancouver’s incredible old-growth trees without a strenuous hike.”

This award-winning park is open daily between May and January, with hours varying depending on the season. Capilano Suspension Bridge Park admission is $65.95 for adults and includes access to all of the park's various activities.

The park offers free shuttle services from various pickup points in downtown Vancouver. Your vacation advisor can arrange a tour which includes Capilano Suspension Bridge Park.

4. Granville Island

View of Granville Island Public Market and the marina with Aquabus in front

Shop, eat, and experience Vancouver's diverse culture at Granville Island ( 5 ). Surrounded by stunning waterfront views, Granville Island sees millions of visitors each year. They come for the cafes and dock-side restaurants, boutiques, theatres and art galleries. You can easily spend a whole day on the island. Wander through the public market for hand-crafted gifts, and vibrant produce stands. The public market is open daily from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. and is accessible by bus, car, boat, and on foot.

The local travel experts at Canadian Train Vacations recommend a food tour, as a great way to experience Granville Island.  

“There’s a lot to see and try on Granville Island" says Shannon Brand, vacation advisor at Fresh Tracks Canada. "It’s helpful to have someone curate the best bites — plus there’s lots of opportunities to pick up foodie souvenirs.”

5. Seaplane tour over Vancouver

single otter seaplane flies over English Bay with views of Stanley Park and Vancouver skyline in background

Get a bird's-eye view of the stunning city of Vancouver on a seaplane tour. Trips on Harbour Air’s sight-seeing tours range in length from 20 minutes to over an hour. Each one brings the promise of unbeatable views. So buckle up and get ready to see this beautiful mountain town as you've never seen it before.

“A seaplane over Vancouver gives a unique perspective on the city,” says Foxcroft. “Flying over the Lions Gate Bridge is always a special moment.”

For the ultimate excursion, request a private plane tour.

An ideal way to incorporate this experience is to add a day in Victoria and to travel there by seaplane. Your vacat ion advisor can take care of all the details. Schedule a call now .

6. Whale Watching in Vancouver

Two Orcas breaching close-up

There are few sights more thrilling than spotting a whale jumping out of the water. One of the best whale-watching areas in Canada , Vancouver is home to magnificent minke, orca, gray, and humpback whales. You're likely to spot a few other animals including sea lions, bald eagles, and more. The best time to see whales is between April and October. Most whale-watching companies promise a 90% chance or higher.

“Whale watching is one of our most popular add-on activities,” says Brand. “You have the opportunity to see wildlife, plus some great views of the mountains—and the city from the water.”

Ask your vacation advisor about adding whale-watching to your Canadian train vacation. Options include zodiac tours or larger catamaran vessels.

#2 Travel Tip: Easy day trips

There are some fantastic day trips that you can do from Vancouver. Head up the Sea to Sky highway to visit the famous resort town of Whistler or enjoy a scenic ferry ride to Victoria on Vancouver Island.

vancouver tourist things to do

7. Sea to Sky Gondola Squamish

Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish

Travel 885m above sea level to some spectacular sights on the Sea to Sky gondola ride ( 6 ). There's more than breathtaking views. The gondola experience offers mountain-top yoga, live musical performances, and excellent hiking trails.

The Sea to Sky Gondola is open Sunday to Thursday, between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Friday-Saturday from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. Most visitors enjoy a return trip on the gondola, but you can also hike up to the top then take the gondola back down . The hike is quite steep and is classed as intermediate level. If you’re looking for adventurous things to do in Vancouver and Squamish, then definitely try the Sea to Summit trail .

The gondola is a short drive from Vancouver. Y our vacation advisor can arrange a private tour with scenic stops along the way.  

Download our Brochures and Mini Guides

Download our Brochures and Mini Guides

8. cycle the city.

Cycling on the Vancouver seawall

Every year, more people are riding bikes through Vancouver. It's an efficient way to see many of the city's popular sites. You can plan your entire trip using the Vancouver cycling routes guide ( 7 ). Stop at markets, parks, and cafes to keep your bike ride interesting.

Your vacation advisor can also arrange a guided bike tour. These can be suitable for any comfort level, even novice bikers. Combine two of the top things to do in Vancouver city and cycle along the seawall in Stanley Park.  

9. Vancouver Art Gallery

Downtown Vancouver Robson Square and Vancouver Art Gallery

Let inspiration flow through you when you visit the Vancouver Art Gallery ( 8 ). With its carefully curated collection, it's no wonder that this gallery is one of the most respected in North America. Open seven days a week, Vancouver Art Gallery is an ideal stop for both art and history lovers. It is also a great spot to snag some unique souvenirs by local artisans.

Enjoy the works of Canadian and international artists as you embark on a guided public tour. The gallery owns the largest group of paintings and works by Canadian painter Emily Carr. Her work drew inspiration from the Indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest. General admission costs $29 per person and gives you access to the Museum as well as the on-site shops and bistro. Tuesday nights offer admission with a donation amount of your choice.

10. Vancouver Aquarium

A couple explores the Vancouver aquarium watching a sea lion in the tank.

Take a trip under the sea! Located in the heart of Stanley Park, The Vancouver Aquarium is home to various marine mammals, fish, turtles, frogs, and more. As Canada's largest aquarium, there's no shortage of things to see and do here. Visit the touch pools ( 9 ) where you can roll your sleeves up and gently touch a sea creature. Or take a stroll through the Amazon Gallery where you'll see a crocodile and some sleepy sloths.

The aquarium’s hours change through the seasons, but it is generally open 9:30a.m. to 5:00p.m. in the summer, and 10:00a.m. to 5:00p.m. in the winter, spring,and fall. Since the Vancouver Aquarium is one of the best things to do in Vancouver with kids, it's recommended that you purchase tickets in advance.

11. Grouse Mountain

The gondola up to Grouse Mountain

12. VanDusen Botanical Gardens

VanDusen Botanical Garden Laburnum Walk in Vancouver

With Vancouver’s mild weather and temperate climate, there is always something in bloom at VanDusen Garden ( 11 ). Wander the Elizabethan Maze, search for the sculptures throughout, and linger over lunch in the Shaughnessy Restaurant.

A favourite summer-time activity is to grab a picnic basket with afternoon tea from the café to enjoy in a shady spot near the colourful blooms. The garden is open from 10:00 to 5:00 in March through October, with hours extended until 6:00 on weekends in August; and from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 from November through February.

13. False Creek

Evening view of Vancouver's False Creek and geodesic dome of Science World.

False Creek is a unique waterfront community located in the heart of the city. If you're looking for fun things to do in Vancouver, False Creek will not disappoint. Home to popular destinations such as Granville Island and Olympic Village, there's a little something for everyone to enjoy here.

In 2010, False Creek served as a home for the Olympic athletes. Today, the area offers beautiful walking and cycling trails as well as gorgeous harbourfront views for residents and visitors alike.

Spend an entire afternoon dipping in and out of local shops and indulging in some of Vancouver's tastiest restaurants. Looking for a little "me time"? False Creek is home to a handful of beauty and wellness shops so you can relax and pamper yourself. Locals love thi s neighborhood, and it is not one of the typical touristy things to do in Vancouver. 

14. Vancouver Aquabus

Vancouver's Aquabus on False Creek

See False Creek from a different perspective when you take a ride on Vancouver's Aquabus. Open daily from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m., Aquabus has been helping people make memories since 1985. The Aquabus features eight different stops and a vessel comes around every 15 minutes, so you never have to worry about being late and missing your ride.

Aquabus vessels are used by locals and tourists alike. The busiest time to ride the Aquabus is in the summer, but the ferries operate during the winter months as well. Looking to avoid a crowd? You can arrange to book a private trip for yourself and your companions. Riding the Aquabus is one of the cool things to do in Vancouver .

15. Sunset in English Bay

Sunset over English Bay

Any local will tell you, there's no better place to watch the sunset than English Bay Beach. Located along the Stanley Park seawall, English Bay is one of the most popular beaches in the city. Sit and relax while you watch vibrant pink and purple skies reflected in the sea below. Sitting on the beach and watching the sunset is one of the most romantic things to do in Vancouver.  

English Bay has everything, including concessions, chair rentals, volleyball courts, and more. The beach is open daily from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m and is accessible by transit — or your advisor can arrange a private transfer. There is no entry fee but those who drive will have to pay for parking. 

[ Read: 10 Most Romantic Vacations in Canada ]

16. Christ Church Cathedral

Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver

As one of the oldest surviving buildings in downtown Vancouver, Christ Church Cathedral ( 12 ) is full of history. Regardless of your religious views, the church is adorned with stunning works of art, stained glass windows, and aesthetic architecture for you to enjoy. Normally open for visitors Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m Christ Church Cathedral frequently offers live music and performances. After you've toured the church, don't forget to stop at The Maundy Café for a little treat.

17. Chinatown

Chinatown Gate in Vancouver

Bustling with food and locals, the neighbourhood of Chinatown offers some excellent night activities in Vancouver. Sip cocktails in a few of the city's best bars and eateries or spend a day shopping for unique treasures and treats. With origins dating back to 1886, Chinatown is steeped in history and is Canada's largest Chinatown. You should plan to spend at least half a day exploring the area if you want to soak in all this popular tourist destination has to offer.

The streets here are covered with cultural architecture, stunning murals, and colourful shop signs. With such a vibrant atmosphere, you may never want to leave this area. There is paid parking available in the area, but Chinatown is best enjoyed on foot.

18. Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden in the Fall

Walking through the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden feels like taking a deep breath. The peaceful oasis is a Ming Dynasty-style garden home and is the first of its kind ( 13 )to be built outside of China. A cultural and educational hub, this garden offers a variety of exhibitions, guided tours, and special events. Experience all kinds of beautiful blooms, fish ponds, and calming architecture as you stroll through the garden grounds.

The garden is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. with tickets ranging from $13 to $16. The garden is easily accessible by public transit from downtown Vancouver, or your Fresh Tracks Advisor can arrange a private transfer. The garden is easily accessible by public transit from downtown Vancouver, or your vacation advisor can arrange a private transfer.  

19. Kitsilano Beach

Volleyball on Kits Beach at sunset

Located on the shores of English Bay, Kitsilano Beach sees a variety of beachgoers from fitness buffs to families and picnic-lovers alike. Referred to by locals as Kits Beach, you'll find the seawall, basketball courts, tennis courts, and excellent swimming here. The beach also has a public pool and concession stands. During your visit, stop for lunch or dinner at The Boathouse Restaurant ( 14 ) where you can enjoy fresh seafood and hand-crafted cocktails. Paid parking is available and the beach is open 24 hours a day.

20. Jericho Beach

Two women sitting on a log at Jericho beach with the Vancouver skyline behind

With plenty of recreational activities on offer, Jericho Beach is the perfect spot if you're looking for group activities in Vancouver. Enjoy cycling trails, tennis courts, bird watching, and an annual folk music festival all while you soak up the stunning beach views. There are several perfect picnic areas here so be sure to pack a lunch or hit up one of the beach concession stands for a bite to eat. During the summer months, the beach is open from dawn until dusk and admission is free.

21. Wreck Beach

Sunset from Wreck Beach in Vancouver BC

If you're looking for unique things to do in Vancouver, look no further than Wreck Beach. The famous, clothing-optional beach sees roughly half a million visitors each year and promotes body acceptance and natural lifestyles. Seeing visitors from over 150 different countries, there's more to the beach than nudity. Enjoy swimming, events, and stunning sunsets while you visit as well. If you're looking for a calm, quiet day at the beach, however, this isn't the spot for you.

On average Wreck Beach has up to 14,000 visitors each day and is usually packed. For a less busy trip, try visiting during the colder months. The beach is accessible by public transit, or your vacation advisor can arrange a private transfer.

The beach is accessible by public transit, or your Fresh Tracks Advisor can arrange a private transfer. The trip will also take you through University of British Columbia’s stunning campus. Be warned: getting down to the sand will require you to hike down a large staircase — with 490 steps!

22. Pam Rocks in Howe Sound

Sea Safari in the Fjord of Howe Sound, Sewell's Marina

Located in Howe Sound, Pam Rocks is a windy little island with a lot to offer. Embark on snorkelling or boat trip where you'll enjoy scenic views—and maybe spot a seal or two soaking up the sun. Your vacation advisor can book you on a Sea Safari.  

Take advantage of this recognized bird breeding area and enjoy some peaceful bird watching. 

23. Pacific Arts Market

One of Vancouver's hottest shopping spots for art and hand-crafted gifts, Pacific Arts Market ( 15 ) is a welcoming hub for artists in the area. Explore the pop-up gallery space where you'll find new artists and works every four weeks. Or head upstairs to the market space where you'll find local vendors selling everything from leather jewelry to wooden furniture. Occasionally Pacific Arts Market opens their studio space to the public so you can see artists at work. If you're there at the right time you might also catch some live music and free snacks at a special event. As a small artisan market, do check the hours before visiting, but the posted times are Wednesday to Friday, 12:00p.m. to 6:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 11:30 to 5:30 p.m.

24. Queen Elizabeth Park

Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver during the summer

Flora lovers take note, Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver ( 16 ) is one of the lushest parks in the area. You can spend hours casually strolling past well-manicured gardens, exotic trees, and local flora that will have you stopping to take hundreds of nature photos. The park is situated 125 m above sea level–making it the highest point in Vancouver. With all of its unique qualities, it's no wonder that this park is frequently used for weddings and photoshoots.

You will spot stunning sculptures, water fountains, and unimaginable views during your park visit. Queen Elizabeth Park is also home to Bloedel Conservatory–a tropical paradise housing over 100 exotic birds and hundreds of tropical plants.

25. Hike to Shannon Falls

A tour to Shannon Falls near Vancouver

This short and simple trail takes, on average, 18 minutes one way and is a great addition if you do the Sea to Sky gondola. Ideal for beginner or casual hikers, the views along the way make every step worthwhile. Take your time admiring the picturesque Shannon Falls from the marked trails. Don't forget to stop for photos. This is a popular hiking area so be prepared to face a crowd. Parking is available for a fee at the nearby Stawamus Chief and Sea to Sky Gondola parking lots. In total, the looped hike should take between 30 minutes and one hour to complete.

Final Thoughts

Vancouver offers something for every kind of traveller and is a must-visit city in Canada. There are opportunities to spend time in nature, taste delicious food, sunbathe on the beach, discover the local culture, and so much more. It’s worth spending a couple of days in Vancouver so you can see some of the city’s top attractions.  

If you still have questions about what things to do in Vancouver or what train trip is best for you, please contact your vacation advisor.   

Frequently Asked Questions

How many days are enough in vancouver.

With so many things to see and experience, you should stay as long as you can in Vancouver. A seven-day trip can easily be filled with various activities, but if you're short on time, a three-day trip should be enough to take in a handful of the best things to do in Vancouver, Canada.

What should you not miss in Vancouver?

If it's your first time visiting Vancouver, you won't want to miss walking along the Stanley Park Seawall, going whale watching, and shopping your way through the Granville Island public market. With so many unforgettable experiences on offer, you might need to come back to Vancouver a few times to fit it all in.

What are the best night activities in Vancouver?

Vancouver offers a bustling nightlife from clubbing in Davie Village to rocking out to live music in the Granville Entertainment district. A trip to the Richmond Night Market is also highly recommended.

What are the most popular adventure activities in Vancouver?

Hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, swimming, and paddle boarding are all very popular activities in Vancouver. Surrounded by beautiful bodies of water, beaches, and awe-inspiring mountains, the city inspires outdoor adventures.

Is Vancouver Downtown safe at night?

Vancouver ranks among the top 10 cities for health and safety ( 17 ).However, that's not to say the downtown core is free of crime. If you're planning to walk downtown at night, always walk with a friend.

What are the best outdoor activities in Vancouver?

Some of the best outdoor activities in Vancouver include the Capilano Suspension Bridge and the Brockton Point Totem Poles. There are also lots of beautiful spots for hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, swimming, and paddle boarding.

When visiting Vancouver, take advantage of its stunning location near the ocean and mountains. If you only have a short amount of time in the city, be sure to visit Stanley Park. If you have more time, add in a whale-watching excursion, which will get you out on the water.

Our team of travel experts at Fresh Tracks Canada can help you plan your perfect itinerary, no matter how many days you have to explore Vancouver.

About the author: Louise Weiss is Director of Legendary Hospitality with Fresh Tracks Canada. Having worked in the Canadian travel industry for more than 25 years, she enjoys sharing her local expertise with visitors. She is based in North Vancouver and has spent time...   Read more

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25 FREE Things to do in Vancouver

03/14/2024 By Traveling Canucks 11 Comments Categories: Adventures British Columbia Canada Family Travel Tips Travel Stories Trip Ideas Vancouver

aquabus granville island, things to do in Vancouver BC for first time visitors, travel guide to Vancouver

We’ve lived in Vancouver for over 15 years and, during this time, we’ve hosted many first time visitors to the city. We’re often asked the question, what are the most popular things to do in Vancouver?

Our response varies depending on the time of year. However, there are a few places in Vancouver that we always recommend to first time visitors. The must see attractions that make Vancouver an awesome city.

We wrote a detailed post that highlights 25 Awesome Day Trips from Vancouver . It’s become a popular post on this travel blog and we’ve been getting a lot of inquiries about Vancouver ever since.

We don’t often write about our hometown because it feels so familiar. However, to non-residents of Vancouver, this beautiful waterfront city is often considered to be a world class travel destination.

FREE Things to do in Vancouver 

Table of Contents

Here’s your Local’s Guide to the Best Things to do in Vancouver.

Vancouver is not cheap, so this post will focus on the less expensive side of Vancouver. We love this city and try to get outside and enjoy it as much as we can. The list below highlights the things we like do in Vancouver when we have time to get outside and play.

vancouver tourist things to do

Top things to do in Vancouver

You will not have enough time for all of these 25 attractions and activities, so we’re going to start with the must see attractions. If you only have a few days, start with these first.

1. Explore Stanley Park and The Seawall

Stanley Park is arguably Vancouver’s top tourist attraction. It is Vancouver’s first, largest, and most beloved urban park. You could easily spend an entire day in this 1,000 acre public park. Stanley Park is almost entirely surrounded by the waters of Vancouver Harbour and English Bay.

To get the full Stanley Park experience, we recommend you walk or bike around the Stanley Park Seawall, a 10 km loop around Vancouver’s most celebrated outdoor space. It takes about 2 to 3 hours to walk around the Stanley Park Seawall and about 1 hour to bike around it (assuming a leisurely pace).

Things to do in Stanley Park (some are not free):

  • Totem Poles at Stanley Park
  • Take in the spectacular views at  Prospect Point
  • The legendary Siwash Rock
  • Brockton Point Lighthouse
  • Bird watching at Lost Lagoon
  • Walk under the iconic Lions Gate Bridge
  • Explore 27 kilometres of forest trails
  • Second Beach Pool – heated, outdoor pool (more info here )
  • Vancouver Aquarium (more info here )
  • Stanley Park Horse-Drawn Tours (more info here )
  • Ride the Stanley Park Train
  • Bike ride around the Seawall (you can rent a bike or join an E-bike tour )
  • Stanley Park Pitch & Putt (more info here )

Here’s a downloadable map of Stanley Park in Vancouver .

If you have a vehicle and plan to park at Stanley Park, note that the entire park is pay parking. 

vancouver tourist things to do

Above is the Stanley Park Seawall. At the top of the cliff is Prospect Point Lookout.

vancouver tourist things to do

2. Visit Granville Island

Granville Island is one of Vancouver’s most popular tourist attractions, especially for first time visitors. You can do Granville Island on the cheap by simply wandering around the market and soaking up the stunning waterfront views of False Creek and the Burrard Bridge.

Granville Island Public Market is open daily from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm and is home to over 50 merchants selling a variety of food. If you’re visiting on a sunny day, you’re sure to come across a live busker performance. Check out the schedule of Granville Island Busker performances .

There are plenty of Granville Island restaurants to choose from, including the popular patio at Bridges Restaurant (pictured above) and the upscale Sandbar Seafood Restaurant.

However, given that we’re focusing on doing Vancouver on the cheap, we’d recommend you grab food from the Public Market Food Court and take it outside to enjoy on the waterfront (be mindful of the birds, they are sneaky!).

Here’s a downloadable Granville Island map .

If you like beer, we recommend a visit to Granville Island Brewing . It was founded in 1984 and calls itself “Canada’s first microbrewery”. Brewery tours and tastings occur daily.

A fun way to get to Granville Island is to hop on an Aquabus, pictured below. The Aquabus is a small water taxi that travels around False Creek. The Granville Island ferry runs every 15 minutes. Schedules, price and dock locations can be found here .

Here’s information about how to get to Granville Island .

vancouver tourist things to do

3. Granville Street Entertainment District

Once you’ve finished wandering around Granville Island, walk across the Granville Street Bridge and continue north towards Vancouver’s Entertainment District. No matter the time of day, there’s always something happening on Granville Street.

Granville is the place to be if you’re looking for the best nightlife in Vancouver. It’s also a great place to people watch. The Entertainment District is home to the Commodore Ballroom (renowned music venue), Orpheum Theatre (home of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra) and the legendary Roxy Cabaret (long-standing club with live bands).

Fun fact – The Granville Street strip was once believed to have the highest concentration of neon in the world behind only Shanghai, China.

While you’re in the neighbourhood, check out Robson Square and the Vancouver Art Gallery . If the weather in Vancouver is rainy during your visit (highly probable from November to April), you can take shelter in the massive Pacific Centre Mall. 

Grouse Mountain, View of Vancouver, top Vancouver attraction

4. Grouse Mountain and the Grouse Grind

One of Vancouver’s top attractions is Grouse Mountain, self-described as The Peak of Vancouver .

The FREE way to reach the summit of Grouse Mountain is to hike up the Grouse Grind , also known as Mother Nature’s Stairmaster. Be forewarned, the Grouse Grind is challenging and the trail can get very busy in the summer months, especially on the weekends.

This Grouse Mountain hike is 3 kilometers straight up, with an elevation gain of 2,800 feet (853 metres), so it’s not recommended for novice hikers or casual sightseers. We’ve witnessed countless tourists attempting to hike the Grouse Grind in jeans and dress shoes, with no water or snacks. Don’t do that. This is a legit hike.

Note – The Grouse Grind is closed during the winter months.

The Grouse Mountain Skyride

The other way to reach the summit is to take the Grouse Mountain gondola (the Skyride) . The Skyride operates 365 days a year, departing every 15 minutes from 8:45 am to 10:00 pm. Grouse Mountain tickets will vary depending on the season. Check this website for prices.

To get off the mountain, you will either need to take the Skyride (it costs $15 per person as of 2018) or walk back down mountain. Rather than go back down the steep Grouse Grind, take the BCMC trail instead.

Grouse Mountain Restaurants

The main Grouse Mountain restaurant is Altitudes Bistro . It has one of the best patios in Vancouver with endless views of Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. The Observatory Restaurant is a more upscale, fine dining restaurant that is only open in the evenings for dinner.

Sticking with the theme of keeping things cheap, we recommend you pack a lunch instead of dining at one of the Grouse Mountain restaurants. There are plenty of spots to sit back and enjoy the views for free.

Grouse Mountain weather can be unpredictable (it is a mountain, after all), so it’s best to check the forecast ahead of time. Here’s the Grouse Mountain weather report and Grouse Mountain hours of operation .

vancouver tourist things to do

5. Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge

Not to be confused with the popular Capilano Suspension Bridge , the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge is a pedestrian bridge located within Lynn Canyon Park in North Vancouver. Unlike Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, Lynn Canyon Park is free to enter and explore.

The free-to-access suspension bridge is 160 feet (50 meters) high from the bottom of the canyon. It’s a narrow bridge that can get quite bouncy when you reach the center.

While the bridge is the star attraction of Lynn Canyon Park, we prefer to spend our time hiking the park’s extensive network of forest trails. The park encompasses over 600 acres of temperate rainforest .

You can walk the trails near Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge or the 50 kilometres (31 miles) of roads and trails in nearby Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve , including the more challenging Lynn Peak hike and the easier Twin Falls hike .

Parking at Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge can be challenging on the weekends, so it’s best to arrive early. Before you cross the bridge, take a moment to check out the Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre .

Related –  Cliffwalk at Capilano Suspension Bridge

kids hiking in Lynn Valley park near Rice Lake trail, free things to do in Vancouver this summer

Hiking in Lynn Canyon Park is a great family activity for all ages.

Deep cove marina in summer, free things to do in Vancouver British Columbia

6. Hiking and Kayaking in Deep Cove

We love Deep Cove. It’s a quaint community in the easternmost part of North Vancouver. It has a cute village with a restaurants, shops and the popular Honey’s Doughnuts (be careful – these donuts are highly addictive).

Deep Cove is known for its marina and kayaking. If you don’t have your own equipment you can rent kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and surf-skis from Deep Cove Kayak . This shop gets very busy in the summer, especially on the weekends. It’s best to make reservations for equipment rentals.

The popular Quarry Rock hike is an easy hike that takes about 1.5 hours round trip. The views from the top of Quarry Rock are worth the effort.

Parking at Deep Cove is challenging. It’s best to arrive early (before 8:30 AM), otherwise you might have to park a few km’s away and walk into the village. You can also take public transit from Lonsdale Quay Market to Deep Cove.

Cypress Mountain at night skiing with fresh snow on trees, Vancouver British Columbia

7. Explore Cypress Provincial Park

The season and weather conditions will decide what you do in Cypress Provincial Park .

During the summer, you can access a variety of hiking trails with incredible views of Howe Sound and the North Shore Mountains. In the winter, you can go snowshoeing, skiing, snowboarding, tubing and cross-country skiing at the Cypress Mountain Ski Area.

The hiking and snowshoe trails in Cypress Provincial Park are free to access. However, if you plan to ski or snowboard, you’ll need to purchase a day pass to use the chair lifts (Not Free). Here’s the Cypress Mountain ticket prices .

Located in North Vancouver, Cypress Mountain co-hosted events for the 2010 Winter Olympics. It’s actually the venue where Canada won it’s first Winter Olympics Gold Medal on home soil .

Related – Snowboarding at Cypress Mountain in Vancouver

views from the top of Eagle Bluff hike in West Vancouver, best hikes in Vancouver British Columbia

Views from the Eagle Bluffs hike that starts at the Cypress Mountain parking lot.

vancouver tourist things to do

8. Mountain biking in North Vancouver

The North Shore mountains offer world-class mountain bike trials for all skill levels. You have access to easy cross-country trails and more technical trails with obstacles like bridges, ladders, and teeter-totters.

Mount Seymour has the most extensive network of trails on the North Shore. One of the most popular mountain biking trails is the CBC trail , a 2 kilometre trail that begins at the top of Seymour Parkway.

If you don’t have a mountain bike you can rent one at Lynn Valley Bikes or Endless Biking . Rates will vary depending on the model and length of rental.

Here’s a map of Mount Seymour Biking Trails .

vancouver tourist things to do

9. Gastown Steam Clock

Located near Waterfront Station in downtown Vancouver, the iconic Gastown Steam Clock has been attracting tourists for decades. Originally built in 1977, this working steam clock is one of the only functioning steam-powered clocks in the world.

The Gastown Steam Clock whistles and blows its steam every 15 minutes, to the delight of onlookers. It’s a cheesy touristy thing to do, but you’ll be glad you took a few minutes to check it out.

While in Gastown , admire its old cobblestone roads and unique architecture before wandering inside the many shops, art galleries and restaurants in Gastown. We like to grab a pint of craft beer at Steamworks Brew Pub . It’s one of our favourite restaurants in Vancouver.

the Olympic Cauldron for 2010 Winter Olympics Vancouver

10. Olympic Cauldron at Jack Poole Plaza

The Olympic Cauldron from the 2010 Winter Olympics is located at Jack Poole Plaza, which is located beside the Vancouver Convention Centre, one of Canada’s largest convention centres.

The plaza offers stunning views of Burrard Inlet and the North Shore Mountains. From here you can witness dozens of float planes departing and arriving at Vancouver Harbour Flight Centre (see photo below).

You’ll also find several public pieces of art here, including the Digital Orca and The Drop .

Coal Harbour airport float planes docked in Vancouver Harbour Airport

Float planes docked in front of Jack Poole Plaza.

Olympic Cauldron Vancouver Poole Plaza

The Olympic Cauldron at Jack Poole Plaza.

Vancouver skyline from North Vancouver, Burrard Inlet and Canada sails

11. Canada Place

Canada Place is home to the iconic white sails that dominate Vancouver’s skyline (see above photo). From here, visitors are treated to unobstructed views of Burrard Inlet and the North Shore Mountains.

It’s located beside the Vancouver Convention Centre and Jack Poole Plaza (to the west) and Gastown (to the East), so you can include all of these Vancouver attractions in your sightseeing tour. You can walk from Coal Harbour to Gastown in less than an hour (at a moderate pace).

Canada Place is also home to the Vancouver Cruise Ship Terminal , so it gets quite busy during the summer months. This cruise ship terminal can hold up to four luxury cruise ships at one time. It’s the home port for many of the Alaska cruises that depart from Vancouver.

Inside Canada Place is the popular virtual flight ride FlyOver Canada . The experience lasts approximately 20 minutes. FlyOver Canada is NOT free. Check prices and hours here .

Hasting Park racecourse in East Vancouver, view of the track and North Shore mountains

12. Horse Racing at Hastings Racecourse

Hastings Racecourse, also known as Hastings Park, is a vintage race track that has been around since 1947. We’re not big gamblers but we love spending a sunny afternoon at Hastings Park because of the spectacular views of the North Shore Mountains and its entertaining atmosphere.

It’s free to enter, so we don’t mind putting a few dollars on the ponies, which adds to the excitement of the Hastings experience. Check the race schedule here .

It’s easy to get to Hastings Park by public transit. There’s also plenty of parking at Hastings Racecourse.

Hastings Racecourse is located beside the Vancouver Coliseum and Playland , Vancouver’s historical amusement park. Note – Playland is only open in the summer and there is an entrance fee.

Related – 25 Awesome Day Trips from Vancouver

Science World, False Creek, Aquabus, Olympic Village

13. Walk, run or cycle the Vancouver Seawall

Did you know Vancouver has the world’s longest uninterrupted waterfront path? This Seaside Greenway stretches 28 km in length, connecting Coal Harbour to English Bay to Kitsilano.

Earlier in this post, we mentioned you should walk the Stanley Park Seawall. We highly recommend you do that section first, if you’re limited on time. However, if you have a few days in Vancouver we recommend you explore other sections of the Vancouver Seawall .

Walking or cycling the Seawall will have you pass many of Vancouver’s famous landmarks, including the Lions Gate Bridge,  Siwash Rock ,  A-maze-ing Laughter  public art display,  Science World  (picture above), BC Place (Football and soccer stadium), Rogers Arena (NHL hockey stadium), Olympic Village, Granville Island, Burrard Bridge and Kitsilano Beach .

Here’s a printable map of the Seawall .

bright red colourful autumn trees in Yaletown Seawall Vancouver

Colourful autumn trees on the Seawall in Yaletown, a downtown Vancouver neighbourhood.

Lions Gate Bridge facing North Shore Mountains, Vancouver, British Columbia

14. Walk across the Lions Gate Bridge

Walking across the Lions Gate Bridge is a different way to experience the city. Lions Gate Bridge connects Stanley Park and Downtown Vancouver with the North Shore, including the city of North Vancouver and West Vancouver.

Lions Gate Bridge has cycling and walking lanes on both sides of the bridge. We recommend you walk north on one side of the bridge, and south on the opposite side. This will give you a variety of photo opportunities.

If you have a vehicle, plan to park at Prospect Point in Stanley Park . From here its a short walk to the south side of the bridge. You can also park your vehicle at Park Royal Mall in West Vancouver if you plan to start from the north side of the bridge.

south side of the Lions Gate Bridge facing North Vancouver BC

Above – south side of the Lions Gate Bridge.

Ambleside Beach Park view from Lions Gate Bridge, West Vancouver

15. Ambleside Beach in West Vancouver

There are several urban beaches in Vancouver. The most popular Vancouver beaches are located in either Stanley Park or English Bay. All of these beaches are free to access, but you may have to pay for parking.

Ambleside Park is located in West Vancouver, across the Burrard Inlet from Stanley Park. We selected Ambleside Beach because it’s an alternative to the main Vancouver beaches. The park has over 8 km (5 miles) of walking trails and the west facing views are perfect for enjoying sunsets.

More popular Vancouver Beaches

  • English Bay Beach – located on Beach Ave in downtown Vancouver’s West End
  • Second Beach – located on the Stanley Park Seawall, west of Lost Lagoon
  • Third Beach – also located in Stanley Park
  • Kitsilano Beach – located in the Kitsilano Beach Park
  • Jericho Beach – located west of Kitsilano in Jericho Beach Park
  • Spanish Banks Beach – located in the West Point Grey neighbourhood
  • Wreck Beach – clothing-optional beach located near the UBC campus

Can you swim in Vancouver beaches?

Yes, you can swim in the Vancouver beaches. However, we wouldn’t recommend you spend a lot of time in the water. As with all city beaches, there’s risk of sewage and pollution from boat/ship traffic.

Popular swimming beaches, including Kitsilano Beach, Jericho Beach and English Bay, were closed in the summer of 2018 to unsafe levels of E. coli bacteria .

Related – Best Things to do Along the Sea to Sky Highway

view of Vancouver city skyline from Stanley Park

16. Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver

While you’re in West Vancouver, we recommend you make a visit to Lighthouse Park, a National Historic Site of Canada . To view the famous Point Atkinson Lighthouse, you will take an easy forest hike on the Lighthouse Park trail , passing some of the largest Douglas Fir trees in Greater Vancouver.

There are several well-marked hiking trails in the park, which are open year-round. Plan to spend 2 hours in the park. We recommend you bring a light picnic and enjoy the stunning ocean views.

Here’s a map of Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver.

17. lonsdale quay market in north vancouver.

Another great place to view the impressive Vancouver skyline is the Lonsdale Quay Market in North Vancouver . The market has a variety of shops selling everything from fresh produce to craft beer to souvenirs. Here’s a list of vendors in the Lonsdale Quay Market .

We recommend you grab a bowl of freshly made soup at the Soup Meister (now The Soup Meister’s Nephew ), a local favourite, and enjoy it outside on the boardwalk (pictured below). After lunch, walk to nearby The Shipyards District. In the summer, the Shipyards hosts a Night Market on Friday evenings.

For the best sunset views, climb to the top of the lookout tower at Lonsdale Quay (see above picture – under the big Q) or walk to nearby Waterfront Park.

To get from Vancouver to the Lonsdale Quay, hop on the 15 minute Seabus ferry at Waterfront Station. 

Related – The best 10 Day road trip from Vancouver

vancouver tourist things to do

18. Cleveland Dam and Capilano Canyon

The Cleveland Dam, located in the Capilano River Regional Park, is a popular free tourist attraction in North Vancouver . There are several hiking trails in the park that lead to views of the dam and Capilano Lake (pictured below). We often hike these trails with our boys and they are fine with the terrain.

The  Capilano Salmon Hatchery is another popular free attraction. It’s a short walk from the Cleveland Dam to the Hatchery or you can drive down Capilano Road to get there. The hatchery is open year round, but late August through to November provides good opportunities to view returning salmon, leaping up the river.

If you’re driving, there’s parking at the Cleveland Dam parking lot on Capilano Road. You can also take public transit from the Lonsdale Quay Market or Park Royal Mall. 

Green house on Capilano Lake, Cleveland Dam, North Vancouver

Views of Grouse Mountain and Capilano Lake from the Cleveland Dam.

vancouver tourist things to do

19. Kitsilano Beach Park

Kitsilano Beach Park, often called ‘Kits’, is one of the most popular beaches in Vancouver, for both locals and visitors. Located at the north edge of the Kitsilano neighbourhood , the beach faces English Bay, downtown Vancouver and the North Shore Mountains (pictured above).

Kitsilano is also home to the outdoor Kitsilano Pool , the longest swimming pool in Canada and Vancouver’s only saltwater swimming pool. The pool is open annually from May to September.

For the best city views, head to Elsje Point. You can access Kitsilano Beach on foot or bike via the Seawall. While there, check out the nearby Vancouver Maritime Museum (adult admission is $13.50) and H.R. MacMillan Space Centre (adult admission is $22.75).

Here’s more info about Kitsilano Beach Park .

vancouver tourist things to do

20. Richmond Night Market

The Richmond Night Market is open from April to October. It’s a fun attraction that’s become an annual summer tradition for many Vancouverites.

Note – entrance to the market is NOT free for adults (it’s free for seniors and kids under 7 years old). However, it only costs $8.00 to enter. Therefore, we feel that price point fits the theme of this blog post. 

The Richmond Night Market is inspired by the bustling night markets found in Asia. It hosts over 100 food stalls and over 200 retail vendors.

We enjoy sampling a variety of street food, like tornado potatoes (pictured above), grilled meat on a stick (see below), takoyaki, steamed dumplings, blooming onions and sweet mango desserts. Prices range between $3-$15 per item.

Richmond Night Market parking is free but it can get quite full on the weekends. We recommend you take the SkyTrain’s Canada Line to Bridgeport Station. Then walk west on River Road. The market is only a couple blocks from the station. Here’s a map of the Canada Line stations .

Related – Foodies Delight at the Richmond Night Market

vancouver tourist things to do

21. Explore Vancouver Chinatown

Vancouver’s Chinatown is actually the third largest in North America by population (behind San Francisco and New York). Vancouver Chinatown is located east of the downtown core. It’s home to many historic sites, retail stores, specialty grocery stores and cafes.

Vancouver Chinatown attractions include the ornate Chinatown Millennium Gate on Pender Street and the Sun Yat-Sen Park, which is the free alternative to the popular Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden (admission is $16 per adult in the summer).

There are plenty of Chinatown restaurants to choose from. A few of our favourite restaurants in Vancouver Chinatown are Phnom Penh , Ramen Butcher and Sai Woo .

Here’s a map of Vancouver Chinatown .

vancouver tourist things to do

22. New Westminster Quay and Boardwalk

If you want to get outside the big city, the New Westminster Quay and boardwalk is a fun day trip from Vancouver .

The River Market is home to several shops and restaurants. New Westminster Pier Park is a scenic riverfront park that connects visitors to the Waterfront Esplanade Boardwalk.

Other things to do in New Westminster include visiting the Fraser River Discovery Centre and Samson V Museum . Or, take a Paddle-wheeler Riverboat Tour on the historical Fraser River.

To get to New Westminster Quay, take the Skytrain Expo Line from downtown Vancouver to New Westminster (here’s a map of the Expo Line stations ). The train takes about 25 minutes. The River Market is located one block south of the New Westminster Skytrain station.

vancouver tourist things to do

23. Photograph the Murals of East Vancouver

If you like street art, you’ll enjoy exploring the backstreets of East Vancouver, specifically the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood on Main Street (between 4th and 14th Avenue). This is where you will find the best street art in Vancouver.

In early August, the city hosts the Vancouver Mural Festival , the largest annual free public art celebration. 

This  interactive map reveals every work of art from the Vancouver Mural Festival, including those made in past years. Here are photos of Vancouver murals from a few years ago .

vancouver tourist things to do

24. Free Vancouver  Walking Tours

You can join free walking tours in Vancouver that visit many of the attractions mentioned in this post.

These tours are a fun way to meet other visitors and get the backstory behind the attractions.

Here’s a list of free walking tours in Vancouver .

Stamamus Chief in Squamish, view of mountain from the waterfront

25. Drive the Sea to Sky Highway to Squamish

Ironically, one of the best things to do in Vancouver is to actually leave Vancouver. The spectacular Sea to Sky Highway is often ranked as one of the best drives in the world. We agree.

Forgive me for stating the obvious, but you’ll need a vehicle to drive the Sea to Sky Highway.

Visitors can pick up a car rental from the Vancouver airport. Book online and save on car rentals here .

Departing from downtown Vancouver, your drive begins by passing through Stanley Park and crossing the Lions Gate Bridge. Continue through West Vancouver to Horseshoe Bay. Stop in Horseshoe Bay Village and grab a coffee. Walk around the village and watch the BC Ferries ships depart from the marina.

Continue your drive to Porteau Cove Provincial Park. Walk to the end of the pier and soak up the views of Howe Sound. Get back in the car and drive past Furry Creek towards Britannia Beach. Stop here if you want to visit the Britannia Mine Museum . Otherwise, continue driving to Squamish.

Related – The best road trip from Vancouver for first time visitors

sea to sky gondola in Squamish British Columbia

Shannon Falls and Sea to Sky Gondola

Before you reach the town of Squamish, stop at Shannon Falls Provincial Park. Check out the impressive waterfalls and nearby Sea to Sky Gondola . You can also hike the  Stamamus Chief trail . It’s a challenging hike but the views at the top are incredible.

The drive from Vancouver to Squamish takes about one hour with no stops. Plan for about 4 hours round trip, with a few stops along the way.

At this point, you can turn around and drive back to Vancouver. Or, depending on how much time you have, you can continue to Whistler . The drive from Squamish to Whistler is about 45 minutes. We recommend you stop at the Tantalus Lookout if the skies are clear.

Related – Best Things to do Along the Sea to Sky Highway

Vancouver skyline from Lions Gate Bridge, Stanley Park

Where to stay in Vancouver

There are plenty of hotels in Vancouver to choose from, ranging from upscale five star hotels to backpacker hostels and everything in between.

  • Search for Vancouver hotels here .
  • Most of the popular Vancouver tourist attractions are located in the downtown area. Consider this when selecting where to stay in Vancouver.
  • Downtown hotels often require additional fees for overnight parking – sometimes as high as $40 per night. Consider this when booking hotels and car rentals .
  • If you prefer to stay closer to the mountains, consider staying at the Lonsdale Quay Hotel or the Holiday Inn North Vancouver .

photo of Lonsdale Quay Market in North Vancouver, free things to do in Vancouver this summer

Vancouver travel tips and things to know

  • Pick up & return car rentals at Vancouver airport. Save on Vancouver car rentals here .
  • If you visit during winter, make sure you have snow tires for mountain drives.
  • Save time and money by riding the Skytrain from Vancouver International Airport to downtown Vancouver. It only takes 25 minutes. Learn how to take the Vancouver Airport Skytrain .
  • Bike sharing is an inexpensive way to get around Vancouver. Learn about Vancouver’s public bike share system here .
  • Check the Vancouver weather forecast before you start your day. The weather in Vancouver can be unpredictable. Plan for rain in the winter months.
  • Here’s a list of things to do in Vancouver at night and during the winter .
  • If you like hard copy travel guides, order a copy of Lonely Planet Vancouver .
  • Here’s an interactive map of Vancouver attractions .

Have you visited Vancouver? What did we miss?

Share your recommendations in the comments below. Our readers thank you!

Read next – Discover the top attractions in North Vancouver, BC

Related posts:.

vancouver tourist things to do

04/02/2019 at 3:16 am

That’s quite a list! I will try and visit these places with my family on our trip in Vancouver next month!

vancouver tourist things to do

04/04/2019 at 9:47 am

I love your detailed and comprehensive recommendations. I have never been to Vancouver but if I go one day I will use your advice for planning my trip. Thanks for sharing!

vancouver tourist things to do

04/20/2019 at 2:43 am

oooh Kitsilano Beach Park! I was there last summer, it was really An amazing trip

vancouver tourist things to do

06/12/2019 at 4:28 am

Thank you so much for this incredible list. We are visiting for our first time in late July 2019 and this will really help us navigate a new area and hopefully make the best of our limited time in Vancouver. Simply awesome. Thank you!

vancouver tourist things to do

08/09/2019 at 7:58 am

I will be visiting canada by next month will surely attempt each of them.

vancouver tourist things to do

05/26/2020 at 1:42 pm

This is a great list and I am traveling to Vancouver once the Canadian & US border opens back up. I cant wait to visit Canada in general, it looks so beautiful.

vancouver tourist things to do

06/08/2020 at 5:02 pm

Wow! So helpful! Thank you so much

vancouver tourist things to do

06/16/2020 at 4:19 pm

This is a great, comprehensive list! I’m definitely saving and sharing this one.

vancouver tourist things to do

05/08/2021 at 7:25 am

Beautiful pictures you shared. And this is a great informative article.

vancouver tourist things to do

09/03/2023 at 10:02 pm

It’s wonderful to see how many fantastic experiences one can have without breaking the bank in this beautiful city. From exploring Stanley Park to enjoying the vibrant culture of Granville Island, your suggestions cover a wide range of interests. I particularly appreciate the insider tips on free festivals and events. Vancouver is a must-visit destination, and your article is a valuable resource for anyone looking to make the most of their trip without spending a fortune. Thanks for sharing these great ideas!

vancouver tourist things to do

09/11/2023 at 12:39 am

I absolutely love this list of free things to do in Vancouver! It’s a treasure trove of budget-friendly activities for both locals and tourists. From exploring Stanley Park’s iconic Seawall to enjoying the vibrant Granville Island Public Market, your suggestions cover a wide range of interests. The inclusion of lesser-known gems like Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge and the VanDusen Botanical Garden offers a fresh perspective on the city’s attractions. Thanks for compiling this fantastic resource for anyone looking to make the most of their time in Vancouver without breaking the bank!

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vancouver tourist things to do

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Immerse yourself in interactive indoor and outdoor displays, inspirational feature exhibitions, jaw-dropping live science demonstrations, and larger-than-life OMNIMAX® films.  Read More

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The Vancouver Maritime Museum is a fun, family-friendly place to explore and learn about the sea and the ships that sail it. Kids can imagine, create and play in Underwater World, and the whole family can explore galleries and exhibits that chronicle the rich maritime history of the Pacific Northwest and the Arctic.  Read More

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Step aboard one of our old-fashioned horse-drawn vehicles and meander in comfort through the natural beauty of Stanley Park.  Read More

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Sea otters, sea lions, snakes and sloths…plus 65,000 other aquatic creatures, await your arrival at Canada’s largest aquarium. Long-established as a global leader in marine research, education and conservation.

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15 things to do in and around Vancouver this spring that prove it's the best season

S pringtime in Vancouver is one of the best seasons in the city with temperatures finally warming up, flower festivals in full swing, and loads of fun events you can enjoy.

Whether you like trying out new food, going on hikes, or checking out the stunning flowers blooming in the city, there's so much going on in the city this season!

Here are 15 things to do in and around Vancouver this spring.

Abbotsford Tulip Festival

Cost: $8 - $25

Address: 3663 Marion Rd.

Hours of Operation: 8 a.m. until dusk

Why You Should Go: The 2024 Abbotsford Tulip Festival is now underway, meaning you can get some great photos with vibrant blooms all around you.

The tulip fields span 28 acres and have over 100 varieties of tulips so you're bound to get stunning views during your visit.

Cherry Blossom Festival

Cost: Free (with the exception of the Sakura Days Japan Fair)

Address: Events are around the city, you can take a look at the calendar to see what's happening

Why You Should Go: The 2024 Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival runs until April 25 so you still have time to check it out.

The festival celebrates spring as over 40,000 cherry trees bloom across the city.

The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival has over 20 cherry blossom-themed community events, including one of the most popular ones, the Sakura Days Japan Fair happening on April 13 and 14.

Cypress Falls

Address: Woodgreen Pl, West Vancouver

Hours of Operation: 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Why You Should Go: With the weather warming up, there's no shortage of beautiful hikes and walks you can go on.

Cypress Falls Park located in West Vancouver offers easy trails and stunning views with the old-growth evergreen trees and waterfalls.

Capilano Suspension Bridge

Cost: $59.95 - $66.95 (adults 18-64) and $48.25 - $53.95 (students 18+)

Address: 3735 Capilano Rd.

Hours of Operation: 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Why You Should Go: If you want to spend a day in nature, you can take a trip to the Capilano Suspension Bridge where you'll be rewarded with incredible views of the Capilano River and forest.

Bike around Stanley Park

Address: Downtown Vancouver

Hours of Operation: 6 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Why You Should Go: Stanley Park is Vancouver's largest and most popular park.

You can spend hours enjoying scenic views of the water, mountains and majestic trees along Stanley Park's famous Seawall.

There are trails, wildlife, beaches, restaurants and historical landmarks scattered around the park.

Take a ferry ride to Victoria

Cost: $15.60 - $89.90

Address: Downtown Victoria

Why You Should Go: If you're looking for a fun day trip, you can hop on a ferry and visit B.C.'s capital city.

Victoria, located on Vancouver Island, offers scenic views of the ocean and mountains and there's plenty to do downtown during your visit.

You can head to the BC Legislature, walk along the harbour, enjoy a meal at any of the countless cafes and restaurants and walk through Victoria's historic Chinatown.

If you have the time you can also visit The Butchart Gardens, which was just named among the most beautiful flower fields in the world.

Richmond Night Market

Address: 8351 River Rd.

Hours of Operation: Evenings on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and long-weekend Mondays

Why You Should Go: The 2024 Richmond Night Market kicks off on April 26 and runs until October 14, 2024.

The market features over 600 international food options and over 100 retail booths.

Aside from food, there are live performances from local musicians and dance groups as well as martial arts demonstrations.

Vancouver Farmers Markets

Cost: Entry is free

Address: Various locations

Hours of Operation: Depends on the location

Why You Should Go: Metro Vancouver's Farmers Markets offers a wide assortment of locally grown produce, artisanal crafts and baked goods.

These markets are scattered in and around Vancouver. You can visit the Destination Vancouver website to which ones are currently open.

Visit a Vancouver winery

Address: Depends on the winery

Why You Should Go: April is wine month in BC so what better way to celebrate that and the spring season than heading to a local winery?

There are plenty of wineries you can visit for a flight, including Vancouver Urban Winery and Lulu Island Winery.

BC Distilled Festival

Cost: $74.99 for the main festival ticket

Address: Italian Cultural Centre, 3075 Slocan St., Vancouver

Dates: April 10-13, 2024

Why You Should Go: It's almost time for the BC Distilled Festival which features 200 of the province's finest spirits from 30 local artisan distilleries.

Coast City Country Festival

Address: BC Place, 777 Pacific Blvd

Dates: April 18 - April 20, 2024

Why You Should Go: Kick off the spring season with a country music festival.

Coast City Country Festival is happening in mid-April and will feature performances by some of the biggest country music stars, including Luke Bryan, Nickelback and Dierks Bentley.

Food Truck Wars

Cost: Entry by donation

Address: KPU Langley Campus, 20901 Langley Bypass

Hours of Operation: Varies by the day

Why You Should Go: What better way to celebrate springtime than with a fun-filled food adventure? The 2024 Food Truck Wars will feature over 45 food trucks that will battle it out.

Some of the food trucks that are taking part in the event include Aloha Poke, Bao Buns, Corndog King, Japadog, Old Country Pierogi, Taco Nori and G's Donairs.

Aside from food, there will also be a beer garden, artisan market and live entertainment.

The event runs from April 19 until April 21.

Vancouver Sun Run 10K

Address: Downtown Vancouver, Burrard St & W Georgia St

Date: April 21, 2024

Why You Should Go: Springtime in Vancouver means it's time for the annual Vancouver Sun Run.

Whether you're taking part, volunteering or cheering on the runners, this event is bound to bring a lot of energy to the streets of Vancouver on April 21.

Beautiful BC Art Fair

Cost: Free entry

Address: 1448 Broadway W, Vancouver

Hours of Operation: 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. on April 20, 2024

Why You Should Go: From stunning landscapes to abstract artwork, the Beautiful BC Art Fair has something for all art lovers.

Whether you're looking for a fun family event or to buy some new art for your home, it's worth checking out this free event!

Vancouver Whitecaps game

Cost: From $30

Address: BC Place, 777 Pacific Blvd, Vancouver

Hours: Games start at 7:30 p.m.

Why You Should Go: Soccer fans will be happy to know there are several Vancouver Whitecaps games they can attend this spring.

The B.C. team will host various U.S. teams over the next several weeks, including Inter Miami CF so you may spot Lionel Messi or David Beckham in town ahead of the May 25 match.

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

These prices are confirmed at the time of publishing, but they can change at any time. Taxes and fees may not be included.

15 things to do in and around Vancouver this spring that prove it's the best season

vancouver tourist things to do

LA Times Today: Glorious things to do in Vancouver, the ‘California of Canada’

Watch l.a. times today at 7 p.m. on spectrum news 1 on channel 1 or live stream on the spectrum news app. palos verdes peninsula and orange county viewers can watch on cox systems on channel 99..

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The Planet D: Adventure Travel Blog

34 Incredible Things to Do In Victoria, BC (Our 2024 Guide)

Written By: Sara Oprasic

Published On: April 13, 2024

Set at the end of the mostly wild Vancouver Island, Victoria is a wonderful city on Canada’s west coast. Known for the abundance of outdoor activities and stunning Victorian architecture, it’s a place where colonial history is intertwined with indigenous culture. I lived in Victoria, BC, for a year and got to explore all the great things that it has to offer. These are all my personal recommendations.

Attend high tea for brunch and then head to Chinatown for dinner while stopping by the harbor to watch seals and gigantic cruisers. Victoria is a city that can offer something to everyone because it has it all, from excellent art galleries to thrilling ziplines and hiking trails. 

Top Thing to do in Victoria BC

Whether you’re in town for a day or a week, you won’t struggle to fill your itinerary with fun activities. With my insider knowledge, I compiled this guide of the top things to do in Victoria BC that will help you put together the best itinerary! 

Best Things To Do In Victoria BC

Best Thing To Do In Victoria BC

Victoria BC is known for its expansive botanical gardens, whale-watching tours, and vast parks. The majority of the city’s best attractions are outdoors, making it a top destination for travelers who love exploring off the beaten path. 

But don’t let that fool you; Victoria also offers an endless amount of things to do indoors, including a haunted manor with a pinball machine and some of the best museums in British Columbia. 

Best of Victoria BC Quick Guide

  • Must See: Chinatown, Royal BC Museum, Craigdarroch Castle, Beacon Hill Park, Parliament Buildings,  Afternoon Tea
  • Where To Stay: Ocean Island Inn , Fairmont Empress , The Oak Bay Beach Hotel
  • Fun To Do: Whale Watching, Zipline Tours, Mount Douglas, Boat Tours, Kayaking
  • Day Trips: Fort Rodd Hill, Thetis Lake Park, Malahat SkyWalk 
  • Must-Try Foods: Wild Salmon, Dungeness Crab, Bannock Bread, Chinese food 

1. Guided Walking Tour of Victoria

Things to do in Victoria BC Walking Tour

Victoria is a gorgeous city with many stunning buildings. Of course, if it’s your first visit, you won’t be familiar with the purpose of many of those buildings, and you might miss out on some gems that are open for visitors. 

Arrange a guided tour with a local, and you’ll not only be taken to all the best spots in the city but also learn the history behind some of its best architectural gems. Most walking tours of Victoria cover the city’s best neighborhoods and streets, including the famous Government Street and Fan Tan Alley. 

My favorite walking tours of Victoria also allow you to discover the city’s culinary scene. Strolling around the city will burn quite a few calories, and what better way to make up for them than to indulge in Victoria’s specialties in its best restaurants? 

Practical Information 

Walking tours of Victoria usually take 2-3 hours and cost $60-100 per participant. 

2. Royal BC Museum 

Things to do in Victoria BC Royal BC Museum

The Royal BC Museum is Victoria’s best and most popular museum. If you have time to visit only one museum or gallery while you’re in the city, make it this one. It has three main galleries: Natural History, the First Peoples Gallery, and Becoming BC. 

Come here to learn about the indigenous people of British Columbia, as well as about the state’s general history and how it evolved over the years. Younger visitors are more likely to enjoy the Natural History gallery, which features dinosaur skeletons and models of various animals. 

Plan to spend at least a couple of hours at this museum, and that’s if you’re going to rush through the place. If you take your time with each exhibit, the visit can easily last 3-4 hours. Also, I must mention that the museum has a nice IMAX theater, where you can attend screenings of nature documentaries as well as blockbuster films. 

Practical Information

The Royal BC Museum is open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM. Admission is $18 for adults, and attending IMAX screenings is an extra $12. 

3. Tour The Fantastic Craigdarroch Castle

Things to do in Victoria BC Craigdarroch Castle

Craigdarroch Castle is one of the prettiest Victorian buildings in Victoria and a very popular historical landmark. It was originally built by Robert Dunsmuir, a coal magnate, during the late 19th century. 

Visit the castle and go on a guided tour of the premises to see opulent period furniture, beautiful decorations, and lovely stained-glass windows. The building is magnificent both inside and out, and it’s one of the best locations for architecture tours in Victoria. 

The castle is situated in Rockland, roughly a 30-minute walk (or 10-minute bike ride) from Downtown Victoria. 

Craigdarroch Castle is open for tours Wednesday through Sunday, from 10 AM to 4 PM. Guided tours are $20.60 for adults, and tickets can be bought online or at the entrance. 

4. Rent A Bicycle

Things to do in Victoria BC Rent a Bicycle

Victoria BC is known as Canada’s cycling capital, and it’s one of the most bike-friendly cities in the Pacific Northwest. Bike rentals are available throughout the town, and many accommodations offer them to their guests. 

Cycling around Victoria is not just great for getting around the town quickly for very little money, but also a super way of immersing yourself in the local culture. Not to mention that it’s usually faster than traveling by bus, plus you won’t have to worry about rush hour traffic. 

If you’re in great physical condition, you might even be able to bike to attractions far outside the city center, and you’d get to see some wonderful scenery along the way. And if spending several hours on a bicycle isn’t all that appealing, consider it for a quick tour of Downtown Victoria at least. 

Bikes are available for hire in multiple spots throughout the town. The average price is $40 per day, although you can get a better rate when you rent a bike for a longer period. 

5. Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

Things to do in Victoria BC Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria is a wonderful mid-size gallery housed in two distinct spaces. One part of the gallery is in a new, modern building, while the other sits inside the historic Spencer Mansion. 

Come to this gallery to admire a sizeable collection of gorgeous art, including pieces from Canada and Asia. In fact, the gallery’s garden even has a Shinto shrine that all visitors are encouraged to see. It’s one of Victoria’s best attractions for lovers of art, history, and architecture. 

The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria is open from 10 AM to 5 PM and charges a $15 entrance fee. However, admission is free on the first Sunday of the month and on Thursday evenings from 5 PM to 9 PM. 

6. Tour The Parliament Buildings 

Things to do in Victoria BC Parliament Buildings

The Legislative Assembly of British Columbia is hands down one of the most stunning government buildings I’ve seen in my entire life. For me, the buildings look like they were plucked from a European city and transported to Victoria. 

But they weren’t; the Parliament Buildings were constructed in neo-Baroque style at the end of the 19th century right here. The entire park between Government Street and Menzies Street is a fabulous place where you can enjoy some of the best architecture in the city. 

See the fountains, the impeccable landscaping, and all the different memorial statues. You can even join a guided tour to see the impressive interior of these magnificent buildings. It will cost you nothing, and it will undoubtedly enrich your experience in Victoria, BC. 

Free guided tours of the Parliament Buildings in Victoria take place several times throughout the day, between 8:30 AM and 4:30 PM. 

7. Picnic at Beacon Hill Park

Things to do in Victoria BC Beacon Hill Park

Beacon Hill is a sprawling public park separating James Bay from Fairfield. It is easily accessible from central Victoria and one of the best destinations in the city if you want to spend a couple of hours in nature but aren’t quite in the mood for an excursion that includes traveling far outside the city center. 

Featuring ponds, walking trails, and landscaped gardens, Beacon Hill is an oasis amid this concrete jungle. It has everything from totems to peacocks, and coming here is a must for understanding why Victoria and British Columbia, in general, are known for fantastic natural landmarks and outdoor activities. 

Beacon Hill Park is open daily from 8 AM to 8 PM. Entrance to the park is free of charge. 

8. Walk Through Historic Fan Tan Alley

Things to do in Victoria BC Fan Tan Alley

Fan Tan Alley is a historic alleyway in Victoria’s Chinatown district. It is lined with restaurants and boutique shops on either side, which offer some excellent shopping and dining in the city. Here, you’ll find shops that sell everything from Matcha tea to crystals and incense, so it’s definitely a place you should check out if you’re looking for unique souvenirs to buy in Victoria. 

However, I will say that this experience is entirely skippable if you’re even a little bit claustrophobic. The alley is so narrow that passing next to someone isn’t always possible, and the buildings are tall enough to cause discomfort to people who don’t like confined spaces.

But if you can navigate the tight alley without a sense of dread, it will be a top experience. The red and green storefronts are charming and go wonderfully with the exposed red brick of the buildings. The entrance to the Chinese Canadian Museum is here, and although it is small, the exhibit is interesting and worth supporting.  

Fan Tan Alley is free to access at any time, but most shops are closed until 5 p.m. 

9. Visit Fort Rodd Hill

Things to do in Victoria BC Fort Rodd Hill

Fort Rodd Hill is a National Historic Site best known for the Fisgard Lighthouse. The oceanfront park offers walking trails with views of old military structures, but it’s the Fisgaard lighthouse that attracts the bulk of visitors to the site. 

Climb the stairs to the top of the lighthouse to experience fantastic panoramic vistas. On clear sunny days, the view stretches all the way to the Olympic Mountains in Washington on one side and the San Juan Islands on the other. 

Fort Rodd Hill is accessible from 10 AM to 4 PM, with an admission fee of $9.

10. Hike To The Top of Mount Douglas 

Things to do in Victoria BC Top of Mount Douglas

Mount Douglas is a hill north of Victoria City and a great place to come for 360° panoramic views. You can cycle to the foot of the hill in about 50 minutes from central Victoria, and from there, it’s just a 30-minute hike to the lookout point at the top. There’s even a parking lot at the summit, so you can just drive up to the scenic point if you’re not in the mood for an uphill walk.  

The vista from the lookout point is one of the best in Victoria BC and it stretches into the United States. Also, multiple hiking trails are available at Mount Douglas, and you could spend a couple of hours roaming exploring the area, and marveling at the nice views. But if you’re in a rush, it’s good to know that this activity is doable in about an hour from downtown Victoria. 

Mount Douglas Park is open for visitors from 12 PM to 8 PM. Entrance to the area is free of charge, and parking at the top is also free but very limited. 

11. Historic Tours at Hatley Castle

Things to do in Victoria BC Hatley Castle

Hatley Castle is situated in Greater Victoria, roughly a 20-minute drive (or 50-minute bike ride) from the city center. It is absolutely worth the hassle it takes to get there because the place is phenomenal. The early 20th-century castle was previously used as a residence and a naval training site and nowadays is a historic park. 

Can you imagine that people actually lived in this fantastic mansion? Even today, parts of it are used as office space and to hold classes, so you can’t just walk inside whenever you like. Visitors must sign up for guided tours to explore the interior of the mansion, but the formal gardens are accessible for free throughout the day. 

Guided tours of Hatley Castle are available upon reservation and are $22 per participant. The gardens are open from 10 AM to dusk, and access is free of charge. 

12. Swimming At Thetis Lake Regional Park

Things to do in Victoria BC Thetis Lake Regional Park

Thetis Lake Regional Park is the first nature sanctuary in Canada known for hiking trails and beaches on the lakeshore. Come here in the summer to relax in the unspoiled nature of British Columbia and enjoy some fantastic panoramic views. 

It’s a 15-minute drive from Victoria and an excellent place to come if you want to escape the crowds of the urban jungle. Pack a food basket and bring a blanket so you can set up a picnic with panoramic views of the lake after a day full of hiking and swimming. Thetis Lake Regional Park is a great destination for nature lovers in Victoria who want to explore beyond the city streets.  

Thetis Lake Regional Park is accessible at any time. There is no admission fee, but there is a parking fee of $2.25 per day. 

13. Bike Along The Galloping Goose Trail

Things to do in Victoria BC Galloping Goose Trail

This fun activity is only for the most avid hikers and mountain bikers, so skip it if you have zero interest in riding a mountain bike for 50+ miles. But if that sounds fun, the Galloping Goose Trail might just be the top Victoria activity for you! 

The trail follows an old railway line for roughly 55 miles from Victoria to Sooke. It’s 55 miles for the out-and-back journey, so you can cover this trail and be back in town for dinner if you’re fast enough on a mountain bike. 

This historic trail passes through urban and rural areas, as well as wilderness. You can follow the entire trail on a bike, or hike just a part of it. You can even choose to ride horses along the more rural sections of the trail, which is as much fun as it sounds. 

The Galloping Goose Trail is 55 miles for the return journey. This MTB route is recommended only for experienced mountain bikers in excellent physical conditions, as it takes roughly 5 hours to complete. 

14. Walk To The Breakwater Lighthouse 

Things to do in Victoria BC Breakwater Lighthouse

The Breakwater Lighthouse sits at the end of a long pedestrian pathway that extends into the sea. As you stroll from James Bay to the lighthouse, you’ll get a good view of all the cruise ships and ferries that depart Victoria’s inner harbor. The walking path offers a good view of the city’s marine traffic, and it’s particularly enjoyable on warm, sunny days. 

The lighthouse at the end of the pathway dates back to 1916, and it’s surprisingly big. It doesn’t look that big from the distance, but the closer you get to it the more you’re impressed by its size. 

One thing to note is that it’s possible to walk down the Breakwater and the Lower Breakwater. I recommend you stick to the regular walking path that is fenced off. The lower path features no fence, and the concrete blocks are often very slippery. 

The Breakwater walking path is accessible at any time of day or night, free of charge. 

15. Wander Around Victoria Butterfly Gardens

Things to do in Victoria BC Victoria Butterfly Gardens

Situated roughly a 20-minute drive from the city center, the Victoria Butterfly Gardens is a great place to come and forget you’re in Canada for an hour. It’s an indoor tropical forest with free-flying butterflies and birdlife, not to mention all the different trees and flowers. 

You could tour the place quickly in under an hour, but I’m positive you’ll want to spend more time at the gardens once you pass through the front door. Also, I really like that all the animals here are rescues or donations, and are thriving in the lush rainforest environment. 

One thing to note is that it gets really hot in the tropical jungle, so you might need to take breaks if you stay there for a while. Make sure to bring a bottle of water to hydrate, and step outside every now and then to cool down a bit.

Victoria Butterfly Gardens has an entrance fee of $19.50 for adults. It’s open daily from 10 AM to 4 PM. 

16. Play Mini Golf in a Haunted Manor

Things to do in Victoria BC Mini Golf in a Haunted Manor

Haunted Manor mini golf is not an activity for everyone, so feel free to leave it off your itinerary if it’s not something you’re likely to enjoy. But if you like mini golf or ping pong and you’re into haunted houses and ghost tours, it’s a very fun way of spending an evening in Victoria. 

The mansion offers an 18-hole minigolf course, pinball machines, and ping-pong tables. The on-site bar and restaurant serve a selection of (non) alcoholic drinks and classic pub food. 

Haunted Manor is open from 3 PM to 12 AM. General admission to the place is $24.95. 

17. Feel Classy At Afternoon Tea

Things to do in Victoria BC Afternoon Tea

Victoria was once a British Colony, and today it’s recognized as the most British city in Canada. So, it’s not too surprising that many popular British traditions have survived in the city. One of those is high tea, and it’s the perfect afternoon activity for travelers who want to spend an afternoon feeling fancy. 

There are quite a few different tea houses in Victoria, but I think the one at Pendray Inn is a top choice for tourists in the city. It’s in a charming Victorian mansion in James Bay, so just a short walk from the downtown. The elegant interior of the tea house is perfectly appropriate for high tea, while the food and drinks served there get only the highest markings. 

Once you’re done with the afternoon tea, take this opportunity to walk around the neighborhood a bit. The harbor is just a couple of minutes from Pendray Inn with views of the sea and huge ships. 

The Pendray tea house is open daily from 11 AM to 3/4 PM. Reservations are recommended, and the average cost per person is $60-70. A vegan option is available.  

18. Flower Fields at The Butchart Gardens

Things to do in Victoria BC Butchart Gardens

Spanning more than 22 hectares, this vast botanical garden is one of the best-known in British Columbia . With 26 greenhouses, ponds, statues, and multiple eateries, you could spend the better part of the day roaming around the Butchart Gardens . 

One thing I will say is that this is one of the priciest attractions in Victoria, BC, so you might want to leave it off your itinerary if you’re on a tighter budget. With daily tickets going as high as $40, it’s not a place everyone can comfortably enjoy. 

But you can get a much better deal on tickets if you come in the off-season, and honestly, the place is so wonderful I’d say it’s worth the money. Come here to see the endless field of colorful flowers and enjoy possibly the best-scented part of Victoria, BC. 

The Butchart Gardens are open from 9 AM to 4 PM. The adult entrance fee is $25-40, depending on the season.  

19. Landscape Views at Malahat SkyWalk

Things to do in Victoria BC Malahat SkyWalk

Situated northwest of Victoria, just off the Trans-Canada highway, the Malahat SkyWalk offers possibly the best landscape views in British Columbia. It’s only a 30-minute drive from Victoria BC, and well worth the trip if you’ve got access to a car. 

Malahat SkyWalk is a spiral tower on hilly ground in the middle of the forest. From the top, you can see the scenery of both the US and Canada, and it’s such a nice view that you’ll hardly want to leave. 

Malahat SkyWalk is open from 9 AM to 5 PM. Entrance to the spiral tower is charged $36.95. 

20. Be Amazed At Miniature World

Things to do in Victoria BC Miniature World

Miniature World is a unique museum in Victoria, BC. It features miniature dioramas of real-life and fantasy locations and is nicknamed The Greatest Little Show on Earth. The detail in the dioramas is staggering, whether you’re looking at the replica of Toronto in 1915 or the depiction of Camelot. 

A quick tour of the place is possible in 45 minutes, but only if you rush through the place. Take your time to appreciate all the little details and really understand everything about the dioramas, and you could easily spend 2+ hours at the museum. 

Miniature World is open daily from 10 AM to 6 PM. The entrance fee is $19 for adults. 

21. Smell The Flowers at Abkhazi Garden

Things to do in Victoria BC Abkhazi Garden

Victoria is well known for its many gardens and the Abkhazi Garden is one of the best close to the city center. Situated just a 15-minute bike ride from the heart of Victoria, it’s an excellent alternative for travelers who don’t want to go out of their way to see the Butchart Gardens. 

This is a much smaller garden, covering an area of “only” 1.4 hectares. It first started back in 1946, and it took a while for all the plants and trees to grow to their current size. The rhododendrons are the undisputed star of the lovely garden, followed by the tea house and ponds. Afternoon tea at the Abkhazi Garden is a great idea, but I will say that it’s in the same price range as the teahouse at Pendray Inn, but the interior decorations are not quite as nice. 

The Abkhazi Garden is open daily from 10 AM to 4 PM. The admission fee for adults is $10. 

22. Go For A Ride In A Pickle Boat 

Things to do in Victoria BC Pickle Boat

Pickle boat tours are operated by Victoria Harbour Ferry, and they’re awesome. Discover Victoria from the sea while riding in a pickle boat, which sounds a lot cooler than it actually is. 

It’s just a small boat that can fit up to 12 passengers. While I love that it’s much more private than a classic tour boat, I was thoroughly disappointed to learn that it is not indeed shaped and painted like a pickle. 

The small boats will take you on tours of Victoria Harbor, and they often go all the way up to Burnside. It’s a great way of exploring even more of this wonderful city and seeing the areas that are not quite as convenient to reach on classic walking tours. 

Several options are available for tours of Victoria Inner Harbour, and they last from 45 to 75 minutes. The price is around $40-50. 

23. Check Out Fisherman’s Wharf

Things to do in Victoria BC Fishermans Wharf

Fisherman’s Wharf is the most picturesque area of Victoria Inner Harbour. The piers are lined with floating houseboats painted in bright colors, several of which serve as restaurants or shops. Just keep in mind that people live in many of those houseboats, so respect their privacy while exploring the area.  

As you stroll down the piers, you can often spot seals swimming in the water. They love the attention they get from visitors and often engage in playful antics to entertain the onlookers. 

Fisherman’s Wharf extends beyond the piers lined with colorful boats to encompass an expansive park with picnic areas and a playground for kids. 

Fisherman’s Wharf is free and accessible at any time. Most shops and restaurants are open until 7 PM. 

24. Morning Jog Down Songhees Walkway

Things to do in Victoria BC Songhees Walkway

Songhees Walkway is a waterfront walking path that extends from Johnson Street Bridge to Sailor’s Cove Marina. It takes around 40 minutes to do the entire walk in one direction, and there are plenty of benches along the way so you can sit down for breaks. 

The walkway offers nice views of Victoria Inner Harbor with plenty of scenic viewpoints along the way. It’s also a great path for joggers in the morning, but only if you’re not easily distracted by the view. 

Songhees Walkway is accessible at any time for free. The walking path extends for about 3 kilometers in one direction. 

25. Join a Food Tour 

Things to do in Victoria BC Food Tour

Locals always know where the best food in their city is, and you’ll become privy to that knowledge if you join a local food tour. These usually include trips to the city’s best landmarks and plenty of stops in popular local eateries along the way. 

The cuisine of Victoria, BC, is diverse. The classical local cuisine is heavy on seafood, but a proper Victoria food tour will include much more than what is considered traditional Canadian food . After all, it’s the city with the oldest Chinese neighborhood in Canada, and no culinary tour of Victoria is complete without a stop there.  

Food tours of Victoria, BC, usually last 2-3 hours. The starting price is $60. 

26. Admire the Aircraft at The BC Aviation Museum

Things to do in Victoria BC Aviation Museum

The BC Aviation Museum is at Victoria Airport, so you should have at least two opportunities to visit it. It’s also a great incentive to arrive at the airport early and ensure you don’t miss your flight. 

The museum exhibit spans three hangars full of historic and modern aircraft. Helicopters, warplanes, and aircraft engines are all on display at this museum. If you’re offered a guided tour of the museum, take it. You’ll get to learn so much about the aircraft on display, and it’s a lot better than just walking around the hangar on your own. 

The BC Aviation Museum is open daily from 10 AM to 4 PM. The entrance fee is $17 for adults. 

27. Go Kayaking or Canoeing 

Things to do in Victoria BC Kayaking

Kayaking and canoeing are both very popular activities in Victoria, BC, and the perfect way to explore the city beyond its busy streets. Join a guided kayaking tour or rent a canoe and take to the seas on your own—whatever your preference is, it shouldn’t be a problem. 

One thing I will say is that guided tours are the best option for people with little experience in kayaks and canoes. The currents here can be unpredictable, and if you’re not familiar with the weather conditions it could become an unpleasant or even dangerous experience. 

The beauty of these water adventures is that they’ll take you to places that would otherwise remain undiscovered. Wave between the small rocky islands and enjoy a different perspective on Victoria’s Inner Harbor. 

Several operates offer kayak and canoe tours in Victoria BC , but Kelp Reef Adventures is one of the most popular. 

28. See the Sakura Trees in Chinatown 

Things to do in Victoria BC Sakura Trees in Chinatown

I’ve mentioned Fan Tan Alley as the central point of Victoria’s Chinatown, but the historic district extends way beyond it. It’s the oldest Chinese neighborhood in Canada and one of the prettiest parts of Victoria. 

A gate marks the entrance to this historic area, so it’s super easy to find. Sakura trees line the streets of Chinatown, and they’re reason enough to consider traveling to Victoria in the spring. The entire neighborhood is also decorated with traditional Chinese lanterns. 

Apart from being aesthetically pleasing, Chinatown is also known for the best Chinese food in Victoria. You’ll also find loads of shops that sell traditional Chinese souvenirs, and you might want to peruse them if you’re in the market for unique souvenirs. 

The historic Chinatown neighborhood is in the northern part of the Downtown district in Victoria BC. 

29. Whale Watching Adventures

Things to do in Victoria BC Whale Watching Adventures

Victoria and British Columbia, in general, are some of Canada’s best spots for whale watching. There must be a dozen tour operators in the city, but my favorite one is Prince of Whales, situated in the Destination Greater Victoria tourism center building in the harbor. 

The experienced operators will take you to the best spots to see whales, orcas, and even seal colonies. But they also know to keep their distance from the animals so they don’t disturb them in their daily routines. 

This operator offers year-round whale-watching experiences in 12-passenger Zodiac boats. With a 95% success rate of the tours, you’re practically guaranteed to spot the majestic mammals. 

Prince of Whales whale-watching tours are available year-round. They start at $150 and last 3-6 hours. 

30. Venture Out To Swan Lake

Things to do in Victoria BC Swan Lake Hooded Merganser Female

Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary is within cycling distance of downtown Victoria. It’s a great place to visit if you don’t want to go to parks that are farther outside the city center but still want to enjoy a short hiking adventure. 

The nature sanctuary features a loop walking path that even crosses the lake at one point. It takes roughly 30 minutes to complete, and it’s a well-maintained and easy walking path suitable for everyone. You don’t have to be an experienced hiker to enjoy the Swan Lake Loop, which will reward you with some beautiful views of the lake and the surrounding forest. 

Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary is open from 10?AM to 4?PM. Admission to the park is free of charge, but the entrance fee to the Nature House museum is a suggested $6 donation. 

31. Totems at Thunderbird Park 

Things to do in Victoria BC Totems at Thunderbird Park

Thunderbird Park is a small public park in central Victoria. Situated right next to the Royal BC Museum, the park is best known for its totem pole replicas and historic houses. 

The totems aren’t quite as spectacular as the ones in Vancouver, but they are still quite a lovely sight. Mungo Martin House is known for its painted exterior, while the Helmcken House Pioneer Doctor’s Residence offers short tours of a surgeon’s house with period furniture. 

Thunderbird Park is free and accessible at any time. 

32. Ziplining in The Forest 

Things to do in Victoria BC Adrenaline Zip

Thrill seekers won’t be let down by the selection of activities in Victoria. Just a 30-minute drive from the Downtown you’ll find Adrenaline Zip – a local company that operates ziplining tours in the rainforest. 

One thing to note is that this is along the way if you embark on the Galloping Goose Trail. The zipline rides are exciting and very fun. The entire adventure takes about two hours, and it includes 8 zipline rides, a suspension bridge, and an ATV ride. 

The ziplining tour starts at $120. For an extra $30, they’ll throw in a shuttle service to Victoria.

33. Ride The Hop On Hop Off Bus

Things to do in Victoria BC Hop On Hop Off Bus

I’m not the biggest fan of Hop-On Hop-Off buses, but I have to admit they’re a great option for travelers who are in town for a very short time. If you’re in Victoria for only a day or two, riding the double-decker bus is great for seeing all the city’s top landmarks in that time. 

The beauty of these buses is that you can get out at any stop, explore the area, and then just get on the bus again. You can even stay seated on the bus the entire time and just sightsee from the comfort of your seat, while the tour guide tells you the story behind the different attractions. 

Buy Hop-On Hop-Off bus tickets for $55 (valid for 24 hours) or $88 (valid for 48 hours).

34. Craft Beer Crawl

Things to do in Victoria BC Craft Beer Market

With more than 20 craft breweries throughout Victoria, the city is truly a great spot for beer lovers. Loads of pubs in the city serve local craft beer, and you can even tour breweries to try the drink right at the source. 

The Craft Beer Market in Victoria Harbor is one of the best pubs in the city. It offers a wide selection of local and international craft beer. They even offer tasting menus, so you can try half a dozen glasses. 

The Whistle Buoy Brewing Company in the Downtown is my top choice for a local brewery tour. 

Pubs in Victoria, BC, are usually open until 9-11 PM and a bit longer on the weekends. 

FAQ For Best Things To Do In Victoria BC

Is victoria, bc, worth visiting.

Yes, Victoria BC is worth visiting. It’s a gorgeous city with stunning Victorian architecture, a picturesque harbor, and a walkable downtown area. 

What is Victoria BC well known for?

Victoria BC is known for many botanical gardens and gorgeous Victorian mansions. The city is also nicknamed the cycling capital of Canada, thanks to countless kilometers of cycling and mountain biking trails. 

What is the #1 tourist attraction in British Columbia?

The Stanley Park Totem Pole is by far the most popular tourist attraction in British Columbia. The Butchart Gardens is the most famous tourist attraction in Greater Victoria. 

Is Victoria BC a walkable city?

Much of Victoria BC is walkable and pedestrian-friendly. However, there are many interesting places outside the downtown that are worth visiting but not accessible on foot. 

Tips And Information For Visiting Victoria BC

Things to do in Victoria BC Tips and Information

Best Time To Visit 

The best time to visit Victoria depends on what your priorities are. If you want to be in the city when it’s warm and sunny, then you should plan a trip in the summer. But expect higher prices of hotels and large crowds of tourists. 

If, on the other hand, you don’t mind walking around in a jacket if it means fewer tourists and better hotel deals, travel to Victoria in April-May or September-October. Just keep in mind that the city gets quite a bit of rainfall in the spring and autumn, so it’s not the ideal period for outdoor activities. 

What about the winter season? Victoria is spectacular in the winter and the temperatures rarely drop below 0 Celsius. It is especially nice there during the Christmas festivities.

Getting There

Victoria International Airport is the closest airport to the city, but it has a direct connection to very few international destinations. The airport in Vancouver, on the other hand, is the second-busiest in the country and chances are it will be your first stop in Canada. 

From there you’ve got loads of options. Local flights, seaplanes, and ferries all make it possible to travel from Vancouver to Victoria . You can even take a bus from the airport to the city, which takes about four hours to reach the destination, with a ferry crossing. 

Getting Around 

Downtown Victoria is a very walkable area and you can visit most attractions in the historic part of the city on foot. Cycling is a great way of getting around the city because you can get to the more remote parts of Greater Victoria in about an hour, plus you won’t have to deal with rush hour traffic as much. 

Bike rentals are available throughout the city and are great for travelers visiting Victoria. Because the city doesn’t have a metro system, buses are the only viable mode of public transport. They’re convenient for traveling around the city but are generally quite slow. 

Uber and taxis are another option for reaching the more remote areas, but they’re also the most expensive way of getting around Victoria. As for car rental, I think it makes sense only if you’re in town for a longer time. Otherwise, it’s really not worth it because most of the best attractions in the city are within walking distance of one another. 

How Much Time Do You Need

Victoria is a pretty big city and I reckon you need at least three days to explore all of the best attractions downtown and a few famous sights in Greater Victoria. I think it’s possible to cover the best landmarks in Victoria in about two days, but you will be in a bit of a rush the entire time. 

Travelers who love being outdoors and exploring nature will have a great time in Victoria. If you can swing five days here, you can have enough time to explore a good chunk of Vancouver Island, much of which is untouched nature. 

Where To Stay In Victoria BC

Stay in Downtown Victoria or the historic James Bay neighborhood for easy walking access to all the best landmarks and attractions in the city. Both areas offer a wide variety of hotels in every price range, as well as loads of interesting tourist attractions. Some of the best hotels in Victoria for all budgets are: 

  • Ocean Island Inn offers budget accommodation with a fantastic location in Downtown Victoria. 
  • Fairmont Empress is one of the best hotels in central Victoria, with lovely views of Victoria Inner Harbor. 
  • The Oak Bay Beach Hotel is a five-star hotel with an oceanfront location. It has a fantastic spa center and large rooms, but it is quite far from the city center. Consider staying at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel if you’re planning a relaxing vacation in Victoria, BC. 

Our BC Resources

  • 30 Awesome Things to Do in Whistler, BC
  • The Best Things to Do in Revelstoke, BC – Besides Skiing
  • 14 Amazing Things to Do in Squamish BC
  • Where to Stay in Vancouver – Best Areas to Stay
  • 36 Best Things to Do in Vancouver, Canada
  • 21 Best Day Trips from Vancouver, British Columbia

Travel Planning Resources

Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.

Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner

Book your Hotel: Find the best prices on hotels with these two providers. If you are located in Europe use and if you are anywhere else use TripAdvisor

Find Apartment Rentals: You will find the cheapest prices on apartment rentals with VRBO . 

Travel Insurance: Don't leave home without it. Here is what we recommend:

  • Allianz - Occasional Travelers.
  • Medjet - Global air medical transport and travel security.

Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.

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2024 federal budget's key takeaways: Housing and carbon rebates, students and sin taxes

Budget sees nearly $53b in new spending over the next 5 years.

vancouver tourist things to do

What's in the new federal budget?

Social sharing.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland today tabled a 400-page-plus budget her government is pitching as a balm for anxious millennials and Generation Z.

The budget proposes $52.9 billion in new spending over five years, including $8.5 billion in new spending for housing. To offset some of that new spending, Ottawa is pitching policy changes to bring in new revenue.

Here are some of the notable funding initiatives and legislative commitments in budget 2024.

Ottawa unloading unused offices to meet housing targets

One of the biggest pillars of the budget is its housing commitments. Before releasing the budget, the government laid out what it's calling Canada's Housing Plan — a pledge to "unlock" nearly 3.9 million homes by 2031.

A man in  a hooded sweatshirt walks past  a row of colourful houses

The government says two million of those would be net new homes and it believes it can contribute to more than half of them. 

It plans to do that by:

  • Converting underused federal offices into homes. The budget promises $1.1 billion over ten years to transform 50 per cent of the federal office portfolio into housing.
  • Building homes on Canada Post properties. The government says the 1,700-plus Canada Post offices across the country can be used to build new homes while maintaining postal services. The federal government says it's assessing six Canada Post properties in Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia for development potential "as a start."
  • Rethinking National Defence properties. The government is promising to look at redeveloping properties and buildings on National Defence lands for military and civilian use.
  • Building apartments. Ottawa is pledging a $15 billion top-up to the Apartment Construction Loan Program, which says it will build 30,000 new homes across Canada.

Taxing vacant land?

As part of its push on housing, the federal government also says it's looking at vacant land that could be used to build homes.

It's not yet committing to new measures but the budget says the government will consider introducing a new tax on residentially zoned vacant land. 

  • Freeland's new federal budget hikes taxes on the rich to cover billions in new spending
  • Are you renting with no plans to buy? Here's what the federal budget has for you

The government said it plans to launch consultations on the measure later this year.

Help for students 

There's also something in the budget for students hunting for housing.

A student with short black hair and wearing a denim jacket reads through university course materials in a seated indoor area on campus, with other students seated and working behind them.

The government says it will update the formula used by the Canada Student Financial Assistance Program to calculate housing costs when determining financial need, to better reflect the cost of housing in the current climate.

The government estimates this could deliver more aid for rent to approximately 79,000 students each year, at an estimated cost of $154.6 million over five years.

  • Updated Federal budget's funding boost for defence spread out over multiple years
  • Liberals pledge $9B in new money for Indigenous communities in 2024 budget

The government is also promising to extend increased student grants and interest-free loans, at an estimated total cost of $1.1 billion this year.

Increase in taxes on capital gains

To help cover some of its multi-billion dollar commitments, the government is proposing a tax hike on capital gains — the profit individuals make when assets like stocks and second properties are sold.

The government is proposing an increase in the taxable portion of capital gains, up from the current 50 per cent to two thirds for annual capital gains over $250,000. 

vancouver tourist things to do

New investment to lead 'housing revolution in Canada,' Freeland says

Freeland said the change would impact the wealthiest 0.1 per cent.

There's still some protection for small businesses. There's been a lifetime capital gains exemption which allows Canadians to exempt up to $1,016,836 in capital gains tax-free on the sale of small business shares and farming and fishing property. This June the tax-free limit will be increased to $1.25 million and will continue to be indexed to inflation thereafter, according to the budget.

The federal government estimates this could bring in more than $19 billion over five years, although some analysts are not convinced.

Disability benefit amounts to $200 per month 

Parliament last year passed the Canada Disability Benefit Act, which promised to send a direct benefit to low-income, working-age people with disabilities. 

Budget 2024 proposes funding of $6.1 billion over six years, beginning this fiscal year, and $1.4 billion per year ongoing, for a new Canada Disability Benefit.

Advocates had been hoping for something along the lines of $1,000 per month per person . They'll be disappointed.

According to the budget document, the maximum benefit will amount to $2,400 per year for low income individuals with disabilities between the ages of 18 and 64 — about $200 a month.

  • Federal government plans to lease public lands for construction through new housing strategy
  • Alberta premier says she's prepared to take Ottawa to court over housing deals

The government said it plans for the Canada Disability Benefit Act to come into force in June 2024 and for payments to start in July 2025.

Carbon rebate for small businesses coming 

The federal government has heard an earful from small business advocates who accuse it of reneging on a promise to return a portion of carbon pricing revenues to small businesses to mitigate the tax's economic costs.

  • What's behind the carbon tax, and does it work?
  • Federal government scales back carbon tax rebates for small businesses

The budget proposes to return fuel charge proceeds from 2019-20 through 2023-24 to an estimated 600,000 businesses with 499 or fewer employees through a new refundable tax credit.

The government said this would deliver $2.5 billion directly to Canada's small- and medium-sized businesses.

Darts and vape pods will cost more 

Pitching it as a measure to cut the number of people smoking and vaping, the Liberals are promising to raise revenues on tobacco and smoking products.

  • Just Asking  wants to know:   What questions do you have about quitting smoking or vaping? Do you think sin taxes will encourage smoking cessation?  Fill out the details on  this form  and send us your questions ahead of our show on April 20.

Starting Wednesday, the total tobacco excise duty will be $5.49 per carton. The government estimates this could increase federal revenue by $1.36 billion over five years starting in 2024-25.

A man exhales vapor while using a vape pen in Vancouver.

The budget also proposes to increase the vaping excise duty rates by 12 per cent effective July 1. That means an increase of 12 to 24 cents per pod, depending on where you live. 

  • 'Stay the hell away from our kids': Health minister vows to restrict nicotine pouches — but how?

Ottawa hopes this increase in sin taxes will bring in $310 million over five years, starting in 2024-25.

More money for CBC 

Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge has mused about redefining the role of the public broadcaster before the next federal election . But before that happens, CBC/Radio-Canada is getting a top-up this year. 

Image of CBC logo on a building, from worm's-eye view.

The budget promises $42 million more in 2024-25 for CBC/Radio-Canada for "news and entertainment programming." CBC/Radio-Canada received about $1.3 billion in total federal funding last year.

The government says it's doing this to ensure that Canadians across the country, including rural, remote, Indigenous and minority language communities, have access to independent journalism and entertainment.

Last year, the CBC announced a financial shortfall, cut 141 employees and eliminated 205 vacant positions. In a statement issued Tuesday, CBC spokesperson Leon Mar said the new funding means the corporation can balance its budget "without significant additional reductions this year."

Boost for Canada's spy agency 

A grey and white sign reading Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

As the government takes heat over how it has handled the threat of foreign election interference, it's promising more money to bolster its spy service.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service is in line to receive $655.7 million over eight years, starting this fiscal year, to enhance its intelligence capabilities and its presence in Toronto.

  • CSIS chief defends his spies' work after PM casts doubt on reliability of agency's reports
  • Trudeau says it's his job to question CSIS intelligence, call out 'contradictions'

The budget also promises to guarantee up to $5 billion in loans for Indigenous communities to participate in natural resource development and energy projects in their territories.

These loans would be provided by financial institutions or other lenders and guaranteed by the federal government, meaning Indigenous borrowers who opt in could benefit from lower interest rates, the budget says. 


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Catharine Tunney is a reporter with CBC's Parliament Hill bureau, where she covers national security and the RCMP. She worked previously for CBC in Nova Scotia. You can reach her at [email protected]

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Everything Vancouver travellers need to know to plan a trip to Thailand

Elana Shepert

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Travellers looking to fly from Vancouver to Thailand can enjoy direct service to the bucket-list destination 

From its vibrant, bustling city streets to its achingly beautiful beaches, Thailand offers some of the best places to soak in local culture, enjoy a wild night out, or lay back on a sparkling white sand shore. 

Bangkok is a great place to explore ancient shrines and taste a variety of street food, boasting sprawling "eating streets" that you'd be hard-pressed to make a considerable dent in. 

While Bangkok is its capital city, there is a vast array of unique travel experiences across the popular Southeast Asia destination. Some of the viewpoints on the country's islands are also said to feature some of the most awe-inspiring sunsets in the world.

Find out everything you need to know about planning your trip to Thailand from Vancouver.

What airlines should I fly with to Thailand?

From Vancouver International Airport (YVR), travellers can fly directly to Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) in Bangkok or via a connecting flight.

Airlines that fly to or partially to Bangkok via one of their airline partners include:

  • ANA (All Nippon Airways)
  • Bangkok Airways
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • China Airlines
  • China Southern
  • JAL (Japan Airlines)
  • KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines)
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Philippine Airlines
  • Qatar Airways
  • Sichuan Airlines
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Thai Airways 
  • Turkish Airlines
  • United Airlines
  • Zipair Tokyo

Travellers may also wish to fly to other airports, such as the Phuket International Airport (HKT).

When should I book my ticket to Thailand?

Tickets to Thailand should generally be booked five or six months in advance. Unless a large airline drops its fares, these tickets tend to increase in price closer to the date of departure. 

It is possible to get tickets for round-trip flights from YVR to BKK for around $1,000 if they are booked in advance. However, these lower-cost tickets typically include one or more stops.

What makes Air Canada's flight from Vancouver to Thailand unique? 

Tourists looking to fly from Vancouver to Thailand this fall can enjoy the only nonstop service in North America to Bangkok.

Air Canada has announced an early start to its seasonal service connecting YVR and BKK . Due to increasing popularity, flights between the cities will commence on Oct. 27; the airline had planned to resume the flight in early December.

From Oct. 27 through the end of November, Air Canada will operate thrice-weekly flights on the route on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Fridays. Starting in December and continuing through March 2025, the airline will ramp up its service to five flights weekly. 

Flights cost around $2,000 from Vancouver but offer the only way for locals to get to Thailand without making at least one stop. 

When is the best time of year to visit Thailand? 

Most people advise visiting Thailand between November and March when the monsoon rains have dissipated. However, this is also when most people visit. 

September, October, and April are also good choices to avoid crowds.

Is it safe to visit Thailand? 

While it is one of the most popular destinations for Canadian tourists, the government urges travellers to exercise a high degree of caution when visiting the country. 

The Thailand travel advisory includes regional risks in the southern provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani, Songkhla, and Yala. People should avoid all travel to the "unpredictable security situation" with periodic violent attacks by separatist grounds that include shootings, bombings and arson. While the attacks are typically directed at the government, bystanders could get caught in the crossfire or be in a targeted building. 

Martial law and "heavily enhanced security measures" are in place In Narathiwat, Pattani, Yala, and Sadao District in Songkhla

Increased enforcement powers allow authorities to:

  • detain suspects without charge
  • conduct searches
  • seize objects or documents
  • impose curfews

Travellers must also exercise a high degree of caution In the Myanmar border areas in the provinces of Mae Hong Son and Tak where there is "occasional violence, banditry and clashes between government forces and drug traffickers." Border-crossing points may also be closed without notice. 

Thailand and Cambodia dispute the borders in the Preah Vihear Temple area and the surrounding border region; there are reports of landmines in the temple area. 

Exercise a high degree of caution if you are travelling to any other Thai–Cambodian border areas.

The Canadian government warns that Political tensions have created an "unpredictable security environment throughout the country, particularly in Bangkok." 

The advisory notes that legal provisions may allow the military to retain and exercise sweeping powers at any time that could include the right to:

  • prevent public gatherings
  • censor media
  • set up checkpoints
  • restrict movement
  • search for weapons
  • exercise force in response to violence

Some television channels, radio stations, and websites may be unavailable, and access to social media services may be intermittently suspended.

Public demonstrations are common and may turn violent at any time. There is also a threat of terrorism and small-scale bomb attacks have occurred in public places throughout the county. 

Petty crime is also common throughout the country, including pick-pocketing and purse snatching. Thieves may use razors to cut purse straps. Thefts also occur on cross-country buses and vans and personal belongings are stolen from luggage compartments under buses. Travellers should only use reputable companies.

ATM scams and fraud are common and should be reported to local police. Be cautious when using debit or credit cards.

Road collisions are common across Thailand due to poorly maintained roads, adverse weather conditions, and disregard for laws. Travellers should avoid driving on mountain roads at night. Many roads are "impassable" during the rainy season. 

Motorcycles Rental scooters and motorcycles are often poorly maintained, making them unsafe for their riders and others on the road.

Important considerations for water activities in Thailand for tourists to know

Tourists planning on spending time in the water need to consider several risks. 

According to the Canadian government, people have died after coming in contact with poisonous jellyfish off Koh Lanta, Koh Pha Ngan, Koh Phi Phi, Krabi, and Phuket.

Several deaths from drowning have occurred in popular coastal areas. People have been caught in riptides in Cha-am/Hua Hin, Koh Samui, Pattaya, Phuket, and Rayong. 

Diving schools and rescue services may not adhere to international standards. Canada advises the following to stay safe:

  • Rent water sports equipment only from operators affiliated with major international training organizations
  • Exercise extreme caution when swimming or practicing water activities
  • Heed flag warnings and don’t swim when a red flag is displayed
  • If stung by a jellyfish, seek immediate medical assistance

Similarly, travellers who plan to enjoy any adventure tourism, whether on land or sea, should exercise caution. Always choose a reputable tour company or operator with insurance. If you doubt the safety of the installation or equipment, do not use them. 

Do I need to get any special travel vaccines ahead of visiting Thailand?

Visit a  travel medical clinic  before you book a ticket. The healthcare professionals will inform you about what vaccinations you require and what you can expect on your trip. 

There is a risk of contracting chikungunya in Japan, which is a disease spread by mosquitoes; it typically causes fever and pain in the joints and this pain "can be severe and last for months or years."

Do I require a visa to visit Thailand?

Tourists do not require a visa for stays up to 30 days in Thailand. 

You can stay for up to 60 days if you obtain a multiple-entry tourist visa. The visa is valid for six months and must be obtained before travelling.

Your passport must be valid at least six months upon entry into Thailand.

What kind of activities can I enjoy in Thailand?

Floating markets are one of the most popular attractions in Bangkok, bringing locals and tourists together to shop from passing boats in the rivers.

Tourists can also take the river shuttle boat up the Chao Phraya River, known as the River of Kings. The important waterway brings people to noteworthy attractions such as the Grand Palace. Visitors to the palace must adhere to a strict dress code. 

Phuket, one of Thailand's most popular vacation spots, is a lush, mountainous island in the Andaman Sea. It offers some of the country's most breathtaking beaches with sparkling turquoise waters. 

Thailand's crystal-clear waters offer the perfect playground for water activities, including diving, snorkelling, surfing, and stand-up paddleboarding. 

How much money will I spend on accommodation?

Accommodation prices vary dramatically across Thailand, ranging from ultra-budget options to posh hotels. However, most places are reasonably prices, with only a handful of options exceeding the $200+ range.

Cost-conscious travellers can find places to lay their head starting at under $10, although they shouldn't expect a lavish stay. For instance, a one-night stay at the  Matchbox Bangkok Hostel ranges from $9 to $20 and has an " excellent" rating on Tripadvisor based on $141 reviews. It's an ideal place for backpackers who don't mind sleeping in dorm-style accommodation with a shared lounge, bathrooms, and a kitchen.

On the other end of the spectrum, the  Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok offers a lavish oasis in the heart of Bangkok starting at upwards of $400 for a night's stay. The five-star hotel offers a luxurious spa, Thai-inspired fine dining with modern elements, and elegant rooms.

Numerous options cost under $100 and provide a private stay in the heart of Bangkok. Always read reviews before booking and keep in mind that some options may be more secure than others. 

Find more information about exciting destinations in B.C. and across the globe, as well as travel deals and tips, by signing up for  V.I.A.'s weekly travel newsletter The Wanderer . Since travel deals can sell out, find out the day they are posted by signing up for our  daily Travel Deals newsletter.

Want to learn more about a specific destination or simply have a travel concern or idea that you would like V.I.A. to write about? Email us at  elana@vancouverisawesome . Send us stories about recent holidays that you've been on, or if you have any tips you think our readers should know about. 

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