There is so much to see and do in Vancouver. You could fill a week up exploring Vancouver and the surrounding area. Therefore, know what is available to do before you go!
Side note: I definitely recommend renting a bike to see a lot of Vancouver. Many of the sights to see are along the Vancouver Seawall and the bike trail that surrounds Stanley Park, the city and Granville Island. Therefore, biking is a great way to see a lot of what Vancouver has to offer!
1. Stanley Park
Rent your bike and head toward Stanley Park! Stanley Park is a forested park northwest of Vancouver. The park is surrounded by a seawall and bike trail, making it easily accessible. There are also trails and other attractions within the park including:
- Prospect Point lookout
- Lions Gate Bridge
- English Bay Beach
- Vancouver Seawall
- Vancouver Aquarium
- Totem Poles and more!
2. Bike around the Vancouver Seawall
The seawall is just as it sounds; it is a stone wall constructed along Stanley Park and other waterfront property of Vancouver to prevent erosion. It follows the trail around the peninsula and is heavily populated by bikers, skaters, joggers and more. The seawall has been extended multiple times with just under half surrounding Stanley Park, and it is now one the the world’s longest uninterrupted waterfront walkways!
3. Stop and see Lions Gate Bridge
Lions Gate Bridge is a typical suspension bridge that connects Stanley Park to the North Shore of Vancouver. You have views of the bridge in multiple areas of Vancouver. If you are biking along the seawall of Stanley Park you won’t miss it! Access to the bridge is near Prospect Point in Stanley Park.
4. Visit English Bay Beach
English Bay beach is located near the West End neighborhood of Vancouver and is a popular location for sunbathing and swimming. It is located just off the Vancouver Seawall and its trail near downtown. Due to its location, it is a great place to watch the sunset!
5. Climb to the Vancouver Lookout at Harbour Centre
Want 360 degree views of Vancouver? Take a quick ride in the glass elevator to the lookout point at Harbour Centre. You can continue enjoying the views at the revolving restaurant located at the top of the building. Costs are typically about $16 to ride to the top.
*Currently closed to walk-in traffic due to COVID. However, you can book private tours at this time, but the price is steep. For more information and for tickets, click here!*
6. Granville Island Market
Granville Island is actually a peninsula, but thats irrelevant. It is a shopping district with a large public market located south of Vancouver, just over the Granville Street Bridge. And, in good news, the island is accessible by bike!
There are many restaurants, boutiques and arts and crafts stores. For more information on available shops, hours and events visit Granvilleisland.com!
7. Explore Gastown
Gastown is a neighborhood in the north section of East Vancouver. It was the original settlement of Vancouver and is now a historic district. Gastown is a cute neighborhood with its cobblestone streets and unique architecture! Full of great dining, shopping and a strong nightlife, Gastown is a growing and popular place to visit for locals and toursits.
Two of the most noticeable sights of Gastown include the Steam Clock and the Flatiron building, aka Hotel Europe.
8. Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge
One of the larger and most popular suspension bridges near Vancouver is the Capilano Suspension bridge. However, it also costs ~$46 per person to visit the bridge. Therefore, my suggestion is to skip it and go to Lynn Canyon suspension bridge in North Vancouver for FREE. You can get to the bridge via bus 210, take a ferry/sea bus to lower Lonsdale and then jump on bus 228 or taxi. A taxi ride is your fastest route at 22 minutes, but also your most expensive between $30-40. Busing or ferrying/busing takes between an hour and an hour and a half, but will only cost ~$5-10. For more information on how to get there, visit Rome2Rio.com.
9. Vandusen Botanical Gardens
VanDusen Botanical Garden is a little oasis in the middle of Vancouver. The park is 55 acres and full of 8,000 different species of plants from around the world. New blooms appear about every 2 weeks. Click here for a calendar of whats blooming when you visit!
- $8 during off season or $11 during peak season
Vancouvers Chinatown is the largest in Canada and 3rd largest in population in the Western Hemisphere behind New York City and San Francisco. Chinatown is full of restaurants and shops to explore. Top places to see are:
- Millennium Gate
- Shanghai Alley
- Sam Keeling Building
- the skinniest building in the world at 6 ft wide!
- Dr. Sun Yat Sen Chinese Garden
Little Extra Time in Vancouver?
Vancouver is surrounded by mountain peaks on one side and the bay to Vancouver Island and the Pacific ocean on the other. Therefore, with the wide variety of geography there are lots of day-trip options from Vancouver, especially for those who enjoy the outdoors!
Grouse Mountain is in North Vancouver. You can easily spend a day exploring and partaking in all of the outdoor activities available at Grouse Mountain. Hike up to the top for views and ride back down, take the chair lift or the sky-ride to the top, strap up and navigate a ropes course and more! For info on everything offered and prices, visit grousemountain.com!
- Only about 45 minutes to an hour from Vancouver and even closer from Downtown Vancouver
Whistler is a prime location of snow skiing in the winter! However, Whistler is an outdoorsman’s dream in the summer! Enjoy hiking, biking, golfing, swimming, kayaking, zip-lining or ride up the gondolas to get panoramic views of the mountains!
Vancouver Island is home to a ridiculous amount of outdoor activities as well. It is also home to Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia. Victoria is about a 90 minute ferry ride from Vancouver. The Butchart Gardens are one of the top tourist attractions of Victoria and the Vancouver area. Also, be sure to visit the Inner Harbour if you decide to go to Victoria (which has been recommended to me by several people)!
There are a lot to do in and around Vancouver! However, several of the activities can be pricey, so your itinerary will depend on your budget :). We were able to spend 2 days seeing a lot of sights on a low budget with our most expensive purchase being our accommodations.