Things to Do in Vancouver: The 25 Best Places to Visit (All Highlights)
You want to visit Vancouver during your next trip?
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!
- Things to Do in Vancouver: The 25 Best Places to Visit (All Highlights)
- Visit Vancouver: All must-see attractions
- 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
- Best things to do around Vancouver
- 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!
- Visit Vancouver: All must-see attractions
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
1. Downtown Vancouver
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.
2. The Vancouver Lookout
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!
3. Whale and orca watching
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:
4. Stanley 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:
5. Vancouver Aquarium
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:
6. Canada Place
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.
7. The FlyOver Canada
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!
8. Granville Island
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.
9. The Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver
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.
10. Flying over Vancouver in a seaplane
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:
11. Chinatown and Dr. Sun Yat-Sen’s Chinese Garden
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.
12. The VanDusen Botanical Garden
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!
13. Shopping in Vancouver
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.
14. Vancouver’s beaches
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.
15. The Seawall
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.
16. More activity and visit ideas in Vancouver
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.
17. What to do in Vancouver with the family?
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.
18. Watch a hockey game in Vancouver
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.
19. Capilano Suspension Bridge
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:
20. Lynn Canyon Park
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.
21. Grouse Mountain
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’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
23. Deep Cove
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.
How long should you visit Vancouver for?
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!
One day in Vancouver
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
2 days in Vancouver
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
3 days in Vancouver
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!
Where to stay in Vancouver
- 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!
Where to eat in Vancouver
- 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!).
How to get to Vancouver?
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.
Vancouver tourist map
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?
🚗 Rent a car
🗽 Book entrance tickets and guided visits
🏄 Book your sports activities
🚤 Book your rental boat
🌍 Take a travel insurance
🙎 Book a tour
🚅 Book your train tickets
✈️ Book your flight
You’re traveling in Canada? These articles will help you!
Discover all my articles about Canada: All my articles to help you plan your trip to Canada are listed there.
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- Itinerary: 3 weeks in Canada: My epic itinerary to visit Western and Eastern Canada in 21 days
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- 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!
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- 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!