Vancouver is a great city to explore, and indeed, there’s a lot to do. While it wouldn’t be possible to see everything in a day, these are some of the best things you can do when spending a day or two in Vancouver. Surely, Vancouver, BC, is a gorgeous city worth exploring. So, here are the best things to see and do in Vancouver.
Best Things to See in Vancouver, BC
Gastown is one of the oldest areas of Vancouver, and indeed a charming city to see. For example, Gastown offers pleasant cobblestone streets to walk along, and many local stores and restaurants to peruse. One of the main attractions in the area is the famous Steam Clock. It chimes every 15 minutes blowing steam.
Gastown a very up and coming area with many designer stores, clothing stores, pubs, and restaurants. Also, the nightlife is as alive as any, as it transforms into a busy area with a lot of night clubs and pubs with live bands.
Vancouver’s Chinatown area is the second-largest in North America. Indeed, Chinatown is a little rough, but not to worry. To be sure, Chinatown in Vancouver is not dangerous.
On weekends, Chinatown (Vancouver, BC) becomes very busy with the street market. For example, you can shop for Asian delicacies, along with different kinds of teas and ginseng.
You will find some of the best Vancouver restaurants in Chinatown. For example, on Saturdays and Sundays, many come to eat Dim-Sum at the local Chinese restaurants. To be sure, I’ve only had better Dim-Sum in Hong Kong!
While in Chinatown, I recommend seeing the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. Indeed, the Chinese Garden is a little zen oasis in the core of downtown. Indeed, you may forget you’re in a metropolitan city when walking around the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.
The Vancouver Seawall is a mixed-use path by the ocean. It begins at Canada Place, then circles around Stanley Park. Then, it continues past English Bay, Downtown, and Yaletown. From there, it extends past the Telus World of Science, down through False Creek, Olympic Village, Granville Island, and finally ends at Kits Beach. Indeed, the Seawall is 28km long, and you can walk, jog, run, or bike any part of it.
Some of the best views of the city and the beaches are from the Seawall. (For a map click here)
You can stop at several points for food and drink or rest. In the summer it can be jam-packed with tourists.
Coal Harbour and Canada Place
You will find the Coal Harbour area on the Northside of the downtown peninsula. Indeed, it’s one of the most affluent and desirable areas of town. Coal Harbour is built around the new Convention Center and features beautifully manicured parks, fountains, and buildings.
Many people love to sit on a bench and watch the seaplanes taking off and land from the Coal Harbour water airport.
In the summer, the area is very busy with cruise passengers, since the cruise terminal is in nearby Canada Place.
Stanley Park is probably one of the most famous and best parks to see in Vancouver. Indeed, Stanley Park is both beautiful and immense. Also, in the summer, you will find both tourists and locals exploring it. Indeed, you may even wonder if anyone ever works in Vancouver!
In the park, you can also see the Vancouver Aquarium. Then, you can move around the park in many different ways. For example, you can visit by bike, by trolley or you can walk. However, if you plan to walk around it, keep in mind that it is about 10km long, so plan accordingly!
English Bay Beach
English bay is quite possibly the best spot to watch both the sunset and the people walking by. Notably, the area is jam-packed with people going for walks and enjoying the sun from dawn until dusk. During the day, the beach is very busy with family and kids. Then, in the evenings, many of the locals come to catch the sunset after work.
Yaletown is the area of the old port on the southeast side of the downtown peninsula. Indeed, starting in the 90s, it became converted into a residential and commercial sector.
These days, Yaletown is one of the busiest areas of the downtown core. For example, restaurants and lounges are often full of people from the early evenings until late. Indeed, Yaletown is alive and vibrant, and most of the action is between Mainland St. and Hamilton St. Additionally, this is where you will find the vast majority of the Yaletown restaurants.
During the summer months, many restaurants offer outdoor patios to enjoy a drink in the sun. Indeed, it can get a little hot. So, I recommend wearing cool clothing. Also, I recommend making reservations for the best restaurants, especially on the weekends!
The False Creek area is a relatively new area of town. Notably, it started in 2009 when an industrial area got converted into the new Olympic Village. Indeed, it became the Athletes’ home for the Winter Olympics in 2010. Nowadays, the city is very up and coming with several new restaurants, pubs, and microbreweries. And, with its connection to the Seawall, it’s trendy for people to stroll around, especially on sunny days.
You will find Granville Island on a little peninsula, under the Granville Bridge. Indeed, the main attraction is its market. Here, you’ll find vendors selling fruits, vegetables, meats, and desserts. Additionally, you’ll discover takeaway and sit-down restaurants, and pubs of all types located within and around the market.
During the day, lots of street performers are entertaining people in the streets of Granville Island.
At night, you will find a few small theaters that offer a variety of local shows and performances.
In the eastern part of Granville Island, you can see a few spectacular floating houses that are part of the charm of this area of the city.
In the summer, the area gets incredibly busy. As a result, parking becomes a challenge. I recommend using the water taxis that run from several areas of downtown and False Creek to Granville Island.
Kitsilano Beach (Kits beach for the locals) is a beautiful beach, on the south side of downtown. In the summer, the beach fills with beach volley players, families, and tourists. Also, you’ll find many nearby restaurants and pubs.
In the same area, you can visit the Museum of Vancouver, the Maritime Museum, and the Vancouver Planetarium.
Some Other Excellent Areas to See
Queen Elizabeth Park
You can find Queen Elizabeth Park just a few minutes outside downtown. Indeed, from the top of its hill, you will find one of the best views of the city. And, in the background, you will find the north shore mountains. For this reason, the park is often used by photographers to take wedding photos. Also, the restaurant in the park is famous for the meeting between President Clinton and President Yeltsin.
The park is perfectly manicured and very pleasant to walk. Inside the park, you can find a par three golf course.
You can find Grouse Mountain on the North Vancouver side of the city. Conveniently, shuttle buses from downtown will take you to the gondola that climbs the mountain. Alternatively, you may choose to hike the “Grouse Grind” instead. To be sure, the Grouse Grind is a busy trail that follows the gondola, and locals use it as a way to keep in shape. Indeed, it takes about 1 hour to climb. However, it’s not for the faint of heart. But, if you are out of shape, I recommend the gondola!
At the top, you’ll have a spectacular view of the city. Also, from there, you can hike several trails, see some wildlife and eat at the restaurants.
You can find Ambleside beach park in West Vancouver, just west of the Lions Gate bridge. Indeed, it’s a great location to watch cruise ships pass under the Lions Gate Bridge. Then, you may stroll along the beach or have a pick-nic. As usual, in the summer months, the area is always really busy with locals.
You can find Lighthouse provincial park on the North Shore, West Vancouver. Surely, to reach the lighthouse, you’ll have a little walk from the parking lot. From there, you can take in one of the best views of the bay and downtown.
Birders will be delighted to spot bald eagles flying nearby.
Cypress Mountain Lookout
In my opinion, Cypress lookout is the best view of the city from the top. Generally, you can reach this lookout park by car or taxi. Alternatively, if you are in excellent shape, you can Bike up. To be sure, I don’t recommend walking as there is no specific walkway path.
Once you reach the summit, you can see some of the best views of Vancouver, Mount Baker, and beyond. But come early as the area can get busy.
Andrea was born and raised in Northern Italy. At the age of 30, he moved to Vancouver Canada. Over the years he traveled extensively in North America, Europe, Central America, and Asia. He is passionate about traveling, cruising, and travel photography. He likes to write about his traveling and shows his travel photos.