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Complete guide to the best things to do in Vancouver in summer

Are you planning to visit Vancouver during the summer months? In this post, you will find information about what to do in Vancouver in summer (all the very best things to do in Vancouver) plus practical tips to help you make the most of your trip.

The beautiful coastal city of Vancouver on the west coast of Canada is nestled between the North Shore Mountains and the waters of the Burrard Inlet to the north and the Fraser River to the south.

Although not the capital of British Colombia (Victoria on Vancouver Island takes that title) Vancouver is the most populated city in the province. Consistently voted in the top 5 cities worldwide for liveability and quality of life Vancouver has lots to keep visitors busy.

Need help putting together your Vancouver itinerary? Our 3-day itinerary for Vancouver is a complete guide to what to do and see in the city (plus the best places to stay).

Enjoying the view over the city at sunset is one of the best things to do in Vancouver in summer.

Top things to do in Vancouver in summer

 Stanley Park and the seawall

Totem poles at Stanley Park.

Hiring a bicycle and cycling around Stanley Park is the absolute top of my list of things to do in Vancouver. The park is a 400-hectare oasis with lots to offer the visitor including natural beauty, wildlife, and arts and culture.

The seawall is the world’s longest sea path and is worth walking or cycling around. There are clearly delineated markers on the path with one side for walkers and joggers and the other for cyclists.

(Note – It is really important to stick to the right lane and there can be a lot of cyclists on the path).

Cycle route around Stanley Park in Vancouver.

The Stanley Park section of the seawall is 9km long and takes about an hour to cycle and around 2/3 hours to walk depending on how often you stop to admire the views.

There are loads of things to see and do on your way around the park including numerous types of wildlife, cultural heritage such as the totem poles, natural and manmade structures such as Beaver Lake, Siwash Rock or the Lion’s Gate Bridge.

Siwash Rock from Stanley Park.

Good to know  – I would highly recommend that you make a day of it. The summer months are perfect for taking a picnic, hiring a bicycle and spending the entire day in the park.

There are loads of places to rent bikes and if you catch the bus from downtown you will probably find that half the bus passengers are heading there to rent a bike!

We rented from Spokes Bicycle Rentals which are right next to the park and has been hiring bicycles since 1938. Take a credit card with you as you will need this to secure the bicycle.

Alternatively, a guided cycle tour is a great way to explore the park and city.

Granville Island

Aerial view of Granville Island.

Granville Island is a peninsula in False Creek which separates downtown Vancouver from the rest of the city. There is loads to do there with lots of shops as well as the market to wander around.

There plenty of places to eat at Granville Island too with lots of options to suit everyone’s tastes!

It is easy to get to by bus, road, bicycle, on foot or as we did it by aquabus.

Map of Granville Island.
The aquabus in Vancouver.
The aquabus


Steam Clock in Gastown Vancouver.

Gastown is the oldest neighbourhood in Vancouver and our favourite part of town to grab a drink, a bite to eat and sit and people watch.   Named after John ‘Gassy Jack’ Deighton who opened a pub in the area in 1867 it is a charming part of town.

Gastown has lots of old buildings, vintage lampposts and is where you will find the Steam Clock! Built in 1977 the clock is powered by steam. Make sure to be there on the hour to listen to its chimes!

There are numerous bars and restaurants to choose from in Gastown including my recommendations of the Flying Pig, the Blarney Stone, and the Cambie.

Tours of Gastown

Houses in Gastown Vancouver.
Gastown’s colourful houses

Capilano Suspension Bridge

Capilano Suspension Bridge in Vancouver.

If you have no issue with heights why not take a stroll over the Capilano Suspension Bridge.

The Capilano Suspension bridge is located in North Vancouver and attracts over 800,000 visitors and year. It is 140 metres long and is suspended 70 metres above the Capilano River.

Explore, learn, and be amazed by Vancouver’s soaring skyscrapers, architectural masterpieces, urban beaches, and coastal rainforests.

Capilano Suspension bridge in Vancouver.

Richmond Night Markets

Head to Richmond for the night market which run annually on weekend and holiday evenings from May to October. It is the largest night market in North America with over 100 different food stalls selling everything you could wish to eat!

It is a really fun night out and definitely worth visiting if you are in Vancouver.

Richmond night market in Vancouver.

Whale watching

Humpback whale breaching.

An absolute must for any animal lover is to head out on one of the numerous whale watching boat trips from Vancouver. Spot killer whales, humpback whales, dophins and more in the waters between Vancouver and Vancouver Island. Truly an unforgettable experience.

In the waters around Vancouver Island there are resident pods of orcas which number around 100 animals as well as a number of transient pods.

Between March and  October, there are many other species of whales to spot on their annual migration north including humpback, grey and minke.

Available tours

See whales and other marine animals close up on the Ocean Magic. The covered boat has several viewing areas, and whale sightings are guaranteed.

Discover the killer whales between Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia, on this guided, 4-hour whale-watching adventure. Combine two popular attractions into one exciting day trip. Visit beautiful Victoria and return by seaplane.

Killer whale poking its head above the water off Vancouver.

Visit Chinatown

The largest Chinatown in Canada and one of the biggest in North America this is the place to try some great Asian food.

Visit the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden which has tranquil paths and beautiful pavilions.

Sun Yat Sen gardens in Vancouver.

Vancouver Lookout

For a great view of the city head to the Vancouver Lookout. From a height of 168 metres you will get a great 360 degree panoramic view of the entire city and beyond.

Buy your ticket here for the Vancouver Lookout.

View over Vancouver at night.

Visit the museum of Vancouver or Science world

If you have a rainy day head to the Museum of Vancouver the largest civic museum in Canada (and the oldest in Vancouver) Find out more about the First Nations through the arts and artefacts displayed at the museum.

If science is more your thing Vancouver’s Science World with its many interactive displays is the perfect option!

 Vancouver Science World Museum.
Vancouver Science World Museum

Events held in Vancouver in June/July & August

Things to do in Vancouver in June

Vancouver International Jazz Festival with 300 concerts at various venues held over a 2 week period.

All month – Richmond Night Markets

Things to do in Vancouver in July

July  1st – Celebrate Canada Day! With street parties, fireworks and parades there are loads of free activities throughout the city.

July – Free Outdoor Movie Nights at Second Beach in Stanley Park every Tuesday after sunset until the end of August (this was cancelled in 2020 dates for 2021 TBA)

July – The Honda Celebration of Light held in English Bayis a week-long festival based in Vancouver, British Columbia, featuring the world’s largest offshore fireworks competition. (Cancelled until 2022)

July – Vancouver Folk Music Festival

All month – Richmond Night Markets

Things to do in Vancouver in August

Vancouver Pride Parade

All month – Richmond Night Markets

Best day trips from Vancouver

It is possible to take some fantastic day trips from Vancouver including over to Vancouver Island.

Butchart Gardens is particularly noteworthy especially during the summer.

Fireworks over Vancouver.

FAQ’s – Essential tips to make the most of your visit to Vancouver

What is summer like in Vancouver?

Vancouver is famed for its year long mild weather. In summer expect temperatures ranging from highs of 20 to 30 degrees. Summers are generally dry with August the hottest month. One of the most popular summer activities is to take a picnic to one of the parks – Stanley Park or Queen Elizabeth Park are just 2 of the Vancouver parks we recommend visiting.

Aerial view of Vancouver with mountains in the background.

Practical tips

  • The transport system is excellent in Vancouver with regular Skytrains, buses, ferries and boats to get you from A to B in the city.
  • Take drinks/food with you when you go to Stanley Park – you can rent a bicycle with a basket attached to hold all the goodies. There are lots of places to sit and relax and enjoy the scenery on the way around too.
  • As the public transport system is so great if you are on a budget then booking a hotel further out of downtown Vancouver is recommended.
  • We had stayed in Richmond on our arrival (near the airport so we could rest and recover from jet lag) but moved closer after 2 nights. We chose to stay at  the Douglas Guest House a great B&B close to the Vancouver City Hall Skytrain station (a 3 minute walk away)
  • If you have time head over to Vancouver Island! You can catch a seaplane across, fly or take the ferry to get to the island where there are loads of great things to see and do.
beautiful islands with trees in British Colombia Vancouver.

Perfect 3-day itinerary for Vancouver

If you are heading to Vancouver for a few days check out my detailed itinerary for a 3-day trip or this 2 day Vancouver itinerary to see how you can see the best of the city during your stay.

More to read about visiting Canada