A guide to the best things to do in Vancouver Canada

A guide to the best things to do in Vancouver Canada

We love Canada – and we particularly love Vancouver so I thought I would put together a post about what we felt were the best things to do in Vancouver.This beautiful coastal city in the west of the country is surrounded by mountains and is the most populated city in British Colombia. Prepare to fall in love (or at least like a lot!) this consistently voted top 5 city in the world for liveability and quality of life. I am not surprised…I could certainly live there.

2017 is the 150th anniversary of Canada (Canadian confederation) and in my opinion a fantastic time to visit – free entry to Parks Canada is being offered to everyone! Who can resist all those wonderful activities and experiences – and for free! For more information about this offer check out their website ParksCanada.

So you are planning a visit and Vancouver is in your itinerary? What are the must sees? The top 3 things to do/see if you are in this city for a few days? This is my choice of the best things to do in Vancouver based on our visit:

If you are spending 2 days in Vancouver check out this great itinerary and sightseeing guide to Vancouver to help with your planning!

 Stanley Park and the Seawall

Hiring a bike and cycling Stanley Park should be top of your list! And if cycling doesn’t appeal then walk it! Stanley Park is minutes from downtown Vancouver’s West End and is easy to get to by public transport. It is a 400 hectare oasis with lots to offer the visitor including natural beauty, wildlife, and arts and culture.

If you walk or cycle the seawall (which apparently is the world’s longest sea path) there are clearly delineated markers – one side for walkers and joggers and the other for cyclists. (It is really important to stick to the right lane and there can be a lot of cyclists on the path). The Stanley Park section of the seawall is 9km long and takes about an hour to cycle and I guess 2/3 hours to walk. I cycled it once but my husband and daughter went around twice (bicycles and me have never been close friends)

There are loads of things to see and do on your way around the park – spot wildlife, stop to look at the amazing totem poles, take a break at the beach, stop to admire the view of the Lions Gate Bridge.

The map below is from the City of Vancouver website – take a look at the site for more detail about the park and what is on!

Stanley Park

Tip – make a day of it! Take a picnic, hire and bike and have a lovely day out. There are loads of places to rent bikes and if you catch the bus from downtown you will probably find that half the bus are heading to rent a bike! We rented from Spokes Bicycle Rentals which are right next to the park. For pricing, various bicycles available etc check out their website!

 Visit Granville Island

We loved visiting Granville Island and is another of the best things to do in Vancouver in our opinion! It is easy to get to by bus, road, bicycle, on foot or as we did it by aquabus!!

aquabus things to do in Vancouver

Granville Island is a peninsula in False Creek which separates downtown Vancouver from the rest of the city. And there is loads to do there – not least a wander around the market and shops. There plenty of places to eat here too! Find out more about the island on the official website Granville Island.

We had a lovely time visiting the island – the produce in the farmer’s market was gorgeous and there are some really unique shops worth visiting. You also see some of the floating homes in the creek which apparently cost a fortune to rent or buy!


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

It really is a charming part of town – lots of old buildings, vintage lampposts and the place you can find the Steam Clock! Built in 1977 the clock is powered by steam – make sure to be there on the hour!

So those really are my 3 best things to do in Vancouver but there are lots more to see and do!

[bctt tweet=”Looking for things to do in VANCOUVER? Stanley Park, Granville Island and Gastown are 3 top choices!” username=”tracystravels10″]

Top Things to Do in 3 Days in Vancouver

A guide to visiting Victoria and Vancouver in Canada

Things to do in Victoria BC


  1. The transport system is excellent – we never take anything but public transport when we travel if we can help it. The Skytrain is wonderful in Vancouver as is the bus service. See Translink for all your transport needs! And try to take the aquabus just for the experience!!
  2. 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.
  3. As the public transport system is so great if you are on a budget then staying in 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 stayed at  the Douglas Guest House a B&B close to Skytrain station. If you want something different you can take a look here at other options!
  4. If you have time head over to Vancouver Island! You can catch a seaplane across, fly or take the ferry (we did and it was amazing – a really beautiful journey!)



Lonely Planet Vancouver is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Shop for vintage shoes in quirky Gastown, hit the powdered slopes of Grouse Mountain or sample an Indian Pale Ale in a hidden microbrewery; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Vancouver and begin your journey now!

Once an almost inaccessible logging town on the edge of the frontier, Vancouver has metamorphosed into one of the world’s most beautiful urban centres, host city of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. This book traces Vancouver’s extraordinary coming of age through lively text and 150 evocative historical images that capture the city in every phase of its growth, from the coming of the railway and the arrival of the automobile through to the Depression, the war years and modern-day urbanization.



Pin for later – best things to do in Vancouver

best things to do in Vancouver in Canadabest things to do in Vancouver in Canada

Author: Tracy

Tracy is your expert expat!

She has lived and worked in 7 countries on 4 continents and travelled to over 50 more. A qualified school teacher with an interest in history, reading, photography, nature and wildlife she is always planning her next trip (preferably by train)

With a lifetime of travel experience, and a network of friends all over the world, she is also able to share genuine insider guides, recommended best book lists and train journey inspiration to help you travel authentically to some of the most beautiful places on earth.

Through down-to-earth stories, tips and advice (based on her own extensive knowledge and experience of life as an expat) she also aims to support new and prospective expats to survive and thrive in Australia.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. February 28, 2017 / 6:01 pm

    I love Vancouver too, would like to go back again some day #MondayEscapes

  2. February 28, 2017 / 6:09 pm

    Wow looks like there is so much to do in Vancouver! Would love this visit and head to Granville Island 🙂 Looks beautiful!

  3. February 28, 2017 / 8:32 pm

    I loved Canada when I went backpacking. Really want to take our boys back so they can see how beautiful it is.

    • February 28, 2017 / 9:32 pm

      it is a stunning country isn’t it!

  4. March 1, 2017 / 8:32 am

    I’m living in Canada at the moment but only briefly visited Vancouver and I so want to go back and try all these things you suggested! It’s such a cool city

    • March 1, 2017 / 9:54 pm

      I lived in Toronto for a while and never made it to the West Coast – I wish I had as I love it!

  5. March 1, 2017 / 8:49 am

    Awesome article, very informative and complete! 🙂 Thank you for writing it. I would love to get to Vancouver as soon as I have the money for the plane ticket. I live in Italy and the flight it’s pretty expensive from here.

    • March 1, 2017 / 9:53 pm

      Thanks Chiara – I am lucky to have friends over there (on Vancouver Island) – the flight is expensive from Europe but so worth it 🙂

  6. March 1, 2017 / 11:39 am

    So incredible that the park service is offering free entry for their anniversary! I haven’t been to Vancouver in at least a decade (and didn’t do much sightseeing back then) so hope to go back soon! Granville Island looks beautiful 🙂

    • March 1, 2017 / 9:52 pm

      I know it is great – wish we could return to take advantage of it!

  7. March 1, 2017 / 4:22 pm

    Heard so many great things about Vancouver, I have to make sure I visit one of these days. I’m interested in the Stanley Park and Seawall, sounds amazing.

    • March 1, 2017 / 9:51 pm

      It is a brilliant city to visit! Stanley Park and the Seawall are great places to visit!

  8. March 1, 2017 / 4:32 pm

    Granville Island looks super cool! I love the idea of taking the aquabus too, travelling down the Thames in London is one of my fave ways to get about. I’ve also heard good things about Gastown from someone that lives in Vancouver so glad to see it mentioned. I’m hoping one day to visit!

    • March 1, 2017 / 9:50 pm

      We loved Granville Island – it is definitely worth a visit! Then chill out in Gastown afterwards!

  9. March 1, 2017 / 4:43 pm

    Vancouver looks beautiful! I’d love to explore Canada more, and am glad to hear that the public transport system is excellent. Great tips! #citytripping

  10. March 1, 2017 / 9:55 pm

    It really has doesn’t it – we really loved it!

  11. March 1, 2017 / 11:04 pm

    I would love to see one of the floating homes in Granville Island. I think I saw a TV show about it which is very interesting. The first photo you posted of the Granville island looks like a miniature, I thought it was kinda like a theme park where you see a model of different houses around the world. Lol.

    • March 2, 2017 / 3:13 pm

      They are quite lovely – very expensive though I believe!

  12. March 1, 2017 / 11:25 pm

    I am hopefully going to Vancouver for the first time this year! Thanks for the tips!

  13. March 1, 2017 / 11:25 pm

    I am hopefully going to Vancouver for the first time this year! Thanks for the tips! 🙂

    • March 2, 2017 / 3:12 pm

      It is a lovely place and the artwork on the silos looks great!

  14. March 2, 2017 / 7:26 pm

    Vancouver has never been on my radar, not for any partial reason. But wow you post has made me really want to visit it look so very beautiful. Thanks so much for linking up #MondayEscapes

  15. Nicole
    March 2, 2017 / 10:42 pm

    I heard it is a lovely place to bike around. Looks really beautiful. Great post.

    • March 3, 2017 / 8:29 pm

      It is – really great place to go! Thank-you Nicole

  16. March 3, 2017 / 10:53 pm

    I loved Vancouver too, Tracy. It’s a great city to visit and I hope to return there someday. Great photos! #TheWeeklyPostcard

  17. March 3, 2017 / 11:12 pm

    We unfortunately transmitted through Vancouver, though from the little we saw it is a place we will return to. Greta information.

  18. March 4, 2017 / 1:26 am

    I love Vancouver – there is so much to do. I think my favorite thing was the Grouse Grind though. It was such a challenging hike and I just felt so accomplished once I finished it. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard

  19. jenn
    March 4, 2017 / 3:07 am

    We are hoping to get up to Vancouver sometime soon and spend some time there. We don’t know much about this great city, so your post will definitely come in handy! Thanks for all the great tips.

  20. March 4, 2017 / 5:38 am

    Vancouver is one of those places that fill my imagination. I visited several years ago and stayed there an entire week. We had a wonderful time and would love to discover more of the area. Stanley Park was the best (we rented bikes). #wkendtravelinspiration

    • March 4, 2017 / 2:10 pm

      We love it too – would love to go back soon!

  21. March 4, 2017 / 9:49 am

    Thanks so much for linking up to #MondayEscapes I really enjoyed this post. I looked at Vancouver for us this year actually but we have ended up visiting Rwanda – maybe another year. The tour information is really handy too. Thanks

  22. March 4, 2017 / 11:45 am

    Vancouver is one of my favourite cities. I agree that a bicycle ride through Stanley Park is an ideal way to spend an afternoon. I found excellent sushi in Gastown last time I visited.

  23. March 4, 2017 / 12:51 pm

    Canada is one of the countries I wish to visit soon. Stanley Park looks like so much fun, and a great way to spend the day. Great article and great tips!

    • March 4, 2017 / 2:08 pm

      It is an amazing country – would love to spend a good 6 months exploring at least!

  24. March 4, 2017 / 1:53 pm

    Can’t wait to visit Vancouver! I’ve read so many post about this beautiful city! thanks for the tips

  25. March 4, 2017 / 6:26 pm

    I would love to visit! Thanks for these tips!

  26. March 4, 2017 / 7:06 pm

    I went to Vancouver last year and loved it, now after your reading your post I wish I could’ve explored more! Thanks for sharing all these, I will def check them out next time.

  27. March 4, 2017 / 7:45 pm

    Yes! We just got our Canada parks pass, and we can’t wait for Vancouver. Fortunately, it is only a 5-hour drive from our house so we will be able to experience a lot on this list over the summer. Pinning and saving your adventure for later 🙂

    • March 4, 2017 / 8:20 pm

      Oh wow I am so jealous! You are going have an amazing time!

      • September 26, 2017 / 1:57 pm

        I remembered this post and just read through all your BC posts for our trip this week. Thanks again for the recommendations 🙂

        • September 26, 2017 / 9:47 pm

          Thanks Scarlett – have a great trip to Canada!

  28. March 4, 2017 / 9:35 pm

    Vancouver always sounds such a tempting city – between yours and the previous post on the linky, I am so tempted to start planning a trip this year… #citytripping

  29. March 5, 2017 / 8:40 am

    We met someone from Canada who had moved to British Columbia and he loved it so we have a brilliant reason to visit! I would definitely hire a bike and make a day out of Stanley Park and next on my agenda would be the Gastown – I love having a drink and people watching! Thanks for sharing so much brilliant information, pinned for when we visit our friend! #feetdotravel

    • March 7, 2017 / 4:14 pm

      Thanks Angie – hope you get to BC – so much to see and do!

  30. March 5, 2017 / 2:07 pm

    We generally try to avoid cities when traveling, but we loved Vancouver! Your post just reminded me what a great trip it was! Hope we can visit again, keeping those tips for later.

  31. March 5, 2017 / 6:45 pm

    What a wonderful travel guide for Vancouver. Stunning photos, great information and links for more information. I will pin this for later use. Thanks for sharing 🙂 #feetdotravel

  32. March 5, 2017 / 7:03 pm

    I have heard many great things about Vancouver from friends who live there as well as other travellers. Stanley Park keeps coming up as a must-do and I would love to explore it when I do eventually make it over there. I would definitely rent a bike and cycle around for a few hours!

    • March 7, 2017 / 4:13 pm

      Definitely rent a bike it is a great day out!

  33. March 6, 2017 / 6:20 am

    What remarkable city! It is full very inspiring. Interesting post and nice pictures

  34. March 6, 2017 / 4:18 pm

    Vancouver is high on my list of places to visit that are too close not to visit! Thanks for linking up! #wkendtravelinspiration

  35. March 6, 2017 / 6:52 pm

    That’s a great tip for Stanley Park, take food. I was surprised how big the park was, I should have taken something to eat with me! I think it’s the same size as downtown Vancouver?

    • March 7, 2017 / 4:12 pm

      I think it probably is – my daughter had already been twice so she was the one who suggested we take food. Good thing as we were pretty hungry after cycling it!

  36. March 7, 2017 / 11:16 pm

    Stanley park looks beautiful! I would love to go cycling around the seawall. It’s been years since I was last on a bicycle, kind of want to go for a ride now! I would totally make a day out of it too, seems perfect. The tours you listed below, did you do any of them? The seaplane ride is a dream and not as expensive as I thought! Will keep this in mind for sure!

    • March 8, 2017 / 8:12 pm

      I would definitely go cycling around Stanley Park Kreete I am sure you would enjoy it!

  37. March 8, 2017 / 5:19 pm

    I loved each one. And if I do get a chance I would definitely try them all in Vancouver. At least cycling through the park, I will do it someday. Thanks for sharing this article, it gave me some major travel goals to look forward to.

  38. March 9, 2017 / 3:55 pm

    Thanks for the great tips! I’m hoping to visit Vancouver this year. Looks like such a great place. 🙂

  39. March 10, 2017 / 2:12 am

    We hope to visit Canada this year, perhaps Vancouver because we’ve heard so many great things about it like this post! I already ordered my free Canada Park Pass for this year so I’m ready. Just need the plane tickets, so I’m keeping an eye out for a good deal. I want to visit Stanley Park! It’s in the top 3 places to visit for a reason, looks great!

    • March 10, 2017 / 1:22 pm

      I would love to go back – especially with a free park pass! Unfortunately not in our travel plans this year 🙁 Enjoy it!

  40. March 13, 2017 / 10:23 am

    The more I see and read about Vancouver, the more interested I am in visiting. These seem to be a little different than the usual lists which is nice and it really appears to be a pleasant, liveable city.

  41. March 31, 2017 / 10:25 am

    Happy Birthday Canada! Vancouver looks like such a fun city with loads of outdoors activities. Cant wait to visit.. one day! Thanks for joining #FarawayFiles

  42. April 3, 2017 / 4:50 pm

    I’m so sure I would love Vancouver , Tracy! I fell in love with Seattle over 20 years ago and have always thought that Vancouver probably has that same fun, laid-back vibe. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

    • April 4, 2017 / 6:35 pm

      It is a fantastic city! One of our favourites!

  43. Vancouver is an amazing town – so international and so much to do! We visited many times when we went to school in Seattle. Need to take the kids back and tour the town again. Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles, Erin

    • April 6, 2017 / 7:04 pm

      It is one of my favourite cities! I would go again in a heartbeat!