Top Things to Do in 3 Days in Vancouver

Top Things to Do in 3 Days in Vancouver

If you only have 3 days in Vancouver and you want to fit everything in then this itinerary is for you! There is a lot of things to do and see in 3 days in Vancouver but with a little planning it is possible to do quite a lot even in a short stay.

Your questions answered

How can I get around Vancouver?

What can I see in Vancouver in 3 days?

What does a 3 day itinerary look like?

Where should I  stay in Vancouver?

Are there tours that I can take in Vancouver?


Vancouver Public transit

  • We travelled around Vancouver by bus, bicycle, skytrain and aquabus. We found public transit to be an excellent way to move around the city.
  • SkyTrain is the oldest and one of the longest automated driverless light rapid transit systems in the world. The Expo and Millennium SkyTrain Lines connect downtown Vancouver with the cities of Burnaby, New Westminster and Surrey. The Canada Line connects downtown Vancouver to the Vancouver International Airport (YVR) and the city of Richmond.
  • TOP TIP – Buy day passes for the Skytrain which give unlimited travel. I would highly recommend doing this as it is cost effective and easier if you are travelling around the city.
  • Buses, trolleys and Community Shuttles link to various hubs, exchanges, SkyTrain stations and tourist destinations throughout Metro Vancouver.
  • The Aquabus provides frequent, daily passenger ferry service to all major destinations in False Creek.

City of Vancouver have an excellent website all about public transit which you can access by clicking on this link!

What can you do and see in 3 days in Vancouver?

  1. Granville Island Market
  2. Gastown (we ate there a lot and its a great place to have a drink and people watch)
  3. VanDusen botanical garden
  4. The Summer Night Market in Richmond
  5. Stanley Park

Stanley Park Vancouver


A guide to the best things to do in Vancouver Canada




There are numerous ways to get to Granville Island. I would highly recommend catching the Aquabus or the False Creek Ferry which are an inexpensive but fun way to get to Granville Island. The ferries run continuously from 7am to 10:30pm in the summer (8:30pm winter).

Alternatively get there by car, bus or on foot – check out the Granville Island website for up-to-date options as well as opening times!

There are lots of things to do and see when you get to the Island including a fantastic public market. We loved strolling around a checking out the beautiful produce available.

As well as the wonderful market there are plenty of places to stop for a bite to eat. Choosing will be your biggest problem!

If arts and culture is your thing again there will be lots to keep you busy. There are numerous art galleries and theatres to visit and enjoy.

If you are visiting the island with children they will definitely want to pop into the Children’s Market which has over 25 stores dedicated to them.

Keep a look out (you won’t miss them) for the murals on the concrete silos too!


Vancouver Open Air Museum

Be sure to check out the floating village! The houses are amazing and such a contrast to the glass buildings behind. Apparently they cost between $3000 and $5000 a month each to rent. They are on a floating platform which list with the tide! I loved the contrast between the houses and the cityscape in the background too.


Gastown is named after Gassy Jack Deighton a riverboat captain who built Vancouver’s first significant structure (a bar !!!) in 1867. He was nicknamed gassy as he talked a lot….nothing wrong with that I say!!! Check out the ornate street lamps and cobblestoned tree lined streets in this historic district of Vancouver.


Gastown steam clock things to do and see in 3 days in Vancouver

Have your camera at the ready for the steam clock on the corner of Water and Cambie streets. A perfect photo opportunity for every tourist in Vancouver including us! It gives a steamy rendition of the Westminister chimes every 15 minutes.

Gastown is a great place to head for a drink and a meal whilst watching the world go by and has a great atmosphere.


VanDusen Botanical Garden

On day 2 why not visit VanDusen Botanical Garden?

We accidentally ended up at  VanDusen botanical garden.  We had initially planned to visit the University of Columbia botanical garden as there is a Canopy Walk there but the receptionist at the hotel thought we meant VanDusen’s so thats where we ended up going! I really like botanical gardens (I know they are not everyone’s thing) and have visited quite a few around the world including Edinburgh, Scotland and Cape Town, South Africa.

When we were there it was the 40th anniversary of its opening and instead of $11 entry cost it was only $2 each. We had an enjoyable stroll around – as there has been a severe drought here for 3 months we expected things to look a little dry but the gardens were beautiful. Most of the flowers were past their best but everything was lush and green.

International Summer Night Market in Richmond

The International Summer Night Market in Richmond is a more unusual addition to an itinerary for Vancouver but I had seen it advertised and really thought it was worth a visit. We were also staying at a hotel very close by to the market so we made a point of going along to it.

The market is an annual event and experiences over 30,0000 visits every weekend. It was an enjoyable experience and very busy – there were loads of different foods to try and it was just lovely walking around on a warm summer’s evening experiencing something  like this!


A guide to visiting Victoria and Vancouver in Canada




For our third day in Vancouver we decided to go to Stanley Park and hire some bikes as it was highly recommended.

We hired our bikes from a shop just outside the park – the bus driver pointed it out to us and a LOT of people were hiring bikes as they had to same idea as us!

It is a 8 km bike ride around the sea wall and the views were fabulous. It is an easy ride (thank god as bike riding isn’t my thing!!) But I did enjoy bombing around ringing my bell to let those on a leisurely ride know that speed queen was overtaking them on their left!

There are some gorgeous totem poles to see too as well as the Lionshead Bridge. If you are visiting with kids check out these 40 fun things to do in Vancouver!


For the first two nights we stayed near the airport in Richmond. We flew in from Europe and had some serious jet lag to content with so wanted to have an easy base until we acclimatised. On the third day we moved into the city.

The first hotel we stayed at was the ABERCORN INN VANCOUVER AIRPORT. It was a great hotel as it was near to the airport for us to get to and just sleep on arrival but also really close to the Bridgeport Station for transport into the city. It is also close to the Summer Night Market in Richmond so a great place to stay if you want to go there too!


As I mentioned we moved closer to the city on the third day and to the DOUGLAS HOUSE BED AND BREAKFAST. This was a short walk from Broadway-City Hall subway station and suited us perfectly for a short stay. The room was comfortable and we found the staff very welcoming. The location was good for the VanDusen Botanical Garden too!


There are a huge array of hotels to suit every traveller and every budget in Vancouver. If my recommendations aren’t quite what you are looking for please check out my link and book your hotel in Vancouver!

Hotels in Vancouver


Sometimes booking a tour is a great way to ensure you see the main highlights of a city especially of you are only there for a few days. Get Your Guide has some excellent tours!


You may also enjoy reading:

Things to do in Victoria BC
Visiting Butchart and Edinburgh Botanical Gardens


If you are planning to visit the Rockies you may be interested in these great hikes to do in Banff National Park.

PIN FOR LATER – Things to Do and See in 3 Days in Vancouver


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.

Come and join me as I travel the world one country (and train journey) at a time!


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. November 22, 2016 / 8:02 am

    I think I would spend the whole of Day 1 recovering from Jet lag. Those houses at the floating village are amazing!! How nice it must be to stay in one. The nickname Gassy is hilarious!

    • November 22, 2016 / 9:31 am

      I must admit we were pretty tired but all the adrenaline of being somewhere new kept us going! Thanks for popping by 🙂

  2. November 22, 2016 / 9:04 am

    I’d love to visit Vancouver, I’m pinning this for future reference, thanks! #citytripping

    • November 22, 2016 / 9:30 am

      Thanks for popping by – its a lovely city and I would love to return to explore more. Thanks for pinning too 🙂

  3. November 22, 2016 / 10:23 am

    This looks so good. I’ve always wanted to go to Canada but we’ve never quite made it yet. I’d definitely want to do ALL these things though 🙂

  4. November 22, 2016 / 8:14 pm

    You packed a lot into your 3 days! I love the floating houses! #citytripping

    • November 22, 2016 / 9:28 pm

      It was pretty hectic but we had a fab time – those floating houses are pretty awesome!

  5. November 22, 2016 / 10:00 pm

    I really fancy visiting Vancouver – I’ve been idly talking with my husband about doing a Canadian road trip, after the success of our US one, so spending about three days in Vancouver then heading out into the countryside. This is the perfect mini starting guide! I especially love the sound of the markets on Granville Island. Thanks for linking up wth #citytripping

    • November 23, 2016 / 4:07 pm

      Thanks Cathy – I would love to do a road (or rail trip) around Canada it is a stunningly beautiful country with lovely people. Granville Island was great and getting the water taxi there so much fun!

  6. November 23, 2016 / 12:19 am

    Interesting to read about what you did. I was in Vancouver SO long and I can’t really remember any of these places. We did go to Vancouver Island though. I like the steam clock and ‘gassy’ town while the floating houses are very unique. I think I need to go back and explore properly! #citytripping

    • November 24, 2016 / 1:47 pm

      Its such a great city I would keep going back!

  7. November 23, 2016 / 8:33 pm

    Is Vancouver where your daughter is thinking of moving too? I’ve heard it’s amazing (we have some very good friends on Vancouver Island and I treat [PHYSICAL THERAPY} all of their family here in Nottingham so I am constantly hearing how great it is but as yet I’ve not seen any photographs so I was nice to see yours! One day we will get there! #citytripping

    • November 23, 2016 / 8:59 pm

      Vancouver Island I think for my daughter though she loved Vancouver too. It is a fantastic place to visit and I think live in too! There is another post on my site by my friend who lives in Victoria on Vancouver Island if you want to see pictures of there.

  8. November 24, 2016 / 5:44 pm

    You managed to do so much, despite the jet lag! Impressive. I have only been to Vancouver once, when I was a teen, and so didn’t really make the most of it. Teenagers, eh. I’d love to go back, I thought it was fantastic.

    • November 24, 2016 / 7:09 pm

      Thanks Rachel. We just ignore the jet lag – then when we get back from our travels we let it all catch up!! Vancouver is a fab city – we really love Canada so want to spend more time exploring (hopefully by train) in the future!

  9. January 13, 2017 / 9:17 pm

    This is a great guide to Vancouver, somewhere we have yet to visit. Have pinned it for future reference. #TheWeeklyPostcard

    • January 13, 2017 / 9:59 pm

      Thank-you! It is a wonderful city in one of my favourite countries! Definitely a must-visit!

  10. January 14, 2017 / 12:38 am

    Vancouver is such a lovely city, it is really hard to see everything in only 3 days. My favorite thing on my trip there was the Grouse Grind. It was a really intense hike but the scenery was beautiful. Definitely well worth the effort. #TheWeeklyPostcard

    • January 15, 2017 / 2:30 pm

      Its a great city we loved it – we will definitely be back!

  11. January 14, 2017 / 1:35 am

    Vancouver is one of my favorite visits. All of the places you have discussed in here are great. I consider them must visits. And, the Granville Market should not be missed! It is full of so much good food. #TheWeeklyPostcard

    • January 15, 2017 / 2:30 pm

      Totally agree Ruth – we loved it and Granville Market was amazing – we ate a lot!

  12. January 14, 2017 / 3:41 pm

    Lovely destination and trip – seems like you got to have lots of different experiences there!

    • January 15, 2017 / 2:28 pm

      Thanks Ava – we had a fab time thank-you

  13. January 14, 2017 / 4:57 pm

    I’ve heard so many great things about Vancouver! A German friend of mine LOVES it sooo much and would love to move there! It certainly looks like a wonderful city! Unfortunately, I’ve never been! But it would be fun to go one day! #TheWeeklyPostcard

    • January 15, 2017 / 2:27 pm

      We totally loved it – its a fab city!

  14. January 14, 2017 / 11:07 pm

    Very interesting post about Vancouver. I visited the city last year and fell in love with it. It’s like the San Francisco of Canada. I see you had pretty good weather there too. #TheWeeklyPostcard

    • January 15, 2017 / 2:26 pm

      Yes it was lovely weather when we were there – we really loved Vancouver!

  15. January 15, 2017 / 6:39 pm

    SO many things here look good. you’ve moved Vancouver higher on my list of places to get to — and it was already up there. The night market looks incredibly fun. What is the spiraled thing you are eating?

    • January 15, 2017 / 8:17 pm

      Its a fantastic city!It was a potato spiral – flavoured salt and vinegar. I could have eaten 20!!!

  16. January 16, 2017 / 7:09 am

    My family really enjoyed our short stay in Vancouver, especially visiting Granville Island and Stanley Park. I don’t remember those floating houses. What a sight that must be. It also took me a bit to figure out that truck in your photo. It’s very clever.

    • January 16, 2017 / 4:08 pm

      Its a fab city isn’t it – one i could live in I think!