Since the 1986 World Expo and the 2010 Olympic Games, Vancouver, Canada, has been in the spotlight as a world-class city. Vancouver is nestled at the foot of rugged mountains, and it’s oceanfront seaside city boasts a stunning skyline view. Its downtown Stanley Park is rated one of the best urban green spaces globally.
I’m fortunate to call this incredible city my home. It offers visitors unique attractions, world-class cuisine, and a gateway to exploring other parts of Canada. Vancouver will wow you with its beauty, diversity, and lifestyle, whether you visit for a long weekend, a week, or an extended period.
Let’s not forget, Vancouverites are health conscious. So, many of the city’s activities are outdoor focused. Its beaches, hiking trails, and bike lanes are always busy in summer. However, the winter mountains bring skiers and snowboarders to enjoy its powdery slopes. When you visit, here are some must-see places in Vancouver, Canada.
Things To Do In Vancouver, British Columbia
1) Granville Island
With over 300 shops, theaters, a market, entertainers, and fantastic oceanfront restaurants, you can spend all day at Granville Island. Located on a peninsula under the Granville Street Bridge, the city converted its industrial warehouses into trendy boutiques and a bustling market offering fresh baked goods, locally caught seafood, and gourmet ingredients.
If you arrive at the Granville Island Market hungry, prepare to have your senses teased with incredible smells, sights, and food tastings. By picking up cheese, bread, meat, and pastries from various vendors, visitors can enjoy an impromptu picnic next to the water.
One of the biggest attractions for visitors is the cement silos at Ocean Concrete. Once dusty and unattractive, the six towers now glow in vibrant colors depicting six jovial characters. The “Giants,” which stand 70 feet tall, is the brainchild of Brazilian artists Gustavo and Otavio Pandolfo. Today, the Giants are one of the most photographed attractions in the city.
Granville Island is a foodie’s paradise with some incredible patio restaurants. They offer a mix of tasty seafood dishes, west coast cuisine, and steaks done to perfection. Add to the meal some locally crafted beer or wine and a killer waterfront view, and you have the recipe for a perfect Vancouver outing.
From downtown, visitors can reach Granville Island by Aquabus. These colorful boats ferry travelers across False Creek for a small fee. For CAD 17, visitors can enjoy a tour of the waterfront. During the ride, see the sites of BC Place Stadium, Olympic Village, Science World, and more.
2) Vancouver Olympic Cauldron
Although it’s been more than a decade since Vancouver hosted the 2010 Olympic Games, an Olympic icon still remains. Located in Jack Poole Plaza, next to the Vancouver Convention Center, the Cauldron represents Vancouver’s Olympic history. Due to cost, the 10-meter glass and metal structure remain unlit, but the Cauldron makes for great Instagram photos.
Nearby, you can climb to the roof of the Convention Center. You can enjoy the Cauldron, Burrard Inlet, and the North Shore Mountain views from the grass rooftop. A few hundred feet from the Olympic symbol, the Digital Orca, stands prominent with black and white blocks. Almost eight meters high, the stacked blocks symbolize a killer whale and look a lot like giant Lego bricks.
Here, you can stroll the waterfront and enjoy views of Stanley Park to the west and the Vancouver cruise terminal to the east.
3) Stanley Park
With 1,000 acres of pristine rainforest, Vancouverites love and appreciate their “Stanley Park.” It’s not surprising, TripAdvisor rated it as the world’s best urban park. Often referred to as the “crown jewel” of Vancouver, Stanley Park offers a mix of flower gardens, forest trails, and sandy beaches.
Although part of a metropolitan city, Stanley Park is home to various creatures. It’s not unusual to see swans, Canada Geese, raccoons, bald eagles, and blue herons around Lost Lagoon. In other parts of the park, you may see beavers and coyotes.
A meandering seawall surrounds the park, and its looping pathway totals 10 km in length. The seawall attracts thousands who come to walk, run, and bike the path in the summer. Close to the park, numerous bike shops offer single and tandem bikes rentals. If you prefer not to walk or bike, a horse-drawn carriage allows visitors to enjoy the scenic drive around the park.
Whether you spend an hour, half a day, or all day in the park, it has something for everyone. The water park, Stanley Park Train, and Vancouver Aquarium are the perfect venues for families. The most popular attractions are the totem poles at Brockton Point and the Prospect Point Lookout, which allows for picturesque views of the Lionsgate Bridge and the North Shore.
4) Flyover Canada
Home to Vancouver’s cruise terminal, Canada Place also houses a popular attraction. At the end of the pier, FlyOver Canada allows you to see the most breathtaking sceneries of the country without leaving Vancouver. On the family-friendly 4D ride, feel the movement motions from your movable seat while a film plays on a circular screen.
The simulated flight soars over the Canadian Rockies, through Iceberg Alley in Newfoundland, and witnesses the Northern Lights. While the ride is only eight minutes, you’ll feel the rumble of stampeding horses, the mist of Niagara Falls, and the wind in your hair as you swoop down across the wheat fields.
Sometimes, FlyOver Canada offers limited shows like FlyOver Iceland and FlyOver Hawaii. In December, film-goers enjoy a simulated sleigh ride across Canada that ends in the North Pole. Since the attraction takes place indoors, it makes for a great Vancouver rainy day activity.
5) Capilano Suspension Bridge
The Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, north of Vancouver, wows everyone with its swaying bridge over the Capilano River. Quickly reached on the complimentary shuttle bus from downtown, the park attracts locals and visitors who come to test their fear of heights on many attractions in the park. While busiest in the summer months, don’t let the crowds prevent you from visiting.
While many come to walk the long bridge across the canyon, the park has other points of interest. The Treetop Adventures includes a series of smaller suspension bridges 30 meters high in the canopy. In the summer, visitors can view and learn about some birds of prey. The Capilano Suspension Bridge’s newest attraction is the Cliffwalk.
The narrow semi-circular walkway hangs from the side of a granite cliff and is not for the faint of heart. The one-way catwalk continues along the ridge, offering stunning views of the canyon, river, and waterfall below.
Open year-round, the Capilano Suspension Park hosts “Canyon Lights” in December. With thousands of twinkling lights, the park attracts locals who come to enjoy the Christmas spirit. Be sure to bundle up because it can get frigid when the sun goes down.
Canyon Lights is the perfect winter outings for families. During your visit, have your photo taken in a sleigh, decorate Christmas cookies, spot illuminated owls in the trees, and make Christmas cards.
6) Grouse Mountain
Another favorite amongst locals and visitors is Grouse Mountain. Directly north of downtown Vancouver, Grouse Mountain offers a year-round attraction. In winter, locals enjoy the slopes for skiing and snowboarding. However, the warmer weather allows for hiking, ziplining, paragliding, and enjoying the aerial views of Vancouver.
The “Eye of the Wind,” a tall wind turbine, allows visitors to enjoy 360-degree mountains and city views. In another area, the birds of motion showcase a selection of prey birds. During the show, you’ll witness the Peregrine Falcon, the fastest creature in the world, fly over the audience.
The highlight for many is the mountain’s residents, two male grizzly bears. Named Grinder and Coola, the orphaned bears were rescued and given a large enclosure on Grouse Mountain. At 20 years old, these bears have grown up as best friends, unlike male grizzly bears in the wild. They hibernate like other bears, and you can see their activity on bear cams.
Take to the mountain on a trail instead of the expensive gondola for fitness fanatics. At 2.9 km, the Grouse Grind tests your fitness level on a grueling 850-meter elevation gain trail. The one-way path consists of a series of switchbacks and stairs, lots and lots of stairs. Each summer, 150,000 people tackle the Grouse Grind. Will you be one of them?
7) Museum Of Anthropology
A trip to the University of British Columbia (UBC) offers excellent hiking trails, beautiful gardens, and the Museum of Anthropology. Located in an impressive building designed by architect Arthur Erickson, the museum exhibits items from BC’s First Nations and other great finds from around the globe.
The carvings, totem poles, ceramics, and weavings all have explanations of their origins. One of the museum’s amazing collections is the artwork of Canadian artist Bill Reid.
The Nitobe Memorial Garden represents an authentic Japanese garden close to the museum. Although small, it’s part of the larger UBC gardens. Visitors can also see the Greenheart TreeWalk, which features some suspension bridges in the tree canopy. The UBC garden sees fewer visitors, which is reminiscent of the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park.
Although much of Vancouver has been developed with modern high-rises, a historic district still remains. A favorite amongst visitors, Gastown oozes charm with its cobblestone streets, unique lamp posts, and Victorian architecture.
While it has numerous quaint boutiques and trendy restaurants, most come to see its steam clock. Constructed in 1977 over a city steam vent, the world-famous clock gathers a crowd every 15 minutes. Like clockwork, it puts on a show, whistling and steaming to the delight of the crowds.
Initially, the clock served two purposes. It prevented the Victorian vent from being slept on by homeless individuals. Also, the neighborhood hoped the clock would attract tourists to Gastown. As one of the last remaining steam clocks in operation today, the clock serves Vancouver as a popular tourist attraction.
9) Vancouver Lookout
To the west of Gastown, the Vancouver Lookout allows visitors to enjoy aerial views of the city. Located in the Harbor Center, a glass elevator offers an exhilarating 40-second ride to the top. At the observation deck, a circular platform provides 360-degree views.
Informational plaques give a detailed history of some buildings and highlight the city’s prominent landmarks. During your visit, you’ll admire views of Stanley Park, False Creek, Gastown, Burrard Inlet, and the North Shore mountains.
Like the CN Tower, the Lookout has a revolving restaurant. Tickets for the Vancouver Lookout last all day. So, see the city during the day, and return later to watch the sunset and enjoy the nighttime views.
10) Queen Elizabeth Park
Dedicated in 1939 to Queen Elizabeth (Queen’s mum), Queen Elizabeth Park sits on Vancouver’s highest piece of land. You can enjoy stunning city views and a stroll through its beautiful gardens with a high elevation. Its pristine gardens are planted in old quarries, and the blossoms are fantastic to see in spring.
While the Vancouver park charges no fee for visitation, visitors can pay CAD 7.05 for admission to the Bloedel Observatory. The Observatory’s dome contains a tropical oasis of plants and colorful birds. The park also includes a pitch and putt, lawn bowling green, off-leash dog area, and a rose garden.
Queen Elizabeth Park’s newest attraction, “Love in the Rain,” features four couples made of wire. The art installation allows park-goers to attach a love lock to its wired structure. Nearby, a large key box encourages visitors to drop their keys which are recycled into future artwork.
Vancouver’s Food Scene
For those who love to experience diverse food or try new restaurants, Vancouver is the place to be. Known as a foodie city, you can experience different flavors every night. With a large population of Asians, the city has an abundance of Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Malaysian, and Philippian restaurants.
Add first-class eateries offering Mediterranean, Greek, Italian, and Persian food to the mix, and you’re in cuisine heaven. Also, Vancouver is home to numerous micro-breweries, so visitors have many choices in craft beer and food tours.
Let’s not forget the food trucks, which offer excellent quick meals that don’t sacrifice flavor. With hundreds of food trucks in Vancouver, it’s easy to grab food with a busy itinerary.
Staying In Vancouver
Vancouver, Canada, has large chain hotels like Fairmont, Marriott, Shangri-La, Delta, and Hyatt. But being the most expensive city in the country, those decadent hotels command high prices. If you’re looking to get spoiled, by all means, choose a high-end stay downtown.
Downtown offers some less costly boutique hotels for those who prefer to save money. While still expensive, travelers can save money by selecting a hotel outside the downtown core.
Getting Around Vancouver
While most visitors tend to rent a vehicle, travelers can see Vancouver without a car. The Skytrain, Vancouver’s rapid transit system, transports people to downtown on a quick and inexpensive ride from the airport. With lots of stations, it’s easy to get around using Skytrain.
When staying downtown, the Aquabus ferries travelers across False Creek. It’s a great mode of transportation to reach Granville Island, Science World and Olympic Village.
Vancouver is a bike-friendly city. It has a myriad of bike lanes. With plenty of bike rental shops near Stanley Park, you can see the city on two wheels instead of four.
As you can see, Vancouver offers many attractions in its world-class city, and I’ve just begun to scratch the surface. With so much to see and do, expect your visit to Canada’s west coast to be a busy one.
We hope this article has inspired you to visit Vancouver, British Columbia. If you have any questions or advice to share with our readers, please leave these in the comments below.
Want to share your own travel tips by guest writing for We Are Travel Girls? Go to our Contribute page for guidelines and to submit your article.
Read More About Canada
- 5 Beautiful Lakes To See In Banff, Canada
- Whistler Village And Sea To Sky Highway In Summer
- 5 Places To Go In Toronto As A Couple
- Wellington: A Little Bit Of Serenity Outside Of Toronto
Pin For Later