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The 15 Best Things To Do In Vancouver

Vancouver is a spectacular city woven into the natural world that surrounds it. Framed by mountains, rivers, old growth forests and the Pacific Ocean, the city’s postcard quality vistas are undeniable. More than just aesthetically beautiful, Vancouver has substance, diversity and culture that shine through in the epic food scene, gardens and traditions shaped by waves of migration to the west coast.

Originally named Gastown, the settlement was established in 1867 by sailor “Gassy Jack”, who convinced local timber cutters to build him a saloon in exchange for as much whisky as they could drink in one sitting. Shortly after, a tavern was erected and a town was born. The popular tavern and town came to be known as Gassy’s town, or Gastown for short. Eventually, the British colonials would aim to disassociate from the seedy origins. The city was renamed in 1871 after British navigator George Vancouver, who landed on Vancouver Island back in 1792. Today, Gastown is the thriving historic hub of the city boasting fantastic dining and entertainment, and is an absolute must for every visitor to Vancouver.

Cognizant of the incredible setting that the city has been placed, residents of Vancouver have designed the city with sustainability in mind from the early days. Today, residents and visitors can enjoy clean beaches, preserved forests, and mile after mile of scenic pedestrian and cycle paths that help encourage a healthy and active lifestyle. These are just a few of the reasons that Vancouver is regularly recognized as one of the most liveable cities in the world, and is high on every travellers bucket list.

Now that you’ve got a little background on the city, take the next step and start planning your trip with our list of the best things to do in Vancouver.

What to do in Vancouver

1. Stanley Park

Spend some time discovering one of the oldest and most spectacular parks in the world. Explore the kilometres of trails, beautiful beaches and unique wildlife across this magical space that spans more than 1000 hectares.

2. Grouse Mountain 

Overlooking it all, Grouse Mountain is a fantastic viewpoint over the marvel of urban planning that is Vancouver. An outdoor playground all year round, hike to the top in the spring and summer, and return for skiing in the winter. Grouse Mountain is an amazing place to visit any time of year.

3. Fly Over Vancouver in a Seaplane

Get the best views in town from above. The very best way to take in the majesty and beauty of Vancouver is to hire a charter sea plane and tour the incredible pacific coastline. You’ll take in sights like Stanley Park, English Bay, Lionsgate Bridge and more.  

4. Capilano Suspension Bridge & Cliff-walk

Built in 1889, Capilano Suspension Bridge takes you across the Capilano river and into the treetops of the rainforest 110 feet above the forest floor, on 7 suspended footbridges. Take the cliff-walk along a granite precipice on cantilevered bridges, stairs, and platforms. 

5. Sea to Sky Gondola

An eye-popping 45 minute drive from downtown Vancouver will take you to the start of a spectacular gondola ride. The 10 minute ride overlooks snow-capped mountains and Howe Sound sprinkled with green islands amongst the fjords. Arriving at Summit Lodge, the vistas are incredible from the 100m Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge.

6. Vancouver Seawall

The world’s longest waterfront uninterrupted pathway, the Vancouver Seawall stretches over 28km from Vancouver Convention Centre to Spanish Banks Park. Walk, jog or cycle along this picturesque spot and soak up the energy.

7. Whale Watching

Teeming with wildlife, the Pacific coast waters surrounding Vancouver are simply amazing. Appreciate the natural beauty and diversity of life in this special corner of the world. Orcas, humpbacks, dolphins and many more can be spotted in the water, while several sea bird species circle over head.

tall trees on the hillside at Grouse Mountain in Vancouver

8. Granville Island

Granville Island is a wonderful full day out when visiting Vancouver. Spend the day exploring the industrial past of Western Canada. Today, the spirit of industry lives on in the artisans and craftsmen that live, work and play here.

9. Vancouver Aquarium

Located in Stanley Park, Canada’s first and largest public aquarium is well worth a visit. More than just animal exhibits, Vancouver Aquarium is also a centre of marine research, conservation and animal rehabilitation.

10. Gastown

Welcome to Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood. Gastown is the home of the city. Born from the desires for a tavern by the infamous “Gassy Jack”, Gastown is the historic centre of the city. Today, Gastown is full of amazing restaurants, bars and chic shops.

11.Granville Island Public Market

The beating heart of Granville Island, the Public Market is at the centre of everything on Granville Island. A vibrant community and popular tourist attraction, the market is a foodie’s haven. Top chefs from around the city and beyond can often be spotted checking out the produce brought in from fertile regions across the province.
 

12. Richmond Night Market

With over a million visitors annually, the Richmond Night Market has become a major attraction. Since it’s inaugural year in 2000, foodies have flocked to Richmond to enjoy amazing international dishes whilst soaking up the cool vibe of the market.

13. Kitsilano Beach

A popular hangout facing English Bay, Kits Beach is one of the most picturesque beaches in any city in the world. Play basketball, frisbee, soak up some sun or wind surf. It’s hard to believe all this is available right in the city.

14. Vandusen Botanical Garden

With over 7500 plant species spread over 55 acres of land, Vandusen Botanical Garden is a beautiful and tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of metropolitan life.

15. Dr. Sun Yat Sen

In the heart of Chinatown, the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Garden is the first of it’s kind outside China. Walk along the winding paths along tranquil ponds, rock formations and beautiful plants.

Hang Out in Yaletown

Once the terminus of the railway, Yaletown has undergone several reinventions over the years. Today, Yaletown is one of the coolest neighbourhoods in Canada. Situated along the south sea wall, this beautiful stretch of land connects parks and greenspace with modern art installations sprinkled throughout. It’s easy to spend a day popping in and out of cafes and trendy shops. Looking for a bite to eat or some lively nightlife? Yaletown has that too. 

Lions Gate Bridge at night
Clock in Gastown Vancouver
buildings line a street in Vancouver at dusk

Vancouver Events

Dine Out Vancouver Festival

A near month long celebration of food and drink, Dine Out Vancouver is Canada’s largest celebration of it’s kind. 

Cherry Blossom Festival

With over 40,000 Cherry Blossom trees, Vancouver has become a top destination for celebrating the beautiful pink flowers that bloom from the end of March to mid-April.

Celebration of Light

Lighting up the sky above English Bay, the celebration of light is Vancouver’s largest fireworks display and one of the city’s signature summer events. Taking place over three nights at the end of July, this fireworks display is a beautiful and mesmerizing summer celebration.

TED Conference

Stimulating and informative, the TED Conference has been helping spread ideas and innovation around the world. This annual event tends to take place in the spring, so be sure to check the official website for scheduling details.

Vancouver Folk Festival

Discover established and up-and-coming folk artists at this epic music festival on Jericho Beach. Taking place over the third weekend on July, it’s a fantastic way place to chill out with friends while checking out some amazing acts.

Vancouver International Wine Festival

The Vancouver International Wine Festival is the premier food and wine event in Vancouver. Showcasing international and local vintners this is a great way to learn about wine in  fun and educational way. 

Vancouver Pride Festival

Taking place in the first week of August, this week long celebration of the LGBTQIA2+ community culminates in a large parade on the second last day.