Best Things to do in Vancouver | Canada

A colourful sunset at English Bay, Vancouver

Top 15 best things to do in

Vancouver

city renamed
acres of stanley park
km of coastal paths
visible minority population
%
city residents (2016)
arial view of vancouver from a sea plane
iconic triangle building in Gastwon Vancouver
Capilano suspension bridge above thick forest in Vancouver

The Top 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.

Planning a trip to Vancouver? Check out our comprehensive list of the 31 Most Instagrammable Places in Vancouver.

Top 16 Best Things to do in Toronto | Canada

Top things to do in Toronto, Toronto Skyline

Top 16 Best things to do in

Toronto, Canada

annual visitors
million
pro sports teams
residents
million
languages spoken
pop. born outside canada
%

Top 16 Best Things to do in Toronto

Planning a trip to Toronto? Well, this guide is the perfect place to get started. Find all the best things to do and awesome places to discover in this amazing city.

Toronto is a city with something for everyone. An endless food scene, multicultural population, daily live sports and entertainment and an incredibly fun nightlife. These are just a few of the reasons travellers from around the world keep coming back year after year.

If you visit in the summer, Toronto is an absolute playground. Bars and restaurants take dining and nightlife outdoors; parks and islands are full of sunseekers, and the events calendar is consistently busy with festivals of all sorts on a weekly basis.

Although the winters can be harsh, don’t let that stop you. With a little planning and of course warm clothing, you’ll discover another side of the city that you’re sure to love.

People walk along the Harbourfront, Toronto Canada

What to do in Toronto

1. Visit the CN Tower

Standing at 553.33m, the CN tower is the dominant feature of the Toronto skyline. Built by Canadian National railway over the course of 40 months, the doors opened to the public in 1976. The CN tower is a major attraction that invites visitors to ride the elevator to the top where they can enjoy panoramic views of the city. Even more exciting is the glass floor that allows you to take in the views, tiny people, cars and the Rogers Centre stadium below. The CN tower also offers a fantastic restaurant called 360. For the adrenaline junkies, the Edgewalk offers people the opportunity to strap in and walk around the external perimeter of the tower adding to an already epic experience.

2. Toronto Islands

Hop on a 13 minute ferry ride to the Toronto Islands Park. A series of 15 interconnected islands linked by paths and bridges. The entire area is 5km wide and can easily be walked from end to end, Ward’s Island to Hanlan’s Point. If you’re tight on time, consider renting a bicycle which will allow you to see much more of the islands while also taking it all in at a leisurely pace. Spend the day on a beach or in a beautiful park with amazing skyline views across Lake Ontario. Among the highlights, is a 200 year old lighthouse that’s definitely worth checking out. You can also enjoy something to eat or drink at a restaurant or cafe.

3. Raptors Basketball

Kick off your weekend with a Friday night watching a Toronto Raptors home game. The 2019 NBA World Champions have one of the liveliest atmospheres in sports. DJ’s, fun halftime shows and of course a competitive team that works hard to entertain the fans. It’s no wonder Drake is a courtside fixture at Raptors games. Going to a Raptors game is also a great way to get a taste for the diversity of the city. Fans from all walks of life come together to support their favourite team. 

4. Royal Ontario Museum 

The ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) is the largest museum in Canada and one of the largest in North America. Founded in 1914, the ROM showcases art, culture and natural history from around the world. The building is home to over 13 million artworks to discover. The museum itself is eye catching with a unique architectural design by Darling & Pearson. There is something for everyone with exhibits about dinosaurs, meteorites, fine art and art deco. It’s easy to see why the ROM is Canada’s most visited museum.

5. Discover AGO

Check out the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) that boasts a  collection of close to 95,000 pieces of art including from the most famous collective of artist in Canada, the Group of Seven. The gallery is also hosts several exhibitions by Canadian indigenous artists. Each year, the gallery welcomes nearly 1,000,000 visitors, after just a few minutes exploring the breath taking building and exhibits, it is easy to see why this is one of the best things to do in Toronto.

6. Queen West

Widely recognized as Canada’s coolest street, Queen West offers miles of trendy fashion, hip eateries and niche shops to check out. Venture down queen window shopping, then kick back and rest your legs at Trinity Bellwoods Park. The park is the prime hangout for the areas local residents. Bring some beers, a blanket, frisbee or football and chill in the sunshine. When you’re ready to resume, head south one block and explore graffiti alley, block after block of murals and art pieces that showcase Toronto’s best street artists and cultural icons like the late great Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip.

7. St. Lawrence Market

Hang out in Old Toronto. Historical buildings, Office skyscrapers and enough bars and restaurants to keep you entertained during your stay. St.Lawrence is home to two of Toronto’s most iconic buildings. The St.Lawrence Market is a delicious escape. Snack on cheeses, fine pastries and Canadian bacon sandwiches and much more. On your way to the market you’ll undoubtedly be struck by the Godderham Building, Situated on the corner of Wellington Street at Front. The building is the focus of many photographers that set up to capture the iconic architecture reminiscent of the Flatiron building in New York City.

8. Nightlife: Dinner & Drinks

Toronto has one of the world’s truly great food scenes. A truly international city with an equally diverse array of restaurants to suit any taste. From Cuban to Filipino and everything in between, toronto boasts incredible restaurants to begin the perfect night out. We highly suggest making your way outside the entertainment district to Ossington, Queen West, Dundas and College to discover the local favourites. Trendy cocktail bars are readily available in the area as well and you will not be disappointed with the taste or the prices. Some of our favourites include: Terroni, Rhum Corner, Bar Raval, Byblos & Chantecler.

9. Hockey Hall of Fame

Hockey is Canada’s game. Learn about the storied history of the game at the Hockey Hall of Fame located just minutes from Union station. It is widely believed that the game was invented in Montreal in the 19th century. As the game grew, a league emerged called the NHL with six original teams (Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers) Today there are 31 teams playing across Canada and the United States. The Hockey Hall of Fame pays tribute to the game in an interactive way that allows fans to learn about the game and come closer to the best players and memorable moments that built the sport.

10. Toronto Blue Jays

There is no better way to spend a sunny summer day in Toronto than outside in the bleachers with a beer in hand. The Toronto Blue Jays play at the Rogers Centre (formerly known as the Skydome) right next door to the CN Tower. The team consistently has a decent roster, and often welcomes the biggest teams in the sport. The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox are frequent visitors and offer a glimpse at some of the very best players in the sport. The stadium also has few bad seats, so whether you’re willing to spend $100+ for up close, lower bowl seats; or under $20 in the nosebleeds, you can rest assured that you’ll be able to take in the action and the vibe no matter where you’re seated.

11. Distillery District

Toronto’s historic distillery district is a must for any first time visitor to the city. Reclaimed from years of decay, the district was renovated and brought back to life with boutique shops, fine restaurants and bars and nightlife. Open only to pedestrians, the area was designed to be reminiscent of european walking and patio districts blended with the trendy areas of SoHo or Chelsea in New York city to create an atmosphere that is inviting, fun, relaxed and dynamic. Every season, the district welcomes new art installations that keep the area interesting and a point of attraction for Torontonians and tourists alike.

12. Kensington Market

Kensington Market is the perfect place to spend a lazy day in the sunshine. The market is open for pedestrian traffic all day on Saturdays where tourists and locals wander from unique boutique shops to delicious restaurants with an international flare. Soak up a few hour of people watching from the comfort of a suntrap patio with an icy cold drink in hand. 

13. Casa Loma

Casa Loma is the Castle on the hill in midtown Toronto. Originally built in 1914, the castle is now a listed heritage building owned by the city of Toronto. Spend the day exploring the beautiful grounds and getting a glimpse into the past of the city. Casa Loma hosts over 250 events a year including parties, weddings and even a popular site for filming television and movies. The castle is also home to fine dining establishments like Blueblood Steakhouse and Don Alfonso 1890 where Michelin star chefs ply their craft.

14. Nathan Phillips Square 

The seat of Toronto’s City Hall, Nathan Philipps Square is a large public square that hosts many of the biggest events in the city. From fireworks displays, to food festivals, there’s always something going on. It’s also home to the iconic TORONTO sign that reminds you are in Canada’s cultural capital. In the winter, you can go ice skating with the backdrop of the 70s era building as a backdrop. You also cannot miss it. Located at Bay st & Queen St. you’re sure to walk past during your stay.

15. Bata Shoe Museum

Regardless of whether you’re into shoes or not, the Bata Museum is a fascinating collection of shoes from around the world that you simply have to check out. Housed in an impressive, award winning architectural marvel designed by Raymond Moriyama. Founded by Sonia Bata in 1979, the personal collection turned exhibition covers over 4500 years of shoes and 1000 pairs permanently displayed.

16. High Park

Every great city has a great park for locals to unwind, enjoy and escape the concrete jungle. Toronto is no different. High Park is located in the west side of Toronto between Bloor St. and Lakeshore Boulevard. The park boasts more than one third of its total area dedicated to original natural growth. The rest of the park is shared with gardens, spots fields and walking trails for all to enjoy. High Park is also the best place in the city to enjoy the Cherry Blossoms in the spring. Cross country skiing in the winter and the free zoo that is home to domestic and exotic animals like llamas, sheep, deer, bison, peacocks and more.

People sit in cafe area at the Art Gallery of Ontario AGO
ROM building in Toronto at night

Day Trip to Niagara Falls

Perhaps no place captures the imagination of visitors to Canada like Niagara Falls. For over 200 years people have flocked to this immense wonder of he world to stand in amazement watching mother nature in all her glory. The 12.000 year old falls are made of of three distinct waterfalls: Horseshoe Falls, American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. Tourists can join a boat tour on the Maid of the Mist which is as exhilerating an experience as it is wet. From Toronto, you can get ot Niagara falls within 2 hours, and should you wish can spend the night, there are several hotels available. Niagara Falls also has a bit of a carnival atmosphere with games, rides and even haunted houses, making for a great day out for couples and families. 

Best Events in Toronto 

Spring & Summer

Tastemaker Toronto

Global food festival at the historic Evergreen Brick Works building in the heart of the city kicks off the annual food calendar.

Pride Toronto

One of the largest Pride Festivals in the world, the week long celebration includes epic parties and a parade that is not to be missed.

Toronto Jazz Festival

The worlds top jazz musicians come together and perform at various venues across the city from intimate to grand halls.

Summerlicious

200 participating restaurants create a stunning array of three course dishes for all to enjoy.

Roger’s Cup Tennis

Top tennis players compete in a world-class tournament for one of the most prized trophies in tennis.

Toronto Caribbean Carnival

A cultural explosion of colours, tastes and music. The caribbean culture is celebrated at one of the largest festivals worldwide.

Taste of the Danforth

A showcase of Greek food and culture in the east side Greektown neighbourhood. Hugely popular, this is the place to dine in the summertime.

Autumn & Winter

TIFF

The world’s largest public Film Festival, over 300 films are screened for the first time while 100’s of Hollywood stars flock to the city for their premieres.

Just For Laughs

A hilarious comedy festival featuring the biggest names in comedy and some up and comers perform sets that will have your rolling in the aisles.

Nuit Blanche

An all night artistic affair, subways run all night taking people from one fascinating art exhibit to the next throughout the city.

Cavalcade of Lights

Kick off the Christmas holiday season with live music, fireworks and performances at Nathan Phillips Square. 

Toronto Christmas Markets

An old world tradition, vendors and food stalls set up selling holiday favourites in a warm and joyous atmosphere.

New Year’s Eve

Ring in the new year with thousands of merry souls at Nathan Phillips Square with fireworks overhead.

Winterlicious 

200 participating restaurants and top chefs prepare set menus of incredible three course meals. A fantastic celebration of international cuisine.

Featured Host

The Westin Harbour Castle

Discover the epitome of elegance and luxury at The Westin Harbour Castle in downtown Toronto. Nestled in the heart of the city’s financial district, this exceptional hotel offers a central location that puts you within easy reach of Toronto’s renowned attractions, theatres, shopping, and vibrant nightlife. With a range of well-appointed rooms and suites, exquisite dining options, breathtaking views of Lake Ontario, and top-notch amenities, the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel provides an unparalleled stay experience in the bustling metropolis of Toronto.