When people ask for the best things to do in Vancouver it’s hard to give definitive recommendations. Real talk: there are an endless amount of awesome things do in Vancouver. I mean, after all, this city embodies much of what makes Canada such an amazing country to visit! There’s spectacular nature, bustling city life, an incredible food scene, and an endless range of beautiful sights, cool activities, and very very polite people (hi!).
So, the next time you find yourself wondering what to do in Vancouver, here are just a few ideas!
Places to visit in Vancouver
1. The Stanley Park Seawall
FALLin’ in love with this season😍🍂 📷: @al_szajman
Walking the seawall is hands down one of my favourite Vancouver activities, although many prefer to bike it. You start off with an unbeatable view of Vancouver’s glass skyline, and then proceed to pass countless cool landmarks like the Stanley Park totem poles, Lionsgate Bridge, Siwash Rock and more. A real must-do!
2. Granville Island
All aboard 📷: @2_kee
Located under the Granville Street Bridge, this little peninsula is home to tons of amazing little shops, restaurants, and an awesome brewery. Don’t miss the public market, which boasts all sorts of incredible produce and food products to sample, and try to fit in an improv show at Theatresports if you can (more on this later). For a really fun treat, ride the rainbow-coloured Aquabus across False Creek. Yes, we did say rainbow-coloured Aquabus and yes, it is as cool as it sounds!
Pink on black🌸🌑 📷: @lauriane_dcs
The oldest and most “European” part of Vancouver features gorgeous cobblestoned streets, lovely boutiques, and a variety of hip places to grab a bite. The touristy ‘must-sees’ include the Steam Clock and the Gassy Jack statue – (too many beans Jack?!). The best way to experience Gastown is to settle into a café, or patio when it’s nice out, and enjoy the stellar ambience. Don’t worry about the name, Gastown smells much better than it sounds!
4. Chinatown/Doctor Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden
China or Canada? 📷: @thephotogeniccity
Vancouver’s Chinatown is easy to reach from the heart of downtown, and offers a wide range of great eats and shops. The most spectacular sight of course is the Doctor Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden, which is a genuine oasis in the middle of the city. While the garden itself has an entrance fee, the park connected to it offers very similar views and is 100% free! Let’s keep that between you and me…
5. Capilano Suspension Bridge
Would you cross this bridge? 📷: @jamierez
Vancouver is one of the few cities where you can find a rainforest only ten minutes away from downtown! The Capilano Suspension Bridge is a great place to visit if you want to get immersed in nature, plus there’s a free shuttle bus that runs from the downtown core. The entrance fee is rather pricey, so if you’re looking for a free alternative, the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge is a smaller and less touristy spot that offers a similar experience.
6. Canada Place
Mirrored beauty! 📷: @stennertravel
Located right by the waterfront, you can walk along “The Great Canadian Trail” to learn some more about our country and its history, while checking out the iconic sails that light up in cool colours at night. My tip: after seeing Canada Place, walk over to the Convention Centre and then onward to the Coal Harbour seawall, one of best places to visit in Vancouver!
7. The Olympic Village
Where’s my pot of gold?🌈 📷: @fernanda.psychotherapy
Some of the coolest sights in Vancouver can be spotted along the False Creek Seawall! Start your walk at Science World (the city’s glittering disco ball), marvel at our space ship-esque BC Place, and (if you’re up for a big walk), trek through the Olympic Village, all the way to Granville Island. You’ll see tons of impressive art and sculptures along the way to satisfy your inner culture snob.
The best things to eat in Vancouver
1. Eat your weight in sushi
Fish-tastic! 📷: @traciklassen
One of the best byproducts of our seaside location and multicultural community is that our sushi scene is unreal. The best part is, there’s sushi options for every budget. There’s cheap (even all you can eat options) around town, but if you’re feeling for a real splurge, Miku is recognized as one of the best restaurants in Vancouver, with aburi-style sushi that will blow your mind.
2. Try some crazy ice cream
I’ll take two please 📷: @georgiaetkatie
Hey! What’s cooler than being cool? ICE COLD! Plain soft serve, liquid nitrogen-prepped, ice-fried – you name it and Vancouver has it! This city is home to some insane ice cream choices (including La Casa Gelato, which has 200+ flavours alone).
3. Sample Vancouver’s amazing craft beer scene
Gotta try them all 📷: craftbeeryvr
There’s over 50 craft brewers in the city, so be sure to grab a beer or two while you’re here. Beer flights are commonplace at many restaurants, but Craft and St. Augustine’s have some of the best selection. Trust us, they’re beery, beery good!
4. Indulge in some Canadian classics
We bet you can’t drink more than one! 📷: @scoreondavie
Poutine and Caesars are two of the foods most commonly associated with Canada, and Vancouver does them well. Downtown, La Belle Patate serves an authentically Quebecois poutine (with perfectly squeaky cheese curds) and just a few blocks further, you’ll find the Score on Davie, which has some of the craziest Caesar garnishes in the country! Imagine a cocktail topped with grilled cheese sandwiches, or even a full roast chicken. Time to start clogging up those arteries!
5. Become a coffee snob
I can practically smell the coffee! ☕️ 📷: @timbertrain
The third wave coffee craze hit Vancouver hard, and we have plenty of awesome cafes to show for it. Whether you’re craving a perfect pour over, a simple espresso treat, or even a ‘coffee flight’ with different samples, you’re bound to find something you like. Revolver, Timbertrain, 49th Parallel and Prado are popular favourites among locals.
6. Visit Richmond for some authentic Asian cuisine
What a feast! 📷: @mamkannika
The city of Richmond is connected to downtown via public transit, and is a real slice of Asia right here in the Greater Vancouver area. You’ll find some of the best and most authentic Asian food here. Tourism Richmond even has a thing called “the Dumpling Trail”, with a map you can follow to sample some of the city’s best dumplings! For real.
7. Get some fresh seafood
OI Sir, how about some oysters?! 📷: @joefortesvan
Oysters and salmon and mussels oh my! Vancouver has all sorts of great seafood options, but if you want to experience some of the best while on a budget, look out for ‘buck a shuck’ specials where you can get oysters for only a $1! Some of the best seafood places in Vancouver (like Joe Fortes and Chewies) offer this deal daily during Happy Hour.
The best fun things to do in Vancouver
1. Catch a world-class improv show
Hey Chewy, wanna catch a show? 📷: @vantheatresports
Vancouver’s TheatreSports is one of the best improv shows in the world, with a stellar cast, fun theme shows and famous alumni like Ryan Stiles and Colin Mochrie from Whose Line is it Anyway. TIP: They have a special called “Half Price Hilarity” on Wednesday and Thursday nights where you can get tickets for 50% off!
2. Hop around a trampoline park
Jump in! 📷: @extremeairparkcanada
Imagine a giant indoor park where you can hop on trampoline floors and walls, backflip into pits of foam, and slam dunk on a trampoline basketball court. Let your dreams come true at Extreme Air Park! With a few different locations in the Greater Vancouver Area, you should definitely try one out if you have extra time… so hop to it!
3. Go hunting for crazy public art
Pretty lady! 📷: @13shazzy
From giant jellybeans to a lego orca whale, Vancouver has a pretty quirky taste in public art. If street art is more your thing, don’t miss the many cool murals in Vancouver’s East Side. Save some dosh by going self-guided and taking in all the colourful graffiti.
4. Snoop around for filming sites
Glorious fall colours! 📷: @weredogs
Vancouver is known as Hollywood North, and for good reason! Dozens of production companies film here at any given time, so it won’t be tough for you to stumble upon a film set while walking around. In the past, I’ve walked right onto the sets of Godzilla, Arrow and even 50 Shades of Grey… 😉 You can keep tabs on what’s filming by visiting websites such as YVRshoots.
5. Go museum hopping
Edgy 📷: @vanartgallery
No matter what you’re interested in, there’s probably a museum that suits your taste. The Vancouver Art Gallery and UBC Museum of Anthropology have really impressive collections but those more interested in science/space should check out Science World, maybe it’s aimed at kids, but hey, kids at heart count too! The H.R. MacMillan Space Centre also has a cool AF motion simulator
6. Hit the beach
Bitchin’ beaches 📷: @weipu
People always assume that Canada is cold all the time. I’m sorry to break it to you that we do not live in igloos, and it actually gets pretty hot during the summer, which means plenty of opportunities for beach time! English Bay is a popular one downtown, but Kitsilano Beach is also lovely. For those keen to try some nude sunbathing (oi oi!), Wreck Beach if your best bet, located near the gorgeous University of British Columbia campus.
PS: If you happen to be in Vancouver during July-August, keep an eye out for the Celebration of Light, an annual fireworks show and competition that fills Vancouver’s beaches with thousands of spectators. It’s epic, and totally free.