From soaring glass towers to eclectic neighbourhoods, from melodies of orcas to picturesque hiking trails, from huge collections of totem poles to some of the world-known festivals, Vancouver is the place where natural and human-made, historical and modern meet and harmoniously coexist.
Whether you’ve already been to Vancouver or you’re planning your first trip, have a look at this Vancouver travel guide to discover new places, events and things to do in Vancouver.
Places to Visit in Vancouver
How Long Should I stay in Vancouver?
Getting Around Vancouver
Best Time to Visit Vancouver
Festivals and Events in Vancouver
Vancouver at Night
Capilano Suspension Bridge
Easily reached in 15 minutes by car from downtown Vancouver, Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is one of the top naturally thrilling tourist attractions in British Columbia. While this might not be the best destination for the faint of heart, the ones enjoying the thrills of height will love it because the team knows how to exceed your expectations. The majesty of the long and high suspension bridge, the live energy of the rainforest complemented by human-made attractions and the spirit of Indigenous times make the park one of the top-notch destinations.
Things to Do in Capilano Suspension Bridge Park:
- brave the 450-foot-long bridge that soars 230 feet above the ground - endeavor treetop adventures - take your kids to the tree house - go on a history and nature tour - wander the walkways of the Cliffwalk
Find out more about interesting places and activities BC in our article on British Columbia.
A beautiful hill known as Grouse Mountain is one of the spots most beloved by the locals. From air tram rides to skiing to enjoying the wildlife, the mountain is a great place to watch Vancouver from the top and take in the beauty of Mother Nature.
Don’t forget about your ADMISSION TICKETS
Things to Do on Grouse Mountain:
- [go up the Grouse Grind](https://www.grousemountain.com/grousegrind) - visit the wildlife refuge - enjoy mountain zippiness - play disc golf - take a sky ride - [try a mountain ropes course](https://www.grousemountain.com/mountain-ropes-adventure) - literally high dining - enjoy the view from the peak chairlift
Located so close to the heart of the city, lush Stanley Park is still the place where nature reigns. 400 hectares are studded with trails, beaches, a tropical forest, rich cultural heritage and an imposing seawall. Seeing all the natural beauty, it’s hard to believe that some 200 years ago Stanley Park was a logging location, let alone that this is not a man’s creation but Mother Nature’s baby. There are some man-made installations in the park, though.
Things to do in Stanley Park:
- walk or cycle one of the trails - enjoy the flora and fauna - cycle the Seawall promenade - sunbathe on the beach - explore the most visited totem poles in BC - rent a kayak to navigate the English Bay - visit the aquarium, a polar bear exhibit, or ride the Stanley Park railway - take a picture near Stanley Park Hollow Tree
You’ll recognize Gastown for the old charming Steam Clock in pictures and the cobbled streets as you approach the neighbourhood. It is named after “gassy” Jack Deighton and is known as the city’s oldest neighbourhood. It experienced different stages in its history from decline to prosperity and finally was made a national historic site.
Come here for old-town vibes, good shopping and dining, Vancouver’s Flatiron Iron Building and the Steam Clock, which in fact, is no longer steam-powered but you’ll still see it shoot some steam every 15 minutes.
Interesting Fact: not so long ago, you could see the statue of Gassy Jack on one of the cobble streets of Gastown, however, the sordid past was one of the reasons the statue was toppled down.
Things to do in Gastown:
- watch the steam clock - check the souvenir shops - admire the old cobbled streets - take a picture of Vancouver’s Iron Building
Many say that missing out on Vancouver’s Chinatown equals not visiting Vancouver at all. One of the reasons for it is that Vancouver is home to the largest Chinatown in Canada. It’s interesting to know that Chinatown was built primarily on the money of Chinese immigrants.
Straight at the Grand Entrance, you’ll cross The Millennium Gate which symbolizes Chinatown’s Journey through times. In a few meters there awaits you a building that is not less grand in significance. Ever heard of Sam See Building? It is the narrowest building in the world being just 6 feet wide.
There is so much to discover in Chinatown but the most iconic attraction is probably Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden, a small but beautiful garden in the heart of Chinatown where you can fully embrace the tranquility.
Things to do in Chinatown, Vancouver:
- take a picture of the Millennium Gate - enjoy the tranquility of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden - have Chinese-style lunch in one of the restaurants - take a tour of the Sam See building - go grocery shopping and buy souvenirs at [Bamboo Village](https://bamboovillage.ca/) - buy matcha or sencha in Treasure Green (the authentic Chinese tea shop) - visit [Vancouver Police Museum](https://www.vancouverpolicemuseum.ca/visit)
Queen Elizabeth Park
Named after Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, the park has little to do with the brits. However, it’s been one of the green landmarks of Vancouver for decades. Although not as big as Stanley Park, it is still a kingdom of greenery on its own with around 1500 trees. People come here to have a walk, enjoy the unobstructed views of the city and mountains in the background.
Interesting Fact: There’s one tree in the park planted by Queen Elizabeth II which can be recognized by the plaque near it.
Things to do in Queen Elizabeth Park:
-walk through the Quarry Gardens - have a picnic - play some sports (tennis, disc golf, roller hockey, lawn bowling, frisbee) - enjoy the public art - take a picture at the Arboretum - buy a picture at painter’s corner - catch the scent of Rose Garden
VanDusen Botanical Garden
To see the green side of one of the greenest cities in the world, come to VanDusen Botanical Garden. Full of trees, plants and featuring some ponds, VanDusen Botanical Garden welcomes you any time of the year. Late spring is one of our favourite times to spend some time here when everything is in bloom and life’s alive in everything.
The garden also hosts exhibitions from time to time. Check for more info on their website.
Things to do in Van Dusen Botanical Garden:
- celebrate the harvest days in fall - enjoy the festival of lights at winter season - let your kids navigate the maze
Museum of Anthropology
Delve into the Indigenous artifacts including totems, woven baskets and carvings. You’ll find everything from contemporary and traditional pieces of Indigenous art. Besides, there are contemporary exhibits as well. Many say that it is a perfect option for a rainy day while others love visiting MOA in any weather.
Good to Know: MOA is located on the territory of British Columbia University, so you can also have a walk through the university’s Botanical Gardens where you’ll see many plants from different corners of the world.
Looking for the best beach in Vancouver? Head to English Bay. The place is not only great for all the typical beach activities but also lets you enjoy kayaking, stand-alone BBQs, dining in cafes and even taking part in local events (Check the schedules before coming). People love it for its beach vibes and the sweeping views of West Vancouver it opens.
Good to Know: one of the major and interactive events held at English Bay is the Honda Celebration of Light when three countries compete against each other in displaying the most spectacular fireworks shows. People gather at the beaches, enjoy the music and display show and have picnics.
Things to do at English Bay
- enjoy the ocean views - swim, sunbathe or play beach volleyball - cycle or walk the paths of the Seawall - explore the public art, i.e. the laughing statues
This quaint neighbourhood is well known for charming cherry blossoms and Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival. While we love this neighbourhood in bloom, there is a lot more it can offer. From amazing outdoor festivals and parties to cozy cafes to incredible saltwater outdoor pool, to farmer’s markets to stunning sunsets and relaxing yoga near the waterfront, you’re welcome in Kits (this is how locals refer to it) to liven up your days in Vancouver.
SPOILER: If you want to swim in North America’s longest outdoor saltwater pool, book tickets in advance!
Also, when it comes to cherry blossoms, Cypress Street, Kits Beach, Lanier Park and _West 5th _and 6th are highly recommended.
Things to do at Kitsilano
- watch the sun go down - swim in the longest saltwater pool in North America - go kayaking and paddling - sip on some cider at Vancouver’s first cider house - explore the Vancouver Maritime Museum and Museum of Vancouver - play beach volleyball at Kits Beach
Initially built for Expo ’86, a quirky building of a sailing ship opens doors to the world of fun and, events and exhibitions. One of the most popular and adventurous experiences is a famous film experience FlyOver Canada (so much beloved by thrill-seekers) will give you a 25-minute ride across Canada and a lot of emotions.
Pay a visit here around Christmas and you’ll be stunned by the fairytale-esque lit-up decorations. Come in July for gorgeous sunsets and free movie nights.
Canada Place also houses Vancouver Convention Centre which holds over 550 events yearly and has many dining spots. Also, you’ll enjoy the views of Vancouver and the art installations at the center itself.
Things to do at Canada Place
- take a trip across the country with FlyOver Canada - Take in the views of the - after dark, enjoy the light display of 5 sails of Canada Place - explore the exhibits while walking the Canadian Trail
Located close to the Olympic Village where Olympic Games 2010 were held, Science World is a place for STEM lovers. If you’re with kids, don’t hesitate to visit the place. Its interactive exhibits and theatres will evoke the urge for knowledge in your little offsprings.
If you want to delve into the world of science without kids and have some unforgettable experience, come to the “After Dark ” adults only evenings on a Thursday night.
If you decided to visit Science World, you can walk around the Olympic Village neighbourhood and later take an aqua bus to Granville Island.
Although the name might have deceived you, the Granville Island is not actually an island but a peninsula located in False Creek. Anyway, it remains one of the most popular shopping and entertainment hubs with Vancouverites and tourists alike.
Come here for local produce, souvenirs from local artisans, top improv comedy theatre and a lot more.
Interesting Fact: Granville Island was actually an island before 1950s.
Things to do on Granville Island
- enjoy the views on an [Aquabus](https://theaquabus.com/) Ride - visit the waterpark on a hot summer day - visit at least one of the 30 Art Galleries - go beer tasting at Granville Island Brewing Co. - enjoy a play from the [Arts Club](https://artsclub.com/) - go fishing - enjoy the great outdoors: from fishing to water sports to sailing a boat
Richmond Night Market
For a relaxing night outing with some food and a friendly atmosphere, Richmond Night Market is a perfect solution. A lot of great food and vendors gather from May till October and you can come by. There’s a small entrance fee and no alcohol is sold here. Besides, you’ll find rides and game places for kids, music and art shows and dancer performers.
It’s recommended to get here by public transportation since there might be difficulties parking due to the huge numbers of people. You can take the Skytram and get off at BridgePort Station. If you drive your car, there is a free parking lot but it might get very busy. So, it’s better to arrive earlier.
Good to Know
- Richmond Market mostly accepts cash (including the entrance fee).
- If you arrive before 8 p.m., you’re likely to wait in lines for around 30 minutes.
- If you’re planning to stop by on several occasions, it’d make sense to buy a Zoom Pass which also allows you to skip the lines.
Burnaby Village Museum
If you’re a fan of the 20th century and want to explore Vancouver beyond its major sights, Burnaby Village Museum is for you. You’ll find everything typical of the 1920s, a one-room schoolhouse, a forge with a blacksmith and more. While there, take a ride on a Parker Carousel and participate in the events they occasionally organize. End up your visit with delicious treats at the Ice Cream Parlour.
Keep in mind that the museum is open seasonally, so check if there’s any break at the time of your visit. However, if you book a group visit in advance, you can always pay a visit.
How Long Should I Stay in Vancouver
If you want to explore the metropolitan area, 3 to 4 days should be enough. However, if you’re planning to take day trips outside the city, it’s better to come here for approximately 10 days.
Getting Around the City
Vancouver is a cosmopolitan destination with different means of transport available: from usual buses and metro to seabusses, ferries and bikes.
Weather in Vancouver along with lots of cycling lanes makes it a perfect place to ride a bike. Besides, staying in downtown area usually means that your main landmarks are within walking distance.
There’s no dire need to rent a car to navigate the city, especially if you’re staying in downtown Vancouver. However, if you prefer so or plan some long-distance day trips, car rentals and parking lots are not in scarce.
If you need to reach some spots in suburbs (e.g. Richmond Night Market), you can catch a SkyTrain.
Another means of transportation on Vancouver is seaplanes. These will take you from Downtown Vancouver to Vancouver Island, Whistler and some other distant places.
Best Time To Visit Vancouver
Thanks to its great weather, Vancouver is the city you could visit any time of the year. Summer is the peak season, so prices for tickets and accommodation will be higher. However, if you’re coming primarily for outdoor activities, summer might be the best option weather-wise since it might get rainy from mid-October till January. Winter is popular with tourists who come to skiing resorts and pay a visit to Vancouver after this, however, prices are likely to get high at this time as well.
If weather and crowds are not of the greatest importance, pay attention to events that take place during the year.
Festivals and Events
Whenever you come to Vancouver, chances are you’ll be on time for some grand festival or an amazing public event. From food and drink festivals to amazing holiday-related festivals such as Christmas markets and Chinese New Year celebrations to diverse music festivals, Pride Parade and a whole lot more, Vancouver is always brimming with cultural happenings and sporting events.
You can check which events are about to happen in Vancouver here.
Here are some of the most popular annual festivals and events you’ll love:
International Film Festival: this yearly international film festival that usually takes place at the end of September-beginning of October is the event to celebrate “the creativity and craft of storytelling on screen.”
Lumière Festival: Lumière is about a lot of illuminated art-objects installed in several locations, performances, parades and much fun.
Dine Out Vancouver Festival: great festival for food lovers. They present the cuisines of different countries in the world.
Vancouver’s Santa Claus Parade: Christmassy source of entertainment with dances, music and dressed-up artists that will entertain you
Christmas Markets: from delicious food and drinks to merry carousel rides, Christmas markets in Vancouver are about Christmas traditions from all over the world.
Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge: world-famous bridge park is all being lit at this time of the year
Bright Nights: one of Vancouver’s most famous attractions which takes you on a train ride in illuminated Stanley Park.
- Cherry Blossom Festival: as Alfred Housman aptly put it, “Loveliest of trees, the cherry now is hung with bloom along the bough.” The cherry blossom festival is about celebrating the glory of the first blooms in the most picturesque neighborhoods of Vancouver. It usually takes place in April.
- BMO Vancouver Marathon: one of the most scenic marathons with international participants gathering in May. People can choose to run a marathon or a half marathon. The striking feature of both will be stunning views through the most beautiful neighbourhoods of Vancouver.
- Vancouver International Wine Festival: this is Canada’s first and best wine show since 1979. It usually takes place at **the end of April **and features wineries from different countries, exclusive wine samples, savory treats and informative seminars.
- Vancouver Mural Festival: parties, mural tours, talks and other live events are held in different neighborhoods of Vancouver.
Honda Celebration of Light: several countries compete in lighting up Vancouver’s sky with fireworks. A great show accompanied by vibrant parties. The event usually takes place at the end of July.
International Jazz Festival: over 200 jazz concerts held around June-July where both local and international, seasoned and young artists take part
Vancouver Folk Music Festival: this music weekend is for lovers of traditional and contemporary folk music. It takes place in mid-July in a beautiful park located on the traditional territories of the Musqueam Nation.
Carnaval del Sol: this Latin American festival is about dancing, music and other cultural activities. It traditionally takes place in July.
Other major festivals:
The PNE Fair: the fair that represents Vancouver at its best with hundreds of events year-round
Vancouver Pride Festival: the festival celebrates diversity, inclusivity and rights of LGBTQ community
Vancouver Biennale: art exhibition held every two years. During the year, Vancouver Biennale organises many events and activities connected with art.
Richmond Night Market: enjoy a fun and savoury evening with your family or friends in Richmond. No alcohol but lots of deli food and great entertainment are provided.
The festival takes place from late April to mid-October.
Vancouver at Night
If you’re the type of person that adores the big city lights, Vancouver at night is an absolute must for you. Coming to the same places you visited by day may turn into a hell of a new experience at night. Visiting some new ones at night is also a unique experience.
Here are some great ideas on how to take all of Vancouver at night:
- take a harbour cruise
Watch the sun go down on a sunset cruise in Vancouver. Soak up those stunning views of the sun disappearing in the ocean, Vancouver skyline and the emerging city lights. Whether it is a dinner cruise or a sightseeing narrated tour, Vancouver night vibes will take it to the next level.
- go whale watching
Whale watching is enriching any time of the day. However, we think that the varied dyes of Vancouver sunset will further enhance your all-nature experience.
have fun at Richmond's Night Market
This vibrant warm-season fest is something unique for Vancouverites. Come here to enjoy the atmosphere, savor some tidbits and have a great time with your closest ones after dark.
go partying on Granville Street
The main downtown entertainment in Vancouver can be located here. From dance clubs and discos to bars, comedy clubs and golf courses, you’ll find many places to have fun and relax in Granville Street.
enjoy the twinkling lights of the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
The Christmas season brings not only magical vibes but also some magic light shows. Come from November to January to brighten your holiday mood.
go skiing on Grouse Mountain (winter)
Although it doesn’t snow a lot in Vancouver (well, I’d say it hardly snows at all), Grouse Mountain has specifically equipped places where one can enjoy this winter activity. Besides, you can go snowshoeing, snowboarding or skating. A cozy atmosphere and awe-inspiring views of Vancouver are guaranteed.
- enjoy the sunset at Kitsilano Beach or Grouse Mountain
Kitsilano Beach is one of the most popular places with locals. Moreover, it has really beautiful sunsets which will be accompanied by the music of guitar, chit-chats and chuckles.
We’ve already mentioned this hill a lot because Grouse Mountains is absolutely worth it. Apart from stunning views of the city, skiing and sky rides, you’ll catch here some of the most beautiful sunsets in Vancouver. Stay a bit longer and wait for night lights.
From a great number of events to warm weather and lots of outdoor activities to splendid natural surroundings and high-tech entertainment, Vancouver offers so many reasons for visiting that everyone will find something for themselves. Picturesque green parks, cultural institutions, or a vast variety of festivals- what has struck your mind most of all?
Hopefully, this Vancouver travel guide helped you complete your Vancouver itinerary.