Vancouver is one of my favourite cities to explore, and today I’m partnering with Expedia.ca to bring you the 10 best things to do in Vancouver.
Vancouver has the city life I adore, paired with beautiful national parks just some short drives away, and it’s just such a great city to wander around.
My last two visits to Vancouver were fairly brief, so this time my sister and I spent five days there, and we definitely started to feel like locals by the end of our trip.
For some reason I always seem to visit Vancouver during the spring, so I definitely want the next time I visit to be during the holiday season – I’d love to see Capilano Suspension Bridge covered in lights.
One of my absolute favourite things about Vancouver is how walkable it is — most places my sister and I visited were a 10 minute walk away or less!
If you plan on staying and hanging out downtown, I’d definitely recommend just walking around instead of renting a car.
We stayed at the Westin Grand Hotel, and I booked it through Expedia.ca.
If you book through Expedia’s app, you get double the reward points, which gets you closer to discounts!
1. Stroll through Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Gardens
You can wander around a portion of the garden for free, but you have to pay an admission fee to see the rest of it.
My sister and I were unable to find the paid part of it, but at least we did get to enjoy some of the beauty!
Chinatown is a gorgeous little area in the city – I was completely in awe by all the gorgeous red structures and the historical signage.
It’s a nice spot to get away from the hustle and bustle of downtown!
2. Dive into history at the Museum of Vancouver
Walking through the Museum of Vancouver is a wonderful and emotional experience.
The permanent collection focuses on the history of Vancouver by the decades, and it’s fascinating, heartbreaking, and fabulous – not all during the same periods, of course.
The exhibits are super interactive, and they’re a lot of fun to go through.
Alongside the permanent collection are some temporary exhibitions, including the Haida Now exhibition and the c̓əsnaʔəm exhibition.
Both are just as awesome as the permanent collection.
3. Explore the art galleries in Granville Island
Granville Island is a cute little area to explore, and there are a variety of unique, independent art galleries for you to take a look around.
You can purchase art to take back home with you as well!
Oh, and don’t forget to pick up some sake ice cream at Artisan SakeMaker while you’re there.
4. Go café hopping in Gastown
The coffee scene in Vancouver is amazing, and there are tons of unique coffee shops located in the Gastown area.
Bean Around the World, Revolver, and The Birds & The Beets are all worth adding to your café hopping list!
5. Shop unique finds in Gastown
Another fun activity in Gaston is wandering around the small boutiques and shops along West Cordova and Water Street.
Whether you’re just window shopping or actually shopping, Gastown is full of cute little shops to explore!
Artemisia is my favourite clothing boutique and Old Faithful Shop is my favourite home goods store in the neighbourhood.
6. Take a walking tour with Forbidden Vancouver
My sister and I wanted to take the Prohibition Tour, but it sold out by the time we wanted to grab tickets.
We did the Lost Souls of Gastown Tour instead, and it was so much fun!
We learned all about the history behind Gastown and some of the history behind Vancouver itself.
7. Take a ride at FlyOver Canada
Some people find this too touristy an activity, but I found it a lot of fun.
FlyOver Canada is like a movie theatre and rollercoaster in one.
Apparently there are even themed rides during special occasions like the holidays!
It’s located right at Canada Place, so you can take a walk around and gaze at the gorgeous mountainous views afterwards.
8. Bike along Stanley Park
This ain’t a ride for the faint hearted.
It takes about an hour to ride a bike along the Stanley Park Seawall, not including any stopping for photos.
It’s completely worth doing, even if you’re not really into biking – the views are absolutely stunning!
9. Wander around the VanDusen Botanical Garden
The VanDusen Botanical Garden is an absolutely beautiful place.
In addition to all the pretty florals and greenery, there is a waterfall, maze, stone park, and so much more to explore!
There’s so much to see in the garden, and it’s definitely worth the trip here.
We took a cab from our hotel downtown and it was about a 10 minute drive.
10. Have patio drinks in Yaletown
Yaletown and Gastown both have great restaurants and patios, but Yaletown was definitely my favourite spot to grab dinner and drinks.
Hamilton Street and Mainland Street are lined with restaurants, so if you’re stuck on where to eat in Vancouver, just drop into this area and walk into wherever catches your eye (or rather, your stomach)!
Urban Thai Bistro (now closed) and Minami were my top two fave restaurants there.
Wherever you decide to go, be sure to grab Mister ice cream afterwards!
Vancouver flights & accommodations
Looking to book your flights and accommodations for Vancouver?
I love booking my flights and hotels on Expedia and collecting points towards free rewards.
Hotels are pretty pricy in Vancouver, but they’re great if you plan on only staying downtown and walking around without a car.
Downtown Vancouver’s very walkable!
I usually stay in Airbnbs when I visit Vancouver, and I have a separate blog post all about how to find the best Airbnbs.
While Vancouver is very similar to Toronto, it has its own little quirks.
I’ve been there three times in three years, so that’s gotta say something.
There are plenty of incredible and fun things to do in Vancouver, no matter what you’re interested in!
Have you been to Vancouver before? What’s on your list of the best things to do in Vancouver? Do you prefer to explore like a local or hit up all the touristy spots? Let me know on Twitter or Instagram!
If you’re planning a trip to Vancouver, here are some other posts to help you plan your perfect trip:
- The most Instagrammable spots in Vancouver
- How to spend 48 hours in Vancouver
- The best Vancouver restaurants
- A visit to Ladurée Vancouver
- Fun things to do in Gastown, Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood
- What to do in Vancouver during the winter
- How to spend a weekend in Whistler