Vancouver, a buzzing seaport in western Canada, is known for its pleasant climate, extensive parks and gardens, world-class dining, fantastic shopping, art galleries, exciting outdoor activities, iconic museums, and ecologically-minded locals.
Beautifully situated on the western end of the Burrard Peninsula, Vancouver features diverse natural landscapes, ranging from ancient forests to urban beaches. Downtown Vancouver gorgeously perches on a peninsula in the Strait of Georgia, bounded to the north by Burrard Inlet and English Bay and to the south by the longest river within British Columbia.
The coastal city is full of experiences for every stripe of travelers. Gastronomes will be fascinated by the city’s vibrant and diverse culinary scene, featuring everything from authentic Mexican breakfast to multi-course Arabian feasts. Thrill-seekers can enjoy scenic hikes around Panorama Ridge, Garibaldi Lake, and Tunnel Bluffs.
Revelers can immerse themselves in Vancouver’s crazy nightlife, concentrated around Yaletown, Davie Street, and Granville Street downtown. Art lovers can spend all day exploring some of the world’s best street art, from colorful murals to stencil graffiti.
If you are planning a trip to Vancouver, here are the top attractions that must be on your itinerary:
- Stanley Park
Spanning 405 hectares on the northwestern half of Vancouver’s Downtown Peninsula, Stanley Park is a great place to relax and enjoy nature.
Located on a 50-minute drive from the Vancouver International Airport, this public park should be the first spot you visit as you fly into Vancouver. If you are flying with Cathay Pacific and have a 3 to 4 hours layover in Vancouver, Stanley Park may be the only spot you want to visit while you are in the city.
What’s unique about this gorgeous park is that it was created as an evolution of a forest over many years. Stanley Park has so much to look forward to, including a miniature train, an aquarium, a polar bear exhibit, lush gardens, and an outdoor pool at the edge of the ocean. As much of the park is densely forested, it is also a great spot for hiking.
- Granville Island
The liveliest shopping district in Vancouver, Granville Island offers a never-ending array of restaurants, markets, art theaters, festivals, breweries, and fun activities for children.
What was once an industrial manufacturing area has become one of the most boisterous neighborhoods in the city. Foodies can start their tour from Johnston Street where they’ll find a variety of food options, ranging from a boutique bakery selling scrumptious baked goods to food joints dishing out sustainable seafood.
The Granville Island Public Market offers hundreds of handmade and unique crafts for sale, including dishware, pottery, textiles, leatherwork, ceramics, and glass crafts.
- The Museum of Anthropology
The Museum of Anthropology is a part of the University of British Columbia. The museum has four galleries, each dedicated to a specific category of exhibits. Multiversity Galleries features over 9,000 objects from all over the world.
Explore European craftsmanship at Koerner European Ceramics Gallery. The gallery houses over 600 European ceramics amassed and donated to the museum by Koerner himself.
From cultural artifacts to totem poles to over 50,000 ethnological objects, there is so much to see and photograph in the museum.
- Kitsilano Beach
Facing out onto English Bay, Kitsilano Beach is one of the region’s most stunning and immaculate beaches. Both locals and visitors arrive at the beach to hang out with friends, watch the sunset, take a dip in the Pacific, enjoy swimming at the Kitsilano Pool, or/and treat their palates to appetizing seafood at The Boathouse.
The area also features a number of walking trails, cafes, and a lively shopping strip on West Fourth Avenue. A short walk to the east will take you to the Vancouver Maritime Museum where you can soak up the city’s rich history.
The oldest commercial district in Vancouver, Gastown is best known for its whistling Steam Clock, indie art galleries, speakeasy-style clubs, fashionable boutiques in Victorian-style buildings, stylish cocktail lounges, hip restaurants, and cool cafes.
This vibrant neighborhood beautifully combines old with new and history with the future. Start your tour by exploring old brick buildings, vintage lamp posts, and cobblestones on Water Street. Head to Hastings Street to explore Gastown’s amazing culinary offerings, from Cajun classics to Asian cuisine with farm-to-table flair and everything in between.
Shopaholics should make their way to Cordova Street where they’ll find a variety of traditional souvenir stores, modern gift shops, and fashion boutiques.
- Canada Place
For those arriving in Vancouver on a cruise ship, Canada Place is where their trip begins. With a quaint roof design, this iconic landmark gives an impression of a giant sailing ship. It is home to the Vancouver World Trade Center, the Vancouver Convention Center, and the Pan Pacific Vancouver Hotel.
Located along the magnificent waterfront view of Coal Harbor, this architectural gem is the most-visited site in downtown Vancouver. This is where most bus tours of the city start and end. First-timers to Canada Place must take a cross-Canada ride on the extremely popular Fly Over Canada.
- Capilano Suspension Bridge
Opened in 1889, Capilano Suspension Bridge is the city’s first tourist attraction. This oscillating bridge over a falling canyon stretches across 140 meters above the Capilano River in North Vancouver.
If you are looking to do something daring on your next trip to Vancouver, cross this 70-meter footbridge to reach an activity park featuring forest trails, a treetop walk through towering trees, and a suspended platform along Capilano River known as the Cliff Walk.
Cliffwalk is the newest addition to the park. It follows a twisting series of small, cantilever bridges above the forest. You are sure to feel massive adrenaline rushes as you walk along it.
- Queen Elizabeth Park
The itinerary of view-seekers and floral display enthusiasts visiting Vancouver is incomplete without Queen Elizabeth Park.
Covering 130 acres of landscaped grounds off Cambie Street, this municipal park is Vancouver’s horticultural gem. Stunningly situated on top of Little Mountain, 125 meters above sea level, Queen Elizabeth Park features a charming quarry garden, exquisite sculptures, and an arboretum with both exotic and native trees.
The municipal park is also home to Vancouver’s highest point, offering breathtaking views of the city, park, and mountains on the North Shore.