Recently voted third for the most liveable place in the world, Vancouver has the perfect mix of rich vibrant urban areas and beautiful natural landscapes.
This combination of environments means that there is just so much to do in the area, that it can be difficult to choose!
Not to worry, we have narrowed down the absolute BEST things to do in Vancouver during your stay.
We have even added in how to get around and a few handy tips and tricks to help you along the way.
If you're wondering what to do in Vancouver then you've come to the right place...
Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is the second largest airport in Canada, so it's more than likely that you will be able to get to Vancouver via airplane.
There are over 100 destinations around the world that have direct flights into Vancouver International Airport, most of them from the U.S!
AirCanada is the main airline operating in YVR and is a great option for flying in and out.
Arriving in Vancouver via train can be a sightseeing trip in itself! If you are traveling from Toronto, VIA Rail Canada offers a 4-day rail trip that stops in some amazing places along the way!
Be sure to check out our guide to Winnipeg if you make a stop here - which you definitely should!
We recommend using a camper to get around Canada as it gives you maximum freedom in what you see each day and also where you stay.
Not only that, but it actually saves you money as you can wild camp for free across Canada, saving you a tonne on hotels.
If you're entering the country elsewhere, then you'll find plenty of other RV rentals in Canada and then you can drive to Vancouver. The city is easily accessible by road from various locations including Seattle, Victoria, Montreal, and Vancouver Island.
You can also check out Rental cars if you'd prefer to hire a car as they're a great place to find deals (that’s who we always use!)
One of the best ways to get to Vancouver from Alaska is via boat!
Check out these Alaska cruises to see the best of both areas.
BC Ferries run regular ferry services to several locations including Vancouver Island, Victoria, and the Gulf Islands. You can check out their schedules here...
The best way to get around Vancouver is to walk!
Vancouver is famously a very walkable city and you will find that the main attractions of the city are fairly accessible to each other.
Vancouver has an expansive public transport system, consisting of SkyTrain, buses, commuter trains, and even the sea bus!
The Sky Train is probably Vancouver’s best form of transport and its 3 lines are ideal for getting around the city.
We would even recommend the sky train as the best way of getting from the airport to downtown Vancouver.
The Seabus is a tourist attraction in itself and ideal for viewing the city with the mountains in the background.
Currently, the public transport in Vancouver still allows you to pay with cash. However, if you're planning on using the different systems a lot, then you are definitely going to want to buy a Compass Card.
Compass Cards cards can be purchased for $6 from vending machines near SeaBus and SkyTrain stations and then topped up after registering online.
After purchasing you can tap on and off all forms of public transport around the city and benefit from a discounted price!
Having your own vehicle will give you a lot more freedom when exploring the city and its surrounding areas.
While driving probably isn't the best method of getting around downtown Vancouver, as it's very small and expensive to park in - if you're looking to go on a few day trips from Vancouver, it's a great option.
Luckily, most of the hotels around Vancouver have free parking so you should have no problems finding a space.
For help finding the right vehicle, check out our guide on the best car rentals in Vancouver.
This quirky hostel is located in Downtown Vancouver so it's in a great spot for exploring the city! Boasting a full bar, an on-site restaurant, a laundrette, and a kitchen - this place has a lot to offer.
There's even a ticket desk at the hostel where you'll get discounts on events!
This place is gorgeous and is easily one of the best options you'll come across in Vancouver. For starters, there are plenty of fantastic facilities including an indoor pool, a hot tub, a steam bath, and bar & restaurant.
The rooms here are modern and spacious too, many of which feature a private balcony and city views.
If you're looking for a luxury stay then check out Paradox Hotel Vancouver! It's located in the city's financial district and offers an on-site spa, a swimming pool, and a cocktail lounge.
There's also a restaurant at the hotel were you can enjoy Chinese fine-dining!
If you're looking for a great deal then why not check out our guide on how to get cheap hotel rooms...
Without a doubt, whale watching is one of the best things to do in Vancouver and it draws in thousands of visitors a year.
Canada’s waters are full of marine life, a lot of which you may get to spot if you spend a day whale watching!
There are a few companies that offer whale watching tours in Vancouver, however, we went with Vancouver Whale Watch and could not recommend them enough! You can book a whale watching tour on Viator too!
This tour starts from the quaint fishing village of Stevenson and cruises around both the Gulf and the San Juan Islands for 3-5 hours.
During that time you'll want to keep a look out for orcas, humpback whales, and seals.
Vancouver Whale Watch are so confident that you'll see whales on their tours that they even offer for you to come back for free if you don't manage to spot any!
April through November tends to be the best time to go whale watching as you can catch the humpbacks on their migration towards Alaska!
However, we do recommend bringing some winter layers and a waterproof as it can get very chilly on board.
They will provide you with coats should you need them, and if you sit near the edge, expect to get wet.
Don't forget sunscreen too. I ended up burning my face because I forgot to put sunscreen on, even though it was super windy!
The team at Vancouver Whale Watch are very knowledge and you can truly sense they care about the whales.
They don't try to entice them, they simply watch them and their behaviors and from that they can work out where the animals will be.
You will NOT be disappointed on this adventure.
Just keep in mind that it's one of the most popular activities in Vancouver so make sure you book in advance to secure your place!
Another absolutely iconic thing to do in Vancouver is to cycle the seawall in Stanley Park.
Located right in the center of Vancouver, Stanley Park is a famous urban forest, with amazing greenery, stunning views, and tons of things to do!
Some of the park's highlights include Vancouver Aquarium, Stanley Park Totem Poles, the Stanley Park train, waterparks, and walking trails.
The park itself is huge and would take you all day to walk around, which is why most people cycle around instead.
You'll find a few locations around the park for bike rentals to complete the Stanley Park seawall; a 7-mile paved trail along the perimeter of the park and next to the sea.
The cost of bike rental for the day will likely be around $25 but it is definitely worth it for the trip!
If you're interested in learning about some of the histories of the park and some other areas around Vancouver, why not book this guided bike tour, which includes not only Stanley Park but a few other locations around the city as well.
Many cities across Canada have incorporated green spaces, such as those found in Quebec City, but none are as impressive as in Vancouver!
Grouse Mountain is a popular mountain in Vancouver, mainly for the ski slope. However, it's open all year round and is only 15 minutes away from the center of downtown!
Whether you're just going for the SkyRide, visiting the wildlife center, zooming down the mountain ziplines, or having dinner with a view, you will not regret your trip up the mountains.
If you're looking for things to do in Vancouver in winter, Grouse Mountain is the place to go as they have a huge selection of winter activities!
Not only do they have a ski resort but they also offer ice skating, snowshoeing, markets, and sledding.
You can buy your entry ticket to Grouse Mountain here for a round trip on the SkyRide and to skip the queues, which can be long in high season!
If you enjoy a hike and are feeling brave you can actually walk to the top of the mountain by completing the Grouse Grind Trail, a word of warning though it's up nearly 3000 stairs!
The temperate rainforest is obviously a huge draw for people to British Columbia and it's clear to see why.
Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is the perfect way to explore and get an aerial view of the forests.
You could easily spend a day walking around the park and cliff walks, and admiring the views of the treetops and mountains in the distance.
The suspension bridge itself has been open since 1889 and is a must-do activity for any trip to Vancouver.
If you're visiting in the warmer months, do stop by raptors ridge during your trip to meet some of the park's resident birds of prey and learn some more about the local wildlife in the park.
Capilano Suspension Bridge is also a great place to visit from November through to January purely due to the breathtakingly beautiful Capilano Canyon lights, where the bridge is lit up with festive Christmas lights.
This is one of the best places to go in Vancouver so don't leave it off your itinerary!
Head along the Sea to Sky Highway towards Squamish to arrive at the very famous Sea to Sky Gondola!
As you can probably tell by the name, this cable car goes very high and has huge windows so if you aren't good with heights, this might not be the activity for you. Not to worry as there are plenty of other things to do in Vancouver!
Once you reach the top there is tons to do including hiking trails, suspension bridges, and a wooden deck on top of the summit - which actually hosts yoga most mornings.
If you aren't planning on renting a vehicle to get around Vancouver, this Sea to Sky Gondola tour picks you up from Vancouver, takes you to Shannon Falls, on to the Sea-to-Sky Gondola, and then finishes in the pedestrian-only Whistler Village before dropping you back in Vancouver.
Canada is home to plenty of fantastic gondolas with the most famous being located in Banff, but this one is known for its epic views!
All outdoor enthusiasts will love a day trip to Lynn Canyon Park and it's completely free!
We would recommend getting there early to beat the crowds and taking a picnic with you to make the most of your day trip.
From there, pick one of the beautiful trails, which are suitable for a range of different abilities, and explore the peaceful forest.
If you visit during the warmer months, the park has a huge swimming hole, which while cold, is a great way to spend a summer's day.
There are also a few waterfalls scattered around the park, the most popular being Twin Falls which is accessible via the twin falls trail and can be a lot quieter than the swimming hole.
Lynn Canyon also has a suspension bridge, similar to the Capilano Suspension Bridge, that goes over waterfalls and lakes and is free of charge!
It's probably best to drive to Lynn Canyon Park but it's also easily accessible by bus.
Just take the sea bus from downtown to Lonsdale Quay and then catch the 228 or 229 bus to the Lynn Valley Center.
If you're looking for fun things to do in Vancouver City then I've got the perfect activity for you...
I'd recommend booking this stunning 1-hour Harbour Tour as you'll get to see the city of Vancouver from a whole new perspective.
We booked this tour during our visit and it was easily one of the best activities we did!
Board from the dock and spend an hour on the deck of the steamboat, listening to your guided tour of the harbor. The views from the deck are breathtaking and you'll head past some of the city's most iconic sights too.
There is even a fully licensed mini bar on the boat and we found it was a great way to mingle with both tourists and locals.
Whether you are a veggie or not you HAVE to try some of the incredible food options at MeeT.
Found in three different locations around Vancouver (Gastown, Yaletown, and Main st), MeeT is a 100% vegan brand that is known as being one of the best vegan restaurants in the world!
The owners were on a mission to show people that it was easy to transition to plant-based foods and that plant-based foods were tasty and can be affordable. They have definitely proved that to be the case!
If you get the chance to visit the Gastown or Yaletown restaurants, be sure to try their brunch menu as it has some great options and looks super yummy!
Before you visit you can check out the menu here...
Granville Island is a small island next to Vancouver that is technically connected to the mainland. There is a lot to explore on the island so it's definitely worth the trip whenever you are in the city!
The public market is probably the most famous attraction on the island (and is definitely our favorite). It has everything you could ever need including amazing food stands, fresh produce, hand-made gifts, and even local art galleries!
To be sure not to miss anything, you can book this 2-hour market tour where you can sample some of the area's best dishes and produce, meet the vendors, and get shown around by an expert.
The public market is open daily from 9am to 6pm and is located by the ferry docs on the island. Granville Island is really easy to get to from Vancouver, so simply drive down there or take the ferry bus.
One of Vancouver's most iconic landmarks, Lion Gates Bridge is a suspension bridge that was built in 1938.
The Bridge connects the city of Vancouver to North Vancouver and West Vancouver, and it almost gives off San Francisco vibes...
The bridge itself looks amazing in the backgrounds of photos and is usually best seen (and photographed) from the water on either boat tours or the Seabus.
However, if you've got your own vehicle then I definitely recommend driving over to get the full experience of Lions Gate Bridge!
Around 60,000-70,000 vehicles cross over this bridge every day so it can get pretty busy, so I'd say just avoid crossing during rush hour.
The first stop for visitors from cruise ships, or the port of Vancouver is Canada Place - one of the area's iconic landmarks.
Easily recognizable by its 5 huge white sails that welcome ships to Vancouver, Canada Place is definitely worth checking out.
If you're looking for things to do in Vancouver for free, Canada Place often has a range of free events that they regularly host including Zumba and yoga!
Also, if you're lucky enough to visit Vancouver over Christmas, Canada Place hosts some amazing Christmas activities including a light show, an arts and crafts fair, and the avenue of Christmas trees.
If you're after some luscious greenery while you are in the city, head straight to Queen Elizabeth Park.
You will regularly spot people having photoshoots in front of the impressive floral displays on show throughout the park.
It's also the perfect place for a walk, a picnic, or even a game of put-put!
Covering an impressive 52 hectaers, this place has lots to offer and you won't run out of things to do.
If you are a big fan of gardens, this Garden Tour takes you around three of Vancouver's most famous gardens; Queen Elizabeth Park, Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden, and Van Dusen Botanical Garden on a private tour.
Gastown is arguably the trendiest neighborhood in Vancouver and is well worth an explore.
Being one of the city’s oldest areas, Gastown is filled with cobbled streets, European-style architecture, and boutique stores.
Be sure not to miss out on the Gastown steam clock, this clock is over 50 years old and is powered by steam and whistles! The clock goes off every 15 minutes so you will probably hear it while you're wandering around.
Gastown is known for being rich in culture and having an assortment of different amazing eateries.
We recommend taking this Gastown walking food tour, to get all the perks of taking a walking tour, mixed in with trying some amazing food and drinks!
If you're looking for things to do with kids in Vancouver, head straight to Science World!
This non-profit organization is passionate about teaching the public about science in a fun interactive way.
Science World is a pretty epic place and that starts from the exterior, you quite literally can't miss it with its huge metallic ball on top.
Try to spend the whole day here as there really is so much to see! BodyWorks is a fun interactive biology exhibit where you can see life-size organs and learn about some of their bodily functions.
A favorite amongst children seems to be the ‘Eureka!’ exhibit. This is where you learn about forces and it contains a lot of brightly colored plastic balls as well as a giant hamster wheel!
If you aren't visiting Vancouver with children, we recommend going to Science World After Dark, every third Thursday, where you can enjoy the exhibits with nibbles, drinks, and music.
Whistler is a gorgeous little ski town with tons of things to do. Honestly, it would be silly not to take a day trip to Whistler from Vancouver!
If you have your own vehicle, the drive to Whistler is just over two hours, straight down the famous Sea to Sky Highway.
This is an activity in itself and you can definitely do a couple of photo stops along the way.
However, if you don't have your own vehicle you can book this fantastic tour which not only includes a trip to Whistler but also the Sea to Sky Gondola ride we mentioned earlier.
The city of Whistler is a walking-only village - no vehicles are allowed, but luckily it's pretty small! If you're into winter activities, there is so much to do in Whistler that you could easily spend a few days here.
If you're just visiting for a day trip, be sure to check out some of their incredible eateries!
Here's some more information on the top things to do in Whistler...
One of the top things to do in Vancouver is to take a ride in a seaplane. During your trip you will see seaplanes taking off and landing all day long. This is because it's a very popular activity in the city.
This flightseeing tour departs from Harbor Air and flies for 20 minutes, allowing you to see the stunning panoramic views of Vancouver and the surrounding mountains.
Not only that but it includes your entrance ticket to Capilano Suspension Bridge, and a complimentary shuttle transfer from the city.
While this tour is expensive, it really is a bucket list-style activity and we definitely recommend giving it a go if your budget can stretch that far!
Richmond is a city just outside of Vancouver but with a completely different atmosphere, making it the perfect day trip during your visit.
The old fisherman's village of Steveston Harbour is the perfect place to enjoy some fresh fish and chips on the harbor and watch the fishing boats go in and out.
This seaside city has a strong Asian influence making it a great place to try some of the delicious eateries on offer. Richmond is even home to the famous Richmond Night Market which you could easily confuse with one located in southeast Asia!
The city also has one of the largest Buddhist temples in North America which is definitely worth a trip.
If you have time for some shopping, Richmond’s commercial district has a huge selection of shopping malls too - perfect for a rainy day trip from Vancouver.
There are plenty of things to do in Richmond so do some research before your visit...
Our favorite thing to do in Vancouver when it rains has to be FlyOver Canada - perfect for those adrenaline enthusiasts when you can't go outside!
This technological amusement ride has 360-degree screens to make it look and feel… and smell like you are zooming around Canada suspended in the air.
Book your FlyOver Canada tickets here to be sure you get a space, as you can probably imagine, this gets very busy on a bad weather day!
FlyOver Canada is open from 9:30 am until 9 pm every day and is located right next to Waterfront Station, making it easily accessible via public transport.
While ideally if you were wanting to explore the nearby Vancouver Island, you would go for a couple of days, it's possible to visit in a day.
It's undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Vancouver as there's so much to do here!
This Butchart Gardens & Victoria Sightseeing Tour starts with an early morning ferry trip over to Vancouver Island which if you keep your eye out, you might even be able to spot some whales on the way!
Butchart Gardens are absolutely beautiful and have huge collections of garden displays including both Japanese gardens and Italian gardens and even a carousel. After the gardens, you will get some time to explore the highlights of Victoria.
Victoria is located at the southern end of Vancouver Island and is actually the capital of British Columbia. Luckily the guided tour will show you all of the best bits as it really is a lot to explore in one day if you don't know your way around.
During your day trip to Gastown, book the Lost Souls of Gastown Walking Tour if you would love a spooky tour of the area.
Gastown is full of dark cobbled alleyways, gothic architecture, and even an old steam clock, making it the perfect setting for a creepy evening.
Vancouver has an interesting past including tales of smallpox, fires, and unsolved murders so it's quite the area to visit.
You'll get to learn about all of these and more from your in-character tour guide, if you're brave enough!
The tour lasts for around 1.5 hours and leaves from Buro Coffee. Depending on the time of year you visit, you'll likely need to wrap up warm.
Fraser Valley is the perfect day trip from Vancouver for any wine lover.
Enjoy some wine tasting with some stunning views of the Fraser River, the largest river in British Columbia, and the huge vineyards.
This awesome wine tour leaves from Vancouver and takes guests around 3 different wineries around Fraser Valley. The tour includes 4 tasters at each winery, a charcuterie board for lunch, and the opportunity to purchase wines.
Not only that but the tour will pick you up from your hotel and includes a 60-minute drive from the hustle and bustle of the city for a completely stress-free day.
Garibaldi Provincial Park is an enormous mountain park covering over 2000 square meters, not too far north of Garibaldi.
If you were planning to take a small trip to Whistler, a trip to Garibaldi Provincial Park might be a good stop-off as a lot of it surrounds the town of Whistler.
There are several hikes you can do in this provincial park but the Garibaldi Trailhead (or black tusk) is probably the most well-known. It's located just off Sea to Sky Highway, about a 25-minute drive away from both Whistler village and Squamish.
The Garibaldi Lake Trail is over 18km long and is not for the faint-hearted. While a beautiful hike, it's considered a moderate 6-hour hike and is mostly uphill.
If you have access to a car or motorhome, you can easily drive from Vancouver. However, if you don't or would rather do the hike in a group, you can book this Garibaldi Lake Hike. This tour is run by photographers so you can learn how to take the perfect shots during your hike too!
The beautiful neighborhood of Kitsilano, or Kits as the locals call it, is located on Cornwall Avenue and is not to be missed.
Arguably one of the trendiest beaches in Vancouver, Kitsilano is full of hipster bars, eateries, and boutique shops.
Obviously, you can swim in the sea at Kitsilano Beach, but there is also an outdoor waterfront swimming pool which is popular amongst locals and tourists alike! You will regularly see people chilling around in this area, waiting for Kitsilano Beach's famous sunset.
The lido isn't the only activity on offer, and it's not unusual to see groups of people playing volleyball, tennis, and basketball down at the basketball court.
We would recommend heading to The Boathouse restaurant and grabbing a window seat and enjoying a bite to eat, while the sun goes down. Be warned that this restaurant gets very busy in the summer months, so you may want to book in advance.
Although there are plenty of things to see in Vancouver city, you'll want to spend some time here too!
Only a 40-minute drive from Vancouver is Mount Seymour Provincial Park which is a hot spot for hiking enthusiasts.
Dog Mountain Hike is probably the most popular trail in the park as it's known as being fairly short at only 5.6km there and back. While it's rated as an easy hike, it is definitely towards the moderate end of easy.
A lot of the trail is covered in rocks and tree roots, making it slightly more difficult in wet weather.
The Dog Mountain hike takes you across various bridges and rivers before reaching the peak of dog mountain. From the peak. you can walk through the forest and onto the lookout point.
Once there, you'll be treated to stunning views of North Vancouver and the famous Lions Gate Bridge.
Vancouver has a huge Chinese population meaning there is a lot of Chinese influence across the city.
In fact, Chinatown is one of the city's few original historic neighborhoods as it's been an established cultural area for over 100 years.
Chinatown in Vancouver is one of the best we have visited, as it's so vibrant and is a really fun thing to do both during the day and at night.
If you're staying in the center of Vancouver it's likely to be within walking distance from your hotel. Before you reach the middle of Chinatown, there is a nearby classical Chinese garden that is beautiful to walk around.
One of the best parts about Chinatown is the amazing food stalls and restaurants. This makes it the perfect place to try some delicious Chinese dishes.
While you can easily sample some of the eateries on offer yourself, we recommend booking this Wok Around Chinatown Tour to taste some amazing food and learn about the cultural history of the area from a local chef.
Built originally for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, the Olympic Village now contains a residential area, restaurants, shops, and parks.
The Olympic village is located north of False Creek and is easily accessible via ferry or SkyTrain.
One of the best things to do here is to visit the Olympic Village Square, a great people-watching spot full of cafes and bars where there is always something going on!
The false creek seawall is a relaxing walk with beautiful views very near to the village which is a perfect way to watch the sunset.
Here's some more information on the best things to do in the Olympic Village...
Okay so it might be a bit more than a stroll as Lighthouse park is just over half an hours drive from downtown, located in North Vancouver.
However, from the car park it's just a short walk to the lighthouse.
Whilst you can't get too close, the lighthouse by the water boasts a stunning location and is the perfect place to sit, eat a picnic, and try to do some wildlife spotting!
The lighthouse park also has several hiking trails nearby which are of all difficulties. These trails are dog-friendly and popular with walkers and also bird watchers, so don't forget your binoculars!
Lighthouse Park covers an area of around 75 hectares so as you can imagine there's a lot to see.
One of the best ways to spend an evening in Vancouver is to book a sunset dinner harbour cruise.
This is a great way to see the city in style and get the best views of the sunset over the horizon with the backdrop of the Northshore Mountains.
Meet the boat at the Harbour Cruises Marina, where you'll be welcomed onto the cruise with a welcome drink and shown to your assigned table. The included dinner is a high-quality seated buffet serving an assortment of pacific coast style dishes.
During your cruise, you will spot some iconic Vancouver landmarks including Canada Place, the Vancouver shoreline, and Lions Gate Bridge.
This is honestly one of the best activities in Vancouver so if you've got the time - don't miss out on this sunset cruise!
If you're looking for things to do with kids in Vancouver then make sure you visit the amazing Vancouver Aquarium.
This aquarium is highly accredited and definitely worth the visit, with several different exhibits including Amazon, the tropics, Penguin Point, Pacific Canadian Pavillion, and the new wildlife rescue.
Their wildlife rescue section is a fan favorite, as here you can meet rescued animals such as seals and sea lions who now live at the center.
As you can probably imagine, the aquarium gets busy during the weekends and school holidays so book your ticket online first to be sure you get a ticket and the best price available.
Toronto also has a fantastic aquarium which is home to over 20,000 marine and freshwater animals!
You could very easily spend one week exploring all of what Vancouver has to offer! While 5 days might be enough to explore the city, ideally for a few day trips during your visit, 7 days would be ideal.
Vancouver is known for being quite expensive, especially in high season! We would suggest budgeting around 100 Canadian dollars a day just for meals, transport, and activities.
An average accommodation will cost around CAD200 a night and you might want to set aside some extra cash for special activities such as a seaplane tour or a trip to Vancouver Island.
Vancouver is known to be a very safe location for tourists to visit. The crime rate in Vancouver is fairly low and even at night, the streets are very walkable.
However, when traveling in any city and new location, it's wise to always be cautious.
Yes! Vancouver is a very walkable city and walking is the best way to explore the best areas!
If there are any attractions that aren't walkable, it's more than likely that you'll be able to get there via public transport.
Yes. There are some amazing tours of the city, here are some of the highest-rated:
As you can see, there are so many fantastic things to do in Vancouver, BC. It has so much to offer, and I could easily go back again and again...
When it comes to tours, just make sure you check availability and book them in advance. This is especially the case if you're looking to do a whale-watching tour as they sell out fast!
I'm sure we have missed a few activities so please let us know what your favorite things to do in Vancouver are in the comments.
If you're looking to continue your travels from Vancouver, you're in an ideal location for some more exploring.
You could continue on to see more of Canada and British Columbia by taking a weekend trip to Whistler or Vancouver Island, or travel south down to the US and Seattle!
Check out more of our guides for inspiration: