36 Epic Things To Do In Vancouver, Canada

Vancouver and North Shore Mountains

There are so many incredible things to do in Vancouver! Squished between the ocean and the North Shore mountains this majestic place is unquestionably one of the most beautiful cities in the world. With this location, it’s no surprise that the city is jam packed with epic things to do!  The biggest challenge in visiting Vancouver is picking the best things to do in the limited time you have. Fortunately that’s why I wrote this post, to help you pack your time in Vancouver with the highest percentage of truly awesome activities.

That means we’re going to gloss over the boring stuff, like fighting with cruise ship passengers for a photo of Gastown’s steam clock. We’re also going to gloss over the token tourist punch card items, like pushing through the hoards at the overpriced Capilano suspension bridge.  So, if you’re planning a trip to Vancouver and looking for some truly epic things to do, you’ve come to the right spot!  

I should also note that I’m not a travel blogger that visited the city once, I lived there for years and subsequently developed a strong opinion on the best things you should do on a trip to Vancouver.  These epic things to do  are the same recommendations  that I’ve given to some of my closest friends.

 Let’s dive in!

Revolver Coffee Vancouver

1. Indulge in Epic Coffee

Maybe you’re tired from your long flight or drive into Vancouver or you’re worn out from the other epic things to do on this list. Fear not! Vancouver’s fantastic suite of coffee roasters and coffee shops will get you wired up fast. In fact, I’d go as far as to say the city’s obsession with great coffee is almost on par with its obsession with another plant based intoxicant…

Here’s a few solid places to get your caffeine fix:

Revolver – This coffee shop on the edge of Gastown exudes a Brooklyn-esqe charm. They serve a curated selection of beans from around the world.

Nemesis -Located near Revolver, this light spot excludes a modern feel with polished concrete floors, light wood accents, and big windows. They also have several other locations in the city, including the Polygon Art Gallery in North Vancouver. 

Matchstick – With 5 beautifully designed cafes across the city, Matchstick offers delicious house roasted coffee and baked goods.

Elysian – A bit of a puritan coffee shop with fantastic coffee and 1 or 2 types of baked goods. If you’re into a minimalist aesthetic this is your spot. If you like drinks with caramel, this isn’t your vibe at all.  Don’t even dare asking if they have wi-fi… 

JJ Bean – a Vancouver institution that started in Granville island market and worked its way across the lower mainland. Despite their omnipresence they have excellent coffee with a great selection of roasts. 

Biking the North Shore Vancouver

2. Bike the North Shore

This item is likely top thing on your Vancouver to do list if you came to Vancouver with a death wish alongside this epic to do list.  Mountain biking was essentially born on Vancouver’s north shore! The trails are devilishly challenging and many are downright terrifying. Accomplished mountain bikers frequently find themselves pushed to a new level on the green level runs, psychically shaking on the blues, and fearing for their lives on the blacks. I don’t even know who rides the double blacks out here… If this sounds like your cup of adrenaline, check out endless biking they have top-tier rentals, tours and even lessons so you can learn how to ride these trails without leaving in a body bag.

3. Check Out Vancouver’s Incredible Beer Scene

If you like beer, delicious craft beer, Vancouver is pretty much a shoe-in to become one of your favorite cities to knock back a cold one in. There are over 48 craft breweries in this town, making it next to impossible for a mere mortal to visit them all in one trip. Don’t go to Granville Island Brewing or Stanley Park Brewing; they’re simply masquerading as cute microbrews, and are owned by major beer conglomerates Molson and Anheuser-Busch InBev respectively. A couple of my personal favorite microbrews to check out are:

R & B Brewing – One of Vancouver’s original microbrews. R & B has a relaxed environment with awesome beers and pizza.

33 Acres – Always felt like the “cool” micro brewery leaning on a real west coast minimalist design where you drink great beer. This spot is like the person that was cool in high school, somehow stayed cool in college, but now they’re in their late twenties and maybe they’re losing the cool factor, but maybe not? Awesome beer though.  

Howe Sound Brewing – If you make the trek out to Squamish this is the spot to go after a big day of adventuring that is synonymous with Squamish. They even have an inn attached, should you get a little carried away… 

If you’re itching for an easy way to see multiple breweries, check out Vancouver Brewary Tours, but inquire if they plan on making stops at Red Truck (fake micro), Big Rock (fake micro) or electric bicycle (people either love this place or hate it as they make some pretty weird beer…).

Crown Mountain Hike in Vancouver

4. Climb Crown Mountain in North Vancouver

Looking across Vancouver harbor and to the North Shore mountains several prominent peaks catch your eye: the two sand castle looking bulges, the Lions, and the crown looking mountain to the North. If you’re looking for an adventure, have come equipped with the required gear for an intense hike and are comfortable with hiking and scrambling, Crown Mountain provides unprecedented views of Greater Vancouver, Mount Baker, and the Coast mountains. This hike is accessed from the top of Grouse Mountain which can be reached via Gondola or by hiking the Grouse Grind or BCMC up. From the top of Grouse to Crown mountain it’s a 10km round trip, with over 850m of elevation gain. If you’re looking for a walk in the park, go to Stanley Park, if you’re looking for an epic thing to do in Vancouver, summit the crown. 

5. Watch Live Music with a Drink at Guilt & Co.

For people itching to party it up until 4am on a Tuesday night Vancouver may leave you wanting… Fortunately, for those that lean towards a good cocktail in a quaint setting there are a few great options to choose from, perhaps none better than Guilt & Co. Hidden underneath the banal Local, this charming little live music and cocktail den delights visitors with 2 live shows a night.  Check their site for the show schedule.

6. Visit One of Canada’s Best Cocktail Bars

Dark and moody, the Keefer Bar. is an apothecary themed bar mixing up over 25 unique cocktails. Since it opened the Keefer Bar continuously rakes in awards as one of the best cocktail bars in Canada.  A reservation is required, it’s a popular spot. 

Medina Waffles
Image Source & Credit: Medina

7. Go for Brunch

Make sure you’re well nourished for all these epic list things to do by starting with an early brunch! Here are a few great options: 

Medina – A Vancouver brunch favorite. Make sure to try the Liège Style Waffles. 

The Belgard Kitchen – Located in the beautifully restored historic settlement brunch here is worthwhile for the aesthetic alone. 

The Acorn – For an incredible vegetarian and vegan brunch check out this storied Vancouver restaurant which offers a weekend brunch from 10 am to 2pm. 

Jam Cafe –  People line for hours to brunch at Jam. If the lines short it’s worthwhile, but no brunch is worthy of a 2 hour wait. 

MeeT – Epic Vegan brunch options. 

What about OEB? Yes, OEB breakfast has invaded Vancouver. Sure, they have great brunch options, but you can also find them in numerous other locations across Canada and the United States. 

8. Escape to Deep Cove

I absolutely love Deep Cove. This little community with a tiny strip of shops and a marina is only  17km from downtown Vancouver, but feels like a thousand miles away! Grab a coffee from Cafe Orso, a donut from the ever popular Honey Donuts, or have dinner on the patio near the water at Arm’s Reach Bistro. It took me an hour to find parking here once, so come early, bike, or take public transit. Also note that unfortunately, the popular walk to the Quarry Rock viewpoint remains closed at this time.

9. Kayak from Deep Cove

Tagging onto the last point. Deep Cove offers incredible exploration from the water and there is no better way to do it than from a kayak. Deep Cove Kayak offers tours, courses, and rentals for kayaking as well as a number of options for SUP Boarding. If you thought deep cove felt like a million miles away from the city, just wait until you get out on the water exploring Indian arm. 

10. Dine at Tacofino, a Vancouver Institution

Tacofino started as a food truck in the surftown of Tofino on Vancouver Island and quickly spread to Vancouver. Today, you’ll find 5 Tacofinos spread out across the city, each with their own individual flair.  Inspired by the surfside BBQ’s around the world, these restaurants pull off their goal of making you feel like you’re having a surfside recharge while enjoying their epic food. 

Minami Vancouver
Photo Credit Minami

11. Sit Down for Incredible Sushi

People often say Vancouver has some of the best Sushi outside of Japan. Who are these people? I dunno, but I think they’re onto something. If you love Sushi check out these spots: 

Minami – Upscale bouji sushi, but if you’re looking for a splurge this is the spot. 

Toshi Sushi – Compact little sushi shop. This place takes the cake for authentic japanese sushi.

12. Eat the Best Fish and Chips in Vancouver

Are there more idyllic spots to grab Fish and Chips then from a fish mounger off main street? Probably, but not will you find better tasting and more sustainably sourced fish than at the Fish Counter. This little spot inside the fish shop is quite literally a counter, but they serve the best fish and chips in the city. The fish can be made with either Halibut, Pacific cod, Wild Salmon, or Lingcod. They even offer a gluten-free batter with a dedicated gluten-free frier for any celiac travelers in the group. The founders have been instrumental in starting numerous conservation efforts, including the Ocean Wise seafood label. 

13. Sample Vancouver’s Best Ice Cream

You wouldn’t think a city that averages over 2351 mm (92.6 inches) of rain per year would be so into ice cream, but it is! Check out Rain or Shine ice cream or Earnest Ice Cream. I don’t typically have a sweet tooth, but when one of these shops opened up a block from my old house, it spelt big trouble for me. I shamelessly devoured double waffle cones daily for a week before reigning myself in… It’s not something I’m proud of, but I now can truly attest to the quality of their cream. Enjoy!

Nemesis Coffee

14. Indulge on Incredible Pastries and Baked Goods

If you’re a fan of delectable baked goods, you’re in luck, Vancouver has a plenty of incredible spots to indulge including: 

Small Victory- This cafe and bakery whips up incredible croissants, cakes, and quiches. The almond croissant used to be a personal favourite indulgence of mine util turning plant-based ruined my fun. They have 3 locations around Vancouver.

49th Parallel  & Lucky’s Donuts – Don’t let the omnipresence of Tim Hortons turn you off donuts, try Lucky’s donuts at one of the Parallel 49 locations. They even offer a gluten-free/vegan donut so everyone can indulge!  

Best Gluten-Free and/or Vegan Bakeries in Vancouver

If you’re looking for a bakery with plenty of gluten-free or vegan options in Vancouver, fear not there are plenty of great options. Check these ones out:

Lemonade Gluten Free Bakery – 100% gluten-free bakery with many vegan, nut-free, and dairy free options.

Gluten Free Epicurean  – 100% gluten-free bakery offering breads, cakes, frozen meals and mixes.  

Level V Bakery – 100% Vegan bakery that offers everything from almond croissants to wedding cakes. Delicious! 

15. Experience Epic Plant-Based Food in Vancouver

A few years ago I gave up eating animals and things that came from animals, but don’t worry I’m not going to go all annoying vegan on you. I am going to tell you about a couple awesome vegan restaurants to check out in Vancouver, if you’re vegan, veg or simply plant-curious.

Meet– What a pun! This place whips up incredibly homestyle, hangover destroying favorites on the off chance you had a few too many at Keefer bar. Burgers, poutine, and brunch all 100% plant-based, this is vegan comfort food at its finest.

Virtuous Pie – This place took two of the best foods, pizza and ice-cream, and made them 100% plant-based with the mission of creating food that tastes great, is good for your body and supports a healthy planet. Sounds like a good reason to feel good about eating pizza and ice cream!

The Acorn – This award-winning vegetable forward restaurant crafts imaginative, seasonal plates with premium ingredients from the local foraging and farming community. A chefs tasting menu is offered here for an elevated dining experience.

Wreck Beach Vancouver

16. Spend Time at the Beach, But Maybe Not Kits Beach

Before I moved to Vancouver, I always heard the mystical name Kits Beach and envisioned it as the beach to visit in Vancouver.  Sadly, not. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice.  I thoroughly enjoyed running along it on my daily jogs, but there are far better beaches to visit in Vancouver! Check out Third beach in Stanley Park, Spanish Banks, or Wreck Beach. Wreck beach is one of the nicest beaches in Vancouver and offers incredible views across the Strait of Georgia to Vancouver Island. Wreck Beach is also North America’s largest naturist beach, making it likely Vancouver island isn’t the only view you’ll see on your visit here… Don’t worry, clothed people are equally welcome here.

17. Purchase Your Own Nimbus 2000 and Explore Granville Island Market

I bet you never thought you’d get excited about going broom shopping?  With Granville Islands Broom Co. that’s exactly what will happen! Brave the crowds at the ever popular Granville Island and stop in to purchase your own beautiful and functional Shaker Style broom. Maybe you’re into quidditch or maybe you’re into cleaning, either way you’ll be enthralled with your new broom.  When you’re finished explore Granville Island Market, eat a bagel at the ever popular Siegel’s Bagels, grab a coffee at the original JJ bean location, and then take a quick look at the vegetables and other market vendors (Gourmet pickles anyone?). Granville Island can get jammed with other vegetable admiring tourists, so consider yourself warned. 

18. Experience Vancouver's Bud Culture

Vancouver is a bit like North America’s Amsterdam. There are lots of bikes and lots of weed. Well before marijuana was legalized in Canada, it was readily available at numerous brick-and-mortar stores throughout the city that managed to tippy-toe around the law. Since Marijuana’s legalization in Canada you’ll barely walk a block without coming across a dispensary. Take a pop into one, even if you’re simply curious about BC’s most famous export. In many, the experience feels more akin to perusing a luxury retailer than tucking into a pot shop.

19. Circumnavigate the Stanley Park Seawall by Bike

Biking around the Stanley Park Seawall is a particularly wonderful way to take in the sublime beauty of Vancouver’s surrounding oceans, trees, and mountains. Unfortunately, every other tourist in the city seems to think so too, including the ones that haven’t ridden bicycles for the last several decades. This is a remarkably beautiful thing to do in the city, but if you’re visiting Vancouver during the peak summer season, try to do it early in the morning or in the late afternoon to beat the crowds. Don’t bother with renting a bike from the innumerable number of bike shops in Yaletown, Coal Harbour and False creek, just download the app and rent a Shaw Mobi bike. Going this route gives you the option of being able to terminate your rental at one of the many stations throughout the city as opposed to having to return to the bike shop you rented from.  I’ll be honest, I made a point of biking this loop a couple times a year even after doing it dozens of times. It’s really that nice, despite sometimes feeling as backed up as an LA freeway.  Checkout this map for directional guidance as bikes are only allowed to travel counter-clockwise.

20. Go to Pitch and Putt at Stanley Park

Maybe you’re an avid golfer. Maybe you’re a total hack that likes to bat the ball around with friends over a couple drinks (that’s me). Whatever camp you fall into, you’re sure to love Stanley Park Pitch and Putt. Situated in the heart of Stanley Park near English Bay, Pitch and Putt features 18 mini holes ranging in distance from 40 to 100 yards. The course is first-come, first-served, so stop in during your exploration of the park and play a few holes. It can back up at times, but you’re under no obligation to complete the entire thing and multiple opportunities present themselves to opt out early. 

21. Enjoy the Ultimate in West Coast Relaxation at Willow Stream Spa

If all the epic things to do on this list have worn out and you’re looking to relax, visit the Willow Stream Spa. For those that don’t feel up to making the drive out to Scandinave Spa in Whistler, the Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel provides the ultimate in relaxation in Vancouver. The steam room, sauna, and terrace with North Shore Mountain views consistently propel the Willow Stream Spa to its spot as one of the best spas in the world. 

Penguins at the Vancouver Aquarium

22. Make an Informed Decision on Visiting the Aquarium

In the past, no trip to Vancouver would have been complete without a stop at the Vancouver Aquarium.  Situated in an idyllic location in the heart of Stanley Park, the Vancouver Aquarium is Canada’s largest aquarium and lets you get up close and personal with sea otters, sea lions, and penguins. Awesome, right? Well, that depends on which camp you fall into. For years Vancouver Aquarium was owned and managed by Ocean Wise, a non-profit dedicated to protecting and restoring the world’s oceans. Unfortunately, Coivd-19 devastated the aquariums finances and Ocean Wise was forced to sell Vancouver Aquarium to a for profit theme park operator, Herschend Enterprises. Make your own decision and decide what works with your moral compass, but I believe that the world’s best Zoos are those like the San Diego zoo that function as non profits and focus all their energy on animal welfare and conservation as opposed to to cost-cutting and profit maximization. Your call. 

the raven and the first men at MOA vancouver

23. Visit the Museum of Anthropology

Vancouver is situated on the unceded traditional territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. To learn more about the incredible cultures and history of the indigenous people of the pacific northwest, make sure to visit the Museum of Anthropology. Situated on the University of British Columbia campus, the building itself is a site to behold. Designed by the world-renowned Canadian architect Arthur Erickson, this stunning glass and concrete building sits perched above the western most point of Vancouver overlooking the Strait of Georgia. The immaculate landscaped grounds include multiple Haida Houses constructed with the aid of famed Haida artist Bill Reid to replicate a 19th century Haida village. 

Inside, the spectacular Great Hall area displays Northwest Coast sculptures, textiles, bentwood boxes, canoes, poles, house posts and carved figures dating from the 19th century.  The museum features an unparalleled collection of artifacts from the original cultures pacific northwest and the world’s largest collection of works by Haida artist Bill Read, including his famous sculpture The Raven and the First Men. 

**** The Great Hall is closed for seismic upgrades until 2023. ***

24. Skip the Grouse Grind, Do BCMC or Neither

So many recommendations for things to do in Vancouver include hiking the Grouse Grind. I’m not sure why…  It’s a hike predominantly in the trees, that’s unbelievably busy, that’s only real claim to fame is gaining close to 800M of elevation in 2.5 KM and referring to itself as “mother nature’s stairmaster”. If you’re hiking it to skip paying the gondola fee to hike something worthwhile like Crown Mountain, ok. If not, skip it. If you insist on picking a subpar hike for the only reason of obtaining bragging rights, go for the BCMC. It starts from the same trailhead and also gains a ton of elevation in a short period of time to end up at the top of Grouse Mountain. It’s still busy, but not quite as busy. 

If you are dying for elevation gain, consider hiking to Eagle Bluffs from Horseshoe Bay, or drive out to Squamish and do the Chief, a very busy but worthwhile hike. 

Ski Cypress Mountain

25. Ski the Local Mountains

This post is about the best things to do in Vancouver and the immediate vicinity, so, unfortunately, I can’t add have a super epic day skiing at Whistler to this list! That said, somehow Vancouver is absurdly privileged and endowed with 3 local mountains all within eyesight of downtown! If you’d like to get out on the slopes,  but can’t sacrifice an entire day or an entire paycheck to visit Whistler, head out to Cypress, Grouse, or Seymour. Of the three, Cypress Mountain would be my top choice. 

trail run

26. Go for a Run, on a Trail, in a Park or up a Mountain

Vancouver’s mild climate, incredible geography, and unparalleled pathway system make it a runners paradise. Road runners head to the 22km (13.7 miles) Seawall which runs from Coal Harbour all the way around Stanley Park and False Creek to Kitsalano Beach. This flat path is the perfect track for stretching your legs, with scenery so gorgeous the distance flies by. I ran my first half-marathon here completely by accident, I just got distracted by the views. If you’re up for something more rustic take a run through the trails in Stanley Park or Pacific Spirit Regional Park. If you’re an avid trail runner, Vancouver offers plenty of options to push your limits.  The rugged and stunningly scenic 26 KM Howe Sound Crest Trail (HSCT) is the ultimate confidence builder. For something less ambitious, run the first part of the HSCT to St. Marks Summit or run the 14 km to Norvan Falls in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park. 

View from the campsite at magnesia meadows

27. Go Backpacking

Vancouver is a hikers paradise, so naturally, it’s also incredible for backpacking and spending a night or two in the wilderness.

If you’re new to backpacking, cut your teeth by hiking into Elfin Lakes in Garibaldi Provincial Park. This 11 KM hike with 600 M of elevation gain takes you into a well equipped backcountry campsite with 35 tent platforms, a day-use shelter, and pit toilet facilities.  The trail follows a beautiful ridge before coming to the campsite which offers stunning mountain scenery. Reservations are required here and it’s a popular spot, so book your site well ahead of time.  

If you’re an experienced backpacker, the Howe Sound Crest trail is an incredible  backpacking trip only minutes from Vancouver. Starting from the base of Cypress Mountain, you traverse the spine of mountains that tower above the city and parallel the Howe Sound. This is a rugged trip with no amenities or designated campsites, so if you have to google what digging a cathole means, this trip isn’t for you, at least not yet.  

Porteau Cove Provincial Park

28. Go Car Camping

If backpacking isn’t your thing, but you love spending a night under the stars, go car camping! Porteau Cove is one of the most beautiful car camping sites you’ll find anywhere. Backing right onto the Howe Sound with incredible views to the mountains across the water, this campsite is the best outdoor adventure commercial made manifest.  Better yet, it is only 45 minutes down the Sea to Sky highway from Vancouver. So bring your tent, or rent a campervan for some of the best oceanside camping you’ll find anywhere. Make a reservation early, Porteau Cove fills up months in advance!

29. Go Scuba Diving

At first thought you might not think of Vancouver as a premier scuba diving destination, but guess again! British Columbia was named the #1 diving destination in North America by Scuba Diving Magazine.  Incredible biodiversity and vibrant life make this area a divers paradise. Check out the diving locker and consider taking a dry-suit course, the diving’s beautiful, but not exactly tropical.  

30. Take a Day or Half-Day Trip to Bowen Island

Only a 20 minute ferry ride from West Vancouver’s Horseshoe Bay, Bowen Island is the perfect day or half-day destination. The island features over 20 km of hiking trails with epic views of the surrounding Howe Sound, including the climb to the island’s high point, Mt. Gardner. If you’re hiked out, explore Bowen Island by bike (or e-bike), go sea kayaking, or play 9-holes of golf. Fuel up for your adventure with coffee, lunch, or breakfast at the Snug

Dr. Dun Yat-Sen Garden Vancouver

31. Visit Dr. Dun Yat-Sen Garden

Mere blocks from Vancouver’s notorious and dystopian Downtown Eastside, lies Chinatown and the tranquility of the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. This authentic representation of Ming Dynasty-era tradition was the first of its kind outside of China and features numerous winding paths, rocks, water lily-covered ponds, and a pagoda. It’s a remarkably peaceful place to sit and read or watch the Koi fish assuming they’re not being terrorized by a rogue river otter.

32. Visit Science World or Send the Kids to Space

The unmissable silver golf ball looking building along the False Creek segment of the Sea Wall is home to Vancouver Science World. This is an amazing place to ditch your spouse with your young aspiring scientists while you enjoy a few hours of bliss at the spa, a brewery, or yoga. That said, the frequency of awesome exhibits here ( T- Rex : The Ultimate Predator anyone?) make it likely that you may find yourself equally entertained. They even offer frequent adult nights for those looking to explore their inner scientist sans children and with music and adult beverages. 

For another kid friendly science oriented activity check out the  H.R. MacMillan Space Centre in the UFO shaped building not far from the Kits Beach area. 

33. Dine at One of Vancouver’s Finest Restaurants

If you’re looking for an earth shattering culinary experience, Vancouver has plenty of options to satiate your palate. From rich Quebecouis inspired cuisine to premium farm to table, and innovative Thai, there is no shortage of remarkable restaurants to experience. Check out this list of 7 restaurants to try in Vancouver written by Michelin, the same company responsible for both the coveted Michelin star restaurant guide and of course the car tires. 

34. Go to an Awesome Pool

Remember how I mentioned earlier that  you should skip Kits beach? Well, I sorta lied. Although you may wish to skip the beach for the aforementioned reasons, you should definitely visit the Kitsilano Pool if you’re looking for an exceptional place to perfect your front crawl! Backing onto the ocean, this saltwater pool delivers epic views of the North Shore Mountains and downtown Vancouver without the risk of Ecoli that seems to show up in the ocean here from time-to-time.  The Second Beach Pool in Stanley park is another terrific option that delivers a similar ambience.

35. Work on Your Yoga Practice

Vancouver’s love for Yoga spawned the stretchy pants and athleisure apparel movement that spread across the world. So, it’s only fitting that there are plenty of terrific spots to work on your yoga practice. Here are couple great places to check out:

Modo Yoga (East Vancouver or North Vancouver) – These studios offer some of the best Yoga classes I’ve taken anywhere. Classes here do a marvelous job of fusing the traditional elements of yoga practice with a challenging workout (more relaxing classes are also offered).  Both studios also offer a weekly Karma donation based class (typically $5). 

Free Outdoor Yoga (summer months) – The big stretchy pant empire company, Lululemon, frequently offers free outdoor yoga classes during the summer months. So, if you’re interested, do a quick search for free outdoor yoga Vancouver for the where and when.

lonsdale quay

36. Take the Sea Bus to Lower Lonsdale and Explore the Area

Being surrounded by water, you may feel yourself called to book an overpriced dinner-on-a-boat trip just to eat mediocre food with an ocean view. Don’t waste your time. If you’re itching to see Stanley Park and downtown Vancouver from the water, board the Seabus from waterfront station and take it across to Lonsdale Quay. You’ll be treated to epic views of Vancouver harbour and downtown Vancouver along the way. Better yet, a ticket costs $3.10 one-way. Once you get across you’ll have the opportunity to explore the Lonsdale Quay market, a smaller and much less touristy version of Granville Island market. The adjacent Lower Lonsdale neighborhood is also worth exploring with numerous decent restaurants, bakeries, cafes, and of course, multiple breweries. 

Where to Stay in Vancouver

Backpackers Budget

Accommodation in Vancouver can be expensive, especially during the peak summer months. If you’re travelling on a budget or are looking to meet fellow travellers check out the following hostels:

HI Hostel Downtown Vancouver–  Daily planned activities, a rooftop patio, and convenient Yaletown location make this a great choice. 

Samesun Vancouver – This hostel consistently ranks as the best overall hostel stay in Vancouver.  Complementary breakfast and the attached Beaver Taphouse  with cheap food and social gatherings make this a backpackers favourite. 

Cambie Hostel – Lively atmosphere in the heart of Gastown. The patio bar here is always a great spot for a beer with good company. 

Mid Range

EXchange Hotel Vancouver –  Located in the heart of downtown this historic building in the home of the original Vancouver stock Exchange and is Vancouver’s first LEED™ Platinum Heritage Conversion. Exceptional service and great rooms adorn this character hotel. The perfect blend of style, comfort, and value that feels boutique without the boutique price. 

Hyatt Regency Vancouver – If the EXchange is fully booked or pricing high, this Hyatt offers exceptional service in a convenient location for a consistently great stay.  

Luxury

the Loden – Consistently ranking as one of the best boutique hotels in the country , the Loden prides itself in its personalized service, high-end amenities and being a central, quiet oasis within the city.

L’Hermitage Hotel –  One of Vancouver’s most elegant Boutique hotels, L’Hermitage is located in the heart of Vancouver’s  shopping, financial and entertainment district, and steps from Canada Place. This 60-room, luxury, boutique property combines Parisian chic and West Coast sophistication.

Skytrain in Vancouver

How to Get Around Vancouver

Vancouver is an incredibly easy city to get around in with highly efficient public transit and bike infrastructure (protected bike lanes). Rent a mobi bike, use the skytrain, or grab a Lyft or Uber. The skytrain runs directly from downtown Vancouver to YVR airport making airport access a breeze. 

If you’re planning on exploring more outside the city itself,  a car rental from YVR airport is extremely convenient, but parking and traffic can be problematic in certain areas of the city and times of day. Alternatively, short term car sharing apps EVO and Modo operate here, but require registration well in advance as drivers abstracts are usually required to register.

What to Pack for Vancouver - don't forget these things

Vancouver get’s a lot of rain, but don’t let that stop you from exploring the city and tackling this list of things to do just just dress for it.  If you’re properly dressed, you’ll find yourself becoming a local, undeterred by the seemingly endless drizzle. Make sure to include the following on your packing list for Vancouver:

A rainproof shell jacket – Umbrellas are bulky, require a hand to hold them and you forget them everywhere (at least I do). Get a solid jacket with a hood and you’ll be all good, like the Patagonia Torrentshell (mens/womens).

Footwear for rainy days – Sneakers are great for sunny days, but a pair of Blundstones are the perfect footwear for exploring Vancouver and avoiding the dreaded soggy shoe. 

Merino Wool Socks – Even if they get wet, they stay warm. I’m a huge fan of darn tough socks. They’re guaranteed for life, so say goodbye to holes.

Whatever you do, don't forget travel insurance

I broke my collarbone mountain biking while traveling in 2019 and racked up emergency medical bills in excess of $15,000. Fortunately, it was completely covered by my travel insurance! Whatever you do, don’t forget your travel insurance!  World Nomads offers the best coverage and customer service for travelers.  Hopefully you never need to make a claim, but if you do you’ll be beyond happy you were prepared!

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this post helps with you decide on a few epic things to do during your time in Vancouver!  I’m convinced that you’ll fall head over heels for this town with its breathtaking scenery, temperate climate, and incredible things to do. If you don’t,  it might be a you thing. 

What’s on your list of epic things to do in Vancouver? Anything you’ve done in Vancouver and loved that I missed? 

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