2 days in Vancouver

2 Days in Vancouver: A Perfect Weekend Trip Itinerary

2 days in Vancouver might not seem like much, but use your time wisely, and you can experience much of what this beautiful West Coast city has to offer.

Frequently ranked as one of the most liveable cities in the world, this cosmopolitan, ethnically diverse seaport lies where the mountains meet the ocean.

With a myriad of attractions and things to do – from postcard beaches to bustling markets – it’s fast becoming one of the most popular tourist destinations on the West Coast.

This 2-day itinerary of Vancouver will give you the best things to do, the best eateries and more!

There is also helpful information on where to stay, the best guided tours, and how to get around.

Whether you have just a weekend in Vancouver or longer, it’s somewhere you should definitely visit whilst in British Columbia.

There are many fun things to do in Vancouver, let us know in the comments what you think of this travel guide!

2 days in vancouver

So, you’re wondering:

How do I spend a weekend in Vancouver?

Use this itinerary for 2 days in Vancouver for inspiration and to plan your trip. You can navigate around the attractions from here.

What is Vancouver Famous for?

Vancouver is famous for a number of things:

  • Some of the best seafood in the world

  • Awe-inspiring surrounding scenery – the mountains literally rise up out of the ocean giving the city an incredible backdrop reminiscent of Jurassic Park.

  • Outdoor recreation – Home to excellent hiking and mountain biking trails, water sports, nearby ski resorts. Vancouber is an outdoor enthusiasts playground.

  • Green initiatives and sustainable living – Vancouver is extremely progressive when it comes to city-wide initiatives to protect the environment. Check out Vancouver’s Greenest City 2020 initiative as an example.

  • Stanley Park – A world renowned park sitting right on the waterfront that will make you forget you’re in a cosmopolitan city.

There are loads of exciting things to do in Vancouver.

2 Days in Vancouver Itinerary - Day 1

Hop-on Hop-off Bus

Using the hop-on hop-off bus to get around during 2 days in vancouver

Before we get stuck into all the best things to do in Vancouver, it’s worth mentioning the Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Bus Pass.

Not only is this a fun way to get around the city and see the sights – you get to ride the heritage-style trolley pictured above – but it goes past most of the attractions listed in this itinerary.

A win-win.

Of course, you can also go everywhere in this article on your own should you wish. 

See How to get around Vancouver for more on this.

Stanley Park and The Seawall

Sticking out on a peninsula at the northern edge of downtown, Stanley Park is a stunning oasis in an urban metropolis.

You’ll quickly forget you’re in a city.

This 400-hectare haven of ancient rain-forest features beaches and 27km of trails with outrageous views of the ocean and coastal mountains.

There are also cultural landmarks, places to eat and, oddly, Canada’s largest aquarium.

The Stanley Park seawall is a seaside pathway that stretches 8.8km and boasts fantastic views of English Bay. It’s perfect for a stroll, jog or cycle ride.

Stanley Park is somewhere you simply must visit during your 2 days in Vancouver. 

My recommendation:

Rent a bicycle – there are tons of rental places right next to Stanley Park – and whizz round the park and the seawall one morning before the crowds arrive.

Granville Island Public Market

Granville Island Public Market - a must-see during 2 days in vancouver

Granville Island is a cultural hotspot located at the south-western edge of downtown.

Transformed from an industrial wasteland in the 1970’s, this unique public space is home to a variety of artistic businesses including a theatre, a brewery and several boutique shops.

It’s well worth a visit during your 2 days in Vancouver.

Perhaps most the most notable attraction: Granville Island Public Market.

Open daily from 9 am to 7 PM, the indoor market hosts more than 50 independent food stands offering handcrafted products including: artisanal teas, cakes, deli goods, and fresh seafood to name but a few. 

The market is colorful and lively and a fantastic experience for those looking to embrace their inner (or not so inner) foodies.

How to visit the market

There are tours available to visit the market which include food samples and an “expert” guide. 

My opinion?

Avoid these and just go on your own. 

You know what food you like, right? You’ll have a great time strolling around the market and sampling the culinary delights at your own leisure.

Parking is available on Granville Island if driving. Alternatively, head to David Lam Park on the southern edge of downtown and take the Aquabus across the water

Aquabus
The Aquabus cruising across the water

The Vancouver Canucks

Watching the Canucks is something you must do during 2 days in Vancouver

Ice hockey in Canada is like a religion. 

And for this reason, the Vancouver Canucks hold a special place in the hearts of many a ‘Vancouverite’.

What better way to experience the local culture than to get involved and watch a game of hockey?!

They play at the Rogers Arena which seats a whopping 19,000 spectators.

Watching a Canucks game is an awesome way to spend an evening and a great experience for people of all ages, as the crowd get involved in creating an unforgettable atmosphere.

You can get tickets at the Canucks Official Ticket site.

This is something you don’t want to miss during your 2 days in Vancouver.

2 Days in Vancouver Itinerary - Day 2

Medina

BRUNCH [brən(t)SH] noun.

– The socially acceptable excuse for day drinking

Ah, Medina.

How I miss your sweet, sweet waffles. 

Ok, that might have been a bit over the top. But this is not only your future favorite brunch spot, but the best food you’re likely to eat in Vancouver. 

You can drool over the menu here.

I particularly enjoyed the spiked coffee (providing you don’t need to drive later) and the fricassée. Ordering a collection of sides and enjoying them tapas stylee also works pretty well.

But don’t stop there…

Medina is famous for its Liège style waffles. 

Try the White Chocolate Pistachio Rosewater as a topping (yes that’s one topping and it’s great).

A word of warning:

This is a VERY popular brunch spot. And to make things even harder, they don’t take reservations!

Get there early to guarantee a table. 

There’s often a queue down the road.

Whale Watching

Humpback whale seen during 2 days in vancouver
This awesome photo of a Humpback whale was captured by my friend Ash - Instagram: ash.jones91

Whale watching is a must whilst on the West Coast and therefore naturally forms part of our itinerary for 2 days in Vancouver.

You could see several types of whales including Orcas, Humpbacks and Blue whales as well as species of sea bird, seals and other marine life.

You’ll also get to see the beauty of the surrounding islands and islets from the water whilst learning about the history of the area and the wildlife from your guide.

One thing I particularly like about whale watching tours with Prince of Whales (and generally in Canada) is the respect they have for the wildlife. They commit to practising safe, environmentally conscious whale watching. 

The result?

You get to see the whales in their natural environment, without feeling guilty about disrupting them. 

Seeing a whale in the wild is a truly magical experience, and one that you’ll never forget.

Capilano Suspension Bridge

visiting the capilano suspension bridge during 2 days in Vancouver

The breath-taking 137 metre-long Capilano Suspension Bridge hangs 70 metres above the Capilano River.

But this 27-acre park is much more than just the bridge it’s named after…

There are also other attractions to help you experience the spectacular West Coast rainforest.

The Cliffwalk clings to the granite cliffside and gives serious panoramic views of the canyon. With two glass platforms, it’s not for the fainthearted.

The Treetops Adventure is made up of 7 suspension bridges built from ancient trees and takes you into the depths of the rainforest.

Exploring the park and bridges is an awesome experience. 

You’ll instantly forget that you’re just 15 minutes from Vancouver city center as you immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring BC forest. It’s a must-see place during your 2 days in Vancouver.

You do need a ticket for entry to the Park, but you don’t need to book a tour. You can book a self-guided ticket here:

Gastown

Spending time in Gastown during 2 days in Vancouver

Gastown is Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood.

It’s a district filled with character. 

Victorian architecture, boutique stores, art galleries, and independent bars make it a hotspot for stylish locals and interesting characters.

In all honesty, Gastown would provide enough entertainment during the daytime, but I suggest you visit in the evening.

Gastown comes alive at night.

It’s the centre of the city’s cocktail scene, making it the perfect location to celebrate a successful 2 days touristing around the area.

Try The Diamond for a cocktail or The Lamplighter Pub for a beer.

Gastown sits north-east(ish) in downtown Vancouver. It runs east from Richards Street to Main Street, and south from the waterfront to Hastings Street.

2 Days in Vancouver Itinerary Map

Other Things to do in Vancouver

Have extra time?

Here are some more things to do during your 2 days in Vancouver:

  • Commercial Drive – A neighbourhood rich in culture, consisting of quaint boutiques, independent restaurants, a vibrant live music and bar scene, and coffee houses galore.

  • Vancouver Aquarium – Canada’s largest aquarium housing over 50,000 marine animals. As already mentioned, the aquarium is located in Stanley Park.

  • Mount Pleasant Murals – This area is filled with ridiculously cool and talented street art. Definitely worth a wander through with a camera if you’re looking for something a bit different or appreciate murals.

Guided tours in Vancouver

Where to stay in Vancouver

So now you know the best things to do, you’re probably thinking:

Where should I stay in Vancouver?

As Vancouver is a BIG city, there are a number of accommodation options available.

These range from plush hotels to budget hostels to pitches at campsites.

Before you decide, you need to think about where you want to base yourself and what you want from your accommodation.

Let’s break down the options.

Firstly, my favorite place to stay is Blue Horizon Hotel.

Blue Horizon is a high-quality hotel but always seems reasonably priced. It’s nice to get some luxury when traveling to a city.

My budget friendly favorite is Samesun Hostel

The hostel is clean, central and you can get a private room for as little as $100 CAD.

Staying at the Blue Horizon for days in Vancouver
Chilling on our balcony at Blue Horizon Hotel

Best Accommodation Options in Vancouver:

Blue Horizon

Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre

Samesun Hostel

Cambie Hostel

Air BnB can be an excellent option for finding accommodation options in Vancouver.

Options range from studio apartments in the center of the city to mansions out in the suburbs.

Capilano River RV Park

Porteau Cove Provincial Park – Roughly 40 minutes North of Vancouver on highway 99. Beautiful setting. First come, first served basis.

Vancouver Travel Tips

My thoughts on Vancouver

I love Vancouver. 

Having lived in Whistler for 18 months, I spent a lot of time going back and forth to Vancouver.

Why do I love it?

There is just SO much to do.

In fact, it was hard to fit everything I wanted to into this itinerary! 

I would say that as far as the actual cities go, Vancouver city center isn’t actually all that special. Especially if you have spent any time in, say, European cities which tend to have a lot more history and culture. 

Sure, the glamour of downtown can be fun for a couple of days. 

But it’s the surrounding area that really delivers. 

It’s the fact that you can stay in the city and enjoy city comforts, but be out in the wilderness in a matter of minutes that makes Vancouver so great. With spots like the Capilano Suspension Bridge a mere 15 minutes away, you can see what I mean.

If you like the outdoors, you’re in for a real treat. The surrounding mountains and rainforest are stunning.

You might find you want to stay more than 2 days in Vancouver!

Costs in Vancouver

Lions Gate Bridge at night whilst staying for 2 days in vancouver

What you spend when in Vancouver depends completely on what you want to do.

For example, the more tours you take or the more you party, the more you will spend. These costs are non-essential, and you can take part in as many or as little as you like depending on your budget.

However, certain costs such as food, accommodation, and travel are non-negotiable.

Here’s a rough breakdown of essential travel costs in Vancouver (costs in $CAD):

Accomodation

Hotel room for 2: $150 – 1,000
Hostel: Dorm – $50; Private – $110
Air BnB for 2: $100 – 400

Local Transport

Bus / Skytrain: $4
Day travel card: $10.50
Taxi from airport to city center: $32

Uber Available: Yes (Metro area)

Eating Out

Dinner in restaurant: $15 – 50
Budget meal: $8 – 15
Coffee: $2 – 5

Drinking

Beer in local bar/pub: $5
Beer in high-end bar: $8
Wine: $10
Cocktail: $15
Nightclub entry: $5 – 10

How to get to Vancouver

Drive

Driving into Vancouver offers the most flexibility. You’ll be able to create your own schedule once you arrive and enjoy freedom as you take in everything the city has to offer.

The Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1) enters Vancouver from the East. Approximate driving times from elsewhere in Canada are:

  • Kelowna/Okanagan Valley: 4 hours
  • Calgary: 12 hours
  • Montreal: 5 days
  • Toronto: 5 days
Highway 99 enters Vancouver from the North. Whistler is approximately 2 hours North of Vancouver.
 
When driving from the US, Vancouver is approximately 3 hours North of Seattle. The Interstate 5 (United States) becomes Highway 99 (Canada) at the border and enters Vancouver from the South.
 

Fly

The closest airport is Vancouver International Airport (YVR). Flights are available to and from destinations all over the world.

Bus

There are regular bus services into Vancouver from Seattle, Victoria, Nanaimo, Whistler, Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley. 

2 days in Vancouver

How to get around Vancouver

By Car

For exploring the nearby areas and for road trips to nearby mountain and coastal destinations, the best option is to rent a car. 

Rental cars in Vancouver are reasonably priced and there is a large variety of vehicle types available depending on what you want to do. I’m talking campers, 4X4s, convertibles… you name it.

Evo Car Share is an impressive car rental scheme found in Vancouver.

Using the app, you can simply find a car near you, pick it up and go anywhere. You then just need to return it to the Home Zone and you’ll be charged an affordable $0.41 per minute. What’s more, each car is fitted out with ski and bicycle racks so you can get out explore. They’re also Toyota Prius Hybrids, making it much more eco-friendly!

By Public Transport

To explore the city itself, public transport is well connected with buses and the Skytrain covering major areas.

You can purchase a day pass through TransLink, which allows unlimited travel across all three zones.

The cost is $10.50 for an adult, and $8.25 for a concession fare.

You can purchase tickets from ticket machines in SkyTrain and SeaBus stations.

Visit the TransLink site for more information and for schedules.

Best time to visit Vancouver

2 days in Vancouver in Summer

Vancouver weather is considerably better in Summer.

Winter tends to bring A LOT of rain. If you plan to enjoy Vancouver’s surrounding natural beauty and want to spend a lot of time outdoors, Spring/Summer would undoubtedly be the best time to visit.

Summer is also the time when the “Patios” (terraces outside bars) and the beaches all come alive with people celebrating the good weather. There tends to be a bit more of an easy-going party atmosphere in the warmer months.

That being said, Winter also brings a lot of fun. While it might rain a lot in Vancouver itself, the nearby mountains will be covered in snow.

If you’re into Winter Sports, you’ll be in dreamland: 

World-renowned Whistler is an easy (and beautiful) 2-hour drive away.

How to save money in Vancouver

It’s no secret that Vancouver can be an expensive place to visit.

BUT…

I’ve spent a lot of time there, and I’ve learned a few hacks to save money.

  • A City Passport helps save considerably with sight-seeing – You get discounts on over 50 Vancouver attractions including museums, restaurants, spas, bike rentals and theatres.

    But that’s not all…

    You also get a 144-page guidebook with insider tips.

    A worthy investment.
  • Cheap Asian food is everywhere.

    Vietnamese and Japanese restaurants are on every corner and can be a great money saver –  you can get a bowl of Pho for as little as $10, and sushi rolls for as little as $4.

  • A day pass is cheaper if you plan on moving about the city a lot during one day. You can purchase one for $10.50 fro any Skytrain station.

Practical Information for Visiting Vancouver

Safety:

Vancouver is generally considered extremely safe. You are unlikely to experience any crime. 

That being said, it’s still a major city and you should maintain the usual safety practices you would anywhere else. Keep your valuables locked away or with you at all times.

I’ve always felt safe at night in downtown as there is a lot of activity and a lot of people about. 

Further Reading for Your 2 Days in Vancouver

To help you further plan your visit to [enter place], here are some useful resources:

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is a must for any trip. Hopefully, everything will go smoothly, but it’s best not to take any chances. 

I recommend insurance from WorldNomads.com

Not only is it available to people from 140 countries, but you can buy a policy and even claim online after you’ve left. That means it’s never too late! 

Ensure you are covered for medical expenses, theft, cancellations, baggage loss, and activities.

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2 Days in Vancouver