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
Here I go over the things to do on your first day!
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 rainforest 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.
Rent a bicycle – there are tons of rental places right next to Stanley Park – and whizz around the park and the seawall one morning before the crowds arrive.
Granville Island Public Market
Granville Island is a cultural hotspot located at the south-western edge of downtown.
Transformed from an industrial wasteland in the 1970s, 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 includes food samples and an “expert” guide.
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.
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 birds, 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 practicing safe, environmentally conscious whale watching.
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.
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 center of the city’s cocktail scene, making it the perfect location to celebrate a successful 2 days of touring around the area.
Try The Diamond for a cocktail or The Lamplighter Pub for a beer.
Gastown sits northeast (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
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.
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.
Best Accommodation Options in Vancouver:
Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre
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
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
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):
Hotel room for 2: $150 – 1,000 Hostel: Dorm – $50; Private – $110 Air BnB for 2: $100 – 400
Bus / Skytrain: $4 Day travel card: $10.50 Taxi from airport to city center: $32
Uber Available: Yes (Metro area)
Dinner in a restaurant: $15 – 50 Budget meal: $8 – 15 Coffee: $2 – 5
Beer in local bar/pub: $5 Beer in a high-end bar: $8 Wine: $10 Cocktail: $15 Nightclub entry: $5 – 10
How to get to Vancouver
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.
There are regular bus services into Vancouver from Seattle, Victoria, Nanaimo, Whistler, Kelowna, and the Okanagan Valley.
How to get around Vancouver
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
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.
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
Timezone: PST (GMT – 8hrs)
Power: In Canada, the power plugs are two-pronged like those in the US. The standard voltage is 120 V.