Vancouver is a special city for many reasons. Its natural scenery, with stunning mountain views and access to the Pacific Ocean, makes it a breathtaking place to visit.
Vancouver’s cultural diversity is a unique aspect that is celebrated throughout the city. The mix of cultures has led to a vibrant and diverse culinary scene and numerous festivals and events that showcase different traditions and customs.
Vancouver also strongly focuses on outdoor activities, with easy access to hiking, biking, skiing, and other recreational opportunities. These features combine to make Vancouver a truly special place that offers something for everyone.
Although you can always find something to do in Vancouver, throughout all seasons, here is a 2-day itinerary of the things you shouldn’t miss whenever you decide to visit this metropolitan destination in British Columbia.
Day 1: Focus on Downtown Vancouver
Downtown Vancouver is the heart of the city, known for its high-end shopping, diverse dining options, and many popular attractions. Located on a scenic peninsula between English Bay and Burrard Inlet, the area is bordered by several vibrant neighborhoods and offers plenty of public spaces to relax and take in the city’s sights.
The truth is that Downtown Vancouver is within walking distance from all areas, but not all people will enjoy walking it all. It can take 45 minutes to an hour to walk from one extreme point to another but it won’t feel like a long walk with so many hidden gems to look at. It’s the perfect excuse to exercise and see what it has to offer. You won’t be disappointed.
According to your interests, some areas of Downtown may be more valuable to visit than others, so here is an overview of what to expect:
Gastown is a historic neighborhood located in the heart of downtown. The area is known for its charming cobblestone streets, Victorian-style buildings, and an artsy and touristic scene.
Originally established in 1867, Gastown was named after “Gassy” Jack Deighton, a steamboat captain who opened the first saloon in the area. Today, Gastown is home to a diverse range of boutique shops, galleries, cafes, and restaurants, as well as some of Vancouver’s most popular attractions, such as the famous Steam Clock and the vibrant nightlife along Water Street.
Yaletown is a trendy neighborhood located in the southeast part of downtown, near False Creek. Yaletown has transformed into a bustling urban neighborhood known for its upscale boutiques, vibrant nightlife, and eclectic dining scene.
The area is characterized by its sleek, modern architecture, with former warehouses and factories repurposed into chic loft-style apartments, trendy restaurants, and hip cafes.
Yaletown is also home to several green spaces, including the waterfront David Lam Park and the popular seawall, which offers stunning views of False Creek and the surrounding cityscape.
For dinner, The Keg, in Yaletown is a great choice if you’re looking for high-quality food in a unique and historic setting. The service is top-notch, and the food is consistently delicious. Keep in mind that it can be busy, so it’s a good idea to make a reservation in advance if possible.
Granville Island is a bustling and eclectic neighborhood located just a short ferry ride from downtown Vancouver. There are different locations where you can catch the ferry to reach this popular arts and culture hub. You can expect numerous galleries, studios, and theaters showcasing the best of Vancouver’s creative talent.
One of the highlights of the area is the Granville Island Public Market, which features an array of fresh produce, artisanal cheeses, baked goods, and seafood. The market is also home to numerous food vendors.
Spots to catch the ferry: The Aquatic Centre Ferry Dock, the Yaletown Ferry Dock, and the Plaza of Nations Ferry Dock. The ferry runs frequently throughout the day and it takes just a few minutes. It is also possible to reach the island by foot or bike, it will just take a long time out of your itinerary.
Coal Harbour is a beautiful waterfront neighborhood located in the northern part of downtown. The area is named after its history as a former industrial coal port and has since been transformed into an upscale residential area with stunning views of the North Shore Mountains and Burrard Inlet.
Coal Harbour is home to several high-end restaurants, cafes, and luxury hotels, making it a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.
The neighborhood is also known for its beautiful green spaces, including the picturesque Harbour Green Park and the famous Stanley Park, which is located just a short walk away.
Davie Village is a lively and welcoming neighborhood located in the West End of downtown. It is known for its vibrant LGBTQ+ community and is considered one of the most inclusive and accepting neighborhoods in the city.
The area is home to numerous LGBTQ+ bars, nightclubs, and restaurants, as well as a variety of community organizations and support groups. Davie Village is also located just a few blocks away from English Bay, one of Vancouver’s most popular beaches, and is surrounded by beautiful parks and green spaces.
Whether you’re looking to enjoy a night out on the town, relax in the sunshine, or simply soak up the vibrant and accepting community, Davie Village is a must-visit spot for anyone exploring Vancouver.
Stanley Park is one of the largest urban parks in North America. Located on a peninsula just west of downtown Vancouver, Stanley Park boasts over 1,000 acres of forests, beaches, and scenic viewpoints.
You can rent bicycles in Stanley Park, and it is worth it! There are several rental shops located throughout the park, offering a variety of bikes to suit all ages and abilities.
Renting a bicycle is a great way to explore the park at your own pace, and it allows you to cover more ground than you would on foot. The park has around 16 miles of bike paths, including the famous seawall, which offers stunning views of the city skyline and the North Shore Mountains.
You can also ride through the park’s lush forests and visit popular attractions like the totem poles at Brockton Point and the Vancouver Aquarium.
Day 2 – Deep Cove day trip
Deep Cove is a charming community located just a little over a 1-hour drive from Vancouver, making it an ideal day trip destination. To get there, you can take the Trans-Canada Highway or the scenic Marine Drive, which winds along the coast and offers breathtaking views of the water and mountains.
If you are not driving, you can take the Seabus from downtown Vancouver to Lonsdale Quay, which is located in North Vancouver. From there, you can transfer to a bus that will take you to Deep Cove. The bus ride takes approximately 30-40 minutes and several buses serve the area, including the 211 and 212.
However, it’s important to note that the bus service to Deep Cove is not as frequent as it is in other areas, so it’s a good idea to check the schedule in advance.
Once you arrive in Deep Cove, you can explore the quaint village center, which is home to a variety of shops, restaurants, and cafes. The area is particularly popular for outdoor activities, such as hiking, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding.
You can rent a kayak or paddleboard from the local rental shop and explore the tranquil waters of Indian Arm, which offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and forests.
Additionally, you can take a leisurely hike up Quarry Rock. The hike is a popular and relatively easy trail that offers beautiful views of the area. The hike is approximately 2.3 miles, round trip, and takes around 1.5 to 2 hours to complete.
The trail is well-maintained and features a gentle incline with a few steep sections and stairs, making it accessible for most hikers. Along the way, you’ll pass through a dense forest of Douglas firs and hemlock trees, with occasional glimpses of the water and mountains.
At the top of the trail, you’ll reach Quarry Rock, a large granite outcropping that offers panoramic views of Deep Cove, the Burrard Inlet, and the surrounding mountains. The view from the top is particularly stunning at sunset or sunrise.
After a day of exploring, head back to Downtown Vancouver and cover the places that you didn’t have time to on the day before.
While two days may not be enough time to see all of Vancouver, it is definitely enough time to get a taste of what the city has to offer.
You can also take a day trip to nearby destinations like North Vancouver, the Capilano Suspension Bridge, Lynn Canyon Park, Whistler, Joffre Lakes, Garibaldi Lake, or endless options for everyone’s taste.
Vancouver is a vibrant and beautiful city with a lot to offer visitors. It is consistently ranked as one of the most livable cities in the world, with a high quality of life and stunning natural scenery. From its bustling downtown core to its many parks, beaches, and neighborhoods, Vancouver has something for everyone.