No matter what time of the year you visit Vancouver, it’s one of the most beautiful cities in the world and is always buzzing with things to see and do. After living there for over a year and having plenty of visitors to show around, we found we had a few favourites that can’t be missed.
1 – EXPLORE STANLEY PARK
Whether you choose to explore it on foot, bike, rollerblades or skateboard, you’ll never have enough time to see the 1001 acres that make up Stanley Park. As soon as you step foot amongst those towering trees you enter a world of tranquility that you’d never know was in the middle of a bustling city. It’s full of trails, gardens, monuments, eateries and wildlife. You’ll probably encounter raccoons, and you’ll definitely encounter squirrels. What more could you want?!
vancouver.ca2 – GRANVILLE ISLAND
You can easily spend a day at Granville Island, which is packed full of fresh food, great restaurants and shopping. Take the tiny ferry across the water (so much fun!), and check out the markets, enjoy the street performers and purchase yourself some unique souvenirs crafted by local artisans.
granvilleisland.com3 – CHECK OUT AN EVENT
If you’re visiting in summer I challenge you to find a weekend that doesn’t have some sort of event happening. Whether it’s the Food Cart Festival, Celebration of Light, International Film Festival or the infamous Naked Bike Ride, there’s always something to do in Vancouver! Most of these events are free so they’re the perfect choice for a budget traveller.
4 – VISIT GROUSE MOUNTAIN
Grouse Mountain is great at any time of the year, whether you’re skiing your way to happiness or hiking one of the many scenic trails during the summer. Jump on the gondola up the mountain which will give you an incredible view of the city and then catch a lumberjack show, try zip lining or meet some grizzly bears! To become a real Vancouverite, tackle the ‘Grouse Grind’, a 2.9km hiking trail from the base to the top of the mountain.
grousemountain.com5 – FILL YOUR BELLY WITH FOOD TRUCK EATS
Never have we seen so many food trucks until we moved to Vancouver. During summer head to the art gallery on Hornby Street where you’ll find an abundance of choices from gourmet grilled cheese to Japanese. Otherwise, don’t worry, they pop up all over the place so you’re sure to find something – even if it’s just a smokie!
6 – GO TO AN ICE HOCKEY GAME
This was at the top of our list when we first arrived in Vancouver, and on just our second night in the city we went to see the Canucks play. Thanks to a friend we discovered the Giants – the junior team for Vancouver, where going to a game will only set you back about $20 rather than $100+. You’ll get a great seat and it feels just as authentic an experience as going to see the Canucks. Plus, there’s heaps more action. You know those ice hockey fights you see on TV? Yep, you’re almost guaranteed one at a Giants game.
vancouvergiants.com7 – DISCOVER CHINATOWN
Whether you visit the authentic markets, arrive in time for one of the lavish festivals, or just indulge in the assortment of food options, Chinatown on the eastern side of downtown Vancouver is quite the experience. For a peaceful escape visit the Dr Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Gardens.
8 – SHOP ’TIL YOU DROP ON ROBSON STREET
If you’re in need of some serious retail therapy then Robson Street is your go-to. You’ll find everything from Victoria’s Secret to Club Monaco (my workplace for 10 months – beautiful clothes and of course, exceptional service!).
robsonstreet.ca9 – SEE HISTORIC GASTOWN
Gastown is home to the famous steam clock and a historic area of the city. A great spot for photos and a one-stop-shop for all your Canadian souvenirs. It boasts plenty of bars and restaurants so if you’re looking for somewhere with a bit of character for a few drinks, Gastown’s your spot!
gastown.org10 – WANDER THROUGH THE WEST END
We’re a little biased since it was our home for over a year, but the West End is a beautiful part of the city and can’t be missed. Wander through the tree-lined streets, breathe in the fresh Canadian air, and appreciate how beautiful some of the homes are. If you’re visiting in Spring you’ll be spoilt with an abundance of cherry blossoms.
11 – BE TRANSPORTED TO ASIA AT THE RICHMOND NIGHT MARKET
Your senses will go into overdrive at the Richmond Night Market which runs annually between the months of May and October. Over a hundred vendors offering Asian cuisine and merchandise create an incredible atmosphere full of colour, smells and smiles! This place gets thousands of visitors every year and we can see why. Make sure you go on an empty stomach because you’ll want to try everything that you walk past. Even if you aren’t visiting Vancouver at the right time you should still go to the website. It’s amazing.
12 – RELAX AT ENGLISH BAY BEACH
There’s plenty of great beaches in Vancouver (Kitsilano is a favourite!) but English Bay was our local so we became rather fond of it. Located at the bottom of Davie Street, it’s the perfect spot to read a book and soak up the sun. If you’re not keen on English Bay, follow the path around towards Stanley Park and you’ll stumble across Second Beach. There’s nothing quite like laying on the beach with a view of the mountains in the distance, especially when you’re from Australia.13 – FINISH YOUR DAY IN YALETOWN
Yaletown is the perfect spot to relax with a glass of wine or local brew after a long day of exploring. It’s packed with trendy bars and restaurants (and boutiques if you’re there a little earlier in the day) so grab some dinner in this sophisticated corner of Vancouver.