If you are looking for the best things to do in Vancouver, then you are in for a treat! Vancouver is a world-class city in British Columbia with plenty of things to do at any time of the year. Located on Canada’s west coast, it is full of natural beauty, and a temperate climate. Vancouver is a multicultural city making it full of cultural delights and unique cuisines. The farm to table movement in the restaurant industry provides seasonal delights for diners and the local’s sustainability desires make it one of the most sustainable cities in the world.
While the peak season to visit is over the warm summer months, that does not mean that there are only summer things to do in Vancouver. It just means that you need to plan for the weather! In Vancouver, you can really ski in the morning and hit the beach in the afternoon. You can hike all year round and plenty events make visiting Vancouver at any time a pleasure for all who visit.
While there are countless things to do in Vancouver, here are 99 things to do whether you have lived in the region your whole life, or if you are visiting for just a few days!
Top 10 Things to do in Vancouver
Stanley Park is the jewel of Vancouver. Home to the Vancouver Aquarium, beautiful old-growth forest, biking and walking paths and stunning views! You can rent bikes and ride the Seawall, you can bring your walking shoes and walk, or you can drive around and park at all of the beautiful spots around the park. At Prospect Point you can enjoy stunning views of the Fraser River, North Vancouver and the Lions Gate Bridge. Grab an ice cream on a sunny day while you take a few photos! There is also a restaurant at Prospect Point.
To kick off the holiday season in November and December, the Vancouver Parks Board hosts Bright Nights Stanely Park. The 20 gauge, 2 km track winds through the forest over ground cleared by Typhoon Freda, the most devastating storm in Vancouver history which blew through in 1962. Passengers can get a close-up look at a vintage engine and a quick photo before boarding for the 15-minute ride. The jewel of the Stanley Park Railway’s collection of old locomotives is a locally-built replica of Canadian Pacific Railway Engine #374, famous for pulling Canada’s first transcontinental passenger train into Vancouver in the late 1880s
Wander Granville Island and check out the local shops (the kids market is a favourite), fresh food and even the water park for the kids! This is one of the popular tourist spots in Vancouver and is also flooded with locals looking to browse the Granville Island Public Market. This is also one of the best places to find Vancouver souvenirs and unique Canadian gifts.
Location: 1689 Johnston St, Vancouver. How to get to Granville Island.
Capilano Suspension Bridge
Capilano Suspension Bridge is another one of the popular Vancouver sights. Completed in 1889, the bridge has seen millions of visitors over the years. The Capitano Suspension Bridge Park now boasts a variety of activities including a cliff walk, and treetop platforms, and also has self-guided programs for kids! While this is actually in North Vancouver, it is a must-do for the outdoor lover visiting British Columbia.
If you are visiting without a vehicle, you can take this popular half-day tour.
In November and December, the Capilano Suspension Bridge is transformed into a twinkling wonderland full of holiday lights. You can read more about it and where else to see Christmas lights in Vancouver.
Location: 3735 Capilano Rd, North Vancouver
Fly Over Canada
If you have never seen Fly Over Canada, then you are in for a treat. During the Ultimate Flying Ride, you will see numerous cities and vistas across the country. The production team for FlyOver Canada was able to select 18 scenes from over 100 hours of footage to represent Canada in the ride film. There are no subtitles or voice-overs during the experience, as we did not want to detract from the flying sensation. Fly over Canada is located inside Canada Place right next to the cruise ship terminal.
Tickets: Book your tickets online in advance here for the lowest price and to ensure availability.
Location: 999 Canada Place
VanDusen Botanical Garden
VanDusen Botanical Gardens is a 55-acre oasis, with over 7,500 plant species from around the world. Take your time within this quiet setting and explore the inspiring architecture, sculptures, a peaceful waterfall, breathtaking lake, and 50 botanical collections. VanDusen Botanical Garden has are two restaurants with patios – Truffles Café and Shaughnessy Restaurant. Vancouver souvenir shoppers will also enjoy the gift shop on the way out!
VanDusen Botanical Gardens hosts seasonal events during the year. It is a popular place to visit in the fall because it is one of the most popular places in Vancouver to see the changing leaves. It is also popular in the spring when the Vancouver cherry trees are in bloom.
During the Christmas season is their Festival of Lights. If you are visiting during the holidays, this is one of many popular Christmas activities in Vancouver.
Location: 5251 Oak Street, Vancouver
Vancouver Art Gallery
The Vancouver Art Gallery is located in Downtown Vancouver, next to Robson Square. It is recognized as one of Canada’s most renowned and innovative visual arts institutions. It is a National Historic Site and was designed by Francis Rattenbury, the same architect responsible for the parliament buildings in Victoria. Due to its central location, it is often used for gatherings and protests. If you are looking for a date night idea in Vancouver, the VAG is on that list!
Location: 750 Hornby St, Vancouver
Hit the Beach in Vancouver at Kits Beach
If relaxing, or people-watching is your thing, grab your beach essentials and head over to Kits Beach for the afternoon! No trip to Canada is complete without enjoying some of the West Coast beaches that are right in the city of Vancouver! There is so much more than just Kits Beach though, it is home to a the longest swimming pool in Canada.
Metro Vancouver has plenty of beaches, you can read more great locations in this list of swimming beaches in Metro Vancouver.
Kits Beach Location: The North end of the Kitsilano neighborhood
Stanley Park Seawall
One of the must-dos when visiting Vancouver is to walk Stanley Park’s SeaWall and enjoy everything the park has to offer. With beautiful beaches and views of Deep Cove it is a stop you do not want to miss! While it is long, it is on my list of easy hikes in Vancouver.
One of the notable stops is the totem poles at Brockton Point. These nine totems are one of British Columbia’s most visited attractions. The collection started in the 1920s when the Vancouver Park Board bought 4 totems from Alert Bay on Vancouver Island. The most recent installation was in 2009, carved by Robert Yelton of the Squamish First Nations.
Marvel at Stanley Park’s Siwash Rock
The iconic Siwash Rock is the only sea stack you can find in Vancouver. It can be found along the SeaWall and is a popular spot for great photos. It is made of basalt and exists due to a volcanic dyke that formed in the sandstone and mud foundation, forcing the hot magma up and creating a stack as it cooled.
Visit Grouse Mountain at any time of the year
Grouse Mountain is an amazing summer or winter activity in Vancouver! With the hill covered in snow in the winter and amazing hiking and entertainment in the summer, it is well worth a visit! Did you know they have daily shows, a grizzly bear habitat, and wolves? The two resident grizzlies, Grinder and Coola, have lived on a five-acre refuge on Grouse Mountain since 2001.
Grouse Mountain (and the other local mountains) also offers night skiing in the winter months, making it one of the popular things to do in Vancouver at night with the locals!
Location: 6400 Nancy Green Way, North Vancouver
Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge
Explore Lynn Canyon Park and Suspension Bridge and experience North Vancouver’s amazing parks. Standing 50 meters above a raging river, this is a hidden gem when it comes to Vancouver’s best Instagram spots, as it is much less crowded than nearby Capilano Suspension Bridge Park.
The surrounding park is full of trails, waterfalls, and swimming areas.
Location: 3663 Park Road, North Vancouver
Book a Photo Shoot
Whether you are a local to Vancouver or in town visiting, it is easy to find a local photographer and book a photo session online! If you are looking for a new Christmas card photo, want to update family pictures or commemorate a family vacation to Vancouver then book a photo shoot before your trip!
If you use the code LINDSAY you will get $25 off your booking as well!
Shop on Robson Street
In its prime area roughly between Burrard and Jervis Street, Robson Street has every store that you could desire for your fashion wants. All the major national and international chain stores are located here, from more casual and athletic wear companies such as to well-known clothing retailers. Popular footwear retailers, lingerie and beauty products are all here. You can also pick up some popular Vancouver souvenirs and things you can only get in Canada at souvenir shops Grand Maple Gift and Canadian Crafts on Robson.
More Things To Do in Vancouver
Take the Kids to Science World
Spend the day exploring the geometric dome that is Science World and make sure to catch a movie on the giant five-story high IMAX screen! It is the largest dome screen in the world. Kids of all ages, from toddlers to teens can explore the interactive science exhibits at the Telus World of Science.
Location: 1455 Quebec St, Vancouver
Attend a Canucks Game
Take on a Canucks game! While everyone loves to joke about the Vancouver Canucks, hockey is still a passion for so many Vancouverites. The Vancouver Canucks play at Rogers Arena from October to April each season.
Location: 800 Griffiths Way, Vancouver
Daytrip to Fort Langley
Explore British Columbia’s origins at Fort Langley, a Parks Canada National Historic Site, on the bank of the Fraser River. Positioned on the south bank of the Fraser, Fort Langley was built by the Hudson’s Bay Company as a trading post in 1827. While that does not seem very old compared to other settlements in the world, by Canadian standards, it was a very early settlement in what would become the province of British Columbia. Today, the historic charm in this quaint town of about 2900 residents, attracts over 60 000 visitors per year! Fort Langley is one of the most popular things to do in Langley
You can also find some great pumpkin patches in Langley while you are there for a fall visit! Also check out the best restaurants in Fort Langley while you are in the area. Read more about Fall in Vancouver, things to do in Vancouver in October and things to do in Vancouver in November for more fall ideas!
Location: 23433 Mavis Ave, Langley
Hike the Chief in Squamish
Hike the Stawamus Chief (or take the new Sea to Sky Gondola!) to experience stunning views of Howe Sound and Garibaldi Provincial Park. This hike is a few hours long, with a large elevation gain and would not be suitable for young children. There are a few small ladders and chains to help navigate the steep sections, but this is a hike that can be done in good running shoes.
Check out the Water Parks in the Fraser Valley in Summer
Drive out to the Fraser Valley and visit the Otter Coop Outdoor Experience at the Aldergrove water park. It is one of the most popular Langley outdoor pools! It is open from June to September and is a very popular activity. Click the link above to read more and make sure to book online in advance!
Take the Seabus to Lonsdale Quay Market
The Waterfront Station in downtown Vancouver is where you can catch a ride on the Seabus, a passenger-only ferry service in Metro Vancouver. Enjoy a quick 10-12-minute ferry ride as you cross the Burrard Inlet towards the Lonsdale Quay terminal. This is the extension of the transit system. This takes you directly to the Lonsdale Quay Market.
The Lonsdale Quay Market is a waterfront public market that is open year-round. With over 90 specialty shops and services, Lonsdale Quay is the place to visit.
Location: 123 Carrie Cates Ct, North Vancouver
Photograph the Murals in East Van
If you like street art, you’ll enjoy exploring the backstreets of East Vancouver, specifically the Mount Pleasant neighborhood on Main Street (between 4th and 14th Avenue). This is where you will find the best street art in Vancouver. Whether it is photos for instagram or enjoying the art, this is one of the free things to do in Vancouver that is quite popular!
Visit Vancouver’s Chinatown
Vancouver’s Chinatown is one of the largest, most vibrant, and historic Chinatowns in North America.
Wander and eat in Gastown.
Gastown is the oldest commercial district in Vancouver and is located along the waterfront between Granville and Main Streets, and north of Hastings Street. It is filled with heritage brick buildings, historic charm, tourist shops, and fine restaurants. Read more: Things to do in Gastown.
Visit the Museum of Anthropology
Did you know that the Indigenous people of Canada have been in the Vancouver area for over 10 000 years. If you thought it was a country populated by European settlers then you will learn a ton at the Museum of Anthropology. See the magnificent indigenous carvings, weavings and contemporary artworks in a spectacular building overlooking mountains and sea. There are various guided tours available throughout the museum.
Location: 6393 NW Marine Dr, Vancouver
Head out on a Whale Watching Charter
April to October is the best time to go whale watching in Vancouver. There are several whale-watching tours from Vancouver that offer guests a glimpse into the waters off British Columbia’s coast. They are rich with marine life and Orcas, humpback, gray and minke whales are the most common whales that you will see on a Vancouver whale-watching trip!
Check out more things to do in April in Vancouver.
Take the Hop-on Hop-Off Bus
Did you know Vancouver has a hop on hop off bus? Well if you did not, now you do! It has 29 stops around the city!
Book: Online here
Sea to Sky Gondola
Just outside of Squamish is the Sea to Sky Gondola. Your adventure starts with a 10 minute gondola ride, 885m above sea level. This newer attraction just outside of Vancouver offers stunning views of Howe Sound as well as hiking trails, a suspension bridge and plenty of outdoor beauty. If you are visiting in the winter, YES, the Sea to Sky gondola is open! It is a popular place to go snowshoeing in Vancouver, so grab some snowshoe rentals at the top and enjoy this winter paradise!
Location: 36800 BC-99, Squamish
Daytrip to the Britannia Mine Museum
Nestled along the mountainside on the Sea to Sky highway between Vancouver and Whistler is the Britannia Mine Museum. This former copper mine is now one of Canada’s National Historic Sites and was once the largest copper mine in the British Empire.
The Britannia Mine Museum was established in 1974 and recently renovated. It provides visitors with a unique blend of experiences offering a soft adventure attraction and education venue that allows guests to leave with a better understanding of mining in BC; past, present, and future. You can buy tickets online in advance here.
Location: 150 Copper Dr, Britannia Beach
Bike Around the City
Vancouver is very bike-friendly. It boasts various bikes lanes and even closes off a lane of the road in the summer to allow cyclists more room to ride in Stanley Park in the summer months. There are plenty of bike rental shops as well as short-term bike rentals (called Mobi but I know them as the Shaw bikes since they have a big Shaw logo on them) all over the city.
Make sure to download the Mobi app on your phone to use the city bikes.
If you want someone to show you the city by bike, you can also book a bicycle tour online. If you want to see more of the city without the workout, try a e-bike tour! Once you have tried one, you will not want to get off!
Try a Food Tour
Food tours are popular all over the world. On this Gastown food tour tantalize your taste buds as you enjoy a 2.5-hour walking food tour of Vancouver’s historic Gastown. Enjoy this culturally rich area while you are taken to 7 eateries to enjoy some delicious food.
Hike the Grouse Grind.
Join in what Vancouverites call “fun” by trudging 850M uphill on Grouse Mountain. Known as the Grouse Grind, or “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster” this 2.9 km uphill hike is very popular with locals and plenty of visitors get in on the fun as well. When you reach the top (which is essentially the base of the ski hill) enjoy stunning views of Vancouver, summer activities, food and a ride down on the Grouse gondola. (At this time you are only allowed to hike UP the hill due to its popularity and you must download on the Gondola. Arrange your tickets in advance if you do not want to wait to get back down!)
Slow hikers take up to 2 hours to complete the stair climb. Regulars do it in well under an hour.
This hike is not available in the winter months due to winter conditions on the mountain.
Location: 6400 Nancy Greene Way, North Vancouver (also accessible on Public Transit Bus #232 – Phibbs Exchange or Bus #236 – Lonsdale Quay)
See Vancouver from a New Vantage Point
Want to see Vancouver from above. Take a harbor seaplane tour for views above the city! These float plane tours depart from downtown Vancouver’s Coal Harbour. Take in complete aerial views of the city’s beautiful scenery, the surrounding parks, its beaches, and Vancouver’s stunning coastline.
Seek out a Photo Spot
Vancouver is an Instagrammable city and a photographer’s paradise. With stunning views, a beautiful waterfront, and a busy city vibe, there is plenty to be had for all photography styles. Check out this guide to Instagram spots in Vancouver.
Eat at World Class Restaurants with Epic Views
Vancouver is full of postcard-worth views. While in town, check out these top waterfront restaurants in Vancouver and enjoy the patio with an epic view! If you want my personal recommendation, try Yasma in Coal Harbour!
Go Nude at Wreck Beach
Did you know that Wreck Beach is one of the biggest google searches for beaches in Vancouver? Located on the edge of the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Pacific Spirit Regional Park, Wreck Beach is where Vancouverites can go if they want to sunbathe naked. Wreck beach is located near the Museum of Anthropology. If you want to see the beauty of this beach, visit in the winter and you are less likely to run into any nude sun bathers!
Visit Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge & Park
Vancouver Canadians Baseball
Take me out to the ballgame! Enjoy the footlong hotdogs, the peanuts, the sushi run? It is all there for you when you watch the local minor league Vancouver Canadians at Nat Bailey Stadium. If you have never attended a game, then take your date to an evening of fun and entertainment!
Location: Nat Bailey Stadium 4601 Ontario St, Vancouver
Dates: various dates in the summer months.
Visit an Animal Cafe
Vancouver has three cafes where you can enjoy snacks while petting cute kitties and bunnies. And the best part: all of the animals are available for adoption! If your date is an animal lover, visiting an animal cafe on a date night is a cute way to support these locatl businesses (and get some animal snugges!)
Catfe Animal Cafe Location: Unit #2035 (Second floor, International Village Mall) 88 West Pender Street, Vancouver
Book ahead online as it is often full.
Catoro Pets Cat Forest Location: 666 East Broadway Vancouver
Book ahead online for Cat Forest
Bunny Cafe: 1696 Venables Street, Vancouver
More Popular Things to Do in Vancouver
- Visit the Bill Reid Gallery.
- Explore the Craft Beer Scene.
- Explore Dr. Sun Yat Sen garden and find your Zen.
- Visit the PNE
- Spend the day at the lake.
- Hike Lynn Canyon.
- Visit the Richmond Night Market
- Take the Dumpling Trail in Richmond.
- Try out Surrey’s spice trail.
- Take the ferry to Victoria for one day (or more!)
- Try a coffee shop, or two! While Tim Horton’s is super “Canadian” you will find much better coffee elsewhere! Try Honolulu Coffee Company or Cafe Artigiano!
- Get tacos from Chanchos!
- Grab a SUP and visit one of the many paddleboard-friendly lakes!
Where to Stay in Vancouver
While working your way through these things to do in Vancouver, book a stay at one of these hotels.
BOUTIQUE: Blue Horizon Hotel
MIDRANGE: Sandman Suites on Davie
Things to do in Vancouver by Month:
Vancouver Travel Resources for 2023
If you are from out of town these resources should be helpful for your trip to Vancouver!
RENTAL CAR: You definitely want to rent one in advance and grab it at the airport. Start with a rental car comparison company like this one.
BOOK A PHOTOSHOOT: Capture those memories! Book a romantic or family photoshoot while on holiday! Click Here to find a local photographer. Use code LINDSAY to save $25 off your first photoshoot!
CRUISING? If you are cruising from Vancouver or even considering it in the future, find information and cruise reviews on cruisecritic.com
Lindsay Nieminen is the creator of UncoveringBC.com. She grew up and still lives in the suburbs of Vancouver with her family. She aims to inspire inform, and educate others about traveling in her home province of British Columbia. She is also the creator of carpediemourway.com which aims to show parents how to seek out adventure at home or abroad, with their children in tow!