There are so many things to buy in Vancouver. There is high-end retail, there are locally made products and there are iconic Canadian items. When you are visiting the city, whether it is your first time or you are looking for a gift for a friend, keep an eye out for these perfect Vancouver souvenirs.
Now available around the world, Lululemon’s roots lie in Vancouver as it was created here in 1998 by Chip Wilson. Check out its original store in Vancouver and shop for the world loved yoga brand that is responsible for changing Vancouver’s style and yoga culture over the last 20 years.
Vancity Original Brand has been on the streets of Vancouver since 1998 and it makes the perfect Vancouver souvenir to bring home from your visit! It has become the staple brand for Vancouverites, international tourists, and fashion-forward consumers.
You can pick up your own Van City Original at 819 Hornby St
Roots clothing is known for its craftsmanship and functionality. Comfy sweats are also back in style and sweat pants and hoodies are all over retail store windows. I live in their sweatpants when I am at home and there is nothing comfier in my wardrobe. If you are shopping for the best souvenirs in Vancouver that you can wear for years to come, grab yourself a pair of Roots sweatpants or a sweatshirt or bring one home for someone who loves comfort.
Canadian Souvenir Maple Syrup
Probably what most people think of as one of the things that represent Canada is maple syrup. Available in gift shops across the country, as well as in airports and grocery stores, grab some to take home as it is one of the best presents from Vancouver. If you want the best bag for your buck, grab a bottle from Costco! (But make sure you put this Canadian souvenir in your checked luggage as it is too much liquid for carry on luggage). If you are looking for small bottles, you can often find them while shopping at Winners or Home Sense, and of course, at gift shops, hotel shops, and the airport!
Despite what seems like dryer winters and hot dry summers, Vancouver receives a lot of rain! Grab yourself an umbrella while you are in the city as a momento of your visit! If the rainy weather is getting to you, head indoors with one of these things to do in Vancouver.
An Inukshuk is a figure made of mild stones or boulders used as a form of communication throughout Canada’s Arctic. They were traditionally constructed by the Inuit and have become intertwined with representations of Canada. In the Arctic, they are used for practical reasons, such as navigational aids, coordination points, and message centers. They have also been known to be used for spiritual means. These are some of the most common Vancouver souvenirs that you will find at almost any gift shop in Canada. The Inukshuk was the basis of the Vancouver Olympic logo and you can find a huge Inukshuk (and plenty of souvenirs) when you arrive in Whistler.
Related: Things to buy in Whistler
British Columbia has dozens of wineries and quite a few tasting rooms outside of the city. If you have time to explore Metro Vancouver you can visit them, but if you do not, walk into a liquor store and check out the huge selection of BC wines available. This is something you can always grab at the Duty Free if you are flying out of YVR
Vancouver Chocolate Gifts
Vancouver has two big chocolate brands, Rogers Chocolates and Purdy’s Chocolates! Purdy’s is my personal favorite and makes a great gift to bring home to your friends and family! I personally recommend the white chocolate or the tiger butter! Rogers chocolates originated in nearby Victoria in the 1800s and is still owned by local Canadians today! Purdy’s chocolates started right in downtown Vancouver in 1907 and still maintains a small family ownership model.
A staple in the diet of the Indigenous peoples, salmon is something you should enjoy while in Vancouver. And with the portability of smoked salmon, it makes an excellent gift from Vancouver to bring home to your friends. Try the candied one if you get a chance, its one of my favorites. You can buy smoked salmon in gift shops, grocery stores, Costco and the Duty Free shops! You can also find it in local markets and places like Granville Island.
Vancouver Food Scene Cook Books
Vancouver’s culinary scene has been partly shaped by the chefs who call the city home. As chefs have turned into celebrities, so too have their dishes. Whether you check out Vikram Vij’s restarurants or his take home dishes and cookbooks, or Iron Chef Rob Feenie’s creations at Cactus Club, if you are a foodie and in Vancouver, you should bring some of Vancouver’s food scene home with you!
Check out Vikram Vij’s cookbooks here or Rob Feenie’s here.
Indigenous Jewelry and Coastal Native Art
There are hundreds of incredibly talented Indigenous artists that live and work in the Vancouver area. Growing up outside the city, I have been lucky enough to know a few of them and have seen their artwork in studios, as coveted jewelry, and as giant art pieces on buildings. Small markets will have local art and so will gift shops. You can even find some beautiful pieces on places like the BC Ferries if you are going to Vancouver to Victoria. Or pick one up while souvenir shopping in Victoria. When looking for any First Nations art, ensure you are shopping for locally made products, not imported goods that are made in a factory!
Sports Memorabilia: Canucks, Whitecaps and BC Lions
Vancouver has three major sports franchises and a bunch of other professional sports teams. The top three are the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, the MLS Vancouver Whitecaps and the CFL’s BC Lions. The Vancouver Canucks are the hockey team that the city loves and loves to hate. Vancouverites love cheering for a winning team and are the first to stop buying tickets when their team is in a slump. But win or lose, Vancouver is full of Canucks gear and a souvenir that says “VANCOUVER” would be some Vancouver Canucks gear! The Vancouver Whitecaps are Vancouver’s top tier soccer club that play right downtown. The BC Lions are Vancouver’s CFL Team (Canada’s version of the NFL with different rules).
Resources for Visiting Canada in 2022
Whether you are planning your trip to Canada, or are already here, these resources should help you, wherever you may be in the country.
Things to Pack when visiting Canada
A good rain jacket is always a good idea, even in the summer. While you are not likely to get wet in July and August, late august almost always sees a wet day, and May, June, and September will also get rain. If you are visiting Vancouver or the West Coast, you can likely get by with rain gear and layers, but if you are visiting the rest of the country, pack your winter gear!
A good power bank to charge phones and other devices is essential for most. After a day of videoing, GPS, and taking photos, the last thing you want is a dead cell phone. These are inexpensive and come in handy during the day. If you are flying to Canada, make sure you keep any power banks in your hand luggage, as security will often remove them from checked bags (I have found that out the hard way before).
A Universal Adapter is going to be handy for International Visitors. Canada uses the same plugs as the USA but if you are coming from somewhere else abroad, grab yourself one before you arrive.
A good guidebook is something I always get when I am researching a new location. Lonely Planet is the usual go-to, but also check out these.
Reusable shopping bags are available to buy everywhere, but if you want to get a compact one before you arrive, it is a good idea. There is a small plastic bag tax in most places and some places do not offer plastic bags at all.
Reusable water bottles are also a good idea. You can buy bottled water anywhere that you can get drinks, but Canada does pride itself on recycling as much as possible, and why shell out wasteful dollars when you can drink the tap water all over the country.
Travel Insurance for Canada
There are a few other things to think about when it comes to international travel. The first thing is travel insurance. Whether it is an emergency room visit for something as simple as strep throat, or an emergency appendix surgery, or an unfortunate moped incident things do go wrong when people travel everyday. Canada is a very expensive country for medical care and a doctor’s visit in an Emergency Room is over $800 to just see the doctor.
I highly suggest travel insurance and a good policy. I personally never travel without it, and I even checked into my policy about care for my children if I am ever in an accident or hospitalized. There are just too many things to think about.
You can find out more information and buy your travel insurance here.
Renting a Car in British Columbia
Rental Cars are very popular in British Columbia. There is just so much to see and there is not a train or bus network outside of Metro Vancouver or Victoria. If you plan on leaving Vancouver and want to see even the local ski hills, I suggest a rental car. You can get a rental car before you arrive.
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!