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. While you may not think of Lululemon when you think of what to buy in Vancouver, it is something that should be on your souvenir shopping list!
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 sweatpants 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.
The Nanaimo Bar is a truly Canadian confectionary named after the city of Nanaimo. This no bake dessert consists of 3 layers: the base, the buttercream, and the chocolate ganache. The earliest recorded recipe for the Nanaimo bar appeared in the 1950’s. Since then, The Nanaimo Bar has become a Canadian Favourite. For the best experience, enjoy this bar chilled. Great with Coffee, Tea, Ice wine, or even Stout Beer. Grab them from Northern Bars on Granville Island (or in various locations around BC) or order some online!
You can even find them at the Duty Free in Vancouver Airport!
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, it’s one of my favorites. You can buy smoked salmon in gift shops, grocery stores, Costco, and Duty-Free shops! You can also find it in local markets and places like Granville Island.
Vancouver Food Scene CookBooks
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 restaurants 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!
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 Vancouver in 2023
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 (even in the summer for Vancouver)
- Power bank to charge phones and other devices while on the go all day.
- 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.
- Reusable water bottle
Renting a Car in British Columbia
Rental Cars are very popular in British Columbia and the best way to get around if you are visiting anywhere outside of the downtown area of Vancouver. Make sure to book 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!