Vancouver is a bustling west coast seaport in British Columbia and is one of Canada’s densest and most ethnically diverse cities. In 2016, the population of Vancouver was about 2.5 million, making it third largest metropolitan area in Canada. From the beautiful, world renowned Stanley Park to the famous Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver has a lot to offer travelers looking to visit, and this itinerary will take you through all the main attractions.
The best time of year to visit Vancouver in terms of weather, crowd levels, and cheaper hotel and flight rates is April – May and September – October. In spring, flowers start to bloom and weather averages between 50s and 60s. Plus, whales start to migrate during this time of year! In fall, weather hovers around in the 50s and 60s, with the summer crowds dissipating during this time. In summer (June – August) sees great weather and no humidity but tourist season is at its peak, so expect crowds. Hotel and flights are also more expensive during the summer. I went in May to run a half-marathon and it was perfect weather!
We stayed at the Hyatt Regency Vancouver and we loved the location. It was a good walking distance to a majority of attractions and a very short walk to main bus stops to get you to Grouse Mountain and Capilano Suspension Bridge.
This itinerary is good for:
Here is a summary how to spend 3 days in Vancouver. You can read through the entire itinerary (which we highly suggest you do!), or skip to more details about a specific day.
You will land in Vancouver International Airport (YVR). To get to downtown, you have two transportation options:
- Car: If you decide to rent a car or take a taxi, it is a 25 – 35 minute drive from YVR to downtown, depending on traffic. We advise renting a car since most places in Vancouver are walkable and public transit is easy to use if you are unable to walk. Choosing not to rent a car will also save you a ton of money!
- Skytrain: Vancouver has a Skytrain metro system. You can take the Canada Line Skytrain from the airport into the city centre (downtown) in one straight shot. The train will take 33 minutes. View fare pricing here.
We landed mid-afternoon, so we only had half a day to hit the town and see how much we could see in the short amount of daylight we had.
FOOD: Here are a couple of eateries to hit up that are close to the main attractions on today’s itinerary.
- Guu Original Thurlow: Guu owns several restaurants throughout Vancouver and Guu Original Thurlow is one of their izakaya establishments located in Thurlow. You can guess by its name that it is the first location of Guu and was the very first Izakaya restaurant in Vancouver. We recommend the Yaki Udon and Tuna & Salmon Tataki dishes!
- Alibi Room: Located in a heritage building, Alibi Room serves a variety of local and imported craft beers on tap. Their food is locally sourced, ocean-friendly, and naturally raised.
|1. Get a 360 degree view of Vancouver at Vancouver Lookout|
|2. Explore the historic Gastown|
|3. Stroll and admire the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden|
1. GET A 360º VIEW OF VANCOUVER AT THE VANCOUVER LOOKOUT
2. EXPLORE THE HISTORIC GASTOWN
Gastown is Vancouver’s oldest neighborhood, founded in 1867 and named its founder “Gassy” Jack Deighton. Blending old history with the modern world, you will find old buildings, cobblestone walkways, the infamous Steam Clock, and old school lampposts during your visit to Gastown.
3. STROLL AND ADMIRE THE DR.SUN YAT-SEN CLASSICAL CHINESE GARDEN
Located in the heart of Chinatown, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is the first Chinese garden built outside of China. It is modeled after private gardens in the city of Suzhou China. The Garden employs Taoism where every element of the garden is balanced and symbolic. The Garden is named after Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, a nationalist leader who is considered the “father of Modern China”.
- Medina Cafe: Medina Cafe is a Mediterranean-inspired brunch cafe. This place is incredibly popular so lines do get long. Start the day early and come here to have brunch! Medina Cafe is only a 10-minute walk from Hyatt Regency. We highly recommend the Fricassée.
- Granville Island: There are a variety of different dining options on Granville Island. Come here to grab a bite to eat for lunch.
|1. Explore Yaletown|
|2. Grab lunch and explore Granville Island|
|3. Stroll around Queen Elizabeth Park|
|4. Visit the VanDusen Botanical Garden|
1. EXPLORE YALETOWN
Yaletown is where it’s happening! Once a heavily industrial area, Yaletown is now bustling with hip restaurants and cocktail lounges, many with outdoor patios and lounges. You will also find indie fashion and decor boutiques and water-side parks.
2. GRAB LUNCH AT AND EXPLORE GRANVILLE ISLAND
Granville Island is not really an island but more of a peninsula that is home to the famous Granville Island Public Market, street vendors, and restaurants. Stop by to explore what Granville Island has to offer and grab a bite to eat! See the variety of food and drink options here.
- Car: You can drive to Granville Island. From Yaletown, this will take about 10 minutes.
- Walk + Ferry: You will need to take a ferry. From Yaletown, walk 15 minutes to David Lam Ferry Dock. From there, take a 5 minute ferry. One way fare is $3.50 CAD and return fare is $6 CAD.
3. STROLL AROUND QUEEN ELIZABETH PARK
Queen Elizabeth Park is a 140 acre municipal park located at the geographic centre of Vancouver. From downtown Vancouver, you can bike, bus or drive. However, driving is limited in the area so I highly suggest biking or taking public transit.
Things to do:
- Quarry Garden
- Dancing Water Fountain
- Rose Garden
- Painters’ Corner (spring and summer only)
- Pitch & Putt
- Car: This will take about 15 minutes depending on traffic.
- Bus: A few bus routes are available from Granville Island. The shortest route is the 050 bus. Walk 5 minutes to catch the 050 bus (50 S False Creek Via Granville Isl). Travel time will be 10-15 minutes to Queen Elizabeth Park.
4. VISIT THE VANDUSEN BOTANICAL GARDEN
VanDusen Botanical Garden is a 55-acre garden with over 7,500 plants species and varieties from around the world.
|1. Discover Grouse Mountain|
|2. Discover Capilano Suspension Bridge|
|3. Bike around and explore Stanley Park|
|4. Watch the sunset at English Bay Beach|
1. EXPLORE GROUSE MOUNTAIN
This is a far distance to travel via bus but totally worth it! Especially if you love nature. Grouse Mountain is a 1,200 meters mountain that offers a variety of culture, educational, and outdoor activities with sweeping views of the city. Depending what time of year you’re visiting, there will be different activities available to you. See the latest activities and attractions here.
One popular activity that we did do at Grouse Mountain is the Grouse Grind. Known as Mother Nature’s stairmaster, the Grouse Grind is a 2.9-km trail up the face of Grouse Mountain
- Car: Travel time is 20 – 30 minutes from downtown, depending on traffic.
- Bus: Routes from downtown will require 1 bus transfer. The shortest bus duration is taking the 246 > 232. The 246 was only a 5 minute walk from the Hyatt Regency. Total travel time is about 1 hour.
2. DISCOVER CAPILANO SUSPENSION BRIDGE
Spend a few hours to half a day discovering Capilano Suspension Bridge. The Capilano Suspension Bridge is a suspension bridge that hovers over the Capilano River. The bridge measures 140 meters long and 70 meters above the river. Beyond just the bridge, the park includes a cliff walk, tree top adventures, and a living forest. If you get hungry there are a few places to grab a bite to eat in the park.
- Car: Driving will only take 5 minutes from Grouse Mountain.
- Bus: Take the 236 from Grouse Mountain and it will take only 10 minutes to get to Capilano Suspension Bridge.
3. BIKE AROUND STANLEY PARK
Stanley Park is a 1,000 acre park in Vancouver, making it the third largest park in North America. In this park, you can run or bike on the Seawall, a scenic, 5.5-mile path that runs around the park’s perimeter. You can also visit the Vancouver Aquarium, see the Hollow Tree and Totem Poles, and other recreational activities. You can rent bikes at various locations throughout the park. We rented them and stopped at different points in the park to take photos, relax, visit the totem poles, etc. You can spend a good couple of hours here!
- Car: Backtrack on the same route you used to get to Capilano.
- Bus: Take the 246 bus and keep an eye out for Stanley Park.