Vancouver City, surrounded by snow-capped mountains.
Your first two days in Vancouver are exhilarating. You might be tired from travelling a long distance to get here, but you want to see and do everything! How will you fit it all in? While there is always so much to do in Vancouver, here is your beginner’s guide to your first two days in Vancouver. We’ve included the top tourist destinations with some local tips so you can get a good grounding of the city in the limited time you have. Without further ado, here is a 2 day itinerary in Vancouver for First Timers.
Vancouver in the province of British Columbia is the largest city on the west coast of Canada. It takes its name from George Vancouver, who explored the inner harbour. Vancouver is a bustling seaport surrounded by mountains. You could be having a cup of coffee by the waterside one minute and an hour or so later you could be having another cup of coffee in a resort on a snow capped mountain. It is a very diverse place just waiting for you to discover it.
When is the Best time to visit Vancouver
You can visit Vancouver anytime though the best times for weather is to visit from March to May and from September to November when the weather is mild. However, summers can be hot and the winter time will be very cold but Vancouver in winter can be a great base for skiing in the local mountains. So when to visit will depend on activities you might be doing in the city.
Where to stay in Vancouver?
Whether visiting Vancouver by yourself, with the family or for romance, the best place to stay in Vancouver is downtown. From here, you’ll have immediate access to the top sightseeing of English Bay, Stanley Park, Granville Island, and Gastown. And there are a number of accommodation options available in Vancouver ranging from hostel dorm rooms to 5 star hotels. If you are looking for somewhere to stay check out:
For more accommodation options check out the options on the map.
How to get around Vancouver?
The best way to get around Vancouver is often by foot as many major attractions are located within walking distance of one another. However, you can also ride a bike and use the plus transportation. As you only have 2 days on this trip you might want to purchase a 24 or 48 hour pass for the Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Bus. Taking this bus on your first trip to Vancouver will take you to all the best sites that can help you decide which things you would like to revisit. You can book your 24 or 48 hour pass for the Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Bus here.
Get a Bird’s Eye View of Vancouver
Start your time in Vancouver by getting an overview of the city. Located in the Harbour Centre building in downtown Vancouver, take a fast glass elevator up to the 55th floor for panoramic views from the Vancouver Lookout. From up above you will get a view of the North Shore and Olympic Peninsula Mountains. To learn more about the city book a tour at the Lookout as well. Pro tip: only go up on the Vancouver Lookout on a clear day so that you can see everything. An adult tick costs CA$17.50.
Totem Poles in Stanley Park
Once you’ve scoped out Vancouver, you’ll be ready to head to Stanley Park. This 400-hectare park nestled in urban sprawl is a natural West Coast rainforest where you can enjoy the natural beauty of Vancouver: oceanfront, mountain views, and beautiful old trees. For the best experience, rent one of the many bikes at the park and soak in the beauty.
For lunch, stop at the Prospect Point Bar & Grill in Stanley Park. This Canadian pub and eatery is a great place for west coast Canadian vibes with its craft beer brewery, beautiful ocean views, local seafood, and original non-seafood and vegetarian items.
An Afternoon at Granville Island
After that head to the maritime island of Granville. This historic little island has turned its factories into trendy restaurants, galleries, and theatres. The best part, however, is the Granville Island Public Market. This huge open-air market is choke-full of everything that you could imagine and more. From baked goods and ethnic snacks to local crafts and souvenirs, Granville Island Market is as beautiful as it is eclectic. Grab a snack after perusing what the market has to offer and sit by the water. Sometimes while watching boats come into the harbour, you can enjoy the live music of buskers, who often play for the crowd.
Yaletown in the Evening
Next up is Yaletown. Take a photo under the many colourful umbrellas in the Bill Curtis Square, behind the SkyTrain. The umbrellas are always being changing based on the season and are a tribute to how rainy Vancouver can be. They make for a fun and original photo op.
Once you snap some photos, pick one of the many choices for fancy cocktails and classy restaurants in Yaletown. For high-end Canadian cuisine try Brix and Mortar. This restaurant boasts 60 wines by the glass, local food, and a photo-worthy ambience. For a bit cheaper Canadian cuisine try The Flying Pig Yaletown or MeeT, a vegan restaurant in Yaletown.
Nightlife in Gastown
For the nightlife scene, head to Gastown. While there are many bars and pubs to choose from, check out Alexander Gastown, a 3-storey bar that has comedy, live music, and/or DJs depending on the night. There is plenty of seating, away from the action, if you’d prefer a cozy corner to the dance floor. And so ends day 1 of this 2 day Vancouver itinerary.
After such a busy day, you will probably wake up hungry. Head to Brunch at the Mexican and American breakfast restaurant with the original name of Brunch on Granville Street. Make sure to order a Caesar, Canada’s spin on a Bloody Mary.
The Suspension Bridge
Capilano Suspension Bridge – it can be scary when you look down!
Then hop in the car or bus to check out the oldest tourist attraction in the city, the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Test your fear of heights on the 450-foot-long, 230-foot-high bridge. Be prepared for crowds and expensive prices since this is a hot tourist destination. Pro tip: go in the morning to beat the school field trips. Prices are $42.95 for adults and parking is $5.
Take a Scenic Drive
If you want a more affordable thing to do, take one of the beautiful scenic drives in and near Vancouver. Marine Drive on the North Shore is a lovely route to take. Starting at Lion’s Gate Bridge, cross over it and get onto Marine Drive in North Vancouver. Follow this twisting road through amazing views of the sea, marinas, and Vancouver, as well as passing by the Capilano Suspension bridge. Follow the road until the Bowen Island (about an hour) and then turn back for lunch in North Vancouver. If you need to rent a car check out pricing and availability here.
Lunch in North Van
Head to Lonsdale Quarry, snap a few pictures and pick from one of the many restaurant choices. Pier 7 Restaurant and Bar boasts waterfront dining. Or try some delicious Greek food at Anatoli Souvlaki.
An Afternoon at the Museum
With stomachs full again, head to one of Vancouver’s many museums. The museum of Anthropology, located on the University of British Columbia’s campus has one of the most extensive collections of art and artifacts from the Northwest Coast First Nations. From ornate canoes, ritual masks, and highly decorate totem poles, you will be immersed in Vancouver’s earliest history. There are also 14th-century artifacts to feast your eyes upon, ensuring that there is something of interest for everyone. Wander the halls yourself or join one of the three tours a day to get the inside scoop.
Take a Hike
If museums aren’t your cup of tea, go on a hike or take the Blue Skyride to the top of Grouse Mountain, a ski resort with stunning views of the city and natural scenery. Or shop and grab a snack in Vancouver’s vibrant Chinatown.
Sunset at Kit’s
When you’re done hiking or enjoying the museum, soak in the city’s natural beauty at Kitsilano Beach, Vancouver’s favourite beach. Watch the sunset from this lovely viewpoint, either on the sand or at the Boathouse Restaurant overlooking the water.
For a cheaper dinner, grab a snack or even take-out lunch at the middle eastern restaurant Best Falafel Kitsilano. Then head to the beach to watch the sunset. After watching the sun disappear into the ocean, go to Grapes & Soda for a night cap to wrap up a jam-packed two days of sightseeing in Vancouver.
There you have it: two full days in Canada’s biggest West Coast city. I hope you have had a great time exploring Vancouver over the 2 day itinerary. Is there anything you would add to this list? Let us know in the comments below.
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Sharyn McCullum has travelled all her life thanks to her dad who worked for an airline. She loves travelling to different countries to immerse herself in the culture and in particular, enjoy the food. She currently calls Melbourne, Australia home.