One Day in Vancouver Itinerary – Top things to do in Vancouver, Canada

Ah, Vancouver. The jewel of British Columbia. This incredible city is one of the most diverse in the world and constantly has an exceptionally high quality of life. Coming over here means encountering loads of different cultures, enjoying incredible and pristine nature just outside of the city and making the most of what the bustling metropolis has to offer. In short, you have a lot of choices in front of you. This one day in Vancouver itinerary will help you determine what to see if you’re limited by time, so dig in and see why you’ll absolutely love this destination.

One day in Vancouver itinerary

What’s the best time to visit Vancouver?

Depends on what your goal here is. If you’re a winter sports fanatic, the city will be a paradise for you during that time of the year – after all, Vancouver hosted the Winter Olympics in 2010. Spring and autumn offer great prices for all types of accommodation, so if you want to get max value for your money, September or April/May would be the perfect time to visit. Summers are really not that hot, so you can enjoy your days then too, but you will need to book a room at least a couple of weeks in advance and the prices will go up. No matter when you come, though, you can expect some kind of festival or event in the city.

A few facts about Vancouver

Indigenous people had been living here for almost 10,000 years before first European settlers came in the 19th century. Today, it is very interesting to note that more than one half (52%) of Vancouver’s inhabitants do NOT speak English as their primary language. Understandable, since about one third of them are of Chinese descent. Additionally, this is the most densely populated city in Canada, so getting around Vancouver without a car may be a good idea. Also, the name Vancouver comes from George Vancouver, an explorer and officer of the British navy. He explored much of North America’s western coast, especially British Columbia.

Vancouver
Vancouver, Source: Flickr, Author: GoToVan

One Day in Vancouver Itinerary

Follow this guide and make the most of your trip even if you’re short on time. These are the top sights and things to do during your one day in Vancouver.

Start your day in Stanley Park

To fill up on energy and soak up the city’s atmosphere, start your one day in Vancouver with a breath of fresh air. And there are plenty of things to do in Stanley Park, the third biggest park in North America, suited just for that. If you fancy a morning jog, head along the Seawall to enjoy the best sights of the ocean. The locals absolutely love it here, so you will see many of them trying to stay in shape in some way. If you won’t be joining them, check out the totem poles representing the First Nations at Brockton Point. From there, follow the Stanley Park Drive westwards to reach the Vancouver Aquarium.   

Stanley Park
Stanley Park
Stanley Park - Totem Poles
Stanley Park – Totem Poles

Head to downtown Vancouver

While there aren’t any sights per se to see here, downtown Vancouver is a great place to do some shopping and only a short drive away from Stanley Park. This is where you’ll see why this city has some of the best living conditions in the world, and if you happen to be in town during Christmas season, make sure you check out the Christmas Market. Obviously, you can grab something to eat while here, but there is another great place for that a little later on in this itinerary. Before that, though, head up north.

Vancouver Downtown
Vancouver Downtown

Fly over Canada

If this is your first time in Canada and you want to experience as much of the country as possible in one go, FlyOver Canada is the solution. This high-tech Vancouver attraction will take you on an incredible virtual tour of the country and will utilize special effects to make you feel like you’re really flying over the most beautiful examples of Canadian nature (think 4d cinemas, but better because you are actually suspended in your seat). The whole thing lasts less than half an hour, so the time you invest here will be well worth it. 

Climb the Vancouver Lookout

After the ride is over, you can go and climb up the Vancouver Lookout. It’s very close by and you can get onto its panoramic deck which is 450 feet (170m) high. A truly spectacular 360-degrees view awaits you! You can also get a tour in multiple languages here and hear the story of the city, how it developed over the years and learn about its surroundings. Another Vancouver attraction that does not necessarily take up much of your time, but brings you spectacular results.

Vancouver Lookout
Vancouver Lookout , Source: Flickr, Author: dronepicr

Vancouver Lookout view
Vancouver Lookout view, Source: Flickr, Author: GoToVan

Walk through Gastown

Right below the lookout, you will see the historic part of the city, the place from which it all began. But what exactly are the things to do in Gastown? Well, Gastown Steam Clock is this place’s most famous attraction, although it’s not really that old – it was built in 1977. Walking the cobblestone streets of this area is also quite an experience, maybe one of the best things to do alone in Vancouver. You can see the mix of all aspects of life that developed through history around here and maybe even find a place to visit in the evening because the bars and clubs here are an essential part of Vancouver nightlife.

Gastown Vancouver Steam Clock Water Street
Gastown Vancouver Steam Clock Water Street , Source: Flickr, Author: dronepicr

Visit Granville Island

Just southwest from the city centre, Granville Island is a great place to visit if you want to get that urban vibe. You can get there by taking the bus no. 50 from Gastown. A former industrial district, this part of the city has been turned into a vibrant neighbourhood with loads of art, cafes and small shops. Granville Island Public Market is definitely something you should visit while here, especially if you’re looking for a place where you can have a nice lunch or grab something to eat – loads of excellent fresh products will stir up the foodie in you!

Granville Island
Granville Island, Source: Flickr, Author: GoToVan
Granville Island Public Market
Granville Island Public Market , Source: Flickr, Author: GoToVan

Hop aboard an Aquabus!

Still wondering what to do in Vancouver? It’s simple – after lunch, board one of the rainbow-coloured boats that patrol the False Creek. These Aquabuses provide you with an excellent way to get around Vancouver without a car and to relax and enjoy the city skyline for a bit from a unique perspective. And it’s not expensive either – only 16 dollars for a day pass. The stops are all near the city centre, so you never have to worry about getting lost. Just enjoy the ride and let the fact that you are on your one day in Vancouver sink in. Great feeling, isn’t it?

Aquabus
Aquabus , Source: Flickr, Author: xiquinhosilva

Queen Elizabeth Park

From Granville Island, head southeast towards Little Mountain. This is the highest spot in town and there you will find Queen Elizabeth Park, an absolutely stunning park with loads of beautiful flowers, pieces of art and fantastic view for you to enjoy. It doesn’t get crowded here, so you’ll get to enjoy some peace and quiet and relax before concluding your day.

Queen Elizabeth Park
Queen Elizabeth Park , Source: Flickr, Author: itravelNZ

Things to do in Vancouver at night

Still have energy? Great, then it’s time to check what Vancouver nightlife has to offer. You won’t be disappointed, especially because of the various cultures that permeate the town which guarantee you’ll never be bored in Vancouver.

Have your dinner in the dark

If you’re looking for a place where you can have a memorable dinner, you should seriously consider going to the Dark Table restaurant. You will eat in complete darkness and get a sense of what it’s like to be blind. On the plus side, your senses of smell and taste will be enhanced, so you will be able to enjoy your food more. Just be prepared for a messy dinner, considering the circumstances. A unique experience.

Party hard on Granville Street

Granville Street in downtown Vancouver is THE place to be if you’re looking for a place to dance the night away. Loads of bars and some of the best nightclubs in the city are located here, so you can take in a bit of everything. Commodore Ballroom, for example, has hosted some of the most famous artists in the world and there’s always something happening here, so you may want to check it out if you’re around. The Belmont Bar is also a place worth visiting, but as you walk along the street, you’re bound to find something you like.

Granville Street at night
Granville Street at night, Source: Flickr, Author: Michael Nugent

Chill out in Yaletown

Not exactly a party animal? No problem! You still won’t be bored in Vancouver. Head to Yaletown and find yourself a place where you can chill and enjoy yourself a nice cocktail. Yaletown is the place where you can also go celebrity spotting, and its fancy bars make it an ideal place for those who want to look good when going out. Opus Bar is just the place for that, while the Cobalt is slightly to the east of Yaletown, but it has a great sandwich place called the Boxcart where you can also get some fine craft beers. This is as relaxed as nights out get.

Yaletown at night
Yaletown at night, Source: Flickr, Author: GoToVan

Where to stay in Vancouver?

L’Hermitage Hotel

L’Hermitage Hotel is located at the very centre of Vancouver and offers a whole bunch of features you don’t really get in other four-star hotels. Salt water pool, garden patio, a library to go with the hotel’s business centre and Italian marble in every room’s bathroom guarantee an extremely comfortable if not luxurious stay. You can even get a fireplace in some of the rooms, perfect for cold winter nights.

Book here

L’Hermitage Hotel
L’Hermitage Hotel

Rosewood Hotel Georgia

A five star hotel in downtown Vancouver, Rosewood Hotel Georgia has everything you need for a memorable vacation. Their indoor salt water pool is fantastic, and the heated floors in your bathroom will make you feel like you’re in a spa. A variety of baked products and great sandwiches can be found in the Bar Café, while the Hawksworth Restaurant will allow you to try the best of modern Canadian cuisine.

Book here

Rosewood Hotel Georgia
Rosewood Hotel Georgia
Rosewood Hotel Georgia Terrace
Rosewood Hotel Georgia Terrace
Rosewood Hotel Georgia
Rosewood Hotel Georgia

Residence Inn by Mariott

Beautifully designed, Residence Inn by Marriot will provide you with comfortable rooms which contain a fully equipped kitchen. Not only that, but their indoor pool and their hot tub are a great way to relax, especially if you’re travelling with your special someone. Just outside downtown Vancouver, this hotel will be your home away from home and get you prime value for the money you spend.

Book here

Residence Inn by Mariott
Residence Inn by Mariott
Residence Inn by Mariott Room
Residence Inn by Mariott Room

Samesun Vancouver

For younger travellers (or those who want a good hostel experience), Samesun is the way to go. You get a full bar and breakfast every day, and ice hockey fans will be delighted to know that you can get tickets here for the Canucks’ games at a lower price than usual. It should be mentioned that you can also get private rooms with lockers here, which is a nice feature. Located close to the centre of the city, this is the perfect starting point from which to explore Vancouver.

Book here

Samesun Vancouver
Samesun Vancouver

Day trips from Vancouver

No matter if you want to enjoy pristine nature, activities in the snow or learn something about a new culture, this city and its surroundings will accommodate you. Thanks to its excellent location, you don’t really have to drive very far for your day trip from Vancouver, and you can even hop across the border to visit the United States. No matter where you go, though, you can expect the scenery to be absolutely breathtakingly beautiful. Vancouver scenic drives are especially famous in Canada. So check out the suggestions we’ve prepared for you and prepare for an adventure you won’t forget.

Extra tips for visiting Vancouver

Tips are expected pretty much everywhere, from restaurants and bars to taxis and even hairdressers. And it’s not a small tip either, at least compared to quite a few other cities – about 20% is usually the appropriate amount.

If you’re a sports fan, you can get tickets for sporting events in Vancouver for half the price if you buy them on the same day when the match is played at the Vancouver Visitors’ Centre. Just look for the “Tickets Tonight” deal.In case of an emergency, the number you want to dial is 911, just like in the US.

Drinking age varies in different parts of Canada, but it’s either 18 or 19. You WILL have to be able to prove your age in bars and restaurants, while many nightclubs will not allow minors in.

PIN FOR LATER!

If you have any other propositions for this One Day in  Vancouver Itinerary feel free to share it in the comments below!

MAKE SURE YOU HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED

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Anca One Day Itinerary
Anca B.

Anca is a travel writer and the founder of One Day Itinerary - the biggest collection of travel itineraries for those who are time-limited or just want to maximize their time while traveling. Although she easily becomes homesick for Croatia, she thinks travel is essential to her happiness. She has traveled to more countries than she is years old and doesn’t plan on changing that fact. In her travel guides she aims to inspire people to travel whenever they have a spare day (or two).

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