Canada’s third biggest city, Vancouver, is known for its natural beauty, interesting culture, and impressive skyline. Thanks to its mild climate and beautiful setting along the shores of the Pacific Ocean, Vancouver is one of the most popular tourist destinations in North America. It’s a great city to get out and explore the great outdoors, with the nearby mountains and forests, but it’s also a bustling city. There’s a plethora of amazing restaurants, trendy bars, and hip breweries to try.
Three days in Vancouver is easily enough time to check out all the best sights and with our detailed itinerary, you’ll have your whole trip finalized by the time you finish reading.
Table of Contents
- Day 1
- Day 2
- Day 3
- Final Thoughts
On your first day in Vancouver, you can explore the city’s vibrant downtown area.
Head to the Vancouver Lookout
There’s no better way to start your trip and get to grips with Vancouver than by heading to the Vancouver Lookout. Located in the heart of Downtown, the Vancouver Lookout is a 500 ft observatory offering a 360° view of the city. From here you can take in Gastown, Stanley Park, the Northshore mountains and much more.
The Lookout will give you a lay of the land as well as being a great spot to take some photos of the stunning landscape. The Top of Vancouver Restaurant is located one floor above the lookout, so be sure to book a table in advance if you want to enjoy the incredible views alongside some lovely food.
The Vancouver Lookout is open daily, 11 am – 6 pm, but be sure to check out their website for early closure days. You can book your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment.
Vancouver’s Gastown is the city’s oldest neighborhood and dates back to 1867 when it was first settled by European immigrants. Gastown was named after “Gassy” Jack Deighton, a seaman from Yorkshire, UK, who opened the area’s first saloon.
Nowadays it is a vibrant neighborhood where residents and visitors can go to enjoy great cuisine and have a drink at one of the many pubs and bars in the area. It is also home to several craft breweries and cideries where you can find great craft beer and cider made with locally grown ingredients.
Gastown’s steam-powered clock has become a famous local landmark, which can be found on the corner of Cambie and Water Street. It was built as a tourist attraction in 1977 and it certainly does draw in the crowds. It is definitely worth paying a visit to this impressive structure while you wander around Gastown.
Wander around the Vancouver Art Gallery
Art lovers will be in awe at the Vancouver Art Gallery. It is the largest public art museum in Western Canada and is home to more than 10,000 works of art by artists from around the world. There is a mix of permanent, rotating, and temporary exhibitions on display and with so much to see we would recommend dedicating at least 1.5 hours for your visit to the gallery. Guided tours, led by a trained Art Educator are available too so that you can learn more about the contexts of artworks on display.
The Vancouver Art Gallery is open daily and you can book your tickets in advance on their website to save time.
Vancouver’s Chinatown is the largest Chinatown in Canada and it is buzzing with authentic Chinese eateries, Asian bakeries, and trendy cocktail bars. Additionally, the Chinese markets are filled with exotic foods and independent clothes stores that are certainly worth a browse.
One of the must-see destinations in Chinatown is the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. The garden features traditional Chinese architecture and beautifully landscaped gardens decorated with traditional sculptures. The water lily-covered pond and pagoda help to create a blissful oasis right in the heart of Chinatown.
Take a trip over to Granville Island
Located across False Creek from Downtown Vancouver, Granville Island is a popular shopping and dining destination. The island is also an arts and culture hotspot with art galleries and independent theatres. You’ll also spot street performances in the area too.
First up on our visit here is the Granville Island Public Market, selling fresh produce, unique gifts and tasty food on the go. You can wander around here for hours and it’s the ideal place to pick up some souvenirs too. The Public Market is open daily from 9 am – 6 pm.
Additionally, Granville Island has a bunch of great restaurants, from seafood, Mexican, steakhouse, BBQ, vegan and much more, there’s something for everyone. And there are lots of places to enjoy a drink too. Granville Island Brewing is the place to head to if you want to sample fantastic craft beer. There’s also a plethora of trendy bars serving up great cocktails. So, Granville Island is the perfect place to unwind and enjoy the waterfront views after a long day of exploring the city.
On the second day of your Vancouver adventure, you’re exploring the great outdoors, where you’ll feel a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Head to the top of Grouse Mountain
Grouse Mountain is just a 15-minute drive from downtown Vancouver. The mountain was named by the first hikers who were recorded as reaching the summit back in October 1894. After a days-long hike to reach the summit, hunting a Blue Grouse along the way, they honoured the game bird by naming the summit after it. These days it’s much easier to reach the peak thanks to the Skyride; North America’s largest aerial tramway. The 1-mile ride up to the peak in the Skyride provides breathtaking views of the city below.
And once you’ve reached the top, there’s plenty to see. There’s the world-famous Lumberjack Show, where you can watch skilled lumberjacks compete in various competitions. Or there’s the wildlife refuge, where you can get up close to Grizzly Bears Grinder and Coola. Of course, there are plenty of amazing lookout points and photo opportunities from the top of Grouse Mountain too. You can also take in the scenery as far as the eye can see from the peak chairlift, which takes you to an altitude of 4,100 feet above sea level. But, if that wasn’t enough there are zip lines and aerial rope adventures for thrill seekers to enjoy.
Don’t forget to stop and refuel at one of a number of great eateries at the peak too. You’re going to need to be in good shape for the next stop of the day. Grouse Mountain is open daily from 9 am – 9 pm.
Walk across the Capilano Suspension Bridge
Next up, less than 3 miles from Grouse Mountain is the incredible Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but it is a truly unforgettable experience. The 450ft long bridge, suspended at 230ft above the river and canyon offers incredible views of the surrounding forest.
However, there’s more to the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park than the main suspension bridge. There is the ‘Treetops Adventure’, where you can take in the jaw-dropping views of the coastal rainforest from seven suspension bridges and a number of viewing platforms hanging from the trees. Plus, the ‘Cliffwalk’ provides a cantilevered walkway on the side of the granite cliff high above the Capilano Canyon.
The Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is one of the best ways to feel at one with the incredible Canadian nature and wildlife. It’s an awe-inspiring day and will leave you with lots of incredible memories as well as some amazing photo opportunities.
Enjoy dinner with a view at the Cliff House Restaurant & Bar
After an action-packed day exploring Vancouver’s great outdoors we recommend a visit to the Cliff House Restaurant and Bar. Just a 1-minute walk from the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, this restaurant serves delicious Canadian food, craft beers, wines, and cocktails. Sourcing fresh, local ingredients for their eclectic menu, the lovely food is paired with the beautiful setting.
For your final day in Vancouver, we’ll be visiting the waterfront and the urban oasis of Stanley Park.
Visit Canada Place
The first stop of the day is Canada Place, at the heart of Vancouver’s waterfront. Opened in 1986, Canada Place was built to resemble a ship in the harbor. The roof is fitted with large fabric sails making it one of the most recognizable and iconic buildings in the city.
It’s a nice spot to relax and take photos over the waterfront. It is also home to FlyOver Canada, a state-of-the-art virtual ride. It gives visitors the chance to fly over some of the world’s most impressive scenery, all from the comfort of their flight-motion seat. You should definitely do this while you’re in the area.
Stroll around Stanley Park
From Canada Place, it’s a short journey to Vancouver’s incredible urban green getaway, Stanley Park. The 400-hectare park, which is actually classed as a natural rainforest, is one of the city’s most popular attractions. Firstly, to get acquainted with the park there is a variety of trails for you to follow that will guide you around.
There’s so much to explore in the park but the First Nations Totem Poles are a must-see attraction. The nine totem poles can be found at Brockton Point and are one of British Columbia’s most visited tourist attractions. These colorful totem poles honor the area’s original inhabitants. You can read the plaques in front of each one to find out more about their history and meaning.
Other popular attractions in the park include the Brockton Point Lighthouse, Prospect Point, the Rose Gardens, Lost Lagoon, Beaver Lake, and the Vancouver Aquarium.
Walk the Vancouver Seawall loop
The Vancouver Seawall is the world’s longest uninterrupted waterfront path. The entire 13.7-mile seawall is a network of walkways and bike paths that stretches from Coal Harbour in the east of the city to Kitsilano Beach Park in the west.
The most commonly walked part of the Seawall is the Stanley Park Seawall. You can start the 6.2-mile loop around the park on the east side of Stanley Park Drive by Coal Harbour. This loop offers so many vistas and interesting monuments and landmarks along the way. Towards the end of the loop you’ll arrive at English Bay Beach. This is the last stop on our Vancouver Itinerary.
Relax at English Bay Beach
English Bay Beach is one of the four main beaches along the Seawall route. Stopping here is the perfect way to relax after all that walking. Take a seat on one of the many tree trunk seats that line the beach and take in the gorgeous scenery.
There’s a hub of amazing eateries down by English Bay Beach where you can reward yourself after an immense few days of exploring. Refuel at Hook’s Cantina, where they serve fantastic seafood and other dishes alongside craft beer and cocktails. Or similarly, the nearby CRAFT Beer Market offers a delicious and varied food menu with, you guessed it, craft beers.
So, there you have it, three action-packed days in Vancouver. It’s such an incredible city with such a variety of things to see and do. If you’re looking for even more North American short-break inspiration then take a look at our 72 Hours In New York Itinerary.
Or if you can’t decide where to visit in North America then have a look at our Best Places To Visit In The USA By Month guide so that you can time your trip just right.