There aren’t too many places on our planet that can compare to Vancouver, Canada. Very few places afford you city comforts, with proximity to ski resorts, big wave surfing, and beautiful urban parks.
You can do all that in more in Vancouver, taking in natural beauty and city life in the same day in one of the most livable cities in the world.
The relatively compact downtown area is home to more than 500,000 residents, but not too many are complaining.
And why would they?
Vancouver is a fantastic place to live.
For visitors here, finding the time to do everything they want is the biggest problem.
In this article, we’ll cover the best things to do in Vancouver, leaving you to pick which ones are right for you.
Best things to do in Vancouver
There are three incredible mountains just 15 minute away from the downtown area in Vancouver. Yes, three.
In addition to that, you have literally hundreds of different parks, campsites, hiking trails, rivers and lakes in the surrounding area.
Make no mistake about it:
Vancouver is heaven for outdoor adventure.
Are you ready to have fun?
Hike up the Grouse Grind
A hike up “Mother Nature’s Staircase” is not for newbies. Tackling the Grind starts off at the foot of Grouse Mountain. It meanders 850m upwards through the alpine region, rewarding hikers with jaw-dropping panoramic views of the city as they enjoy a refreshing drink, and a seat to rest their tired legs.
Luckily, you can take the easy route down by grabbing a ride on the Grouse Gondola.
Visit the Museum of Anthropology
Geography may be the star of the show in Vancouver but taking time to learn a little history will help you connect with the city.
A stroll onto the University of British Columbia campus will lead you to the Museum of Anthropology, where you can peruse many contemporary and ancient works, including aboriginal pieces.
Together, they weave a lesser-known tale about the origins of the Canadian city that offers value and experience in a very different way, making it one of the most rewarding things to do in Vancouver.
Admire the Gardens in Chinatown
There is a Chinatown in plenty of cities across the world, but even in the diverse cosmopolitan country of Canada, you’ll not regret making a visit to the Chinatown neighborhood of Vancouver.
It has some wonderful Chinese gardens, which have been entirely made by hand, mimicking many famous gardens from China. Anyone with an interest in Buddhist traditions will find solace here, while mere tourists can enjoy the beautiful photo opportunities and serene atmosphere.
Drive the Sea-to-Sky Highway
The Sea-to-Sky corridor is often called one of the best drives in the world. It certainly is one of the best things to do in Vancouver. When you consider it is just a short journey, of little under two hours, it’s an easy inclusion on any trip to the city.
You can start in the downtown and travel to the famous ski town of Whistler. Along the way, you’ll be amazed by spectacular views, waterfalls and the excellent cultural center. Don’t forget your camera!
An attraction in its own right, this Gondola is an essential stop on the drive along the sea-to-sky corridor. It’s the perfect way to truly appreciate some of the breathtaking scenery and natural beauty of Vancouver, offering amazing views of the fjords, mountains and rivers below.
Cycle Around Stanley Park
Do you know where the World’s Best Park is?
You might think it’s New York. Central Park, right? Or perhaps it’s the Luxembourg Gardens of Paris.
Well, you’d be wrong. According to Trip Advisor, it’s right here in Vancouver.
Stanley Park gives visitors the chance to cycle all around a forest, get a tan at the beach and explore beautiful rose gardens.
You can also visit ancient Aboriginal village sites and grab some lunch with friendly friends with sea lions and dolphins.
Hang out in Gastown
Gastown is now a trendy district in Vancouver, but it was once one of the biggest cities in Canada. Named after “Gassy Jack”, this former home of lumber mills is now a hotspot for fine dining, upmarket boutique and classy cocktail bars.
Go for a Kayaking Adventure in Deep Cove
When looking for the best things to do in Vancouver, you’ll find nature expeditions tend to dominate. Ocean kayaking is one worth doing, and you’ll not find a safer place than Deep Cove to give it a go. Paddling along the picturesque fjord, you’ll spot forest creatures that add to an already fantastic experience.
Visit Granville Island on the Aquabus
Granville Island has transformed over the years, leaving its industrial roots behind to become an artsy haven that proffers organic products and fine chocolates, as socialites enjoy afternoon tea at the dockside laden with expensive yachts. Grab a coffee and chill while the buskers play, before catching the Aquabus back to the mainland.
See a Concert at the Commodore
In Vancouver, there is always some famous wowing the crowds in one venue or another. The famous Commodore Ballroom is rich with history and great performances from eras gone by, with many stars such as Tina Turner, U2 and Lady Gaga having made appearances in the past.
You’ll find a casual vibe and reasonable admission prices to make the experience even better, regardless of who is on stage.
Wander Richmond Night Market
Among the best things to do in Vancouver in the summertime is in Richmond. The large Chinese community present a great show at Richmond Market, with many great stalls, art demos and delicious food on offer. It makes for a wonderful evening stroll if you’re in the neighborhood.
Explore the Vancouver Aquarium
The Vancouver Aquarium is one of the largest aquariums in North America, and you’ll find it in right in the middle of Stanley Park.
As one of the more popular things to do in Vancouver, you can expect big crowds and lots of families, but it’s massive size means you’ll rarely have any issue enjoying everything it has to show.
From the creatures of the Pacific, to animals of the Amazon, there is a ton to see, which means you should probably put aside a full afternoon just to explore it all.
Hike in Lynn Canyon
There are two suspension bridges in Vancouver. Many people make the mistake of going to the wrong one, which is expensive and always busy.
Do yourself a favor and check out the bridge at Lynn Canyon Park. Aside from beating the crowds, you can wander trails and see fantastic waterfalls and swimming holes.
Wander through Van Dusen Botanical Gardens
The Van Dusen Botanical Gardens span over 22 acres, giving gardening fans a lot to be happy about. Whatever the weather, you can visit any time of year, enjoying picnics in the summer or a solo stroll for a quiet spot to read perhaps. It is a massive ecosystem of its own, and it’s all here in Vancouver for you to discover.
Catch a Canucks Hockey Game
There are plenty of sports just south of the border, but there’s only one worth talking about in Canada. Hockey, or ice hockey as the rest of the world refers to it, is the undisputed king of sports here, and no trip to the Great White North would be complete without taking in a game.
The Vancouver Canucks play the NHL season between October and April, which is plenty of time to see this fast and frenetic sport in all its glory.
Visit the Amazing Cathedral
Out of the many churches in this city, there are few that can match the sheer beauty as Christ Church Cathedral.
Even if you aren’t religious, this fascinating feat of art and Gothic architecture is a sight to behold, and one worth stopping by. Taking a silent walk through the peaceful building to admire the grand archways and magnificent art is something you won’t regret.
Go Wild in the Winter Snow
Compared to the rest of Canada, Vancouver is quite temperate. However, it still gets enough snow to make the winter a veritable wonderland.
After all, Vancouver was home to the 2010 Winter Olympics.
The mountains nearby are just a short drive out of the downtown area, making it easy for snow sports fans to let loose on the slopes.
From skiing to snowboarding, or simply fooling around in the snow, there’s a lot of fun awaiting on the North Shore of the city. This is easily one of the best things to do in Vancouver during wintertime.
Those who are really keen can catch the shuttle to Whistler to try one of the best snow sports experiences on the planet.
Vancouver is For Everyone
Regularly touted as one of the best places to live in the world, Vancouver is an incredible city, packed full of exciting and interesting things to do.
Everyone from young families to adventure-seekers can find their vibe here, and no matter how much you do, there’ll always be more to discover.