Visiting Vancouver Canada in one day was the best start we could have on our trip to British Columbia and Alberta. In fact, we decided to travel to Vancouver, just before our Canadian Rockies trip to fulfill the dream of my life, watching wild killer whales.
Therefore, we left two days for Vancouver just in case we were not lucky watching orcas on the first day,
However, as everything went as expected, we spent our second day in Vancouver exploring the city.
In a nutshell, these are the top things to do in Vancouver in a day.
WHAT TO DO IN VANCOUVER IN ONE DAY
- Stanley Park: Immense park to visit in Vancouver, where we will find a lot of indigenous totems and the famous Girl in Wetsuit statue.
- Gastown: Stroll through this old neighborhood full of bars and restaurants and visit the Steam Clock.
- Canada Place: From the Waterfront terminal take the ferry that takes you to North Vancouver to have some amazing views of Canada Place.
- Chinatown: Surprise yourself with the majority of Asian population living in Vancouver visiting Chinatown and its peculiarities.
- Grandville Island: Take a craft beer on this hippy island and enjoy the good atmosphere of the area.
- Capilano: Walk the Capilano suspension bridge, with a length of 137 meters and 70 meters high in a unique environment.
- Killer whale tour: Do not leave Vancouver without seeing the incredible marine life that inhabits its waters.
In the following section, you will find our travel guide with the best things to do in Vancouver in one day. Below you will go through the best places to visit in Vancouver in 24 hours, the best restaurants in Vancouver and where to stay in Vancouver.
We will also give you some itinerary ideas for Vancouver in 2 days, 3 days or 4 days.
best time TO visit VANCOUVER
If you want to know when is the best time to travel to Vancouver, I would say it depends a lot on what you are looking for. In this section, we tell you about Vancouver weather.
If you travel to Vancouver in summer, between May and September, temperatures are warmer making your visit more pleasant, but it is usually difficult to find cheap hotels.
If you like snow and winter sports, visiting Vancouver in winter is the best thing for you, since there are ski slopes very close to the city.
Between March and May and September and November, the temperatures are mild and you can find hotels with very good prices, so over that period you can find the best months to travel to Vancouver.
HOW TO GET TO VANCOUVER
The best way to get to Vancouver is by flying directly to the Vancouver International Airport which is half an hour by train in the south of Vancouver.
If you want to find cheap flights to Vancouver I recommend to search them 3 months in advance , in addition to using some warning service in case of price drops, like the one offered by Skyscanner.
THINGS TO DO IN VANCOUVER IN ONE DAY
If you want to have a perfect day in Vancouver, plan your visit in advance. For this, we are going to tell you everything you have to visit in Vancouver.
First of all I have to confess that Vancouver is not a city that excited me greatly. For me, the real appeal of Vancouver are the surroundings. Dreamy mountains and the sea full of surprises. For downtown Vancouver, 24 hours is enough to explore the most popular attractions.
Of all the things you have to see in Vancouver, the first one I recommend doing in Vancouver is to visit Stanley Park. This was what we liked most about our day in Vancouver.
This huge park will make you forget about the city. We walked a big section and it took us more than two hours. Renting a bicycle to visit it is also a good option.
You will find an area where there are a lot of indigenous totems. This is, for me, one of the best places to see in Vancouver. Tellingly on the west coast of Canada lived for more than 500 generations the so-called First Nations.
Also in this park, we can find the statue “Girl in Wetsuit“. This is possibly the most popular statue in Vancouver.
To the west of the park, we find two beaches, Second Beach and Third Beach that are filled with people on sunny days. We visited Vancouver on a very sunny day and the beach was completely crowded.
What I liked most was knowing that orcas and whales could be seen from those beaches. For all this, Stanley Park could not be missing from our list of things to do in Vancouver in 24 hours.
FERRY TO NORTH VANCOUVER
Taking the public ferry that leaves from the Waterfront terminal and goes to Lonsdale in North Vancouver is another thing we recommend you to do in Vancouver in one day. The boat departures approximately every 15 minutes and the views are impressive in both directions. Coming back to the center, you will see Canada Place, a building with 5 white sails as a roof, used both for cultural activities and entertainment. It is a true icon of Vancouver.
To take the ferry you can use the public transport pass that we will talk about later, which is very useful to do everything you want to do in Vancouver in 24 hours.
Old Gastown neighborhood is something that we can not miss in our list of things to do in Vancouver. Walk through it until you find the curious Steam Clock built in 1977.
The neighborhood itself is very lively. There are a lot of souvenir shops inspired by the First Nations of Canada. You will also find cafes and restaurants with a great atmosphere.
Vancouver surprised us by the vast majority of the Asian population. It was a cultural shock. Although we knew that Canada is one of the most multicultural countries in the world, we did not expect it to be so obvious.
We experienced this great Asian majority in Richmond, the neighborhood where we stayed and of which I will speak later. That’s why we went to ChinaTown, which is located in downtown Vancouver, with very high expectations.
However, we got disappointed. ChinaTown today is a marginal neighborhood. We saw dozens of young drug addicts in a miserable situation. It turns out that Hastings Street in its crossing through ChinaTown is the main marginal neighborhood of Canada.
Of all the attractions in ChinaTown we could only see the Millennium Gate, because the main attraction in the area, the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, was being refurbished.
Despite our experience, I think it is a place worth visiting if you travel to Vancouver in one day. To explore the city you must live the tremendous contrasts inside Vancouver. Even if you do not want to visit it, you will do it without intention, as the dividing line between ChinaTown and Gastown is non-existent. All of a sudden you will find the marginalization and poverty of this area of Vancouver. But do not worry, even here Canada is a safe country.
That’s why we have no choice but to include ChinaTown on our list of essentials attractions to visit in Vancouver in 24 hours.
Another interesting plan you can do in Vancouver in one day is to visit Grandville Island. This small hippie island, under the bridge that gives access to the center of the city, is a must.
Here, you will find bars, terraces, and restaurants with a very good atmosphere. We recommend the Granville Island Brewing. trying the tasting menu with different kinds of beer is one of the essential things to do in Vancouver in one day. Our favorite was Maple, the symbol of the country.
To get to the island you must do it by ferry or walking on the bridge. Unlike going to North Vancouver, there is no public ferry, so you’ll have to go with some private companies that are not cheap. We opted for walking the bridge with the reward of seeing all the terraces of Granville Island from above.
Another thing you have to do in Granville Island is to visit the public market. Once there you will find everything from crafts to agricultural products of the highest quality and food stalls. The atmosphere is unique so it is very popular with both tourists and locals.
We recommend that you come to Granville Island in the afternoon since it is the liveliest time and if the weather is nice all the terraces will be full.
THINGS TO do IN VANCOUVER IN 2 DAYS, 3 DAYS OR 4 DAYS
If you have more than one day to explore Vancouver do not miss these other things you can do.
CAPILANO HANGING BRIDGE
Actually, we could have arranged in a day in Vancouver the visit to the Capilano suspension bridge. However, the price of $ 43 CAD per person was not within our travel budget.
This bridge is suspended more than 70 meters above the Capilano River with a total length of 137 meters. The natural environment is fantastic but we still do not know if the price is worth it. In the images, it seems ideal for lovers of extreme experiences. If it had been cheaper, we would have visited it, especially if we had visited Vancouver in 3 days.
It is only half an hour by public transport from the city center. And best of all, there are buses that take you for free. Here you can find the pickup points.
SKI IN GROUSE MOUNTAIN
If you are traveling to Vancouver in winter and you like snow sports then prepare at least 4 days in Vancouver. Less than half an hour away you have the Grouse Mountain ski slope.
In summer, Grouse Mountain can also be a place of interest for Vancouver tourism. Some of the activities offered are the Super Skyride cable car, the World Famous Lumberjack Show, the Birds in Motion show and, of course, amazing views of Vancouver and the nearby fjords.
You can also make other trips in Vancouver, such as Mountain Ziplines, The Eye of the Wind, Peak Chairlift, or helicopter tours.
Taking a whale-watching tour is, for me, the perfect activity to spent one of a two-day trip to Vancouver.
As it was the best thing to do in Vancouver for us, we wrote a special post where we described thoroughly everything about this experience.
VANCOUVER ISLAND VISIT
One of the alternative plans you can do around Vancouver is to visit Vancouver Island and its capital Victoria.
If you like nature and do not have time to visit Vancouver and the Canadian Rockies on the same trip, at least try to combine Vancouver + Vancouver Island.
To get to Vancouver Island you will have to take a Ferry or a hydrofoil from Vancouver.
In addition to whales, you can find all kinds of wildlife on that remote island. Here we can also find one of the most popular treks in the world, the West Coast Trail.
HOW TO MOVE around VANCOUVER
Vancouver’s public transportation is very efficient. It is equipped with the fastest automated subway in the world, the SkyTrain, an extensive bus network and the SeaBus, the ferry that we used to go to North Vancouver.
The price of public transport changes depending on the areas you travel. The tickets are $ 2.5 CAD if you travel through zone 1, $ 3.75 CAD if you travel through zones 1-2 and $ 5 CAD if you travel between zone 1 and zone 3. Here you have a map with the detail of the different zones. Once you use the ticket you have 90 minutes to make all the transfers you need until you reach the destination.
A way to save money on transportation is by getting a bonus of 10 FareSaver tickets. The price would be 19 $ CAD for zone 1, 28.5 $ CAD for zones 1-2 and 38 $ CAD for zones 1-3.
However, if you are visiting Vancouver in one day we recommend you to buy a DayPass. The price is $ 9 CAD and covers all areas so it is definitely the best option. Of course, keep in mind that the “change of day” is considered at 18:30, so if you buy the DayPass at 18:00, you can only use it for half an hour. However, if you buy it at 6:30 p.m., you can use it until the same time of the next day.
WHERE TO EAT IN VANCOUVER
If in your day in Vancouver you want to try the best restaurants, here we recommend some that you should not miss.
BEST BREAKFAST IN VANCOUVER
If you want to have a good start in your day in Vancouver, there is nothing like having a brunch in the purest American style of the 1950s at The Templeton.
The peculiarity of this restaurant is that each table is decorated with old jukeboxes that no longer work and leather stools around the bar. The quality of the menu is very good and the amount of food is literally huge.
The highlights include the Farmers Breakfast and the Big Ass Breakfast. And of course the Milkshakes. Share it with your partner or friends, the size is too large to be taken by a single person.
The Templeton is located at 1087 Granville Street and is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., although it is famous for breakfasts. Here I leave the menu.
TRY A GASTOWN RESTAURANT
For lunch I recommend you stop at one of the many stylish restaurants that you will find at GasTown.
We ate at the Guilt & Co and we liked it a lot. I recommend you to check the menu.
ASIAN STYLE DINNER AT A NIGHT MARKET
Another place that we can not forget in our plan of things to do in Vancouver is to dine in a Night Market.
Although they are not located in the center of Vancouver but in the neighborhood of Richmond, in the south, you need to visit it to understand the important Asian influence on the west coast of Canada.
The population of the neighborhood is mainly asian, with a percentage of 65% of the total population. Restaurants, shops, supermarkets, and kiosks. Everything is of Asian origin. Canada is one of the most multicultural countries in the world and in Vancouver and we could experience it.
The best way to do it is by going to dinner at the Summer Night Market, an open-air market that operates during the warm months.
Actually, in Richmond, there are two Asian markets, the Summer Night Market, smaller and authentic (closed since 2017) and the Richmond Night Market, hugely large and where most tourists go. The basic is essentially the same, hundreds of smoking places to eat.
Visiting at least one is a must in the list of things to do in Vancouver in a day.
WHERE TO Stay IN VANCOUVER
As we told you, our motivation to visit Vancouver was mainly to take an orca watching tour. In the event that we could not seen whales the first day we would have repeated the second day. To be honest, we did not have a special interest in visiting Vancouver considering we had just 15 days and our trip was focused on the Canadian Rockies.
The company we hired the Orca watching tour with was located in Richmond. It was 45 minutes by public transport from the center. That is why we decided to stay in the Richmond neighborhood.
Another reason for not staying at the center was the prices of hotels in Vancouver as they are very expensive and were out of our budget. Staying in Richmond we managed to save some money but nevertheless, we also had other downsides.
Although Vancouver’s public transportation also reaches Richmond, the frequency is not as high, especially at night. For this reason, we often ended up taking taxis, which considerably increased the price.
Besides, Richmond is mostly a residential neighborhood. By this I mean there are no areas where you can find different restaurant options, except for the two Asian food markets.
You can feel the Asian majority in this neighborhood after every step and this means good news: The best sushi we have ever tried was in a restaurant near our accommodation. From what we read after our trip, in Vancouver, are found the best sushi restaurants outside of Japan.
We chose to rent an Airbnb in Vancouver because it was the cheapest option, so I will provide you with coupons so you can save on your next trip.
And with this map of Vancouver, we say goodbye. Do not hesitate to leave us a comment if you need any other information about Vancouver. We will be happy to help you.
And remember that this is just our opinion according to our experience. We will be happy to include other different activities that we don’t know yet if you tell us about in the comments.