No city is perfect but some are well on their way to getting there. Vancouver is one such destination primarily because of the range of activities and sights it offers. Where else can you sail, ski and hike on the same day! Spending a weekend in Vancouver will lend you a taste of its love of culture, food and outdoors. Bustling with energy, there is a lot to do in this wonderful city for every kind of traveler. Here is the ultimate 2 day Vancouver itinerary:
Kick start your weekend in Vancouver by visiting the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. The park is one of this city’s gems and an absolute must-visit. Beautiful Kia’palano totem poles with stories about British Colombia's First Nations people and their connection to the natural world welcome you to the park.
The majestic Suspension Bridge was first built in 1889 by a Scottish engineer. The bridge has since had many modifications and took its present shape in 1953.
Treetops Adventure is one the most popular experiences at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park and the first venue of its kind in North America. It offers a squirrel’s eye view of a thriving coastal forest. You get to walk over suspension bridges placed between trees, some as high as 110 ft! Nature's Edge Boardwalk is the perfect way to absorb the many facets of the delicate temperate West Coast. Enjoy a stroll through the forest and past tranquil trout ponds.
Open seven days a week, timings keep changing. Entry Fee CAD 40.
Just 15 minutes from downtown, Grouse Mountain provides a panorama that reveals the true beauty and scale of Vancouver and extends for as far as the eyes can see.
Grouse Mountain is a very popular recreation spot and wilderness paradise and is thronged by people of all ages longing for time in the wilderness. Hiking enthusiasts must indulge in ‘The Grouse Grind’, which is a 3 km trail up the face of Grouse Mountain. This is a fairly strenuous trail and is infamously called “Mother Nature’s StairMaster”.
Apart from this, Grouse Mountain’s seasonal Lumberjack Show features a crew of champion performers showcasing their skills atop Grouse Mountain. The 45-minute show offers fast paced entertainment and features log rolling, a 60-foot tree climb, axe throwing and an exciting springboard chop - the only three-board event in North America!
Open seven days a week, 9 AM - 10 PM. Entry Fee ranges from CAD 45-60.
Imagine a city with an island smack bang in the center of it. What if I tell you that the island has a fascinating history as well as the youthful buzz about it? Granville Island is all that and much more. Arguably the epicenter for Vancouver's culinary enthusiasm, you must walk around the market for flavors of fresh fruits, local cheese, maple syrup and handmade chocolate. Anyone spending a weekend in Vancouver must visit this iconic location. If you’re into collecting souvenirs, consider dropping a few dollars on handmade soaps, paintings or silk scarves. Cap day one of the weekend in Vancouver guzzling beer at the Granville Island Brewing!
Open seven days a week, 9 AM - 7 PM. No entry Fee.
Begin the second day of your 2 day Vancouver itinerary by exploring the outdoors. As much as the city has to offer on land, one of the most popular ways to explore the city is on water. Located 17 km from downtown Vancouver, Deep Cove is a former fishing area of the Squamish First Nations who have lived in the region for thousands of years. Deep Cove offers calm waters and a mind blowing backdrop to learn about the Great Pacific Northwest, its original inhabitants and their culture.
You can rent an affordable kayak at the Deep Cove Kayak Centre. Kayaks are easy to maneuver along the shoreline and offer a unique perspective on Vancouver while also providing you with a much-needed workout! Just this experience by itself will make you happy about your decision of spending a weekend in Vancouver.
A single kayak rental costs CAD 39 (2 hours) and a double costs CAD 55 (2 hours).
Downtown Vancouver is home to two of Canada’s National Historic Sites – Gastown and Chinatown. Gastown is known as the birthplace of Vancouver and is home to some of the city’s liveliest markets and boutiques. There are plenty of diners and galleries to make winding through picturesque cobblestone lanes worthwhile. If you’re keen on shopping, you will find West Coast Native Art to tourist wares and everything in between.
Chinatown on the other hand is famous for its culture, architecture and unique character. Duck in to any alley and you’ll stumble onto something exciting. Feel free to check out a mix of clothing and decor by local and international designers.
FlyOver Canada is a spellbinding flight simulation ride that has no equal. The unforgettable ride takes you across Canada’s diverse landscapes and sceneries. The experience is also a technological marvel for having replicated an actual flying experience, complete with an impressive 4-storey spherical screen, wind, scents, and mist! FlyOver Canada’s audio-visual show is also a fantastic way of getting introduced to Canada’s history and culture.
Open seven days a week, 10 AM - 9 PM. CAD 22 Entry fee, 10% discount if booked online.
The Vancouver Lookout Tower is the one of the tallest structures in Vancouver and probably the most famous landmark in the city. Situated atop the Harbour Centre, the tower is 168 m high and gives you a chance to witness Vancouver’s myriad landscapes from a vantage point.
Opened in 1977, the elevator whisks you skyward in about 40 seconds. From the top, you will get to see several of Vancouver’s historic areas such as Gastown, Stanley Park and the Olympic Peninsula Mountains. The admission ticket is valid all day and you must check out the views during the day as well as the night. Vancouver Lookout is the perfect way to cap your weekend in Vancouver.
Open seven days a week, 9 AM - 9 PM. CAD 17.5 Entry fee, discount if booked online.
How to Reach
If you're arriving by air, you'll most likely be flying into Vancouver International Airport (YVR). Located 25 minutes from downtown, YVR is rated one of the best airports in Canada. Kick start your weekend in Vancouver by taking a bus or a taxi to your hotel!
The best ways to get around Vancouver are on foot, by bike and via public transportation. Most of the attractions in this 2 day Vancouver itinerary are located within a stone’s throw of one another.
Vancouver's public transportation, which includes buses, the SeaBus ferry and the SkyTrain is both efficient and convenient. They ply from 5 AM to 1 AM every day. One-way adult fares cost CAD 2.75 while day passes cost CAD 9.75 and can be purchased from any 7-Eleven, Safeway or London Drugs store. Keep in mind that you will need exact change in order to purchase a one-way ticket!
You could also choose to whiz around the city on a bike. There are plenty of bike rental shops around town and prices range from CAD 30 - 40 CAD per day. Helmets are mandatory and biking on the footpath is forbidden.
Taxis are a good option when you’re in a hurry. The meter starts at CAD 3.20, with each additional kilometer costing around CAD 1.85.
Where to Stay
If you want to experience Vancouver’s authentic vibe, you must stay at Gastown or Chinatown. If you want to be in the middle of the action and prefer luxury, the Waterfront is perfect for you to spend the weekend in Vancouver. Budget travelers should seek an Airbnb, since hotels in Vancouver are typically very expensive.
What to Eat & Drink
It’s bit of a Vancouver thing to have restaurants tucked away in alleyways, often without any prominent signage. Thanks to its large Asian population, Vancouver is home to some of the best oriental cuisine found anywhere in the world. With their emphasis on mild flavors and fresh ingredients, it would be sin to not feast on steaming pots of Pho, award-winning sushi and yummy dumplings. Try fitting New Town Restaurant in Chinatown in your 2 day Vancouver itinerary.
Beer aficionados are in for treat since Vancouver has a thriving microbrewery scene. Beer-mongers in the city are famous for crafting the most creative and flavorful brews such as chocolate stouts and maple infused ales! Granville Island Brewing and Steamworks Brewing Company have to be your 2 day Vancouver itinerary.
A traveler at heart, I have been to 20 countries on 6 continents. My favorite experiences are plunging in to sub-zero Antarctic waters, renovating a Buddhist monastery in Sri Lanka and hiking Borneon jungles. I am also an engineer, a public speaker, a sustainability believer and a polar explorer. Follow my misadventures on www.passportuncontrol.com and Instagram @geeknextdoor
Have any questions about the 2 day Vancouver Itinerary? Drop me a line!
Disclaimer: Parts of the 2 day Vancouver itinerary were hosted by Tourism Vancouver. However, all opinions are my own