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Vancouver travel guide, tours & things to do

Only got a couple of days to get to know a new city? Our Big Five City Guides can help. We break each destination down into culture, history, dining, shopping and relaxation must-sees and dos. Jess Singet checks in from the cosmopolitan Canadian city of Vancouver...

Vancouver is the cultural capital of Canada’s West and a fantastic blend of outdoor beauty, city life and multicultural experiences.

To make matters even better, Vancouverites are some of the friendliest people around. It’s no wonder travellers flock to Vancouver from around the world. It’s a city of many layers, that will continue to surprise and amaze you long after your visit to Canada comes to an end.

Enjoy this Vancouver travel guide.

Vancouver travel guide
Vancouver travel guide

Five Vancouver tours we love

Vancouver Hop On Hop Off Tour

Explore the city at your own pace on this fabulous Vancouver hop on hop off tour. There are 30 designated stops and you can embark and disembark as often as you like.

Vancouver City Tour including Capilano Suspension Bridge

See the best of Vancouver in air-conditioned comfort on this comprehensive city tour. See the city’s top attractions, including Stanley Park, Granville Island and Chinatown. You’ll also get to walk across the swaying Capilano Suspension Bridge!

Vancouver Craft Brewery and Food Tour

Vancouver’s craft brewing scene is the talk of the town. On this four-hour tour you’ll get the opportunity to try a great range of boutique brews, along with some very tasty eats. Visit three diverse breweries and enjoy a meal at Big Rock Urban Brewery and Eatery.

Vancouver travel guide
Image courtesy of Big Rock Urban Brewery and Eatery

Vancouver Stanley Park Walking Tour

Stanley Park is Vancouver’s premier green space, and one that harbours plenty of surprises. Spend two and half hours exploring the park on a walking tour with an expert local guide. See the famous seawall, walk forest trails, and encounter towering totem poles. Along the way you’ll learn some of the history of this remarkable public space.

Vancouver Seaplane Tour

Vancouver enjoys a magnificent natural setting. See the city, the surrounding mountains and the Georgia Strait from the air on a scenic seaplane tour. This is the ideal introduction to your stay in the region.

Top cultural experiences in Vancouver

To say the city is culturally diverse is an understatement.

Here are just a couple of suggestions for top things to do in Vancouver that will connect you with the city’s dynamic cultural scene.

The Chinatown Night Market is the perfect way to experience the culture and colour of the city’s buzzing Chinatown district. In this vibrant open air market you’ll find delicious street food and plenty of cheap shopping.

To experience the culture of the First Nations people of Vancouver, head for the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art. Admire traditional carvings and jewellery, long with contemporary art pieces.

Vancouver travel guide
Vancouver travel guide: Vancouver Art Gallery

For a dose of modern art, with an emphasis on works by British Columbia artists, the Vancouver Art Gallery is a must-see. There’s a collection of more than 10,000 pieces, although only a small percentage is on display at any one time. Photography features prominently. Book a queue jump ticket and breeze straight in.

Vancouver for history lovers

Vancouver’s rich history has shaped a city that is not only beautiful, but full of stories.

At least 10,000 years ago, Vancouver’s First Nations people arrived here and their legacy lives on today. In the Museum of Anthropology you can see totem and story poles, and carvings created by the first inhabitants. The collection will give you a feel for their creative and spiritual lives.

One of the most famous men in the history of Vancouver has to be “Gassy” Jack Deighton, who opened the city’s first saloon in 1867. This started the tradition of quality drinking establishments in Vancouver. Today you can find some of the most intriguing and inventive cocktails on offer at The Keefer Bar. This venue mixes the original craft drinking traditions established by Jack Deighton with the culture of Chinatown, creating a truly incredible fusion.

Vancouver travel guide
Vancouver travel guide: Gastown steam clock

Great places to eat in Vancouver

During winter there’s nothing like cuddling up in one of the city’s many wonderful coffee shops.

Try popular Musette Caffe in Downtown. Coffee shops are also the perfect place to go if you need access to free Wi-Fi while travelling!

A stop in Vancouver is also not complete without trying poutine. If you’ve never tried this delicious dish, you are in for a treat! Traditional poutine consists of French fries topped with gravy and cheese curds, but in Vancouver you’ll find plenty of other fun (and tasty) varieties. You can find hot dog poutine, fried chicken poutine, pulled pork poutine and much more.

Vancouver travel guide
Vancouver travel guide: Try Poutine. Image: Photodune

Where to shop in Vancouver

The city offers shopaholics everything from pricey high-fashion boutiques to shopping malls and outlet stores.

However, if you’re looking for a unique piece, try Commercial Drive. This hip strip is home to cool coffee shops, restaurants and fun stores. Most boutiques here are one of a kind, and you won’t find them anywhere else.

For foodies, Granville Island Public Market is the place to be. The market is full of small stalls that provide unique tasty treats, homemade products and much more. You’ll find everything from exotic teas to homemade pastas and plenty of delicious street food. This is also a great spot to pick up some souvenirs.

Vancouver travel guide
Granville Island Public Market. Image courtesy of Canadian Tourism Commission

Ways to relax in Vancouver

For things to do that will leave you feeling refreshed and revitalised, just hit the great outdoors!

One of the most popular options is Stanley Park, which attracts a huge number of visitors every year. The 1,000-acre park offers so many activities, including hiking, biking, swimming, skating and even a miniature train to ride. The park is also home to the Vancouver Aquarium.

Vancouver travel guide
Vancouver travel guide: See the famous totem poles in Stanley Park.

If you’re a wine lover like me, then relaxing over a glass of British Columbia’s famous ice wine is the way to go. The name ice wine comes from the process of how the wine is made. The grapes are left on the vine until they freeze in winter. Then they’re pressed while still frozen. You can try a Vancouver ice wine at many wineries and local restaurants.

Do you have any tips to add to our Vancouver travel guide? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.

Jess Singet is a travel blogger from Vancouver.

Additional images: Bigstock

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  1. I appreciate your sharing. I also spent a really good time there with my mates during my last summer holidays and came back with a lot of pleasant memories.

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