10 Things to See and Do in Vancouver

10 things to see and do in Vancouver

photo credit: Lee Aye

I have always wanted to visit Vancouver and I am pleased to report that our visit there did not disappoint. For starters, Canadians in general, and Vancouverians (is that even a word?) in particular, are some of the friendliest people on the planet. Then there’s the delicious food and drink which I wrote about here, a plethora of things to do for all ages and all interests, and the scenery trifecta; water, mountains and forests. Vancouver is stunning to look at, that’s for sure, but there’s so much more to the city than meets the eye. Here are ten things to see and do that you won’t want to miss.

1. Granville Island and Granville Market

Granville Market is legendary and has the most amazing food and produce. It’s a foodies delight!

Granville Island Market

Don’t leave town without a visit to Lee’s DonutsIt’s easy to find, just look for the line! Lee’s has been producing soft fluffy donuts at the market for more than 27 years and they’re still as popular as ever. They’re fresh, light, fluffy and totally delicious and for the record, the donut holes are utterly addictive. Just sayin’! If you’re looking for good coffee, head to JJ Bean tucked away in the far corner of the market. It’s the original store of this Canadian coffee chain and it’s popular with locals and visitors alike.

Lees Donuts

I searched the market high and low for Siegel’s because I refused to leave town without trying one of their Montreal style bagels. For the love of bagels, I could not find Siegel’s anywhere so stretched my legs and went to their 24 hour store at Kitsilano instead. (If you don’t mind a walk, you should totally go, it’s BAGEL HEAVEN!) On our return to the market (for more donuts) I saw Siegel’s right in front of my nose. I don’t know how I missed it, it’s the place with the enormo-queue!

Siegel's Bagels

If you’re looking for lunch, take a pleasant stroll along the seawall and head to Go Fish. You’ll have to line up with the hungry hoardes but it will be worth it  for some of the best fish and chips in town. Don’t miss the fish tacones, the Go Fish take on the taco, with a choice of either tuna or salmon, which are great value at 5 bucks a pop. It really is lunch with a view!

Go Fish view

There’s so much more on the island than just the market. There’s also a kids market with games for the kids to enjoy, there’s unusual shops, galleries, theatres, studios, restaurants and cafes and if the weather is fine, you can walk along the sea wall all the way to Kitsilano Beach.

The Granville Island ferries are as iconic as the island itself. These tiny little boats will transport you to and from the island ($5.50 return), and to other stops besides. If you have time, you can get an all day ticket ($15) which is a great way to see the city from the water.

Granville Island Ferries

2. Kitsilano Beach

Kitsilano Beach  or “Kits” to the locals is one of Vancouver’s most popular beaches. It has beach volleyball, basketball and tennis courts, a children’s playground, a restaurant, a yacht club and what is considered to be the longest swimming pool in Canada with wrap around views of the harbour, no less!

Kitsilano Beach

3. Get a bird’s eye view at Fly Over Canada Canada Place

This breathtaking movie screen simulator makes you feel like, yes, you’ve guessed it, flying over Canada. Basically, you strap yourself in to a flying chair, and with your legs a-dangling, you “soar” over Canada from coast to coast with some value added special effects. The eight minute ride will set you back $21.95 for adults and $14.95 for children.

4. Visit the Vancouver Art Gallery 750 Hornby Street

With 11,000 artworks, this is the largest gallery in western Canada and includes more than 200 major works by Emily Carr, the Group of Seven, Jeff Wall, Harry Callahan and Marc Chagall. It also houses some blockbuster international exhibits like Picasso and his muses. Entrance is by donation only on Tuesday evenings from 5pm but arrive early unless you are a fan of long queues.

10 things to see and do in Vancouver

5. Walk, run or ride around Stanley Park

A visit to Vancouver’s first, largest and most loved urban park is a must-do. Don’t miss a run, walk or cycle around the 9km seawall which is fringed by the 400 hectare, 150,000 tree filled temperate rainforest. It’s a wonderful way to enjoy the views of the mountains, water and sky. It’s Mother Nature’s eye candy at it’s finest. Hiring a bike is easy, just make sure you ride it the right way, there’s one direction riding!

Stanley Park seawall

6. Drink your way around Vancouver’s craft breweries on a brewery crawl

Vancouver has a hop-pening craft brewery scene with new breweries hopping, oops, I mean popping up all the time. Craft breweries are often clustered together, make them ideal for brewery hopping. See what I did there? This map is a great place to start.

craft beer - Vancouver

7. Go to  Grouse Mountain

If you’re short on time, and you want to see a bear, Grouse Mountain is the place to go, unless of course, it’s winter when the resident bears, Coola and Grinder will be hibernating! It’s hard to imagine the mountain in winter covered in snow, but it’s a winter sports enthusiast’s dream.

Taking Stock Vancouver bears

In spring and summer there is just so much to do up the mountain, including mountain disc golf, guided hikes, informational talks (don’t miss the one about the bears) and shows – you can easily spend the whole day here. Whatever you do, don’t leave the mountain without catching the Lumberjack Show, it’s as hilarious as it is quintessentially Canadian.

Lumberjacks - Grouse Mountain

There are free shuttles to and from downtown and thanks to the trusty bus driver, the ride there is as entertaining as it is scenic. You can take the cable car to the top of the mountain which takes about 8 minutes and offers breathtaking views of Vancouver and beyond or if you’re feeling very energetic, you can attempt the Grouse Grind AKA “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster” and climb the 2, 830 stairs to the top. (Note you can only climb up and have to pay $10 to take the Skyride down.)

There are a range of tickets available that vary in price depending on how adventurous you want to be. If you’re in need of caffeine, wait until you get to the  mountain top and head to Grouse Grind Coffee Bar for great coffee and totally awesome view.

Grouse Mountain Skyride

Grouse Mountain is very close to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park and you can easily visit them both in the same day. If you go to the mountain first and you ask the driver nicely, the return shuttle will drop you off at Capilano on it’s way into town. That’s twice as nice.

8. Bridge hop at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park 3735 Capilano Road

Take a walk on the wild (and wobbly) side over one of the world’s longest suspension bridges. However, the 140m long, 70m high bridge is just the start of the Capilano adventure.

Capillano Suspension Bridge

Once you cross the bridge, you’ll embark on the Treetops Adventure, an elevated walk through the rainforest canopy across 7 suspended footbridges 30 metres above the forest floor.

Treetops Adventure - Capillano

The newest feature of the park is the glass bottomed Cliffwalk which as it’s name suggests is a cliff hugging walkway with a maze-like series of narrow cantilevered bridges, stairs and platforms and only 16 anchor points in the cliff supporting the structure, but let’s not think about that. There are guided walks and nature tours, heaps of eating and drinking options, free wifi and there’s also a year-round free shuttle to and from downtown.

Capillano

9. Check out the produce at Lonsdale Quay Public Market 123 Carrie Cates Court

If you have the energy, you can add on a visit to the market to your Capilano and/or Grouse Mountain adventure. There’s no free shuttle but you can take public bus 236 to/from both attractions.

9 things to see and do in Vancouver

For something a tad different, hop on the Seabus  and enjoy the 12 minute ferry ride over to Lonsdale Quay. The market here isn’t nearly as big as Granville Island, but there’s fabulous fresh produce, a wide range of speciality shops and a neat little food court, although if you love beer, you might prefer to cross the quay to Tap and Barrel for lunch. Don’t forget your camera, because the views of downtown Vancouver from the quay are not to be missed (even on a grey and dismal day.)

9 things to see and do in Vancouver

10. Day Tour to Whistler

Whistler is a travel destination in itself, but if you’re tight for time, a day trip is the way to go. We tripped out with Landsea Tours  and had an action packed day with the most breathtaking scenery, not just at Whistler itself but en route on the Sea to Sky Highway. There are more photo opportunities than you can shake a stick at. Don’t forget to snap your shot with the Olympic rings and be sure to take a ride on the Peak to Peak gondola ride. It’s epic!

Taking Stock Vancouver - Whistler

Have you ever been to Vancouver? Got anything else to add to the list? Which of these floats your boat?

This post is not  sponsored in any way. We experienced all of these activities and any costs or fees were independently paid for.

10 Things to See and Do in Vancouver - The Annoyed Thyroid

Linking up with Kylie for IBOT and and   Van, Marcella and Lauren  for Wanderful Wednesday

  • Natalie @ Our Parallel Connect

    This looks amazing. The fly over looks fantastic and such a great way to see everything all at once. Unfortunately, if I look at my life and where all my kids are at, this isn’t a place I can visit for a while so I will just have to live it through you.

    • The fly over was a great way to see everything at once even though I kept my eyes shut for most of it because I’m scared of heights and was totally pantsing myself! There are lots of places I’d love to go and won’t for a while, here’s to armchair (or desk chair) travels!

  • You make me thirsty for holidays and adventure!! Do you have a post like this about London? I am so excited to go, nearly ready to begin a count down. xx

    • No post like this about London because I never get time to be a tourist in my own (old) town. I’m going to add it to my bucket list though 🙂

  • Your posts about Canada have cemented its position on my bucket list!

  • merilyn

    Canada looks amazing thankyou sammie!
    and you did get your bwave on hun!;))
    much love m:)X

    • I was brave wasn’t I? Up close and personal with bears, riding those cable cars like a boss and don’t get me started on the Fly Over Canada thing, I thought I would surely die! It’s perfectly safe for kids, just not scaredy cats like me! But I faced my fears and I did it!

  • Definitely on my bucket list. Wow that jam donut made my mouth water – love the pic of the bear at Grouse Mountain too.

    • That donut! It was sooooo good! Grouse Mountain was a highlight. I was desperate to see the bears and I got laughed so much at the lumberjack show that my abs got a thorough workout!

  • Everyone I know that has been to Vancouver raves about it. Your post has just made me want to go more then ever. I will be sure to keep your post in mind if ever I do get to travel there : )

  • Looks like you had the best time 🙂 I’ve never been but I have a family friend who’s living there at the moment and I’d love to go!

  • Looks marvellous! I’d so love to go to Canada one day. Oh, and how amazingly delicious does that jam donut look!! #teamIBOT

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    Great list Sammie! Love Vancouver-the weather is so good and so is the food (I may leave the suspension bridge-eek!).

  • Ah it’s been so long since I visited Vancouver – thanks for bringing all those memories back! Me and my mum had a blast at Capillano – although I was about 23 or so at the time, we went around collecting all the stamps with the kids so we could get a little certificate to take home ha ha! Great day. #wanderfulwednesday

    • I started on the stamps but gave up half way through. Capillano is so much fun, once you get over the bridge that is!

      • Ha ha, yes, that bridge was petrifying, especially when this rather large child started jumping up and down while I was on it. Not good!

        • I had planned to walk over the bridge as quickly as possible but it was full of selfie loving tourists who seemed to delight in blocking my way with a few jumping kids to finish me off. My nerves were in tatters by the time I got to the other side 🙂

  • Definitely looks like a lot of fun things to do in Vancouver! I’ve heard so many great things about that city from a good friend who always goes. I definitely need to check it out one day! #WanderfulWednesday

  • I love Vancouver. My family used to drive up there from Seattle while I was growing back. We’re taking the kids back there when we visit my parents later this year and I’m really looking forward to it. I also love taking the ferry across the water and visiting Butchart Gardens in Victoria.

    • We got the train from Vancouver to Seattle – such a lovely ride and so (relatively) close! I would have loved to have gone to Victoria but we totally ran out of time – that will be top of this list of things to do for our next visit!

  • Rebecca

    These things sound great, and so Canadian! I would definitely go to see the bears 🙂

  • Is there any other way to experience that forest besides all the suspension bridges? You know in case you’re afraid of heights… asking for a friend lol. And that bear is so cute! From a far.

    • I am actually terrified of heights but I faced off with fear for that bridge and it was totally worth it. Once I got over the wobbly bridge the rest of them didn’t seem quite so bad, plus the view was a great distraction. I think I asked the same question when I got there, but hubby said the only way across was over the big suspension bridge (I’m not sure if he was telling the truth or not!) And yes, the bears were magic!

  • We had the opportunity to visit Vancouver last year when we were in Seattle and we really enjoyed it! We ended up spending the afternoon at Granville Island, but I just wished that we’d had more time to do the suspension bridges or to go to Whistler!

    • We went to Seattle after Vancouver and I loved them both. There’s heaps to see and do at Granville Island, isn’t there? It’s such a pretty spot. Next time you’ll have to go for longer so you can do Capillano and Whistler – both were breathtakingly beautiful!

  • Oh wow, take me to buy those berries and those donuts and then to see those landscpaes. What a great variation of activities, I love it!

  • HA! This post definitely made me smile – I rarely see posts about my hometown! We always like to think of ourselves as friendly, so it’s nice when visitors agree. And….is that actually sunshine I see in your pictures?!?! Lucky you, to actually get some rare Vancouver sunshine! There’s a reason my blog is called “Raincity Librarian”…we’re not exactly known for our beautiful weather… 😉

    • You are so lucky to call Vancouver home. I would move there in a heartbeat. We were blown away by the friendliness of the locals and it was all completely genuine – we loved the people as much as the place! We were in town for a week in early September and the weather was glorious – we only had one grey/rainy day so we really did get to see the city at it’s finest!

  • That suspension bridge park looks AWESOME! How fun!!!

    • I’m terrified of high things especially high things that wobble so crossing the bridge wasn’t so much fun for me but I was proud that I did it… Twice!

  • I’d love to visit Vancouver! I’ve just heard from someone who went out there how amazing Grouse Mountain is. And those donuts look epic! #WanderfulWednesday

    • Grouse Mountain was so much fun. I feel like I should go back in winter so I can appreciate the trans-seasonal experience!

  • The suspension bridge has been on my bucket list for quite a while now. I mean, I will totally panic when I get to visit but it seems so worth it!! Oh and Whistler – so lovely! Can’t believe all these gorgeous sceneries you can find in and around Vancouver!

    • I totally paniced when I got to the suspension bridge and walking across seemed like the longest few minutes of my life, but the fear was worth it. Vancouver is such a good looking city!