Maybe you’re only in Vancouver for a day before your cruise ship leaves from Canada Place, or are in the city for business and have only a few free hours to explore. In any case, if you’re only in Vancouver for a day and want to make sure to get the most out of your time here, this itinerary will ensure that you hit all the best spots in the city without having to travel outside of the downtown area.
Start your morning off right with the most important meal of the day – brunch! Vancouver’s got some great places to eat breakfast, whether you’re planning an early morning wakeup or a looking to get a late start to the day. Some great places to check out include Brioche, Jam Café, Medina Café, Chewies’ Steam & Oyster Bar, Pure Bread and more – check out our “Top 5 Breakfast Spots Near the Vancouver Lookout” post for more information.
Originally named after steamboat captain “Gassy” Jack Deighton, Gastown is a unique neighborhood in the city offering plenty of restaurants and boutiques steeped in a historic setting. Walk down Water Street along cobblestone sidewalks and explore shops, galleries, bars, and restaurants, all while taking in the historic architecture that gives this district of Vancouver its unique charm. The famous Gastown steam clock is also located along Water Street, so be sure to stop and watch as it blows a whistle of steam every 15 minutes, or plays Westminster Chimes on the hour.
11AM Vancouver Lookout
Enjoy a 360 view of the city like you’ve never seen before from 553 feet in the air at the Vancouver Lookout! From the top of the tower located in the Harbour Centre, you’ll get a breathtaking view of the city, downtown core, famous Vancouver landmarks, coastal mountains, and beyond. Get a free guided tour around the observation deck to learn more about the city and the various attractions. Stop here for some great photos of Vancouver from the sky during the day, and then return with the same ticket at night for the sunset and night time view.
No visit to Vancouver is complete without trying some aburi oshi (pressed and seared) sushi! Make your way down towards Canada Place to Miku Restaurant, where the aburi oshi craze began. Located right along the water, you will be dining with a beautiful view of the water and the mountains.
However, if you are on a budget, you can find the same style of sushi within Downtown Vancouver’s the financial district for a fraction of the price at Yui’s Japanese Bistro – which was opened by ex-chefs of Miku Restaurant!
Located in the Fairmont Pacific Rim, Giovane Cafe is known for their sugar buns – a light and fluffy sugar bun, filled with a velvety and cloud-like cream filling. They offer their original flavour, as well as a rotating seasonal flavour. But get there early, because they sell out quick!!
1PM Vancouver Art Gallery
Located right in the centre of downtown, the Vancouver Art Gallery is the largest gallery in Western Canada, and makes a great stop if you want to check out the Vancouver art scene. Step out of the bustling city and take in the ever changing curated exhibitions, featuring both Canadian and International works of art from world renowned artists. Have more time? Check out some other the other great galleries Vancouver has to offer, such as the Bill Reid Gallery in Gastown, or the Museum of Anthropology located on the UBC campus.
3PM Granville Island
Located in False Creek, Granville Island the place to go if you are looking for great food and quaint shops. The island is home to an extensive public market, many boutiques, shops, and art studios, as well as a marina and some nice restaurants. The island is also a great place to visit with kids, as it boasts a large kids market and a free waterpark complete with a waterslide. Stroll through the Public Market where you will find lots of fresh produce and food! If you have space in your tummy, check out A La Mode for their Clam Chowder Pot Pie.
Whether you snack your way through the Public Market, peruse the boutiques and galleries that line the streets, or simply stop for some ice cream, a trip to Granville Island always has something for everyone.
6PM Stanley Park
There really is no better way to experience the natural beauty of Vancouver’s temperate rainforests than by visiting Stanley Park. As Stanley Park is a large expanse of forest located just steps away from the downtown core, you can experience the “wild” side of BC without leaving the city centre! Explore over 400 hectares of urban park by biking or walking the seawall — a 22 kilometer pathway that wraps along the coast from Coal Harbour all the way to Kitsilano Beach. If you choose to cycle, it will take about an hour to complete the Stanley Park loop along the seawall, and there are many places to rent bikes within the downtown area.
Stop by the Teahouse in Stanley Park for a fine dining dinner experience.
7PM English Bay
Enjoy all that the Pacific Ocean has to offer by spending the evening watching the sunset at English Bay. Vancouver boasts some of the best beaches in the world, and a trip to the city wouldn’t be complete without visiting one. Be sure to pose with the A-maze-ing Laughter statues while you are there!
8PM Vancouver Lookout
Come back to visit the Vancouver Lookout and see the stunning night lights with your all-day ticket. Don’t forget your camera!