What to visit in Vancouver? Top 15: Best of the Best

Vancouver – the city where man and nature live in harmony. It’s mirrored skyscrapers rise up against the snowy peaks. The bustling Downtown area is surrounded by sandy beaches and broad seasides. In the heart of the city, the abundant Stanley Park is covered in lush greenery. And in the spring, tens of thousands of pink sakura trees blossom throughout the streets. Thanks to the gentle climate, numerous festivals and ski resorts, the tourist season here lasts all year round.

Above all, there is so much to see in Vancouver that it was hard to choose just 15 places. So, along with restaurants and other recommendations, this article has more than a hundred of them!

So, the top best of the best, which are a must-see in Vancouver:


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1. Stanley Park

Stanley Park is the first place where all visitors go. In addition to lush greenery and wildlife (beavers, raccoons, herons, geese, etc.) it is known for its stunning views of Downtown, historic past, perfect grassy areas and picnic beaches.

Stanley Park is Vancouver’s first park. It was founded the same year as the city itself (1886). And it was named after the British politician, Lord Stanley. Before the arrival of Europeans, indigenous peoples lived on these lands, many legends and things have been passed down since.

What to visit in Vancouver? Stanley Park, Vancouver, Canada

Stanley Park is larger than New York’s Central Park and almost twice the size of Gorky Park in Moscow (along with Museon, Sparrow Hills, and Neskuchny Garden). It would take several hours to walk the entire Seawall. Plan your day well in advance!

If you get tired of walking, there is a small train available and horse carriage rides. I recommend renting a bike or electric scooter in town. Parking lots in the city are pay-parking (there are passes for the whole day).

Stanley Park
Stanley Park Cliff, Vancouver, what to see in Vancouver

Be sure to go to The Aquarium. It was created by Ocean Wise, a nonprofit charity for ocean research and rehabilitation of sick animals. There are Canadian anemones, jellyfish, shrimp, fish, starfish, sea lions and – everyone’s favorites – sea otters.

Vancouver Aquarium, what to see in vancouver
Vancouver Aquarium

Don’t miss out:

  • A variety of totem poles
  • Vintage Brockton Point Lighthouse
  • Viewpoint at the Japanese figurehead and the statue of a girl in a wetsuit
  • Prospect Point Lookout overlooking the mountains and the Lions Gate Bridge
  • Siwash Rock, surrounded by ancient Indian legends
  • Sunset at Third Beach and Tuesday evening drumming performances (March through September)
  • Hollow Tree – the hollow stump of an 800-year-old red cedar
  • Shakespeare’s Garden in April for the cherry blossoms and in October for the fall leaves
  • Brunch at the tea house
  • Outdoor Pool at Second Beach (book in advance)
Dam, Vancouver, lighthouse, Stanley Park
Totem pole in Stanley Park
What to visit in Vancouver? Stanley Park, sunset

After a brisk walk in the park, you can eat at a Japanese restaurant, Kingyo. Try their kobe meat on stone, chirashi don and desserts.


READ MORE: Vancouver’s favorite Japanese restaurants


Japanese restaurants in Vancouver, Kingyo
Japanese restaurants in Vancouver, Kingyo

2. Vancouver Convention Centre

Canada Place is a huge building in the shape of a sailing ship, the tourist center and the Vancouver Convention Centre (its eastern part). Inside are exhibition halls, a hotel, a restaurant and a virtual attraction: FlyOver Canada. From April to October, the “sailboat” serves as a terminal for cruise ships to Alaska.

Canada Place, Vancouver

Opposite, is the west side of the Vancouver Convention Centre. It was built for the 2010 Olympic Games. They used the latest eco-friendly technologies. Some 400,000 native plants were planted on the roof and bees were settled there as well. Public access to the roof is denied. Inside there are exhibitions, concerts and parties.

Don’t miss the interesting art objects: the Digital Orca sculpture, the giant drop of water – “The Drop” and the Spinning Globe (5.5m in diameter), which Tom Cruise swiftly passed by in the movie “Mission Impossible: Phantom Protocol”.

Vancouver Convention Centre

The 2010 Olympic Games Cauldron is located at Jack Poole Plaza, by the Convention Center. Sometimes it is stirred up in support of the modern Olympics. In winter, they wind the carousel up, bring in the Christmas tree and wooden hut-shops of the Christmas Fair. Look for the best views of the plaza and the greenery of the Convention Center on the roof of the Cactus Club restaurant.

jack poole plaza, vancouver

Two buildings of the Convention Center are connected by an underground passage and during large-scale conferences (like Ted) several thousand people can easily move from one hall to another.

vancouver aerial view, what to see in vancouver
sunset on Canada Place, what to see in Vancouver

3. Marine Building

Among the skyscrapers of Downtown, it’s hard not to notice the openwork brick Marine Building. Welcome to Vancouver’s most beautiful building!

The architects designed it in the Art Deco style, inspired by a giant rock protruding from the sea abyss. On the walls of the building are carved fish, crabs, seaweed, ships, King Neptune. Through antique revolving doors you enter a chic lobby with colored stained glass windows, wooden mosaics (12 different species!), and antique phone booths. By the way, one of them tells the story of the house.

The 22-storey Marine Building was Vancouver’s tallest skyscraper for nine years.

Marine Building, Vancouver, what to see in Vancouver
Marine Building, Vancouver
Marine Building, Vancouver

The Marine Building was built in 1930 in just two years. It cost almost twice as much as the original estimate. And since there was a great depression in the country at the time, the owner went bankrupt and sold the house to the Guinness family for cheap. Today it is home to offices and a coffee shop. On weekdays (closed on weekends!), anyone can enter the building, take pictures, and climb to the second-floor balcony to the carved ceiling.

Marine Building, Vancouver, what to see in Vancouver

Next to the Marine Building is my favorite restaurants in town, JOEY Bentall One. Stop in for dinner and try the Tuna + Avocado Roll, Herb Crush Salmon and mini cheeseburgers.

JOEY Bentall One
JOEY Bentall One

4. English Bay

At English Bay and Sunset Beach, the whole of Vancouver relaxes and strolls in the evenings. A wide seawall with palm trees, bike path, restaurants with views, and fiery sunsets over the bay.

During the summer a fireworks festival and a pride parade are held. In winter months they light the Lumier Festival lights and have a Polar Bear Swim on January 1. Art lovers will be delighted by the exotic sculptures installed along the waterfront during the Biennale: A-maze-ing Laughter, Engagement rings, an arc and Inukshuk – fragments of rock, stacked in the shape of a man (mini versions of him are all over the shelves of souvenir stores). In April, Sunset Beach is covered in a cloud of smoke and fun. The 4-20 marijuana festival was held here even before the official legalization in Canada.


READ MORE: Vancouver Festivals and Weather by Month


What to visit in Vancouver? English Bay, sunset, Vancouver, top sights
English Bay, Vancouver
English Bay, Laughing Statues, Vancouver
English Bay, Inukshuk, Vancouver
rings vancouver

5. Gastown

They say Vancouver was born in Gastown. It was here, in 1867. Yorkshire sailor and bartender Jack Dayton, nicknamed “Gussie,” a chatterbox, opened his own beer parlor. His idea was followed by other entrepreneurs. Soon the neighborhood became a thriving, crowded shopping center that everyone called Gastown – after Jack. In 1886 the settlement was given official city status and renamed Vancouver. Today, Gastown is a bustling tourist area with restaurants, stores, and residential apartments with brick houses preserved from the 19th century.

gastown, Vancouver, what to see in Vancouver
gastown, Vancouver, what to see in Vancouver

Gastown’s main art object is the steam clock. The clock was installed on a cobblestone sidewalk, where steam from the heating pipes escapes into the air. The clock master adapted a useless resource into a useful attraction for gawkers. The massive clock puffs, fumes, and whistles a short musical tune every 15 minutes. There are only seven such steam clocks in the world. True, some of their elements have already been replaced by an electric motor, so that they do not lag behind and show the exact time.

gastown, Vancouver, what to see in Vancouver
gastown, Vancouver, steam clock, what to see in Vancouver

Gastown is visited not only by tourists, but also by marginal people who live nearby. Do not leave your belongings unattended.

Next to Gastown are several seedy neighborhoods where homeless people and drug addicts live. You should not walk in this part of town in the evening and take pictures of the residents (or better to skip this “attraction” altogether). No-go-zone – along East Hastings Street from Columbia to Princess.

Go up to the Vancouver Lookout or make a reservation at Top Of Revolving Restaurant. The food here is not the best in the city, but the restaurant is located at 167m and spins (full turnaround in 60 minutes).

My favorite tasty spots in Gastown are Kita No Donburi (get the Aburi sushi combo), The Poke Guy (Hawaiian salmon poke), The Old Spaghetti Factory (a place for a great hearty lunch and snack with kids), Jules Bistro (French food) and Nemesis (coffee, pastries). Check out the music at Guilt & Co – they play every night!

where to eat in gastown, vancouver
where to eat in gastown, vancouver

6. Granville Island

Granville Island is a bustling creative space under the bridge, a creative and cultural hub of the city. People come here for unusual souvenirs, to wander through artists’ workshops, to eat the freshest delicacies in the market (salmon pot pie at A la Mode is a must try!), to listen to street musicians and admire yachts. Granville Island has rebuilt a two-story store with an arcade and VR for kids. There is a mini ferry service (Aquabus or False Creek Ferries) available from Downtown.). A car is also an option, but you have to pay a lot of money for parking.

Granville is a prime example of the transformation from rags to riches. For only half a century there was an industrial wasteland. What is left of the past is an active cement factory with cheerful little men on the pipes.

granville island, what to see in vancouver
granville island, what to see in vancouver
granville island

Don’t miss out:

  • Floating homes, near Ron Basford Park
  • Concerts and performances. Playbill
  • Store Broom Co.
  • Black smith Shop
  • A performance at the Studio Glass glass blowing studio
  • Musicians at Granville Island Triangle Square
  • Souvenir Shop MAKE. There you can order clothes with your own print and inscriptions
  • Kids Market and Water Park
  • Maps, notebooks and other stationery at Paper-Ya
  • Parked yachts at Fishermen’s Wharf
granville island
granville island

7. Olympic Village and Science World

The Olympic Village is a modern residential neighborhood across the bay from Downtown. It was built quite recently – for the 2010 Olympics. Sunny panels, parks, green rooftops, chic waterfront, cozy cafes, bustling breweries and cool views of Downtown. Except there’s nothing about sports anymore. Walk to the giant sparrow statues and get ice cream at Gusto A Taste Of Italy. Plan to come back here in the evening for a cool view of the city at night and a beer tasting bar at Craft Beer market.

Science World, Vancouver, Nightime view

Science World is the most photogenic museam and a favorite among kids in the city. This huge mirrored and spherical shaped building has interactive learning exhibits that you can touch, poke, and click on. Documentaries are shown under the dome (schedule – here), and there is a dinosaur skeleton at the exit. Often there are non-standard exhibitions, like Pixar (how cartoons are made) and Arctic voices – about life and nature in the Arctic. Perfect for a rainy day. Once a year on Halloween, the Science Museum is taken over by adults and a massive costume party with DJs, dancing, and drinks is held.

olympic village, what to see in Vancouver
olympic village, Vancouver, what to see in Vancouver

A 10-minute walk from the Olympic Village is where Mount Pleasant begins. Here you’ll find the best roastery coffeehouses, designer shops, craft breweries, vintage stores, and the city’s most interesting backyards. Every August, there is a large-scale street art festival in the area. Artists paint houses with giant paintings – murals. All are marked on the map in the official app and are available for you to explore.


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What to visit in Vancouver? Murals, Vancouver, art

Art Gallery – the city’s main cultural event. This place is about interesting exhibitions and passionate people. Mostly Canadian art is exhibited, but sometimes international art is displayed.

The soul of the Gallery is a collection of paintings by Emily Carr, one of Canada’s most famous artists, originally from Victoria. The Vancouver University of Art and Design is named after Emily Carr.

Vancouver Art Gallery, Emily Carr
Vancouver Art Gallery, Emily Carr

The square in front of the Gallery hosts festivals of different nations, dissenting rallies, and national holidays. During the winter, they pour an ice rink out and light the central Christmas tree.

Don’t miss the observation deck at Robson Square by the courthouse with one of the most beautiful views of the city!

Every Tuesday from 5 p.m. Gallery admission by donation. You can visit exhibitions for $5 instead of the standard cost.

Vancouver Art Gallery, what to see in Vancouver
Vancouver Art Gallery
Vancouver Art Gallery

9. Capilano Suspension Bridge

Capilano – a park for lovers of suspension bridges and those who have never been on them. The longest bridge stretches over the canyon at a height of 70 meters and serves as a passage to the second part of the park. Hold on to the handrail! Some brave tourists like to swing the bridge in different directions.

The rest of the bridges are suspended in the crowns of 250-year-old cedars and along the cliffs. In winter they are decorated with hundreds of thousands of lights, like the glowing forest from the movie Avatar. Hot coffee and chocolate are served in the tents. In the summer they hold educational programs for children about the nature of Canada.

The park has a restaurant, cafe and a cool souvenir store. There is a free shuttle from Downtown (about 15 minutes). Timetables and stops can be found here

Capilano Bridge, Vancouver, what to see in Vancouver
Мост Капилано, Ванкувер

Tickets to Capilano are not cheap. Save up to 35% on Vancouver attractions and buy admission to several of Vancouver’s attractions at once. B.C. residents, for the standard ticket price, can get an unlimited annual pass with additional bonuses. Read more here

Capilano, Canyon Lights, Vancouver
capilano canyon lights, vancouver, what to see in vancouver

The Cleveland Dam is a 5-minute drive from the park. Weddings and TV series often take place and are filmed here. From the dam on the forest trail walk to the salmon farm, see fishermen and salmon jumping (in the fall).

Capilano Dam, North Vancouver

10. Museum of Anthropology at UBC

From January 15, 2023, the Museum of Anthropology will be closed for much of 2023 for renovation!

The Museum of Anthropology – is a gigantic treasure. It houses a stunning collection of indigenous art and artifacts. From a whole hall of wooden totems, canoes, showcases of ceremonial masks, tools and wicker baskets. To jewelry, paintings, and other art by contemporary artists from different tribes.

Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver
Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver

The museum building was built by a famous Canadian architect (Arthur Erickson) in the style of a Canadian hut (of vertical and horizontal beams), made of concrete and glass. The architectural masterpiece is best seen in the courtyardwhere the huts of the Haida-Gwai tribes have been restored and totems installed.

Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver

The museum is located on the campus of the University of British Columbia, one of the most beautiful and interesting areas of Vancouver. A mini city in the city. It has its own post office, its own high-rise neighborhoods, gardens, parks, museums, cafes, and a unique student atmosphere. Vancouver’s only nudist beach. Try to get lost somewhere. If you have time, check out the UBC Botanical Garden for hanging bridges, the Nitobe Japanese Garden, and the rose garden overlooking the mountains. The food at Mercante Pizzeria is delicious.


READ MORE: University of British Columbia Botanical Gardens


University of British Columbia, roses, wedding
UBC

11. Kitsilano Beach

Kitsilano Beach – or simply Kits – is the most popular beach among the locals. In the summer there is literally nowhere to sit. People are having fun, walking, sunbathing, swimming and splashing in the giant salt water pool (you have to make reservations!). The panorama of the mountains, the bay and skyscrapers completes the happy picture. On the shore, local music groups hold concerts.

Vancouver pool, what to see in Vancouver
kitsilano

Nearby Kitsilano is the Maritime Museum, the Vancouver Museum (a collection of neon signs!), and the Planetarium. You can access it via mini seabus, go around all the cultural sites one by one, and afterwards, sunbathe on the beach.

Vancouver Museum

If you want a taste of the West Coast vibe, Kitsilano is the perfect fit. The neighborhood is populated by non-poor young people, hedonists, hippies, athletes and, especially, yoga aficionados. Here you’ll find the biggest cluster of vegetarian restaurants and smiling people, with a mat under their arms and wearing local Lululemon tights.

Favorite restaurants: Raisu (Japanese food), Au Comptoir (French brunch), 49th Parallel Café (coffee and donuts), Rocky Mountain Flatbread (pizza).

Japanese restaurants in Vancouver, Raisu
Vancouver coffee shops

12. Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden

Vancouver’s Chinatown is one of the largest in the world and the oldest in North America. The first Asian immigrants began arriving in the city during the Gold Rush of the mid-19th century, and afterward for the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Many Chinatown houses have survived from those days.

Dr. Sun Yatsen's classic Chinese garden, what to see in Vancouver

The main attraction in Chinatown is the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden. It was built with little city money and very generous donations from wealthy immigrants from Asia. Stones, wood, plants, and other materials were shipped in crates from China. Fifty-three Suzhou masters spent 13 months tweaking the beauty with traditional tools to achieve the desired harmony. The garden is small, refined and very atmospheric. A covered corridor runs along the perimeter of the garden, convenient for walking in the rain. The intricate name is in honor of the revered first president of the Republic of China – Sun Yatsen. It has been open since 1986. There are two parts of the garden: free and for admission.

Dr. Sun Yatsen's classic Chinese garden, what to see in Vancouver
Dr. Sun Yatsen's classic Chinese garden, what to see in Vancouver

Don’t miss out:

  • The narrowest commercial building in the world is the Sam Kee Building. Its width is only 1.5 meters at the base and 1.8 meters at the bay window.
  • Millennium Gates – were built in 2002 as a symbol of the past and the future, as well as to celebrate the role of the Chinese people in Vancouver’s history
  • Shanghai Alley – the first Chinese settlement was here in the 19th century. At the end of the alley is an exact replica of the Western Han Dynasty bell, a gift from the city of Guangzhou
  • Monument to Canadians from China in Chinatown Memorial Square
  • Rogers Arena is the stadium of the Vancouver Canucks hockey team. There’s also their signature gift store

13. Library (Vancouver Public Library)

The Vancouver Library, in the shape of a giant seashell, is located in the heart of the city. Several floors of books, archives, photos, magazines. A fantastic, coworking space with internet, tables and lamps – all you need is your computer. They even let locals rent musical instruments!

Vancouver Public Library, what to see in Vancouver
Vancouver Public Library, what to see in Vancouver
Vancouver Public Library

Don’t leave things unattended and use a VPN.

The library was conceived as a creative multifunctional space. In addition to shelves of books, there are cafes, stores, and a stunning rooftop with a small observation garden overlooking the city.

Vancouver Public Library
Vancouver Public Library

The city theater and the BC Place soccer stadium with a sports museum is 5 minutes from the Library.

A couple of blocks from the Library, try Vancouver’s signature Japadog (Japadog, the tent has the same name), a mix of American hot dog and Japanese street food.

Walk through the Yaletown neighborhood to Mainland Street, a street with restaurants and pubs. Have a sweet snack of raspberry croissant at Angus T or on-fire ice cream at Mister (cooled with nitrogen and then set on fire)


READ MORE: Vancouver’s best bakeries


Angus T, Vancouver Bakeries

14. Steveston Village

Steveston is a colorful fishing village on the banks of the Fraser River. Films and TV series are often shot here. Small houses, cozy restaurants, coffee houses, a wooden boardwalk and fishing boats that sell fresh fish and sea urchins in the morning. In the alleys you will find a European store with halva, a tiny Japanese garden, a Romanian bakery with a traditional oven and a radiant Romanian, Greek tavern.


READ MORE: Steveston: A Journey Through Time


Steveston Village, BC
Steveston Village, BC, what to see in Vancouver
Steveston Village, BC

There used to be 15 canneries in Steveston from which salmon and herring were shipped all over the world. Today there is only one left – the Gulf of Georgia Museum. Nearby are the old warehouses, homes of early immigrants and fishermen – Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site. Whale watching tourist boats depart from the wharf. Take a walk to Garry Point Park. In good weather, you can see the American Mount Baker and some of the city’s most beautiful sunsets. From late fall, the park is home to a flock of white geese that migrate from Wrangel Island, Arctic Ocean.


READ MORE: Britannia Shipyards Museum Village


geese
Garry Point Park, Steveston

Steveston is home to one of Vancouver’s most popular (and expensive) pizzerias, Steveston Pizza. Their signature pizzas are with shrimp, lobster, and black caviar. Tasty food without being pretentious: ramen at G-Men, fish-and-chips (fish in batter) at Pajo’s.

Parking is hard to find in the center on weekends, you can leave your car along Easthope Ave for free and with no time limit.

15. Grouse Mountain

Grouse is a great place for fun, 30 minutes from Vancouver. In summer: ziplines, hikes, paragliding, rope park and other outdoor adventures. In winter: skiing, snowshoeing, and stunning views of the city.

Grouse Mountain, what to see in Vancouver.

Here you can also see real grizzlies at arm’s length! Two bears – Grinder and Coola are permanent residents of the Reserve. In the winter they sleep in the den (watch on webcam), and in the summer you can even have breakfast with them (first you eat at the restaurant, then you go watch the grizzlies eat breakfast).

Grouse Mountain, what to see in Vancouver.

If you go a little higher – Eye of the Wind – a huge wind turbine is open to the most daring. Its glass module rises more than 1,200 meters above Vancouver, 3 meters from the giant blades.

Grouse Mountain, what to see in Vancouver.
Grouse Mountain, breakfast with the bear

If you don’t want to spend money on a gondola, the Grouse Grind staircase of 2,830 steps leads to the top. Local athletes and hikers use it instead of the gym. An average level of physical fitness is required. Link to alltrails.

A field of poppies

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