Visiting Vancouver is an inevitable part of any stay in Western Canada. Here is a new article on Western Canada that we have been traveling now for almost 2 months during our crossing of Canada by van. We will tell you about the activities to do in Vancouver but also around the city..
We spent 4 days traveling around the city to visit its essentials but also these places that are a little less touristy. Visiting Vancouver is a must for any trip to Western Canada. It is the third largest city in the west after Calgary and Edmonton.
Take a trip to Stanley Park
This sumptuous park is the green lung of Vancouver. In the immediate vicinity of the city center and surrounded by the sea, you will have the impression of finding yourself in the heart of nature. You can admire many animals, such as squirrels, ducks, etc. The flora is also admirable: the tallest of the 500,000 trees present in the park, in particular red cedars, reach up to 76 meters! Many flower gardens are also to be discovered there.
Stanley Park has a large track that offers you to go around it, as well as many paths allowing pedestrians and cyclists to stroll. The routes are punctuated with activities for children and restaurants. If you feel like it, you can go around the park in a horse-drawn carriage, by bus or by bike (allow about 1h30 to go around the park with the latter) so as not to miss anything of this immense and extraordinary park.
North of Stanley Park, on the heights of a hill, Prospect Point offers you one of the best viewpoints over Vancouver. You’ll see the Lions Gate Bridge as well as Burrard Inlet, an inlet jutting inland north of the city. An on-site restaurant will allow you to take a break while enjoying this remarkable view.
The Vancouver Aquarium
Located in the heart of Stanley Park, the Vancouver Aquarium is among the largest in Canada. It includes more than 8,000 animals and fish, divided into four “worlds”: the underwater world of the Pacific, the Arctic Ocean, British Columbia and the Tropics. Two large outdoor pools equipped with underwater galleries also allow the public to discover belugas and dolphins.
The unmissable Capilano Bridge
Located 8 kilometers north of downtown Vancouver, the Capilano Bridge is one of the must-see things to do in Vancouver.
This rope bridge is 140m long and is located 70m above the bed of the Capilano River.
Although it has been renovated and improved many times, it was originally built in 1889.
Many facilities have been added to the original bridge and the house that stood there. In addition to the bridge, you can enjoy a course of several hundred meters in the forest and even try your hand at tree climbing. In addition, a “Cliffwalk” has recently been added to add activity to the premises.
Nearly 800,000 tourists and locals visit the Capilano Bridge each year.
The entrance will cost you a little more than 50€. Once you have crossed the bridge, you can collect your “certificate” attesting that you have crossed the bridge.
Note however that even if the bridge is impressive, it is far from being the longest, nor the highest in Canada, the Golden bridges, for example, are longer and higher (and cheaper).
A word of advice, try to avoid weekends and holiday periods to get there. Also favor the early morning to visit this very touristic place.
Queen Elizabeth Park
Queen Elizabeth Park is located high above the city, 167 meters above sea level, and offers breathtaking views of Vancouver. During your visit to this park, you can discover remarkable flower gardens, fountains and sculptures, but also enjoy panoramic views of the city.
You can also complete your visit with that of the Bloedel Conservatory, a large dome-shaped greenhouse offering you the opportunity to discover beautiful varieties of exotic plants and birds in the wild.
Enjoying Vancouver’s Beaches
On the Pacific coast, Vancouver has many beaches for a perfect moment of rest and relaxation as a couple, with family or friends. Here are the best known:
Kitsilano Beach: it is the most popular, it attracts many visitors thanks to its leisure facilities as well as its green spaces. During the summer, the beach and the park are taken by storm, especially on weekends. A “relaxed” atmosphere reigns there. The sunsets from this beach are sublime.
Second Beach: south of Stanley Park, this beach is less crowded and reserved for lovers of peace and quiet.
Ambleside Beach: this is undoubtedly the one with the most beautiful scenery, and which offers a superb promenade on the seafront while admiring the view.
The Vancouver Lookout
Located at the top of the Harbor Centre, a 28-storey building overlooking the city, the Vancouver Lookout is a panoramic terrace accessible via a glass elevator. From there, at 168 meters in height, you can enjoy a 360° view of downtown, the Northshore Mountains, Stanley Park and the waterfront.
A revolving restaurant, Top of Vancouver, is also located at the top of the Harbor Center, offering you a unique dining experience while enjoying breathtaking views.
Located on the waterfront, Canada Place is a construction whose roofs, in the shape of sails, are very reminiscent of those of the Sydney Opera House. The building houses an international convention and business center, as well as a flight simulator, the FlyOver Canada, which projects aerial films on a dome-shaped screen.
In the evening, the Sails of Light entertainment offers a superb sound and light show that illuminates the sails of the building.
Granville Island, a must-see place in Vancouver
Formerly an industrial area, this district renovated in the 1970s is located on an island near the city center. It is now one of Vancouver’s liveliest cultural districts and teems with art galleries, farmers’ markets and theatres.
The Granville Island Public Market, open every day, is a huge covered market bringing together many local producers. Do not hesitate to stroll through the stalls during your visit to this district, it is worth it!
In the heart of Granville Island, also take a detour to Granville Island Brewing. This brewery invites you to discover the world of beer making. You can taste award-winning craft beers there, and why not leave with souvenir bottles? In the same area, the Liberty Distillery will allow you to learn more about the production of vodka, gin or whisky.
Visit Vancouver: Historic Gastown
Gastown is Vancouver’s oldest neighborhood. It is located near the city center and has remarkable buildings dating from the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, which were barely saved at the end of the 1960s. Classified as a historic district in 2009, it is now one of the main places to discover in Vancouver, in which you can stroll in the middle of shops, restaurants or souvenir shops.
During your stroll through the heart of this district, linger at the intersection of Water Street and Cambie Street, to observe the magnificent steam clock installed there in 1977. Its complex and fascinating mechanism is visible through its structure of bronze and glass. Every quarter of an hour, steam escapes from the clock and produces whistles reproducing the sound of the bells of Big Ben. A curiosity that is undoubtedly unique in the world!
After dark, Granville Street becomes Vancouver’s liveliest neighborhood. If you want to soak up the nightlife, this is undoubtedly the place to go. Many restaurants, bars, clubs and theaters open their doors to you to spend an unforgettable evening in Vancouver.
Science World Vancouver
Science World Vancouver is a science museum located in Creekside Park, south of Chinatown.
Initially positioned in downtown Vancouver when it was created in 1982, the Arts, Sciences & Technology Centre, its original name, was moved to the dome we know today in 1986.
The dome was originally built for the 1986 World’s Fair held in Vancouver.
The museum is particularly interesting to visit and focuses on science in general, the human body, through the history of our planet or the world of dinosaurs as in 2022 during a temporary exhibition.
The particularity of this science museum is that almost all of the things presented there can be manipulated. The museum aims to be particularly interactive. It welcomes more than 650,000 tourists or locals every year, making it one of the most popular museums to visit in Vancouver.
The Vancouver Art Gallery
At the heart of a former courthouse built in the early 1930s, the Vancouver Art Gallery presents an immense collection of photographs, sculptures and videos. The approximately 10,000 works are organized into different exhibitions, which change several times a year.
Among the exhibitions presented by the gallery, we can mention a permanent exhibition dedicated to Emily Carr (a Canadian painter and writer who lived between the 19th and 20th centuries), or another evoking the evolution of the city of Vancouver.
The Museum of Anthropology (MOA)
The Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver offers an exhibition of objects made by Native Americans who lived in British Columbia before the establishment of settlers in the 19th century: totems, canoes, works of art, etc. The architecture of the museum is also part of the things to discover, in particular the Great Hall, a huge space embellished with a 15-meter high glass wall.
Mount Grouse, a breath of fresh air in Vancouver
It is one of the peaks of the Northshore Mountains which culminates at 1,231 meters above sea level. When you visit Vancouver, be sure to climb up to admire breathtaking views of the other peaks as well as Capilano Lake. To facilitate your ascent, the Skyride aerial tramway is at your disposal.
If you stay in Vancouver in winter, the Grouse Mountain Resort ski resort, on this same mountain, allows you to practice many winter sports near the city: skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, etc.
Seaplane flight over Vancouver
One of the top activities to do in Vancouver is a seaplane flight over the city, the region or even a flight to Vancouver Island.
As you know Vancouver is located on the west coast of Canada and is bordered by the Strait of Georgia and therefore the Pacific Ocean.
The west coast of Canada, especially around Vancouver, is particularly indented and takes the form of a fjord with large advances of water inland.
Whether you opt for a flight over the city or further afield, towards Victoria, on Vancouver Island or even towards the mountains of Whistler, an overview is always stunning and will allow you to enjoy spectacular views.
Marine wildlife observation cruise
The surroundings of Vancouver and Vancouver Island are also renowned for their large presence of numerous marine mammals such as whales and killer whales.
You can opt for an observation cruise or a kayaking trip departing from Vancouver.
Visit Victoria by day from Vancouver
In a future article, I will tell you about our stay on Vancouver Island, which took us to the city of Victoria, capital of the province of British Columbia.
It is undoubtedly the most beautiful city on the island. It really contrasts with the big cities of the country because of the architecture of its buildings.
A particularly pleasant city center that revolves around Victoria Harbour. The center is full of life, especially in summer, and there are many activities to do in the city.
You can consider taking a day trip to Victoria via a guided tour or self-sufficient to Vancouver Island via BC Ferries.