Vancouver is located in British Columbia and is surrounded by beautiful mountains as well as the Pacific Ocean ocean.
Often the starting point of a Canada (road) trip many people spend a few days in Vancouver. Any Vancouver itinerary should at least include a visit to Gastown, Granville Island, and Stanley Park.
That being said, there are so many things to do in Vancouver, you'll be spoiled for choice!
This Vancouver 2-day itinerary will help you make the most of your Vancouver city trip, as well as answer all your Vancouver travel planning questions.
2 day Vancouver itinerary
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Vancouver 2 day itinerary: map and highlights
So what to see in Vancouver during your trip? I've marked all the highlights we visited during our time in Vancouver on the map below.
I also added my favorite places to eat and where to stay.
The best things to see and do in Vancouver in 2 days
Vancouver itinerary day 1
- Coffee at Tim Hortons
- Breakfast at Purebread
- Explore Gastown (incl. the Vancouver steam clock)
- Admire the view from Canada Place
- Take the Aquabus
- Have lunch at Granville Island public market
- Visit the Vancouver Art Gallery
- Enjoy dinner at Ramen Gojiro
Vancouver itinerary day 2
- Walk around Stanley Park (Totem poles, Lions Gate Bridge, Siwash rock, Lost Lagoon)
- Check out the A-maze-ing Laughter statues and the Inukshuk
- Grab lunch at Pholicious
- Explore Chinatown and the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Park
- Have dinner at St Regis Bar and Grill
- Watch the sunset at Kitsilano Beach Park
Planning a trip to Vancouver
Is Vancouver worth visiting?
Vancouver was our first stop in Canada as well and I'll be honest: it wasn't love at first sight.
When we arrived it was cold and the rain was pouring down from a dark-grey sky. We couldn't even see the mountains north of the city…
Sloshing through the streets in our rain-soaked clothes wasn't that much fun, so instead, we holed up in our cozy room for a Netflix marathon.
Luckily for us, the weather improved the next day and Vancouver had a chance to redeem itself. And redeem itself it did!
Vancouver is a great place for a city trip, it has a very walkable city center with interesting sites to visit.
There are lots of restaurants to choose from, whichever cuisine you feel like eating, you can find it in Vancouver.
In Gastown, there are many cute boutique stores and in Stanley Park, you can enjoy spectacular views over the bay. Read about all this and more Vancouver activities in the itinerary below.
How many days is enough for Vancouver?
There is plenty to see and do in this vibrant city so you can easily spend a couple of days here. That being said, most highlights in Vancouver can be visited in 2 days.
All the activities mentioned in this itinerary for Vancouver are within the city and can either be reached on foot or by public transport.
If you've got more time available in Vancouver, I've listed several (outdoor) activities to add to your itinerary in the last section of this post.
What is the best time to visit Vancouver?
Generally, the best time to visit Vancouver is between April and October. Average temperatures are between 10 and 20 degrees Celsius during these months and there are not so many rainy days.
We visited Vancouver both in June as well as October and during both visits, we had sunny days (20+ degrees Celsius) as well as a bit of rain.
As long as you bring a good raincoat you'll be fine!
Is Vancouver an expensive city?
That depends. While visiting Vancouver isn't cheap, there are lots of things you can do to stay within budget.
Most activities mentioned in this Vancouver trip itinerary are free. Grab a takeaway coffee and ‘portable' breakfast or lunch instead of sitting down at a cute (but more expensive) restaurant.
Travel by public transportation and walk instead of taking an Uber.
Be creative when it comes to accommodation, stay a bit further from the downtown area to cut costs. Further down in this post you can find more tips for budget accommodation in Vancouver.
How to get around Vancouver?
A great way to get around downtown Vancouver is the Aquabus, which serves several routes in the city center. You can find more information (map with docks, fares, etc.) on the Aquabus website.
Aside from the Aquabus, you can also get around Vancouver by Skytrain. There are 3 lines, the most important one is the Canada line which connects the city center and Vancouver International Airport (YVR).
You can buy a DayPass or a single ticket for the Skytrain. A single ticket is valid for 90 minutes, you can transfer as many times as you want within that time.
Prices can be found here. You can also use these cards on the bus, though for this Vancouver travel itinerary you don't need to take a bus.
To see the city’s most popular attractions in just a short amount of time, get a pass for the Vancouver hop-on hop-off bus.
It's a great and easy way to do some Vancouver city sightseeing while also learning more about Vancouver’s history from the onboard commentary. Check availability here.
Do you need a car in Vancouver?
No, you don't need a car to reach the most popular sights in Vancouver. You can either walk or use the public transit system as explained above.
Traffic in downtown Vancouver is always busy and there are so many traffic lights, driving here is no fun.
Believe me, we've driven around Vancouver a lot when we were getting our van ready for our cross-Canada road trip and I was often frustrated by the traffic jams.
That being said, if you plan to do a lot of Vancouver day trips (read more at the end of this post), a rental car could be convenient.
Especially for families, renting a car can be easier (and cheaper) than booking tour tickets for the whole family.
Where to stay in Vancouver
When we arrived in Canada we spent several days in the city to find the perfect van for our road trip. At the end of our trip, we returned to Vancouver to sell our car and spent another week in Vancouver.
Altogether, we spent quite a bit of time in the city and tried out several accommodation options. That's why I can say from personal experience: visiting Vancouver can be done on any budget!
More information about the accommodation listed in the table below can be found further down in this post.
|St. Regis Hotel (pictured above)
|Rosedale on Robson Suite Hotel
|Best Western Plus Sands
|Camping in Vancouver – iOverlander
Note: Prices for these Vancouver accommodation options depend on the time of year and how far in advance you book. Therefore, the prices mentioned above are a rough indication of the price per night to help you compare the different options. Check ‘click here’ to see the latest prices and book ahead to get the best deal.
The perfect Vancouver itinerary: highlights day 1
Get coffee at Tim Hortons
Their coffee is delicious and the perfect way to begin your first day of sightseeing around Vancouver.
Get breakfast at Purebread
Now that you've finished your coffee you may want some breakfast too. I cannot recommend Purebread enough, it's a cute little bakery on West Hastings Street and everything they sell is delicious.
It doesn't really matter what time of the day you go here, just go, you won't regret it!
Stroll through the streets of Gastown
Great, now that you've got a full tummy and the necessary caffeine shot it's time to get going! One of the oldest neighborhoods in Vancouver is Gastown.
In Gastown, you'll find beautiful old houses, cute clothing boutiques shops, art galleries, souvenir shops and plenty of places to grab a bite if you are still hungry.
Water Street is Gastown's most famous street, but the neighborhood covers the entire area between Richards East and Main Street.
Despite this highly visible and cool clock it's easy to lose track of time in this charming neighborhood! Read more about Gastown here.
To discover Vancouver's city secrets, check out this 2-hour tour with a local.
Admire the view from Canada Place
Yup, Vancouver has it all:
- Beautiful mountains: it's only a 90-minute scenic drive on the spectacular Sea to Sky highway to the snow-covered slopes of Whistler)
- An equally beautiful ocean: there are several beaches in the city and lots of excellent boat trips on offer.
From Canada Place, you can see both the mountains and the sea and ask yourself why you are not living here.
Looking for a fun Vancouver day trip? Book this excellent Vancouver North Shore tour including the famous Capilano Suspension Bridge and beautiful Grouse Mountain.
Hop on the Aqua Bus to Granville Island
The Aquabus fee from Hornby Street to Granville Island costs 3,50 CAD per person. It's a fun way to see Vancouver from a different perspective, plus, it's the quickest and easiest way to cross False Creek.
Instead of taking the Aquabus, you can also walk across the Granville bridge for a beautiful view of the city.
If you'd like to spend more time to explore the scenic waterways of Vancouver, hop aboard a zodiac boat on a 1.5-hour sightseeing cruise.
Have lunch at Granville Island Public Market
This 2 hour market tour with an off-duty chef gives you unique behind the scenes insights at Granville Island Public Market.
There are so many delicious things to eat at the famous Granville Island Public Market, it's impossible to choose. Fresh fruits, a variety of locally cured meats and cheeses, artisan breads, bubble tea, a wide assortment of sweets and more, you can always find something to your liking on Granville Market.
Because Granville Island Public Market is held indoor it's also a great activity for a rainy Vancouver day!
On the Granville Island website, you can find itineraries with suggested activities. You can choose from several itineraries, depending on how much time you plan to spend on the island.
Visit the Vancouver Art Gallery
If you are into art you must visit the Vancouver Art Gallery! The gallery was founded in 1931 and is one of North America’s leading visual arts institutions.
The ticket price is $23 (Canadian Dollars obviously) per person.
Have dinner at Ramen Gojiro
I'm seriously addicted to Japanese food and was very happy to find this little restaurant. Each time we walked past this popular place to eat in Vancouver, there were always long lines outside.
It's worth the wait though, my huge steaming bowl of ramen was absolutely delicious…
The best Vancouver itinerary: highlights day 2
Explore Stanley Park and the Sea Wall
Stanley Park is a National Historic Site and beloved by all Vancouverites. If you have enough time (and energy), I highly recommend doing the 9-kilometer walk around the Stanley Park Seawall.
Along the way, there are many interesting stops, such as the Lion's Gate Bridge to North Vancouver, the famous totem poles and Siwash Rock (pictured below).
Fun fact: Tripadvisor named Stanley Park ‘the top park in the entire world'.
Bottom line: if you are in Vancouver, you must visit Stanley Park! On this website, you can find a map of the Seawalk and popular spots to see along the way.
Alternatively, join this Stanley Park guided bike tour to learn more about the city’s green initiatives, historical past and olympic heritage.
Check out the A-maze-ing Laughter statues and Inukshuk
The A-maze-ing Laughter statue put a smile on anyone's face, which happens to be the exact intention of the artist Yue Minjun.
He wanted to touch the heart of each visitor and it's a-maze-ing to see how he more than succeeded in doing so. Just spend 15 minutes watching people visiting the statues, you'll see what I mean.
Another beautiful sculpture is the Inukshuk on English Bay, which became famous as the symbol of the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010.
More Inukshuk are found in the (far) north of Canada, they are part of the culture of the Inuit and other Arctic peoples.
Grab a quick lunch at Pholicious
Regardless, the Bánh mì sandwich from Pholicious was delicious! And very cheap too (only 4,50 CAD).
Visit Chinatown and the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Park
Vancouver's Chinatown is the third-biggest Chinatown in North America, only New York, and San Francisco are bigger!
There are lots of Chinese shops and places to grab a quick snack (like Chinese pastries).
Within Chinatown, you'll also find the famous Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Park, a classic Chinese Garden with a lovely pond and a pretty pagoda. Read more about the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden here.
Have dinner and a drink at St. Regis Bar & Grill
Adjacent to St. Regis Hotel is the St. Regis Bar and Grill, the perfect place to relax with a glass of wine or beer after walking around all day!
I loved the atmosphere, many people were very into the Canadian sports shown on the TV screens and it was fun to watch them cheer for (or shout at) their favorite team.
Besides the friendly vibe, the food is great too! We had the Cobb Salad and the Mushroom Swiss burger, the portions are very generous.
I was too full for dessert, though I would have loved to try the cheesecake or warm cookie skillet with an overdose of chocolate. Check out their menu here.
Watch the sunset from Kitsilano Beach Park
Did you know Vancouver has several beaches? In downtown Vancouver, you can visit Sunset Beach or English Bay Beach.
Just across the Burrard bridge, you will find Kitsilano Beach Park, the perfect place to watch the sunset!
Note: if you aren't visiting during the summer months, you probably would want to do this before dinner. Otherwise you'll miss the sunset;-).
The best places to stay in Vancouver
Luxury hotel: the St. Regis Hotel
Disclaimer: I was a guest of the St. Regis hotel in Vancouver. Nevertheless, all pictures and opinions are my own.
If you are looking to treat yourself to a nice hotel in Vancouver city center, the St. Regis hotel is your best choice!
We stayed here for 2 nights and it was the perfect way to end our 5 month trip around Canada and the U.S.A.
St. Regis is located in downtown Vancouver, so most of the sights are only a short walk from the hotel.
The Skytrain station (Vancouver City Centre, see more info about transport below) is only a 400 meter walk and it takes about 30 minutes to get to the airport (or from the airport to the hotel).
Our room at the St. Regis was beautiful, after living in a van for 5 months my husband and I almost got lost in our big suite! The bathroom alone was bigger than our entire little red house on wheels.
The bed was super comfy and WiFi very fast (each room has its own router). Breakfast was delicious (especially the omelet) and the staff is very helpful and friendly.
Room rates include breakfast and unlimited international calls (which was great since I spent hours on the phone with a terrible airline customer service support trying to sort out our flights to Bali).
Where to stay in Vancouver on a budget
If you are traveling Canada on a budget but don't have a car, there are several options when it comes to finding budget accommodation in Vancouver:
- Airbnb: we stayed in a nice Airbnb in Richmond (when we hadn't bought our van yet) and paid only 40 CAD per night. Unfortunately, this room is no longer listed because the host moved to a different place.
- Hostel: book a hostel in Vancouver
- Hotel: while it can be tricky to find a cheap hotel in Vancouver (that isn't a dump), the Best Western Plus Sands usually has rooms available for €100 a night (which is definitely considered cheap for Vancouver).
Camping in your car or campervan
Not listed on the app is the IKEA parking lot in Richmond, but we did spent a night there.
I'm not sure if it's allowed but there weren't any ‘no overnight parking' signs so we decided to risk it (nobody bothered us or asked us to leave).
Also check out this post: Camping on Vancouver Island.
3-day Vancouver itinerary (or more)
Got more time to spend in Vancouver? Lucky you! There are many amazing Vancouver day trips that can easily be reached from the city.
Hike the Grouse Grind Trail or take the Skyride to the top of Grouse Mountain. You'll be rewarded with some of the best views of Vancouver, the surrounding area, and the Pacific Ocean.
Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
Step into the rainforest and marvel at the towering evergreens, fragrant cedars, boardwalks, canyons, and ponds.
Cross the 137-meter-long suspension bridge and look down on the rushing water in the Capilano River 70 meters below. Click here to purchase your online ticket.
Join a whale-watching tour
There are few cities where it's so easy to such spectacular scenery only a stone's throw from downtown. Join a whale-watching tour and search for wildlife including orcas, seals, porpoises, and eagles.
The waters around Vancouver are renowned for attracting whales, offering an up to 90% success rate with sightings.
Other Vancouver activities
Still looking for more Vancouver things to do? Visit the Vancouver Aquarium, take a leisurely stroll in Queen Elizabeth Park, go shopping on Robson Street (one of Vancouver's oldest commercial streets) or explore the Olympic Village.
Did you run out of time? No worries, that'll give you a good reason to return to Vancouver for another action-packed trip!
Plan your Canada trip like a pro with these tools:
✈️ Find the best flight deals with Kiwi.com.
? Rent a campervan for your Canada road trip (or a car via Rentalcars.com).
? Arrange your Canada working holiday with Global Work & Travel.
? Plan your journey with the Canada Lonely Planet.
?️ Find the best hotel deals on Booking.com.
? Join the best tours in Canada via Get Your Guide or Viator.
?️ Travel safely and get reliable travel insurance from Safety Wing.
Vancouver trip itinerary: in conclusion
That’s everything about our trip to Vancouver! If you have any questions, leave a comment below or send me an email.
Do you want to read more about traveling in Canada? Read these posts as well:
- 3 day Victoria itinerary
- 25 charming small towns in Canada
- Things to do in Calgary
- Things to do in Nelson BC
- Things to do in Nanaimo