Best Things To Do in Vancouver

Vancouver is one of the main cities in Canada and not only stands out for its cultural and gastronomic offer, but also for its natural wonders. Here are the best activities you can do to discover this popular destination.

Matías Rodríguez

Matías Rodríguez

11 min read

Best Things To Do in Vancouver

Grouse Mountain - The Peak of Vancouver |©Laura N

If you plan to visit Canada and want to know Vancouver, you will find a destination that offers the experiences of the big cities: quality museums, skyscrapers and viewpoints, different cultural activities and an interesting variety of natural wonders. Located in the southwest corner of the country, on the border with the United States, it is considered one of the cities with the best quality of life in the world.

Some of the best things to do in Vancouver include visiting Grouse Mountain, seeing the picturesque Capilano Suspension Bridge, taking in the panoramic views of the city from the Vancouver Lookout building platform, touring Gastown and enjoying a food tour, visiting the local aquarium, touring the Granville Island Market and visiting the Museum of Anthropology.

1. Visit Grouse Mountain

Grouse Mountain|©Ross Jukes
Grouse Mountain|©Ross Jukes

Grouse Mountain, located just outside of Vancouver, is one of the city's most popular natural attractions and offers some of the most interesting activities for those seeking adventure during their trip. Here you can explore steep slopes that not only provide a physical challenge on the trails, but also some of the best panoramic views in the region.

From the top of the mountain, which reaches 1,200 meters above sea level, you will be able to see the city spread out along the coast and, during the warmer seasons, you will also find all the mountain trails available. If you plan to visit Vancouver in autumn, you will also discover the surrounding lush forests bathed in the colors of the season.

During the winter, the alpine meadows are transformed into a great setting for sports such as skiing and snowboarding. In addition, you can also reach the top on the Skyride cable car, a ride that will provide you with panoramic views and a pleasant ride.

Note that if you're the type who enjoys nature tours, some tour providers offer the Grouse Mountain tour along with a full-day tour of Whistler, a famous ski town located north of Vancouver.

Buy tickets to visit Grouse Mountain

2. Visit the Capilano Suspension Bridge

Capilano Vancouver|©yyang44_2004
Capilano Vancouver|©yyang44_2004

If you want to know one of the main architectural wonders of Vancouver you can not miss the Capilano Suspension Bridge. This structure, which spans 140 meters over the Capilano River, defies gravity with its 70-meter-high suspension engineering. Built over the British Columbia rainforest, this bridge is also famous for providing a dizzying and interrelated perspective of the surrounding nature.

The bridge itself is a masterpiece and crossing it offers an experience that tests the courage of visitors, but the rewards are priceless: the panoramic views of the giant trees, the soothing sound of the river and the feeling of being immersed in a unique natural environment make it well worth it.

This popular city site is also an easily accessible destination, as you can get there by public transportation or on Vancouver' s hop-on-hop-off tour buses that include a stop in the areas near Capilano.

If you're looking for an adventure beyond the bridge, Capilano Suspension Bridge Park offers a network of elevated walkways through the trees, allowing you to explore the majesty of the forest from breathtaking heights. In addition, the park features educational attractions that highlight the importance of preserving these ecosystems.

Join a Capilano Suspension Bridge Tour

3. Take in sweeping views of the city from Vancouver Lookout.

Taken from lookout above Vancouver|©Rob Miller
Taken from lookout above Vancouver|©Rob Miller

One of the distinguishing features of the city's skyline are the skyscrapers, and Vancouver Lookout is the perfect spot to take in the sweeping views that offer a complete panorama of the city and its surroundings. From the observation deck you can take in a 360° panorama that includes the skyline of the city, the North Shore Mountains and the Fraser River, omnipresent in British Columbia.

On the west wing you can also see the vastness of the Pacific Ocean contrasting with the vibrant city life, which you can clearly distinguish, especially if you plan to visit Vancouver in the summer when the sky is clear.

The characteristic lights of the financial district and skyscrapers reflect the modernity of the city, while the harbor and its ships bring a traditional tinge to the scene. From Vancouver Lookout you can also distinguish Chinatown, which is the largest Chinatown in Canada, due to the populous Asian community that has inhabited the city since the early twentieth century.

This observatory also becomes a platform in constant change with the cycle of the day, since from there you can also enjoy the sunset that dyes the horizon with warm colors. Visiting the Vancouver Lookout is an opportunity to discover the city in all its splendor from a different perspective, 130 meters above sea level.

4. Tour Gastown on a food tour

Gastown - Vancouver|©Caio Prezia
Gastown - Vancouver|©Caio Prezia

Gastown is the oldest neighborhood in the city, known for its cobblestones, unique architecture and atmosphere that fuses the modern with the classic. This must-see place is usually included in the best tours of Vancouver, but it is also an important gastronomic center, so one of the alternatives to get to know it is through a gastronomic excursion.

The importance of Gastown in Vancouver goes back to its roots as the industrial heart of the city. The district has now become a gastronomic epicenter, housing a variety of restaurants offering everything from local delicacies to international culinary experiences.

During these experiences you can savor dishes that capture the diversity of Vancouver's food scene, from fresh Pacific seafood to dishes inspired by the city's cultural fusion. This is also a great option for dining, making it one of the best things to do at night in the city.

During the walk through its cobblestone streets you can take pictures with the popular red brick buildings and the famous statue of the Steam Clock, an icon that pays tribute to the industrial era of the city. This district can be reached by the city's public transportation or Vancouver's hop-on-hop-off buses.

Join a gastronomic tour of Gastown

5. Visit the Vancouver Aquarium

Vancouver Aquarium|©Andrés Goñi
Vancouver Aquarium|©Andrés Goñi

If you are a fan of natural ecosystems or plan to visit the city with children, then you can't miss a visit to the Vancouver Aquarium, which will allow you to immerse yourself in an underwater world that will surprise visitors of all ages.

This aquarium, located in Stanley Park, is an aquatic oasis that houses a wide variety of marine species from the North Pacific. From killer whales to sea lions, the aquarium offers up-close encounters with animals native to the region. It is also easily accessible by public transportation or the city's hop-on-hop-off buses, which include the park among its 11 fixed stops.

This aquarium is ideal to visit with children or family because it offers an experience that goes beyond observation, as visitors will have the opportunity to participate in thematic programs, which include interacting with rays and sea urchins in the touch pools. In addition, the trained seal show is not only entertaining, but also informative about the intelligence and behavior of these animals.

The Vancouver Aquarium is also an advocate for marine life research and preservation. Through rescue and rehabilitation programs, it actively contributes to the conservation of endangered species, especially in the cases of animals native to the region.

Buy tickets for the tourist bus

6. Discover Vancouver from above on a seaplane tour

Seaplane|©Sir_Francis_Barney
Seaplane|©Sir_Francis_Barney

Exploring Vancouver from above aboard a seaplane is a unique experience that reveals the city from a different perspective. These experiences, which are very popular in the city, allow you to discover the landscape that combines the surrounding mountains with urban technological development.

During the flight, which usually lasts approximately 30 minutes, the natural wonders of the region will take center stage. From the heights you will be able to appreciate the popular Stanley Park, an exuberant green lung that extends towards the ocean. You will also see the islands that make up British Columbia and the contrast of modern architecture with the suspension bridges that cross the Fraser and Capilano Rivers.

The seaplane tour is not only a scenic experience, but also an opportunity to understand the complex geography and topography of Vancouver. The pilot of the aircraft will also be the local expert guide who will tell you about the history of this destination and its importance as a connecting point between the United States and Canada.

If you plan to visit Vancouver during the Christmas season, you will also be able to discover from above the eve decorations that distinguish the city.

Book a seaplane ride

7. Visit the Vancouver Police Museum and Archives

microscope on the table|©Kristie Wells
microscope on the table|©Kristie Wells

If you want to live a different experience in one of the best displays in Vancouver, you can visit the Police Museum and Archives, an exhibition that will take you through the history of crime in the city, through the galleries of real evidence objects and the study of scientific and forensic investigation techniques.

In this museum you will also find an exhibition of firearms and other cars and motorcycles used by the local police throughout its history. In the basement of the exhibition you can also find a recreation of the forensic morgue and the real calabazos that were used in the early twentieth century, as the museum is located in a building that belonged to a Criminal Court of Instruction of the city.

The Vancouver Police Archives and Museum is a fun way to learn about more than 20,000 items related to local criminal history, ranging from photographs and publications to counterfeit coins and homemade weaponry.

8. Tour the Granville Island Market

granville island market|©heydrienne
granville island market|©heydrienne

Granville Island, located downtown, has become one of Vancouver's cultural and gastronomic epicenters. There, you can also visit the local market, which is located in the cruise port area and with its colorful stalls and tempting aromas, offers a unique culinary experience and reflects the spirit of British Columbia.

Granville Island's significance lies in its transformation from an industrial area to a vibrant hipster district. Old warehouses and factories have been repurposed and revitalized, now housing art galleries, craft stores and creative retail venues. The market, in particular, is a reflection of the region's gastronomic diversity, which is why it is often included in the best city tours of Vancouver.

Touring the Granville Island Market is not only an opportunity to have lunch or take a break between excursions, but also to immerse yourself in Vancouver's artistic and cultural scene. Here you can also find craft stalls, enjoy live performances and admire local art, which fuses the area's rich industrial heritage with contemporary expressions.

Buy a tour of the Granville Island Flea Market

9. See the Howe Sound fjord on a boat ride.

Passage Island Howe Sound|©Jamie Packer
Passage Island Howe Sound|©Jamie Packer

If during your trip in Vancouver you want to live a different experience, you can choose to navigate the Howe Sound fjord on a boat ride. This fjord, located at the foot of rugged mountains and dotted with islands, offers a maritime experience that combines the natural wonders of the region with the serenity of the gulf. During these adventures, you'll be able to distinguish panoramic views of forest-covered coastal mountains and calm waters that reflect the surroundings.

Howe Sound Fjord is a natural gem on the city's doorstep and is an integral part of the region's coastal landscape. During the boat ride, you may have the opportunity to experience a whale watching experience in Vancouver, and you may even see seals and seabirds, bringing you face to face with the wildlife that inhabits this area.

In addition to the wilderness, the boat ride will also give you the opportunity to discover small coastal communities and fishing villages along the fjord. These picturesque sites add a traditional tinge to the experience, allowing visitors to connect with the maritime history and local culture, which have been intimately linked since the time of the English Crown.

10. Stroll through Dr. Sun Yat-Sen's Classical Chinese Garden

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Gardens|©Russell Docksteader
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Gardens|©Russell Docksteader

Chinatown is one of Vancouver's most popular neighborhoods and there, in addition to oriental food stalls and shops selling Chinese crafts, ornaments and gifts, you can visit the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Garden. Named after the first president of the People's Republic of China, this green space is considered one of the best urban gardens in the world.

The Dr. Sun Yat-Sae Garden is also a natural haven filled with tranquil paths, pagodas and koi fish and sea turtle ponds. During your visit you can not only tour the gardens and relax on strategically placed seating along the pathways, but also learn about the history of this site and its importance as a meeting place for the Chinese community.

Join a guided tour of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden

11. Marvel at the Bloedel Floral Conservatory

Bloedel Conservatory|©Mark Teasdale
Bloedel Conservatory|©Mark Teasdale

Vancouver's Bloedel Floral Conservatory is a botanical haven located in Queen Elizabeth Park that is also a living testament to the floral diversity that the British Columbia region has to offer. As you walk along its paths, you can discover colors and fragrances of all kinds, as each corner of the conservatory reveals a unique show of flowers, tropical plants and native foliage.

In addition, the Bloedel Conservatory is home to a variety of themed gardens, from the Orchid Garden to the exotic Cactus and Succulent Garden. Each area offers a distinct sensory experience, allowing visitors to virtually travel to different corners of the world through the flora on display.

The conservatory dome, on the other hand, creates a controlled environment that allows tropical and subtropical plants to flourish year-round, making it a floral escape even if you plan to visit Vancouver in winter or during the colder months of the year.

If you enjoy these natural spaces, you can also tour the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden in Chinatown or even take a full-day excursion to Victoria and Butchart Gardens.

Buy tickets for the Bloedel Floral Conservatory

12. Visit the Museum of Anthropology

UBC Museum of Anthropology|©Djordje Cicovic
UBC Museum of Anthropology|©Djordje Cicovic

The Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver is a cultural treasure that offers a deep dive into the rich heritage of what is known as the First Nations of British Columbia. Located on the campus of the University of British Columbia, this museum is renowned for its innovative architecture and captivating exhibits that harken back to the origins of local culture.

At the entrance of the Museum of Anthropology you can discover sculptures of the first settlers and inside the museum galleries house a collection of indigenous art and items, highlighting the cultural diversity and rich history of the original communities. From majestic totem poles to carved ceremonial masks, each piece reflects the cultural legacy of these peoples. The Barn Room, with its display of wood carvings, highlights the artistic artistry of the First Nations.

In addition to static exhibits, the Museum of Anthropology also offers events and interactive programs that seek to promote understanding and appreciation of indigenous cultures. From carving workshops to live performances, visitors have the opportunity to actively immerse themselves in the richness of these traditions in one of the best cultural activities you can do in Vancouver.