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Ultimate 3 Days in Vancouver Itinerary

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The mix of city life, outdoor recreation and an amazing food scene makes coastal Vancouver an insanely gorgeous getaway for every type of traveler on a visit to British Columbia, Canada. Here is the perfect 3 days in Vancouver itinerary for the first time visitor.

Beautiful Vancouver: 3 day itinerary

Enjoying an amazing location with mountain views on one side and the ocean on the other, you don’t have to venture far from this greenest destination in the world to enjoy its historic towns and endless attractions, even if you are there for just three days.

3 days in Vancouver itinerary

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Vancouver is a beautiful, vibrant city with plenty to see and do. Whether you’re interested in exploring the great outdoors or checking out the city’s many attractions, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy during your stay. 

Here’s a brief guide to help you make the most of your time in Vancouver.

3 days in Vancouver itinerary: Snapshot

  • Day 1 of Vancouver 3 day itinerary: Stanley Park, Vancouver Aquarium, Robson Square, Vancouver Lookout, Canada Place, Gastown
  • Day 2 of Vancouver 3 day itinerary: Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver Art Gallery, North Vancouver, Granville Island
  • Day 3 of Vancouver 3 day itinerary: English Bay Beach, Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, Grouse Mountain Gondola, Lions Gate Bridge, Kitsilano

Read: One day in Vancouver itinerary

Trip preparation for 3 day Vancouver itinerary

The Vancouver International airport is the perfect entry point to the country, when flying from overseas. The airport is situated about 12 km (or 7.35 miles) from the city centre in Richmond, BC. 

Millennium Gate in Vancouver’s Chinatown

If you’re driving, you can pick up a car rental from the airport, or in the surrounding area. Alternatively, you can take public transit – Canada Line Skytrain and you’ll be downtown in no time. 

Taxis and Uber are also available if you prefer not to use public transit. Book a private transfer here 

Getting around Vancouver

Vancouver is a very walkable city, so you’ll have no trouble getting around on foot. If you’re planning on doing some exploring outside of the city centre, consider renting a car. 

Beautiful Vancouver

If you don’t have your own vehicle, the public transport system of the city is fantastic. In addition,Vancouver is extremely bike-friendly and many visitors opt for this mode of travel as it saves time, money and makes sightseeing a breeze.

The other popular option is the Sky Train which runs on an elevated track mostly and offers wonderful views of the city in addition to getting you where you want quickly. Vancouver also has a SeaBus service connecting downtown Vancouver to the North Shore.

If you’re staying downtown, you may find that you don’t need to use transit at all – many of the city’s best attractions are within walking distance (so yay!).

Where to stay in Vancouver

Unless you want to spend countless hours commuting, Downtown Vancouver is the best place to make a base for your short stay in this metropolitan city. Moreover, Vancouver is surprisingly compact, which makes most of the popular attractions within walking distance of each other.

Downtown Vancouver
Downtown Vancouver

Choosing the right neighborhood to stay is important as it will save you time and allow you to visit all the attractions easily. Considering you have three days, drop anchor at Yaletown as it is close to the waterfront. 

For families, Kitsilano, south of the city, is stylish and extremely family-friendly.

  • Rosewood Hotel Georgia: Rosewood Hotel Georgia is a gorgeous 5 star property situated near the Vancouver Art Gallery. You will find a spa, and a stunning terrace restaurant with city views (that are to die for! ahhh). Book your stay here
  • GEC Granville Suites: This is a mid budget property in Downtown, and we stayed here on our very first visit to Vancouver. Rooms were spacious and everything was within walking distance. Click to view availability for your visit
  • Samesun Vancouver: The Samesun Vancouver is another affordable find in the city, which is centrally located near the Skytrain station. Nearby you will find clubs, shops and restaurants which makes the atmosphere at the hotel very vibrant. Book your stay here

Looking for an Airbnb instead? These are the best Airbnbs in British Columbia

The schedule for your three days in Vancouver has been crafted keeping in mind that you have arrived in the city the evening before and have had a good night’s rest before beginning ticking off the things on your first day Vancouver itinerary.

Day 1 of 3 days in Vancouver itinerary: Stanley Park, Vancouver Aquarium, Robson Square, Vancouver Lookout, Canada Place, Gastown

Coffee and Vancouver go hand in glove, so  first thing in the morning grab a cup and order a takeaway breakfast from any of the great downtown cafes like Small Victory Bakery in Yaletown, Canada Place/Harbourfront or Propaganda Coffee in Chinatown. 

Vancouver waterfront and coffee (or hot chocolate in winters)

You will need to tank up as much as you can for the hectic day ahead, believe me.

Stanley Park (10:00 am to 12:00 pm)

This largest park in Vancouver should be your first stop on your Vancouver itinerary as here you get to experience the city’s incredible history, culture and talent all in one place. The Sea Wall and the Totem Poles are not to be missed 

Stanley Park in winter
Stanley Park

The breathtaking greenery of Stanley Park, right in the heart of the city, is a great place to relax and mingle with some of the friendly locals. 

Stroll around the West Coast rainforest, another must see place, before heading to the Teahouse to enjoy your packed breakfast and a much needed cup of coffee amidst scenic settings.

Vancouver Seawall

Stanley Park is free, but expect to pay as much as $30+ for bike rental for a couple of hours. 

  • Address: Access the park from the main entrance at the west end of Georgia Street, west of downtown Vancouver
  • Tickets: Admission free

Vancouver Aquarium (12:15 pm to 1:15 pm)

Vancouver Aquarium is situated inside Stanley Park and can be accessed by a short four minutes drive by bus #19 which stops at several places inside the park. The aquarium is the largest of its kind in British Columbia and attracts visitors from everywhere.

Dolphin performing an incredible jump in the Vancouver Aquarium

The building is not only a home to a wide variety of marine life, but a dedicated research center for their rehabilitation and conservation.

  • Address:  845 Avison Way, Vancouver, BC V6G 3E2
  • Hours: Every day 09:30 am to 05:30 pm
  • Tickets: Admission fees $38 for adults, students/children $30-31

Robson Square (02:00 pm to 03:00 pm)

It will take you only a minute by vehicle to bring you to Robson Square, a landmark civic center and public square in downtown Vancouver. Designed by the famous architect Arthur Erickson in 1983, the plaza is primarily a public skating rink during winter.

Robson Square is home to the Provincial Law Courts and the University of British Columbia. In summers you can spot the odd street entertainer or vendors selling wares. 

Vancouver Art Gallery is also located nearby – you can explore it on day one, or leave it for day 2 of the itinerary.

Vancouver Lookout (03:00 pm to 04:00 pm)

For unparalleled panoramic views the Vancouver Lookout is the place to watch the city buzzing with life. Enjoy a drink at the revolving restaurant as you take in the brilliant views of the ocean and the majestic North Shore mountains.

Vancouver Lookout

The feature of this high-tech lookout tower is the elegant glass elevator that whisks you away to the top in seconds. Without doubt, a top attraction on any Vancouver trip.

  • Address:  555 W Hastings St, Vancouver, BC V6B 4N6
  • Hours: Every day 11:00 am to 06:00 pm
  • Tickets: Admission fees $17.50 for adults

Canada Place (04:30 pm to 06:00 pm)

An eight minutes leisurely stroll is all it takes to reach one of the most iconic landmarks of Vancouver namely, Canada Place.This white sail structure stands apart from all the buildings to be found on the city’s waterfront.

Canada Place Vancouver bucket list
Canada Place

Venue for many local events, Canada Place is most famous for hosting the large Canada Day celebrations. You can also check out the popular FlyOver Canada, which is a flying theater attraction.

Vancouver Canada Place and waterfront area
  • Address: 999 Canada Pl #201, Vancouver, BC V6C 3E1
  • Hours: Every day from 09:30 am to 9:00 pm (FlyOver Canada)
  • Tickets: Starts at $20 (to hang out at Canada Place is free, these tickets are for FlyOver Canada) | FlyOver Canada tickets

If you are a fan of architecture, make a short detour and visit the Marine Building as well.

Gastown (from 06:00 pm onwards)

Come sunset and the energetic district of Gastown comes to life. This former red-light area of the city is now a major hub of bars and restaurants, but with a much cleaner image than before.

Steam Clock Gastown in winter

Apart from the famous Gastown Steam Clock landmark, the vicinity has some great food joints such as Cuchillo or Belgrad Kitchen to name a few. Vancouver’s Chinatown is also nearby, famous for its authentic dim sum. 

Gastown is less than five minutes from the Lookout. You can also go on a walking food tour in Gastown (for dinner!)

Vancouver Bucket list Gastown Steam Clock

You might like this tour: Lost Souls of Gastown walking tour (2 hours)

Day 2 of 3 days in Vancouver itinerary: Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver Art Gallery, Granville Island

Today is all about nature and art (and lots of seafood)!

Queen Elizabeth Park (09:00 am to 12:00 pm)

Take the Canada Line Metro to Oakridge for reaching the immaculate Queen Elizabeth Park. The first roads in the city were made from the rocks excavated from this park.

A great place to spend a few hours and explore the park surrounded by nature, a significant part of Vancouver’s heritage. Do not forget to stop at the Seasons in the Park for an impromptu lunch experience. 

Apart from the excellent food every table offers surreal views of the park.

Vancouver Art Gallery (01:00 pm to 3:00 pm)

The world renowned Vancouver Art Gallery houses some of the most pieces of historical and contemporary art and is the largest in Canada.

Situated next to Robson Square, entry to the gallery is by donation on Tuesday and holds more than 10,000 exhibits.

  • Address: 750 Hornby St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2H7
  • Hours: They are open every day, but their hours vary. Between 01:00 to 3:00 pm, they are always open
  • Tickets: Starts at $18

North Vancouver (03:15 pm to 05:15 pm)

Hop on the SeaBus from Waterfront Station to Lonsdale Quay to spend some time in North Vancouver. Kick off your trip at the Lonsdale Quay Market, where you can buy jewelry or enjoy massage therapy.

A few blocks away is the Waterfront Park, a great place to spend time with kids or wander off to the Tilford Gardens for a coffee on the go stroll.

Granville Island Public Market and bars (from 6:00 pm onwards)

Wrap up your second day in Vancouver and head to the coolest part of the city, the shopping mecca of Granville Island. There are a large number of trendy outlets retailing everything from kids garments to toys and much more. 

Inside Granville Island
Inside Granville Island

The Public Market here sells some of the freshest food, every Thursday from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.

The food and art scene at Granville Island is also huge with cafes selling homemade dishes and design studios dotting the place everywhere. Some local creations found here are ceramic bowls, vases and handcrafted jewelry.

The Granville bridge and Granville island surroundings, looking north at the Vancouver skyline

Hang out here for the evening relishing fish and chips, drinks and seafood!

You might like this tour: Guided market walking tour of Granville Island

Day 3 of 3 days in Vancouver itinerary: English Bay Beach, Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, Grouse Mountain Gondola, Lions Gate, Kitsilano

From beaches to suspension bridges and mountains, today is all about soaking in the nature views (relaxing or making it one full of adventure and loads of FUN!)

English Bay Beach (09:00 am to 11:00 am)

Also referred to as ‘First Beach’ you can easily reach the English Bay Beach by grabbing a ride on bus#023 which stops right in front of the beach. Early morning is the best time to rent a chair and umbrella and watch the world go by.

Views of Vancouver Downtown
Bay Beach

English Bay has a designated dog area, where the dogs are allowed to run freely and also places earmarked for outdoor activities like volleyball, cricket or soccer.

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park or Lynn Canyon Park (11:30 am to 2:00 pm)

There are various pickup points where free shuttles pick and drop visitors headed for Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, about 20 minutes away. 

Girl at the Capilano Suspension Bridge in Vancouver Canada in February
Capilano Suspension Bridge

Set aside a couple of hours to see this large rainforest complex with suspension bridges and a cliff walk adventure. There are also informative displays, cafes and totem poles to check out. This is a refreshing and educational way to spend some time in Vancouver enjoying the finest flora and fauna. 

Fall in north Vancouver
Capilano Suspension Bridge

Tickets for entry after 5:00 pm are about 39% off discount. You can also save by booking online ($3). Alternatively, you can also visit the smaller Lynn Canyon Suspension bridge park for free or by donation (around $2 CAD per person). 

  • Address: 3735 Capilano Rd, North Vancouver, BC V7R 4J1
  • Hours: Daily: 9:00 am-7:00 pm (hours subject to change)
  • Admission: Online rates are $3 cheaper. Book it here
  • Adults (18-64): $ 62.95 CAD | Senior 65+:    $57.95 CAD | Student: $49.95 CAD | Child (6-17): $24.95 CAD
At the Capilano Bridge

You might like this combo ticket: Floatplane and Capilano Suspension Bridge tickets

Grouse Mountain (02:00 pm to 05:30 pm)

The 4100 feet high Grouse Mountain is also called the ‘Peak of Vancouver ‘ and can be reached by public transportation from the city center in just 15 minutes. The Skyride tramway takes another 10 minutes to get to the top.

Photo of Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver, BC, Canada
Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver, BC, Canada

Grouse mountain offers hiking trails, and awesome views – summer or winter!

A grueling 2.5 km (1.55 miles) hike, Grouse Grind, takes place every summer where hikers can walk a one-way trail and return downhill by the gondola (about $20). 

Or you can enjoy the complete ride on a gondola. Gondola ride costs $60 return. 

  • Address: 6400 Nancy Greene Way, North Vancouver, BC V7R 4K9
  • Hours: Every day 09:00 am to 09:00 pm
  • Tickets: Starts at $20 (free to use the Grouse Grind trail) | Admission: Get tickets here

Lions Gate Bridge (06:30 pm to 07:30 pm)

This remarkable suspension bridge over the Burrard Inlet was an engineering feat in its time when completed in 1938 and is the longest of its kind in Western Canada. The stone lions guarding the bridge gave the place its name.

Lions Gate Bridge Entrance in Vancouver BC Canada
Lions Gate Bridge Entrance in Vancouver BC Canada

The bridge was designated a historic site in 2004 and looks beautiful when lit up every night. Check out the bridge from Prospect Point.

Kitsilano (08:00 pm to 10:00 pm)

Avoid the side streets and walk along the pretty Kits beach for fantastic views of Vancouver. 

Late evening is the perfect time for dinner at the Boathouse Restaurant, which does happy hours with special discounts on drinks and food. The glass facade provides excellent views of the ocean.

Now your legs must be truly done, so take a bus to downtown Vancouver for a well earned rest after three days of hectic sightseeing.

Alternate Vancouver 3 day itinerary

Because we have traveled to Vsncouver so many times, here is an alternate itinerary to consider

Vancouver itinerary day 1:

Start your morning with a stroll through Stanley Park, taking in the stunning views of the city and ocean. Then head to Granville Island for some exploring and shopping at the public market. 

Girl at the Capilano Bridge Park in one day in Vancouver
Capilano Suspension Bridge – Totem Poles

In the afternoon, take a short drive out to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park for some light hiking and breathtaking views from the suspension bridge. 

End your day with dinner in Chinatown.

Vancouver itinerary day 2:

Spend the morning visiting some of Vancouver’s top attractions, such as the Vancouver Aquarium, Science World, and the Museum of Anthropology. 

In the afternoon, take a leisurely stroll or bike ride along the seawall at Vancouver’s beautiful English Bay. 

Finish your day with a delicious meal and some people watching in trendy Yaletown.

Vancouver itinerary day 3:

Get out of the city and explore some of Vancouver’s natural beauty today. Drive up to Cypress Provincial Park for a hike through the forest or go for a swim at one of the many beaches along the Sea-to-Sky Highway. 

In the afternoon, take a cable car ride up to Grouse Mountain for panoramic views of Vancouver and the surrounding area. 

End your day with a romantic dinner overlooking the city lights.

Vancouver itinerary 3 days sightseeing map

Click to view the full map

Extending your trip to Vancouver British Columbia

If you are spending more days in Vancouver or wish to see some more attractions, these tips will have you covered:

  • Kitsilano Beach: If the weather permits, this is the best place for swimming or just relaxing and taking in the great views of Vancouver.
  • Bird’s Eye View: Take a seaplane flight to enjoy the city from above. You would never imagine how cool Vancouver looks from above.
  • Lunch cruise: A cruise along the city’s Waterfront includes a delicious lunch buffet with spectacular views of Vancouver and the surrounding areas.

Day trips from Vancouver 

Some of the most beautiful destinations lie within a short distance from Vancouver. See the list of day trips to plan your day of fun and adventure.

Whistler (1 hour 30 minutes)

The scenic drive on the Sea to sky highway or highway 99 is enough to make your trip to Whistler worthwhile. The views are astounding all the way but none better than at the 355 m high (or 1165 feet) Shannon Falls.

Whistler Blackcomb

Once you reach the ski town of Whistler, take a ride on the Peak-2-Peak gondola for mind blowing views of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. Be sure to carry warm clothes as it is pretty cold up in the mountains. 

Read: Things to do in Whistler in the summer

Victoria (90 minutes by cruise)

You can drive, but the ferry ride to Victoria is far more popular as it passes through some of the most spectacular scenery of coastal British Columbia. Watch street performers as you stroll down the inner harbor or just relax on a bench and marvel at the parliament buildings.

Victoria BC

A top activity in Victoria is a visit to the Butchart Gardens and the Royal British Columbia Museum. There are day tours that cover both the capital city attractions as well the Gardens, check it out here

Whale watching

You can also go on a half day tour whale watching on a Salish Sea catamaran. Click to check more details

Additional tips for 3 day Vancouver itinerary

Vancouver is a beautiful city with plenty to see and do. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your visit:

1. Get around on public transit

Vancouver has an excellent public transit system that can get you around the city quickly and easily. If you’re staying in the downtown area, consider purchasing a day pass so you can ride the bus and SkyTrain as much as you want.

2. Explore Vancouver’s neighborhoods

Vancouver is made up of several unique neighborhoods, each with its own character and attractions. Take some time to explore different areas of the city, including Gastown, Chinatown, and Granville Island.

3. Eat at Vancouver’s best restaurants

Vancouver is home to some of the best restaurants in the country. Whether you’re looking for fine dining or casual eateries, you’ll be sure to find something to suit your taste.

Food in Vancouver

4. Enjoy Vancouver’s nightlife

Vancouver has a vibrant nightlife scene, with plenty of bars, clubs, and live music venues to check out. 

Explore different areas of the city to find the best places to party, and be sure to take advantage of Vancouver’s relaxed vibes!

5. Shop at Vancouver’s best stores

Vancouver is a shopper’s paradise, with plenty of great stores to browse. Whether you’re looking for souvenirs or designer brands, you’ll be sure to find what you’re looking for.

6. Stay connected with WiFi

Vancouver has plenty of free WiFi hotspots, so you can stay connected while you’re on the go.

7. Stay Safe in Vancouver: Safety

Vancouver is a very safe city to visit, but keeping a sharp lookout while venturing around the city is the key. It’s important to take precautions to protect yourself from crime. 

Downtown and West End are particularly safe.  

Be aware of your surroundings and don’t flash valuables in public, and you’ll be sure to have a safe and enjoyable trip. 

8. Budget 

As far as budget is concerned, expect to spend $125 per day on your trip to Vancouver, keeping in mind the room price for a couple for one night is $150.

It is also easy to get to Vancouver from the USA like Seattle, or even from the east coast – New York City and others on a budget flight!

Are three days in Vancouver enough 

There’s no easy answer to this question since it depends on what you’re hoping to see and do while you’re in Vancouver. However, three days is definitely enough time to get a taste of the city and its many attractions. 

Highly recommend setting aside time for food, beach, nature walks and city sightseeing! If your itinerary is packed with activities, then you might not have much time to truly relax and take everything in. 

While you should stay for longer, but that is often not the case, three days in Vancouver is just about enough to explore what best is on offer. Spending more days will not only do the city justice, but to some nearby destinations as well.

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