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The Perfect One Day in Vancouver Itinerary

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Looking for the perfect one day in Vancouver itinerary? We got you covered. Vancouver is a coastal city in southwestern British Columbia and is consistently named as one of the top five worldwide cities for livability and quality of life. 

Explore Vancouver in a day – North America Canada

The scenic beauty of Vancouver’s location between the Coast Mountains and the Pacific Ocean is undeniable. With its abundant parks, green space, and outdoor activities, Vancouver is an ideal place to live and visit. 

Add in a thriving arts and cultural scene, and it’s easy to see why Vancouver is one of Canada’s most popular destinations, hence deciding how to spend the perfect 24 hours there is not an easy feat and hard not to see why.

One day in Vancouver itinerary: Explore Vancouver in a day

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Things to do in Vancouver in a day: One day in Vancouver itinerary

  • Breakfast at the Templeton, Granville Island
  • Head to Stanley Park
  • Viist Vancouver Aquarium
  • Hang out at the Granville Island
  • Wander Chinatown and visit Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
  • Soak in the views from Vancouver Lookout
  • Check off the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
  • Grab dinner and drinks in Gastown

Read: Vancouver bucket list | Visiting Vancouver in winter

Before we begin, we would like to remind you that with just one day in Vancouver you will have to do a lot of walking, with the occasional Uber or bus ride to shave off precious minutes of your travel time.

Alternate option is to ride the hop on and hop off bus and then get down at your favorite spots. On our very first trip to Vancouver, this is exactly what we did, and it just made navigation easier.

Beautiful downtown Vancouver

Living in Alberta, we now travel to Vancouver often, and keep adding to our sightseeing experiences in BC. 

Secondly, this itinerary will work best if you land in the city the night before and have a good night’s rest to prepare yourself for the action-packed tour through parks, gardens,museums and the important landmarks the following morning.

Vancouver has a good and appealing transport system in Vancouver Translink in which fares are valid for 90 minutes so that one can get across parts of the town without paying double. Moreover, the city is built on a grid system which makes navigation very easy.

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

You can also use public transportation or book a private transfer for getting to downtown from YVR Airport.

Of course, there will be several breaks for food and shopping to slow down the pace and rest your weary legs. So without any further ado, let’s get going.

Start at The Templeton for breakfast (08:30 to 09:30 am)

There is no better way to begin your one day Vancouver itinerary than with a hearty breakfast to fuel up for the morning.

The highly recommended The Templeton as it has a prime location in Granville Row, close to many of the popular attractions. This outlet is known for its friendly service and extensive breakfast spreads such as the Big Ass Breakfast ($15.99 CAD) or the Farmers Breakfast ($12.99 CAD).

  • Address: The Templeton, 1087, Granville St
  • Hours: Opens at 8:30 am

Head to the Stanley Park (09:30 to 11:00 am)

Take the Skytrain from Granville station ($3) which will bring you to Stanley Park in about four minutes. To explore this huge urban park will take up an entire day on foot, so consider renting a bike to cycle around the Stanley Park Seawall, a picturesque 5.5 km loop trail.

Stanley Park in winter
Stanley Park in the winter

Some interesting spots you will pass by are Prospect Point (excellent for photos of the harbor and the lighthouse) and English Bay, a family-friendly beach a bit further down. 

Finally, you will reach the most unmissable attraction, the First Nations Totem Poles, which give an insight of history of the Salish tribes who resided here for centuries. 

Girl at the Capilano Suspension Bridge and Totem Poles
Capilano Suspension Bridge and Totem Poles

While admission to the park is free, expect to shell out as much as $30 per hour for renting a bike.

Visit the Vancouver Aquarium (11:00 to 11:45 am)

Whether you ride the Seawall or not, you must visit the 9000 sq m Vancouver Aquarium inside the park to see the diverse range of marine life.

Dolphin performing an incredible jump in the Vancouver Aquarium
Dolphin performing an incredible jump in the Vancouver Aquarium

Make sure to visit Penguin Point to see the penguins and Treasures of the BC Coast for spotting sea urchins, octopuses among others.

There is an impressive Amazon Rainforest section where you can spot the various rainforest creatures as if they were in  their natural habitat. Spend at least an hour here before moving on.

  • Address: 845 Avison Way, Vancouver, BC V6G 3E2
  • Hours: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
  • Admission: $37.95 – $49.95 CAD (Tickets are timed and prices vary day to day.You should plan ahead to lock a particular price for your visit date)

Hang out at the Granville Island (12:00 to 3:00 pm)

A three minutes ride by taxi ($10) will bring you to Granville Island, a place with a laid-back vibe and the perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of downtown Vancouver.

Inside Granville Island
Inside Granville Island

The island is full of quaint bars, restaurants and speciality shops and stalls selling some of the freshest produce possible at Granville Island Public Market.

For lunch head to the Granville Island Brewing Company for something to munch on and sample as many as ten different brews on their beer flights.

Since you are already in Granville, hop on for a tour on the zodiac boat for the ultimate waterfront sightseeing tour. This 1.5 hour trip ($75 CAD) will provide great views of the Vancouver city skyline, Coal Harbor, False Creek and other important landmarks. 

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

Keep a sharp lookout for the seals and dolphins you are bound to encounter near the coast.

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

Wander the Chinatown of Vancouver (3:00 to 4:00 pm)

It will take you about 40 minutes to walk from Granville Island to Chinatown but since time constraints are in place just take a cab to drop you to Chinatown via Burrard St in about five minutes ($10). 

Millenium Gate in Vancouver Chinatown
Millenium Gate in Vancouver Chinatown

With a large Asian population there is always something buzzing in Chinatown and is a must-visit place on your one day itinerary to Vancouver.

One of the first things you see here will be the Millennium Gate, flanked by stone lions on either side. There are various shops here where you can shop for a souvenir or two but you must check out the Dr Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden. 

Dr Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden
Sun Yat-Sen Garden in Vancouver: See Vancouver in a day

There is an admission fee of $ 70 but it is worth it as the grounds are full of pagodas, plants and, koi ponds. The gardens are open from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm (Monday and Tuesday, they are closed).

  • Address: 578 Carrall St, Vancouver, BC V6B 5K2
  • Hours: 9:30 am to 5:00 pm
  • Admission: $70 CAD

Soak in views from the Vancouver Lookout (04:00 to 5:00 pm)

This 553 feet tall observation point sits on the 55 th floor of the Harbor Center building and is within a short walking distance of Chinatown and a ride up the glass elevator provides excellent 360°views of the surrounding areas.

Vancouver Lookout
Vancouver Lookout

Time your visit to see the stunning sunset and views of the North Shore Mountains. If you are lucky you might catch a glimpse of Vancouver Island, just off the Pacific coast. 

  • Address: 555, W Hastings St
  • Hours: Daily 9:00 am – 9:00 pm (Oct-May) | 8.30 am to 10:30 pm (June-Sep)
  • Admission: Adults: $13.50 CAD | Child: $9.60 CAD

Note that tickets for the lookout are valid for multiple entries for the day of issue. Visitors should take advantage of this to re-enter when the views are good or to see the sunset. 

Check off the Capilano Suspension Bridge (5:00 to 7:00 pm)

After descending from the lookout head northwest through Seymour St and past Marine Dr by cab to reach the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. You can spend a whole day here easily but two hours is the bare minimum. 

Capilano Bridge Things to do in Vancouver in winter
Capilano Bridge Vancouver in winter

If you are an adrenaline junkie, this 450′ long Capilano Suspension Bridge is ideal for extreme adventures and an excellent way to get a canopy view of the forest below through the thrilling Cliffwalk. 

Fall in north Vancouver
Fall in North Vancouver, Capilano Suspension Bridge

While you are there check out the Story Center to learn about the First Nations tribes and their traditional totem poles.

  • 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

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

Grab dinner and drinks in Gastown (after 07:30 pm)

Head back from the bridge park via the lookout to the Gastown neighborhood, one of the most lively spots in Vancouver and an ideal place to chill for a couple of hours. 

Steam Clock Gastown in winter

After taking selfies at the iconic Gastown Steam Clock grab a table at Guilt&Co for a well-earned cocktail and live music.

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

Gastown is full of vibrant cafes, clubs and restaurants and a fun place after dark. You can go bar-hopping here but must make a stop at the Royal Dinette to enjoy a drink served by an award-winning bartender of the world, Kaitlyn Stewart. Or just chill out with an ice cream.

Since certain parts overlap with Chinatown, this is always a happening place.

Vancouver one day itinerary sightseeing maps

Click to view the full map with locations

Alternate tour recommendations for 1 day Vancouver itinerary

Apart from the activities mentioned above, there are plenty of other tours and activities that can help create a still better one day Vancouver itinerary.

Canada Place

One of the most famous sights of Vancouver is the distinctive sails of Canada Place, home to two convention centers of the city as well as the cruise ship and seaplane terminals, the Olympic Cauldron, and the FlyOver Canada attraction. 

Canada Place Vancouver bucket list
Canada Place

You can also take in surreal views of the North Shore Mountains, Lions Gate Bridge, and the busy port of Vancouver.

Seaplane ride over the city 

To get a totally different perspective of Vancouver opt for a seaplane tour that departs from the seaplane terminal near Stanley Park for a 20 minutes loop ride over the city. 

Vancouver Port for seaplanes

Apart from breathtaking views of the city and Canada Place, you will also catch a good glimpse of the North Shore Mountains before landing at the Vancouver Convention Center. If you are wondering about a unique activity in Vancouver, this is it.

Whale watching – a perfect alternative

Vancouver is considered to be a prime destination for watching whales in British Columbia, Canada. Seeing the orcas swimming in their natural habitat against the backdrop of the snow-capped mountains in the distance is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

There are different types of tours but the orca tour from Granville Island is the most convenient. If by chance, you don’t spot one, your second tour is free.

Vancouver by night

If you want to enjoy yourself till the wee hours on your only night in Vancouver, you may consider:

  • Sunset dinner cruise
  • 3-Hour Bowen Island Boat Cruise with Dinner
  • Live music performances at the Commodore Ballroom or Queen Elizabeth Theatre
  • Go partying on Granville Island
  • Watch a movie at the 1930s Rio Theatre
  • Outdoor movies at Stanley Park during summers
  • Richmond Night Market, a busy summer food market
  • Night skiing during winter in Cypress
  • Watch a soccer game at BC place
  • Visit the weekend night market at Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver

Grouse Mountain 

Head to north Vancouver and once there take a left from Capilano Rd till you reach the base of the Grouse Mountain. Take the Red Skyride up to the top for views that are worthy of travel guides. 

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

There is plenty to do here as a Grouse Mountain visit is a half-day activity. Make sure you visit the Refuge for Endangered Wildlife to see the grizzly bears. If you feel your belly rumbling you can grab a bite from the street cafes or choose a fine dining outlet.

  • Admission: Get tickets here
  • Adult (18-64). $69.00 CAD | Senior 65+.$59.00 CAD | Youth (13-17).  $49.00 CAD | Child (5-12). $36.00 CAD | Family (2+2) $179.00 CAD
  • Hours: Open from 9:00 am to 9:30 pm

Where to stay for a day in Vancouver?

Choosing the right neighborhood, within your budget, can be daunting because each place has its own charm. You can, however, get a reasonable idea by studying these best places to drop dead for one night in Vancouver:

  • English Bay: Waterfront location
  • Downtown: In the heart of the actions (aka attractions)
  • Davie Village: LGBTQ+ community
  • Granville Island: Foodie destination 
  • Kitsilano: Beach hotels 

Some hotels you can consider are:

  • Moda Hotel (under $300): This hotel is located on Seymour St an excellent location. Plus the staff is helpful, and rooms come with all modern amenities. Check availability here
  • Samesun Vancouver ($50-$150 with free breakfast, WiFi): Samesun Vancouver is centrally located near the Skytrain station and hardly fifteen minutes walk from BC Place Stadium. The property is surrounded by clubs, shops, and restaurants which makes the atmosphere at the hotel very colorful. Book your stay here
  • The Cambie ($80+ free WiFi): A typical backpacker’s hostel, The Cambie is situated bang in the middle of Gastown in a bit old and shoddy heritage building. A well-priced hostel enjoying an excellent location. Rooms are basic with bunk beds and with shared bathrooms, but since Vancouver is a very expensive city, the place is okay for just a night’s stay. Click to view photos and room options

Read: The best Airbnbs in Vancouver for an epic stay

Additional Vancouver travel tips

Vancouver is a beautiful, and multicultural city. The city also offers a great selection of shopping, dining, and nightlife options. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing vacation or an action-packed getaway, Vancouver has something for everyone.

Downtown Vancouver
Downtown Vancouver

When visiting Vancouver, be sure to pack your rain gear as the city experiences a lot of rainfall throughout the year. The best time to visit is during the summer months when the weather is warm and dry. 

If you’re looking to save money on accommodations, consider staying in one of the city’s many hostels or Airbnbs. Stay around Burrard or Robson Street for standard accommodation. For a tight budget stay in the West End.

Beautiful sunsets in Vancouver

Vancouver is a very safe city, with very low incidents of violent crime. However, if you leave any item unattended, even for a minute it is likely to get stolen. Car breaking is also frequent so don’t leave any valuables in the car. Plus be sure to take precautions when walking around at night. 

Vancouver is tiny and from one corner to another takes forty minutes by walk. Means everything is within 20 minutes of the city center.

Vancouver Bucket list Gastown Steam Clock
Explore free attractions in Vancouver, if traveling on a budget

Plan to leave aside $120 per day on your one-day vacation to Vancouver. This is assuming you are staying in a hostel, cooking all your meals, using public transport, and limiting your drinking. 

On a mid-range budget of $240, you can stay in an Airbnb, eat out at fast food places, hire the occasional taxi, go whale watching or ride the gondola. 

There are over 550 free VanWifi spots in the city, so enjoy free internet and save on roaming charges.

Is one day in Vancouver enough?

One day in Vancouver may not be enough for some people, but it can be done if you plan your time wisely. Start by visiting Stanley Park in the morning. Take a walk or a bike ride around the park and take in the sights and sounds of nature. 

Then head over to Granville Island and explore the market and all the unique shops. In the afternoon, stroll down Robson Street and do some window shopping or hang out in Chinatown. 

Finish your day with a visit to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. You’ll be able to see the beautiful forests and waterfalls from high above. 

Vancouver downtown
Vancouver downtown in winter

If you want to pack even more into your day, consider taking a ferry ride over to Vancouver Island. 

We hope these itineraries have increased your admiration for Vancouver. While spending just one day barely does enough justice to this beautiful city, at least it is a teaser.

Vancouver enjoys the reputation of being a top tourist destination in western Canada. With its stunning natural scenery and abundance of activities, Vancouver is the perfect place to visit for those who love being outdoors. 

Read other British Columbia travel guides:

Pin: Vancouver 1 day itinerary with sightseeing map

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