We love visiting Vancouver and British Columbia in general. Even after visiting the city multiple times and exploring newer attractions and areas each time, we still have a ton of activities left on our Vancouver bucket list.
We are sharing our must see activities in Vancouver so that you can create your own!
36 Ultimate Vancouver Bucket list things to do
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Quick tips for visiting Vancouver: Vancouver Travel Tips
Vancouver is located in the western Canadian province of British Columbia. It has an international airport in Richmond that brings in millions of tourists all year round.
Vancouver International Airport or YVR connects you to various destinations across the world. When flying domestically, take advantage of the budget airlines such as Swoop and Flair, and remember to pack light!
You can also book a flight to Abbotsford, and then take a train to Vancouver to explore. Depending on where you are flying from, you can find and track flight deals on Skyscanner.
If you are planning to explore the city, it is best to use public transportation and Hop on and Hop off sightseeing buses. Downtown Vancouver is very walkable.
For hotels in Vancouver for a short visit, we recommend staying in the downtown area – because evenings there are STUNNING, and there are tons of cafes and restaurants near the waterfront area and Robson Street to pig out and head straight to bed after a day of sightseeing.
Find hotels in Vancouver Area
Visit the Stanley Park
The number one Vancouver bucket list item that you must visit is Stanley Park. Home to lush greenery and blessed with scenic views of the west coast’s waters, mountains, and skies are the urban Stanley Park.
It is a city-owned and maintained park, which means entry is completely free – free – free. Go on walks, jog, or bike inside this green oasis. It is open 24 hours a day, all days of the year!
There are many artworks installed inside the park like the Totem Poles, Girl in a Wet Suit (similar to the statue in Copenhagen Denmark), and the iconic Harry Jerome statue.
Walk the Vancouver Seawall
A stone wall was created to prevent erosion of Stanley Park, this is the Vancouver Seawall. Exploring the entire park in a day or two may not be feasible, but do include some time here at the Seawall.
The 9 km portion around Stanley Park takes two to three hours to walk.
Wander Vancouver Downtown
“Hi we are downtown and concrete wanderers”, and we adore VANCITY’s downtown.
Downtown Vancouver is located in the southeastern part of the city. There are tons of attractions located in the downtown area, and we feel that wandering through the urban jungle is a MUST.
Admire the waterfront, skyrise buildings, and green spaces, and enjoy coffee at a local cafe. When the sun sets, downtown glows with a buzzing nightlife with bars and clubs.
Stay at Vancouver Waterfront hotels
Staying on the Vancouver waterfront is like a DREAM! There are so many luxurious hotels located downtown with sea-facing views. Pan Pacific Vancouver hotel is the BEST pick, and it is the closest you can get to the waterfront.
Enjoy cocktails at Botanist Dining
If you cannot stay at expensive hotels near the waterfront like the Pan Pacific Vancouver or Fairmont Pacific Rim, then hang out at their luxurious restaurant – Botanist Dining. Try out our Canadian cuisines, sip wines, and cocktails – my favorite is Deep Cove Cocktail.
Visit the Christ Church Cathedral
Located very close to the Fairmont Hotel is the Gothic style Christ Church Cathedral. It is one of the largest places of worship in Vancouver. It is also the oldest surviving church in the city.
Walk the Queen Elizabeth Park
Located in the heart of Vancouver city is the green space of Queen Elizabeth Park. It is a perfect place to soak in city views, explore the manicured gardens, play or read a book!
Make sand castles at the English Bay Beach
English Bay Beach is a public beach that runs along the Stanley Park Seawall. It is one of the most easily accessible beaches in the Vancouver downtown area. This beach is also known as the First Beach.
You can chill out here or picnic. There are umbrellas, chairs, and kayaks available for rent. Lifeguards are on duty at certain times of the day.
Visit Canada Place
When you arrive at the waterfront area you will see sails from a distance, that’s the beautiful Canada Place. This site is one of the popular attractions in Vancouver, and a very recognizable building as well.
Canada Place is home to Convention Centre, the Pan Pacific Vancouver Hotel, World Trade Centre (VWTC), and the virtual flight ride FlyOver Canada. Most of the consulates are located nearby, and many tours and sightseeing shuttles commence from here.
You can hang out at a cafe at Canada Place, soak in water views or opt for a virtual flight ride.
Enjoy food trucks in the summer
Want an ice cream to beat the summer heat in Vancouver? One of the must do activities in the city is to enjoy food trucks. Locals (and locally-owned restaurants) put forward their culinary delights in the downtown area.
Relish food as you hop from one truck to another. Try steak bites, onion cakes, vanilla ice cream, fish and chips, and so many more options!
Chill and relax at the Granville Island
Granville Island is a district, located close to Downtown Vancouver (under the Granville Street Bridge). Hang out at the public market, pig out, or go shopping here. There is a splash park and restaurants inside the district.
We enjoyed a full day here, wandering aimlessly (and eating fish!)
Spot the Olympic Cauldron
The Olympic Cauldron is dedicated to the 2010 Winter Games. It is a huge Olympic torch located at the Jack Poole Plaza in the downtown area.
Imagine the stunning neon lights on a starry Vancouver evening at the Cauldron! Delightful!
Soak in city views from Vancouver Lookout
We LOVE city views. And if you do too, then this attraction should be a part of your Vancouver bucket list. Vancouver Lookout is an observation deck that offers 360 degree views of the city from the tower.
The observation platform is located at 553 feet above street level, and you will be taken up in a glass elevator in less than 50 seconds to be welcomed by mesmerizing views.
The entry fee is 18.95 CAD per adult.
Check out the Prospect Point
If the Vancouver Lookout is pricey, then head to the Prospect Point. This is a free lookout where you can admire the Lion’s Gate Bridge, and water, and nature views. Prospect Point is located on the northern tip of Stanley Park.
Walk the Lions Gate Bridge
Easily accessible from Prospect Point is the green Lions Gate Bridge. This suspension bridge was built in the 20th century and you must admire it from the Prospect Point.
Make some time to walk over the bridge and get terrific views of the city of Vancouver (for free). This makes for a beautiful photography spot. Lions Gate Bridge is officially known as the First Narrows Bridge.
Discover Vancouver Maritime Museum
Vancouver Maritime Museum, as the name suggests, is a maritime museum. It is dedicated to Vancouver’s maritime history. The museum is located within Vanier Park (False Creek on the Vancouver waterfront).
Here you will find a massive collection of artifacts and archival materials on maritime history, including permanent collections such as the historic St. Roch Wheelhouse and historic site/space plus an array of temporary exhibitions.
If you are a maritime history enthusiast, you must add this world-class museum to your Vancouver bucket list. The entry fee is 10 to 14 CAD per adult.
Hang out at Kitsilano Beach
Another popular beach to hang out in Vancouver is Kitsilano Beach. Although swimming is not allowed here (due to unsafe water conditions), its location where it faces out onto English Bay is stunning.
Shop at Robson Street
Robson Street aka Robsonstrasse is one of the oldest commercial streets. It is called the Robsonstrasse (European flare) because of a ton of European/German businesses that were set up during the Second World War.
It is an amazing place to hang out, or go shopping.
Visit Vancouver Art Gallery
Located very close to Robson Street is the Vancouver Art Gallery (like 3 minute walk). The art gallery is one of the largest in the whole of western Canada, and it occupies a massive 15,300 square metres.
There is an entry fee for the site, but we found out that on Tuesday nights after 05:00 pm, you can “donate” to visit the gallery. You can enjoy permanent and temporary exhibitions during this “donation” hour.
Check out Dr. Sun Yat Sen’s Classical Chinese Garden
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is located in the Chinatown area of Vancouver. It is known to be the first Chinese or “scholars” garden built outside of China.
Inside the classical gardens (which you can visit for a fee) you will find manicured gardens, bridges, and walking areas. The garden is a part of Dr. Sun Yat Sen Park.
Add the Van Dusen Botanical Garden to your Vancouver bucket list
Located in the heart of Vancouver, VanDusen Botanical Garden is a 55-acre oasis of gardens and nature.
Founded in 1971, the garden features over 7500 plants and trees from around the world. The diverse landscape includes everything from a heated outdoor pool to a rainforest with waterfalls.
The garden is open all year round, and there is always something blooming. In the spring, the tulips are in full bloom, and in the summer, the roses take over. The autumn brings a vibrant array of colors, and in the winter, the garden is transformed into a winter wonderland with over a million lights.
VanDusen is more than just a garden; it is also a centre for education and research. The garden offers educational programs for all ages, and the on-site library is a resource for researchers from around the world.
Plus you can enjoy a nice dinner on the patios of Truffles Cafe or Shaughnessy Restaurant. Whether you are looking for a place to relax, learn, or simply enjoy the beauty of nature, VanDusen Botanical Garden is the perfect destination.
Head to Gastown & check out the Steam Clock
OMG! We love the Gastown neighborhood of Vancouver. It is such a lovely area with a mix of old and new architectural buildings. This area is considered an important part of Vancouver history and that is why you will find Victorian-style buildings and vintage lamp posts.
The Gastown Steam Clock is one of the popular attractions here and makes for a great Instagram photo. Other than the clock, you must hang out at some of the trendiest lounges and restaurants in the area.
Try international cuisine with a Vancity flavor
Vancouver is a food lover’s paradise. Tons of restaurants in amazing neighborhoods serve Vancouver food with the nicest views like the waterfront, inside the urban jungle, or in the midst of historic districts.
Try out fish, dim sum, hot dogs, and ice cream (in popular local joints). It is on our Vancouver bucket list to try out many restaurants listed in this guide. This guide has quirky details about food history too like how the first hot dog was sold on the streets of New York and more.
Eat the yummiest Asian food in Vancouver
In and around Vancouver you will find the best Asian, particularly Chinese food restaurants in all of North America. Chicken fried rice, dumplings and hot and sour soup are our favorites, and Vancouver does it amazingly well!
If you LOVE dumplings (or momos), embark on the Richmond Dumpling Trail. It is a self-guided tour.
The trail includes a list of 20 restaurants that serves delicious dumplings. This experience is listed among CNN Travel’s list of 12 of the world’s most enticing food and drink trails.
Richmond is home to over 800 restaurants, so you can surely make diversions and try out other restaurants if you wish. They have everything from burger joints, to fancy dinners.
Pig out at Richmond Night Market
The Richmond Night Market is a popular night market that is held annually during the summer, months from May to October (most years). Its location is in Richmond, about 29 minutes from Vancouver by road.
It is a food market (tons of international cuisines to try at food stalls), and also has attractions and rides for kids.
Explore the wonders of the Science World
A glittering ball that opens up a world of science and technology – yup this is the Vancouver Science World. It is a science centre managed and run by a non-profit organization.
Other than the permanent and temporary science exhibitions, there are also outreach programs conducted by the centre. The building itself is very unique and it was originally built to host the 1986 Expo in Vancouver.
Learn history at the Museum of Vancouver
Museum and history buffs this is a must add to your Vancouver bucket list! The Museum of Vancouver or MOV is the largest civic museum in Canada and the oldest museum in the city. The museum building is unique as it also houses a planetarium.
The museum is located on the south end of Vanier Park.
Check out Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
This was on our Vancouver bucket list item for a long time, and we were able to check it off on our first trip.
Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is located in North Vancouver and is home to a suspension bridge that is built over the Capilano River. It is about 140 metres long and you can walk across it.
There are many other attractions inside the park such as an informative centre to learn about Capilano bridge’s history, about the creator and his past, TreeTops Adventures, Totem poles, and Canyon Lights in winter – it is a must visit!
There is an entry fee to enter the park and participate in activities. You can hop on the free shuttle from Canada Park to Capilano Bridge Park.
Visit Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge
This is another suspension bridge that is worth exploring in North Vancouver – the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge. It is a pedestrian bridge built over the Canyon, and it stands 50 metres high from the bottom.
The coolest thing about this bridge is that it is absolutely free to explore. It is located within Lynn Canyon Park.
Picnic at the Capilano River Hatchery
Capilano River Hatchery is a popular picnic and hiking spot in North Vancouver. This attraction gets over 400,000 visitors annually, and you can easily spend a couple of hours to half a day here.
The hatchery is free to enter and explore. The fish hatchery also has an interpretive centre where you can learn about how fish develop from eggs to the juvenile stage and the entire process.
Why we have this on our bucket list is that it is super green and looks pretty in pictures, we would love to photograph here and enjoy a picnic.
Visit the Pacific Spirit Regional Park in Vancouver
Pacific Spirit Regional Park is a large urban park situated in Vancouver. This park is heavily forested and contains a network of trails that are popular with hikers, dog-walkers, and cyclists. It is home to more than 750 hectares of forest area and is so close to the city.
There are also several beaches located within the park, as well as a small lake. You can also hit the Wreck Beach and the Foreshore Trail from here. Just make sure you have the right hiking boots to enjoy it!
Pacific Spirit Regional Park is a great place to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise and is also a popular spot for picnics and other outdoor activities.
Go hiking or biking on the North Shore Spirit Trail
The epic North Shore Spirit Trail takes you to the views of the waterfront with markets, parks, and beaches along the way. It is in fact a continuous greenway across the entire North Shore.
This trail is perfect for hiking, and biking and even if you have new to the city, you can easily follow the well-posted signs and then continue on – and stop when you prefer.
Visit Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site in Canada
Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site is a living history museum in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The cannery is located in the Steveston area of Richmond, on the south arm of the Fraser River.
It was built in 1894 and operated until 1979. The cannery is now a museum that tells the story of the salmon canning industry and the people who worked in it.
The Gulf of Georgia Cannery was one of the first canneries in British Columbia. It was built to process the large numbers of salmon that were being caught in the Fraser River.
The cannery was a busy place, with hundreds of workers processing fish. The cannery had its own dock, where fish were brought in by boat. The cannery also had its own power plant, to generate the electricity needed to run the canning machines.
The Gulf of Georgia Cannery was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1994. It is one of the most complete examples of a salmon cannery in North America.
Take a trip to the Grouse Mountain
Grouse Mountain is a popular weekend getaway from Vancouver. Visitors who travel to Grouse Mountain do so for hiking and outdoor activities, whilst enjoying stunning views of the city.
To head to the mountaintop, you have to use a gondola ride (at $59 CAD for adults).
Embark on a day trip or road trips from Vancouver
Vancouver is well connected by airways globally, as well as by road. There are tons of road trip ideas from Vancouver, here is what we have on our list (we have explored a few already!)
- Whistler, BC
- Fraser Canyon
- Bowen Island, BC
- Squamish, BC
- Pemberton, BC
- Banff National Park, Alberta
- Seattle, Washington (USA)
That’s a wrap! We will be adding more to Vancouver bucket list items, so stay tuned. Let us know if you wish to add anything to the list, and how many have you checked off?
Source and additional articles from British Columbia
- Vancouver in winter: Things to do in Vancouver in winter
- Yoho National Park: Things to do in Yoho National Park
- Golden BC: Things to do in Golden BC