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!
30+ Ultimate Vancouver Bucket list things to do
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Quick tips for visiting Vancouver
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. 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 walk-able.
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 is the urban Stanley Park.
It is a city-owned and maintained park, which means entry is completely free – free – free. Go on walks, jogs 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, green spaces and enjoy coffee at a local cafe. When the sun sets, downtown glows to 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 in 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 – 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 from the Vancouver downtown area. This beach is also known as the First Beach.
You can chill out here or picnic. There are umbrellas, chairs, kayaks available on 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 the 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 which 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. Entry fee is 18.95 CAD per adult.
Checkout 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, 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 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. Entry fee is 10 to 14 CAD per adult.
Hang out at Kitsilano Beach
Another popular beach to hang out in Vancouver is the Kitsilano Beach. Although swimming is not allowed here (due to unsafe water conditions), it’s 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 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 the Dr Sun Yat Sen Park.
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 Vancity flavour
Vancouver is a food lover’s paradise. Tons of restaurants in amazing neighbourhoods serve Vancouver food with 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.
Pig out at Richmond Night Market
The Richmond Night Market is a popular night market which is held annually during the summer, months from May to October (most years). It’s 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 wonders of 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! Museum of Vancouver aka 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 which 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 like informative centre to learn about Capilano bridge’s history, about the creator and his past, TreeTops Adventures, Totem poles, and Canyon Light’s 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 at 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.
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 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 stayed 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